The best pillow for a restful 2020 – CNET

We ideally spend a third of our lives in a state of rest and it’s crucial to get a good night’s sleep, but it’s not always easy to achieve. Perhaps stress is looming large, or you’re staring at a blue screen before going to bed or drinking caffeine too late in the day. Or, maybe your sleep environment just isn’t comfortable enough — and if that’s the case, then you’re starting off at a serious disadvantage.

Prioritizing sleeping comfort is key to establishing a healthy bedtime routine that promotes rest. And, while much has been made over choosing the right mattress for your sleep habits, you’d be remiss to ignore the difference the right bed pillow can make, too.

Read more: 8 products to help you stop snoring     

You need to consider a wide range of factors when you’re pillow-shopping: Are you a back, stomach or side sleeper? Are you one of those mythical combination sleepers? Do you run hot or cold while sleeping? Are you allergic to goose down or feathers? Everyone’s individual sleeping preferences will differ slightly, but there’s more than likely a pillow type that meets your comfort expectations, whether that’s a foam pillow, gel pillow, water pillow, latex pillow, support pillow, body pillow, contour pillow, feather pillow, hybrid pillow or a dedicated neck pillow for neck pain. It’s just a matter of pondering all of your pillow options, which seem to expand every day.

To help you decide on the right pillow, we’ve rounded up some of the best bed pillows available online right now, broken down their material differences, and waded through pillow review input from enthusiastic internet reviewers — complete with our own hands-on (heads-on?) impressions, and our recommendations for whose needs they’ll likely suit best. Here’s hoping that a good night’s rest is right around the corner.

Pillows we’ve tested

  Best price as of May 2020 Size (inches) Firmness Other sizes and shapes Multipack options Materials Machine washable? Hypoallergenic? Trial period? Warranty
Nectar Pillow $75 17 x 29 Adjustable N/A N/A two types of memory foam including visco-elastic memory foam, quilted outer shell No Not specified 50 days Not specified
Cosy House Bamboo Pillow $40 (standard/queen) 17.5 x 20.5 Adjustable King ($48) 2-pack ($70) 4-pack ($129.95) certiPUR-US high-density shredded memory foam, adaptive transition foam, bamboo case Case only Yes Zero-hassle returns Not specified
Original Casper Pillow $59 (standard) 18 x 26 “soft, but also supportive,” non-adjustable King (18 x 34) $77 N/A polyester microfiber fill, polyester fabric lining, 100% cotton cover Yes Not specified 100 days 1 year
Coop Home Goods “The Original” $60 (queen) 20 x 30 Adjustable King ($65) N/A Polyester liner, visoelastic polyurethane and polyester fill, bamboo derived viscose rayon and polyester case Yes Yes 100 days 5 years
The Purple Harmony Pillow $159 (standard) 17 x 26 “just the right amount of soft support,” non-adjustable Tall (an extra inch of height, no additional cost) N/A 92% nylon fiber, 8% spandex fiber cover, hyper-elastic Purple polymer grid, ventilated Talalay latex with polyester cover  Cover only Yes 100 days 1 year
MyPillow Giza Elegance Pillow $60, BOGO (standard/queen) 16.5 x 26 Yellow (softest) Lavender (medium fill) Green (more fill) Blue (firmest) King (16.5 x 32) $70, BOGO Buy one, get one free 100% Giza cotton ticking Yes Not specified 60 days 10 years

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Nectar

This pillow has adjustable filling, but only in its outer layer — the “inner” pillow is a sturdy memory foam pillow that maintains its shape and structure. Its exterior is made of quilted foam that you can spot-clean and air-dry. In addition to its “two pillows in one” design and supportive gusset, Nectar’s pillow’s main selling point is its memory foam pillow fill. This comfortable memory foam pillow conforms to the user’s neck, shoulders and head to provide support without caving in, striking a balance that not every memory foam pillow can claim. One downside? The pillow itself isn’t machine washable.

CNET’s Sharon Profis tested the memory foam pillow for 10 days and, after removing just a handful of filling, found it to be a comfortable option for her side sleeper position. The memory foam pillow, she noted, retains its structure and height, maintaining neck support throughout the night.

I tested one as well, and came to the same conclusion. The memory foam in the middle makes for a dense pillow, but the fill layer keeps it from feeling too firm or springy. I was able to sleep soundly on it even before I removed any of the fill. Once I did adjust things down to my liking, the Nectar Pillow finished as my top-scoring, subjective favorite as far as comfort is concerned, and that makes it a pillow that I’d be willing to spend a little extra for. I also appreciated the high-end quilted exterior and the extra-long, over-sized design — though you’ll want to have an over-sized pillowcase to go with it.

Cosy House Collection

With two layers of supportive foam and an antibacterial, cooling bamboo case, Cosy House’s shredded foam pillows are made to relieve some of the greatest sleeping woes, namely overheating and uncomfortable pressure points. The relatively firm construction helps the pillow maintain its shape while sleeping, but the shredded memory foam pillow fill in its bottommost layer is removable, which allows users to customize its density. 

“This is one heavy pillow and I kept removing the filling until getting it just right,” one reviewer wrote, adding that, when filled to capacity, the pillow may be a little too big and firm for some users’ sleeping position comfort. That was my experience — like with most of the adjustable pillows I tested, I ended up adjusting down for something with a little more give. Once I did, the pillow’s spongy foam felt both soft and supportive.

For others, it was the foam pillow’s breathable and cooling properties that sold them: “The most comfortable pillow I have ever had. Keeps me cool, I sleep so soundly,” one review reads. “I didn’t sweat as much as I usually do so I would say the cooling/moisture wicking worked,” another noted. 

I only noticed a slight cooling effect when I slept on it, but I still appreciated the ultra-soft, machine-washable quilted bamboo cover, which naturally resists allergens and dust mites. Between that and the cozy, adjustable fill, this pillow feels like a value to me at less than $50. You can also add two bamboo pillow cases to your pillow order for an additional $24, and still pay less overall than you will for some of the pillows on this list.

Casper

Casper’s comfortable pillow boasts “adaptive support” for your neck, meaning it’s both cushy and springy, able to “adapt” to various customers’ neck preferences making them good pillows for neck support to help you get a great night’s sleep. Where the exterior is soft, its firm inner core and gusseted construction helps maintain its structure. It’s basically a pillow zipped up inside of a padded case.

The product of 60 test-runs on various fills, this sleeper pillow is sort of the platonic ideal in terms of density: not too firm and not too fluffy. And reviewers happily attest to its Goldilocks-esque appeal. “You can feel the quality in the weight of it and as soon as I laid down I was in love. Support and comfort that seems to wrap you up in its arms,” one wrote.

Another reviewer wondered, “how one pillow can rule them all,” possibly in a nod toward the fact that Casper designed this pillow with the understanding that all people shift in their sleep, whether they identify as a side sleeper or back sleeper. In other words, this comfortable pillow is in the running for overall crowd-pleaser — though one downside may be the fact that you have to buy pillow cases such as cotton cover cases separately.

In our tests, the super-soft Casper pillow had a good mix of give and support, making it an especially comfortable pillow for anyone who likes to sleep on their back with their neck well-cradled. Side and stomach-sleeping was cozy, too, thanks to the fact that the pillow isn’t too springy in spite of its density. That versatility speaks well for the design — but for all the talk of adaptive support, you can’t open the thing up and adjust the amount of fill inside, which is a disappointment at this price.

Coop Home Goods

Another best pillow with adjustable density, Coop’s “Original” pillow is completely customizable and reshapable. Its fill is entirely made up of a shredded blend of microfiber and memory foam pillow, meaning users can empty and refill the whole body of the pillow, allowing them to fluff it and mash it to fit their exact sleeping needs. Plus, the whole thing is machine washable.

Although Coop states that the Original is probably best suited for side sleeping or those who like a firmer pillow than your average foam pillow, reviewers vouch for its versatility. “I usually sleep on my side but I sometimes sleep on my back. The pillow is great either way,” one wrote. 

As for me, a stomach sleeper, the Original was definitely firmer and “poofier” than I like, but it was great for sitting up and getting some work done in bed (and I have back issues, so I’m somewhat picky about these things). And, after removing some of the foam, I had no problem sleeping comfortably on it.

Still, another reviewer pointed out that there might be a learning curve with the pillow’s adjustability: “It took a few weeks to get used to the pillow and get it the right height, but I love it! It’s improved my neck health.” 

Luckily, with a 100-day return policy, you have time to tweak the fill level to your liking. This pillow also comes with a washable bamboo cover that you can use as a regular pillow case. If you’re interested but still on the fence, Coop offers a quiz for customers to find the best pillow for their preferences.

Ry Crist/CNET

With its “as-seen-on-TV” marketing and plum placement in a variety of retail outlets (they sell them at my local grocery), MyPillow is one of the most high-profile pillow brands in the business. To put it to the test, I tried out the MyPillow Giza Elegance Pillow, which sells in a two-pack online for $60. It’s a simple, unassuming pillow that doesn’t come with a fancy, custom outer case or the option to open it up and adjust the amount of filling inside on the fly, but you do get your choice of four firmness levels when you buy.

I was a little struck by the lumpy texture of the large-sized chunks of filling, which also felt more synthetic to the touch than the filling in other pillows I tested. Many online reviews keyed in on that lumpy design, with some claiming that the fill quickly went flat as they slept on it. That wasn’t my experience after a few nights, and MyPillow notes that you can always fluff the thing with a few minutes in the dryer.

“It just feels like someone ripped up an old eggcrate mattress topper and stuffed into a pillow shell,” another review notes. I wouldn’t disagree with that description, though I was still able to sleep soundly on the thing. I can’t say that it felt like much of an upgrade over a standard, department store pillow, but at $30 each, it represents a good value relative to most of the other pillows on this list.

Purple

Like the mattress, the Purple Pillow uses a unique, one-piece polymer grid to cradle your head and neck as you sleep. The grid distributes weight well and doesn’t absorb heat like foam can, so fans say that it stays extra cool and cozy at night.

Purple’s newest pillow is a redesigned model called the Harmony, which sells for a princely $159. Instead of making up the entirety of the interior, the cushy polymer grid is now much thinner, filling just the microfiber outer case and surrounding a thick, spongy latex core. The mostly hollow grid and the moisture-wicking, microfiber case do a great job of improving airflow and keeping things cool by creating some separation between your head an the latex.

The Harmony wasn’t nearly as heavy as I expected it to be after reading reviews of the original, and the feel of that polymer grid was much softer than I had imagined, too. There’s still something of a springy, rubbery quality to the pillow that lifted my neck a little too much for my liking when lying on my back, but I found it to be much better suited for stomach sleeping, which is my usual preference. In fact, I slept like a rock on it.

I just wish I could have adjusted the thing. A lack of adjustability was a key criticism of the original, so it surprises me that you can’t adjust the Harmony, either — especially at this price. For my money, I’d probably be more inclined to go with the new version of Purple’s original pillow, which adds in removable booster pads for adjustability and costs a lot less at $109.

Other pillows worth considering

We haven’t tested the following pillows yet, but with strong reviews and good company track records, they’re worth a look as you shop around.

Parachute Home

Available in comfortable soft, medium and firm densities, this pillow is filled with superfine microfiber that emulates the best qualities of a regular down pillow — just without the allergies. For added allergy protection, you can purchase Parachute’s washable, cotton pillow protector. Fluffy, soft and pleasantly warm (due to its down-like filling), this pillow has been praised by side-, stomach- and back-sleepers alike for its lightweight feel and down-like “squishiness.” Like a down-filled pillow, Parachute’s pillow can be fluffed into a comfortable shape for each sleeping position.

“Soft and comfortable,” one reviewer wrote. “I cannot believe it’s not down.” One even compared it to sleeping on a cloud (which certainly paints a picture of how soft it is), while another said it quickly and easily fluffs back up after a night’s sleep. If you’ve been considering making the switch from feathers to synthetic fills, Parachute’s soft down alternative may convert you. Stomach sleepers who prefer soft pillows will find the best value here, as you’ll pay a little extra for a medium or firm version of the pillow.

Snowe Home

Snowe’s down alternative offering is also hypoallergenic and ultra-plush, is available in three density options and comes with a washable sateen cover. According to this enthusiastic reviewer, the fill is beyond convincing in how it replicates the feel of regular down: “The alternative down used in these pillows is like magic. Maximum compression but they always puff back up. Auto-fluffing pillows!”

Snowe’s site helpfully notes that the softer version will be more comfortable for stomach sleepers, while side sleepers will often prefer something firmer for a good night’s rest. And if you’re unsure which density to select, go firmer rather than softer. Where many reviewers appreciated the height and density of these bed pillows, others noted that they may be on the thinner side: “Great texture, but could be a little more fully stuffed/firmer. Would prefer to use one, but find myself using two.”

Brooklinen

Not only is this plush pillow vegan, allergen-free and available in a variety of sizes and densities, it also has the longest trial period (365 days) of any product on this list. So, if you take a while to adjust to a change or just believe that a pillow must be “broken in” to know its true strengths, you have plenty of time to make your final decision. And, if you aren’t a firm pillow fanatic, that extra-long trial period may come in handy.

According to some, there’s a chance that this pillow may be a little too firm: “I went back and forth between plush and the next firmer style. The plush is more than firm enough. If your [sic] on the fence, you might want to take that into consideration.” Others said that their pillows softened up after a few weeks of use, while self-described side-sleepers said they took to the pillow’s firmness right away. You can purchase a pack of two corresponding pillow cases separately, for $44.

DreamNorth

Sold on Amazon in packs of two with a machine washable cover, DreamNorth’s soft pillows are easily the most cost-effective choice on this list. That said, their breathability, down-free fluffiness and supportive gel pillow fiber fill could keep them from feeling “cheap.” Described as “ultra-soft,” these pillows are probably not the right choice if you’re looking for something particularly firm, but their softness almost makes their ability to retain their shape more impressive.

“They came vacuum sealed and squished flat but as soon as you take it out of the package they fluff up like marshmallows and stay that way. I’ve only noticed some slight, very slight flattening in the 4 months I’ve had them,” one reviewer wrote. Others noted the pillows’ fluffiness but added that they didn’t have to sacrifice any amount of neck support for how soft they were, either: “I highly recommend these pillows if you are [prone] to waking up with neck aches or headaches, because the pillow conforms nicely to give you the support you need while being soft enough to make you comfortable.”

Luxe Pillow

It’s right there in the name. This $129 pillow filled with high-quality, sustainably sourced goose down and waterfowl feathers is undoubtedly luxurious. Where the goose down offers fluff, the waterfowl feathers provide support — and both materials are hypoallergenic and Responsible Down Standard-certified. This combination means the pillows are made with any sleeping position in mind, which some customers have put to the test. “I love this pillow,” one reviewer wrote. “It helps me sleep in any position, on my back, stomach or side.”

Providing that you like a down pillow and the squishiness that tends to accompany that variety of fill (much like what many higher-end hotels outfit their beds with), this pillow could very well worth the price (the fact that it comes with a washable cotton damask case helps somewhat). Or, as one reviewer put it: “Honestly, if you are debating on paying for an expensive pillow, just answer this question: Which is more expensive, a chiropractor, masseuse, and a quarterly doctor visit for a monthly prescription medication to treat tension headaches, or this pillow?”

More guides to better sleep

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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