I Test Pillows For a Living — These Are the 5 I Always Have on My Bed

published Oct 4, 2022
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Credit: Esteban Cortez

As the writer of our Best List series, I test everything from mattresses and vacuums to sheets and, of course, bed pillows … and a lot of them. In the past year alone, I’ve slept on close to 20 pillows — down, down alternative, foam, cooling, hybrid, plush, firm — you name it. While I wouldn’t generally recommend this sort of non-routine when it comes to something as important and sensitive as sleep, I’ve somehow managed to get enough rest to be able to form some pretty detailed opinions about each. Unfortunately, a large portion of these pillows aren’t worth mentioning. But after all has been said and done, five of them have survived the bulk donations I do each month and remain on my bed, making my sleep station the haven that it is for me.

I’m a chaotic sleeper. I’ve been known to take up as much space as a cat one night and a Bernese Mountain Dog the next. I’ll wake up sweating in a room of 67 degrees Fahrenheit and bone-dry in a room with no AC on a tropical island. Most of the time, however, I can be found snoozing on my stomach, arms tucked under my pillow, or on my side, with one hand under the pillow. And while my DMs are open to suggestions on how to be less of a mess when it comes to getting rest, let me tell you what does work for me.

1 / 5
was $99.00

As the first pillow I ever wrote a love letter to, the Casper Hybrid has a special place in my heart and on my bed. It's the one I tend to dress in my favorite pillowcase of the moment and reach for instinctively at night. It virtually guaruntees me that however I end up contorting myself throughout the night, it'll offer enough support to let me wake up without any consequential neck or shoulder pain. After a year, the Casper Hybrid is still my go-to.

2 / 5
was $65.00

Not only can you shop the Marlow in bulk and save the more you buy, but this pillow is smartly designed (by former Brooklinen designers, no less!) to be one-size-fits-all, which particularly suits my unpredicatable sleep patterns. This is the best pillow on my bed because, when it is at its plushest, it allows me to fall asleep on my stomach. But whenever I feel the need to roll to my side, all I have to do I unzip the side of the pillow a bit and it'll expand and grow firmer, giving my head and neck the support they need. No tossing and turning, finding the right pillow, or getting a kink in my neck that ruins my whole week. I truly love my Marlow.

3 / 5
Nest Bedding
was $107.00

Nest's Easy Breather pillow made it possible for me to find my ideal firmness level over the course of a few nights and, essentially, customize my perfect pillow. Nest recommends removing plenty of the fill the pillow comes with in order to make it super-plush, and I olbiged. Adding the fill back little by little each night thereafter, I achieved my happy place in a matter of three nights. I tend to shift from side to side during the warmer months, so the Easy Breather has become a mainstay for me during spring and summer. No matter how firm I need it to be, this pillow still promotes airflow throughout, thanks to its shredded (vs. solid) foam fill.

4 / 5
Coop Sleep Goods

Coop Home Goods remains one of my very favorite brands for bedding essentials (especially for the flippable mattress topper!), and the Original Pillow only lends to my loyalty. It comes with half a pound of additional filling, a proprietary blend of medium-firm shredded memory foam and microfiber, so you can level up (or down) the pillow's firmness as needed. However, this pillow has been perfect for me since day one. It's plush to the touch but doesn't let me head sink down into it, so it gives me the instant coziness I crave after a long day and the support my head and neck need throughout the night. Oh, and it's washer and dryer-friendly, and I'm a sucker for easy-to-care-for essentials.

5 / 5
was $119.00

The Brooklinen Down Pillow is a total fail-safe option when it comes to hosting guests. I have the mid-plush firmness level (there are three to choose from) and always get compliments when friends stay over. How do I know? I hide the ones that work especially well for me — the ones that cater specifically to my generally unpredictable sleeper needs — and put the Brooklinen one right up front for my guests. It's luxuriously plush, suits a wide range of sleep positions and tempuratures, and I love that I can shop them in bulk and save as well. They'll definitely be my pick come time for me to furnish a guest room.