Let us guess: You've spent hours searching for the comforter that perfectly complements your personal style, reading reviews on mattresses that promise to make your back feel amazing in the morning, and investing in sheets with the highest thread count on earth. But in your quest for the most comfortable bed, you've given little to no thought to your pillow. Are we right?
A carefully curated set of pillows is the difference between an okay bed and one that puts even the fanciest five-star hotel bed to shame. Here, we tapped two experts for their best tips to picking the best pillows for you. Spoiler alert: There are 10—yes, 10—different types of pillows on the market for you to choose from.
Will you choose the memory foam pillow, go with a microfiber filling, or try something organic? We shall see.
Meet the Expert
- Joy Elena is the founder of Sleepenvie, a pillow and mattress company.
- Adrianne Kautz is the founder of One Fresh Pillow, the world's first-ever pillow subscription service.
As you consider the level of firmness that works for you when choosing a mattress, pillows also come in various densities that run the gamut from cloud-soft to super supportive. If you're not sure what level of firmness you prefer, consider your sleeping position before deciding.
"Firm pillows provide better support and alignment for the head, neck, and spine while keeping the body in a horizontal position, making [them] perfect for side sleepers," Elena says. For stomach sleepers, she recommends a soft pillow. "Soft pillows allow the head to sink in while providing enough cushion and support to keep the upper torso, head, and neck in a comfortable flat position," she says.
Kautz adds, "Soft pillows are great for back sleeping. They allow your head to sink in and keep it from leaning to one side or the other, which can cause neck strain."
Memory Foam Pillows
Memory foam consists mainly of polyurethane and uses your body heat to soften and mold to your shape. Elena notes that they provide good neck and back support, but they tend to retain heat—a disadvantage if you're a warm sleeper.
Gel Memory Foam Pillows
If you like the feeling of a memory foam pillow but run hot at night, Elena tells us gel-based memory foam pillows are the way to go.
"Gel memory foam pillows are infused with a cooling gel that reduces heat retention," she says. She recommends Sleepenvie's Skyler pillow, as it's cool inside and has a cooling yarn cover outside.
Shredded Memory Foam Pillows
These pillows are entirely customizable, and this FOMO pillow allows you to edit the volume based on your preference of thickness. The shredded memory foam filling can be removed to make it thinner if that's what you're into, or replaced when you prefer a fuller feel.
"The shredded memory foam promotes more breathability compared to a solid foam pillow," Elena says.
Natural Foam Pillows
"These pillows are usually hypoallergenic, as they tend to use a higher percentage of natural materials," Elena explains. Aside from the better-for-you benefits, natural foam pillows reduce the sinking feeling and are cooler than regular memory foam pillows.
Natural Latex Pillow
Natural latex comes from the sap of a rubber tree—yes, that's a real thing—which means it has no harmful chemicals in it.
When it comes to natural latex pillows, "they're usually hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial, which makes them resistant to dust mites—this can make them a good choice for someone with respiratory issues," Elena shared.
Latex pillows tend to be softer and more breathable than memory foam pillows.
Synthetic Latex Pillows
If you're looking for a soft feel that provides support, a synthetic latex pillow is an excellent option. Elena explains they're usually made from a blend of natural latex and man-made latex, which is constructed with various chemicals.
The best part? Their construction makes them durable and long-lasting.
If your preferences change night by night, don't invest in twice the pillows. Instead, try a hybrid pillow by One Fresh Pillow. Kautz says it's a patent-pending, flippable design that boasts firm support on one side and a soft fill on the other.
"Down pillows are made of goose and duck feathers, which makes them softer and more cuddly than other pillows," Elena explains.
Down pillows can mold to the form of your head and neck, providing customized support—plus, they're breathable and allow airflow between the head and the neck.
"Despite their luxurious comfort, there are some drawbacks to using down pillows," Elena says. "They require constant fluffing, are difficult to clean, and some may find them too soft."
Down Alternative Pillows
Down alternative pillows are made of synthetic materials, such as polyester, to mimic the features of natural down pillows. Elena shared that they provide more options than firmer pillows, but they tend to be less cuddly.
Microfiber pillows, also known as polyfill pillows, are made of polyester and are usually hypoallergenic. They are budget-friendly, as well as easy to wash and maintain, but Elena notes, "They aren't as comfortable and supportive as memory foam pillows."