Mattress Accessories & Bedding

Best Pillows Guide: What's Right For You?

If you're looking for the perfect pillow, we've got you covered.

By Megan Griffith

Many people spend hours researching the right mattress, but did you know that your pillow is just as important when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep? Your pillow supports your head and neck and absorbs all of the body heat coming from those areas. If your pillow sleeps hot or doesn’t offer the right kind of support needed for your sleeping position, you won’t get the deep sleep our brains so desperately need.

There is a wide variety of pillows available nowadays, but figuring out which one is best for you can be difficult. That’s where we come in: we’ve gathered our top picks for the 10 best pillows of 2020, and each one has different key strengths that might make it the perfect pillow for you.

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Best Pillows of 2020

Bedgear Pillow

Best Luxury Pillow

Bedgear pillows come in several different series with slightly different constructions. Generally, they are high-quality, luxurious pillows made from supportive foam, three-dimensional cooling vents, and moisture-wicking material to keep you cool all night long. Plus, each style comes in four different heights, from relatively flat to large and lofty.

Reason to Buy: This is the best pillow for combination sleepers, bar none. Many Bedgear pillows actually have two softness options, one on each side of the pillow, which is great for combination sleepers who tend to toss and turn. You can fall asleep on your back, with your head resting on the soft side, then flip over onto your stomach and simply switch the pillow to the firmer side for more support. But these pillows aren’t the best for people on a budget. Ranging in price from $96 to $229, their prices reflect the premium materials and construction developed for everyone’s unique sleep needs.

Avocado Pillow

Best Organic Pillow

The Avocado Green Pillow is made from organic shredded latex, organic kapok fill and an organic cotton cover, making it the most earth-friendly pillow on this list by far. Plus, the shredded latex means it sleeps cool and is easy to adjust.

Reason to Buy: If you want a pillow that is good for you and the environment at the same time, you can’t beat the Avocado Green Pillow. It has certifications from the Global Organic Latex Standard and the Global Organic Textile Standard, and the brand goes out of its way to make sure the entire production and delivery process is carbon negative. This cost is included in the price of the pillow, at $99 for a queen size. You’ll feel good about buying this pillow, especially once you sleep on it and realize how cool and comfortable it is.

Miracle Bamboo Pillow

Best Value Pillow

The Miracle Bamboo Pillow has a cover made of cellulose from the bamboo plant, which is a material that tends to sleep cool. The interior is made of shredded memory foam and microfiber, and the brand says that the pillow conforms to your neck and head whether you’re a side, back or stomach sleeper.

Reason to Buy: A queen size Miracle Bamboo Pillow is only $30, making it one of the most budget-friendly pillows on the market in 2020. Plus, this isn’t a cheaply made pillow that’s going to fall apart in a matter of weeks. The shredded memory foam is great for people who are used to traditional down or cotton pillows but want something with a little more support, plus the bamboo cover is ideal for anyone who sleeps hot.

Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Pillow

Best Bamboo Pillow

The Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Pillow is filled with shredded memory foam and the pillow cover is made from a blend of bamboo and polyester that promotes breathability to keep you cool and comfortable all night long.

Reason to Buy: If you want the feel of a traditional pillow that won’t go flat with the benefits of cool, breathable bamboo, then the Snuggle-Pedic is the right pillow for you. Shredded memory foam feels more like traditional pillow filling, like down or cotton, but it stays full and comfy for much longer than a traditional pillow. Plus, because it’s shredded, it has great adjustability and you don’t have to deal with the typical overheating issues common in memory foam pillows. Sold for only $60, the Snuggle-Pedic is our best-value pick for best memory foam pillow of 2020.

Saatva Pillow

Most Hotel-Like Pillow

The Saatva Pillow has a shredded Talalay latex core that’s surrounded by down-like cotton fill and enclosed in an organic cotton cover designed to wick moisture. Plus, the gussets sewn into the sides mean the pillow should hold its shape, no matter how much you fluff it, thanks to.

Reason to Buy: If you love the fluffiness of the pillows on hotel beds, then you need the Saatva Pillow. For $145, you can get a soft pillow made with hypoallergenic, all-natural latex that naturally resists dust mites and other potential allergens. It also has organic cotton that won’t trap heat throughout the night.

Tempur-Cloud Pillow

Best Pillow for Travel

Made from signature Tempur memory foam from Tempur-Pedic, the Tempur-Cloud Pillow is great for travel because you can simply roll it up with a belt or scarf and it instantly takes up less space in your suitcase. Plus, has a removable, machine-washable cover so it’s easy to clean when you get back.

Reason to Buy: The Tempur-Cloud Pillow is a must-have for any traveller. It’s hard to bring a good pillow in your suitcase because they’re typically too large and fluffy to fit along with everything else you need. But because the Tempur-Cloud rolls up so easily, you can have the comforts of home no matter where you sleep for just $79.

Layla Pillow

Best Pillow for Cooling

The Layla pillow is ideal for hot sleepers because it is made with shredded memory foam and polyester fiber, which allow for optimal airflow. It’s also lined with cooling gel memory foam, which cushions the neck while drawing away excess body heat.

Reason to Buy: One of the downfalls of memory foam is that it tends to absorb a lot of heat and lead to nighttime overheating, but the Layla Pillow is a bit different. . This cooling pillow gives you the comfort and contouring of memory foam while also preventing excessive heat buildup. Plus, it’s completely adjustable and only costs $55 for a Queen size pillow.

Purple Pillow

Best Adjustable Pillow

The Purple Pillow is a great alternative pillow that doesn’t use down, cotton or memory foam. Instead, the pillow is made completely from Purple’s proprietary ComfortGrid, a grid made from hyper-elastic polymer which provides both comfort and support. Best of all, the Purple Pillow now has Boosters available that make the height of the pillow completely customizable.

Reason to Buy: If you’re looking for a new pillow that won’t go flat over time and is customizable, , then the Purple Pillow could be perfect for you. It offers excellent support for all sleeping positions, all for $109.

Casper Pillow

Best Pillow for Neck Alignment

The Original Casper Pillow has a unique design that is essentially a pillow within a pillow. The inner pillow is firm with a two inch gusset for structure, meaning it will hold up over time. The outer down-alternative fluff makes the pillow soft and comfortable.

Reason to Buy: There’s nothing worse than waking up with a crick in your neck from improper pillow support. The Casper Pillow’s soft but supportive design should cradle the neck well. Try it out for yourself for only $65 for a standard size pillow or $85 for a king size.

Choosing a Pillow by Sleep Position

Finding the right pillow largely comes down to personal preference, but you should also consider your sleep position. High loft pillows are great for back sleepers or side sleepers, but they spell trouble for stomach sleepers who need a relatively flat pillow to keep the spine in alignment. Side sleeping can lead to poor spinal alignment, which is why these types of sleepers need a pillow that will contour to their neck to offer the best support. Combination sleepers tend to sleep best with a highly adjustable pillow that they can change throughout the night as they shift positions.

Side sleepers have a larger gap between their head and the mattress to fill to keep their neck in proper alignment. This is particularly true if you have a firm mattress. If you have a very soft mattress such that your shoulder sinks into it, a low profile pillow might work better.

Back sleepers tend to need a thinner, slightly softer pillow. Contoured “neck” pillows are often great for back sleepers because they will fill in the cervical curve in your neck.

Stomach sleepers can sometimes get away with no pillow at all. If a pillow is used, it should usually be a thin, soft pillow. If a stomach sleeper has a pillow too thick or hard, the neck can be pushed backwards at an awkward angle.

Types of Pillows

Fiber Fill Pillows

These are the “basic” type of pillows that use no fancy or expensive materials. It’s just polyester fiber fill. They can be filled to different amounts and the quality of fiber can vary. The quality ranges from the super cheap Target pillows for under 10 dollars up to the Tomorrow Sleep hypoallergenic pillow at about $75. These can also be made to be “down alternative” pillows, which generally means the fibers are shorter and shaped a little differently, which makes the pillow a little more “scrunchable.”

Pros: Inexpensive and breathable.

Cons: Not very durable, and most aren’t as supportive. Side sleepers may need to stack two pillows to get proper neck support.

Down and Feather pillows

These are two related types of pillows I’m combining here. Both down and feathers come from ducks and geese. Down tends to be softer and feathers tend to be sturdier and more supportive. Some pillows will use both. These tend to be a bit more expensive than the fiber fill pillows, but also last a bit longer. Old school feather pillows used to have an issue in which the feathers would come through the sides of the pillows. I still remember being poked in the face by feathers as a kid when I slept at my grandma’s house. Many feather pillows don’t have this issue. They tend to use a “double pillow” construction in which the feathers or down are surrounded by a thicker layer with another material. Pacific Coast Feather Company is one of the big names in these types of pillows.

Pros: Usually soft and “scrunchable” and fairly durable

Cons: Some people may have allergy issues, may need to be “fluffed” to keep its shape, and the cheaper feather pillows might have quills poking you in the face. The ones that won’t do that tend to be more expensive.

Memory Foam pillows

Memory foam pillows are extremely popular and are often good quality as long as you don’t mind paying a little more for them. Some are contoured, some are shaped like regular pillows. Some even have “shredded” memory foam, like Coop Home Goods, to make it feel a little more like a traditional pillow. Sometimes the memory foam will be infused with gel which tends to keep a slightly more neutral temperature (but don’t be oversold on this point, the effect is usually slight).

Pros: Can come in a variety of firmnesses but are generally very supportive and yet contouring.  Shredded memory foam options can often customize the loft by removing the fill.

Cons: Tend to be expensive, they can’t usually be “scrunched up,” and they tend to sleep a little hotter than some other types of pillows. Sometimes there will be an odor for a couple days.

Latex pillows

Latex pillows are a personal favorite of mine since I have slept on a latex pillow since 2008 and I have four latex pillows in my house. But, what’s right for me might not be right for you. Latex pillows are made of a type of rubber processed to be comfortable and supportive. They can be made to feel either soft or firm and are extremely durable, but they tend to feel a bit “bouncy” which takes some getting used to. If you’re interested in one of these, the Z pillow by Malouf gets good reviews on Amazon. It’s not the brand I sleep on, but I can’t find that one anywhere since it’s 6 years old. The Z pillow seems the closest.

Pros: Can be soft or firm, are extremely durable, hypoallergenic. Tends to keep a much more neutral temperature than memory foam

Cons: Expensive (these tend to be some of the most expensive pillows). The “bouncy” feel is a turn-off for some people. There can be a slight “rubbery” smell for a few days.

Buckwheat pillows

Buckwheat pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls for support. They tend to be quite heavy and have a firmer, supportive feel. They can generally be unzipped and filled with the buckwheat manually, so you can fill the pillow to your desired loft. This one of the only “adjustable” pillows you’ll find.

Pros: Supportive and adjustable. Add or remove height and firmness by adding or removing buckwheat hulls. They also tend to be more temperature neutral.

Cons: May take some experimentation to find the correct firmness, and they just feel quite different than what most people are used to. They tend to be heavy and are the noisiest pillows you’ll find.

Considerations for Buying a Pillow

Neck Pain

If you tend to wake up in the morning with neck pain, there’s a good chance your pillow’s “loft” is too high. Loft is simply the height of the pillow, and pillows with a high loft aren’t ideal for everyone’s natural neck curvature. You may need a pillow that’s a little flatter or one made from a more supportive material, like memory foam.

Overheating

Overheating at night doesn’t just happen because of your mattress or your sheets. Your pillow can play a role as well. If you’re looking for a cooler pillow, we recommend pillows made with shredded memory foam instead of solid memory foam or down, which tend to absorb heat. Another great material for cooling is latex, either shredded or solid.

Washability

It is very important that you’re able to wash your pillow cover because we put our heads on our pillows each night, and our heads are not necessarily the cleanest things in the world. We carry bacteria, dirt, dust mites, oils, and more on our heads every day, and our pillow cover needs washed regularly. We highly recommend only buying a pillow if the whole thing can be washed, or if it comes with a removable, machine-washable cover.

Sleep Position

As we mentioned earlier, your sleep position is important in deciding what kind of pillow you need. Everyone’s personal preferences are different, but generally speaking, stomach sleepers need a flatter pillow to prevent lifting their head up too high and bringing the spine out of alignment. Back sleepers need the opposite: a pillow that will lift the head up high enough to keep the spine properly aligned. Side sleepers tend to sleep best with a pillow made from a contouring material like memory foam or latex. As for combination sleepers, the most important factor is adjustability, since they tend to change positions all night.

Our Final Take

Each of these pillows brings its own amazing strengths and potential downfalls to the table. . Overall, we were incredibly impressed with the Original Casper Pillow for its cooling and supportive gussets and pillow-within-a-pillow design. We’re also impressed with the Avocado Green Pillow for its dedication to environmentally friendly products that are still unbelievably comfortable. No one pillow is right for everyone, but we are confident that there is a pillow out there that will work for you.


Comments (7)

    • I’d recommend a thicker pillow, especially if you have a firmer mattress or broad shoulders. Memory foam is generally pretty good at contouring to the right thickness. If you don’t have broad shoulders and you have a very soft mattress, a medium-thickness soft pillow would be good. Otherwise, a thicker pillow that roughly matches the firmness of your mattress is good.

  1. I have degenerative disc disease in my cervical spine and had tried dozens of different pillows. I heard about the Mediflow water pillow and tried it and it was great. I bought my first one – and replacements – from amazon.com for about $40. The only con is the weight of the pillow, but the comfort and support is wonderful. I highly recommend for anyone with neck pain that cannot find the right support.

    • The right pillow can help. There can sometimes be other medical issues which cause snoring, but for some people, the right pillow does the trick.


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