I realized my limp and lifeless pillow just didn't cut it anymore when I entered the "pillow concierge" at a hotel in Tokyo. Row upon row of pillows of all shapes and support levels lined the walls like books, color-coded according to the degree of softness or firmness they offered. There were pillows filled with charcoal to detoxify your body after a long flight (yes, it was as uncomfortable as it sounds) and pillows with nodules for side-sleepers. Who knew choosing a humble pillow could be so complicated?
The Japanese aren't the only ones realizing the benefit of finding your perfect pillow match. Next-gen mattress brands Casper and Leesa have just launched specialty pillows that claim to support and soothe any snoozer. But do they live up to the hype? We asked five people to put them to the test and share an anonymous review. Here's what they said.
If You Have Back or Neck Pain…
The Hard Sell: Made from bamboo-derived viscose rayon and polyester blend, Coop Home Good's Original Pillow is hypoallergenic and has cooling properties. The fill is made from shredded memory foam mix to mold to your needs.
Softness/Firmness: "I find memory foam pillows too rigid, but this one contains shredded foam, so it molds to your head but provides some give. It's quite a firm, heavy pillow, so if you prefer low-profile soft options, keep looking." (4/5)
Support: "I've struggled with back and shoulder pain for years, and it has intensified in the last few months. When I swapped out my flat IKEA pillow (which is more of a decorative pillow than a functional one), I noticed the difference in two days. My head was supported so my posture was better while I slept. My searing morning shoulder pain disappeared quickly, which I didn't expect." (5/5)
Price: "Compared to other pillows on the market, this is a midrange price, but it's still probably more than I'd like to pay given that I'd need to buy a set." (4/5)
Final Score: 14/15
If You Love Down Pillows…
The Hard Sell: Casper positions its first-ever pillow product as a "pillow-inside-a-pillow," thanks to the padded exterior that cushions the insert. Apparently, the inner pillow is supportive, as it's filled with almost a billion coated fibers, and the outer pillow adds a "soft touch of fluff."
Softness/Firmness: "This felt more like a down pillow than one filled with tiny fibers—possibly because it's essentially two pillows in one. It was a bit too firm and tall for me." (3/5)
Support: "If you like dense, tall pillows or sleep on your side, this is ideal. They claim the way the pillow is pumped with fiber clusters means it's resistant to clumping too, so it shouldn't change shape." (4/5)
Price: "At $65 for a standard or $85 for a king size, this is a pretty midrange-priced pillow." (3/5)
Final score: 10/15
If You're on a Budget…
The Hard Sell: This TV-infomercial best seller conforms to your shape, has temperature-regulating properties, and is designed for back, side, and stomach sleepers. It's marketed as "three pillows in one" that never goes flat.
Softness/Firmness: "This is my first memory foam pillow, and it has the right amount of soft and firmness. Sometimes I have to turn it over the next day to fluff it because, contrary to the claim, it does flatten from the night before, but it's easy to adjust the shape." (4/5)
Support: "I had bad lower back pain before getting this pillow and a Leesa mattress—they work hand-in-hand to support my body. It's worlds apart from my first generic-brand pillow, which was flat and hollow." (5/5)
Price: "I think buying a quality pillow is really important because I have a bad neck too, so I'd be prepared to spend $100. This one is $30, but it feels so much more expensive." (5/5)
Final score: 14/15
If You Sleep on Your Back…
The Hard Sell: This pillow uses the same Avena performance foam found in Leesa mattresses, which is cooling and responsive. It's engineered with hundreds of ventilation channels for maximum airflow.
Softness/Firmness: "This is a pretty firm pillow and has a flatter shape than I'm used to, so I'd recommend it to people who sleep on their back rather than their side." (3/5)
Support: "All-in-all I found it supportive, but it's worth noting that I've never struggled with back or neck pain. If you sleep on your side, you might need a more supportive, high-profile option." (4/5)
Price: "$75 for a standard and $95 for a king size pillow is more than I'd like to pay, but if you're a Leesa mattress devotee, I can see the value." (3/5)
Final score: 10/15
If You're a Side Sleeper…
The Hard Sell: Made from dense hypoallergenic down alternative, this pillow is designed to feel fluffy and supportive at the same time. It's certified by the Allergy & Asthma Foundation of America.
Softness/Firmness: "I'm traditionally a down pillow kind of girl, but I have to say for a synthetic fill, this pillow has the perfect sink-in/fluffy ratio." (4/5)
Support: "The support is great. I sleep on my side, and the pillow is thick enough to give me good support. I'm not a fan of thin pillows." (5/5)
Price: "I would be willing to spend a lot on a great pillow. After all, how much is a good night's sleep worth? That said, I would probably shell out more on a quality down pillow. But for synthetic fill lovers, this is a great choice." (3/5)
Final Score: 12/15