Best pillows for sleeping

The 9 best pillows of 2023, tested by experts

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Best Pillows (2023): The definitive in-depth review of top-rated pillows

For decades, I had been sleeping on whatever pillow I found at the department store when moving residences. I would pick pillows that felt good at the store, but they didn’t perform when I had to sleep on them for eight hours a night. Finally, I decided to systematically go through a process of testing different pillows.

  • The Saybrook Adjustable Pillow provides the best sleep. I wake up more refreshed than I thought possible.
  • The Chamberlain Dual-Chamber Pillow is best for people who want a luxury hotel-style pillow.
  • The Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud is great for people who love flat and squishy pillows.
  • The full review below includes details on 14 top-rated pillows.
  • I spent a week+ sleeping on each pillow over the last few months.

500+ reviews read 500+ reviews read

30+ pillows considered 30+ pillows considered

14 pillows purchased 14 pillows purchased

6+ months of testing 6+ months of testing

I started by reading online reviews and looking through best-seller lists. I also received recommendations from friends and family. I selected fourteen pillows that cover a variety of fill materials and firmness levels among the best-selling and top-rated pillows. This included shredded memory foam, down and feather, solid memory foam, down alternative, and latex pillows. I slept on each pillow on my side, my stomach, and my back in order to understand how they perform in different positions. I’m most naturally a side-sleeper, though I tend to shift into all three positions throughout the night. After at least a week of sleeping on each pillow, I found a winner that I now use as my personal pillow every night.

All the pillows together for my review All the pillows together for my review

Overall, my sleep experience on the Saybrook Adjustable Pillow impresses me the most. I enjoy sleeping on the Saybrook Adjustable Pillow in all three sleep positions thanks to the adjustability of the loft and the medium softness/firmness. I highly recommend this pillow as my top pick, especially for side-sleepers or people who sleep in a combination of positions.

Are Pillows Under $50 Worth Considering?

I recommend against the options under $50, and you’ll save money in the long run by going with a higher quality pillow. Many of the cheaper pillows can cut corners in ways that don’t show up on paper. For example, shredded memory foam pillows under $50 tend to use junk foam from leftover scraps of mattress production, which results in lumpy pillows. Down and feathers pillows under $50 tend to use more quills than down clusters, resulting in a pokey pillow. Cheaper pillows also tend to use less filling, which can result in a flatter pillow. If you’re able to invest in a higher quality pillow, I believe you’ll see the returns through a longer lasting product, better sleep, more energy throughout the day, and improved work performance.

In-depth Review

#1. Saybrook Adjustable Pillow

Shredded Memory Foam and Polyfiber Mix

Saybrook Pillow Saybrook Pillow

With an adjustable loft and better quality filling than similar pillows, Saybrook is my top pick

  • Adjustable loft with removable filling
  • High-quality fill material
  • Firm enough to get support but soft enough to be comfortable
  • Comes with storage tube for removed filling
  • Gorgeous bamboo cover
  • Foam is certified by CertiPUR-US
  • Perfect for side-sleepers
  • Hypoallergenic, no dust mites
  • Only sold online (but has free returns)

The Saybrook Adjustable Pillow is by far the most comfortable pillow I’ve tried, and it’s the only pillow that stops me from tossing and turning at night. I used to think that it was normal to wake up periodically to shift my weight, but because the Saybrook pillow can adjust to the exact loft (height level) I need to cradle my head in place, I no longer wake up in the middle of the night to move my pillow around. I’m amazed by how much deeper my sleep is with the Saybrook pillow, and I wake up more well-rested in the morning. It’s also the perfect combination of softness and firmness. I’d describe the consistency as firm enough to support my head but also soft enough so that it doesn’t hurt my ears or jaw. I’m obsessed with the Saybrook pillow, and I use it as my personal pillow now.

saybrook-pillow-sleeping saybrook-pillow-sleeping

I found the Saybrook pillow to be great for side-sleeping in particular. Left picture shows Saybrook fully stuffed. Right picture shows it at the loft I like.

The Saybrook pillow is one of three adjustable pillows I tested that use a combination of shredded memory foam and polyester fiber in the filling. The shredded memory foam can be removed or added back in to adjust the loft, and the polyester fibers smooth out the fill material so that lumpiness isn’t an issue. The pillows can be unzipped for easy access to the filling inside. For side-sleepers, the adjustable loft is a huge advantage. The key to finding a good pillow is finding the right loft and the right softness, and an adjustable loft takes care of one half the equation perfectly. I like these adjustable pillows in general, but I like the Saybrook pillow the most because of the high-quality fill material.

adjustable-pillow-comparison adjustable-pillow-comparison

Saybrook filling uses the highest proportion of memory foam out of the three pillows I tested that blend memory foam and polyester fiber.

The Saybrook pillow distinguishes itself in the filling. Saybrook uses a blend called “Lion Down Alternative,” and I find the pun pretty amusing. Compared to the other shredded memory foam and polyester fiber blends, Lion Down Alternative has a higher proportion of memory foam, and the overall feel of the pillow is more like a memory foam pillow. When I sleep on the other adjustable pillows in this review, I feel more like I’m sleeping on a polyester pillow. In addition, the Saybrook memory foam feels to me like it’s the highest quality. Pieces of memory foam in the Wondersleep pillow feel hard and uncomfortable to me while the Coop memory foam feels more like regular foam in my opinion. The Coop foam reminds me of the foam used in Walkman over-the-ear headphones from the 80’s (not necessarily uncomfortable, but it has a different, more mundane feel), while the Saybrook memory foam has the signature squish I’ve come to expect from memory foam. The high proportion of memory foam pieces combined with the slight amount of polyester fiber results in a medium softness / firmness. It cradles my head with ample support when I sleep on my side, and I don’t find myself tossing and turning at night when I use it. At the same time, the pillow still feels soft enough to be comfortable when I squish it, and it isn’t so firm that I feel pressure against my ears or jaw. I can still turn my head without feeling pushback while lying down if I want to, which isn’t true for some of the firmer pillows.

shredded-memory-foam-comparison shredded-memory-foam-comparison

Saybrook filling has the high-quality, slow-motion bounce-back I expect from memory foam.

In the past, I had tried low-cost shredded memory foam pillows off of Amazon that were in the $20 – $50 price range, and they almost made me give up on shredded memory foam pillows. The pieces of memory foam were hard and stiff, causing the pillows to feel lumpy. Many of them didn’t have the polyester fibers mixed in, unlike the Saybrook, Coop, and Wondersleep pillows, and the lack of polyester fibers exacerbated the lumpiness. Some of the pieces of foam in these low-cost pillows were sticky or had a rind on them that made me suspect the foam was a byproduct of mattress production. The Saybrook pillow (and the Coop pillow) use all new foam, and these pillows don’t feel lumpy. If you’ve tried $20 – $50 shredded memory foam pillows in the past and have been disappointed, I would give the Saybrook Adjustable Pillow a try. You’ll probably be surprised how different the Saybrook pillow feels. If you haven’t tried a shredded memory foam pillow before, I recommend avoiding the $20 – $50 pillows. These types of pillows are noticeably better in the luxury pillow price range.

The Saybrook pillow comes in a zippered tube that acts as a measuring cup for removing filling. The tube instructs sleepers to take out enough to fill the tube in order to have a thinner pillow. I appreciate the rough guidance on how much filling to remove for people who want a lower loft, though obviously everyone should make their own micro-adjustments to get the right loft for them. I personally took out enough to fill the entire tube for side-sleeping. I also appreciate that there is a place for me to store the extra filling in case I need it later. The downside for the Saybrook is that it doesn’t come with an additional bag of filling, while Coop provides an extra bag. However, this isn’t a deal-breaker because I’d guess most people won’t use all the filling. In addition, I measure 3.6 lbs of filling inside the standard-sized Saybrook pillow and 3.2 lbs of filling inside the standard-sized Coop pillow (Update: As of late 2021, Coop has discontinued their standard size according to their website. I would expect their larger sizes to have proportionally more filling). The extra bag of Coop filling brings its overall weight to 3.7 lbs, so the total amount of filling for both pillows turns out to be very similar based on my measurements.

For back-sleeping, I use the same amount of fill as side-sleeping with the Saybrook pillow. When I sleep on my back, I don’t need the thickness to match my shoulder size, and instead, I care about giving my neck support while making sure my head doesn’t get pushed too forward. The tolerance range for the loft is higher when I sleep on my back. The loft I use for side-sleeping works for back-sleeping on the Saybrook pillow as well.

The Saybrook pillow uses a removable cover made of bamboo fabric. The fabric has a slight sheen, and the texture sits halfway between silk and knit wool. Out of all the pillow covers, I enjoy the Saybrook and Tempur-Pedic covers the most. One of the only negative aspects for this pillow I’ve seen mentioned in reviews online is the zipper, but Saybrook’s website indicates that they updated the zipper as of April 2021 (reviews that mention a zipper issue appear to date earlier). In the Saybrook pillow that I have, the zipper works smoothly and feels durable, so I would no longer consider the zipper a problem. In fact, the zipper stands out as one of the higher quality zippers among the pillows I’ve tested. The other pillows with zippers that stand out as easy-to-use for me include Tempur-Pedic, Casper, Coop, and Weekender.

Overall, the Saybrook pillow has really impressed me, and I’ve been obsessively recommending it to all my friends and anyone who will listen. I like the adjustability and the quality of the filling. I like the way the bamboo cover feels against my cheeks. Sleeping on this pillow, I feel refreshed in the morning without any jaw pain or neck pain. It’s been a long journey, but I’ve finally found the perfect pillow.

Update (8 months later): I’ve been sleeping on the Saybrook Adjustable Pillow for a while now, and it still sleeps like new! I’m very happy with the quality and durability of this pillow. I fluff this pillow in the dryer on a no-heat, gentle setting once every 2 months like the instructions say, and the pillow stays at the loft I want. I attribute this to the high-quality memory foam material.

The 9 best pillows of 2023, tested by experts

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Several pillows that we tested for our guide to the best pillow lined up on a bed.

  • Best overall
  • Best for side sleepers
  • Best budget
  • Best for neck pain
  • Best for back sleepers
  • Best for stomach sleepers
  • Best down
  • Best cooling
  • Best buckwheat
  • What to look for
  • How we tested
  • FAQs

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There are few pleasures as great in life as laying your head down on a soft, fluffy, enveloping pillow after a long day. That said, the best pillow is highly personal and will depend on your preferred sleep position, individual anatomy, and specific sleep concerns.

We tested 26 different pillows and and spoke to several sleep experts for this guide. Our top pick is the Coop Sleep Goods Original Pillow, which we think will appeal to the largest variety of sleepers because of its customizable fill. For a budget option, we recommend the Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillows, which come in a two-pack and net out to about $30 a pillow.

Whatever you choose, the sleep experts we spoke to recommend picking your pillow with the same care and research you would devote to selecting the best mattress for your room. “A good pillow is absolutely a top priority,” said Rebecca Robbins, sleep researcher, author, and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “No matter your budget, I really encourage people to splurge and invest in these products because they will help.”

Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews home products.

The best pillows for every type of sleeper

Best overall: Coop Sleep Goods Original Pillow – See at Amazon

Best for side sleepers: Casper Original Pillow – See at Amazon

Best budget: Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow (Set of 2) – See at Amazon

Best for neck pain: Layla Kapok Pillow – See at Amazon

Best for back sleepers: The Saatva Latex Pillow – See at Saatva

Best for stomach sleepers: Parachute Down-Alternative Pillow, Soft – See at Parachute

Best down: Brooklinen Down Pillow – See at Brooklinen

Best cooling: Leesa Hybrid Pillow – See at Leesa

Best buckwheat: Turmerry Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow – See at Turmerry

Best overall

The Coop Sleep Goods Original Pillow offers thoughtful features like adjustable fill, a washable pillow cover, and an unparalleled 100-night trial that make it the best choice for most people.

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  • Fill: Shredded memory foam and microfiber
  • Firmness: Adjustable, but on the firmer side
  • Sizes: Queen (20″ x 30″) and king (20″ x 36″)
  • Best for: Back, side, and stomach sleepers who like the feel of memory foam

It’s rare to come across a product as thoughtfully designed as the Coop Sleep Goods Original Pillow. Made from hypoallergenic shredded memory foam, the fill in the Coop pillow is adjustable so you can customize it to the perfect loft for your sleep preferences. Other thoughtful features like a washable cover, 5-year warranty, and 100-night trial make it our top recommendation.

When you open the box, a bright yellow insert walks you through how to customize the pillow and suggests how much fill to add or remove (it’s more than you think) based on your preferred sleeping position. While the pillow arrives almost overfilled, it also comes with a half-pound bag of additional stuffing in case you need even more support.

I followed the package recommendations to remove about a third of the fill for back sleepers. The result felt deeply personalized, and it was very comfortable to sleep on with an outstanding balance of support and fluff.

One drawback? If you favor a softer, more down-like fill (like I do), you may find the Coop pillow is on the firmer side and tends to get a bit hot during the night. However, we think most people will love the customization, especially if you prefer the springy feel of memory foam.

Best for side sleepers

The Casper Original Pillow offers the loft and support that side sleepers need but with the soft and fluffy feel of a down alternative.

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  • Fill: Polyester microfiber
  • Firmness: Moderate
  • Sizes: Standard (18″ x 26″) and king (18″ x 34″)
  • Best for: Side sleepers

The goal of a good pillow is to bring your neck in alignment with the rest of your spine. For side sleepers, this means bridging the gap between your ear and where your shoulder meets the mattress. But shoulder size and height can vary a lot from person to person, meaning one side sleeper might need a lofty pillow while another needs just a little bit of lift.

The Coop pillow (our pick for best pillow overall) is ideal for side sleepers because it offers a lot of customization to help fill that gap, which is why we also named it top overall pick in our guide to the best pillow for side sleepers. But if you’re not a memory foam fan, your next best bet is the Casper Original Pillow.

Made from down-alternative hypoallergenic fill with a percale cotton shell, the Casper pillow feels a lot like the soft, plush pillows you’d find in hotel rooms. A 2-inch gusset (the strip of fabric between seams that gives the pillow a more boxy shape) keeps the pillow lofted for the supportive lift that side sleepers require, but the plush fill still provides the “sinking in” sensation when you lay your head down.

One of the side sleepers who tried the pillow over several weeks also loved that it stayed cool throughout the night and kept its shape despite its softer fill. If you want a balance of support and softness, we recommend giving the Casper Original Pillow a try; just keep in mind that it’s not as customizable or adjustable as other pillows.

Read our full review of the Casper Original Pillow.

Best budget

The Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillows are an inexpensive option that still offers a comfortable, supportive night’s sleep.

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  • Fill: Gel fiber down alternative
  • Firmness: Moderate
  • Sizes: Queen (20″ x 24″) and king (20″ x 28″)
  • Best for: Side and back sleepers

If you’re the type of person that can fall asleep just about anywhere or you’re primarily concerned about price, the Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow is the best bang for your buck.

These pillows are on the thinner side but have a gentle, down-like plushness that sets them apart from other inexpensive pillows I’ve tried. While they’re more squishy than supportive, they’re a good choice for stomach sleepers; back sleepers; and anyone who likes to hug, fold, or stack their pillows at night.

I’ve spent several months sleeping with these pillows on and off, and they haven’t gone flat or gotten lumpy. They are a little less lofty and bouncy than when I first got them, but I like that they have a more lived-in feel.

“Gel pillow” is a bit of a misnomer; there’s no liquid or cooling gel in these pillows like there is in some other cooling pillows. Instead, these pillows are filled with hypoallergenic polyester gel fiber, similar to a down alternative in both feel and performance. Compared to denser materials like memory foam, the pillows stay relatively cool but stop short of actively cooling you like the Leesa Hybrid Pillow.

While these pillows aren’t adjustable, each pack comes with two pillows, so you can easily stack them to your desired comfort level. The company also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee — a rarity for Amazon-only pillow brands.

Best for neck pain

With its customizable fill, the Layla Kapok Pillow offers neck pain sufferers both support and comfort.

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  • Fill: CertiPUR-US certified shredded memory foam and Kapok fibers
  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Sizes: Queen (18″ x 28″) and king (18″ x 34″)
  • Best for: All sleeping styles, especially side sleepers

The Layla Kapok Pillow was the best neck-pain pillow we tested. It’s adjustable and forms to your head and neck for a very comfortable night’s sleep.

To adjust the pillow, unzip the cover and internal case. Remove the fill until you reach your preferred loft (or height). Have a sealable container handy so you contain the fill and save it in case you want to add it back in later.

That customization makes the Layla Kapok great for many types of sleepers. Reporter James Brains preferred to use the pillow with all the fill inside, while Sally Kaplan, executive editor for Insider Reviews, removed two-thirds of the material.

This made it easy to mold the pillow to support her head and neck. Kaplan said it took a few nights to get the fill level right, but then she slept much better than with her old memory foam pillow.

The pillow is made of CertiPUR-US certified shredded memory foam and fibers from the Kapok tree. The fibers are light, buoyant, and commonly used as a down alternative. The foam is hypoallergenic and made without ozone depleters, certain heavy metals, and formaldehyde.

If you find the pillow doesn’t work for you, you can return it within 120 days.

Check out our guide to the best pillow for neck pain for more options.

Best for back sleepers

Luxuriously plush, The Saatva Pillow offers an ultra comfortable, hotel-like experience and is particularly well-suited to back sleepers.

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  • Fill: Shredded Talalay latex
  • Firmness: Moderate-soft
  • Sizes: Queen (18″ x 28″) and king (18″ x 34″)
  • Best for: Back sleepers

The Saatva Pillow is made from a supportive shredded latex core surrounded by a plush, down alternative layer and a sateen cotton liner. Its unique construction makes it different from any pillow I’ve ever felt before — it’s got the hefty weight and support of a memory foam pillow, but with the plush, cool feel of a down pillow.

I kept coming back to this pillow throughout testing, and it quickly became my go-to for nights when I wasn’t actively testing anything new.

I’ve now been sleeping on this pillow for five months. I love how my head sinks into this soft pillow, but it’s still supportive enough to keep its shape all night long. When I wake up, the pillow looks just as plush as when I fell asleep on it.

I’m a very active sleeper who likes to move around a lot in bed and take my bedding with me, so I love that the pillow is equally plush and comfortable from all sides and angles. It’s still soft and supportive when I inevitably fold it, scoop it, or hug it throughout the night. Finally, it’s hypoallergenic, which is a must for allergy sufferers like myself.

Multiple stomach sleepers who tried the pillow as part of our testing found it too lofty, even with the inner core removed. Some side sleepers might also find the pillow not quite lofty enough; we think it’s best for back sleepers and those who prefer a plusher, cooler feel than memory foam.

Best for stomach sleepers

Soft but not too thin, the Parachute Down-Alternative Pillow has the perfect loft for stomach sleepers who want just a bit of cushion.

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  • Fill: Superfine microfiber
  • Firmness: Very soft
  • Sizes: Standard (20″ x 26″) and king (20″ x 36″)
  • Best for: Stomach sleepers

Stomach sleepers generally require the least amount of pillow support since your head and spine are already pretty close to alignment when lying on your stomach. Most stomach sleepers would benefit from a soft pillow with just a bit of loft, and for that, the Parachute Down-Alternative Pillow is our top choice.

This is the only pillow that received high marks for comfort from my husband, who is an avowed stomach sleeper and finds most pillows too lofty. The Parachute pillow elevates his head just enough to alleviate any neck strain, and the sateen cotton encasement keeps the pillow remarkably cool all night long, ideal for those, like him, who run hot.

We purchased four of these pillows a little over a year ago, and they were our mainstay before I started testing and evaluating pillows for this guide. In many ways, this pillow hits all the marks for me: it stays cool, is incredibly soft and comfortable, and is hypoallergenic. But while my husband happily drifts asleep with one of these pillows tucked under his head, I (a back sleeper) need to stack two or three to get the loft I need to fall asleep comfortably.

While the fill is thin enough that the pillow easily folds over for some support if you occasionally flip to your side or back during the night, it doesn’t provide enough for those who spend most of the night in those positions. The pillow also won’t offer much lift if you’re looking to prop yourself up to read or watch TV while lounging in bed. Still, it’s a great personal pillow for any stomach sleeper who has found other pillows too lofty.

Best down

The mid-plush Brooklinen Down Pillow conforms well to different sleeping positions, making it the ideal pillow for people who shift throughout the night. It feels as good as pillows double its price.

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  • Dimensions: 20 x 25 inches (standard) and 20 x 36 inches (king)
  • Support levels available: Plush, mid-plush, firm
  • Return policy: 1 year
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Care instructions: Leave outside on a dry day or air fluff in the dryer. Spot clean with a soft soap for small stains and dry clean for more significant stains. Note that dry cleaning will shorten the lifespan of the pillow.
  • Certifications: Downmark certified

Down makes for a very soft and comfortable pillow, but the material isn’t for everyone. While experts told us that down allergies are less common than we’ve been made to believe, people with dust mite allergies may sleep easier with a hypoallergenic pillow. That’s why, for this guide, we focused solely on memory foam and down-alternative pillows.

For those who strongly prefer the feel of a down pillow, check out our guide to the best down pillow. Our top pick was Brooklinen’s Down Pillow, which was plush and comfy for various sleeping styles.

Best cooling

The Leesa Hybrid Pillow’s cooling gel side provides cooling, while the quilted side offers a more traditional pillow experience for nights when you don’t need as much support.

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  • Fill: Polyester and Microfiber
  • Firmness: Adjustable (firm on one side, softer on the other)
  • Sizes: Standard (16″ x 24″) and queen (16″ x 28″)
  • Best for: Hot sleepers

Some of the best memory foam pillows advertise “gel foam” that purportedly keeps you cooler. However, we haven’t found that this type of foam produces a marked difference in comfort for hot sleepers. Down or down alternative pillows may provide better airflow, but if you absolutely must have foam, the Leesa Hybrid Pillow is the coolest one we’ve found.

The Leesa Hybrid Pillow’s unique construction consists of a gel-filled cooling side and a quilted cushioning side, with a removable mini-pillow in between for adjustability. While the quilted side is comfortable, the gel side is where the Leesa pillow truly shines. The gel provides an instant chilling effect that’s deeply soothing, especially for neck pain. In fact, this was a previous pick for neck pain in this guide.

However, this hybrid pillow has received mixed reviews from our testers over the years. With only two possible heights, both of which are relatively low, it’s less adjustable than other pillows we tested, and best suited for stomach and back sleepers who don’t need a lot of loft. It’s also fairly heavy, and its unique design may take a few nights to get used to.

If you’re not a hot sleeper or currently struggling with neck pain, the pillow’s main selling points may be lost on you. The 30-day return window is also short compared to other pillows in this guide.

Best buckwheat

While sleeping on buckwheat hulls can take some getting used to, the Turmerry Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow offers an adjustable, hypoallergenic, and sustainable option that works for all sleeping styles.

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  • Fill: Buckwheat hulls
  • Firmness: Firm but malleable
  • Sizes: Travel (12″ x 16″), mini (15″ x 20″), neckroll (13″ x 6″), standard (20″ x 26″), queen (20″ x 30″) and king (20″ x 36″)
  • Best for: All sleep styles

Buckwheat hulls are a traditional pillow fill used in Japan and many other Asian countries. Neither my husband nor I grew up with this type of pillow, so testing the Turmerry Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow was a new experience for us.

And wow, we were both completely blown away by how comfortable this pillow was — so much so that I purchased an additional one because my husband and I would fight over who got to sleep on it each night.

The sensation of the hulls can take a little getting used to if this type of pillow is new to you. They rustle a bit and add some texture to the pillow. But I just love how malleable and yet supportive the pillow is.

Most nights, I mold the pillow to the shape of my neck and feel totally supported the whole night. The hulls are heavier than a standard pillow fill, yet I can comfortably tuck my arm underneath it without creating too much pressure or overheating.

There’s a reason why this type of pillow has been a popular choice for centuries worldwide. The pillow sleeps cool, is completely adjustable (just add or remove hulls to find your ideal loft), is sustainable and hypoallergenic, provides plenty of support, and works for all sleep styles.

The Turmerry Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow is what my husband now uses every night and what I turn to when I want a little more support. If you’ve struggled to find a pillow that offers support, I highly recommend trying this pillow.

What to look for when shopping for pillows

The experts we spoke to recommend prioritizing three main criteria when shopping for a new pillow: sleep position, material, and trial period. Below you’ll find our recommendations for each consideration.

Sleep position

Robbins told us the single most significant consideration when picking a pillow is your preferred sleep position: side, back, or stomach. The goal of your pillow is to support your neck in a neutral position aligned with the rest of your spine. That alignment shifts depending on the position you’re sleeping in. While we all move around during sleep, most of us spend the majority of our sleeping time in one position.

Not sure what your sleep position is? Consider what position you typically fall asleep or wake up in. Robbins also has an exercise she performs with her clients: Imagine you’ve been up for 24 hours and are presented with a big, luxurious hotel bed; how would you lie down on it to go to sleep? The position you envision is likely your preferred sleep position and plays a significant role in what type of pillow will work best for you.

Ideal pillow by sleep position

Sleep position Softness Loft Material
Side Supportive but not too firm High (or with adjustable fill) Down, down alternative, shredded memory foam, gel, buckwheat, microfiber
Back Medium-firm Medium Almost any
Stomach Soft Low Down, down alternative, shredded memory foam, buckwheat, microfiber

Side sleepers: Around 65% of the US population are side sleepers, according to Robbins, and this position requires the most loft and support to bridge the wide gap between the side of your head and where your shoulder rests on the mattress. If you’re a side sleeper, choose a lofty pillow — ideally with an adjustable fill since there can be a lot of variability in the size of that shoulder gap from person to person. Robbins said hotels and sleep clinics outfit rooms with side sleepers in mind, so if you’re buying pillows for a guest bedroom, a side-sleeper-friendly pillow is usually a good bet.

Back sleepers: Back sleepers are the Goldilocks of pillow hunters — they need a pillow with just enough support to lift the back of the head to be in line with their shoulders. Back sleepers tend to benefit from a medium pillow made from down or down alternative, though an adjustable pillow with at least one-third of the fill removed may work as well.

Stomach sleepers: In the minority are stomach sleepers, who need the least amount of support from their pillow. Typically a thin, very soft pillow works best for stomach sleepers — just enough fill to cushion their face from the flat surface of the mattress.


The material a pillow is filled with has a big impact on the feel of your pillow. Here’s an overview of the major fill types:

Down: Down consists of feathers taken from the underbelly of a goose or duck. It’s an incredibly soft and comfortable material for pillows. While most modern down is triple washed to remove dander, some allergy sufferers may want to avoid this material, as animal fibers are more prone to dust mites (which can exacerbate allergies) than synthetic fibers. You can read about our favorite down options in our best down pillows guide.

Microfiber: Microfiber is an incredibly popular down alternative. The majority of the pillows in this guide are made from microfiber. It’s generally hypoallergenic and, when shredded finely, has a feel to mimic down.

Memory foam: Another popular fill is memory foam. We prefer pillows with shredded memory foam, which offer a more traditional and malleable pillow feeling. A solid block of memory foam may be preferred if you suffer from back and neck pain and need to keep your head immobilized during sleep. Read more about the best pillows for neck pain.

Trial period

The only way to know if a pillow is right for you is to sleep on it. We recommend looking for pillows that offer at least a 30 day trial with a money back guarantee. This will allow you several weeks to decide if the pillow is right for you.

How we tested the best pillows

To learn more about what to look for in the best pillows, we spoke with Rebecca Robbins, sleep researcher, author, and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. However, there is no one-size-fits-all, best pillow for everyone.

Individual anatomy, sleep habits, and preferences profoundly impact how comfortable a pillow will be from person to person. For that reason, our rating criteria for this guide relied heavily on the following considerations:

Return policy and trial period: It’s impossible to know how comfortable a pillow is going to be for you until you sleep on it, despite how comprehensive our guide aims to be. “The most important thing is trying the pillows out to see what works for you,” said Robbins, which includes being able to touch, lay on, and sleep with a pillow before deciding if it’s right for you. For this guide, we only considered pillows that accept returns of used merchandise for a full refund with at least a 30-day trial window, which gives you ample time to decide if a pillow is right for you.

Adjustability: We prioritized adjustable pillows with removable inserts or shredded fill for dialing in your perfect loft. This creates a more custom pillow that would better suit your needs.

Ease of use: We looked at how well each pillow fit a standard pillowcase, whether the pillow came with a case or protector, and whether all or parts of the pillow were washable for better hygiene and pillow longevity.

Comfort: I slept on all of the pillows for at least three (sometimes agonizing) nights. I also enlisted a side sleeper and a stomach sleeper to try the pillows for a couple of weeks. We will develop a diverse sleep panel and have them test our top picks for additional feedback for future updates.

Pillow FAQs

How long do the best pillows last?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing a well-used pillow every couple of years. If you fold your pillow in half and it stays put, it’s probably time for a new pillow. (This may not work with thin pillows.)

What are the best pillows for people with allergies?

Robbins recommends looking for a pillow with a synthetic filling if you’re prone to allergies. Pillows with animal fillings (such as down) may trigger allergies since dust mites like fillings made from animal material.

Are pillows adjustable?

Many are not. However, our top pick, the Coop Home Goods Original Pillow is entirely adjustable, so you can find the loft that’s right for you. add or remove filling to reach your ideal comfort level.

What are the best pillows for hot sleepers?

Hot sleepers may find pillows with down or down alternative filling have better airflow than memory foam. If you prefer foam, the Leesa Hybrid Pillow is the coolest foam pillow we’ve found.

How much do pillows cost?

You can find pillows at a range of price points, anywhere from $10 to several hundred dollars. Because of how much time we spend sleeping, Robbins recommends thinking of a pillow as an investment that will pay you back in better sleep.

Why do pillows turn yellow?

Sweat, oil, and skincare products can all turn your pillow yellow. Adding a pillow protector may help prevent the stains.

How often should I wash my pillow?

Typical recommendations range from every three to six months. Robbins recommends adding a pillow protector (an encasement that adds another level of protection from allergens, body oils, dust mites, and other pests), too.

How do you wash a pillow?

Not every pillow can be washed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to best care for and clean your pillow. You should also fluff your pillows daily to extend their life.

What is pillow loft?

Loft refers to the height of your pillow, which determines how far off the mattress it lifts your head. experts recommend a pillow that keeps your head and neck aligned with the rest of your spine. side sleepers need more loft, while stomach sleepers need minimal loft.

What pillow sizes are available?

Most pillows for sleeping come in two sizes: standard (or queen) and king. We recommend a standard or queen size for twin, full, and queen mattresses and king pillows for king or California king mattresses.

Lauren Savoie is deputy editor of Insider Reviews and a member of Insider’s editorial standards board. Lauren leads the home, kitchen, pets, and travel teams, and is deeply involved in all editorial decision-making, with a particular focus in strategic content planning, career growth of reporters and editors, and strong journalistic standards for the Reviews team. In 2022, Lauren attended The Poynter Institute’s Leadership Academy for Women in Media, a prestigious program that recognizes leaders in the journalism industry. Lauren joined the Insider team in 2020, first as kitchen editor and soon after as senior home and kitchen editor, where she pioneered original testing methodologies for buying guides and built a diverse team of freelancers and reporters with deep expertise in product testing. You can see some of her work in our guides to the best flower delivery services, the best pillows, and the best sous vide machines. Before her time at Insider, Lauren was the senior reviews editor at America’s Test Kitchen, where she wrote and edited more than 300 in-depth, unbiased buying guides and reviewed more than 1,000 kitchen products. Her work has appeared in Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines, in dozens of cookbooks, on two Emmy-nominated TV shows, and on, Fodor’s, Yahoo, LifeHacker, the Splendid Table, and more. Lauren is currently Kansas-based, but continues to live like a lifelong Bostonian: drinking Dunkin’ iced coffee in the winter, spending summers “down” the Cape, and sharing her home with a cat named Chowder. Say hello at [email protected] or @el_savvy on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider.

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Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected].