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The Pillows of the Future Are Strangely Hands-On

Pillows for everyone, everywhere, all at once.

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It’s been more than thirty years since the world was introduced to customizable bedding with the founding of Sleep Number, but the adjustable bed is finally being filled out with the rise of the second-most important piece of sleep gear: pillows.

“My wife and I tried 10 pillows and really didn’t like any of them. Finding a comfortable pillow shouldn’t be so hard — we shouldn’t have to take a multi-part quiz to assess the right level of loft,” Jimmy MacDonald, co-founder of Authenticity 50, says. The company’s pillows are restocked frequently but sell out shortly afterward.

Adjustable pillows are the latest innovation to hit the bedding world. Simply add or remove fill or inserts until you reach your desired firmness. While some may chalk up body aches and bad sleep nights to a crappy mattress, some of those issues are a result of sleeping on a worthless pillow.

According to Eugene Chio, MD, pillows need to maintain a delicate balance between softness, for comfort, and firmness, for support. “While there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about them, adjustable pillows can end the guessing game of picking the correct size, firmness and height of a pillow,” Chio writes.

Adjustable fill pillows fall into two categories: loose fill or swappable inserts. Loose-fill pillows contain shredded pieces of fill — usually some down, memory foam or both — that sleepers can add or remove to meet their needs. While valuable for fine-tuning firmness, the pieces of fill can be messy and intolerable for some. Inserts have the advantage of being easier to swap in and out but aren’t as customizable as a result. Both options seem simple enough that it begs the question of why it took so long for companies to start producing adjustable pillows.

“When we started Coop, the idea of adjustability was a natural next step for us as we firmly believe that everyone is unique. Especially when it comes to sleep posture, it’s really important that we have a pillow that adjusts to our unique body types and sleep positions to maintain healthy alignment,” Kevin Chon, Coop Home Goods co-founder, says. “More and more people are really embracing the idea that sleep isn’t a chore or a simple physiological necessity, but really something we can invest into that impacts our overall wellness for the rest of our waking hours.”

Five to Buy

Cosy House Collection Luxury Bamboo Pillow

Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, so it’s an obvious choice for something that sees its fair share of drool and dirty heads. The Cosy House bamboo pillows have a machine washable case and a layer of removable shredded memory foam.

Price: $40


Authenticity 50 Custom Comfort Pillows

Authenticity 50’s pillows are filled with a memory foam and microfiber blend that gives optimal head and neck support, without the risk of overheating associated with memory foam pillows. This pillow goes out of stock often, so if you see it available, be sure to check out soon.

Price: $69


Brookstone BioSense Layer Adjust Memory Foam Pillow

Adjustable insert pillows are like stacking a bunch of pillows on top of each other to get the best loft. Brookstone’s adjustable pillow has three inserts — soft, medium and firm — made of a blend of 80 percent memory foam and 20 percent down alternative fill.

Price: $50


Coop Home Goods Eden

Coop sells two head pillows for the bed — the Original and the Eden — and we’re choosing the Eden for this list because it has a bit more support and the fill is gel-infused making it more breathable. The outer case is derived from bamboo, and the inner liner holds all the fill so it’s contained when you wash the case. And don’t worry about running out of fill because each pillow comes with a half-pound bag of it for those who really want a supportive pillow.

Price: $80


Helix Adjustable Pillow

The pillow’s gel microfiber fill is a good option for those who overheat at night. Helix recommends using the support insert if you’re a side sleeper or back sleeper, and foregoing the insert if you sleep on your stomach. Give the pillow a 100-day test run to see if this is the pillow for you.

Price: $85


Tyler Chin is Gear Patrol’s Associate Staff Writer.
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