No feeling is more satisfying than laying your head on your pillow for a good night's rest. The problem with rounding up a bunch of the "best pillows" is that not everyone will love the same kind of pillow. Your pillow preference will depend on more factors than we can count. Whether you're a side sleeper, back sleeper or stomach sleeper or something in between will dictate the best pillow for you so you don't wake up with a sore neck. Softness and firmness levels also play an important part in choosing the right pillow for you. Some would prefer their heads sink in like quicksand, while others would prefer to sleep on something more brick-like.
From crowd-pleasing adjustable pillows to ones that are just really comfortable to sleep on no matter your sleep habits, these are our picks for the best pillows of 2021.
- Best Overall Pillow: Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow
- Best Splurge Pillow: Sleep Number Ultimate Comfortfit Pillow
- Best Budget Pillow: Marlow Pillow
- Best Pillow for Hot Sleepers: Purple Pillow
- Best Pillow for Back Sleepers: Nest The Easy Breather Pillow
- Best Pillow for Side Sleepers: Pillow Cube Pro
- Best Environmentally Friendly Pillow: Avocado Green Pillow
- Best Custom Pillow: Pluto Pillow
- Best Made-in-the-US Pillow: Authenticity50 Custom Comfort Pillow
- Best Fully Washable Pillow: Wavy Swell Pillow
The Best Pillows of 2021
Adjustable pillows are the future of all pillows. They're practically a one-size-fits-all option for someone who literally has no idea what kind of pillow they want. Coop's Eden is one of the best on the market. The pillow is filled with shredded memory foam that you can remove or add (a pillow comes with a half-pound of the stuff) until you hit your desired firmness. Out of the box, the Eden is plush and thick, so adding more of the additional shredded memory foam feels like it could be a bit of overkill (and it might make it hard to stuff the pillow into a pillowcase). Because the memory foam is shredded, it allows it to better contour to your head for a more tailored fit. The outer cover, derived from bamboo, of the pillow is cool and breathable, as well as machine washable.
- Machine-washable outer cover
- As soft or firm as you choose
- Adjusting the memory foam can get messy
A $140 pillow is something to balk at until you realize it offers some of the best sleep you've ever had. Many adjustable-fill pillows give you the option to remove shredded memory foam straight out of the pillow. The Sleep Number Ultimate Comfortfit pillow instead uses three layers of sealed fill, which takes away the mess associated with other adjustable pillows. Our tester notes that "with the addition of down alternative complementing the shredded foam, the pillow is softer than [his] previous pillow, which used shredded foam exclusively." He found it to be soft and supportive, and recommended it for those who don't know what kind of pillow they want. As Sleep Number recommends, use one to two inserts if you're a stomach sleeper, and two to three inserts if you're a back or slide sleeper.
- Adjustable layers instead of memory foam
- Machine-washable cover
- May be more than some people are willing to spend
Adjustable pillows will either opt for removable shredded fill or adjustable layers. For Marlow, adjustability comes in the form of a zipper. Marlow, which is actually a separate Brooklinen brand, makes an adjustable pillow, which is adjustable through a zipper: Want it firmer? Keep it fully zipped. Like it a bit plush? Unzip the zipper. The outer layer of the pillow is made of sateen cotton, and the pillow's fill is designed to increase breathability, while a mesh layer further prevents overheating.
- Super comfortable for most people
- Prevents overheating
- Backed by a two-year warranty
- Not the widest range of adjustability
Like its innovative mattresses, Purple's pillow utilizes the same funky gridded interior that makes it great for hot sleepers. Our tester was immediately taken by how cooling the pillow is thanks to its design. And if it wasn't cooling enough already, the cover is made of mesh for even better air circulation. The pillow will always retain its shape, so there's no need for fluffing every night, or ever at all really. Purple's pillow also includes "boosters," which sleepers can insert into the outer cover to get the perfect height for them. One thing our tester made an effort to point out is the pillow is a bit heavy, making it a dangerous weapon in a pillow fight.
- Good for hot sleepers
- Retains its shape
- Adjustable height
Like the Coop Eden pillow, Nest Bedding's The Easy Breather is filled with shredded memory foam, which makes it great in all the same reasons the Eden is great. From its CertiPUR-US-certified foam fill to its eco-friendly Tencel blended cover, the pillow wants to be as good for the earth as it is for your sleep. While most pillows come in just standard, queen, and king sizes, Nest Bedding makes its pillow available in an additional junior and side sleeper sizes, the latter of which is notched in the center to accommodate your shoulder.
- Available in a number of shapes and sizes
- Made from high-quality materials
- Has a slight odor out of the box that dissipates after a couple days
The Pillow Cube Pro is super jarring: It's literally just a brick. But the shape of the Pillow Cube Pro makes it an excellent pillow for those who sleep exclusively on their side. The pillow fills the space between the head and the shoulder when the sleeper is on their side, allowing for proper spine and neck alignment. (Also, if you sleep with a partner, their arm can easily slide underneath the gap so there's no numb arms at night.) Our reviewer notes the pillow is hard to get used to, but if you really just can't sleep in any other position than on your side, this might be the right pillow for you. Finding out which height pillow might be the key to unlocking your perfect pillow, and Pillow Cube offers free exchanges so you can get the right one for you.
- Takes trial and error to find the right height for you
- There is an adjustment period
Avocado's whole brand ethos is about being green, so it makes sense its pillows are equally eco-friendly whether they're organic or sustainably sourced. Another adjustable option, the Green pillow uses shredded latex ribbons and kapok fiber, a down alternative that's softer, lighter and hypoallergenic. The interior is a bit messier than other adjustable pillows because it's quite fibrous, but as a stuffing, it feels remarkable.
- Fill is a mix of soft shredded latex ribbons and kapok fiber
- Super comfortable to sleep on
- Requires frequent fluffing
Pluto is literally made for you. No, really — you fill out a quiz on the website, and Pluto will run your answers through an algorithm to build a pillow with your specifications in mind. Depending on what you answer, the pillow will vary in height, density and cooling properties. While most pillows will let you choose from maybe one or two options from your pillow, Pluto offers over 35 variations, surely to meet your fickle sleeping needs. And if Pluto doesn't nail the pillow on the first try, you have 100 days to let them remake it.
- Made to your specifications
- Offers a redo if your first pillow doesn't work out
- Expensive; you're paying for the algorithm that goes into making the pillow
Authenticity50 is one of our favorite sleep brands, and not just because its products are made in the US. The Custom Comfort pillows, named because they're adjustable with shredded memory foam and microfiber, are comfortable to sleep on and offer great head and neck support. We like that the outer cover is washable, and there's an inner liner to contain all of the fill so you can wash your pillow often, something you really should be doing more often. These pillows are always coming in and out of stock because of their popularity, so be sure to scoop some up before they're sold out again.
- Excellent head and neck support
- Made in the US
- Comes in and out of stock
Wavy is a new type of pillow that's made of a gridded memory foam that's — get this — completely machine washable. While we praise pillows that offer outer covers that are machine washable, you can throw Wavy into the washer and dryer, making it one of the cleanest pillows we could find. The memory foam is porous that lets air completely flow through — for breathability — and water — for machine washability. Wavy is a medium firmness pillow, which was our tester's preferred firmness level. She praised the pillow's support and lack of sinkage, as well as its ability to mold to her head. Her only qualm was the pillow's smell out of the box, which took a couple days to dissipate. (Wavy also sells laundry detergents, which can also be used as shampoos or body washes, meant to infuse its pillows with calming aromas.)
- Fully machine washable
- Supports and cradles the head
- Smelly out of the box
We tested 36 different bed sheet sets to find the best bedding for every type of sleeper, at every budget.