We Found the Best Pillows, Whether You Prefer a Firm Bounce or Feathery Fluff
Based on your favorite sleeping position.
Published Jun 24, 2022 1:00 AM
Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
Picking out the best pillow is just about the most personal bedding choice you can make. Chances are what works for you won’t work for your best friend, partner, or sibling. And with so many options available—from material fill (like feathery down or bouncy latex) to a variety of firmness levels—it can be hard to narrow down the very best pillows for sleeping.
With that in mind, we put together a list of our favorites pulled from all of our bedding guides, zeroing in on options from beloved brands. We made sure there’s something for sleepers of all sorts, whether you snooze on your back or stomach, or you flip from side to side—so you can quickly get to stuffing your pillowcase instead of sifting through the Internet for a new place to rest your head.
- Best firm: Hullo Buckwheat Pillow
- Best soft: Coyuchi Down Pillow
- Best hypoallergenic: Parachute Down Alternative Pillow
- Best value: Amazon Basics Down-Alternative Pillow
- Best for back sleepers: Marlow Pillow
- Best for side sleepers: Coop Home Goods Original Loft Pillow
- Best for stomach sleepers: Avocado Green Pillow
Best Firm: Hullo Buckwheat Pillow
Sleep trial: 30 nights | Sizes: One standard size | Materials: Buckwheat hulls
What we like:
- Super-breathable, promotes airflow
- Certified organic cotton shell that’s machine washable
- Made in the U.S.
- Modifiable height, and you can switch up the filling
- Pretty heavy (8.5 pounds)
Why we chose it: Filled with the holy grail of extra-firm materials and naturally nails the trifecta of the best pillows: cool, comfy, and supportive.
Forget what you know about firm foams: Buckwheat hulls promise never to flatten or compress over time. Grown and milled in the U.S., this fill is magically malleable, meaning you can redistribute or readjust as you need (and even add more in based on your pillow height preferences). If you do tend to move around a bit in your sleep, this pillow isn’t exactly silent; you’ll be able to detect the faint sound of the hulls shifting about inside, not unlike a sand-filled hourglass. But if you can overcome the subtle sound after the first couple of nights, this pillow is fully worth it for long-term firmness.
Best Hypoallergenic: Parachute Down Alternative Pillow
Sleep trial: N/A | Sizes: Standard, king | Materials: Latex, kapook, cotton
What we like:
- Microfiber fill
- Choose between soft, medium, and firm densities
- Free carbon-neutral shipping (and returns!)
- Double-stitched seam
- Might need extra fluffing each night
Why we chose it: The same plushness of feathers without the sniffles.
Microfiber is an ideal choice whether you’re allergic to down and feathers or want to avoid any animal products, no matter how ethically sourced, in the bedroom. This hypoallergenic, vegan alternative is one of the closest we’ve found to the real thing, offering the same support or softness, depending on your preferred firmness level and thickness. The fill is just as soft, but unlike real down, which needs to be replaced faster than any other fill material available, this pillow will last—and is backed by Parachute with a three-year warranty.
Best Soft: Coyuchi Down Pillow
Sleep trial: 30 nights | Sizes: Standard, queen, king | Materials: Down, cotton
What we like:
- Ethically sourced fill
- Fluffs up every night
- Perfect balance of sink and support
- Down tends to wear out quickly
Why we chose it: Feels like being cradled in cloudlike softness.
The plushest of the plush, this pick is a down pillow devotee’s dream. Cloudlike down fill is extremely soft, ideal for those who like to sink into their bed at night, and while we love the luxury of this material, it has gathered some skeptics in recent years when it comes to sustainability claims. Thankfully, there’s Coyuchi. We turn to the brand for all things eco-friendly, and this organic cotton shell pillow is no different. It’s stuffed with down that’s harvested humanely from a duck farm in Indiana and then double-washed, so you won’t have to bat an eye over safety or ethical production. Bonus: Each pillow is shipped in a reusable cloth bag.
Best Value: Amazon Basics Down-Alternative Pillow
Sleep trial: N/A | Sizes: Queen | Materials: Polyester, cotton
What we like:
- High loft
- Cotton shell
- Machine washable
- Solid fill that may eventually clump
Why we chose it: If you’re not ready to spend a fortune, give this $32 pick a try.
This Amazon Basics find may quickly become your springy staple—or your go-to for furnishing the spare bedroom. At nearly 9 inches thick, the pillow keeps your head propped up, cradling your neck and preventing your shoulder from creeping up into your ear—so don’t be surprised if side-sleeping guests fall in love with it. Yes, the down alternative is a synthetic polyester, but it’s hypoallergenic and wrapped in a crisp cotton shell. Plus, the fill is so dense that multiple reviewers note it’s impossible to fold in half, so if you happen to have extra-large pillowcases that always seem to slip and slide around, this won’t just look extra-fluffy on your bed, it’ll keep your shell nicely filled, too. Here’s the kicker: You get all that for under $50.
Best for Back Sleepers: Marlow Pillow
Sleep trial: 365 nights | Sizes: Standard, king | Materials: Cotton, memory foam, polyester
What we like:
- Customizable firmness levels
- Cooling foam
- 1 percent of sales donated to partner charities, such as the Sadie Nash Leadership Project
- Fairly firm and flat
Why we chose it: A hidden zipper means you can adjust the firmness and height of this pillow in a cinch.
Created by the same folks who brought you Brooklinen, the Marlow pillow offers two firmnesses in one without having to add or remove any filling: Just open the green zipper for a bit more fluff and a higher loft, or close it up for something a bit firmer. We still found the pillow to be on the flat side overall, but that just means it’s a super-ideal pillow for back sleepers who do best without a lofty headrest. The pillow refuses to lose shape throughout the night, so you don’t have to worry about poking or prodding it into the right position, and it slides into pillowcases without a struggle. And while it’s still affordable on its own at $65, the bundles are where you’ll really save: If you opt for a pack of four, each rings in at $39.
Best for Side Sleepers: Coop Home Goods Original Loft Pillow
Sleep trial: N/A | Sizes: Queen, king | Materials: Memory foam, microfiber, rayon
What we like:
- Shredded foam fill
- Washable cover
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Greenguard Gold certified
- No trial period
Why we chose it: Fully customizable, so you can stuff to the perfect plushness (and wake up with zero neck pain).
Our pick for the best pillow for side sleepers is another adjustable option, but this one comes with a half-pound bag of memory foam and microfiber fill so you can add or remove to your heart’s content (though if you do sleep on your side, you’ll likely need that extra fluff to keep your head and spine supported to steer clear of any neck pain). It’s been a favorite of Domino deputy commerce editor Samantha Weiss-Hill for years now, and the fillable design means the cover—made of a rayon-and-polyester blend that’s all about cozy softness—can be tossed in the washing machine come laundry day.
Best for Stomach Sleepers: Avocado Green Pillow
Sleep trial: 100 nights | Sizes: Standard, queen, king | Materials: Latex, kapook, cotton
What we like:
- Yearlong warranty
- Handmade in L.A.
- Ships with an extra bag of fill
- Might need to be fluffed up each night
Why we chose it: Pare back the fill for a low-loft headrest.
Those who sleep sprawled on their bellies need a low level of head and neck support that can be hard to come by, but Avocado’s Green Pillow fits the bill (and it’s a good choice for back sleepers, too). The pillow is fully adjustable: Just add or remove as much kapook fiber and latex fill as you like to reach your ideal volume. And while we could say a lot about its sustainability features (it’s 100 percent organic from the fill to the cover, Greenguard Gold certified, vegan—and it uses latex upcycled from its mattresses), what we love most about this pillow is that it’s designed to relieve whatever pressure points are ailing you (no joke; it gets the stamp of approval from Dr. Justin Lewis, a chiropractor at New York–based Get Adjusted).
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How We Chose These Products
What’s the best pillow? This is tricky to answer, as pillows are the ultimate personal purchase. While one person may be totally content with a flat, barely there feel, someone else may prefer a heaping pile of feathers. Choosing the right one can be a time-consuming task, and while there’s really no shortcut to finding your perfect match (which is why sleep trials are our favorite), we included a range of options at a variety of price points for every type of sleeper when assembling our list. We prioritized brands with eco-conscious attributes, but when it comes to affordability and durability, it can be difficult to avoid synthetic fibers, which is why we included a few polyester-filled pillows as well. Finally, we conducted hands-on testing when possible, tapped industry experts for their input (including chiropractors), dug into brand stats, and researched any missing pieces needed to help you achieve a dream bedding setup.
Our Shopping Checklist
Firmness and Fill
How soft or firm a pillow feels has a lot to do with what it’s made of. The main types of materials can be divided into two categories: fill and foam. The most popular pillow fill is down (the undercoat of feathers), which gives a pillow its coveted fluffiness. Down alternatives offer an animal-free fill typically made from polyester or a combination of other natural fibers (such as cotton) that are just as soft as down. But the fill doesn’t always have to be feather-like; these days the inside of a pillow can be stuffed with shredded foam or latex, cotton, buckwheat hulls, and more. Otherwise, a pillow insert is made from one full material, such as memory foam or latex.
The pillow’s interior has a direct impact on how firm, thick, or thin it feels. For instance, you may assume a down pillow can only feel plush. But if it’s tightly packed, there’s less room for the pillow to be compressed beneath the weight of your head. Foam and latex often have a springier feel, making it the material of choice for most firm pillow lovers, since it’s less likely to lose its shape.
There’s nothing worse than finally committing to a pillow after agonizing over the decision only to find, a few weeks later, that you’re still not getting a restful night of sleep. For a lot of people, pillows are a make-or-break situation, and the slightest tuft of fluff out of place can have you tossing and turning till sunrise. It’s rare, but possible, to find sleep trials for pillows. Brooklinen, for example, offers a whopping 365 nights risk-free. Other brands offer shorter periods: Buffy gives you up to a week to decide, Casper a month, and Tuft & Needle 100 nights. Trials and free returns are great indicators as to whether a company is confident in its product.
If you decide to try something other than down, pillows backed by a warranty can also indicate a longer life span than normal. Most foam-based pillows offer limited warranties for three years or more, which can also be a great way to determine quality and whether a brand is willing to stand behind their product.
Another great way to figure out which option is best for you and your sleep position is a pillow’s loft. The term refers to the overall height of a pillow once you’re resting on it; in other words, in its compressed state. Firm pillows are often taller, due to the amount of fill or its rigid nature, and can be anywhere from 3 to 5 inches thick. This is great for side sleepers who need more support, as the pillow prevents the neck from compressing into the shoulders during the night. But if you often sleep on your back or stomach, having something this tall will throw your spine out of alignment, so it’s best to stick to shorter lofts to keep everything neutrally in place.
Q: How big is a standard pillow?
Most pillows are sold in three sizes: standard, queen, king, and Euro (though the latter is usually used purely for decorative purposes). You can even add a body pillow if you like. Standard is by far the most popular and, according to Parachute, measures 20-by-26 inches. Standard pillows are widely available and highly versatile: One fits well on a twin-size bed, and a pair fits neatly on a queen.
Q: Is it okay if I throw my pillow in the washing machine?
Probably not—at least not the whole thing. Most pillows come with a removable cover, if you happen to have a particular stain situation, mess, or spill. But the greatest protection between your actual pillow and the sweat and oils from your skin is a pillowcase, which is much easier to take care of (unless you’re going with a luxe pick, like silk) and can definitely be added to your laundry pile. Otherwise, you can up the ante with pillow protectors.
Q: When is the best time to buy a pillow?
Like all bedding (including sheets and mattresses), you’ll likely come across a great deal if you wait around for a holiday—think: July Fourth, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, as well as sale-focused days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Or if your entire bedroom needs a refresh, many companies like to bundle in pillows for free when you purchase a new mattress.
Q: What do I stuff throw pillows with?
Throw pillows and bed pillows are definitely not the same in terms of size and purpose, but they often feature pretty similar fill options, mainly in the form of feathers. As designer Lauren Meichtry of Elsie Home has told us before when talking about the best throw pillows: “A standard fill is 10/90, meaning 10 percent down and 90 percent feather.”
The Last Word
Whether you find yourself snoozing on your belly or back or just happen to feel coziest when cocooned in feathers, the best pillow for you likely isn’t going to be the best pillow for someone else. That’s why we compiled a range of options for every sleep position, material preference, and budget—because, after all, the best pillow is what feels best to you.
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