You might not spend much time thinking about your pillows, but they can make a huge difference to your nighttime comfort and the quality of your sleep. As such, you owe it to yourself to carefully select your next set of pillows. You'll need to consider a range of factors, including both the filling and outer material of the pillow and its firmness. Our buying guide outlines all you need to take into account when shopping for pillows, and it includes our picks for the best pillows on the market. Our top choice is a pillow from Coop Home Goods that's filled with a supremely comfortable shredded memory foam mix.
Considerations when choosing pillows
What's inside your pillow is one of the most important factors to consider. The vast majority of new pillows are stuffed with a polyester hollow fiber, which is sometimes called synthetic down. This is a plush and comfy choice, and it comes in different densities for varying levels of firmness.
If standard pillows have let you down in the past, you might want to consider a memory foam pillow. These can either be made from solid memory foam or shredded memory foam--the former tend to be firmer.
Feather and down pillows are another option, but they've mostly fallen out of favor as they're expensive, not especially supportive, and can cause allergies to flare up.
While it's generally best to choose a pillow with a natural fiber outer material, such as cotton or bamboo, this isn't a huge concern if you plan to put a pillowcase on your pillow, since your face won't directly touch the outer material as you sleep. Natural fibers are more breathable, however, which can keep you cooler at night.
How firm should your new pillows be? This is partly down to personal preference, but there are recommended degrees of firmness depending on your sleeping position. Soft pillows are best for stomach sleepers, medium pillows are best for back sleepers, and firm pillows are best for side sleepers. If you sleep in a variety of positions throughout the night, a medium-firm pillow is a good compromise.
Some pillows have gusseted edges that allow for a more even filling level, rather than being lofty in the middle and much thinner at the edges.
Some shredded memory foam pillows have adjustable fill, so you can add more stuffing or take some away depending on your personal preferences.
Although the majority of people use standard size pillows, you can also buy larger king and queen pillows, so you don't have a gap between the pillows and the edge of the bed on larger beds.
Pillows tend to range in price from around $5 to $70 per pillow, depending on the number you get in the pack, the filling material, and the overall quality. Mid-range pillows generally cost around $10 to $20 per pillow.
Q. How do I know when it's time to change my pillows?
A. Sometimes it's quite obvious when you need to change your pillows. For instance, the stuffing has started to protrude through the case or they've become heavily sweat-stained. Other times the signs that you need a change are subtler. For example, you may be waking up with slight neck pain or suffering from a runny or stuffy nose at night.
Q. What should I look for in a pillow if I suffer from allergies?
A. Some people find they can't sleep well at night due to dust mite allergies or other environmental allergies. First off, people with allergies should avoid feather or down pillows, opting for synthetic fillings instead. You can also find pillows specifically designed to be hypoallergenic, which shouldn't trigger the majority of allergies.
Pillows we recommend
Best of the best: Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Our take: This high-end pillow is stuffed with shredded memory foam, making it super comfortable.
What we like: We love the adjustable loft feature. Extremely supportive without being too firm. Hypoallergenic and machine-washable.
What we dislike: Slow to dry after washing if you don't have a powerful dryer.
Best bang for your buck: Perfect Fit Gusseted Quilted Pillow
Our take: The gusseted design allows these pillows to better retain their loft. Set of two pillows offers excellent value for the money.
What we like: You can choose between medium, firm, and extra-firm options, in addition to three size choices. Hypoallergenic filling. Easy to wash and dry.
What we dislike: Can be hard to find pillowcases that fit.
Choice 3: BioPEDIC 4-Pack Bed Pillows
Our take: If you're looking for standard hollow fiber pillows with no fancy extras, this set of four is a durable and comfortable choice.
What we like: These pillows stand out for their hypoallergenic antimicrobial filling with anti-odor technology. The soft cotton cover feels nice even without a case.
What we dislike: Not as supportive as some buyers would like, and they do go flat over time.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.