We start and end the day with our head on a pillow, but it is so often over looked when it comes to sleeping. it can make or break your sleep at night so it’s important to get the best one.
Whether you’re looking to solve your neck pain, or you’re a side sleeper looking for a recommendation, or maybe you need a new one but have no idea where to start.Whatever the circumstance you’ve come to the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about buying a new pillow
Not everyone has the same needs so it’s important to get the right one for you so if you have no idea then consider reading through the whole guide.
Be warned, this guide took a long time to put together and as a result is quite a big read!
But if you read it start to finish you too will be an expert on pillows. Pretty cool right?
If you know what you need then you can jump to a specific section using the contents table below. Enjoy!
P.S. if you don’t have much time consider bookmarking it for later!
- Best Memory Foam Pillow
- Best Latex Pillow
- Best pillow for Side Sleepers
- Best pillow for Back Sleepers
- Best pillow for Front Sleepers
- Best pillow for Neck Pain
- Best pillow for Snoring
The Different Types Explained
There are loads of different types of pillow and it’s important to know what they all are before you go and buy something! Some of the types are very common but others are a little more out there.
I’ve talked about the differences between each to help you understand what type is right for you.
Memory foam itself was actually developed by NASA in the 60s for use in aircraft seats. Since then it has made it’s way to the mainstream and become one of the best materials for pillows. B
Memory foam becomes softer as heat is applied, so when you lay your head down on them the heat from your body makes them softer so your head sinks into it.
They are generally the best pillow if you have any sort of aches and pain as they offer great support to your head and neck.
The problem is you get somewhat stuck in that position and can’t really move. I know when that happens to me it can make me a bit stiff in the morning. The other drawback is that they keep an awful lot of heat trapped in them making summer a bit stifling. If this happens to you then keep an eye out for shredded memory foam, it offers greater movement while still having the great support of memory foam.
Thousands of people swear by them and they are good for almost every type of sleeper but I know some people who cannot stand them. So when it comes to the best section I’ve been sure to always include an alternative to memory foam.
Synthetic pillows are the most common. They are tried tested and very budget friendly but they are not the most durable. They tend to only last for about 6 months to a year before they get flat and bent out of shape.
That said they are suitable for most sleepers, come in a huge range of options and are nice and cheap. Perfect for the average sleeper who doesn’t have any sleep problems.
Down is the light fluffy feathers that occur on young birds. A great deal of the time these feathers are plucked from live baby birds and for that reason you won’t find any recommended here.
Feather filling slightly more humane coming from adult birds but they are simply not very good! They offer next to no support and aside from being soft the feathers have a tendency to poke through the cover and stab you in the face. Not what you want when you’re trying to sleep!
They are similar to memory foam in their spongy nature but are in fact a lot more sturdy than memory foam pillows.
They are widely considered a more natural alternative because the latex is made from the sap of a rubber tree. Unfortunately to keep costs down many manufacturers mix the latex with cheaper chemicals. So if you’re shopping for a latex pillow be sure to look out for 100% latex otherwise you could be buying a cheap knock off!
Buckwheat pillows are hugely popular in Asia but far less so in the UK though some do get manufactured here! Buckwheat is a type of fruit but it’s the tiny husks that get used in pillows. They get thoroughly washed and then filled into the pillowcase where they naturally mould into your head and neck offering unparalleled support.
Great for neck pain sufferers but you have to put up with them being quite noisey when you move around and new ones sometimes come with somewhat of a smell. This does go away you just need to air them a while first
They are really similar to the feel of microbead pillows you get for traveling.
What to look out for when comparing Pillows
Pillows generally fall into three categories of firmness: soft, medium, and hard.
Soft doesn’t have much support so if you have any sort of neck stiffness or pain you definitely want to stay away from them. That said they are super comfy to lie on! I personally don’t get a good sleep on a soft pillow because I’m a side sleeper mostly and it tends to make my head droop at an angle and I wake up sore.
Medium is(unsurprisingly) a good middle ground between softness and support. If you have a couple of plump medium pillows this is generally suitable for back and side sleepers.
Hard, this is perhaps too strong a word because a hard doesn’t mean you are lying on a brick it just means you get great support in your back and neck. You don’t sink in nearly as much so if you have wider shoulders or are taller than a hard pillow could be the answer to your sleep problems.
Is it hypoallergenic
Hypoallergenic pillows are much more necessary or people with Asthma (like myself) or people who have allergies.
I’ve found, that non-hypoallergenic pillows tend to carry a lot more dust which always makes me wake up wheezing and short of breath.
I was also doing some research into dust mites and found that they actually belong to the same family of species as spiders! Yuck! So even if you don’t have allergies or asthma getting a hypoallergenic pillow is not the worst idea.
Fortunately, memory foam is naturally dust mite resistant and their dense nature means they don’t trap dust inside of them.
The filling of a pillow is it’s entire essence so you need to make sure you know what’s going inside.
It’s obvious for the likes of down and feather, but what about everything else?
In synthetic pillows, the filling tends to be either hollow fibre or micro fibre. These are both types of polyester with the difference being that microfibre has been further developed to be finer making it more comfortable.
Hollowfibre, on the other hand, holds the heat very well making it good in winter but can’t make it uncomfortable in the summer. Hollow fibre is also the cheaper alternative.
Finally you have cluster fibre. This is a filling made of tiny balls of soft material resulting in super softness and a comfy night’s sleep! This is the filling of most of the pillows I recommend below due to its superior comfort and softness.
Memory foam pillows are in fact filled with memory foam. Bet you never saw that coming? Memory foam itself is a chemically made material designed to react to heat making it mould to your body. The technical name for this is polyurethane but I won’t go too deep into the chemistry and bore you.
What’s more interesting is that you also get shredded memory foam filling. This provides all the great benefits of memory foam without being so rigid. The shredded memory foam allows you to move around more comfortably and is generally suitable for every type of sleeper.
Finally you have buckwheat pillows which are filled with buckwheat husks. These are the tiny little shells that buckwheat grows in, they get thoroughly washed and then used as filling. The result is a very heavy pillow that stays firm while moulding to your head.
What type of sleeper it’s for
This is perhaps the most important factor of all. Because if you’re a front sleeper and get a pillow designed for side sleepers you’re going not going to sleep comfortably.
How do you know what type of sleeper you are?
You obviously don’t know what position you’re in while you’re asleep but what you do know is the position you most commonly fall asleep and wake up in.
For instance, I can’t really fall asleep unless I am lying on my side, and then when my alarm goes off in the morning I wake up and I’m still on my side.
Occasionally I wake up and I am on my front or my back but more often that not I’m on my side which makes me a side sleeper.
So make sure you know what type of sleeper you are, and if you tend to sleep in all positions (not at once) don’t worry, there are pillows for that too!
Complete Review of the Best Pillows in the UK
To be perfectly clear right at the start, cheap pillows are rubbish. If you’re paying less than £10 it’s not going to last more than a few months and will offer virtually no support to your neck and head leading to neck pain and headaches.
Remember, you’re worth more than that!
I link to all the pillows I recommend on Amazon UK so you can check the price and read some other reviews yourslef
To make things easier I’ve divided them into separate categories depending on the needs of the person. Not everyone has the same needs and it’s important to get the best one to suit you!
Best UK Memory Foam Pillow
Although memory foam pillows aren’t for everyone it is widely agreed that they are great for dealing with any sorts of aches pains that occur through the night.
They offer superior support of the neck as well as being naturally hypoallergenic. Memory foam pillows are definitely the cream of the crop.
Memory foam pillows are also a little more versatile than regular synthetics so throughout the different sections I often refer back to here.
I’ve recommended a few different ones depending on the circumstances that you might have.
Panda Memory Foam Pillow
Filling: Memory Foam
- Breathable Bamboo Cover that is Washable
- Great For Back And Side Sleepers
- Great For Neck Pain
- For Every pillow Sold They Donate £1 to WWF
- Environmentally Friendly Packaging
- 30 Day Trial
- 10 Year Guarantee
Panda really just upped the game when it comes to memory foam pillows, I love everything they’re about. A 10 year guarantee which is mind blowing when you consider most pillows should last up to around 2 years, and a 30 day trial so you can try it out for a few weeks and then send it back for a full refund if you don’t like it. And they give £1 of every sale to WWF to help maintain and preserve wild panda habitats!
But aside from all that I’m sure you’re wondering how the pillow is. Well, It’s fantastic, it’s got a super soft bamboo cover that you can remove and wash, and it’s completely breathable allowing for a comfortable night’s sleep all year round. It’s 12cm tall so it’s fine on its own for back and side sleepers but probably a little tall for front sleepers.
Overall this hands down wins and gets The Dozy Owl Seal of approval, a pillow that can last 10 years is immense and a deal that can’t be missed out on.
Filling: Memory Foam
- Washable Cover
- Suitable for back and side sleepers
- Neck and head Support
Silentnight have been experts in all things beds for a long time, this expertise has certainly carried into their memory foam pillow. The poly/cotton cover is nice and soft but It can only be wiped clean so I’d get it into another pillowcase to keep it fresh. It’s also got a nice wide 12cm base so can be used by itself.
It comes in plastic packaging which always makes the memory foam smell worse so you definitely need to air it out before you get it on the bed. Finally, the 2-year guarantee is a nice touch, the upper end of how long a normal pillow should last.
Quiesta Memory Flake Pillow
Filling: Memory Foam
- Shredded Memory Foam
- Bamboo Cover
- Removeable and Washable Cover
- Very thick (16cm)
- Cooler Than Other Memory Foam
Shredded memory foam lets air circulate through the pillow, combine that with the bamboo breathable cover and you’ve got a damn fine pillow that won’t overheat you. The 16 cm depth may seem daunting but shredded memory foam sinks further in than normal so your head will still get kept at a normal height.
It comes in a vacuum-packed package so it’s important to to leave it unpackaged so it can plump up to it’s normal size. You need to air out memory foam anyway but when it comes vacuum packed you especially need to let it sit for 24 hours.
Tempur Cloud Pillow
Filling: Memory Foam
- Great For Front Sleepers
- Cotton Cover
- Removeable and Washable Cover
- Very Reputable Brand
- 3-year guarantee
Tempur where the first company to bring memory foam to the masses with their innovative mattress. Now they still dominate the market with high-quality products and have produced the only memory foam pillow great for front sleepers.
It’s got a soft cotton cover that you can take off and put in the washing machine. The downside? It’s the most expensive pillow on the list, It’s supreme quality definitely qualifies it for the list but a 3-year guarantee falls short of Panda’s 10 so value for money definitely goes there.
Sealy Posturepedic Spinal Alignment Pillow
Filling: Memory Foam
- Combination of Memory Foam and Hollow Fibre
- Available in three depths
- 3 Year Guarantee
The Sealy isn’t technically a complete memory foam pillow but a hollow fibre pillow with a memory foam core. This is great for people who need extra support but can’t get used to memory foam. Not being 100% memory foam helps keep it cooler and more breathable too so it’s a great compromise for those who experience night sweats.
What’s really cool is they sell three different sizes of core, 3 cm, 5 cm, and 7 cm, so you can buy the right one for you. If you’re a smaller person go for 3 cm and the bigger you are the taller you’ll need.
Best UK Latex Pillow
Latex pillows are the preferred alternative to memory foam for many, offering a firmer feel without the sinking feeling of memory foam.
They’re are great if you are looking for something nice and firm or if you are wanting something completely natural.
As I said before you want to make sure you’re getting 100% latex when buying. Dunlopillo, which is the brand I recommend, use only 100% latex so you can be assured they are the real deal.
- 100% Natural Latex
- Washable Polyester Cover
- Suitable for back and side sleepers
- 5 year guarantee
Although it may be a little high for shorter back sleepers, the super comfort is certainly ideal for side sleepers. This Dunlopillo comes with a removable machine washable cover.
Dunlopillo also stick a whopping 5-year guarantee on their latex cushions which is immense! The only other one to rival that on this list is the buckwheat because nothing short of a steamroller could stop that from surviving.
For those looking for a latex pillow this really is the one stop shop offering the best value for money with a 5 year guarantee. And the knowledge that it is in fact %100 natural latex, no hidden chemicals, is a bonus.
Best UK pillow for Side sleepers
As a side sleeper myself I was more than familiar with waking up to a sore shoulder and an achy neck. But no more!
Now I have a pillow specially designed for side sleeping and I haven’t looked back since.
Side sleepers generally need a thicker pillow to account for the shoulder while a firmer pillow is still needed to support the neck and stop it from drooping.
Filling: Cluster Fibre
- Box wall support
- Machine Washable
- Firm Feel
Although it is really lacking an original name the side sleeper pillow does what it says on the packet!
The box wall support offers superior support of the head and neck when sleeping on your side as it helps retain the extra height lying on your shoulder provides.Have a look at it yourself in the picture below:
It is the absolute best you can get if you are a side sleeper looking for a comfy experience but if you prefer memory foam then the Impress deluxe from the memory foam section above is the way to go.
Best UK pillow For Back Sleepers
Back sleepers are people that tend to lie on their back throughout the night. Your head is not kept as high as it would be when you sleep on your side so the pillows tend to be a little smaller.
You should also be aware that sleeping on your back can cause snoring so if you’re a snorer you might want to look further down the list at the best pillows for snoring.
Filling: Cluster Fibre
- Machine Washable Cover
- Support designed for back sleepers
- Medium Feel
Another pillow lacking an original name and the counterpart to the above pillow for side sleeping. Snuggledown has hit two out of the park now with their Back Sleeper Pillow. Designed to be well filled right up to the edges this is exactly what you want for a back sleeper.
Good well-rounded support around the head helps keep tension off the neck and lets you sleep deeper for longer.
For a memory foam alternative check out the Impress deluxe further up the article.
Best pillow for Front sleepers
Whenever I wake up on my front it tends to be in a puddle of my own drool so I always try and avoid sleeping on my front when possible.
But often when I’m in hotels I notice they have pillows more suited to front sleepers and tend to fall into the position myself while I sleep.
They key for sleeping on your front is to get a thinner pillow. You don’t want to have your head lifted too high or it will cause your neck to twist unnaturally and your back starts to arch the wrong way.
So here are the best pillow for front sleepers
Brand: The Good Sleep Expert
Filling: Cluster Fibre
- Super slim
- Non allergenic
- Machine Washable
The Good Sleep Expert is just what the doctor ordered for a slim pillow. The cluster fiber filling provides excellent comfort while the small flat shape is perfect for sleeping on your front.
If you roll around a lot then be aware that this is not great for side sleeping, you’d be better off with the Bonmedico Pillow dream in the Memory Foam section.
That said it is great for people who consistently sleep on their stomach, nice and low so no danger of back or neck ache. This is also a great extra layer on top of other pillows if you’re looking for extra comfort.
Best UK Pillow for Neck Pain
Now this is a hugely important category.
Waking up with neck pain every day is not a fun way to live but help is at hand! There are several pillows specially designed to deal with neck pain.
Neck pain is caused by unbalanced support. If your head is drooping at all while you sleep it is going to cause you neck pain. So you need to get a pillow that fully supports your head and neck while you sleep.
The pillows I recommend below are ideally suited for sorting out your neck pain but all the memory foam ones further up in the article will also do.
If you’ve tried several pillows and still wake up with a sore neck then please contact your doctor for advice.Or if it’s more back pain check out our article on the best memory foam mattress toppers.
100% Organic Buckwheat
Brand: Brow Farm
Filling: Buckwheat husks
- Lifetime guarantee
- Natural alternative to memory foam
- Natural Temperature control
Now stick with me here. I know it sounds a little odd having a pillow filled with buckwheat husks but trust me, buckwheat pillows are going to soar in popularity.
They offer some of the best neck support possible in every sleeping position thanks to the firm yet comfortable filling. They are also naturally ventilated and keep cool through the night. If you don’t like how it feels you can just bash the filling around until you get it right!
The downsides are they do make a little noise when you move around on them and the pillow itself weighs around three kilos.
The husks are also triple washed ensuring a complete and thorough clean before they are put into the pillow casing.
- Contoured to follow your neck
- Coolmax washable cover
- Suitable for back and side sleepers
- Cheaper alternative to Tempur
This is basically a cheaper version of the Tempur Original Memory Foam Pillow Featured earlier. Now because it is less than half the price it is not as good.
So depending on the severity of your neck pain please consider getting the Tempur, it is a better quality pillow.
But some of us have a budget to stick to and the Snug offers a Coolmax washable cover designed to regulate temperature while you sleep. A countered neck to provide better support to the head and neck eliminating neck pain.
As with any memory foam pillow be sure to air it out for at least 72 hours without the cover before you use it.
This is a great budget alternative for helping stop neck pain while you sleep. It is also a less holistic method if you’re not quite ready for buckwheat.
Best UK Pillow For Snoring
Ah snoring, the ender of marriages and the ruiner of friendships. Fortunately, something can be done!
The reasons for snoring are quite varied, but the two that can be solved by changing your pillow are snoring caused by a blocked nose and snoring caused by lying on your back.
If you snore because you have a blocked nose then this can be solved by getting yourself a hypoallergenic pillow. The dust and dirt that get caught causing you to get a blocked nose.
So the best choice is to get yourself a memory foam pillow, I recommend the bamboo covered Bonmedico dream that’s featured in the best memory foam section.
Now for back snorers here’s the solution:
L-shaped Maternity Pillow
Brand: Snuggle Up
- L-shaped for body and head pillow
Wait! Now before you scoff and carry on scrolling here me out. No this isn’t some kind of joke or a misplaced section a full body pillow can stop you snoring.
Using a body pillow encourages you to sleep on your side and once you’re own your side you’re much less likely to snore. Easy!
I saw one alternative which was taping a tennis ball to the back of your shirt but I think this is a much more pleasant solution to stop you snoring!
If you’re reading this on behalf of a male partner who snores you can always buy it for him without telling him it’s a maternity pillow.
It is the best tip to stop snoring you’ll ever get.
Why should I change my pillow?
Old pillows lose their firmness which means they start lacking the support of new ones. This can lead to neck pain in the morning as well as a more disturbed sleep because you can’t get comfy and keep tossing and turning.
Old pillows are also much more likely to be filled with dust and bacteria and have dust mites living in them, which as I said earlier are from the same family as spiders!
Will a new pillow help with acne?
Yes it likely will! Old pillows trap all the dirt and grime that comes from your face and hair while your sweat in your sleep. This then gets trapped and next time you come to bed all that grime goes straight back onto your face which can lead to acne and greasy hair.
How often should I change my pillow?
The obvious times are if your pillow is yellow. If it’s that colour it needs binned immediately becasue it’s filthy!
Otherwise it varies but is usually around every 1-2 years. A cheap one might only last you 3-6 months while a well kept higher quality pillow will last your for years.
You can also check to see if your pillow has lost its firmness with a simple test depending on its type:
Feather pillows offer some of the worst neck support. So if you have a feather pillow and tend to wake up in pain, consider changing to either a synthetic one or a memory foam.
To test them, you want to fold it in half and squash the air out of it. If it plumps itself back up and unfolds then it is still fine, but if it stays in half it’s ready for the bin.
Synthetic pillows are naturally very springy so we need a slightly different test. Again fold the pillow in half and squash the air out of it, but this time, you want to place a medium-sized book on top and see if it unfolds.
If it does you’re fine, if not turf it.
For memory foam pillows you want to place it on a firm surface and press down on it firmly with your hand. If it doesn’t completely spring back in 2 minutes then you need to get yourself a new one.
How do I clean my pillow?
It all depends on what type you have and you should always follow the instructions on the label.
Most synthetics are machine washable so all you have to do is stick it in the washing machine on a lower spin cycle and then either dry it in a tumble dryer or line dry it in the sunlight. IF you can’t do either of those consider going to a laundry where you can use a tumble dryer.
Memory foam is a little more tricky, the bonus being they don’t harbor germs so don’t need fully washed. If you spill something on it or anything like that there are ways you can clean it, have a look at this video for a full how to.
How Many should I sleep with.
It depends on the type and the type of sleeper. Generally, one memory foam is enough for all types of sleeper. But if you are broad shouldered then you should consider more. You want enough so that your head lies flat and is not at an angle so best to test out yourself to see what works!
Some of the pictures were from John Lewis