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Best Pillows 2021 Guide

Let me start by congratulating you for embarking on a quest to find the perfect pillow. With so many options out there, pillow-shopping can get pretty overwhelming, and it might be tempting to just keep snoozing with the same ones you’ve had since high school (we’ve all been there, trust me). But why settle for less when you can sleep with the pillow that’s best for you?

Well, settle in, folks, because I’m about to take you through my Best Pillows of 2021 review! That’s right — I hand-picked nine pillows that appeal to a wide variety of sleep styles, temperature preferences, and budgets so that everyone can find their perfect match. Plus, I’ll fill you in on my personal methodology behind choosing the right pillow. Let’s get started!

Best Pillows of 2021

Methodology: How Do I Pick The Right Pillow?

Before we focus on each individual pillow, let’s start from square one: How do you choose the pillow that’s best for your go-to sleeping position?

Well, there’s no rule that assigns one pillow to each position, and sleep is something we all do differently. But regardless of your preferred position, your pillow’s most important job is to support healthy posture by keeping your head, neck and spine in neutral alignment.

“Neutral spine alignment” is a phrase you’ll see a lot in this review, and it basically means that the natural C-curve of your spine is being supported rather than craned into an unsafe position. If you want to know if your spine is in neutral alignment, simply check to see if your ears are in line with your shoulders and your chin is in line with your sternum.

Below, I’m going to briefly break down the main factors to consider when shopping for the pillow that’s perfect for your preferred sleep style. But for even more details, be sure to check out my guide to picking the best pillow for your position.

  • Side Sleeping – Side sleepers are typically most compatible with pillows that offer a firmer feel and a lofty profile. A pillow with a tall loft of 4” or higher serves to hold your head in alignment with your spine, while relieving pressure at the shoulder and hips. Meanwhile, a firmer level of support will prevent your head from gradually sinking down throughout the course of the night.If you want to know more about side sleeping, check out my guide to the best pillows for side sleepers!
  • Back Sleeping – When it comes to firmness and feel, back sleepers should stick to what I call a “happy medium” build. Essentially, this means that the loft and firmness should both have a medium rating in order to promote healthy posture. But back sleepers have a little more room to experiment with loft and firmness, keeping in mind that neutral spine alignment is the name of the game.Of course, if you’re a back sleeper who alternates between different positions, you’ll need a pillow for combination sleepers!
  • Stomach Sleeping – Unlike back sleepers, stomach sleepers have to stick to a hard and fast rule in order to keep neutral spine alignment. If you’re a stomach sleeper, a soft pillow with a low loft is going to support the natural curvature of your spine, and prevent your head/neck from being craned upwards. Because it can be easy to strain your neck in this position, finding a stomach sleeper pillow can be kind of tricky. For a range of options, check out my best pillows for stomach sleepers review.

Once you’ve found the pillow that supports healthy sleeping posture, you’re ready to dive into the exciting details! For example, take some time to decide if you want a pillow that feels silky or fuzzy. Warming or cooling. Traditionally shaped or ergonomic. The world of pillows is vast, and it’s worth it to find that one that’s just right.

Lucky for you, I’ve rounded up the best pillows for sleepers of all styles to help guide you in your search. So without further ado, let’s get into this roundup!

Top Pillows of 2021

  • Editor’s Pick

    The Casper Foam Pillow is great for Back Sleepers

    Casper Foam Pillow

    The Casper Foam Pillow features a three-layer design that incorporates both high and low-density foams for a cozy, balanced feel. The outer layers are softer and give this pillow a cloud-like comfort, while the inner layer is more firmly supportive

    Essentially, the soft outer layers of foam are meant to cradle the head and neck while the inner layer promotes neutral spine alignment, and prevents the pillow from going flat. It comes in a medium loft and low loft — the low loft is better for back and stomach sleepers, while the medium loft is better for side sleepers.

    Hot sleepers might also like to know that the cover fabric is made from a moisture-wicking blend of Spandex and polyester, and each layer of foam inside this pillow is ventilated for optimized breathability. And as a hot sleeper myself, I was pretty impressed by this pillow’s ability to keep me cool. 

    Keep in mind, though, that this foam is the brand’s proprietary formula, and it’s designed to offer a light and buoyant feel. So, if you’re looking for that deep sink into memory foam, you might want to look elsewhere. But if you’re someone who loves the comfy feel of foam but wish it didn’t offer such a slow response to pressure, you should definitely take this pillow for a spin or read my full Casper Foam Pillow review to learn more.

    Price: $119-$159 for two (depending on size) and you get a very generous trial period of 100 nights to test it out!

    Perfect For: Sleepers looking for a cozy all-foam pillow with a balanced feel.

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    Casper Foam Pillow
    Casper Foam Pillow
    Casper Foam Pillow

    The Casper Foam Pillow sleeps cool and has the balanced support that's great for back and side sleepers!

    Best Cooling Pillow

    The Bear Pillow has Phase Change Material that helps it sleep cool all night

    Bear Pillow

    We’ve seen some amazing cooling pillows in this roundup, but if there were a cooling pillow Olympics, Bear Pillow would take home the gold. 

    Every part of this pillow’s construction was designed to promote breathability and draw heat away from your sleeping head. The entire pillow is covered in Phase Change Material (that super cooling textile we talked about earlier), so it’s going to feel cool to the touch no matter upon which side you snooze. 

    It’s filled with one piece of the brand’s proprietary foam, which offers springy support and a medium level of firmness. Plus, the foam is ventilated to promote better breathability, and prevent it from trapping your body’s heat. But if that’s not cooling enough for you, two mesh panels cap each end of this pillow to really double down on that airflow. 

    Keep in mind, though, that this pillow has a lofty profile of about 5 inches as well as a medium firm feel, so stomach sleepers may want to steer clear. But if you’re a back or side sleeper looking for one of the coolest pillows I’ve ever tested, I heartily suggest you check my full Bear Pillow review

    Price: $125-$145 depending on size, which is a great value for a cooling pillow like this! 

    Perfect For: Back and side sleepers who need extra help keeping cool at night.

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    Bear Pillow
    Bear Pillow
    Bear Pillow

    With a phase change cover, the Bear pillow is best for back sleepers who run hot. 

    Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

    Trying out the Layla pillow for side sleeping

    Layla Pillow

    Here we have the Layla Kapok pillow, a big ol’ sleep accessory that’s perfect for broad-shouldered side sleepers. 

    Amply stuffed with shredded memory foam and Kapok, this pillow offers a cozy balance between plush and supportive. The shreds of Kapok (which is a natural tree fiber) combine with the memory foam in a way that makes this pillow uniquely fluffy, dense, and moldable. Not to mention, copper threads are infused into the cotton cover fabric in order to draw heat away from your sleeping head! 

    But the thing that really stands out, in my opinion, is this pillow’s exceptionally lofty profile. It’s about 7-inches tall, making Layla a very good pick for broad-shouldered side sleepers. It’s high-profile and dense-yet-fluffy feel serve to relieve pressure at the shoulders and align the spine when in the side sleeping position. 

    Of course, one of the very handy things about this pillow is that it’s adjustable! So, if you decide that it’s a bit too lofty or firm, simply reach in and manipulate the fill to your liking. As I said, side sleepers might want to enjoy this pillow exactly as it comes, but back and stomach sleepers should feel free to remove as much stuffing as they need to find the right fit.

    For more info on this, check out my full Layla pillow review!

    Price: $99-$119, with a 120-night trial period and a 5-year warranty.

    Perfect For: Side sleepers looking for a fluffy, lofty pillow to alleviate shoulder pain!

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    Layla Pillow
    Layla Pillow
    Layla Pillow

    A copper infusion in the cover helps to make the Layla pillow ultra cool and comfortable. 

    Best Latex Pillow

    The Saatva pillow is great for combo sleepers

    The Saatva Pillow

    You know those pillows that remind you of a hotel? Plush and comfortable, yet structured and supportive? If that sounds like the pillow you want to sleep on every night, try out The Saatva Pillow.

    The Saatva Pillow is a plush, lofty filled with down-like microfibers, but the real standout feature is the shredded latex core that offers unrivaled support and a feeling that you have likely never had from a pillow before. I really love this pillow for back sleepers in particular. It is the perfect amount of soft cushioning and support to keep your neck and spine aligned. 

    The cover of The Saatva Pillow is 100% Organic Cotton, and the latex core is made from renewable, natural resources – so you can truly feel good about sleeping on this pillow. 

    See my full Saatva Pillow review to learn more.

    Price: $155-$175

    Perfect for: Back sleepers & eco-conscious consumers 

    Saatva Pillow
    Saatva Pillow
    Saatva Pillow

    A fluffable mix of down-alternative and Talalay latex makes this pillow cozy, cool, and great for combo sleepers! 

    Best Pillow For Neck Pain

    The Purple Harmony is the Best Pillow for Neck Pain 2020

    Purple Harmony Pillow

    Next up on my list is the Purple Harmony pillow, and I picked it specifically for those looking to alleviate neck pain. 

    But before I tell you why this pillow is great for dealing with neck pain, let’s talk about the cover fabric (because it’s one of my favorite features). It’s made from a very breathable spandex mesh material that wicks moisture and promotes a ton of airflow through the pillow. As a hot sleeper, I can tell you that this served to draw heat away from my head, and make for a nice, cool snooze. 

    That said, the real magic lies directly beneath the cover fabric. I’m talking, of course, about the brand’s propriety Hyper-Elastic Polymer. Hyper-Elastic Polymer is a unique material that’s exceptionally bouncy and durable, and it’s prominently featured in the Purple Mattress and Purple original pillow.

    With the Purple Harmony, the Hyper-Elastic Polymer gives the pillow its shape, and helps it maintain its integrity night after night. Meanwhile, one piece of Talalay latex makes up the core of this pillow, which only adds to its bouncy-quick response to pressure. Why would you want a bouncy pillow, you ask? Well, its buoyant resilience keeps it from going flat no matter the sleeping position

    In my experience, that’s what makes this pillow great for neck pain. The Purple Harmony supported me in every sleeping position, conformed to the natural contours of my head and neck, and bounced back to its original shape every morning.

    Price: $159 which, I’ll admit, is on the pricey side. But keep in mind that it comes with a generous 100-night trial period, and is backed by a 1-year warranty. 

    Perfect For: Sleepers looking for a bouncy, durable, and cooling pillow to help them alleviate neck pain! 

    For the full scoop, check out my Purple Harmony pillow review!

    Purple Harmony Pillow
    Purple Harmony Pillow
    Purple Harmony Pillow

    The Purple Harmony is great for any position sleeper and is extremely breathable to help you sleep cool through the night!

    Best Memory Foam Pillow

    The GhostPillow has a cooling cover to prevent overheating.

    GhostPillow – Memory Foam

    If you love the feel of memory foam on your mattress, you might be wondering where you can find a memory foam pillow. Look no further — GhostBed’s memory foam GhostPillow has a classic memory foam feel with all the sinkage and contouring you can ask for. 

    The GhostPillow has a higher loft (6 inches), which makes it a particularly good option for side sleepers who need more height to keep their spine in a neutral alignment. I also think this height could be good for back sleepers, who do best with a medium-height pillow. 

    I also particularly like this pillow for hot sleepers. The GhostPillow has an ultra-cooling phase change material cover, which responds to your body heat and adjusts itself accordingly. The GhostPillow’s memory foam has an aerated design, which helps promote airflow. Overall, a great pillow for a range of sleepers who love a memory foam feel.

    Price: $85

    Perfect for: Side sleepers and back sleepers who love a cooling pillow.

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    GhostPillow - Memory Foam
    GhostPillow - Memory Foam
    GhostPillow - Memory Foam

    This cooling memory foam pillow allows for deep sinkage and will cradle your head and neck for ultimate comfort.

    Best Travel Pillow

    The TRTL provides the support you need when trying to sleep why traveling

    TRTL Travel Pillow

    Next up on my list is the trtl Travel Pillow, and it’s uniquely designed to support sleepers on the go. 

    I’ll be honest — when I first unpackaged the trtl travel pillow, I was a little skeptical. It looks like a cross between a scarf and a neck brace and, frankly, I’ve never seen a sleep accessory like it. But once I tried it on, I was very impressed by how cozy and supportive and it is. 

    Here’s how it works: A C-shaped plastic support system that’s tucked inside this pillow’s soft fleece fabric serves to hold the head and neck in a safe position when you’re on the go. Obviously, we’re usually sitting in an upright position when we travel, and this pillow’s hard-yet-flexible design is meant to support you no matter how long your journey is. 

    This pillow’s ability to maintain its shape over time is one of my favorite things about it. In my experience, a plush travel pillow is great… until it compresses and drags your head down with it. But the plastic insert inside this pillow made me feel like I could rest against it for days, and my head would never fall out of healthy alignment with my spine. 

    And let’s not forget that it’s super lightweight, compact, and fits perfectly in a carry-on bag. Personally, I like to wrap the sleeve of this pillow around the handle of my suitcase so I can easily grab it and go. If you’re looking for a small and very supportive pillow to take on your next journey, I suggest you read my full trtl travel pillow review

    Price: Only $29.99!

    Perfect For: Sleepers looking for a soft, supportive, and easy-to-pack travel pillow!

    TRTL Travel Pillow
    TRTL Travel Pillow
    TRTL Travel Pillow

    The TRTL travel pillow is a unique way to handle the common problem of needing neck support while trying to sleep on planes. Click the button to check current pricing on Amazon.

    Best Body Pillow

    Enjoying the body pillow from COOP Home Goods

    COOP Home Goods Pillow

    Last but definitely not least is the Coop Home Goods body pillow, perfect for sleepers looking to enjoy some full-body pressure relief. 

    Stuffed full of shredded memory foam, this pillow does an excellent job of conforming to your shape and supporting your whole body. It’s plush, lofty and, at 54-inches tall, it’s pretty big! For context, I’m about 60-inches tall, so I kind of treat this pillow like a mini-mattress.  

    Additionally, the memory foam in this pillow is quite moldable, so feel free to hug it between your legs or  under your arms to relieve pressure at your hips. For me, I find that hugging this pillow while I’m on my side relieves tension in my lower back and helps to align my spine.

    Meanwhile, this is one of the only body pillows I’ve ever tested that’s completely machine washable (yes, the whole thing)! Of course, it works best if you’ve got a bigger washing machine and a mild detergent, but take comfort in the fact that you can wash this big ol’ sleep accessory without damaging the materials. 

    Of course, if you prefer a standard-sized memory foam pillow, don’t worry — this brand makes one of those too. So check out my full review of the Coop Home Goods body pillow and the Coop Home Goods memory foam pillow to determine which is the best fit for you! But if you need both in your life… I totally relate. 

    Price: $69.99, which is such a good value for a high-quality body pillow like this. Plus, it’s backed by a 5-year warranty!

    Perfect for: Memory foam fans looking for full-body pressure relief!

    COOP Home Goods Body Pillow
    COOP Home Goods Body Pillow
    COOP Home Goods Body Pillow

    This pillow is perfect for folks who love the feel of memory foam so much, they want to enjoy that support across their whole body.

    Best for Stomach Sleepers

    Belly Sleep Pillow

    If you are a stomach sleeper, I’m sure you have already experienced how difficult it is to find a pillow that it comfortable to sleep on, and also good for your neck and spine. The Belly Sleeper pillow may just be your dream come true.

    With a very thin profile (2.5 inches to be exact) this pillow will not allow your head to be too far off of the mattress, keeping your neck in line with the rest of your body ad preventing aches and pains. The Belly Sleeper pillow is also infused with cooling gel, so it will cool you down from head to toe.

    It also comes with a 30-day risk-free trial, so if for some reason you don’t love it, you can return it within that window. The cover of the Belly Sleeper pillow is removable and washable, so it makes it easy to clean, which is important since it is coming in such close contact with your face. 

    Price: $79.99

    Perfect for: Stomach sleepers, back sleepers, and hot stomach sleepers

    Check Price Here
    Belly Sleep Pillow
    Belly Sleep Pillow
    Belly Sleep Pillow

    The perfect pillow for stomach sleepers is finally here! 

    Best for Back Sleepers

    The TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow

    TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow

    If you’re a back sleeper who loves the feeling of memory foam, then the TEMPUR-Cloud pillow could be a perfect match for you. Built with the brand’s proprietary TEMPUR-Material, this pillow offers a super slow response to pressure and will conform to your body shape.

    What makes this pillow particularly great for back sleepers is its loft level: it has a medium-height that is just right when sleeping on your back. This height in combination with the ultra-contouring feel will provide back sleepers with some great support that should help prevent neck and back pain.  

    One last thing I’d like to mention is this pillow’s cover — it’s made from a moisture-wicking polyester material that is so soft I almost didn’t want to put a pillowcase on it! Interested to learn more? Check out my full TEMPUR-Cloud pillow review.

    Price: $79

    Perfect for: Back sleepers who love a classic memory foam feel

    TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow
    TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow
    TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow

    The TEMPUR-Cloud pillow provides the great body contouring memory foam feel that Tempur-Pedic is known for and is a great choice for the back sleepers out there!

    Best Cooling Memory Foam Pillow

    Copper and graphite are infused into the memory foam for better cooling.

    Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Pillow

    If you’re a hot sleeper who loves the contouring feeling of memory foam, then the Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling pillow could be the right pillow for you. Its memory foam is infused with graphite and copper, which help draw heat away from the body (and they add antimicrobial benefits). It also has a breathable cover and is ventilated for added airflow.

    The Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Pillow comes in king size and queen size and is available with a high loft or low loft. I recommend side sleepers go with the high loft version, while back and stomach sleepers will be more comfortable with the low loft version. Interested to learn more? Check out my full Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Pillow review.

    Price: $129-$149 depending on size, comes with a 3-year warranty

    Perfect for: Hot sleepers who love the feel of memory foam

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    Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Pillow
    Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Pillow
    Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Pillow

    The Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling pillow is perfect for sleepers who love the feeling of memory foam and want to sleep cool. 

Final Thoughts

Well folks, you’ve seen my favorite pillows of 2021, and you’re ready to get shopping. But, before you do, remember to keep a close eye on loft, firmness, and all the little details that cater to your unique sleep needs. And take advantage of those trial periods when they’re offered! After all, personally testing a pillow can be a great way to make sure that it will support you all night long. Happy shopping, everybody!

FAQS

What is the best pillow for side sleepers?

In general, side sleepers need a pillow with a lofty profile and firmer feel in order to maintain neutral spine alignment and relieve pressure at the shoulders.

What is the best pillow for neck pain?

The best pillow for neck pain is the one that promotes neutral spine alignment when you’re in your go-to sleeping position. Of course, this looks different for each position, but making sure that your head and neck are never craned out of alignment with your spine is the best way to alleviate neck pain.

How long should you keep pillows?

In general, you should replace your pillow every 1-2 years. However, the lifespan of your pillow largely depends on the materials used to make it! I suggest checking in with your pillows every 6 months to make sure they’re still supporting you properly.

What pillow is best for stomach sleepers?

Typically, stomach sleepers need a pillow with a low profile and a soft feel in order to maintain neutral spine alignment and relieve pressure in the lower back and abdomen.

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Sarah is the Senior Writer and bedding expert at Sleepopolis. Every week, she personally tests and reviews new pillows, sheet sets, and other sleep accessories. She accompanies every video review with a meticulously detailed article to ensure her audience has all the pertinent info they need for the best shopping experience possible. Perhaps that’s why her fans have dubbed her “the most thorough pillow reviewer on the Internet.” Having tested everything from sleep trackers to mattress toppers, Sarah's expertise runs deep and is always expanding. She received her degree in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College and spends her free time doing stand-up, making pasta, and hanging with her cats.