The perfect pillow can revolutionize your sleep, but it’s also elusive. After spending more than 1,000 nights testing 120 pillows, we’ve learned that the right pillow for you depends on your body shape and sleep position. That’s why our favorites—the shredded-foam Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow for side- and back-sleepers and the down-alternative Sleep Number PlushComfort Pillow Ultimate for stomach-sleepers—are customizable to help you get the best fit.
We favored retailers with generous return policies because it’s hard to know if a pillow will be perfect for you until you try it.
The Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow has been a consistent tester favorite for its firm, adjustable support. It’s one of the most comfortable shredded-foam pillows we’ve found, and it doesn’t have a persistent problem with smelly foam, as our former top pick, the Xtreme Comforts pillow, does. The Easy Breather was redesigned in 2021 with a softer, cooler cover, and the shredded foam is now encased in its own washable inner pouch (making it the first fully washable shredded foam pillow we’ve tested). The pouch also has a zipper, so you can still add and remove as much shredded-foam filling as necessary to get your ideal loft. It can be a messy process, but it does let you achieve a precise fit. The Easy Breather comes in four different sizes, including a side-sleeper version with a curved edge for your shoulder (which we haven’t tested). The Easy Breather comes with a 30-day return policy and a two-year warranty, both of which are more generous than that of our other top pick.
The Sleep Number PlushComfort Pillow Ultimate is the only customizable down-alternative pillow we’ve ever tested, and it’s ideal for stomach-sleepers who have a hard time finding the right height. (“Down alternative” is fluffy fill, usually polyester or rayon, that mimics the feel of down but costs much less.) Most pillows we’ve tried come in soft, medium, or firm densities, but the PlushComfort Ultimate includes all three options in one pillow: It offers three sealed, removable layers of fill to help you get the best fit for your body shape. Most of our testers (even some back- and side-sleepers, who generally prefer shredded foam) found a comfortable height and enjoyed the cushioned support of the PlushComfort Ultimate. Sleep Number does not accept returns, but it has a 30-day free exchange policy by mail, and the company also provides a one-year limited warranty on its pillows. Before the pandemic we recommended visiting a SleepNumber store to try this pillow in person (still the best way to tell if a pillow is right for you) because of the no-returns policy. We know that’s not possible for everyone now, so if you’d prefer a pillow with more flexible options, check out the Notable competition.
The Sleep Number ComfortFit Pillow Ultimate is one of the loftiest shredded-foam pillows we’ve tested, but three sealed, removable layers inside make it easier to customize than any other we tried. It’s similar to the Sleep Number PlushComfort Ultimate but uses a mix of shredded foam and down alternative instead of just down alternative. (Don’t confuse this pillow with the SleepNumber ComfortFit Pillow Classic, another shredded-foam pillow we tried that isn’t adjustable.) We think it’s the best option for side- and back-sleepers who aren’t sure how much loft they really need because it’s tidier to adjust than the Easy Breather, whose loose clumps of foam can be messy. Like our other pick from Sleep Number, this pillow comes with a 30-day exchange policy but no returns. If you can’t try this one in a SleepNumber store, or if you definitely want to be able to return it, consider the Nest Easy Breather. The ComfortFit also includes a one-year warranty against defects.
In our years of testing, we’ve found that down has a very specific appeal—if you know you prefer it, our stomach-sleepers liked the give and softness of the firm-density Garnet Hill Signature White Down Pillow better than that of other down pillows we tried. It’s easier to shape to your shoulders and neck than other down pillows such as the Frontgate Resort Luxury Goose Down Gusseted Pillow. With a lifetime satisfaction guarantee, Garnet Hill also offers the best return and warranty policy of any of our picks.
We’ve been recommending the Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow since 2016, and it was a top pick in previous versions of this guide, but over time several staffers and readers have reported that this pillow sometimes arrives with a notably strong chemical smell. We tested four Xtreme Comforts pillows in 2019; half of them smelled so bad, we couldn’t get to sleep, and the smell didn’t fade after several weeks. (The remaining pillows were odorless.) The Xtreme Comforts has medium loft, and you can mold or adjust the filling to make it comfortable for a variety of body types and sleep positions (even some of our stomach-sleepers have really liked this pillow). It typically costs half the price of the Easy Breather, and the company offers a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy—it’s a solid pillow if you want to try your luck with the smell.