The Quest For The Perfect Pillow

According to doctors worldwide, back sleeping is the most healthy sleeping position. It allows your back, neck, and head to align in a neutral position and thereby relieve pressure. It’s the best way to ward off acid reflux and digestive troubles. And when the neck is properly supported, back sleeping prevents TMJ pain and sleep apnea.

Despite these benefits, most people choose to sleep on their side instead, with a whopping 41% also curled up into the fetal position. Unfortunately for me, this means most pillows are designed for the side sleeper. And while many companies advertise that their pillows are great for all positions, that simply isn’t true. Side sleeping pillows are firm, lofty, and high. Stomach sleeping pillows are flat and soft and barely there at all. Few pillows have that just right combination of medium support and medium loft for the back sleeper.

The other issue is that, frankly, bedding companies are a bit sexist in their manufacturing. Most pillows are designed around a man’s body, not a woman’s. Not sure why—maybe men complain about their sleep more? For me, this meant horrible neck pain from using the same pillow as a man. My petite frame and short neck were continually craned upwards by pillows that were too high and too firm. Once I started getting migraines and severe jaw pain, I knew I had to do something about my sleep.

Pillows are definitely not one-size-fits-all, so here were my criteria in this endeavor:

  • Soft to medium support that feels like “sinking into a cloud”
  • Cradled the sides of my head so my neck doesn’t to the side
  • Primarily for back sleeping, but at least moderately comfortable for side sleeping
  • Cervically supportive to keep my neck neutrally aligned
  • Won’t flatten overnight

Infinitemoon Everpillow

This product shines because it provides a truly unique sleeping experience. While the competition is busy with gel and memory foam, this pillow has an unusual mixture of latex ribbons and kapok clusters. Latex is much bouncier than memory foam, while kapok resembles cotton candy. The result is a highly supportive, moldable pillow that still provides that luxurious sinking into a cloud feeling. If you’re tired of memory foam flattening as you sleep, you need a latex-based pillow. For back sleeping, I can shape a cervical support section and fluff the sides up to cradle my head—and the Everpillow stays where I want it all night long. And another bonus: latex is naturally anti-everything (viruses, bacteria, you name it) and lasts literally forever.

Comfort Revolution Blue Bubble

With a name like Blue Bubble, how could I not try this pillow? A solid base of memory foam with a cooling gel top provides one of the best chilly pillows on the market. No pillow will stay cold all night, but this one was noticeably cool for about two hours so I fell asleep comfortably. If you absolutely need a cooling pillow, this is the one. My only complaint was that the soft and squishy memory foam compressed down too much after a full night.

Pacific Coast Double Down Around

If you’ve been pillow shopping for even a second, you’ve probably heard of Pacific Coast’s famous down pillows. I really wanted to love this pillow because of all the great reviews. And who doesn’t love the weightless feeling of fluffy down? Unfortunately, down just doesn’t stay put, so there is no real neck support with this or any other down pillow. And though it’s advertised for all sleeping positions, the Double Down Around is really a terrible choice for a back sleeper. The pillow-in-a-pillow design is too firm and too high, which cranes the neck up at a painful angle—resulting in migraines and jaw pain! It was okay for side sleeping, but still was far too high for my small frame. I only recommend this pillow to side sleepers with large shoulders.

Essence of Copper Fiberfill

Copper-infused pillows provide antimicrobial benefits, which is a necessity if you sleep with your hair wet. This pillow’s standard fiberfill dries quickly and the whole pillow is machine washable. It also fluffed up by itself during the day. Essence of Copper Fiberfill didn’t provide any of the specific neck support I needed, but it’s an interesting twist on standard pillow.

SensorPediC Copper Edition

Since I still wanted a naturally antimicrobial pillow, I tried another copper-infused product. The SensorPedic Copper Edition contains gel-infused memory foam clusters. Unlike traditional block foam pillows, shredded memory foam is somewhat movable like a down pillow. This pillow was a keeper, and I really liked the combination of antimicrobial copper, cooling gel, and shapable memory foam. Take note that this is a firmer pillow, and it doesn’t automatically provide cervical support—I shape a little neck roll before I drift off each night.

Casper Original

Another highly acclaimed pillow that simply didn’t work for me. Casper uses a pillow-in-a-pillow design with down alternative filling. It’s trying to be the polyester version of the Pacific Coast Double Down Around. It was fluffier than most down alternative pillows, and felt very soft—I liked just holding the pillow in my hands. Depending on how I shaped it before laying down, it was either flat as a pancake or pushing back too hard on my neck. I decided not to subject my neck to another night of pain so I can’t say how it fares long term.

Nature’s Guest Orthopedic Contour

A kindler, gentler version of a cervical support pillow, this contour pillow provides two neck rolls of different heights and a slight center dip. The filling is chambered and fully adjustable, so you can add or remove padding in any section. This enables a contour, cervical, or side sleeper design. The down alternative filling is nothing special, but it was relatively springy and supportive.

Stearns & Foster Memory FOam

Full disclosure: I probably bought this just because it was matchy matchy with my Stearns & Foster mattress. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the the comfort and finishing details. Stearns & Foster is an ancient company dedicated to bedding craftsmanship, and are now owned by Tempur-Pedic and thus get the advantage of innovations in memory foam. This pillow uses Indulge HD memory foam which cradles but doesn’t flatten overnight.The cover has a cooler side and a temperature neutral side. This won’t win any awards on cooling, and it isn’t the crème de la crème of all memory foam, but it is one of the best memory foam pillows at this price point.

TemPur-Pedic Adapt

This is quite possibly the best memory foam pillow on the market for a back sleeper. This is a soft and highly conforming pillow that has a “just right” amount of support. You get the delicious sinking feeling without unwanted compression, due to the pillow’s thoughtfully designed layers. The pillow bounces back quickly. The only negative is that, like many pillows, the cooling effect is overhyped. This was my ‘perfect pillow’ and it costs a pretty penny, but can you put a price on exquisite sleep?

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