For many of us, getting into bed is the most relaxing activity of the day. Whether you’re the type of person who reads before bed, checks social media a few more times, or who wants to fall asleep as soon as your head touches the pillow, those final moments before sleep can sometimes be the only moments during the day we get to ourselves.
On the flip side, waking up can sometimes be the hardest part of the day. If you slept poorly, are stressed about an upcoming deadline, or if you simply don’t want to get out of bed, waking up can be a major bummer. Make it easier by setting yourself up for a good night’s rest.
Step one: Don’t skimp out on a new pillow.
But when there are so many different elements – materials, firmness, stuffing, and more – it can be difficult to get started. Let us help.
Most of us sleep on one of two types of pillows: down and memory foam. While memory foam pillows can’t be beat when it comes to firmness, down is the perfect pillow for back and stomach sleepers as it’s soft and keeps the head in a comfortable position.
Down is a material that comes from the layer of plumage underneath a bird’s feathers, which is what makes it so soft and comfortable. Humans have been using down as insulation for hundreds of years and, in addition to pillows, it’s often used in jackets and mattress toppers.
You can determine quality and how long the pillow will last by its fill power; the higher the number, the longer you can rely on the pillow. If you’re apprehensive about making the switch, consider this: high quality down pillows, with proper TLC, can last around 15 years, and sleep experts often recommend down.
With that out of the way, here are some of the best down pillows you can buy in 2019.
King – $270
East Coast Bedding has made a name for itself in luxury sleep. The price may be steep, but with such a high fill power, you can guarantee this pillow will last a long time. It’s filled with 100% white goose down, so you’ll really feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud. With a 4.4 out of 5-star customer rating on Amazon, it’s also the highest rated pillow among Amazon consumers on this list.
- 800 fill power
- 100% cotton, 400 thread count shell
- Perfect for the sleeper who craves cloudlike softness
King – $140
This pillow boasts an impressive thread count in addition to its high fill power, making it a luxury pillow at a mid-range price. Choose between the firm, medium firm, and soft options in king, queen, and standard sizes. With a mix of feathers and goose down, it will still offer softness without compromising neck support.
- 750 fill power
- 100% cotton, 1,200 thread count shell
- Perfect for the lover of silky sheets
King – $52
If you’re a comfort novice, just looking to give down pillows a try or searching for a deal, Puredown’s Natural White Goose Feather Egyptian Cotton set can’t be beat. It’s made of a mix of goose feathers and down, which makes it a little more firm than the average down pillow, too. And you shouldn’t be concerned about getting poked by feathers throughout the night, because Puredown uses a double stitching and self-piping method to keep the feathers contained. At this price, you’ll probably be tempted to get a second set for the guest bedroom.
- 500 fill power
- 100% cotton, 233 thread count shell
- Perfect for the budget shopper
King – $165
If you’ve got some money set aside to improve your sleep but you’re not looking to break the bank, Royal Hotel’s down pillows are a perfect luxury pillow with a mid-range price tag. Where Royal Hotel really excels is in its variety; choose between soft, medium firm, firm, extra firm, or adjustable in both king and queen size. The adjustable-height pillow is perfect for those whose necks might be more or less stiff on a given day. On those stiffer days, just remove the memory foam core for a softer, flatter pillow. If you’re a stomach sleeper, you might want to try the soft option. If you’re a back sleeper who can handle a little more firmness, check out the firm or extra firm.
- 650 fill power
- 100% cotton, 500 thread count shell
- Perfect for the stiff-necked sleeper
King – $135
If you’re looking for the cloud-like softness of down, but still want the firm support that other pillow fillers offer, down surround might be your happy medium. Pacific Coast’s down surround pillow contains a feather core surrounded by down, so you’re getting the best of both worlds. This pillow is perfect for the person who doesn’t consider themselves an exclusively side, back, or stomach sleeper but likes to, well, sleep around.
- 550 fill power
- 100% cotton, 230 thread count shell
- Perfect for the sleeper who has no side, back, or stomach preference
The Pros and Cons of Down
Just as down pillows are the perfect choice for the stomach sleeper or back sleeper searching for the softest pillow out there, down pillows have some downsides, too. Check out these pros and cons to be sure down is right for you.
The Pros of a Down Pillow
- It’s like sleeping on cloud nine. There’s nothing quite like laying your head down on a pillow and feeling like you’re being cradled. That unbelievable softness is the experience a high quality down pillow offers.
- Down has been used in pillows for quite a long time and doesn’t contain the chemicals that come with memory foam or latex pillows.
- Long-lasting. If you take care of your down pillow, it can last for years. Memory foam pillows, on the other hand, typically lose their edge after around three years.
- Allergen free … typically. Because down is an animal product, they are not naturally hypoallergenic. However, recent cleaning techniques in the manufacturing process have allowed companies to remove allergens from their pillows. Pro tip: When buying your down pillow, just make sure it’s hypoallergenic.
The Cons of a Down Pillow
- It’s like sleeping on cloud nine. While sleeping on a cloud is a dream for some people, it’s a worst nightmare for others. If you often wake up with a sore neck or you just need a little extra oomph in your pillows, down probably isn’t right for you.
- Not so vegan-friendly. Perhaps the most obvious con of down pillows is the fact that the pillow is, well, down. Because down comes from animals, it’s not the most vegan-friendly.
- Difficult to clean. It’s recommended that you dry clean your down pillows. You shouldn’t just throw them in your washing machine.
- Down pillows are typically pricier than others. An inexpensive down pillow is typically stuffed with feathers or other material, eliminating some of the softness these pillows are known for.
Down pillows may not be for everyone, but if you’re waking up tired or with a stiff neck, they might be right for you.