The best pillows 2024: 14 top options, tested by sleep experts

Best pillows: quick links

Having a set of the best pillows can seriously improve your quality of sleep, but we often underestimate the importance of comfortable and supportive pillows in our sleep setups. If you've invested in the best mattress but you're still not sleeping well because your pillow's the wrong height or firmness for your sleep style, picking out a new one from our selection should soon get you sleeping more comfortably.

Having the wrong sort of pillow not only robs you of sleep, it can mean that you wake up with neck and back pain because your head's not aligned naturally with the rest of your body. By thinking about how you sleep and what your preferences are, you can soon understand what sort of pillow would work best for you in terms of loft, materials, firmness and responsiveness. Head to our our section on how to choose the best pillow for your sleep you'll soon have a better idea of what pillow you should be shopping for.

We've assembled a selection of the best pillows on the market, all of which we've tested for at least two weeks, and we've organized them by what they're mostly filled with – down, latex, fibers and foam – so you can head for the filling you prefer (and which won't trigger any allergies), narrow things down from there and then either see our expert reviews or head straight to a store page. Got all that? Let's see the best pillows available today...

The best pillows in 2024 – chosen by experts

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The best down fill pillows

The best latex fill pillows

The best synthetic stuffed pillows

The best memory foam pillows

How to choose the best pillow for your sleep

In general, all sleepers should look for an easy-to-clean pillow, which keeps you cool at night and is made from breathable materials. If you tend to sleep in a certain position on your back, front, or side, then think about choosing the following pillows for your sleep style

Back sleepers – Choose a pillow with medium loft and firmness to relieve pressure in the neck and shoulders, while maintaining neutral spine alignment. Look for pillows with extra cushioning on top.

Side sleepers – Look for a pillow with high loft and firm support to relieve pressure at the shoulder and help maintain a neutral spine position. Adjustable pillows with fluffable materials will also help you adjust the shape more easily to suit your position. 

Stomach sleepers – A pillow with low loft and soft support will help keep the spine in alignment, and prevent the head from being too propped up. A compressible fill allows the pillow to be shaped into a comfortable low loft. 

Combination sleepers – If you tend to change position a lot in the night you need a more versatile pillow to keep up with you. Look for something with a more responsive feel, and maybe even with an adjustable fill so that you can get it to your perfect depth.

We'd recommend picking a pillow that comes on a trial period, giving you at least three weeks to make sure it's the best choice for your sleep and posture. 

Are memory foam pillows any good?

Memory foam pillows have a lot of benefits for more comfortable sleep. The main advantage is contouring, which means the memory foam molds itself to your head and neck as soon as you lie down. It's the same benefit you'll get from one of the best memory foam mattresses for pressure relief.

People with neck pain often benefit from a memory foam pillow, but the depth of the pillow should be considered too. Deep memory foam pillows are a great choice for side sleepers, while firmer and shallower foam pillows will better support stomach and back sleepers.

Memory foam pillows relieve pressure points by distributing the weight of your head and neck across the entire pillow, so you should feel much more comfortable when sleeping. 

The downside to memory foam is that it can retain heat, so hot sleepers may struggle with this type of pillow depending on the type of memory foam it's made from. There are plenty of cooling gel-infused memory foam pillows to choose from now, and these dissipate heat, boost airflow and regulate temperature to keep you cool. Our top-rated memory foam pillow for hot sleepers is the Layla Kapok Pillow, priced from $109 at Layla Sleep.

While your pillow can make an instant difference to how comfortably you sleep, consider pairing it with one of the best mattress toppers too. These breathe new life into older mattresses and can also relieve pressure points.

Woman sleeps on her side with her hands tucked under her head place on a comfy white pillow

(Image credit: Getty UK)

Do you need a pillow protector?

A pillow protector keeps your pillow clean for longer, safeguarding it from dust mites, spills, stains and germs in the same way a good mattress protector looks after your mattress. While spills and stains are unsightly and a breeding ground for bacteria, dust mites are the other big problem with unprotected pillows - especially those that aren’t cleaned regularly.

With regular nightly use, your dead skin cells, hair, sweat and more build up on your pillow. This moist environment provides plenty of food and nourishment for dust mites, and these microscopic bugs and their droppings can trigger allergies and make asthma worse. 

So if you cut off their food supply by covering your pillow with an anti-allergy pillow protector, you’ll make it harder for them to thrive. Not all pillow protectors are up to the job though, and the best are certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) as asthma and allergy friendly. To get this certification, the pillow protector has been proven to block over 95% to 99% of dust mite allergens.

While you’ll still need to wash your sleep pillow regularly and replace it every two years, a protector will do the majority of the heavy lifting for you when keeping your pillow clean. You should wash the protector monthly, or more often if you experience night sweats, dandruff or skin irritations.

Ensure the rest of your sleeping space is comfy and supportive too. There are plenty of mattress sales each month that cover bedding such as pillows and protectors, and you'll find luxury and budget options here. These include the best Saatva mattress sales for luxury sleep, and the latest Nectar mattress sale for memory foam bedding. 

Can pillows be recycled?

Pillows aren’t usually accepted in curbside recycling bins, so you’ll need to visit a textile recycling center. When recycled, pillows are broken down into their separate components, with the material shredded or ground up for reuse in another item. 

Depending on the recycling center you visit, the fibers inside pillows can be recycled into clothing, rugs and carpets, cleaning cloths, and other household items. You can take your pillows to a textile recycling facility as long as they aren’t stained with sweat, oil, blood or grease. 

The American Textile Recycling Service has drop-off bins in a few states, and these take pillows. If you have an old feather filled pillow, the feathers can be mixed into a compost bin, helping to create a rich fertilizer for your garden. The stuffing inside non-down pillows could also be used to make stuffed animals or even new pillows.

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Jo Plumridge

Jo Plumridge is a freelance writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience writing for a variety of magazines, books and websites. She writes, perhaps unsurprisingly, about photography but also extensively on all things sleep and interior design related, alongside home and tech product reviews. She’s lived in the middle of a nature reserve in Botswana and written a guidebook to New Zealand, but now spends a lot of time trying to photograph the cats she and her husband foster for a local charity - without a doubt the most challenging subjects on earth!

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