Is a sore, stiff neck upon waking telling you that it’s time for a new bed pillow?
For the first time, Consumer Reports rates 10 bed pillows in its February issue. Part of the reason the magazine hasn’t yet rated them was figuring out the best way to test them. The consumer nonprofit landed on a series of machines and sensors that measure matting, moisture and temperature as well as human subjective impressions.
The consumer organization said it devoted about 200 hours per pillow for testing, gathering hundreds of data points.
Pillow brands included a mixture of traditional such as Tempur-Pedic and Sealy, bed-in-box companies such as Casper, which filed for an initial public offering on Friday, and Minnesota companies such as Shakopee-based MyPillow and Minneapolis-based Target.
Two MyPillows were rated, the Premium ($80) and the Classic ($40). Neither received the organization’s “recommended” rating, but the Premium landed in the top half.
“The shredded polyurethane foam in this pillow may help to keep sleepers cooler,” the review said. “But the pieces of foam can also move around and shift out of place. Some of our testers found sleeping on it to be annoying because the foam tended to bunch up around the head and neck.”
The Classic pillow fell in the bottom half of the ratings. “The Classic had less stuffing than the Premium and it didn’t bounce back as quickly,” said Haniya Rae, content manager at Consumer Reports. “Our testers found it disconcerting when they felt the foam chunks moving.”
MyPillow founder and infomercial pitchman Mike Lindell said he had not read the review.
“I have never paid attention to media reviews and won’t start now,” he said. “I’ve sold 46 million pillows and my customers’ opinions are the only ones that matter to me.”
Lindell said regardless of the pillow brand, it’s important that the neck be kept straight when sleeping. The best pillow for that purpose depends on a person’s sleep position: on the back, stomach or side. Side sleepers are also affected by the width of their shoulders.
Brands such as Coop Home Goods try to make it easier for consumers by creating adjustable pillows. Instead of consumers having to test and return multiple pillows for the right fit (assuming they can be returned), Coop’s Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow ($60) is sold with a kit of additional fill so consumers can adjust the amount of support. As Consumer Reports’ top-rated pillow, it was the only one tested that earned top marks for side and back sleepers.
The magazine didn’t test for preferences for stomach sleepers this time around. The Coop pillow made of shredded memory foam and poly fiberfill is sold on the company’s website and on Amazon, where it receives 4.3 stars and has 13,000 reviews.
Minneapolis-based Sleep Number also offers an adjustable pillow called ComfortFit Ultimate ($90). Consumer Reports did not include Sleep Number pillows in its first review, but Good Housekeeping named it the “best adjustable pillow” in a January article. GH named the Coop Home Goods Adjustable Pillow “best overall pillow.”
Memory-foam pillows made by Tempur-Pedic and Sealy also were top-rated by Consumer Reports, but downgraded for heat retention. Pillows by Walmart (Mainstays Huge, $4), Target (Made by Design down alternative, $10) and Sam’s Club (Member’s Mark Hotel Premiere, $4) sank to the bottom of the ratings.
Guarantees now standard on bed-in-box mattresses are edging into the pillow province. Coop Home Goods offers a 100-night money-back sleep trial. MyPillow offers a 60-day guarantee.
“It’s more common than not for online companies to offer them — Snuggle-Pedic, Purple, Nectar and Brentwood Home all offer at least a 30-day trial,” said Ben Trapskin of Sleep Sherpa in Edina, which sells various online brands of mattresses and pillows.
This being its first pillow report, Consumer Reports plans to test more pillow brands in the future. The nonprofit also rated more than 60 mattresses in the February issue, giving high marks to Sleep Number’s 360 c2 adjustable air Smart Bed ($1,000) and MyPillow’s 10-inch foam mattress ($900).