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Best Pillows for Every Type of Sleeper [Buying Guide]

by Bill Welles

Like your mattress, pillows play a vital role in how well your body is supported and comforted during sleep. There are quite a few options in terms of composition, filling, thickness, and durability, so finding the best pillow can be a challenge.

If you’re looking for a new pillow, consider what you need to sleep soundly through the night. Do you need a pillow with temperature regulation or a product that will relieve your nightly neck and back pain? Do you sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs or do you sleep flat on your back with a pillow pressed gently underneath your head?

At A Glance

  1. How to Choose a Pillow 
  2. Common Pillow Sizes
  3. Best Pillow for Side Sleepers
  4. Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers
  5. Best Pillow for Back Sleepers
  6. Best Pillow for Neck Pain
  7. Best Pillow for Back Pain
  8. Best Pillow for Shoulder Pain

To help you find your perfect pillow fit, our latest buying guide includes a comprehensive breakdown of each pillow variety and what you need to know to find the best pillow to match your sleep type.

How to Choose a Pillow

There isn’t an exact pillow fit for everyone, but sleep position and body type can help you determine what might work for you. For example, heavy snorers might require a high-loft pillow to keep their heads elevated, while individuals with consistent neck pain may consider an orthopedic pillow to help with alignment. If you’re a heavier person, you may need a firmer pillow to keep you positioned comfortably during the night.

There are various pillow qualities to examine, and once you know what pillow type suits your needs, you can be confident knowing better sleep awaits.

Freshly made bed with lots of pillows

Pillow Considerations

Before you make a purchase, keep these factors in mind when shopping for a new pillow.

Sleeping Position: Your sleep position affects which pillow provides optimal comfort. Stomach sleepers prefer softer pillows, side sleepers enjoy a thicker pillow to keep their head and spine aligned, and back sleepers like flexible, medium-soft pillows.

Pillow Loft: The pillow’s “loft” refers to its height or thickness while it sits flat on your bed. Loft and firmness levels will determine a pillow’s support level once someone rests their head on it.

Firmness Level: Just like mattresses, pillows have a range of firmness levels. Firmness determines how a pillow feels and how well it supports your head. For example, a high loft pillow will hold your head up high, but if it’s a soft firmness level, the pillow will sink under the weight of your head.

Price: The price and quality of a pillow are often determined by its materials and construction. At Mattress Land, our pillows range from $100 to $160.

Pillow Materials: Pillows are made with a wide variety of materials. Each material will perform differently and improve your sleep in its own way. The list of pillow materials includes polyfoam, memory foam, down, latex, feather, cotton, buckwheat, and wool. Pillow covers also come in varying material types, but most covers are made of cotton, polyester, or a cotton-poly blend, with cotton being the most breathable material.

Cooling Properties: Certain pillows will help you sleep cooler than others. Down pillows will generally sleep cooler than down alternatives, and buckwheat is known for exceptional cooling properties. Memory foam for instance can be known to trap heat but often contain a built-in cooling gel to counteract high temperatures.

What are Common Pillow Sizes?

Pillows also come in a variety of sizes to fit different beds, body weights, and sleep habits. Pillow size can be equally important as firmness or loft, so let’s explore the different pillow sizes available at Mattress Land.  

Standard: A standard pillow measures 20 inches wide by 26 inches long. Standard pillows are the most common size pillow because they are the smallest and typically the most affordable.

Queen: The queen pillow is the next size up, measuring 20 inches wide and 30 inches long. A queen pillow is four inches longer than a standard pillow, helping to fill out a larger bed and provide enough room if your sleep partner likes to share the pillow.

King: Finally, a king pillow is the largest of the three. Measuring 20 inches wide and 36 inches long, the king-size pillow is a full six inches longer than the queen. If you toss and turn throughout the night or slip off smaller pillows, then a king pillow will work well for you and your bed.

Bonus Pillows: Not as common as the three pillow types above, a super standard pillow is the size in-between a standard and a queen. You may also be familiar with body pillows that are meant to be hugged and often take up the full width of your bed.

Pillow Recommendations for Different Sleep Types

Now that you know what to look for, let’s assess some of our pillow recommendations.

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers: TEMPUR-ADAPT ProHi + Cooling Queen Pillow (15373150)

The TEMPUR-ADAPT ProHi + Cooling Pillow is known for its medium feel and cool-to-touch comfort. With the same technology used in their mattresses, the exclusive TEMPUR Technology precisely adapts to your head, neck, and shoulders for a more comfortable sleep.

The cover is made from a breathable, high-stretch performance fabric, the premium knit material remains cool and comfortable after each wash, and the pillow structure adapts to your shape.

Recommended for:

  • Side sleepers
  • Sleepers with larger frames
  • Those in need of pressure relief

Tempur pillow

Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers: Bedgear Storm 2.0 Series Pillow (Storm P-2.0)

Brace yourself for the storm and a great night’s sleep. The Storm 2.0 Series pillow from Bedgear

features refreshing, cool-touch fabric and patented Air-X airflow technology that will help you sleep comfortably throughout the night.

The Storm Series pillow has a weightless, adaptive feel that will help you stay asleep, and it now features a removable, washable cover for easy care and cleaning. You'll experience enhanced airflow, contouring materials, and dry-all-night fabric.

The revolutionary Ver-Tex fabric draws heat away from your body and stays cool to the touch, helping regulate your core temperature and prevent tossing or turning. The no-sink React Fill is shredded on one side and solid on the other to create a cradling and supportive feel that mimics memory foam (without the heat).

Recommended for:

  • Those who sleep hot
  • Sleepers whose pillow preferences vary each night
  • Anyone who desires the cushion of memory foam

Bedgear pillow

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers: TEMPUR-ADAPT ProMid + Cooling Queen Pillow (15372150)

Much like the ProHi pillow, the TEMPUR-ADAPT ProMid pillow adapts to your body with a soft foundation and Tempur’s conforming micro cushions. The Dual-Sided Design features micro cushions on one side and the other side is made with supportive TEMPUR Technology for personalized comfort and support.

The pillow support is soft and cooling so you can rest gently and wake up feeling refreshed. Your neck and shoulders will be cradled and your back will stay perfectly aligned.

Recommended for:

  • Back sleepers
  • Anyone who prefers to sleep cool
  • Those who need a soft pillow to contour to the head and neck

Tempur pillow for back sleepers

Pillow Recommendations for Pain Management

If your sleep position is not your concern but you need relief from consistent neck, back, or shoulder pain, we have recommendations for that, too.

Best Pillow for Neck Pain: TEMPUR-Adapt Cloud + Cooling Pillow (15302115)

The TEMPUR-Adapt Cloud + Cooling Pillow features a low-profile design that will comfortably suit most sleep positions. Like the previous Tempur-Pedic pillows, this cooling pillow precisely adapts to your head, neck, and shoulders.

The TEMPUR technology is softer than the other pillows listed, the material is highly adaptive, and it always returns to its original form after use. And if you’re a warm sleeper, the premium knit cooling cover provides cool-to-touch comfort night after night.

Recommended for:

  • Back and stomach sleepers
  • Anyone who prefers a soft pillow
  • Those who wake with stiff necks in the morning

Best Pillow for Back Pain: TEMPUR-Down Precise Support Queen Pillow (15306321)

If you live with steady back pain, experience the perfectly balanced combination of TEMPUR material and premium down. It’s supremely supportive and precisely plush, so you can rest and recover as your body needs.

There’s nothing like sinking into a down pillow, so this pillow features Tempur’s innovative materials with a classic down feel. It’s exclusively engineered to be unlike any other pillow — with constant comfort, supreme support, and a luxurious feel that leaves you ready to take on the morning.

Recommended for:

  • Anyone who prefers a medium feel pillow
  • Those in need of greater support to alleviate back pain

Tempur pillow for back pain

Best Pillow for Shoulder Pain: Bedgear Storm 0.0 Series Pillow (StormP-0.0)

If shoulder pain is your main concern, look once again to a Bedgear pillow. Bedgear pillows come in four profiles (0.0, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0), so you can find the best fit for your body frame and sleep position.

The single-layer pillow pad is a proper fit for petite body types, stomach sleepers, and between-legs support. The Ver-Tex Fabric is made from a weave of heat-conductive fiber that dissipates warm air to help you regulate your temperature. The React Fill foam is soft and breathable without losing its shape, and the Air-X Panels wick away heat to keep your upper body cool.

Recommended for

  • Shoulder pain
  • Contouring support

Frequently Asked Questions

As an extension of our pillow recommendations, we wanted to highlight a few frequently asked questions pertaining to those products.

1. What pillow types are best for side sleepers?

Side sleepers often need a little extra padding to cushion their head, neck, and shoulders. A medium to high loft pillow (about 4 to 6 inches thick) will provide the alignment necessary for quality sleep. Heavier side sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds may gravitate toward mid-loft pillows because they are likely to sink into their mattress more than lighter sleepers and not require as much padding.

Body pillows can also be good for side sleepers, especially those who are pregnant.

2. What pillow types are best for back pain?

Any given pillow should promote proper spinal alignment with cushioning for your head, neck, and shoulders. Stomach sleepers with back pain should opt for a low loft pillow to keep their head level. Back sleepers need slightly more loft to keep their heads from weighing too far back. If you’re a side sleeper with back pain, once again, a medium to high loft pillow will ensure optimal support.

3. What pillow types are best for neck pain?

If you experience neck pain, you’ll want a pillow to provide support without being too stiff or sinking into the mattress. The pillow should also be firm enough to maintain its shape during the night. Materials like memory foam and latex reinforce proper head and neck support, while down and feather pillows are much softer and not quite as supportive.

Shop Pillows at Mattress Land

If you’ve never been fit for a pillow, refer to our blog on how to find your perfect pillow fit. If you think you’re ready to shop for a brand-new pillow, shop our full collection of quality and supportive pillows right here at Mattress Land.

We carry the best pillows from top manufacturers like Tempur-Pedic and Bedgear, so don’t hesitate to explore these brands at any one of our 19 store locations across California, Nevada, Washington, and Idaho, or you can navigate our digital catalog and shop online.