Is there anything more personal than buying a pillow? You can survive with less-than-perfect sheets and quilts, but pick the wrong pillow and your entire sleep pattern can be thrown out of whack. Honestly, choosing a pillow is a lot like dating: There’s a whole lot of trial and error and trying out different options to decide what you do and don’t like. The task can be daunting, but we’re here to make it a little bit easier. After several weeks of testing different brands, types, and levels of firmness, we’ve compiled a list of the best pillows on the market right now, no matter what you’re looking for.

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 might hate a firm feel, while others might insist on it, and a “plush” pillow could vary depending on the filling. In short, there are a whole lot of factors, which made compiling this list fairly difficult. We did our best to be unbiased, but take note that what worked for us might be a little different for you.

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 comprised 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 old-fashioned feel, try a down or down alternative pillow. These pillows are filled with down 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 might have ethical concerns about using animal products. If you want the same feel, there are plenty of down alternative options that are 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

One thing that really threw us for a loop when testing pillows was firmness. We had 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. (Personally, I discovered that while I like a plush foam pillow, I much prefer a firm down or gel 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, especially those filled with down.

Firm: If you suffer from neck or head pain, you’ll probably want to consider a firm pillow. It has less give than soft options, so your head won’t sink into it but will be better supported. While it’s all a matter of personal preference, stomach sleepers should avoid firmer pillows, since they’ll keep your head and neck in an uncomfortable position.

Soft: If you don’t require a whole lot of support, you might prefer a soft pillow. With a barely-there feel and the ability to easily conform to your head and neck, these pillows are best for stomach and back sleepers. Again, although it’s a matter of personal preference, side sleepers most likely won’t get the proper support they need from a soft pillow.

Sleeping Style

Side sleeper: If you sleep on your side, you have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing a pillow—but that also means the number of options can get overwhelming. The only thing you really need to look out for is pillow height. Softer, plush pillows tend to be less supportive, and if you’re a side sleeper, that means your neck and spine might not be aligned. Go for something firm or medium-firm, and be sure the pillow is thick enough 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, although if you have neck pain, you’ll want something firm with plenty of support. Otherwise, something soft that’ll mold to your head is best.

Stomach sleeper: You’ll want something super soft if you sleep on your stomach—if you choose to 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 to choose one that’s firm.


If you’re shopping for memory foam, check if it’s CertiPUR-US certified, which ensures that the foam is free from harmful chemicals, flame retardants, heavy metals, and more. Another common certification for foam is GREENGUARD certified, which means that the foam has low chemical emissions.

When it comes to down, look for pillows that are Responsible Down Standard certified, which confirms that the down comes from animals who have not been subjected to any harm.

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?

Best Overall Pillow: Pluto Pillow

Pluto Pillow


Newer brand Pluto makes a fully customizable pillow that defies all categories, so it’s an easy choice for the best overall pillow. No matter how you sleep or what firmness you prefer, Pluto can make a pillow just for you. To get started, 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 constructed based on your answers (there are currently over 25 variations). We tried it ourselves and were impressed: Mine has a cooling quilted cover and a nice medium-firm feel that helped me stay comfy all night.


  • Every pillow has a CertiPUR-US certified foam core, but the cover varies
  • Size and firmness also vary
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • 100-night trial period
  • Cover is machine washable; pillow is not

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

Good to Know: You can’t see what your unique pillow looks like before it arrives.

Best Budget-Friendly Pillow: Lauren Ralph Lauren Down Alternative Logo Pillow

Lauren Ralph Lauren Down Alternative Logo Pillow


As mentioned above, when embarking on this pillow journey we (erroneously) believed that firm = uncomfortable. But the Ralph Lauren Logo pillow set us straight, changing our lives forever. We tested the extra-firm fill, aka the most firm option offered, and discovered a pillow that’s not only supportive but also deliciously comfortable, soft—and cheap. The original price is $20, which is already on the low end for good pillows, but Macy’s pretty much always has a sale running. Right now, you can buy four for just $32. It’s a pillow miracle!


  • 200 thread count cotton cover with polyester fill
  • 18-24 oz. fill, depending on firmness
  • 20″ x 28″
  • Medium, firm, extra-firm densities (we tested extra firm)
  • Machine washable

Who It’s Best For: Those who want the most bang for their buck; those who just want a good, straightforward pillow.

Good to Know: It’s almost always on sale at Macy’s.

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers: Coop Home Goods Original Pillow

Product Image: The Original Pillow

The Original Pillow


We’ve written about Coop Home Goods’ Original pillow before: In 2017, we named it the best overall pillow on Amazon, and just a few months ago we wrote about how it has over 12,000 positive Amazon reviews. And yes, 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 1/2-lb. bag of extra fluff so you can make it as firm or as soft as you want. This feature is key for side sleepers, who certainly do not fit into the one-size-fits-all approach. In terms of comfort, it’s soft, supportive, and breathable. Plus, the shape is easily adjustable too, so you can mold it however you like.


  • Bamboo-derived viscose rayon and polyester liner with a viscoelastic polyurethane and polyester fill
  • 20″ x 30″
  • CertiPUR-US certified and GREENGUARD Gold certified
  • 5-year warranty; 100-night trial period
  • Machine-washable

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

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

Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers: Riley Home Down Alternative Pillow, Plush

Product Image: Down Alternative Pillow, Plush

Down Alternative Pillow, Plush


We’ve been consistently impressed with Riley Home’s bedding, even declaring their down comforter the best overall. When it comes to their pillows, you can’t go wrong with any of them—but we most highly recommend the plush-fill down alternative pillow for stomach sleepers. Soft and squishy, it’s a perfect pillow to cuddle up with if you sleep on your stomach. While side sleepers probably won’t find the plush fill supportive enough, back sleepers might find this pillow to be a good option.


  • 100% long-staple cotton percale shell with hypoallergenic microfiber fill
  • 28-39 oz. fill, depending on firmness
  • 20″ x 26″
  • Plush and firm densities (we tested both)
  • 5-year warranty; 100-night trial period
  • Machine washable

Who It’s Best For: Those who want to sink into their pillow; those who want something extra cuddly; those who want to invest in something that will last.

Good to Know: The cover is removable and comes with navy piping. There’s also a down version available for $90 more. You can also purchase at Bloomingdale’s.

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers: Brookstone BioSense Layer Adjust Memory Foam Pillow

Product Image: Brookstone BioSense Layer Adjust Memory Foam Pillow

Brookstone BioSense Layer Adjust Memory Foam Pillow


Like side sleepers (perhaps even more so), back sleepers are not easy to pin down. Some prefer an ultra firm option, while others like a barely there and super soft feel. An adjustable pillow is ideal, and Brookstone’s BioSense Layer Adjust pillow is our top recommendation. It comes with three layers built into the pillow that are both removable and interchangeable, allowing you to test a whopping 15 fill combinations before committing to one. And if you change your mind, you can simply switch. Our back sleeper tester Rebecca Longshore (AT’s Director of Audience Growth) had this to say:

“I sleep the same way every night—on my back with two pillows and my head perfectly propped up. Previously, I had a firmer pillow on the bottom and a softer one on top, but this Brookstone one does it all for me. After three tries, I found my perfect pillow combination: medium on the bottom, followed by the firm, and then the softest layer on top. After two years of struggling with falling asleep fast, I can now say that I fall asleep in 10 minutes flat. Really—just ask my husband. I’m honestly a little nervous about being so attached to a pillow, but I think I’ll take the risk and sleep like a baby for now.”


  • Polyester cover with memory foam and down alternative fill
  • 18″ x 26″
  • Comes with three removable fill layers for soft, medium, and firm densities
  • 5-year warranty
  • Pillow cover is machine washable; pillow is not

Who It’s Best For: Those who want options; those who want to easily test different options before committing.

Good to Know: Each layer has a different foam construction.

Best Down Pillow: Snowe Down Pillow

Product Image: Down Pillow

Down Pillow


If you’re looking for luxury, you can’t do 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.


  • 330 thread count cotton sateen cover with French white duck down fill
  • 750 fill power; 15-23 oz. fill, depending on firmness
  • 20″ x 28″
  • Soft, medium, and firm densities (we tested firm)
  • OEKO-TEX certified and RDS certified
  • 90-night trial period
  • Machine washable

Who It’s Best For: Those who want something ultra luxe that will last.

Good to Know: Also available in a down alternative version for $55.

Best Down Alternative Pillow: Parachute Down Alternative Pillow

Product Image: Down Alternative Pillow

Down Alternative Pillow


On the other hand, 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 were all in line with our expectations. We slept comfortably and found that the firm option was the perfect density for side and back sleepers.


  • 100% cotton sateen shell with hypoallergenic microfiber fill
  • 22-35 oz. fill depending on firmness
  • 20″ x 26″
  • Soft, medium, and firm densities (we tested firm)
  • OEKO-TEX certified
  • 3-year warranty; 60-night trial period
  • Machine washable

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

Good to Know: Parachute also makes a down alternative side sleeper pillow for $89, although it’s smaller than the original.

Best Memory Foam Pillow: Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow

Product Image: Original Foam Pillow

Original Foam Pillow


After all is said and done, we were surprised by how much we loved Tuft & Needle’s foam pillow. Known first and foremost for its 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 we definitely noticed that we slept cool all night. As is typical with foam pillows, it’s heavier than other options but won’t lose its shape over time.


  • Micro polyamide and polyester cover with foam, graphite, and gel fill
  • 4 lbs.
  • 16″ x 25″
  • GREENGUARD Gold certified; CertiPUR-US certified; OEKO-TEX certified; Intertek’s Clean Air certified
  • 3-year warranty; 100-night trial period
  • Pillow cover is machine washable; pillow is not

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.

Best Gel Pillow: Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow

Product Image: Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow (set of 2)

Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow (set of 2)


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—ours are going on three years and still look and feel as good as new.


  • 100% cotton sateen cover with gel fiber down alternative fill
  • 20″ x 28″
  • OEKO-TEX certified
  • 30-night trial period
  • Machine washable

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.

Best Organic Pillow

Product Image: Green Pillow

Green Pillow


If you’re trying to make more eco-friendly consumer choices, you can’t go wrong with 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 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 even if you’re not committed to buying something green.

Honorable Mention: Naturepedic’s Organic 2-in-1 Adjustable Latex Pillow, which costs $99 and is double-sided with two distinctly different feels.


  • 100% GOTS organic certified cotton cover with 100% GOLS organic certified latex shreds and 100% natural and GOTS organic certified Kapok fiber
  • 3.4 lbs.
  • 19″ x 24″
  • eco-INSTITUT certified latex; GREENGUARD Gold certified; Formaldehyde Free certified; GOTS Organic certified; OEKO-TEX certified; MADE SAFE certified non-toxic; vegan certified
  • 1-year warranty; 100-night trial period
  • Not machine washable

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).

Best Pillow for Neck Pain: Casper Foam Pillow

Product Image: Foam Pillow

Foam Pillow


This pick might seem counterintuitive, as foam is typically known for being less supportive than other materials. Casper’s foam pillow, however, is not your average pillow: Made with three layers of foam and nothing else, it’s actually the firmest option on our list, making it ideal for those with neck pain. 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.

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.


  • Polyester and spandex cover with foam fill
  • 16″ x 24″
  • 1-year warranty; 100-night trial period
  • Cover is machine washable; pillow is not

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

Good to Know: Since it’s not as plush as other pillows, it doesn’t quite fill out a standard pillowcase—although the cover is washable, so you can do without one.