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7 Best Pillows (2024): For Side Sleepers, Orthopedic, Travel

Finding the best pillow for your needs can be an agonizing ordeal. Get something that’s too firm, too soft, or just not quite right for your head, and you can wake up with a lot of pain the next day. Never fear, WIRED is here. We’ve tested nearly a dozen pillows, using each one for several weeks if not longer to get a sense of how comfortable they are, how well they hold up to repeated use, and what sleeping styles they’re best suited for. These are our current favorites, but there are an innumerable number of pillows out there. We’ll update this guide as we test more. All of the prices below are for the queen-size version unless otherwise specified.

If you want to get even better sleep, be sure to check out our Best Mattresses, Best Organic Mattresses, Best Sheets, Best Bed Frames, and Best Weighted Blankets guides.

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What Kind of Pillow Do You Need?

You might think a pillow is a pillow. It just has to be soft and fit under your head, right? Your head, neck, and back disagree. Whether you get a good night’s sleep can depend heavily on your pillow, so when choosing one, here are a few key questions to ask yourself.

What kind of sleeper are you? Do you sleep on your back, your side, or your stomach? Do you stay relatively still, or do you toss and turn a lot? Do you usually just have one pillow under your head, or do you cocoon yourself into a pillow chrysalis? This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind when deciding what pillow works best for you.

What is the pillow made of? These days, pillows come filled with a pretty wide variety of materials. Down and synthetic down are fluffy clusters of fiber that can feel soft and comfortable, whereas memory foam is designed to compress with the weight of your head, but still return to its previous shape. There are also hybrid pillows that use multiple layers of different materials to customize how they feel.

How firm is it? However you sleep, you’ll want a pillow that keeps your spine straight and your head aligned with your back. That means you want something firm enough to support your head, while still being soft enough that it doesn’t dig into your face or skull.

How lofty is it? “Loft” is a term that’s often used to describe how high off the bed the pillow keeps your head. If a pillow is too tall, for example, you might end up with your neck tilted upwards, straining it throughout the night. Most pillows have different size options so you can find the fit that’s right for you.