Published on April 6, 2020

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

A good night of sleep right when you really need it can feel like magic. All those stressful thoughts and worries vanish for a few hours, and you wake up feeling refreshed, renewed, and a little more optimistic than you felt the previous day. And there’s nothing quite like a good pillow to help ease you into that slumber.

If yours isn’t quite holding its shape like it used to or it’s feeling more like a fabric-covered slab than a comfy cushion, then it might be time to get a new one. Yet with so many options to pick from, the shopping process can be a little overwhelming. Finding your perfect pillow isn’t something to lose sleep over, though—so we took it upon ourselves to test five, all in the range of medium-firm to firm, across various price points. 

For $14: The Middle of the Road

First impressions: The squishiest of the bunch, Target’s down-alternative pillow has a good amount of give, making it a bit more malleable than others. It feels like it would get softer the longer you use it.
Final call: Not too firm, not too fluffy, this ultra-affordable buy is perfect for Goldilocks sleepers—or those who can never decide whether they prefer firm or soft.

For $27: The Supportive Staple

First impressions: Amazon’s basic down-alternative pillow has a crisp white cotton cover and a polyester fill that springs back when you press it. It’s sturdy but not too dense that it would feel uncomfortable.
Final call: This cushion is a good budget option for people who like to sleep with their heads propped up a bit, as it doesn’t allow for a ton of give, but it gives good support to your neck and upper back. 

For $59: The Slim Standard

First impressions: Somewhere in between fluffy and firm, Brooklinen’s mid-plush down-alternative pillow is sturdy with a moderate amount of give.
Final call: If you prefer not to prop your head up high while you sleep (or if you’re a stomach sleeper), this relatively flat pillow might be best for you. It keeps its shape through the night without requiring any extra prodding.

For $149: The Head Rest

First impressions: This down- and feather-filled option from the Four Seasons has an immediate appeal: After you press down on it, it reinflates ever so slowly. It’s also not overfilled, which means you can fluff it up to your heart’s content.
Final call: It’s supportive, but its feathers let your head sink in lower than most. It’s pretty much the next best thing to sleeping on a cloud.

For $155: The Extra-Puff

First impressions: Boll & Branch’s medium-firm down pillow is easily the most marshmallow-iest option we tested; it’s thoroughly filled, so it keeps its shape, but it still has enough give to feel supportive.
Final call: This buy is the best option for those who require a truly firm pillow, and it’s quite thick, so if you typically sleep on two cushions, it’s a good single alternative.

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