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Best Pillows for Sleeping 2021 – Most Comfortable Bed Pillows


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Choosing the right pillow is a lot like…well, dating. There’s a whole lot of trial and error and feeling out different options to find the ones you truly love. There are few things more personal than shopping for what we sleep on night after night, so we take the task very seriously and are here to make it that much easier. After several weeks of testing different brands, types, and levels of firmness — upwards of 45 pillows — we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best pillows on the market right now.

What to Consider Before Buying a Pillow

Finding the best pillow match depends on several different factors, and the truth is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula. People with neck pain may insist on a firm feel, while others with neck pain find a plush pillow more beneficial. It all depends on your sleep positions and where your pain is localized. Alternatively, cloud-like plushness isn’t a universal desire when it comes to pillows, and many of us could actually need something firmer and not yet realize it. In short, there are a whole lot of factors, which made compiling this list fairly difficult. As always, we did our best to be unbiased, but what worked for us might be a little different for you. (That’s also why we included many categories and a whole lot of editor opinions.)

With that said, the two main things you should keep in mind while pillow shopping are fill and firmness. Fill refers to the material that makes up the inside of the pillow, such as foam, gel, and down. As for firmness, most pillows are considered either firm, plush, or somewhere in the middle.

Memory foam: This is a super popular material in both mattresses and pillows. Known for being plush and soft, memory foam is great if you want to really sink into your pillow — although there are definitely thicker foam options that feel much firmer. Foam pillows can also hold in heat (depending on what else the fill is composed of), making them less ideal for people who sleep hot.

Gel: Gel is actually a form of memory foam — its longer name is “gel-infused memory foam.” The main benefit of gel is that it makes the foam much more breathable, which is great for sweaty sleepers who need a cooling material. It’s also a bit denser than memory foam, so it offers greater support.

Down and down alternative: If you prefer a more traditional feel, try a down or down alternative pillow. Down pillows are filled with the material found under the feathers of birds (usually geese and ducks), and are typically much more expensive than other pillows. They have a luxe feel but could trigger allergies — not to mention, you may have ethical concerns about using animal products. If you want the same feel, there are plenty of down alternative options that feel nearly identical to the real thing.

Latex: For something more natural, consider a latex pillow. Latex comes from the rubber tree and is a chemical-free alternative to foam. Soft, bouncy, and durable, it’s a high-quality material that typically has a higher price tag. It’s also hypoallergenic, antifungal, and doesn’t absorb heat like foam does. Most organic pillows are made from latex.

This is where things get tricky. We’d always thought of “firm” pillows as being hard and uncomfortable, but it turns out that’s not always the case. For example, a firm down pillow feels very different from a firm foam pillow. On the other hand, we thought “soft” translated to “thick, plush, and oh so comfy,” but again, that’s not always the case. In fact, soft pillows tend to be pretty flat or flatten over time, especially those filled with down.

Firm: If you suffer from neck or head pain, consider a firm (or firmer) pillow. These have less give than soft options, which doesn’t mean less comfort, but rather that your head won’t sink into it unsupported. Stomach sleepers are advised to avoid firmer pillows, as they’ll keep your head elevated, slightly bending your neck backwards and putting you in an uncomfortable position.

Soft: Maybe you don’t experience neck pain or love sinking into a fluffy pillow. With a barely there feel and the ability to easily conform to your head and neck, soft pillows are best for stomach and back sleepers. That said, side sleepers most likely won’t get the proper support they need from a soft pillow.

Tip: If you sleep in multiple positions, consider two pillows of different firmness levels: one suited for the position you fall asleep in and another nearby in case you toss and turn and need more or less support in the position you wake up in.

Side sleeper: If you sleep on your side, you have a lot of freedom when choosing a pillow — but that also means you have an overwhelming number of options. The only thing you really need to look out for is pillow height. Softer, plush pillows tend to be less supportive, even if they appear tall. So, if you’re a side sleeper, soft pillows likely won’t keep your head and neck aligned. Go for something medium-firm for slight give but ample support, and be sure the pillow’s thickness works for you to keep your alignment in check.

Back sleeper: If you sleep on your back, look for a pillow that’s flatter with less fill. Firmness depends on your preference — those with pain might opt for something firm to keep the head in the same place throughout the night and relieve the neck. Otherwise, something soft and flat that’ll mold to your head is best.

Stomach sleeper: You’ll want something super soft if you sleep on your stomach — if you use a pillow at all. Picking a pillow that’s flat is best so you don’t mess up your spine and neck alignment, and you definitely don’t want one that’s firm.

What We Look for in a Pillow

We tested a wide range of pillows for our list, judging them on the following criteria:

“Fluff Co.‘s pillows are inspired by those luxe hotel pillows we all covet,” AT commerce writer Sarah says of our best overall pillow winner. The idea is to “get luxurious, hotel-style pillows into everyone’s hands at a fraction of the price (those fancy pillows can run well over $100 a pop!).” Everything Fluff Co.’s got has been sourced from the same factories that make 5-star hotel products. Their limited catalog only includes what they’ve meticulously tested and perfected. “I ADORED this pillow!” says Sarah. “The second I laid down, I knew I was in for a treat as I let out an audible, ‘ooooh.’ The support was great, I slept soundly, and didn’t wake up with any neck pain — a sign of a good pillow.” Another sign that this pillow was a winner was how Sarah’s best friend — a back sleeper with a history of neck problems and surgeries — reacted to it. “I didn’t mention anything about the pillow, I just let her use it when she stayed over,” says Sarah. “After five minutes, she turned to me and said, ‘You HAVE to send me the link for this pillow.’ Coming from someone who I know has spent so much time and money trying to find something for her delicate neck, it made me a believer that these might just be one of the best pillows around.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who want a luxe hotel-style pillow; those who don’t want to break the bank.

Good to Know: You can try your Fluff Co. pillow for 30 days and get a full refund if you’re not happy. (Pillow shopping might have a leg up on dating after all.)

If you’re looking for luxury, you can’t do much better than Snowe’s down pillow. Ultra soft yet supportive (if you choose firm), it’s made of RDS-certified down that doesn’t feel even remotely lumpy or uneven. We slept comfortably all night, although it definitely got warm, which could be an issue for hot sleepers. Down bedding is an investment (with a high price tag to prove it), but we feel confident that this down pillow will last years.

Who It’s Best For: Those who want something ultra luxe that will last; those who want a down fill that’s still washable.

When it comes to shopping on Amazon, most of us are looking for something that will work, get to us fast, and be a bit more affordable. The best pillow on Amazon had to align with these expectations and provide the comfort and quality that’s necessary in something you spend over 2,000 hours on a year. This set of two pillows by Fern & Willow delivers and is also adjustable, with removable fill that lets you decide the best height for you. “Not only did they provide outstanding neck support,” side sleeper Sarah says of the Fern & Willow pillows, “but I was floored by how well they kept their shape. After a couple days, my neck pain was gone and I knew there was no turning back. In fact, when I went to visit my parents for a month, I ended up buying a set for their guest room. What can I say? I’m a ride or die when it comes to products that work for me.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who don’t want to spend too much for a set of quality pillows; those who want adjustable pillow height.

Good to Know: Try your Fern & Willow pillow set for 100 days risk-free — that’s how confident they (and we) are that you’ll love them.

Side sleepers generally need a pillow with a bit of height and that’s supportive with a bit of give — a pretty specific ask. But it’s also totally up to preference. The Nectar memory foam pillow has a supportive center layer surrounded by removable fill, so side sleepers can get the support they need and adjust it to their perfect height and firmness for spinal alignment. It’s also designed with the same memory foam as Nectar’s best-selling mattress. The Tencel cover is ultra-cooling and its fill is actively ventilating. (Hot side sleepers, rejoice!) “I found this pillow to be very comfortable — not too firm, not too soft.” commerce director Mark says of the Nectar pillow. “It was cushy but provided just enough support as I alternated my sleeping position from one side to another. It also didn’t cause me to overheat in the middle of the night. I usually sleep with two pillows, so I also tried pairing it with a really soft pillow from another brand. While that arrangement is ideal, I could totally get by using just the Nectar, and I recommend it for side sleepers.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who sleep hot; those who change positions; those who want to determine their own perfect height and firmness.

Good to Know: Sleep on The Nectar Pillow for 50 nights, and if you’re not happy, return it for a full refund. (But we know you won’t want to.)

Stomach sleepers have the added challenge of finding pillows without much height or firmness — in fact, a supportive pillow could actually do more harm than good. A pillow you can sink into avoids discomfort from extending the neck backwards. The Brooklinen down pillow, especially in plush, is like putting your face into a cloud. It cradles and contours your head as well, so stomach sleepers can toss and turn less while keeping proper neck alignment. “The Brooklinen down pillow is very plush, so it’s extremely easy to relax into its softness,” says assistant shopping editor Britt. “The pillow itself is like having your own personal cloud, and it molds to how you sleep. Whether I was scrolling through my phone on my back, sleeping on my stomach, or rolling onto my side to get more comfortable, the pillow adjusted on its own. I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night needing to fluff it up or flip it over. It also kept me cool throughout the night, so I could sleep peacefully and uninterrupted.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who want an extra-fluffy down pillow that won’t flatten over the course of the night.

Good to Know: You can return your pillow within 365 days (yep…a whole year) of trying it out for a full refund if you’re not absolutely in love with it.

Our winner of the best pillow for back sleepers, the Bear Mattress contour pillow, is also the most ergonomic on our list. With its contouring cutout providing optimal support and space for your neck, shoulders, and head, it’s a back sleeper’s dream. It’s got two sides as well: one cool-to-the-touch side and another soft-and-silky side. Commerce intern Grace calls this pillow “well suited for a back sleeper. It’s got a lot of filling, which helps to sort of secure your head in place and relax your head/shoulders. Right out of the box I could tell it was a super-high-quality pillow. One side is kind of smooth and silky, and the other side is more matte, which I thought was interesting and unique. I would definitely recommend this pillow to a back sleeper or anyone with neck/back pain.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who prefer a shaped pillow to a traditional one; those who want to alleviate snoring; those who run hot.

Good to Know: The ergonomic cutout of the Bear Mattress contour pillow makes it suited for side sleepers as well, providing space for the shoulder and support for the head and neck.

If you toss and turn in your sleep or simply wake up in a different position than you fall asleep in, the Amerisleep Dual Comfort Pillow is for you. Its double-layer design gives it both cushion and support, and it’s reversible: The soft side is ideal for side and stomach sleepers, and the firm side is great for back sleepers. Both sides cradle the head, keeping it still and allowing you to stay comfortable in one position for longer. “My sleeping positions are all over the place, and this pillow claims to so be the answer for the combo sleeper,” says our social media strategist Brian, who tried the Amerisleep after years of using big-box store pillows. “After a few nights of sleeping with the pillow, I definitely feel like I’m moving around less and it is the right comfort level for me. It supports my neck and back of my head without having to adjust the pillow. I would sometimes wake up with a stiff neck when I used my old pillow, but I can say that I haven’t experienced that with the Amerisleep. I would highly recommend if your sleeping style is all over the place.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who sleep on their stomachs and backs; those who want to choose firmness or softness at any time.

Good to Know: The firm side of the Amerisleep Dual Comfort Pillow offers back sleepers — or stomach sleepers who toss and turn — the perfect gentle elevation and support.

This impressive pillow by Boll & Branch is definitely one of the most luxurious on our list. Crafted from responsibly sourced down farmed in the U.S. (and triple-washed for sustained cleanliness), the pillow is covered in a 100 percent cotton shell that keeps the down in, preventing any uncomfortable feather poking. “This pillow was so plush and fluffy that I immediately loved it,” says commerce managing editor Ivy. “For those who want a dreamy, airy pillow, this is it — and it won’t lose its plushness over time. It also struck me as the type of pillow that’s PERFECT for your guest room. It looks absolutely beautiful and so full propped up on the bed, but it’s also worth every penny because your guests will think they’re at a fancy hotel with the down quality and Nancy Meyers-esque bedroom set design appeal. After all — you want to pitch your A game in your guest room and not greet guests with flat old pancake-y pillows.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who love a full, real down pillow; those who prefer a luxury pillow; those looking for visually impressive as well as comfortable pillows.

Good to Know: Boll & Branch operates in alignment with fair trade practices, meaning all their employees and craftspeople are paid what they deserve for their beautiful work.

Parachute sells the best down alternative option out there. We honestly couldn’t tell that their pillow wasn’t filled with real down — the comfort, softness, and support are all in line with our expectations of luxurious down with the added benefit of being free of animal byproducts. We slept comfortably and found that the firm option was the perfect density for side and back sleepers.

Who It’s Best For: Those who want the luxury of down but at a lower price point and without the ethical issues.

Known for their budget-friendly mattresses, Tuft & Needle created a pillow that’s comfortable, cool, supportive, and suitable for pretty much any sleep position. Since foam absorbs heat, they added gel and graphite to improve breathability and keep you on the cool side of the pillow all night long. As is typical with foam pillows, it’s heavier than other options but won’t lose its shape over time. Side sleeper Ivy absolutely “LOVED this pillow. I caved awhile ago and got a pricey, trusty Tempur-Pedic as my go-to pillow when I started waking up with neck pain (hello, mid-30s), but I can confidently say that this Tuft & Needle foam pillow is an INCREDIBLE pick that’s very similar to my Tempur-Pedic,” but more budget-friendly. “It’s firm but squishy, molding to your head and neck, but the cooling factor came through loud and clear from the start. I never got hot and appreciated the wicking material of the cover, the foam, and the cooling gel beds within the pillow. This is a pillow that will satisfy those who want a medium-firm or a medium-plush feel. I sank right in every night, but always felt supported. I know it’s still a pricey pick for some, but if you’re looking for a truly high-quality cooling pillow, this is it!”

Who It’s Best For: Those who change sleep positions throughout the night; those who want the feel of foam but sleep hot.

Good to Know: It’s made of the same materials as Tuft & Needle’s popular Mint mattress.

We’ve written about our love for the Beckham Hotel Collection pillows once before, and even after all this testing we still think these are some of the very best pillows out there. Unassuming and budget-friendly, these pillows come with a gel fiber fill that keeps you cool and comfortable, even if the rest of you is sweaty (trust us, we can confirm). They have a perfectly plush, supportive fill that’s suitable for all sleep positions, making them ideal if you’re prone to tossing and turning. Better yet, they last — our pair is going on three years and still look and feel like new.

Who It’s Good For: Those looking for a steal; those who sleep hot; those who change sleep positions during the night.

Good to Know: Sold as a set of two.

If you’re trying to make more eco-friendly consumer choices, you’re going to love Avocado’s Green Pillow. It has pretty much every certification you can think of and is seriously comfortable to boot. Filled with a combination of organic latex and organic Kapok fiber, the pillow has a medium-firm fill that’s best for side and back sleepers — although you can take some fill out if you’re a stomach sleeper or prefer something flatter. Overall, we slept comfortably on it and found it’s a great option, whether or not your priority is shopping green.

Who It’s Best For: Those who want to integrate eco-friendly products in their home.

Good to Know: You can adjust the fill to your liking (pillow refill packages are sold separately if you want extra fluff).

It’s true — foam is typically known for being less supportive than other materials when it comes to pillows and mattresses. Casper’s foam pillow, however, is not your average foam pillow: Made with three layers of perforated foam, it’s actually one of the firmest options on our list. It perfectly contours to your head but not in a head-sinks-right-through-the-pillow way — instead, it cradles your head and keeps your neck and spine aligned all night long, making it ideal for those with neck pain.

Honorable Mention: Tempur-Pedic’s Neck Pillow, a cult favorite that costs $89.99 from Bed Bath & Beyond. Its shape is made for supporting proper alignment, but it definitely takes some getting used to.

Who It’s Best For: Those with neck pain; those who tend to wake up sore.

Good to Know: Since it’s not as plush as other pillows, it doesn’t quite fill out a standard pillowcase. That said, the pillow’s cover is washable, so you could just ditch the pillowcase altogether.

Whether or not you naturally run hot, cooling bedding is usually very beneficial. We conducted a pretty comprehensive search for the best, and our winner is the Molecule All-Season pillow. It’s dual-sided, so its effective temperature-regulation design works to cool on one side and keep you cozy in the winter on the other. But if cooling is what you’re after year-round, the cozy side of this pillow, when face-down, actually contributes to the effectiveness of the cooling side by drawing your head away from the cool surface. “This pillow is cool to the touch, and that made a huge difference during warmer evenings,” says AT influencer and talent manager Georgina. “The cooling was also quite soothing! I LOVE this pillow, it is the perfect size and the perfect amount of firmness. I already ordered one for my husband!”

Who It’s Best For: Those who run hot when they sleep; those who enjoy warm bedding in the winter and cool in the summer; those who want an adjustable feel.

Good to Know: This dual-sided Molecule pillow is endorsed and used by professional athletes.

Definitely one of the more unique options on our list, the Purple Harmony Pillow uses the same cushioning technology that makes their mattresses so great. This pillow is crafted with a layer of honeycomb-patterned Purple Grid Hex material surrounding an inner layer of ventilated latex. It’s designed to offer support without pressure, which was previously non-existent in the pillowsphere — regardless of sleeping position, your head and neck are supported, but all you consciously feel is cloud-like plushness. “When I first got this pillow, I was super weirded out,” Grace says of the Purple Harmony Pillow’s unique makeup. “It’s kind of heavy but also super squishy, and it also has a lining of the Purple grid, which makes it different from any other pillow I’ve ever slept on. I got the medium height, and despite the adjustment period, it only took a couple weeks for me to absolutely love this pillow. It’s now the only one I sleep on… I haven’t had any neck pain, and I do genuinely think I sleep better on it. I would recommend it, but with the caveat that you really have to put the time into trying it because it’s unlike any other pillow. Plus, it is super cooling, which I love!”

Who It’s Best For: Those looking to try a totally different kind of pillow; those who prefer the feel of a soft pillow but need support in all sleeping positions.

Good to Know: Because it’s free of down, memory foam, or really any of the usual pillow fill suspects, it may take some getting used to. But, like Grace, give it time and we expect you’ll never turn back.

Many sleepers prefer the support of a firm pillow, but there’s a difference between firmly supportive and rock hard. After testing quite a few options, the Airweave S-line pillow came out our winner for its unique fill construction, adjustable height, and firm-soft-firm construction. Notably a brand with some of the firmest pillows on the market, Airweave introduced the S-line pillow as a flexible version of their original. Both ends of the pillow have firm layers while the center is a bit softer. Ideal for back sleepers but effective for side sleepers as well, this design is a win and, for us, the hunt for a great firm pillow stops here. AT senior producer Meghan says, “It gave great support to my head and neck without raising my head too high, which some big plush or big firm pillows do.” As a side sleeper, she favors the height and firmness of the Airweave S-line pillow, especially noting that taller, softer models “always end up hurting my neck.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who prefer a very supportive pillow; those who sleep on their side, back, and/or stomach.

Good to Know: Side sleepers are recommended to place their head toward the edge of the pillow for best neck alignment while back and stomach sleepers should place their head at the softer center, which will help hold the head in place while sleeping.

We’ve written about Coop Home Goods’ Original pillow before: In 2017, we named it the best overall pillow on Amazon, and in 2019 we wrote about how it has over 12,000 positive Amazon reviews. It’s still a winner for us because it really is that good, especially if you’re a side sleeper. The key is that it’s completely adjustable — it even comes with a half-pound bag of extra fluff so you can make it as firm or as soft as you want. This feature is key for side sleepers and those who change positions, both of whom certainly do not fit into the one-size-fits-all approach. In terms of comfort, it’s soft, supportive, and breathable. Plus, even the shape is easily adjustable, so you can mold it however you like. “I found it super comfortable,” AT social media manager Rachel says. “I also loved the handy diagram that recommended how much memory foam to add or subtract based on the type of sleeper you are.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who are particular about their pillow firmness; those who sleep hot; those who often change sleeping positions.

Good to Know: You can also buy on Amazon for the same price.

Newer brand Pluto makes a fully customizable pillow that defies all categories, so it’s an easy choice for anyone. No matter how you sleep or what firmness you prefer, Pluto can make a pillow just for you. You take an online quiz that asks detailed questions, from the personal (height, weight, age) to the practical (what your current pillow is like, what position you sleep in). Your perfect pillow is then crafted based on your answers. We tried it ourselves and were impressed.

Who It’s Best For: Those who are seriously picky or hard to please when it comes to pillows; those who have been frustrated with their pillow search and want to customize their own.

Good to Know: If you’re unsure about the level of firmness that works best for you, take stock of your previous pillow experiences, give the questions in the questionnaire lots of thought, and communicate with a representative to ensure you end up with the pillow you love.


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