Getting a good night’s sleep starts with the basics, like the right mattress, sheets, blankets and, yes, pillow for you. There are a lot of options out there, from established brands you can find on the big sites to startups you see advertising the latest in pillow innovation on Instagram and Facebook, and it can get overwhelming.
“Sleep is when the body restores itself,” says Dr. Blake Dircksen, doctor of physical therapy at Bespoke Treatments. “Our circadian rhythms coordinate a symphony of hormones, brain waves and bodily processes that facilitate growth, learning and repair. If the quality of sleep is impaired, so too is that restorative process.”
“Chronic back and neck pain can develop simply by sleeping in a position that doesn’t support our natural spinal curves,” added Derrell Blackburn, senior manager of chiropractic relations and training for The Joint Chiropractic. “Although we all have our own preferences when it comes to firm or soft pillows, it is important to keep in mind how that pillow will affect a great night’s sleep and the long-term health effects.”
Of course, Blackburn emphasizes, “The quality of your sleep is always more important than the type of pillow you are using.”
Thankfully, if you’re not sure where or how to rest your head tonight, we’ve got some answers from experts for all types of sleepers, including different sleeping positions, hot sleepers, pregnant sleepers and many more.
Keeping your head up and your spine straight is key here, says Blackburn. “For side sleepers, to protect your spine, the most important consideration is the width of your shoulder,” he says. “You want a pillow that is the same width of your shoulder so your spine remains neutral throughout the night.”
Brooklinen Down Pillow (starting at $62.10, originally starting at $69; brooklinen.com)
With three choices — plush, mid-plush and firm — you’ll be sure to find the right plushness to keep your spine straight, and it’s available in two sizes.
Loft Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
Perfect for side sleepers with allergies, this made-in-the-USA foam pillow is a shopper favorite.
Wamsutta Extra Firm Side Sleeper Pillow ($22.69, originally $24.39; amazon.com)
One of the best values in this story, this side sleeper pillow offers extra firm support to deliver your best night’s sleep.
“For stomach sleepers, the pillow considerations will be similar to the back sleepers because you don’t want your head elevated, so a flatter pillow is ideal,” explains Blackburn. “A key consideration for stomach sleepers is which side your head is turned to. Although 90 degrees rotation is natural, you do not want your head turned one way for an extended period of time, so switching which side your head is turned is important.”
Elite Rest Slim Sleeper Thin Natural Latex Foam Pillow ($41.96; amazon.com)
At just 2.75 inches in height, this pillow is one of the slimmest pillows on the market. As one reviewer raves, “If you are like me and as a side sleeper and back sleeper prefer to have your spine stay in alignment rather than your neck being bent all night, this pillow is amazing.”
Dreaming Wapiti Pillows for Sleeping, 2-Pack ($39.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)
Customers are encouraged to take out portions of this pillow’s shredded memory foam stuffing to get exactly the right amount. For stomach sleepers, that means taking out 50%.
Blackburn says back sleepers should stick to the most natural position possible. “When sleeping on your back, it can help to keep the head, neck and spine aligned and in a neutral position, with one pillow that is practically flat so our head isn’t elevated for an extended period of time,” he says.
Parachute Home Down Pillow (starting at $89; parachutehome.com)
“Finally, the perfect soft pillow,” raves one reviewer of this super soft pillow, which is filled with European white down that gives it a supportive yet airy quality.
Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow (starting at $75; amazon.com)
This flatter model foam pillow is just as supportive and soft, and is designed to sleep cool.
Original Casper Pillow (starting at $65; casper.com)
Both soft and firm, the first pillow from the original direct-to-consumer sleep brand is a highly rated shopper favorite.
“As the pregnancy progresses, there are biomechanical or structural changes to support the changes in posture and in preparation for labor,” says Blackburn. “Therefore, along with a pillow for the neck to keep the spine neutral, you want to have a pillow between the knees while side sleeping that keeps the pelvis as neutral as possible, reducing any prolonged strain or tension on the sacroiliac joints.”
Coop Home Goods Adjustable Body Pillow ($69.99; amazon.com)
With squishy support and a breathable cover, this body pillow is the perfect pregnancy companion.
Snoogle Chic Full Body Pregnancy Support Pillow ($65.99; nordstrom.com)
“Best sleep ever,” raves one reviewer. “I highly recommend this pillow and think I would still enjoy it even if I wasn’t pregnant.”
Moonlight Comfort-U Total Body Pregnancy Support Pillow ($99.95; amazon.com)
This US-made pillow earns high praise on Amazon, with one shopper writing, “This pillow absolutely changed how I sleep, and I loved it enough that I bought two.”
ComfySure Full Body Pregnancy Pillow ($29.99, originally $39.99; amazon.com)
This super long body pillow offers support for pregnancy and breastfeeding, with one reviewer writing, “It instantly made me feel comfortable, like I didn’t have to haul my whole body around 17 times to try to get comfortable enough to sleep.”
Ever arrived at a relative’s house or rental cabin and found that your trip was nearly ruined by poor night’s sleep due to terrible pillows? Pack one of these and sleep comfortably all night long.
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow (starting at $24.95; amazon.com)
Perfect for trips where you’ll be stopping in multiple locations, this high-rated pillow gives you the perfect place to lay your head, and it’s a cinch to pack.
AirComfy Ease Inflatable Travel Pillow With Luxuriously Soft Washable Cover (starting at $21.99; amazon.com)
In need of extra lumbar support on those long trips? This inflatable number — that shrinks to the size of a deck of cards — will keep your back pain-free while you nod off.
Nemo Fillo Pillow ($39.95; rei.com)
You don’t have to give up comfort when you’re roughing it with this top-rated camping pillow that packs as “small as a potato.”
Long-haul car trips may be a thing for a while now, and there’s nothing worse than falling asleep in the passenger seat without neck support. If you’ve suffered from these aches and pains, try a neck-supporting travel pillow for your next road trip.
Trtl Pillow Plus Travel Pillow ($59.99; amazon.com)
Beloved by frequent fliers, this is more of a supportive wrap that has an adjustable neck support, and this highly rated version features a breathable mesh wrap.
Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow & Neck Pillow ($25.95; amazon.com)
This odd-looking neck pillow attaches to your seat belt, holding it in place for an extremely comfortable nap. Bonus? The top-rated sleep aid rolls up for easy packing.
Clairmont Women’s Packable Travel Puffer Jacket ($195; tumi.com)
Packing light? This travel puffer packs away into a traditional horseshoe-style travel neck pillow and comes in three colors.
Cooling pillows for hot sleepers come in a variety of materials like shredded foam, gels and cotton. Look for one that holds in coolness and wicks away moisture.
Weekender Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Pillow (starting at $29.99; amazon.com)
This well-priced, high-rated foam pillow is infused with a temperature-regulating gel for a cool night’s sleep.
Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow (starting at $164.06, originally starting at $209; amazon.com)
From the experts at Tempur-Pedic comes this cooling pillow with gel on both sides to keep you cool all night long.
Snuggle-Pedic Original Ultra Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The bamboo cover and shredded memory foam make this pillow super breathable, with one happy reviewer writing, “I normally toss and turn all night. I don’t think I’ve moved much since I started using the pillow; it’s absolutely wonderful.”
Down pillows are loved by many for their softness, support and versatility. Whether you like them overstuffed or almost flat, unless you’re an allergy sufferer, there’s a down pillow for almost every sleep style.
Bicor Featherfull Feather and Down Standard Pillows, 4-Pack ($63.99, originally $82.99; wayfair.com)
This set contains four pillows, meaning they come out to about $16 each in this sale. What’s not to like about that?
Alwyn Home Amy Duck Soft Down and Feather Standard Pillows, 2-Pack ($34.99; wayfair.com)
“Exactly what [I’ve] been looking for, not too hard or too soft. Had neck pain but with these pillows no more neck pain,” raves one reviewer of this well-priced down pillow set.
For allergy sufferers, and those who love a firm pillow, memory foam is a great alternative to down. They come shredded or solid, and there’s definitely one for every type of sleeper.
Nest Bedding Easy Breather Adjustable Bedding Pillow (starting at $99; nestbedding.com)