The Best Pillows to Instantly Upgrade Your Bed

We updated this article in October 2022 to ensure our top-tested pillows were in stock and reflected accurate prices.

Not to add too much pressure to your hunt for the perfect pillow, but the pillow you choose can have huge impact on how well you sleep. Besides factoring in your personal preferences for materials and shape, the key to buying a pillow is finding one that keeps you properly aligned all night. To help stay in the proper position, side sleepers should choose a thick, firm pillow; stomach sleepers need a soft, thinner one; and back sleepers need something in between.

The scientists in the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab thoroughly evaluate pillows of all types — from down and down alternative to memory foam, latex and more. We also look at pillows by specific needs, like cooling pillows for hot sleepers, organic pillows for sustainable shoppers, pillows for people with neck pain and pillows to help prevent snoring. In recent years, we’ve tested more than 130 different pillows and reviewed over 4,000 data points between our Lab at at-home consumer tests before making these recommendations.

Our top picks:

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You can learn more about how we test and how to pick the best pillow for your needs at the bottom of this guide, but first, here’s everything you need to know about our top-tested pillows.

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Original Loft Pillow


An ideal balance of soft and firm, this pillow is filled with a blend of memory foam pieces and microfiber clusters. As a result, we found that it feels surprisingly supportive and plush at the same time. It’s suitable for all positions because it comes with extra stuffing that you can add or remove at home to create your own perfect height. Just be cautious when you’re adjusting the fill; it can get a bit messy and it’s not something you’ll want to redo on a regular basis.

It’s machine washable so you can easily keep it clean, and it immediately bounced back to shape after our Lab’s pressure tests. It’s also a best-seller on Amazon with over 50,000 reviews and an average 4.5-star rating, with users calling it “best pillow ever.” And if you’re a hot sleeper, the brand’s Eden pillow has the same construction, but with cooling gel added to the memory foam.

TESTER NOTES: Our panel of at-home testers all gave it high scores across the board, unanimously saying it was better than the pillows they had previously used and that it helped improve their sleep quality. One tester described it by saying “it wraps around my head and I sink into it,” while another told us she was “able to comfortably switch from side to back to stomach and still feel supported and comfortable.”

READ OUR FULL REVIEW: The Coop Original Pillow Is the Best Pillow We’ve Ever Tested

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Down-Alternative Pillows 2-Pack


This Amazon-branded pillow offers the best bang for your buck: It’s sold as a pair and outperformed other styles on the market that cost over triple its price in our tests. And even though its polyester down-alternative fill helps it cost less, we found it still washed well without shrinkage, making it a solid choice for people with allergies that constantly need to clean their bedding.

The pillow comes in two firmness levels, with the softer one being more ideal for stomach or back sleepers. It’s also perfect for kids, who need a lower profile to match their smaller frames. The medium one is designed for side and back sleepers, though it may not feel sturdy enough for larger frames that need more support.

TESTER NOTES: Users told us they especially enjoyed how soft this pillow felt, with one noting “I like how fluffy this pillow is and how well it maintains shape after continued use.” Though some wished it were taller and denser, they gave it good scores for allowing them to wake up without soreness.

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Side Sleeper Pro


A game-changer for side sleepers who struggle to find perfect alignment, this pillow’s unique shape doesn’t taper off like a traditional pillow and instead fills the gap between your shoulder and neck. To make sure it matches your body type, it’s available in three heights, with standard being the most popular, as it ranges for heights 5 ‘3″ to 6 ‘4″.

Pillow Cube also sells a stretchy pillowcase made of polyester and spandex that’s ultrasoft and perfectly fits this pillow. (You can still use a regular pillowcase if you prefer, it just won’t fit as well.) And if you’re a hot sleeper, check out the Ice Cube version of this pillow, which has an outer cover with a cool-to-the-touch feel.

TESTER NOTES: Our reviewers were amazed by how much the Side Sleeper Pro helped their alignment. One raved, “it perfectly holds up my head,” while another said, “my neck is totally supported.” It was best suited for true side sleepers in our tests — i.e., not for those that change position while they sleep — because it felt too tall for users when lying on their stomachs or backs.

READ OUR FULL REVIEW: The Pillow Cube Is the Answer for Side Sleepers

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Kapok Pillow


With comfort you have to feel to believe, we found this pillow to be surprisingly plush yet still supportive, thanks to its innovative blend of shredded memory foam with soft and fluffy kapok (a natural fiber that’s similar to cotton, but feels silkier). The fill is also adjustable, so it works for multiple sleep styles or for people who often change positions.

That said, we think its softer feel is especially suited for stomach and back sleepers because a too-firm fill can cause the neck to tilt. And even though it’s plush, it easily bounced back to shape after we applied weights in our tests to mimic a head lying on it overnight. Just note that because the pillow uses a grey pattern on its outer cover, it may be visible under white pillowcases, if that sort of thing bothers you.

TESTER NOTES: A reviewer favorite, it earned the exceptionally high ratings during our sleep tests. Testers gave it perfect scores for comfort, support and overall satisfaction, plus they said it kept its shape and had them waking up without feeling sore. A tester highlighted how she was able to stop using two pillows by switching to this one, while another summarized, “I like the softness, how supportive it feels and how it is moldable.”

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Original Foam Pillow


Tuft & Needle uses solid foam instead of foam clusters for a more supportive surface, but it has ventilated holes to make it breathable along with graphite and cooling gel to prevent overheating. The brand describes the feel as “squishy while remaining supportive” and we fully agree based on our evaluations.

In Lab tests, it bounced back to shape immediately after we applied pressure. It fit fairly well into a pillowcase but is just a bit smaller than other pillows so there’s a slightly loose fit. Only the cover is machine washable, but we found that it laundered well without any shrinkage.

TESTER NOTES: It was a top-rated pillow from our sleep testers, who gave it perfect scores for comfort and keeping its shape. Plus, testers unanimously said it felt like an upgrade from the pillows they normally use. Its praise included comments like, “this pillow was firm enough that it kept its shape, but felt overall soft” and, “it was comfortable in multiple sleeping positions and the perfect level of firmness.”

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Down Alternative Pillow Set


Tuft & Needle makes our list again, but this time for its poly stuffing that’s lightweight yet still significantly firmer than other down alternative pillows. It aced all of our Lab’s evaluations, including pillowcase fit, shrinkage after laundering and how well it kept its shape after we applied weight. This is especially important because it’s designed for back and side sleepers who need their pillow to keep its shape all night for proper alignment.

On top of that, it uses a synthetic down alternative, which is ideal for easy care and a lower cost. In fact, this set of two pillows cost less than some individual ones we tested from other brands. The fill also prevents it from feeling too dense, which can sometimes be a downside to pillows made for side sleepers.

TESTER NOTES: Our entire tester panel was impressed with how it stood up to pressure, and one user told us it “kept its shape better than any other pillow I’ve ever used.” More importantly, they all rated it supportive and comfortable to sleep on. One even called out its luxurious attention to detail, saying it had “excellent quality with good materials and stitching.”

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Down Pillow


For those who prefer the real deal, this luxuriously fluffy pick outperformed all other down pillows in our test. It was a reviewer favorite, kept its shape well and fit nicely into a pillowcase. And you don’t even need to worry about special care instructions: We found it held up to repeated washings without showing signs of wear.

Besides this medium density, it’s also available in soft and firm, and the down fill has been certified as responsibly sourced. We also love that its outer cover is a cotton sateen with double stitching around the hem to make sure the down doesn’t poke through during use.

TESTER NOTES: Testers raved about its softness and gave it perfect scores for comfort and overall satisfaction. One even described it as “absolutely dreamy” and feeling “like a marshmallow.” They also gave this pillow high marks for support and staying at a comfortable temperature throughout the night.

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Down Surround Pillow


This style from Home Depot’s home brand is unique with its double-pillow design: there’s an inner chamber of feathers for support surrounded by an outer layer of down for a soft, fluffy feel. It has a medium-density that’s designed to work for a variety of sleep positions, but our testers noted that it has a lower profile, making it more suitable for people that sleep on their stomachs or backs.

The entire pillow is machine washable and it didn’t shrink at all in our wash tests, despite showing some signs of wear. It also bounced back to shape well after we applied pressure for an extended period. The down is certified by the Responsible Down Standard for traceability in the supply chain, and the outer cover is made of comfortable cotton. It’s also a Good Housekeeping Seal holder, meaning we stand behind it with our two-year limited warranty.

TESTER NOTES: Testers raved about its softness and highlighted how plush it felt while they were sleeping. Some wished it had more support, saying they prefer taller models when sleeping on their stomachs and backs, but we think it’s ideal for anyone that doesn’t need the height. Plus, testers found this pillow to be useful for stacking, too: “I liked using it as an extra pillow to prop up with before bed while reading or watching TV,” one told us.

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TEMPUR-Neck Pillow


If you need firm support or the right shape to help alleviate neck pain, this is the pillow for you. It’s been on the market for years now and has stood the test of time thanks to its solid memory foam that’s ergonomically designed to give back and side sleepers proper alignment. Unlike most other pillows, the shape is contoured so it’ll fit the curve around your head, neck and shoulders.

It also has a slimmer profile so it won’t feel too high, though we found that it does fit pillowcases a bit awkwardly. Still, it held up to our pressure tests and it comes in small, medium and large sizes to properly fit different body types. We also confirmed the outer cover is removable and can be machine washed.

TESTER NOTES: Testers who prefer firm pillows told us this one felt supportive and great to lie on. “It fit around my neck and shoulder perfectly,” noted one. Another tester called out how it sinks in very slowly to mold to individual shapes. Just note that it’s much firmer than other pillows on our list, so it’s not ideal for everyone.

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UltraCool Pillow


This down alternative pillow stands out for its temperature-regulating cover that’s made with Outlast viscose, which stores and releases body heat to prevent you from overheating while you sleep. Unlike other cooling pillows that feel instantly cool to the touch, we found that this one works all night long to help keep you at a comfortable temperature in our sleep tests.

Besides its cooling features, this pillow also aced Lab evaluations when we looked at how well it keeps its shape after use, how well it holds up to washing and how well it fits into a pillowcase. Even if you’re not a hot sleeper, we think this one’s a great choice because it’s proven to be durable and long-lasting.

TESTER NOTES: Our panel unanimously said this pillow kept them at a comfortable body temperature all night, and they also gave it high marks for keeping its shape during use and overall comfort while sleeping. One tester told us, “I was very skeptical about the cooling claims of the pillow and was so pleased to find them to be true! The pillow never became hot like my own pillows do.”

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Harmony Pillow


Not too firm and not too plush, this pillow has Talalay Latex on the inside that’s surrounded by Purple’s signature elastic grid material, which is super popular for its ability to feel equally soft and supportive. It also comes in three heights to fit a range of body types and combination sleepers.

The pillow bounced back to shape perfectly in our Lab evaluations, even after weights were left on top for eight hours. Only the cover is machine washable, but it held up to our laundering tests. And though it’s pricey, the brand offers a 100-night trial so you can sleep on it for a few months to make sure you love it.

TESTER NOTES: Our at-home reviewers praised its support, shape retention and breathability, with each one highlighting the fact that it stayed cool all night long. They also agreed that they wanted to continue using it after the test. As one tester summarized it: “I stayed cool all night and the texture of the pillow was very soft and supportive.”

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Organic 2-in-1 Latex Pillow


Latex pillows ideal for those who prefer organic materials or more bounce (i.e., less sinking in) than memory foam. This one stands out for being certified organic by the Global Organic Latex Standard, and its latex fill is shredded so you can add or remove it to find the perfect height. Plus, it’s reversible with different fabrics on each side: On one side there’s a stretchy, smooth material that’s designed to conform to the shape of your head and neck, while the other has a fluffy quilted side filled with PLA batting to make it feel plush.

The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for sustainability: It earned high scores in both Lab and consumer tests. The pillow kept its shape even after pressure was applied and the outer cover washed well.

TESTER NOTES: Users said this pillow was comfortable, supportive and kept them at a good temperature. They all enjoyed the versatility between its adjustable fill and two-sided design, with one saying, “my initial reaction was just ‘wow!'” based on the quality craftsmanship. Another told us, “this is literally the greatest pillow I have ever slept on.”

More Pillows to Consider

Our product testing experts have extensively analyzed all of the data from our pillow tests to ensure we’re offering the absolute best recommendations for a wide range of sleepers. But there are a few more types of pillows with certain features that may also be worth considering, depending on your personal preferences:

  • Best Gel Pillow: Allswell Gel Cooling Pillow is made of memory foam with a gel layer at the surface to help prevent the overheating that’s associated with foam. Our testers thought it was super comfortable and offered great support support. Just note that gel typically provides a cool-to-the-touch feel rather than all-night temperature-regulation benefits.
  • Best Buckwheat Pillow: Turmerry Buckwheat Pillow is filled with buckwheat, which is gaining popularity because of the way it conforms to the shape of your head and the fact that it’s a natural material instead of foam. The downside is that it wasn’t as durable in our Lab tests, and most users didn’t find it as comfortable as other types of pillows in sleep tests.
  • Best Lower Body Pillow: Noble Lower Body Pillow is ideal for anyone with lower back pain. While a head pillow keeps your head and neck aligned, this triangular-shape goes between or under your legs to help keep your hips and spine aligned. It’s expensive and not necessary for everyone, but it can certainly help ease discomfort.

How We Test Pillows

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best pillows – how good housekeeping tests pillows

All pillows are evaluated in the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Textiles Lab. We’ve tested more than 130 different pillows in recent years, and we review data and scores from these tests before deciding which pillows to recommend for every type of sleeper.

In the Lab, we first check the care labels to make sure they’re washable (PSA: some pillows are not machine washable!), then we wash them five times to see whether they’ll actually hold up to laundering. We also look at how well they fit into a pillowcase and we perform support and recovery tests (pictured) that mimic the pressure from your head lying on it all night: A weight is left on the pillow for an extended period then we measure how quickly it returns to its original shape.

In addition to Lab testing, we also have our consumer testers try them out at home for in-depth feedback on things like comfort, support, temperature regulation and more. Testers are assigned a pillow based on an initial survey to make sure they’re getting a good match for their sleep styles, then they’re given weeks to sleep on it before providing both scored and open-ended responses.

What type of pillow material is most comfortable?

While there are many types of pillows to choose from, the fill is the most important aspect when it comes to comfort. Here are the key differences between the most common options:

  • Down pillows tend to be the fluffiest, but a combination of down with feather may be firmer and less expensive.
  • Down alternative pillows can still feel soft and offer good support, but they’re usually made with synthetic fill so they’re more affordable than down.
  • Memory foam pillows are thicker and often firmer. You can choose from solid memory foam or memory foam clusters, which feel plusher to lie on while still offering the support of foam.
  • Latex pillows feel similar to memory foam, but they have more of a bouncy feel with less contouring. Another difference: latex foam is typically made from rubber trees.
  • Hybrid pillows mix foam and fiberfill so you get the best of both categories – i.e., supportive yet plush.

How do I pick the best pillow?

After picking your favorite fill, before you get shopping for a new pillow, here’s what to keep in mind as you pick out your best pillow:

✔️ Make sure it’s the right height. There’s no one-size-fits-all pillow, and “it’s important that your neck stays ‘neutral,'” says Dr. Niamish Baxi, a physiatrist focusing on spine care and musculoskeletal medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. “It should not be flexed forward, extended back or rotated. Being in these positions will put a strain on the joints in your cervical spine as well as the muscles surrounding it.”

According to Dr. Baxi, “Your ears should be aligned with your shoulders and your chin faced forward.” To achieve this alignment, you’ll need to factor in your body size and how you sleep. Here’s how to pick your height:

  • Body type: Larger-framed people should use a taller pillow, whereas smaller bodies need something flatter. Medium frames can use something in between.
  • Sleep position: Side sleepers need a higher and more supportive pillow, while stomach sleepers should opt for a lower and softer style. Back sleepers (or anyone who switches positions through the night) should opt for a pillow that’s somewhere in the middle.

✔️ Take a look at special features based on your preferences. You can browse for innovative specifications that come with some pillows, like cooling pillows with temperature-regulating properties if you tend to overheat, or adjustability if you want to personalize firmness level and height.

✔️ Consider any recent health changes. Physical shifts (like weight fluctuation, new aches and pains or other changes in your body as you age) affect the type of support you need, according to Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., a former environmental scholar at the National Sleep Foundation. If your previously-loved pillow is no longer feeling great, consider trying something new.

✔️ Don’t overlook care instructions. Before purchasing a pillow, check the care label to make sure you’re willing to washing your pillow as recommended. Most are machine washable, but some are dry clean only, have removable covers or only allow spot-treating. Your pillow will last longer if you wash it two to four times a year, and if you use a pillow protector to keep it clean and safe from wear.

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Why trust Good Housekeeping?

Lexie Sachs is the executive director of the Textiles, Paper & Apparel Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she oversees testing to find the best bedding, including pillows. Lexie has been analyzing pillow data since she joined Good Housekeeping in 2013 and reviewed hundreds of pillow test scores before making these recommendations. She is often called upon as a pillow expert for TV and other media segments.

Our most recent pillow tests have been performed by senior textiles analyst Emma Seymour. Emma has rigorously tested more than 100 pillows in the Textiles Lab in the past two years, and she has coordinated pillow sleep testing with hundreds of at-home reviewers. Emma has a B.S. in Fiber Science from Cornell University and has been testing bedding for more than three years at Good Housekeeping.

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