The 10 Best Pillows for Every Type of Sleeper, According to Our Tests

We like the Slumber Cloud Core Down Alternative Pillow because it’s supportive and features temperature-regulating technology.

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best pillows
Real Simple/Rachel Marek

A pillow is one of the most personal and important purchases you can make when it comes to getting a restful night's sleep, but finding the right one can be a challenge. To narrow down the field, we tested 31 pillows in our Lab, evaluating them on quality, breathability, effectiveness, durability, and overall value. Although picking a pillow is highly subjective and it's impossible to declare one pillow the best for every type of person, we can assess each pillow's more objective features and make recommendations based on your sleeping position and preferences.

We also spoke to Natalie D. Dautovich, Ph.D., who serves as the Environmental Fellow at the National Sleep Foundation, about the importance of choosing the right pillow: "When your body is properly supported with the right pillow, you're more likely to sleep continuously, and this allows your brain and body enough time in each phase of sleep."

Our top pick, the Slumber Cloud Core Down-Alternative Pillow, has the soft, cloud-like feel of a traditional down pillow while still providing ample support and maintaining its shape. It also features temperature-regulating technology designed to absorb heat away from your skin, keeping you cool and comfortable throughout the night.

Keep reading for the best pillows for every sleeper, backed by hours of testing in our Lab. You'll also find tips for buying and using pillows depending on your needs and preferences.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Pillow: Slumber Cloud Core Down-Alternative Pillow

Slumber Cloud Core Down-Alternative Pillow

Who it's for: People who want a soft, cooling pillow that keeps its shape.

Who it isn't for: People who prefer the support of memory foam pillows.

This pillow is made with a down-alternative polyester fiber filling, giving you the plush, soft feel of a traditional down pillow without the animal products or price tag. Testers say it does not lose its shape during use, and provides substantial support yet still has plenty of give. According to the manufacturer, the pillow uses NASA-developed temperature regulation technology, which absorbs excess heat from the skin and then releases it back as the temperature drops. We found the pillow did absorb heat during testing, with the surface temperature rising approximately 14 degrees Fahrenheit after 15 minutes of use, although this surprised our tester: "The pillow gained some heat but I could not tell. Very comfortable temperature the entire time no matter the position."

In our testing, the pillow was comfortable at all sleeping positions. That being said, you can choose between two different levels of firmness depending on your preferences: Soft-medium is ideal for stomach or back sleepers, while medium-firm is ideal for side or back sleepers.

One major advantage of down and down-alternative pillows is they can be washed and dried. Post washing and drying, there was some shrinkage to this pillow, but it remained just as plush. Its long-lasting and easy-to-maintain construction as well as its temperature-regulating technology make this pillow a steal for the price, prompting one tester to say they are "prepared to buy this one today." Plus, it has a 60-day trial period so you can be sure of your decision.

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Soft-medium or medium-firm
  • Fill: Down alternative
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Return Policy: 60 days
  • Machine-Washable: Yes
Slumber Cloud Core Down-Alternative Pillow
Real Simple/Rachel Marek

Best Budget Pillow: Linenspa Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Linenspa Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Who it's for: Combination sleepers or people who want a pillow they can flatten or fluff as needed.

Who it isn't for: People who want a pillow or pillow cover that's machine-washable.

This set comes with two pillows at an impressively low price, and is designed with all types of sleepers in mind. The shredded memory foam can easily be fluffed and molded to your desired height and shape (although it cannot be removed or added to like some other pillows). Testers note that the low price and customizable construction make it ideal for outfitting a guest bedroom, since guests can adjust the pillows to their preference.

We found it to have a plush feel thanks to the shredded material, while still retaining the bounce back that's signature to memory foam. It stayed relatively cool in our testing, rising only six degrees during use. And unlike some memory foam pillows, it does not produce a chemical odor, even on first use. Unfortunately, the cover is not machine-washable, so be sure to protect it with a pillowcase and pillow protector. In short, we think this would make a great pillow for combination sleepers, as you can easily flatten it or fluff it depending on which sleeping position you're in.

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Fill: Shredded memory foam
  • Cover: Polyester
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Machine-Washable: No
  • Linenspa Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
    Real Simple/Rachel Marek

Best Splurge Pillow: Saatva Latex Pillow

Saatva Latex Pillow

Who it's for: People who want a substantial pillow that won't flatten throughout the night and people who want a pillow made with more natural materials

Who it isn't for: People who sleep primarily on their stomach.

Testers immediately took note of the weight and loft of this luxury pillow. The shredded natural latex core is surrounded by a layer of soft, down-like microfiber so you get responsive neck support with a plush, lofty feel. It's tall, quick to rise, and buoyant, helping to relieve pressure and mold to the shape of your head. This pillow is probably a little too tall for stomach sleepers, but side and back sleepers will appreciate how it helps to maintain a neutral spine position. Regardless, there is a 45-day trial, which is especially important considering the high price.

The latex construction also provides ample airflow. In our testing, we found the pillow to be cool to the touch and to absorb the heat under the head, rising about 8 degrees Fahrenheit over 15 minutes. And there was no odor or off-gassing. In terms of care, the cover shrunk a bit after washing, making it a little difficult to squeeze the plump pillow back in. Even though the care instructions say it's safe to tumble dry the cover on low heat, we'd suggest laying the cover flat to dry.

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Medium
  • Fill: Shredded natural latex
  • Cover: Organic cotton
  • Return Policy: 45 days
  • Machine-Washable: Cover only
  • Saatva Latex Pillow
    Real Simple/Rachel Marek

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers: Casper Foam Pillow with Snow Technology

Casper Foam Pillow with Snow Technology

Also available at Casper and Target.

Who it's for: Hot sleepers who sleep primarily on their side and need ample neck support.

Who it isn't for: People who want a pillow they can flatten and adjust based on their needs.

Made from a solid-core memory foam, this pillow provides the firmness and substantial loft necessary for filling the gap between a side sleeper's neck and mattress. We tested the version of this pillow that comes equipped with "Snow Technology," meaning it's designed to pull heat away from your head and neck throughout the night. Plus, the three layers of breathable memory foam are designed to increase air circulation. In our testing, the pillow did prove itself able to pull away heat, rising 9 degrees Fahrenheit in 15 minutes, and keeping the tester cool and comfortable the entire time.

But aside from its cooling capabilities, testers were also thrilled with how well this pillow held its shape, providing ample neck support. One self-proclaimed side sleeper says, "I am already planning on buying this pillow…I have a hard time sleeping on my side and getting good neck support, and this solves that issue."

The polyester-spandex cover is machine-washable and holds up well after washing: There was minimal shrinkage and no change in softness or feel. Like other solid memory foam pillows, it's not necessary to fluff or reshape this pillow, as the buoyant foam will always return to its original shape. However, this also means it's not as customizable as shredded memory foam, and will likely prove too tall and firm for stomach sleepers.

Product Details:

Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers: L.L. Bean Down-Alternative Damask Pillow

L.L. Bean Down-Alternative Damask Pillow

Who it's for: People who want a down-alternative pillow that comes in different levels of firmness.

Who it isn't for: People who sleep hot.

Testers described this pillow as "hotel-quality" thanks to the plush and fluffy down-alternative material. The material is great for those who prefer to sink into their pillow at night, and it's available in three different firmness levels so you can choose your level of support. Soft is the best choice for stomach sleepers, medium is best for combination and back sleepers, and firm is best for side sleepers.

Unlike memory foam, down or down-alternative pillows require regular fluffing to maintain their shape. The flipside of this is that they're easier to flatten, making them particularly well suited for stomach sleepers who don't need a pillow with a lot of height.

This does not claim to be a cooling pillow and we would not recommend this pillow to those who tend to sleep hot because it did hold onto heat somewhat in our testing. However, it's easy to wash and maintain—both the cover and pillow came out of the washer and dryer perfectly formed and fluffy. It's also one of the least expensive out of all the pillows we tested and can be returned up to one year after purchase, making it an excellent choice for those who want the feel of a down pillow without the price.

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Soft, medium, or firm
  • Fill: Down-alternative
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Return Policy: 1 year
  • Machine-Washable: Yes
  • L.L. Bean Down-Alternative Damask Pillow
    Real Simple/Rachel Marek

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers: Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

Who it's for: People who want a supportive memory foam pillow that is entirely washable.

Who it isn't for: Stomach sleepers or people who prefer a flatter pillow.

Stomach sleepers are going to want a pillow that's soft, while side sleepers need one that's firm. That leaves back sleepers, who should look for something in the middle. That's why this shredded memory foam pillow makes such a great choice for back or combination sleepers who don't want to have to choose between a soft or firm pillow. You can adjust the Easy Breather Pillow by removing or refilling the stuffing to reach your desired firmness and height—the pillow comes overstuffed and includes a fill bag for storing excess stuffing as you remove it. Even with much of the stuffing removed, this pillow has a fairly firm feel and a lot of resistance, so it's likely not ideal for stomach sleepers.

Initially, the fabric was cool to the touch. However, it absorbed a fair amount of heat in 15 minutes, with the surface temperature rising about 16 degrees Fahrenheit. One of the best features of this pillow is that the entire product is machine-washable, even the inner pillow (a rarity for memory foam pillows). In our testing, the pillow held up well to washing and drying, which is ideal for the person who likes to clean their bedding essentials often.

Product Details:

Best Cooling Pillow: Beckham Hotel Collection Pillow

Beckham Hotel Collection Pillow

Also available at Walmart.

Who it's for: People who want a pillow that remains cool without needing to switch sides.

Who it isn't for: People who need extra neck support.

These down-alternative pillows arrive flat and must be fluffed 24 hours prior to use—but once you've done so, they have the squishable, plush feel of a real down pillow. Where this pillow really stood out was in our breathability testing: After laying on the pillow for 15 minutes, its temperature only rose by 2 degrees Fahrenheit—among the lowest of all those we tested. That's thanks to the cooling gel fiber that helps to regulate temperature and the breathable down-alternative fill.

Like other down and down-alternative pillows, this pillow contours immediately to the shape of your head for superior comfort. However, testers found it can sink a little too much if you're looking for extra neck support, particularly if you sleep on your side. The entire pillow is machine-washable, but it does require some fluffing and reshaping to return to its original shape afterwards.

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Fill: Down-alternative
  • Cover: Cotton sateen
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Machine-Washable: Yes
Beckham Hotel Collection Pillow
Real Simple/Rachel Marek

Best Memory Foam Pillow: Snuggle-Pedic Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow

Snuggle-Pedic Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow

Who it's for: Hot sleepers and people who want to control the amount of pillow fill.

Who it isn't for: Stomach sleepers or people who don't want a lofty pillow.

Testers loved the breathable, perforated texture of the bamboo cover on this pillow, which also helps to keep you cool overnight. In fact, the surface temperature rose just 4 degrees Fahrenheit after 15 minutes of laying on this pillow. Like some other shredded memory foam pillows, you can add, remove, or adjust the foam in order to achieve your desired firmness. This makes it a great middle-ground for those who like the softness of a down pillow but need the support that memory foam provides: "This would be perfect for hot sleepers or anyone with chronic pain, as this pillow provides ample support without compromising plushness or softness," says one tester. This pillow even comes with a bag of additional foam if you want it even more firm.

Additionally, this pillow is entirely machine-washable—a definite standout for a memory foam pillow. For those who sleep primarily on their stomach, the memory foam is likely to be a little too firm and lofty, even with much of the foam pieces removed. But if you need extra support, this pillow should keep you comfortable and help to relieve pressure when sleeping on your back or side.

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Adjustable
  • Fill: Shredded memory foam
  • Cover: Bamboo
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Machine-Washable: Yes
Snuggle-Pedic Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow
Real Simple/Rachel Marek

Best Down Pillow: Puredown Goose Feather Pillows

Puredown Goose Feather Pillows

Also available at Puredown.

Who it's for: People who want an affordable down pillow that's soft and lofty.

Who it isn't for: People who want a pillow that will hold up to frequent washing.

The soft, plush feel of this real down-and-feather pillow prompted one tester to say, "The instant my head hit this pillow, it was nap time for me…For someone who is looking for a down, cloud-like pillow, this is a great choice!"

Since it's a down pillow, it will require some fluffing, but once you do this pillow will hold its shape, bounce back after you apply pressure, and conform to your body without being overly firm. Although it does not claim to be a cooling pillow, testers found the real feathers to provide ample airflow: "It was truly like sleeping on a bed of feathers."

Unfortunately, it did not launder well, despite the fact that the care label says it's machine-washable. After washing, the feathers began to poke out from the pillow and it developed an unpleasant odor after removing it from the dryer. We'd suggest spot treating as needed instead.

Product Details:

Best Organic Pillow: Avocado Green Pillow

Avocado Green Pillow

Who it's for: People who want a pillow made from organic materials that will remain cool.

Who it isn't for: People who don't want to spend a lot on a pillow.

For the eco-conscious consumer, the Avocado Green Pillow is made with organic latex and organic kapok tree fiber stuffed inside an organic cotton jersey liner, which is all zipped up in an organic cotton quilted cover—aka, it's 100 percent organic.

But don't think it's any less effective than pillows made from synthetic materials. Out of all the pillows we tested, this is the only one that didn't increase in temperature after we laid on it for 15 minutes. Compared to memory foam, latex tends to be a bit bouncier, softer, and more cooling (as evidenced by our testing): "This pillow was extremely comfortable, being firm and soft at the same time," says one tester. "It felt supportive of my head and neck, and I was very impressed that the temperature did not change after I used it."

This pillow does have a shredded latex fill, so you can remove the filling or readjust it to meet your ideal level of firmness, and it comes with a pillow refill package to increase the volume if you'd like. We did have some issues with the filling getting caught in the zipper though.

The latex filling is not machine-washable, but the cover came out of the machine without any noticeable defect. Overall, this is a very supportive and adjustable pillow made with eco-friendly materials—and it's covered by a 100-night sleep trial so you can take your time deciding on it.

Product Details:

  • Firmness: Adjustable
  • Fill: Shredded organic latex and kapok tree fiber
  • Cover: Organic cotton
  • Return Policy: 100 days
  • Machine-Washable: Cover only
Avocado Green Pillow
Real Simple/Rachel Marek

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Slumber Cloud Core Down-Alternative Pillow because it provides the soft, cloud-like feel of a traditional down pillow while retaining its shape and providing support. Plus, its temperature-regularting technology helps to absorb heat away from your skin, keeping you cool throughout the night.

Our budget pick is the Linenspa Shredded Memory Foam Pillow, which comes in a set of two for less than half the price of the Slumber Cloud pillow. It features a moldable, shredded memory foam fill that's easy to adjust based on your sleeping position.

Our Testing Process

We tested 31 pillows in our Lab over two days. Every sleeper is different, which is why our testers reflect the varying sizes, sleeping positions, and preferences out there.

First, we evaluated the quality based on the material and construction of both the pillow and cover. We also took note of whether there was an obvious odor coming from the pillow. Next, we placed each pillow inside a standard pillowcase to see how well it fit and whether the pillow's cover was visible through the pillowcase. For pillows with an adjustable filling, we tested how easy it was to add or remove fill material.

To test the temperature and breathability of each pillow, testers used an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature both before and after laying on it for 15 minutes. For cooling pillows, we tested whether each pillow offered a cool-to-the-touch sensation.

The real test of each pillow was its effectiveness at matching its proposed firmness and support. For pillows designated for all sleeping positions or those with no specified sleeping style, we used the pillow for five minutes in each major sleeping position—back, side, and stomach—and recorded how comfortable it was to sleep in each. For pillows designated for a specific sleeping position, we tested it in the specified sleeping style, noting whether it was comfortable and helped us to maintain a neutral spine position.

After those tests, we measured the dimensions of each pillow before and after washing it according to the manufacturer's instructions to assess its durability, in addition to any change in consistency or firmness.

Finally, testers received the price of each pillow, and were asked to score its overall value based on the cost relative to its performance in our testing.

best pillows temperature test
Real Simple / Rachel Marek

How to Shop for Pillows Like a Pro

Firmness and Loft

Your desired firmness and loft (aka the pillow's height) is going to come down to how you sleep. What's most important is that your pillow keeps your neck aligned with your spine in a neutral position, rather than tilting it at an angle.

"​​A great pillow allows you to rest comfortably in your natural sleeping position, and supports your head and neck in a neutral alignment (centered over your shoulders)," says Dautovich. "The wrong pillow can worsen discomforts like neck or shoulder pain, headaches, and allergy symptoms like sneezing and congestion."

Here are some general guidelines based on your preferred sleeping position:

  • Back Sleepers: Look for a pillow with a medium loft and firmness, in order to keep your neck aligned with your spine without craning it forward.
  • Stomach Sleepers: Look for a softer, thinner pillow. A pillow that is too high will prop the head up at an angle and cause neck pain. "Stomach sleepers tend to like a very thin pillow, which can be used under the head, chest, or stomach," says Dautovich.
  • Side Sleepers: A side sleeper will require the most height and firmness in order to fill the gap between the neck and the mattress.
  • Combination Sleepers: If you switch positions throughout the night, finding comfort can be a bit more difficult. A medium-firm pillow is generally best for back and side sleepers, while those who often sleep on their stomach may want a softer pillow with a lower loft.


Pillows can be filled with a number of materials, from down to memory foam. Here's a quick guide to the different types of pillow fillings:

Down: A down pillow contains the soft, quill-less feathers from the underbelly of a goose or duck. These pillows are durable, breathable, and soft, and contour to the shape of your head and neck. However, they tend to be more expensive and don't maintain their shape well. You'll need to regularly fluff them to ensure they don't get too compressed.

A down-and-feather combo pillow will feature both down feathers and feathers from the back and wings of a bird, which contain quills. Down-and-feather pillows will be less expensive than 100-percent down pillows, but they're also more prone to flattening and the quills may poke through the cover.

Either way, be sure your down pillow comes with a certification for quality and ethical animal practices. Common certifications include the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), Downmark, and the IDFL Down Standard (IDS).

Down-Alternative: This is a synthetic fill made to mimic the softness of a real down pillow. They're less expensive than real down pillows, and make a great alternative to those with sensitivities to down products and those who want to avoid any animal-sourced materials. Down-alternative pillows are also usually machine-washable, unlike down pillows.

Solid Memory Foam: If you prefer a pillow with more structure and support that won't lose its shape overnight, a solid memory foam pillow is a great choice. These pillows provide the support needed to keep your neck and spine in alignment, particularly for side and back sleepers.

Shredded Memory Foam: This filling is made with loose chunks of memory foam that can be adjusted to fit your preferences. Oftentimes, you can add, remove, or reposition the memory foam to create a pillow with the right loft and firmness for your needs. Compared to solid memory foam, shredded memory foam tends to be more breathable, too. These pillows make a great choice for combination sleepers who need a pillow that can be customized to their unique sleeping style. Keep in mind that memory foam pillows are usually not machine-washable.

Latex: Available in both synthetic and natural forms, latex is similar to memory foam but bounces back quicker and is usually a bit softer. Like memory foam, latex is available in either solid or shredded material.

best pillows opening inside of pillow
Real Simple / Rachel Marek


If you tend to sleep hot, breathability is an important factor when it comes to choosing a pillow. Down pillows tend to be the most breathable, while shredded memory foam is more breathable than solid foam. Look for a breathable cover material too, such as cotton. Some pillows even feature a cooling gel layer that helps to prevent the pillow from absorbing heat, providing a cooling sensation, or cooling technology that absorbs heat away from the skin.


Consider whether your pillow can be washed—some are machine-washable, while others must be spot treated, handwashed, or dry cleaned. Oftentimes, pillows have machine-washable covers only. If that's the case, consider adding a pillow protector to increase the longevity of your pillow.

Return Policy

Choosing a pillow is personal. Even if you've done all your research and considered all the factors, sometimes a pillow is just not right for your sleeping style and environment. That is why the return policy on a pillow is so important. Many pillows come with trial periods ranging from 30 days to up to a year, so you can try it in your own bed before committing.

More Pillows to Consider

Amazon Basics Down-Alternative Pillow: This set of two pillows is a less expensive alternative to our best overall pick, as the pillows feature a down-alternative fill that combines fullness, comfort, and support. Plus, it comes in a set of two, so you can fully outfit your bed for less.

Rest Haven Shredded Memory Foam Bed Pillow: Although it's not advertised as cooling, this inexpensive pillow remained cool to the touch, and testers were shocked to find this set of two comes at such a low price.

Coop Home Goods Original Pillow: Made from a blend of shredded memory foam and microfiber, this pillow can easily adjust to your sleep position and is great for combination sleepers. Plus, it comes with a bag of additional stuffing for side or back sleepers, or those with neck pain who require extra support. However, the fill is not washable like some of the other shredded memory foam pillows on our list (but the cover is).

best pillows fluff test
Real Simple / Rachel Marek

Questions You Might Ask

Which pillows are best for neck pain?

To alleviate neck pain, make sure you are sleeping on a pillow that's right for your sleeping position. In other words, whichever pillow you choose should keep your neck and spine in alignment. Generally, side and back sleepers will require more height and firmness to achieve this, while a pillow that's too lofty or firm can cause increased neck pain in stomach sleepers. "A pillow that is responsive yet supportive, a medium-firm variety, can help to support your neck if you're experiencing pain," says Dautovich.

When should you replace your pillow?

It is generally recommended that you replace your pillows every one to two years. Overtime, a pillow can become lumpy, develop stains and odors, collect allergens, and begin to lose some of its loft, all of which can affect your sleep. If you notice stains and odors, allergy symptoms, or increased neck pain, these can be a sign that it's time to replace your pillows. In general, down-alternative pillows have the shortest lifespan, while memory foam and latex last the longest.

How should you care for a pillow so that it lasts as long as possible?

Be sure to default to the care label when it comes time to clean your pillows. If your pillows are machine-washable, try to wash two to three times a year to eliminate allergens and odors. If your pillows are not machine-washable, spot clean stains or hand wash pillows with mild detergent and lay flat to dry. Dautovich also suggests airing out your pillow monthly in sunlight to help it stay fresh.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with nearly three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. To compile this list, we tested 31 pillows in our Lab and evaluated them based on their quality, breathability, effectiveness, durability, and value. We also spoke to Natalie D. Dautovich, Ph.D., who serves as the Environmental Fellow at the National Sleep Foundation, for expert tips on how to choose the right pillow for your sleeping style.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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