Having the best pillow is an essential part of getting a good night's sleep. As leading bedding expert Goldilocks once observed, you don't want it too thin, or so plump your neck hurts. What you want is a pillow that is 'just right'. Consider your pillow the third key element in your night-time arsenal, alongside the best duvet and, of course, the best mattress that you can lay your hands on. And indeed, lay your body on.
The assortment here includes traditional goose and duck feather and down pillows, as well as modern ones made of memory foam and temperature regulating or cooling fabrics. Most of them offer dust mite allergy protection, regardless of materials used.
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How to buy the best pillow for you
It is said that if you’re a side sleeper, then a firm pillow is the best option to support your head and spine, but if you sleep on your front, in all likelihood you’ll want a much softer pillow so you don’t wake up with a stiff neck. Back sleepers can opt for something in between. Although ultimately, you’re going to choose what you think is comfortable. There are still some great natural pillows on offer that provide thick and fluffy sleeping aids at prices from cost-effective to 'how much?!'.
However, synthetic is a popular choice for those with allergies and for a pillow that will bounce back even after a run through the washing machine. Memory foam is bang on trend right now and is ideal if you find you're waking with a stiff neck.
Confused about sizing? Head to our mattress and bedding size guide, which covers US, UK and EU sizing and naming conventions.
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The best pillows to buy, ranked
Memory foam has already revolutionised the mattress market, and this pillow from Panda employs three layers of it, to do the same for your head and neck. Using it for the first time is a little daunting, as it initially seems to be a massive and solid block of unyielding plastic. However, in just a few seconds, you feel your head gently sinking into its Bamboo-fabric-clad form. The end result is very comfortable and very supportive. The outer casing also has a remarkably cool feel to it – and who doesn't love the cool side of their pillow? It zips off for easy cleaning, as well.
Some people may feel that £40-£50 for a pillow is expensive but given the 10-year guarantee and Panda's no-quibble, money-back promise if you don't love it, we'd say that's a reasonable price, and money well spent. I've not used anything better. We were so impressed with this innovative design we awarded it Best Pillow in the T3 Awards 2020.
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The Simba Hybrid Pillow comes in several varieties, this is the one with the brand's Stratos temperature-managing fabric. By using small cubes of memory foam rather than larger wodges of it, as Panda does, the feel of the Hybrid is more like a traditional pillow, but with all the usual benefits of foam – allergy prevention, ease of cleaning and temperature management. Although to be honest, I have never used a pillow of any price or construction that made my head hot, so perhaps that point is slightly moot.
Interestingly, as well as having the option of a cooling side and a standard one – you flip the pillow as the seasons change, presumably – the Simba Hybrid Pillow also lets you adapt its height. How? The core of the pillow has a zip, so you can remove the stuffing as you see fit – which means it's suitable for everyone, regardless of firmness preference (and handy for anyone who's found their definition of 'medium' doesn't match the pillow brand's). Whether or not you actually use all those options, there's no denying the Hybrid Pillow is a very comfortable thing to rest your head on.
As with Panda's pillow, the Eve Memory Foam Pillow uses state-of-the-art synthetic pillow tech to try to guarantee the ultimate night's sleep. Suitable for most sleeping positions, Eve's pillow keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. As with the Panda, if you have never had a memory foam pillow before, it'll take a little getting used to. It's an excellent option, although we prefer the Panda option.
If you're looking for a traditional feather pillow, we think this Ultimate Hungarian Goose Down Pillow from Soak & Sleep is one of the best you can buy. It's filled with 90% Hungarian goose down, which is "washed in thermal spa water to preserve the delicate nature of the naturally large down clusters".
There's some inconsistency on the website when it comes to the different firmness options on offer here, but we tested either the 'soft' or 'soft/medium' version. It was noticeably lighter than other feather pillows we've tried, the filling is full and airy, and it feels fresh to lie on. We were concerned that because the filling feels less dense than other feather pillows we've used, it would flatten quickly, but this hasn't been the case at all – the pillow has held its shape remarkably well for the past two weeks we've been using it.
You might think feathers are a poor choice for allergy sufferers, but Soak & Sleep says this pillow is considered hypoallergenic "due to excellent oxygen and turbidity ratings". Our tester's allergies weren't triggered by use with this pillow. It's cased in NoMite certified fabric, but it's worth being aware you can only wash this pillow at 40 degrees.
Our only other niggle is that the double hemmed edge means this pillow doesn't fit every neatly into a standard pillow case. However, overall we were super impressed with this offering from Soak & Sleep.
This Scandinavian Duck Feather & Down Pillow by Snuggledown is super cosy. Filled with 85 per cent duck feather and 15 per cent down, it is a soft pillow that keeps you warm on those cold nights. It needs a good plumping every now and then but can be manipulated to your desired shape, making it ideal for any type of sleeper.
The last thing you want is a pillow that is going to trigger coughing and spluttering when all you want to do is sleep. The Silent Night Anti-Allergy Pillow is the best pillow for allergies and will ensure you get a calm night’s sleep. It’s easy to clean in the washing machine and is quite soft, making it the best choice for front sleepers.
If you want a pillow that is not going to lose shape after a few sleeps, then the Dunlopillo Super Comfort Pillow is the one to choose. It has a latex filling which keeps its firmness intact no matter how much you move around in your sleep, and the firmness is ideal for those who sleep on their back or side to support the head. This pillow is harder to clean that a synthetic pillow but it is naturally anti-fungal and allergy-averting (although probably not if you’re allergic to latex!)
The Tempur Original Support Pillow is not like your standard pillow. This pillow has a curve that sits perfectly under your head for ultimate comfort and support. If you often wake up with a stiff neck then this pillow will provide uninterrupted sleep but the sizing is a little unusual and it may be difficult for some to get along with at first. However, if you’re one of those sleepers that folds their pillow in half or constantly moves to find the right position, then this is the best pillow for you.
Waterbeds may be seen a little outdated, but the Mediflow Waterbase Fiberfill Pillow is the great way to achieve optimum firmness for your style of sleep. This is one of the best pillows for neck pain as you simply fill up the pillow to your desired firmness. There is the worry of a leak or spillage which definitely divides opinions on this pillow, but if you really don’t get on with it, it comes with a 30 day money-back guarantee!
If you’re looking for a pillow with all natural filling, then we believe this is one of the best wool pillows on the market right now. It's surprisingly firm and doesn’t lose shape, so if you don’t like the idea of the latex filled pillow, this will give you the same amount of plumpness you desire, and at a cheaper cost. The Homescapes Pure Wool Pillow provides a soft even shape and good temperature regulation for a dreamy night’s sleep all year round.
If you want all the comfort of the duck feather and down pillow but know it’ll set you sneezing, then this synthetic pillow comes with all the same softness, and a lower price tag. This pillow is only £10 and has been made to simulate the feel of down using a hollowfibre filling. It may not be the exact same feel as down, but it’s hypoallergenic and easily machine-washable.