The Best Editor-Tested Pillows That You Can Buy Now

updated Sep 8, 2023
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Bed with blue tufted headboard and fluffy white pillows. Seal in upper left corner reads "Apartment Therapy the Best List 2023 Pillows"
Credit: Kim Lucian

Selecting the perfect pillow is a lot like the process of finding the right partner — you may have to give a few prospectives a go before you settle on your ideal match. We spend a significant amount of time snuggling up with our pillows (if we’re lucky, at least 6-8 hours a night), and a pillow can either make or break our rest. Not all pillows are created equal, so selecting the right one can be an involved process. Different pillows are designed to meet the unique needs of different sleepers, so the challenge begins with a self-audit of your own sleep style, movement, and preferences. To give you a helping hand, we’ve done the heavy lifting when it comes to product research and testing and have uncovered the very best pillows for every type of sleeper. Read on to find yours and discover just how much better your sleep can really be.

The Best Pillows

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. Some people with neck pain may insist on a firm feel, while others find a plush pillow more beneficial. It all depends on your sleeping 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, and 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.

Type of Fill

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 ideal 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.

Firmness Levels

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 backward 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.

Sleeping Style

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.

Certifications

  • CertiPUR-US: Ensures the foam is free from harmful chemicals, flame retardants, heavy metals, and more.
  • GREENGUARD: Ensures the foam has low chemical emissions.
  • Responsible Down Standard (RDS): Confirms that the down used comes from animals not subjected to any harm.
  • eco-INSTITUT: Ensures the brand goes beyond usual standards and mandatory legal, national, and international requirements on health-agreeable home products.
  • Intertek’s Clean Air: Ensures products comply with low VOC emission requirements and certifies on behalf of BIFMA e3, California CDPH, LEED, and WELL.
  • Downmark: Ensures the authenticity and high quality of down-labeled products.
  • GOTS: Confirms the ecological and social responsibility with which textile products are made.
  • MADE SAFE: Ensures everyday products are non-toxic, made with safe ingredients and materials, and are family-safe.
  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100: Ensures every component of a product has been tested and is free of harmful chemicals.
  • CPSIA: Ensures a product is safe for children and meets general consumer product safety rules.

What We Look for in a Pillow

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

  • Feel: How comfortable is the pillow? Do we remain comfortable all night, or do we wake up with neck pain? Does it feel cool, or do we feel warm?
  • Support: How supportive is the pillow? Do we wake up feeling sore? Do we feel comfortable in all positions? Do we sink into the pillow, or does it feel firm?
  • Size: Does the pillow fit into a standard-size pillowcase? Does it have an odd shape?

The Best Pillows

The Sijo Fluffbase Eucalyptus Pillow really does tick all the boxes — its eucalyptus down alternative ensures cloud-like sleeping conditions, and ensures you’ll have a cool and dry sleep all night long. “It caught me by surprise how well I slept with this pillow!” says Best List Editor Britt. “It’s soft but not too soft, so it provides great support whether I’m on my back, stomach, or side. It also stays cool, which is fantastic for me as a hot sleeper, especially since I’ve been using it during some of the hottest days of the year.” The super breathable eucalyptus materials also boast natural antibacterial properties, and Sijo goes the extra mile by adding a silver-ion antimicrobial treatment to reduce the spread of fungus and bacteria on top of it. 

Specifications:

  • 100% TENCEL lyocell cover
  • Recycled polyester down-alternative fill
  • Medium-soft feel
  • Hypoallergenic
  • OEKO-TEX 100 certified
  • Available in Standard/Queen and King sizes
  • Machine wash cold on gentle cycle; tumble dry low 
  • 7-day risk free trial

Who It’s Best For: Hot sleepers; those who want a down-like feel without the feathers.

Good to Know: The materials for all Sijo pillows are sustainably produced. 

If you’re not looking to break the bank to outfit your bed in luxurious pillows, the Sobel Westex Sobella Pillow is the way to go. This hotel-quality pillow is filled with a hypoallergenic, extra fine, and soft gel fiber that’s perfect for side sleepers, and it’s a nice, lofty pillow to lay your head upon. “This is easily one of my favorite pillows from Sobel Westex,” says Britt. “It’s soft and supportive, and I love that it’s comfortable whether I’m sleeping on my stomach or on my side.” This pillow is also made from 300 thread count and 100 percent cotton, ensuring a comfortable and long-lasting experience. 

Specifications:

  • 100% cotton cover with 300 thread count
  • Gel-infused microfiber fill
  • Medium-soft feel
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Available in Standard, Queen, and King sizes
  • Spot clean recommended; wash in warm water with mild detergent, then tumble try low

Who It’s Best For: Side sleepers; those who prefer a more substantial pillow.

Good to Know: The pillow’s shape may be affected after multiple washes, so supplementing with pillow protectors is recommended to expand your pillow’s lifespan.

Oprah-approved (and editor-loved) brand Cozy Earth strikes again with its incredible Silk Pillow, made with viscose from bamboo. Perfect for side sleepers, this pillow is filled with mulberry silk — the same luxurious material that silk eye masks and pillowcases are typically made from. “I love this pillow’s density,” says senior commerce editor Alicia. “It’s not so soft that I can feel the mattress through the pillow and not so hard that it feels like I am sleeping on a foam-covered block. It strikes the perfect balance for a side sleeper.” This material is also super breathable, which helps regulate your temperature through the night. “Since switching to my new pillow, I’ve noticed that I stay cool through the night. I never have to flip to the ‘cool side’ of the pillow, either.”

Read our full review of the Cozy Earth Silk Pillow.

Specifications:

  • 100% viscose from bamboo cover
  • 100% mulberry silk fill
  • Medium feel
  • Available in Standard and King sizes
  • Spot clean or dry clean
  • 100-day trial
  • 10-year warranty

Who It’s Best For: Side sleepers; hot sleepers; those who are willing to spend a little more money for a pillow.

Good to Know: It’s best to use a cover with this pillow to preserve its lifespan and to ensure the warranty is valid if any issues arise.

When it comes to memory foam, we usually think of the comfort benefits it can bring, but it’s also a great material for regulating body temperature. Enter the Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow, which infuses a cooling gel in the super cushy memory foam material to make sure you’re not overheating during the night. “My husband is a hot sleeper who sweats sometimes at night from his hairline,” says executive lifestyle director Charli. “He says there was a noticeable difference in his comfort here and credits that to the breathability of this pillow.”

This pillow can also be customized to what type of sleeper you are. It’s available in both a low loft design for back and stomach sleepers as well as a high loft design for side sleepers. And as a bonus, this pillow has also been known to help with people who snore, including Charli’s husband. She says, “It’s providing the necessary height and support he needs to breathe and sleep more peacefully.”

Read our full review of the Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow.

Specifications:

  • Premium knit cover
  • Copper-infused memory foam fill
  • Hypoallergenic
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • Comes in both low (4″) loft and high (5″) loft
  • Available in Queen and King sizes
  • Spot clean recommended; machine wash without cover on a gentle, then tumble dry low or lay flat to dry
  • 3-year warranty

Who It’s Best For: Hot sleepers; those who snore and seek a pillow to help reduce it by sleeping on their backs.

Good to Know: The copper in this pillow’s foam supplies antimicrobial benefits and protects you from allergens, mold, and dust mites.

Made by in-house ergonomists to conform to the shape of your head, the Neck Relief Ergonomic Cervical Pillow is “an excellent choice for anyone looking for a comfortable and supportive pillow that can help alleviate neck and shoulder pain,” according to AT commerce and branded content social media manager Brian. This pillow allows the neck to maintain its natural curve to release pressure and allows for a healthier alignment. “Additionally, the breathable cover keeps you cool throughout the night, allowing you to sleep comfortably without waking up sweaty. Overall, the Cushion Lab Ergonomic Cervical Pillow is a fantastic investment for anyone looking to improve their sleep quality and reduce neck and shoulder pain,” says Brian. 

Specifications:

  • 100% organic cotton cover with 100% polyester lining
  • 100% Hyperfoam fill (gel-infused memory foam)
  • Medium-firm feel
  • CertiPUR-US Certified
  • Machine-washable cover; pillow core is not washable
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who suffer from neck and/or back pain; those who prefer an ergonomic pillow design.

Good to Know: Cushion Lab also makes knee pillows for side sleepers as well as neck rolls, in case you’re seeking other ergonomic tools to help you sleep even better. 

Best for Back Sleepers: Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Symphony Pillow

With the TEMPUR-Symphony Pillow, you’ll get the best of both worlds thanks to its two-in-one design that boasts an arched side for back and stomach sleepers and a flatter side for side sleepers. “This pillow is a hybrid sleeper’s dream!” says Charli. “I’m a side sleeper who often winds up on my back in the middle of the night. I love that I can flip it over to meet whichever need I have. I have a lot of neck pain at night and this pillow made me forget that was even a thing.” The TEMPUR material is designed to conform to your shape, ensuring a truly personalized sleep experience. Plus, it’s great for hot sleepers, as Charli can attest: “As a hot sleeper, it was also cooling and sleek and easy to swap in and out of a pillowcase. Five stars all around!”

Specifications:

  • 100% polyester cover
  • TEMPUR memory foam fill
  • Soft feel
  • CPSIA certified
  • Machine wash cold, then dry on cool; air-drying recommended
  • 5-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: All sleep styles, but especially combination sleepers; those who prefer memory foam pillows.

Good to Know: The polyester cover is removable and machine washable. 

Best for Stomach Sleepers: Sobel Westex Sahara Nights Pillow

Making a second appearance on this list, Sobel Westex is a brand we love coming back to for high-quality, affordable pillows. And as Sobel Westex’s best-selling pillow, the Sahara Nights Pillow is no exception! This soft-medium pillow is filled with a gel fiber that is perfect for propping up stomach sleepers. “Right out of its packaging, the Sahara Nights pillow gave me high hopes as it mimics the same downy feel of pillows I love to use on vacation,” says Britt.

“Thanks to the gel-infused microfiber fill, it has cloud-like comfort with a bit of support to keep me from feeling like my head is directly on my mattress. It’s also durable and malleable: I have the pillow in a Queen size and was able to stuff it into a standard pillowcase without a problem,” she adds. “I didn’t think I could sleep as deeply as I do when I’m traveling, but the Sahara Nights pillow showed me that it’s not where you are, but what you use to sleep.” This plush pillow helps combat neck and back pain, awkward sleeping positions, as well as tossing and turning in your sleep.

Read our full review of the Sahara Nights Pillow.

Specifications:

  • 100% cotton cover with 233 thread count
  • Gel-infused microfiber fill
  • Medium-soft feel
  • Available in Standard, Queen, and King sizes
  • Spot clean recommended; wash in warm water with mild detergent, then tumble dry low

Who It’s Best For: Stomach and back sleepers; those who prefer a softer pillow.

Good to Know: This pillow has been used at Disney hotels, and Sobel Westex also carries a collection of Disney Resort-themed bedding.

It’s all in the name with the Indulgence by Isotonic Side Sleeper Pillow: It’s designed specifically to help side sleepers drift into an easy sleep. “I am prone to a painful neck if sleeping with pillows that are too firm or too flat, but this pillow is at the perfect intersection of puffy and supportive that has led to many lovely nights of slumber,” says social media manager Sam. “It’s also held up its shape over many nights, which was great since many don’t.” Made with synthetic down and boasting a 500-thread-count cotton cover, this pillow is also great for keeping you cool throughout the night. 

Specifications:

  • 100% cotton cover with 500 thread count
  • Synthetic down fiber fill
  • Medium feel
  • Available in Standard/Queen and King sizes
  • Machine washable
  • 3-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Side sleepers; those who prefer synthetic down; those who prefer a fluffier pillow over a denser one.

Good to Know: Be careful when washing this pillow, as it might change its feel. Spot cleaning might be the better option.

*Honorable Mention: The Honeydew Side Sleeper Pillow was a total game-changer for commerce SEO editor Sarah. “The second I laid my head down, I instantly thought to myself, ‘Oh, is this what support feels like?’ From my neck to my shoulders and even my back, I could instantly feel my body being aligned.”

Best for Combination Sleepers: Cushion Lab Deep Sleep Pillow

The Deep Sleep Pillow from Cushion Lab has gained the reputation of being “marshmallow soft” — and for good reason! “I’ve never before slept on a pillow that made me sigh in relief every time I change positions,” says Britt. “I haven’t had any recent shoulder or neck aches, and I wake up feeling vacation-level rested. Deep sleep, indeed!”

Made with a special blend of dual-density memory foam, this pillow has been crafted to have body-contouring ergonomics. The Freshface nylon-and-spandex cover also boasts anti-wrinkle and anti-hair-frizz properties, leaving you looking and feeling rejuvenated after a good night’s sleep. “I was never really a sculpted-pillow person before, but the Deep Sleep Pillow has changed my mind.”

Read our full review of the Deep Sleep Pillow.

Specifications:

  • 85% cooling nylon and 15% spandex cover; recycled polyester inner cover
  • 100% dual-density memory foam fill
  • Firm yet soft feel
  • CertiPUR-US Certified
  • Machine-washable cover; pillow core is not washable
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Combination sleepers; those who prefer a firm yet soft and squishy pillow texture.

Good to Know: This pillow also boasts a sweeping shoulder line designed for ultimate support.

Best Unique: Pluto Pillow

If you are looking for the perfect pillow made exactly for you, look no further than the Pluto Pillow. Pluto has you complete an 11-question quiz to make sure you’re getting the pillow of your dreams that will meet all your needs. It asks about you, your current pillow, and your pillow preferences, including your sleeping habits. “I admit I was skeptical about my ideal pillow being determined by an online quiz, but as soon as I got my hands on it, all of my concerns flew out the window,” says Britt.

Based on your results, you’ll receive a pillow with a foam core with the perfect thickness for your sleeping style; it comes wrapped in a plush cover with a thickness based on your answers to whether you’re a hot sleeper or just need some basic regulation. “When it comes to comfort, my Pluto Pillow certainly delivered. It’s not too bulky or too firm, and it’s just as nice to lay on it on my back while scrolling my phone in bed, as it is to fall asleep on my stomach or roll over onto my side,” says Britt. 

Read our full review of the Pluto Pillow.

Specifications:

  • Customized cover and fill
  • Available in Standard and King sizes
  • Firmness level is dependent upon your quiz answers
  • CertiPUR-US Certified 
  • 125-night trial
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: All sleep types; those who prefer a customized pillow made specifically for their preferences.

Good to Know: Although many Pluto owners love their pillows from the first night, the brand recommends sleeping on your pillow for two weeks as an adjustment period.