A comfortable and supportive bed pillow is key to getting restful sleep, but finding the best pillow for you is no simple task with so many types of pillows to choose from. The good news is that pillows are highly personal, so you can narrow the field down based on your individual preferences for material and your sleep position.
When it comes to pillows, "it’s important that your neck stays ‘neutral,'" says Dr. Niamish Baxi, a physiatrist focusing on spine care and musculoskeletal medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. "It should not be flexed forward, extended back, or rotated. Being in these positions will put a strain on the joints in your cervical spine as well as the muscles surrounding it." To help stay in the proper position all night, side sleepers should choose a thick, firm pillow; stomach sleepers need a soft, thinner one; and back sleepers need something in between.
Over the past several years, the experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Textiles Lab have tested over 100 different pillows made of materials like down, foam, latex and fiberfill as well as cooling pillows, organic pillows, pillows to cure neck pain and pillows to stop snoring. All in all, we reviewed over 3,500 data points between Lab and at-home consumer evaluations before making these picks.
We most recently reviewed this article in June 2022 to ensure all of our recommendations were in stock and and reflected accurate pricing.
All pillows are evaluated in the Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles Lab. First we check the care labels to see how easy they are to clean (PSA: some are not machine washable!), then we wash them five times to see whether they'll actually hold up to laundering. We also look at how well they fit into a pillowcase and we perform support and recovery tests that mimic the pressure from your head lying on it all night: A weight is left on the pillow for an extended period then we measure how quickly it returns to its original shape.
In addition to Lab testing, we also have real consumer testers try them out for in-depth feedback on things like comfort, support, temperature regulation and more. Testers are assigned a pillow based on an initial survey to make sure they're getting a good match, then they're given weeks to sleep on it before providing both scored and open-ended responses.