The Best Pillow for Every Type of Sleeper

You can avoid a crick in the neck with the right pillow

Updated March 17, 2023 9:15 am
The Best Pillow for Every Type of Sleeper
Getty Images / InsideHook

Please note: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

There is no shortage of advice out there to help you make the most of your sleep. One of the most obvious ways to step up your snoozing would be buying a new mattress, and while that’s a good idea, if you don’t also have the right pillows to match, you could be leaving some precious Zs on the table. “You can improve the quality of your sleep and decrease the likelihood of developing neck, back and shoulder pain with the proper pillow,” says chiropractor Dr. Hayley Winchel of Performance Health Clinics in Ramsey, New Jersey. 

Below, we’ve listed some of our favorite pillows on the market for a wide range of needs and at various price points based on expert input from Dr. Winchel, extensive market research and personal testing.

Best Overall: Royal Therapy Memory Foam Pillow
Best for Side Sleepers: My Green Mattress Charcoal Infused Organic Latex Pillow
Best for Back Sleepers: Parachute Down Alternative Pillow
Best for Stomach Sleepers: Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow
• Best Down Alternative: Original Casper Pillow
Best Memory Foam: Saatva Memory Foam Pillow
Best Organic: Earthfoam Organic Pillow
Best Cooling: Purple Harmony Pillow
• Best Budget: Utopia Bedding Bed Pillows

Things to Consider

Material: Much like mattresses, material options are seemingly endless for pillows. Reading labels and seeing everything from memory foam, to down, to latex can seem overwhelming, but there are a few important guidelines that can help you out. If you want support but don’t want to compromise comfortability, memory foam will be best for you. Conversely, if you want something more plush, you should consider looking into down or down alternative pillows. However, if you’re looking for an all natural option, latex is the best way to go. Ultimately, though, it will come down to you and your personal preference when deciding, so be sure to do your research and read customer reviews.

Height: The optimal pillow height is going to be predominantly determined by your own physical demands and preferences. Specifically, sleep style will play a large role in deciding on the proper height for you. Stomach sleepers can generally benefit from something with lower height, Dr. Winchel tells us. Conversely, she notes that back sleepers should seek out 3-5 inches of thickness, stating that “If a pillow is too flat, your head might tilt back and put pressure on your neck.”

Firmness: While Dr. Winchel tells us that height will play a role for stomach and back sleepers, she recommends that side sleepers should focus on firmness, saying, “medium firmness is essential for supporting your head and neck without allowing it to sink or laterally flex towards the down-side shoulder.” But, as with all things sleep related, personal preference will play a role. Some people prefer a more firm option as they feel more supported, while other people seek out plush options for a more cloud-like feel.

Best overall

The Royal Therapy Memory Foam Pillow is our choice for the number one overall pillow, and it’s also Dr. Winchel’s recommendation. It comes filled with shredded memory foam to provide exceptional contouring. The result? A night of proper spinal alignment and pressure point relief. And while other memory foam pillows can suffer from a lack of breathability, a bamboo cover with heat dissipating technology enables this pillow to keep you cool all night long. But for us, it’s the versatility that puts it on the top of our list; it features a zipper that can be opened to adjust the amount of shredded foam inside to meet your own height and softness demands, making it a viable option for all types of sleepers. It’s also a very durable option- while the foam conforms to your own individual needs, it resiliently returns to its original shape when not being used.

Pros: Cooling bamboo cover, adjustable fill, affordably priced, CertiPUR-US certified
Cons: Not firm enough for some
Materials: Memory foam, bamboo | Sizes: Queen, king |

Best for side sleepers

As a side sleeper, I personally use My Green Mattress’ Charcoal Infused Organic Latex Pillow because it offers just the right amount of firmness while still providing excellent contouring. The firmness keeps the spine aligned, but not at the expense of head and neck comfort. Plus, the latex material and the GOTS certified organic cotton cover ensure a night that is as organic as it is comfortable.

One thing to be aware of when purchasing this pillow is that there is a bit of an odor that comes with the latex, however it is very mild and dissipates fairly quickly. I wake up with no neck pain when using this pillow; it offers a lot of support, but not at the expense of any comfort, which is an issue that I’ve experienced with other pillows.

Pros: All-natural materials, naturally breathable, excellent customer service
Cons: Slight odor when new, pricier than other options 
Materials: Latex, cotton | Sizes: Standard, queen, king | Trial Period: 120-nights

Best for back sleepers

Measuring in at 3 inches thick, Parachute’s Down Alternative Pillow falls within Dr. Winchel’s recommendations for back sleepers. She tells us that with anything too thin, your head can fall back, but with something too thick, “your head might be propped up too far forward.” While this option is available in soft, medium, and firm options, we recommend the firm for back sleepers. In addition to promoting head and neck alignment through the microfiber fill, it’s also hypoallergenic, which is a huge plus for anyone who has material sensitivities. 

One potential drawback with this pillow is that they can flatten over time and require fluffing to get back into proper shape.
Pros: 3-year warranty, USA made, hypoallergenic fill, 3 firmness choices
Cons: Limited size options, shorter trial
Materials: Microfiber, cotton | Sizes: Standard, king | Trial Period: 60-days

Best for stomach sleepers

“Stomach sleeping can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain if the head and neck are elevated too much,” Dr. Winchel tells us. As a result, she recommends that stomach sleepers seek out a thinner pillow. Brooklyn Bedding’s Talalay Latex Pillow is available in two lofts, low and high. We highly recommend the lower loft option for stomach sleepers. While the lower loft will accommodate and help to promote a neutral spine, the hyper-responsive latex foam is also super conforming to ensure a comfortable night of sleep. Additionally, the natural breathability nature of latex makes this a great option for any stomach sleepers who sleep hot.

One drawback with this option is that it really is great for stomach sleepers and stomach sleepers alone. It doesn’t offer the needed support required by side and back sleepers, so be sure to get a different loft option if you fall into one of those two categories.

Pros: Hypoallergenic, more affordable than other latex pillows, breathable, 3-year warranty 
Cons: Shorter trial period, no twin-size option
Materials: Latex, cotton | Sizes: Queen, king | Trial Period: 30-days

Best down alternative

Made with a polyester microfiber fill, Casper’s Original Pillow offers all of the premium comfort associated with down, but at a much lower price point. We love it for its clump-resistant nature, all you have to do is fluff it after use to restore it back to shape. We also like that the fill is super adaptive, which makes it a great choice for any sleeper who switches positions throughout the night. Plus, the cotton cover is made with a percale weave to promote maximum breathability. One potential shortcoming with this option is that it offers a shorter trial period and warranty than others on our list, with just a one year limited warranty and a 30-day trial.

Pros: More affordable than down, breathable, machine washable
Cons: Shorter warranty and trial, no queen size
Materials: Polyester, cotton | Sizes: Standard, king | Trial Period: 30-days

Best memory foam

Saatva has established itself as a powerhouse in the sleep game over the past decade thanks to its products’ incredibly high quality, and its Memory Foam Pillow is no exception. It’s made entirely of CertiPUR-US certified memory foams, which ensures that it has been tested to meet numerous standards for things like emissions, content, and durability. Beyond the safety and the quality of the foam, it also offers exceptional head and neck contouring support. Graphite infused memory foam, which draws heat away from you, and a breathable cotton cover both work in tandem to promote a cool and comfortable night of sleep.

Saatva’s Memory Foam Pillow can take a few nights to adjust to, especially if you are used to something a bit more plush. Fortunately, it comes with a 45-day trial, which will give you ample time to see if it’s the right choice for you. 

Pros: CertiPUR-US certified, 45-day returns, free shipping
Cons: Pricier, small adjustment period
Materials: Memory foam, cotton | Sizes: Queen, king | Trial Period: 45-days

Best organic

This Earthfoam pillow is GOTS certified (Global Organic Textile Standard), GOLS certified (Global Organic Latex Standard), Fair For Life – Fair Trade certified, and Oeko-Tex Standard 100. That means you’re sleeping on a pillow that is made ethically, does its part for the planet, and will keep you from breathing in anything harmful while you sleep. 

In terms of comfort, Earthfoam’s Organic Pillow uses rubber foam that is soft, springy, and great at holding its shape. Outside of that, a stretchy organic cotton inner cover makes sure you get all of the conforming benefits from the foam inside of it. Finally, it’s all protected by a washable cotton cover. While this pillow is great in terms of comfort and organic, the springy nature of the foam makes it less than ideal for any stomach sleepers who are seeking something flatter.

Pros: GOTS and GOLS certified, 5-year warranty, ethically made, naturally breathable
Cons: Not great for stomach sleepers, only one size available
Materials: Natural rubber, cotton | Sizes: Queen | Trial Period: 30-nights

Best cooling

Every step of the way, the Purple Harmony Pillow’s design features are optimized for a cool night of sleep. The proprietary GelFlex Grid provides support with just the right amount of give- but most importantly, it’s temperature-neutral and airy. The ventilated latex promotes airflow, while the mesh cover is naturally moisture-wicking. In addition to its naturally cooling capabilities, we have to acknowledge the resiliency and durability of the materials, as well as three loft options which ensures that there is something for every kind of sleeper.

While it is a great pillow overall, some feel that $167 for the standard size is a bit of a steep price. However, we think that all of the technology incorporated into this pillow earns itself a higher price tag. 

Pros: Three loft options, 100-night trial, free shipping
Cons: Pricy, not firm enough for some
Materials: Latex, polyester, polymer, nylon, spandex | Sizes: Standard, king | Trial Period: 100-nights

Best budget

If you’re looking for a great pillow that offers support and is budget friendly, we highly recommend Utopia Bedding’s Bed Pillows. Firstly, the pillows come in a pack of two, making the low price even more impressive. They also feature 950-grams of fiber filling in each pillow to provide a plush feel. Lastly, the gusseting not only provides a stylish flair but also adds a layer of durability to ensure these aren’t just short term pillows. One drawback for the Utopia pillow is that it may be too firm for some users. Overall though, it is comfortable, breathable, and holds its shape very well.

Pros: Affordable, comes in a pack of two, 9-color options
Cons: Takes 48-72 hours to expand, too firm for some
Materials: Polyester, polycotton | Sizes: Queen, king | Trial Period: None listed

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.