The best pillows for a great night’s sleep

Finding a comfy pillow that keeps you cool overnight is vital for a good night's rest - here's our essential guide to the best pillows.

best pillows uk

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

If you are looking for the best pillows for your sleeping preference, we have got you covered. It's essential to spend some time researching the pillows rather than just buying a budget option from the supermarket next time you're doing your grocery shopping. A good pillow is key to a good night's sleep; it can also impact incredibly on your neck health, and the right pillow can help prevent or ease headaches, too.

There are pillows specifically designed to cater to those with sleeping issues. There are orthopaedic pillows who suffer from neck and back issues; these pillows provide the necessary support to ensure your spine remains aligned throughout the night. You can even buy anti-snore pillows that are designed to encourage sleepers to maintain a position that opens up their airways, reducing the chances of snoring.

Best pillows at a glance:

• Best eco-friendly pillow set:  Silentnight Eco Comfort Pillow - View on Amazon UK
• Best memory foam pillow: The Emma Pillow - View on Emma Mattress
• Best hypoallergic pillow: Woolroom Wool Pillow - View on Woolroom

There are also a range of materials to consider when buying the best pillows for your sleep, from feather pillows to memory foam. Material is possibly the most important factor to consider when ensuring a cool and comfortable sleep environment throughout the night.

Check out our guide below to help you navigate what pillow would be best suited to your needs. So, without further ado, here are the best pillows you can buy online today.

The best pillows

Best Eco-Friendly Pillow

Choose an eco-friendly option with this Silentnight pillow, made from 100% recycled materials, which are breathable and hypoallergenic. Plus, it is machine washable too. Silentnight claims each pillow prevents about 17 plastic bottles going into the oceans or landfill – so it gets a big eco-friendly tick from us. The 'Eco Comfort Fibres' are spiral-shaped, designed to spring back into shape.

Customer review: "Been looking for some firm pillows that keep their shape. These fit the bill perfectly. Firm but not overly hard. Best nights sleep we've had in ages."

Pros

  • Eco-friendly and made from 100% recycled materials
  • Hypoallergenic and suitable for those with allergies
  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Polyester isn't as breathable as natural fibre

Best Memory Foam Pillow

With three layers of foam, the Emma Pillow aims to give you maximum support and comfort as you sleep, easing away wearing shoulders and neck pain – and you can customise the pillow by removing layers to find the combination that you prefer. The cover is breathable to keep you cool overnight and is made from temperature-regulating fibres to help air to circulate. Great, whatever position you sleep in. You can trial this for a whopping 200 nights, so you really get time to find out if it suits you.

Customer review: "Simply perfect! These pillows are wonderful and just by putting your head on them for ten minutes you can already feel your spine aligning with your body. They are firm but extremely soft, I did not expect such a feeling but I am pleasantly surprised, you can see immediately that high quality materials were used."

Pros

  • Offers maximum support and comfort with three layers of foam
  • Can adjust the pillow by removing layers.
  • Designed to ease shoulder and neck discomfort.

Cons

  • Might be too firm for some users.

Best Hypoallergenic Pillow

This is naturally hypoallergenic, made from British wool with an organic cotton cover. The brand is proud of its heritage, and the wool is 100% traceable back to the farm. A safety zip on the side of the pillow allows for adjustability of firmness. It's machine washable, but it's not recommended to tumble dry.

Customer review: "I was sceptical about a wool pillow as I thought it would be too warm but it had good reviews so I gave it a go. I have only used it for a week or so but so far so good. I did spend a while separating the filling as suggested and do fluff it up regularly. It does seem to have helped reduce neck and shoulder aches and I am finding it doesn't make my head hot like other pillows I have tried."

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Wool from Wool Room is traceable back to the farm and is sustainable and ethical
  • Organic cotton cover
  • Anti-allergy

Cons

  • Needs to be fluffed up

Best Down Pillow

This goose-down pillow is naturally soft and comfortable, with anti-allergy properties. It's soft but supportive, moulding to the contours of your head and neck during the night, remaining fluffy as you sleep. The goose down feathers are naturally breathable, regulating your temperature overnight and preventing you from overheating.

Customer review: "Without question the best down pillows we have bought. Purchased various brands and types but this is the best, soft but plump & supportive. Well worth it, good price."

Pros

  • Made from goose down with anti-allergy properties.
  • Moulds to the contours of the head and neck.
  • Soft and supportive

Cons

  • Might flatten over time and require daily fluffing

Best Cooling Pillow

REM-Fit 500 Cool Gel Pillow
Price: £49.50 (was £99)

www.rem-fit.co.uk

This isn't just a memory foam pillow but also features a cool-gel memory foam. It's specifically designed to keep you cool as you sleep while also offering support for your neck and shoulders. It also comes with a five-year guarantee.

Customer review: "Informed all the way through the ordering and delivery stage. Polite friendly delivery team. Good quality."

Pros

  • Contains cool-gel memory foam.
  • Designed for comfort
  • Offers support for neck and shoulders.
  • Combines memory foam with cooling technology.

Cons

  • May not be everyone's preference

Best Budget Pillow

Silentnight Hotel Collection Pillow (Pack of 2)
Price: £24

An affordable pair of pillows that still provides good support – and Silentnight is a well-known brand for quality. These have a microfibre filling, so the support isn't as great as others on the list, but you can use two pillows together for more firmness, and the filling is a good hypoallergenic option. The covers are soft and feel like hotel-quality linen. They come with a two-year guarantee for peace of mind.

Customer review: "As far as having a good night's sleep these did the job perfectly. As far as a hotel-style pillow it's not actually that far off some of the better quality ones that I've used in the past."

Pros

  • Budget-friendly option
  • Pack of two.
  • Microfibre filling with hypoallergnic properities

Cons

  • Support might be less compared to other premium options

Best Adjustable Pillow

The Simba Hyrbid Pillow
Price: £81.75 (Was £109)

simbasleep.com

This innovative pillow features various layers designed to help regulate your temperature and keep you cool while you sleep. There are cool night fibres, foam Nanocubes, microfibre filling, and breathable cotton. The foam Nanocubes can be added or removed to customise its firmness while remaining breathable to really up those cooling properties (plus, you get a bag to store excess foam cubes in).

Customer review: "Quite impressed by these pillows, although they seem quite large, they adapt quite well to whatever size you squeeze them down to and they’re very comfortable. Still smell a bit weird like other Simba products."

Pros

  • Features layers designed for temperature regulation.
  • Adjustable and can be tailored to individual preferences.
  • Multi-material construction
  • Combines cool night fibres, foam Nanocubes, and microfibre filling.

Cons

  • Might be too complex for those wanting a simple pillow

Best Pillow With Silk

Soak And Sleep Soft As Down Microfibre With Silk Pillow
Price: £37.00 - £75.00

www.soakandsleep.com

Made from microfibre with added silk, this is a luxurious pillow that's soft and supportive; the microfibre aims to wick moisture away to help regulate your temperature overnight. It can be easily machine-washed and tumble-dried. Comes with a two-year guarantee; it's available in two firmnesses. For one of the more affordable pillows on our list, this still provides the quality and support you're looking for.

Customer review: "These pillows a real luxury to sleep on.

Pros

  • Combines microfibre with added silk.
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Soft and supportive

Cons

  • Only 10 per cent mulberry silk

Best Pillow for Neck Support

SupportUniquely shaped to follow the natural curve of your body, this ergonomic pillow helps align your spine to ensure your head and neck is supported. Designed especially for back and side sleepers, the soft fabric cover is removable for washing at 60°C and dries quickly.

Customer review: "Superb!! Pillow arrived quickly and I have had relief from chronic neck and head pain. Relief was immediate from the first night onwards, comfort is superb, delighted with this purchase."

Pros

  • Shaped to follow the natural curve of the body.
  • Helps ensure the head and neck are supported.
  • Targeted support especially designed for back and side sleepers.

Cons

  • Might not be suitable for stomach sleepers

Buyer's guide: Best pillows

What are the different sleeping positions

There are three main sleeping positions: side, back, and stomach, with varaitions for each type. Sleep specialists recommend sleeping on your side in order to rest more comfortably and decrease the likelihood of interrupted sleep. The Better Sleep Council provides research, insights and educational resources to help consumers better understand the relationship between sleep. Better sleep break down the types of sleeping posistions:

Freefall: About 7 per cent of people sleep on their stomachs with their heads turned to the side. They usually have their arms wrapped around a pillow or tucked underneath.

Fetal: A popular position which mirrors how we slept as infants, 41 per cent of people sleep by curling up on their sides with their knees bent. Some studies suggest that more women than men sleep in this position.

Log: Approximately 15 per cent of people sleep like a log, where they sleep on their sides with their arms down next to their bodies.

Yearner: If you sleep on your sides with your arms outstretched in front of your body, you are sleeping in the yearner position. This is especially good if you have breathing problems when you sleep.

Soldier: In this position, you lie on your back with your arms down and close to your body.

Starfish: Do you lie on your backs with your arms up near your head or pillows? Then you're sleeping in the starfish position.

Best types of pillows

There's no 'one size fits all' when it comes to pillows; every person and every body is different, with different requirements in order to be comfortable. That's why there are so many different types of pillows available to buy:

Memory foam

These pillows offer a great amount of support, starting off firm to the touch but softening with pressure and body heat. They mould around the contours of your head and neck and bounce back slowly. Memory foam pillows are durable and last a long time; they don't have any lumps or bumps and retain their shape. You might find they retain heat better than other pillows, as the material isn't as breathable. You might find them too firm if you sleep on your front.

Feather/down

Down feathers are the fluffy feathers of a bird, normally found on the belly area, underneath the outer layer of feathers. Down pillows are super soft, and they contour to the shape of your head and neck easily. They're breathable but do retain some heat; a down pillow should keep your head at a comfy temperature all night. They're long-lasting and great value. However, as they're made from a natural material, they aren't necessarily completely hypoallergenic. You can also get poked by spikey feathers. They also flatten during the night – not as much as a synthetic pillow, but they will reduce in shape overnight. They'll need fluffing up every day.

Synthetic/microfibre

Man-made, these pillows tend to be the cheapest options but also generally wear out the quickest. They're generally lightweight, ranging in thickness and firmness; they're a good option if you sleep in a range of positions rather than favouring one position all night long. You can find hypoallergenic versions, but they do tend to retain heat and moisture.

Water pillows

Water pillows are quite rare, but you might like to try one, especially if you get really hot in the night. A water pillow can help keep you cool. They allow you to change the amount of water they hold, meaning their height and firmness are customisable.

The only way to find out which pillow is best for you is to try them out and see how comfy you find them. If you have specific neck or shoulder pain, there are types of pillows that are recommended to help with these issues.

pillow

FAQs

Why do we use a pillow?

A pillow is designed to support your head and neck while you sleep, placing a comfortable buffer in between you and your mattress. The idea is to keep your head and neck supported in line with your spine.

How to choose a pillow

Choosing a pillow is an important decision as the wrong one could result in many nights of pain or interrupted sleep. The type of pillow you need depends on what type of sleeper you are.

What are the best pillows for neck pain?

If you suffer from neck pain or tension in your shoulders, a good pillow can make a lot of difference to your comfort at night. Sometimes, a dodgy pillow can actually be the cause of the pain in the first place, while a good pillow can ease your tension.

According to SleepFoundation.org, the best pillow for neck pain and shoulder pain "is firm enough to hold the head at a healthy angle, but soft enough to alleviate pressure points. Most sleepers find success with either a memory foam, latex, buckwheat, or feather pillow, as these materials offer the best balance of support and pressure relief."

You may also benefit from using an pillow for neck pain.

Personally, I used to suffer from serious headaches, named 'cluster headaches' by my GP. These really improved once I invested in a good-quality memory foam pillow; now, when I sleep at a friend's house or in a hotel, I really suffer if there's only a feather or down pillow available (I even consider taking my own pillow with me!).

What are the best pillows for side sleepers?

The type of sleeper you are can also affect which pillow you find more comfortable; for example, front sleepers may not benefit from a supportive pillow as much as side sleepers or back sleepers.

According to a survey performed by sleep specialist Chris Idzikowski, author of the book Learn to Sleep Well, 41% of us sleep on our sides.

So, is there a best pillow for side sleepers? SleepFoundation.org states: "Pillows that are too thin do not provide enough cushioning, while excessively thick pillows can interfere with spinal alignment and cause added pressure points to develop."

What pillows do luxury hotels use?

Generally speaking, there are three major types of pillows widely used in five-star hotels- Goose (feather) down pillows, down alternative and feather/down blend pillows.

How often should you change your pillow?

According to Sleepadvisor.org, you should aim to buy a new pillow every one or two years and, ideally, wash your pillow every three weeks. Yes, we were shocked to read this too.

Why do pillows turn yellow?

One of the most common reasons why pillows can turn yellow is sweat. Many of us sweat in our sleep, and not just in the summer. As the sweat dries, it can leave a yellow stain on the pillow. Even if you use pillow covers underneath the pillow cases, the yellowing can still occur.

If you often find yourself sweating or getting too hot when you sleep, you may benefit from using a cooling pillow.

pillows

What happens if you don't change your pillow?

Every night, as you sleep, your body sheds skin, hair, and body oil that your pillow absorbs. If you don't change or wash your pillows, you could be unwillingly attracting critters to your bed.

An unwashed pillowcase can attract lots of dust mites, which in turn can accentuate issues for asthma and allergy sufferers.

Do homeless shelters accept pillows?

While many homeless shelters do accept pillows and pillowcases, these need to be new, as old pillows will not be accepted due to sanitary reasons.

What to do with old pillows

Duvets and pillows are not recyclable; however some animal charities may be able to use them for bedding. Otherwise, they should be put in the general waste. Double-check with your local council if you're not sure.

You could also turn your old unwanted pillows into a pet bed for your dog and cat. Or use them for stuffing soft toys or re-stuffing old toys or cushions that need a bit more padding.

Aside from donating your old pillows to an animal charity or a homeless shelter - provided they are in good reusable condition - some charity stores also accept used pillows.

Ellen Kinsey is a senior health and wellness product writer for Yours, specialising in natural health and beauty. She lives and breathes all things food, travel and wellness.

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