A pillow is as personal a choice as a mattress. Even though it is not as big a financial investment, choosing the right pillow can contribute greatly to your comfort while sleeping.
You may be suffering from neck, shoulder, and upper back pain even though you’ve just invested in a brand-new mattress. The mattress may not be at fault, as these issues can also be caused by using the wrong pillow.
For this reason, I decided to add a page of pointers to help you choose the perfect pillow for your needs. I’ve also included some short reviews of my favorite pillows on the market.
Best Value for Money – Goose Down/Feather Pillow (Hypoallergenic)
The materials make this pillow a very soft place to lay your head at night. Filled with ½ white goose feathers and ½ white goose down, this pillow is perfect if you’re a back sleeper and need a softer surface.
This pillow is hypoallergenic because the 100-percent cotton cover and the filling have both been cleaned with a CentroClean procedure. This product is perfect if you like the feeling of sinking in to a full pillow. It also comes in different sizes, such as King, Queen, 1’8″ x 2’2″, and 2’2″ x 2’2″.
Best Side Sleeper Pillow – Memory Foam
I love that this pillow gives you all the advantages of memory foam (you can probably tell it’s my favorite) with the added advantage of Iso-Cool. If you’re not familiar with this technology, it’s designed to keep you from getting too hot when you sleep. It contains Phase Change Material, or PCM for short.
PCM contains tiny beads which can react with your body heat. When you are too hot, the tiny beads absorb the warmth and make you feel cooler; if you are cold, the beads release the heat back to you to warm you up. Who knew a pillow could be so smart? This pillow’s cotton cover is hypoallergenic and removable with an easy zipper fastening. The pillow also comes in three different sizes.
As with most memory foam products, this pillow will feel firm, making it most suitable for people who sleep on their sides.
Best Goose Down Pillow – High End
This is another soft pillow, and it is a real treat. This pillow from Royal Holland is among the more luxurious ones on the market, stuffed full of white goose down that was plucked by hand. The down is completely free of bacteria, and the 100 percent Egyptian cotton cover is finished with double silk piping.
Admittedly this is not the low-budget option, but the purchase does include a set of two pillows. The manufacturers put a lot of thought and care into the packaging as well, making this an excellent choice as a gift. The pillows come in Standard and King sizes, but remember — even the smaller size is a fairly large pillow because of the quantity of stuffing inside.
If you love a big, fluffy but not overly soft pillow with more than a hint of luxury, this is the choice for you.
Best Pillow Cover – Bed Bug and Allergen Proof
This product is a cover only, not a whole pillow, but it is so functional that I thought it deserved a place here. I included this for the benefit of allergy sufferers and for anyone who is buying a pillow cover for children to use. This Safe ZipCover is made with EVOLON fabric, a material that earned the Seal of Quality from ECARF (European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation).
Engineered under strict regulations in Germany, this cover is scientifically proven to protect users from mites. It also prevents bed bugs and dust mites from bothering you. If you spend your nights sneezing, stuffy-nosed and runny-eyed, this cover could make a big difference to you. It’s also surprisingly good value for the price.
This cover is also a good eco-friendly choice because it uses sustainable materials, and it contains no harmful binders and solvents. It comes in these three sizes:
Best Value Neck Pillow – Memory Foam
If you are a back or side sleeper, and you need a good supportive pillow for your neck, it can be hard to find something affordable. This pillow by Sleep Innovations could be the answer for you.
This pillow was designed specifically to alleviate back and neck pain stemming from poor pillow support. The contoured shape aligns your spine properly when you sleep, according to your position. The memory foam is by SureTemp and the removable cover (for washing) contains an 80: 20 percent blend of cotton and polyester with a soft, velour-like feel.
There is also a layer made of cooling foam to prevent you from feeling too hot at night. This pillow is quite firm, and can take time to get used to, and it has an unfamiliar shape compared to most pillows. And it comes in Standard and Queen sizes.
Best Hypoallergenic Pillow – Down Alternative
This pillow may not help with neck and back pains, as it’s not primarily designed for support. However, it’s a great choice if you are trying to relieve allergy symptoms. This entirely USA-made pillow has a complete money-back guarantee and a warranty for 3 years.
This pillow is 100 percent cotton on the outside, and is filled with siliconized cluster puff fiber. This makes the pillow fluffy but not overly soft, and it’s a good choice if you like down but have to avoid it because of budget or allergies.
This machine-washable pillow comes in many sizes, such as Standard, King, Queen, Jumbo, Body and Baby.
Best Down/Feather Pillow – Duck
This pillow by Pacific Coast is the closest you’ll find to those amazingly comfortable pillows you sometimes encounter in hotels. This one is really a pillow inside a pillow. Here’s why.
The pillow is 95 percent stuffed with natural hyper-cleaned duck feather surrounded by natural duck down that has been similarly cleaned and treated. This layering of down with a core of feather combines soft comfort with solid support.
If allergies are a concern, this may be a good choice for you. The hyper-clean process gets rid of all the dirt, dust and allergens, and the AllerRest fabric on the outside stops new allergens from getting in. This is a big thick pillow, so if you usually prefer something thinner or flatter, it may not be the best one for you. You also will need to fluff it up in the mornings to keep its shape.
Best Value Pillow – Down Alternative
It goes without saying that we would all like the best product available but would also be happy to pay the lowest price if we could. The reality is that price is the overriding concern for some of us, but we still want to get the best we can get for our money.
This choice will not likely be for you if you are a confirmed stomach sleeper, because it is pretty soft and thick. The Microfiber fill is 100 percent hypoallergenic and feels a lot like down without costing as much. The materials make this pillow completely machine washable at low temperature. Washing won’t make the filling clump together and it doesn’t take too long to dry. Keeping these pillows clean and healthy is a breeze.
This one comes in Standard and Queen sizes, and includes a limited warranty of one year. Again, the pillow needs to be fluffed in the mornings.
Best Memory Foam Pillow – Firm
We’ve discussed a lot of softer options, and you may be starting to feel abandoned if you like a firm pillow. This Malouf Z model may be what you’re looking for.
This one uses the same open cell technology that I’ve discussed in some of the mattress reviews. As with the mattresses, the structure is both durable and easily molded. The pillow is firm, but you lie on it you won’t feel like you’re resting your head on a brick, as you might with some firm pillows. People have also commented on how well it springs back into shape after use.
The antimicrobial foam will resist dust mites as well as other allergens, and the velour cover is removable for easy cleaning as often as you need to. Unlike some pillows, this one comes in only a few sizes (Standard, King, and Queen), but you do have the option of buying low loft or high loft.
Best Value for Money – Body Pillow
As a reviewer, it’s difficult for me to choose a pillow that will work for every type of sleeper, so this Sleep Innovations body pillow was a good find. It’s billed by the manufacturer as medium to moderately firm, but it can be used by side, back and stomach sleepers alike for a more comfortable sleep.
The design uses both gel memory foam and open cell SureTemp memory foam. The gel keeps you cool by preventing build-up of heat, and the open cell foam gives good support. The other perks include allergen and mite free foam, a one-year limited warranty, and a removable cover.
One thing you need to consider is the weight of this pillow. It is a large heavy piece of memory foam, so it’s best used by someone who will be keeping it in one place all the time.