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The 11 best pillows of 2024 for every type of sleeper

We spent two months working with a panel of sleep experts, dermatologists and testers to find the best pillows for every sleep position, these 11 ticked all the boxes

The 11 best pillows of 2024 for every type of sleeper

Being that we spend a third of our life sleeping and our pillow plays a huge role in how well we sleep, the health research team here at Yahoo wanted to get to the bottom of what makes a pillow great, what materials to look for and which style of pillow is best for side, back and stomach sleepers; we wanted to know everything! So, we spent the past two months working with sleep experts and dermatologists to test every style of pillow imaginable. We cozied up to all the best-rated pillows, from memory foam, down and down alternative to curved pillows, body pillows and even the viral sensation and constantly sold-out Plufl, a plush dog bed designed for humans.

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We looked for pillows that met the needs of back, side and stomach sleepers as well as hot, cold and neutral sleepers — and we asked the pros to weigh in on which sleep position is best. We also consulted with sleep experts and dermatologists to learn what types of pillows and materials were safest for various skin types and skin conditions such as acne or eczema.

Read on to find the best pillows for neck pain, pregnancy, travel and more — and remember: "A great night's sleep goes beyond a great pillow," said Dr. Sandeep Gupta, a pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist. "It's important to maintain a regular schedule, as irregular sleep patterns can lead to poorer sleep quality."

The best pillows of 2024 for every type of sleeper

While it's hard to say one pillow is the top of the heap, we have to tip our hats to SleepNumber's ComfortFit. It comes in three shapes designed to fit the way you sleep.

"Classic" supports the head and neck and is recommended for stomach or back sleepers; "Curved" works with the contours of your body to provide comfort to side and back sleepers; and "Ultimate" has three removable inserts so you can customize support as your sleep needs change. (Stomach sleepers should use one or two inserts, back or side sleepers can try two or three.)

The pillow, made from memory foam and down alternative fibers, features a Lyocell blend cover that's breathable and hypoallergenic, so it's a solid choice for those with allergies or sensitive skin. According to Dr. Ashley Magovern, a board-certified dermatologist: "Poor-quality pillow covers can irritate the skin ... because of synthetic dyes and subpar materials." 

$100 at SleepNumber

Headleveler is a decades-old family-run company that makes the world's only made-to-measure pillow; you simply provide info like the length of your neck, your height and body weight and your preferred sleeping position. 

The brand specializes in providing proper cervical support to keep your neck and spine aligned. And their customized pillows cost roughly the same as pre-made cervical versions.

The hypoallergenic, machine-washable pillows have three sections filled with soft polyester fiber. According to the brand, "Compartmentalizing the pillow fill allows for minimum stuffing displacement, meaning you get consistent support throughout the night."

Choose from four sizes: travel, standard, queen and king, and seven thicknesses. 

$106 - $210 at Headleveler

For back sleepers, especially those who run hot, this double-sided pillow is our top pick. 

The foam side feels nice and firm; the fill side (a blend of foam with shredded materials and silk-like fibers) is more plush. Breathable mesh and air vents in and around the pillow help improve airflow and prevent heat buildup. The cooling cover (complete with silver-metallic stitching) offers even more relief. Four sizes/heights are available.

Sleeping on your back comes with a host of health-boosting perks, said Dr. Kien Vuu, a regenerative medicine specialist and assistant health sciences professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Sleeping on your back keeps your spine aligned, head and neck supported, acid reflux at bay and wards off sleep-induced wrinkles, since you are not smooching your face into the pillow."

The brand's Pillow ID sleep quiz matches you to your ideal pillow, taking into consideration variables like sleep position and whether you sleep hot, cold or neutral.

$189 at Amazon
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$200 at Bedgear

Doughy and soft yet supportive, this pillow has 100% adjustable filling so you can customize it to the exact height you need.

Honeydew is a family-owned company that makes its pillows by hand in California. Its cooling, gel-based memory foam is CertiPur-US certified, and the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 textiles are derived from natural materials. The company offers a three-year warranty and a 60-night sleep trial that allows you to return its pillows for a no-questions-asked refund. We love that you can choose between a queen or king — many side-sleeper pillows are available only in queen.

Like back sleepers, side sleepers get some health benefits. "Side sleeping can reduce acid reflux and heartburn and help those who snore," said Dr. Shelby Harris, a psychologist and board-certified specialist in behavioral sleep medicine. "It may reduce the risk of sleep apnea — and [be helpful] for those who are pregnant, as it improves blood flow to the fetus."

$110 at Amazon

Sealy is among the industry's most well-known, trusted brands, and its cooling pillow doesn't disappoint. The memory foam adapts to your shape to support your head and neck, while a gel layer aims to keep you cool as a cucumber all night long. The removable, washable, breathable mesh cover helps wick away heat and allows air to flow between your skin and the pillow. 

$46 at Amazon

An Amazon cult favorite with over 160,000 five-star reviews, this down-alternative pillow is also popular with Yahoo readers and Yahoo staffers one of our shopping editors swears by it. The plush bounce-back design keeps it firm and supportive, making it ideal for back sleepers who need neck-to-spine alignment for pain-free slumber. Its "no-shift" construction combines down alternative fill with gel and shredded memory foam, combatting lumps and clumps.

The pillows are made in an Oeko-Tex-certified factory that ensures textiles meet high safety and environmental standards. Unlike memory foam pillows, these (which come in a 2-pack) can be tossed in the washing machine and tumble-dried.

$60 at Amazon

Stomach sleepers need a Goldilocks pillow: One that's not too high, too firm, too flat or too soft. Parallel's low-profile design is, well, just right. 

Standout features include a soft outer shell and self-cleaning technology that stops germs, spores and dust mites in their tracks. You can add or remove filling to customize the height too. The brand offers a 90-night return window.

$150 at Parallel

Meet one of the highest-rated pregnancy pillows on the market. Pharmedoc's body pillow has a sculpted wavy design that contours to a growing bump and a cool-to-the-touch cover that disperses heat away from the body. The U-shape helps support the back, hips, knees, neck and head to ease discomfort associated with pregnancy, sciatica, fibromyalgia, gastric reflux and more.

Of course, it will take up a fair amount of real estate on your bed: The pillow measures 53 inches long, 31 inches wide, and 7 inches high. It's backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and Pharmedoc urges shoppers to "contact us to make it right" if they aren't happy.

$70 at Amazon

If you're looking for a standard body pillow, you can't go wrong with this version. Its patented Pod System lets you control the level of filling without having pieces of it falling out around you (and if you've ever used an adjustable pillow, you know exactly what I mean — it can become a huge mess). To ensure you find a snuggly fit, each pillow has 15 adjustment pods.

The down alternative fill is designed to hit that sweet spot between plush and firm, while cooling gel foam within the pods helps draw heat away from the surface. The exterior is made with Tencel fabric that's soft, breathable and moisture-wicking. The pillow is machine washable.

$159 at Amazon

If you don't love those standard crescent-shaped travel neck pillows, this inflatable option is worth a try. I came across it while looking for something for my son to take camping. When it arrived, I was blown away by how soft and lightweight it was — and how compact it was when not in use. 

After realizing I could inflate the pillow to my desired firmness or only partially fill it and fold it in half to use as a lumbar cushion, I ordered two more for my husband and I to use while traveling. It has a removable, machine-washable cover, and makes a fantastic gift for the traveler or camper in your life.

$21 at Amazon

You may have seen the Plufl, the "dog bed for humans," on Shark Tank. The viral sensation with more than 100 million social media mentions — not to mention being sold out 6 times! And while it is just that — a dog-shaped bed large enough for an adult or a couple of kids — it has become much more in my house. My son relaxes in it while reading or doing homework, I love taking it onto the porch for stargazing, and my husband uses it for snuggling with his best friend (our beagle, Leia) on movie night. 

The 68-by-33-inch Plufl is made with CertiPUR-US-certified foam free of mercury, lead, formaldehyde and phthalates. Plush bolsters fully enclose you and function like a built-in body pillow for side sleepers. The soft faux fur outer cover is machine washable and has handles for easy transport. There's also a side pocket big enough for your phone or books, or to hold a water bottle upright. The Plufl can be folded in half for storage when guests come over and you don't want to share.

$300 at Amazon
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$275 at We are Plufl

5 things to consider when choosing the best pillow for your needs

Cost

A pillow that leaves you ache-free and well-rested is no doubt worth every penny. But when it comes to a high-quality pillow, those pennies add up fast. Before splurging on the pillow of your dreams, shop around and ask yourself whether a big sale event is coming up: Many retailers have discounts for Sleep Awareness Week, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Black Friday.

Outer material

According to our experts, material is everything when it comes to bedding. You'll want something breathable to help you avoid overheating and clogged pores, and hypoallergenic, so that you don't end up sneezing more than snoozing.

Inner materials

Do you prefer a firm memory foam pillow, a soft feather pillow or something in between that may have various layers of foam, feathers or fibers? It's important to test various types to find a firmness that will give your head, neck and spine the support they need to leave you feeling rested and ache-free in the morning.

Sleep temperature

Do you sleep hot, cold or neutral? If you're always turning the thermostat down, look for pillows that are marked "cooling." These are often infused with gel designed to keep you comfy while you snooze. Neutral and cold sleepers should still find breathable materials that wick away heat and sweat.

Sizes

Many of the pillows we tested came only in standard or queen sizes, so those with king-size beds may find them too small. In this case, you'll want to check with the manufacturer to see if it's possible to order a king-size pillow.

FAQs

What is the best pillow for neck pain?

Look for pillows specially designed to offer cervical support that are comfortable for your size and weight. You'll want to avoid pillows that are too plush or thick, as this can bring the neck and spine out of alignment — no doubt leaving you feeling achy in the morning.

What is the best pillow for side sleepers?

Curved pillows are the greatest bedding upgrade since memory foam. I personally sleep on my side with a curved Bedgear Cuddle Curve Pillow, and it's beyond wonderful. I fall right to sleep and wake up well-rested without neck or shoulder pain. If you are a side sleeper, I highly recommend giving a curved pillow designed for side sleepers a try.

What are the best-rated pillows?

The best-rated pillows are often those made by brands devoted to quality bedding, such as SleepNumber, Bedgear and Headleveler. These companies spend a great deal on research and development to ensure its products are top-notch. While I normally don't advocate for buying exclusively brand-name merchandise, when it comes to pillows, there’s a reason a brand name matters: It’s proven to produce unwavering quality bedding.

How often should you change your pillows?

Tanu Grewal, chief cleaning officer at Pinalen, tells us that "pillows typically have a lifespan of about two years." She adds, however, that this can fluctuate depending on the materials and use they’re getting; if they're feeling lumpy or have permanent stains, these are signs it's time to replace them.

If you are looking for sheets, we tested those, too! To learn what the experts had to say and which sheets our research team loved the most, read about our top picks for the best sheets of 2024.

Meet our experts

Dr. Syed Aslam, a pulmonary disease and sleep medicine physician

Tanu Grewal, chief cleaning officer at Pinalen, Cloralen and Ensueño Laundry

Dr. Sandeep Gupta, pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist

Dr. Shelby Harris, a psychologist and specialist in behavioral sleep medicine

Dr. Ashley Magovern, a dermatologist

Dr. Kien Vuu, a regenerative medicine specialist and assistant health sciences professor at UCLA