How we test products
Our mission is to take the guesswork out of finding the perfect sleep products.
We've dedicated hundreds of hours to testing mattresses and sleep accessories, and rely on a team of testers of differing weights, temperature preferences, and sleeping positions to evaluate each product.
Tested products are granted the Sleep Hero tested stamp of approval, a mark of our review's reliability.
If we haven't personally tested a product, please be assured that we invest significant time and energy into scouring the UK market and researching the best recommendations, and we work with a team of sleep experts who review our articles, ensuring that the insights we provide are not only relatable but also reliable.
Why is a good pillow important?
A pillow may seem like lots of unnecessary fluff.
Some even suggest you should be sleeping without a pillow.
But, the right pillow is actually very important in helping you get a good night's sleep.
Let's explore this in a bit more detail. 🧐
A pillow should offer proper support
Of course, comfort matters.
But, ultimately, your pillow serves a vital role in properly supporting your head.
The perfect pillow will adequately fill the space between neck and mattress and support your shoulders, head, and neck.
This will help your muscles relax, ensuring you'll wake up pain- and tension-free.
A good pillow will also keep your upper spine in alignment. 🦴
This will guarantee long-lasting support free from aches and pains.
If you're specifically targeting pain, though, take a look at our best pillows for neck pain article instead.
The right pillow is also very comfortable
But, of course, the right pillow also has to be very comfortable. 😴
This is probably the part you'll pay the most attention to.
After all, you wouldn't choose to sleep on a sandbag, even if it offered the proper support.
Support and comfort have to be well-balanced.
You want a pillow that's soft and squishy - but still firm enough to support you.
But what's firm enough?
And how squishy should a soft pillow be?
Well, that depends.
Let's consider some factors that can help you choose the right pillow. 👇
What are the different pillow shapes and sizes?
You wouldn't be alone in thinking that pillows only come in standard shapes and sizes.
But, there are actually a number of different shapes and sizes!
The two most popular pillow shapes are:
- Rectangular pillows: These are the ones you sleep on.
- Square pillows: These are the ones that look great on your couch.
But there are also tons of other interesting shapes that serve various purposes and are made to assist with specific issues, such as relieving shoulder pain, helping sleepers stay on their side, or travelling. 🧳
And V-pillows, shaped in the form of a "V", are great for nursing mothers or people who like to sit up in bed. 🍼
Generally, though, those in a rectangular shape are the best pillows for sleeping.
Pillows are available in a wide range of sizes, though we'd recommend sticking to the commonly-available ones.
The most common sizes for rectangular pillows are:
- Standard: 50 x 75 cm (19.6 inches x 29.5 inches)
- Super-king: 50 x 90 cm (19.6 inches x 35.4 inches)
Standard pillows are suitable for most situations, but you may choose a super king pillow with an extra-large bed.
Some pillows, like the Panda pillow, are slightly smaller.
Generally, though, most pillows fall within the 50 x 75 cm dimension range, with minor differences here and there.
Does pillow firmness matter?
The right degree of firmness matters.
As with mattresses, there is no one ideal degree of firmness, but there will be a degree of firmness that's right for you.
You should also consider the firmness of your mattress when choosing a pillow.
How to choose a pillow:
Which pillow you need depends on your individual requirements. You can find the perfect pillow for your sleeping position only if you have a suitable mattress.
If the mattress is softer, you should use a lower pillow; if the mattress is firmer, the pillow should be higher.
With pillows, this does depend a bit on personal preference, but it also has a lot to do with the position you like to sleep in.
We've looked at this further up.
What are the best firm pillows UK?
If you're looking for a firm pillow, you would do well with something like a firmer memory foam or firmer bamboo pillow.
We like the Panda memory foam pillow as it's not too firm to be uncomfortable, but still rigid enough to offer good support.
What are the best soft pillows UK?
Adjustable pillows with shredded filling, like the Simba Hybrid pillow, will be excellent when you're looking for something more squishy.
Alternatively, you could also opt for feather, down, or microfibre pillows, like the Emma Premium Microfibre pillow, for a softer feel.
Other factors to consider when choosing your perfect pillow
In addition to the above, you can also consider a few more things when choosing your perfect pillow.
Is the pillow adjustable?
Synthetic pillows or down pillows are easy to fluff up and flatten out, but memory foam and latex pillows can sometimes be a bit more rigid.
Here, it is helpful to consider a height-adjustable pillow with different layers or removable parts.
This will enable you to customise it to meet your needs.
Do you want an eco-friendly pillow?
Natural & organic pillows will be the most eco-friendly. 🌱
Wool pillows, down & feather pillows, and even latex pillows are a good choice.
But, you can also find synthetic pillows with eco-friendly properties.
The Panda pillow, for example, features an eco-friendly bamboo cover around a core of memory foam. 🐼
Do you need a cooling pillow?
If you struggle with overheating, it's best to look for a pillow with cooling qualities.
Natural materials are often the best choice.
Microfibre and memory foam pillows retain more heat, but you can also look for synthetic pillows with a cooling gel.
One of the best cooling pillows we've tried is the luxurious Simba Hybrid pillow.
Do you or your partner snore?
If you or your partner snores, it may be worth investing in an anti-snore pillow.
Many anti-snore pillows are hypoallergenic memory foam pillows that offer good support.
But, sometimes you'll also find anti-snore pillows in a variety of shapes to help keep airways open.
You can read our article on the best anti-snoring pillows in the UK for more info.
What's your budget?
If you're looking for the best budget pillow, then there's no use in looking at something that will cost a fortune.
We've slept quite comfortably on the Kally adjustable pillow, but would recommend the Panda pillow as your best-buy option.
Does your brand of choice have a pillow trial?
We like the idea of being able to try a pillow before committing to it.
After all, how else will you know if the pillow is perfect for you?
Pillows trials, unfortunately, aren't very common and only a few UK brands offer them.