Goose feathers, memory foam, soft, extra firm — the types of pillows at your disposal are virtually endless. But not all pillows are designed for everyone in mind. When you’re just trying to find ways to get a good night’s rest, sifting through all of the options can be overwhelming.
“You can make yourself crazy trying to sort out the nuance of all these pillows, but really it’s pretty simple: a pillow should be a soft, supportive thing,” says Dr. Dr. Andrew Hecht, chief of spine surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Finding the perfect pillow for you won’t be the cure for more serious issues like herniated discs or neurological issues that require surgery, according to Hecht. But if you’re waking up with stiffness or feeling unrested, it’s worth it to check out your current set-up and see if a better pillow would ease your pain.
Which type of sleeper are you?
According to Dr. Steven Shoshany, a chiropractor based in New York City, there are three main types of sleepers: back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers. Each comes with a unique set of needs so that there is proper support to the cervical spine (the vertebrae in the neck).
If you want to have restful sleep and avoid waking up with stiffness and soreness, it’s important to first figure out which type of sleeper you are. While people naturally tend to move around a lot in their sleep, it’s likely you know which position you typically fall asleep and wake up in the most.
Best pillows for side sleepers
Despite the fact that most adults curl up in the fetal position to sleep, side sleepers tend to experience a lot of aches and pains in their neck and shoulders when they’re not properly supported. Side sleepers may frequently experience a stiff neck due to their head being kinked one way or the other at night.
Body positioning is important. “If you’re sleeping on your side, your nose should be level with your sternum,” says Shoshany.
Beckham Hotel Collection Pillow - Best Overall
The Beckham Hotel Collection Pillow features a down alternative material to keep you cool and supported. While sleeping, you want to ensure your head is supported and your spine stays in a neutral alignment. The memory foam material in this pillow keeps your spine aligned, whether you’re a back, side, or stomach sleeper.
If you tend to sweat at night, this pillow offers a breathable alternative to some stuffy down pillow options. It provides cooling foam and a gentle cotton covering that promotes airflow to keep you from overheating. Best of all, this pillow is easy to clean. All you need to do is throw it in the washing machine. The easy maintenance and breathable fabric make this pillow the top overall option on this list.
5 STARS UNITED Pillow - Best Design
Discover unparalleled comfort and support with the 5 STARS UNITED Pillow, a premium sleep accessory designed to transform your nights into moments of bliss. Crafted with meticulous attention to quality and comfort, this pillow brings you the best in luxurious sleep.
Indulge in the lavishness of this elegant pillow, which features a down-alternative fill that rivals the plushness of real down. Made from premium polyester gel microfibers, this ultra-soft fill provides a cloud-like sensation, ensuring a restful and rejuvenating sleep. The pillow's covers are fashioned from pure cotton, a naturally breathable material that enhances your comfort throughout the night.
Embrace the peace of mind that comes with this pillow's OEKO-TEX certification. The filling, covers, and sewing threads have all undergone rigorous testing to ensure their safety and eco-friendliness. As you lay your head on this pillow, you can trust that it meets the highest standards of quality and sustainability.
5 STARS UNITED Knee Pillow - High-Quality Choice
Experience the ultimate in comfort and sleep quality with the 5 STARS UNITED Knee Pillow, a specialized pillow designed to enhance your rest and well-being. Crafted with precision and care, this knee pillow offers a host of benefits for a rejuvenated and pain-free sleep. Its unique design comfortably separates the upper knee from the lower one, ensuring proper spacing and alignment. This therapeutic effect helps align your spine and alleviates pressure during sleep, leading to a refreshed and painless awakening. Whether you're a side sleeper, pregnant woman, or seeking relief from lower back pain, this knee pillow provides a comfortable solution.
Made from high-density materials with a light lemon aroma, this pillow responds to heat by becoming softer, allowing you to fully relax during deep sleep. It's a perfect complement to other bed pillows, wedge pillows, body pillows, and half-moon pads. This pillow comes with a washable, breathable, and non-temperature-sensitive anti-pilling case.
BEDSURE Pillow - Super Cozy
Elevate your sleep experience with the BEDSURE Pillow collection, designed to cater to your individual comfort preferences. These queen-sized pillows come in three distinct firmness options, ensuring you find the perfect level of support and softness that suits your sleep style. Unleash ultimate coziness with these queen-sized pillows. Whether you desire a cloud-like puffiness, a marshmallow-like softness, or something in between, these pillows are tailored to offer unparalleled comfort, making bedtime a dreamy experience.
The BEDSURE Pillows are carefully crafted to strike the perfect balance between comfort and support. Expertly stuffed with extra filling and utilizing advanced techniques to curl and position the fillings, these pillows provide a range of puffy softness levels while ensuring adequate support for a restful sleep. Crafted to meet the standards of high-end establishments, these pillows offer a cozy haven that lets you feel like you're on a lavish vacation every night.
Mellanni Pillow - Best for Side Sleepers
Indulge in a night of unparalleled comfort and support with the Mellanni Pillow. Crafted to ensure proper head and neck alignment, these pillows cater to all types of sleepers; whether you prefer sleeping on your side, back, or stomach. Experience improved posture and ultimate relaxation as you rest your head on this elegant pillow. Stay cool and comfortable throughout the night with the premium cotton-blend shell that offers breathability and freshness. The carefully designed shell promotes uninterrupted sleep, allowing you to wake up feeling rejuvenated.
The Mellanni Pillow is generously filled with 100% polyester fiber, providing plush support that contours to your spine. The balance between extra fluffiness and firmness creates a sleep experience tailored to your body's needs. What's more, the quick rebound properties ensure the pillow maintains its shape and won't go flat over time.
5 STARS UNITED Half-Moon Pillow - Most Versatile
Introducing the 5 STARS UNITED Half-Moon Pillow, a versatile and effective solution for maintaining optimal body alignment and providing targeted support. Whether you're recovering from surgery, seeking relief from discomfort, or simply aiming to improve your sleep quality, this therapeutic pillow is designed to meet your needs.
Designed in a semi-circular shape, this half-moon pillow offers versatile support for different parts of your body. Placing the pillow under your knees can alleviate pressure on your spine, while positioning it behind your back offers lumbar support. Elevate your ankles to improve blood flow and reduce varicose veins. This pillow's adaptability is reminiscent of other cushion shapes like wedges, cylinders, and rounds.
Designed for back sleepers seeking comfort and relief, this semi-round pillow offers support for various body areas, including the back, knees, ankles, feet, and neck. You can use it in four key positions to alleviate pain and improve body alignment: between the legs, under the lower back, under the knees, and under the legs. Additionally, this ergonomic pillow functions as a back supporter while sitting on a couch or chair, and as a bed spacer to prevent excessive rolling during sleep.
POWERLIX Pillow - Most Ergonomic
Discover the new and improved POWERLIX Pillow, a versatile and ergonomic solution designed to enhance your sleeping comfort and travel adventures. Crafted with both self-inflatable core and memory foam, this pillow offers the perfect balance of support, adaptability, and convenience. Featuring a combination of memory foam and a self-inflatable core, the POWERLIX Pillow is designed to provide optimal comfort during sleep.
The inflatable core can be easily adjusted to your desired height using only 3-5 breaths. The highly durable elastic TPU fabric ensures that the pillow remains fully inflated throughout the night, ensuring a comfortable sleep without stiff or sore necks. The dual-color cover is crafted from soft brush material that protects your skin from cold and dry air. This pillow's quiet movement ensures a disturbance-free rest, while the cover absorbs excess moisture and maintains warmth in outdoor settings.
Not all side sleepers will want a side sleeper pillow, especially not those who are petite or move around a lot in bed. The Original pillow from Coop Home Goods can work wonders for those people as it is extremely adjustable — it even comes with a secondary bag of filling if you want to add more.
Environmentally conscious side sleepers can also rest easy knowing that this pillow is eco-friendly: the company boasts that the product is made without ozone depleters, heavy metals, and more.
Luckily, pillows have gotten very 21st century nowadays, and there are great options tailored specifically to side sleepers, like the Zoey Side Sleeper Pillow. The uniquely crescent-shaped curve is designed to correlate with the side sleeper’s head, neck and shoulder positions while they sleep.
“With side sleeper pillows, the cutout keeps the neck neutral and takes the pressure off of it while not impinging on the person’s shoulder,” says Shoshany.
Plus, the internal mix of shredded memory foam and down alternative is easily removable with this model, making it possible to contort your pillow to your specific shoulder width.
People who primarily sleep on their backs should look for a pillow that offers support to the cervical spine. One of the best designs out there for this is the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow.
“I’m a big fan of Tempur-Pedic memory foam pillows that have a cervical roll in them. That’s there specifically for the back sleeper,” says Shoshany.
The extra contours of this pillow provide the support that back sleepers need, and the thick memory foam helps your neck stay in position all night. The pillow also comes in three different sizes to support people with smaller or larger frames.
Some might say sleeping with a whole body pillow is over the top, but you shouldn’t listen to the haters, especially if you tend to sleep on your stomach. You can use the Coop Home Goods Body Pillow alone or with a pillow under your head, whichever is most comfortable to you. What’s most important is ensuring that your neck, back, and hips are all in alignment with each other, which is easy to do with this pillow as it is completely adjustable.
You can contort this pillow to your liking until it sort of mimics the sensation of being on a massage table, with your forehead and the side of your head fully supported. This way you can breathe easily if you’re one of those true face-down stomach sleepers, or provide a sensation of weightlessness on your neck for those who rotate their head to the side.
A thin pillow may seem counterintuitive to the idea that pillows should be soft and supportive, but if you sleep primarily on your stomach, it might be necessary.
“For stomach sleepers, a thick pillow can be really uncomfortable,” says Hecht.
The Elite Rest Ultra Slim Sleeper addresses the thickness problem by combining the support of firm memory foam with the perfect profile (just 2.5 inches) for stomach sleepers to avoid straining their necks while they sleep. The pillow has a flat bottom and a rounded top for extra stability — although this might be bad news for people who love to flip their pillow in the middle of the night to get to the cold side.
Although sleeping "hot" isn’t posture-specific, it can still lead to poor sleep quality, especially during the warmer months. The WEEKENDER Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Pillow is great not just for its price point, but also because its temperature-regulating gel and ventilated memory foam work to keep you cool during the night, while still offering all of the supportive benefits of a memory foam pillow. Although it has a 5-inch loft, and reviewers say it is not overly firm, so it can still work for people with smaller frames.
Business and vacation travelers alike can make the most out of the Huzi Infinity Pillow. The ways you can use this travel pillow are, well, infinite. This travel pillow is great because it can suit the needs of every type of sleeper. You can comfortably prop up your back, curl up against the window, or even plank face-down on the tray table. Plus, it’s made of breathable bamboo and microfiber, so you’re unlikely to overheat while using it.