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Most of us spend more time with our bed pillows than with any other household item, which is all the more reason to pick a really good one. Whatever your sleeping position or firmness preference, the right pillow can aid in more restful sleep, which makes your waking hours that much better. Given the rise in melatonin use among Americans, it seems we could all use a little help in catching Zzs.
A quality pillow can provide comfortable support and help alleviate aches and pains, and many modern options are also adjustable, meaning you can add or remove fill to your liking. Some even have cooling properties for hot sleepers. So, where to begin with such a wide array of choices? To help you find the standouts, we put 31 pillows through their paces in our PEOPLE Tested lab. Four of them were clear winners, with the Snuggle-Pedic Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow taking the grand prize overall.
Read on to learn more about the best pillows PEOPLE Tested. Sweet dreams!
Best Overall: Snuggle-Pedic Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow
Pros: The Snuggle-Pedic pillow looks and feels incredibly luxe, provides great support without sacrificing softness, and is remarkably good at keeping you cool.
Cons: The memory foam takes a moment to mold to your head and neck when you switch positions.
We all want to wake up feeling refreshed, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. The Snuggle-Pedic Adjustable Memory Foam pillow gives you a fighting chance, thanks to its cooling foam fill, which is contained in its own zippered inner compartment. There’s no flipping in search of the cool side with this pillow — our tester reported that it remained as cool at the end of the test as it did at the start. “It felt so refreshing and cool against my scalp, even through my hair,” according to our tester.
The next layer surrounding the cooling foam is the memory foam, which you can adjust to your liking by removing some, or adding some of the extra that comes packaged with the pillow. It’s an easy, albeit slightly messy, process. When changing positions, one of our testers — who is primarily a side sleeper — noted that it can take a moment for the pillow to re-mold to your head and neck.
But the benefits far outweigh the minimal negatives. The Snuggle-Pedic fits into a pillowcase with ease while also filling it out. It’s a great option to try for hot sleepers, and for those with neck pain as it provides ample support without compromising plushness or softness. Yes, it’s a moderately high price point in the pillow department, but given the support, adjustability, and exceptional cooling, we found it to be worth the investment.
Credit: People / Rachel Marek
Best Budget: Rest Haven Shredded Memory Foam Bed Pillow
Pros: This supportive, comfortable pillow is a fabulous value for the money. While not explicitly advertised as a cooling pillow, it cools as well as its (much) more expensive counterparts.
Cons: It’s notably small and thin, and does not fill out a standard pillowcase.
The crosshatch texture on the cover is a lovely detail that makes this pillow feel particularly high-end and luxurious. Our testers noted how cool and refreshing this pillow feels, even though it isn’t specifically marketed as a cooling pillow. The memory foam is supportive and easily contours to your head and neck, according to our (side-sleeping) tester.
Upon further inspection in our lab, we noticed some wonky seams and a bit of fraying at the closure, which could theoretically lead to some of the foam shreds escaping, though this did not occur during our test. Its smaller size also may not work for everyone.
Overall, testing the Rest Haven pillow was a comfortable and luxurious experience, and it performed at the same level as pillows nearly three times its price. “I completely thought this would be a $100 pillow,” said our tester. Pillow selection always boils down to personal preference and feel, and at this price point, the Rest Haven is absolutely worth a try.
Credit: People / Rachel Marek
Best Splurge: Saatva Natural Latex Pillow
Pros: Quality, quality, quality! The size, heft, and craftsmanship on this pillow made it one of our favorites.
Cons: The decorative piping may be visible through your pillowcase.
The Saatva Latex pillow would be right at home in a five-star hotel. The materials are top quality — the best of the bunch, our testers noted — and it almost feels like a weighted pillow since it’s so plump and heavy.
Testers also reported that the shredded natural latex inside made them feel supported, and the pillow held its shape well throughout testing. The pillow is quick to rise back up after pressure is applied. No need for tossing and turning: Testers said they felt so comfortable that changing positions was completely unnecessary. The Saatva Latex pillow also remained cool to the touch throughout testing.The pillow itself is not washable, but the zippered case is. While the instructions say the dryer is a go, we noticed some shrinkage, so we suggest drying on low in order to easily slide the pillow back in its case. The super-high quality of the materials make the Saatva Latex pillow worth the price for sleepers looking to splurge. Need an excuse? We spend about a third of our lives in bed. Where better to treat yourself to some luxury?
Credit: People / Rachel Marek
Best Organic: Avocado Green Pillow
Pros: It’s 100% organic and extremely comfortable.
Cons: The interior filling can get stuck in the zipper.
You lay your head down on your pillow for six to twelve hours (don’t judge—some of us really love our beds!) every single night. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what’s inside it? The Avocado Green Pillow delivers for those who are eco-conscious and/or interested in an organic sleeping space for health reasons.
The 100% organic pillow performs well, too. The exterior is very soft and the filling is solid. This isn’t a pillow that springs back up when you lift your head. It’s extremely comfortable and supports the head and neck well. One of our testers was particularly impressed that the pillow temperature did not change at all after use.
We did find that the filling gets stuck in the case zipper, which is frustrating. It’s also a bit tricky to feed the pillow back into the zippered case after washing. The fabric of the case remained just as soft as before it went into the washing machine, and there were no snags or imperfections post-wash. All things considered, we found it to be a very high quality pillow with a price point that reflects it.
Credit: People / Rachel Marek
Things to Consider Before Buying
Price: Most experts recommend replacing your pillows every 1 to 2 years, which is probably a lot sooner than you realized. That said, keep the price point in mind if you plan on replacing as suggested. While our Best Overall pillow is quite pricey, the Best Budget option still received high ranks and will offer generous support.
Support: Pain management physician, Karl Zarse, MD, says that the best way to decide how your neck should be positioned is to make a note of where your head is while sitting upright and looking forward in a neutral position: “It is not tilting forward or backward, nor is it side to side, and you should feel most comfortable in this position,” he explains. Therefore, sleeping on a pillow that causes any bit of extreme forward tilt, backward bend, or side tilt can set off underlying issues and incite pain or misalignment. For side-sleepers, your head should still remain in that neutral position. However, if you have broad shoulders, Zarse notes that you can fold your pillow in half or use a thicker foam pillow so that your head remains perfectly aligned with your spine.
Material: While Zarse notes that foam pillows may last longer than other types of fill, what’s most important is that it offers the support that your individual body requires. “It is better to use a pillow that wears out in six months but fits you perfectly than to have one that lasts a long time but is a bad fit,” he says.
If you sleep hot, you may want to try a pillow that’s designed for cooling to keep you comfortable throughout the night. While our Best Budget pillow wasn’t necessarily marketed as a cooling pillow, the foam material did offer a bit of temperature reprieve to our testers.
Size: Zarse notes that, like the material, the size of your pillow shouldn’t matter so long as your head is properly cradled. However, size will affect your bedding aesthetic — the smaller pillows we tested didn’t fill out a pillowcase as nicely as the larger ones.
How We Tested
Our testers tried out a total of 31 pillows. They carefully examined the quality of the materials and construction of each pillow, as well as its effectiveness — did the pillow do what the manufacturer said it does? Each pillow was also checked for any off-gassing or smell (our winners had none). For pillows with adjustable fill, testers followed the instructions for both removing and adding fill to determine the ease or annoyance involved. To assess the cooling quality of each pillow, testers used an infrared thermometer to take the surface temperature of the pillow before and after using it. The cost of each pillow was factored in as well for determining overall scores.
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.