Pillows

We reveal the top pillow brands to help you find the best. Find out how bedding from supermarkets compares with pillows from brands such as John Lewis and Ikea.

Choosing the best type of pillow

Not sure which pillow to choose? We look at the pros and cons of the main types of pillow to help you find the best.

From feather and down to memory foam, we look at the pros and cons of different types of pillow, so you can find the best one for you. There are three main types of pillow: feather and down, microfibre and memory foam.

Prices vary widely depending on the type of filling and how much of it there is – some pillows can cost more than £100, while others are less than £10. Price isn’t everything – what’s most important is finding something that you find gives you support and is comfortable.

Comfort is so subjective that you and your partner may find that the same pillows don’t suit both of you. Just like a mattress, it’s best to try out pillows before you buy them where possible. Read on to find out the pros and cons of each type of filling, as well as expert tips to help you decide which type of pillow to buy.

If you already know the type of pillow you want, then head over to our list of the best pillow brands.

Feather and down pillows: pros and cons

Pros: Remains supportive and comfortable longer than synthetic fillings, can be moulded to suit your neck

Cons: Can become flattened, will need to be reshaped to retain thickness, noisier than other types, need to be cleaned professionally, can be expensive

Almost a third of our members opt for feather/down pillows, and it’s clear why. While they are a little more expensive than synthetic fibre pillows, they have a longer lifespan, meaning they will stay supportive and retain their height for longer.

They are mouldable and soft – ideal for snuggling into. The ratio of feather to down can vary greatly, although as a rule if it is sold as a ‘feather’ pillow, it must be made of at least 30% of the exterior feathers of the bird. Down pillows must be at least 70% down. If you go for a feather pillow you should find that you don’t need to turn the pillow over to the cold side as often, as they are cooler than both down and microfibre.

Down retains more heat, and it doesn’t have hard quills to poke through and spike into you, like feather pillows. The downsides to this natural option include that they can become flattened quickly and will need regular fluffing to retain their shape.

You might find that they have a musky smell at first too, and you could find the crunching noises of feather pillows grating. As with most natural bedding, they require professional cleaning. Some premium types of feather and down, such as Hungarian goose, can be very expensive.

Microfibre pillows: pros and cons

Pros: Cheapest option, can be washed at home, available in hypoallergenic options

Cons: Not as breathable as others, short lifespan

About one in five of our members choose hypoallergenic, affordable and lightweight microfibre. These pillows are easy to take care of, and can be washed at home (on a 30 degree wash). They come in a variety of shapes and heights, so you can choose the best for your sleeping position.

However, they’re not as malleable or breathable as other options, and have the shortest lifespan of all pillows – it’s recommended that you replace them every few years. That said, they are a great basic option if you’re shopping on a budget and want to be able to clean your pillows at home.

Hypoallergenic and anti-allergy pillows: what’s the difference?

Hypoallergenic doesn’t equal anti-allergy, so it’s important to know the difference before buying. Hypoallergenic means that the actual material and filling of the pillow isn’t made of a known potential allergen, like feathers, wool or latex. But other allergens like dust mites can still develop on these types of pillow.

Anti-allergy means the filling and casing will have been treated to resist and combat the development of dustmites. You might find that this type of pillow is good for you if you have asthma, eczema or rhinitis, all of which could be exacerbated by allergens.  But whichever bedding you buy, dustmites can be killed, and their allergens removed, by washing at temperatures of 60°C and above.

If you’re looking for bedding to help with allergies, it’s therefore important to check that it can endure repeated washing at this temperature or higher – roughly once every one to two months. To know if you should consider an anti-allergy pillow, you should check to see if you have the symptoms of dust mite allergy.

If you are sensitive or allergic to them, you may have:

Watery, red eyes when you wake up

Runny or itchy nose and sneezing in bed

Sore throat or hoarse voice in the morning

Coughing and other breathing problems

Skin rash and itching

Worsening of your asthma

What’s the right pillow for your sleep style?

Make sure you buy the right pillow for your preferred sleep style:

Back sleeper: Choose a thin pillow, as it won’t throw your head too far forward, putting stress on your neck. Memory foam can also be a good choice, as it will mould to your neck’s curve, giving consistent support.

Side sleeper: A firm, high pillow is best, as this will help keep your spine and neck aligned. You may also benefit from sleeping with a pillow between your knees, as this can help to prevent pain in the lower back.

Front sleeper: Whilst sleeping on your front isn’t recommended, some simply prefer it. For front sleepers, a thin, almost flat pillow is best. Consider tucking one under your stomach, too, to avoid lower back pain.

Mixed or combination sleeper: Unfortunately, if you toss and turn between positions in the night, no pillow will completely meet your needs. A medium-height pillow is the safest bet, offering support for side sleeping but also the shallowness needed for back sleeping.