Perfect Bed Pillows

James T. Murray

Finding the perfect bed pillow for resting your head.

Not many choices have a level of commitment like selecting a pillow, something you return to night after night. The selection is as personal as it is technical. Along with differences in material and levels of firmness, there are terms like “fill power,” a number determined by putting an ounce of down in a compression chamber and, once released, measuring its loft ability—the higher the number, the fluffier the down. Who knew the world of pillows was so vast? Here’s a crash course.

Duxiana: The Xleep pillow incorporates a revolutionary inner spring system—encased in a white goose down–filled removable cover—that keeps it firm and supportive over time. $235; duxiana.com.

Pacific Coast: The SuperLoft pillow is filled with hyper-clean down (it’s washed eight times) with tufted corners and two-inch gusseted edges for maximum fluff. This Seattle-based company was started in 1884. From $80; pacificcoast.com.

Williams-Sonoma: The Laurel Down pillow is made from Hungarian goose down with a 600 fill power. From $135; wshome.com.

SmartSilk: The SmartSilk standard pillow features a micro-gel center that’s covered with a silk liner; this down alternative is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. $40; smartsilk.com.

Bloomingdale’s: My Luxe Firm Queen pillow is filled with European white goose down with an 800 fill power, making it the loftiest of all. $315; bloomingdales.com.

The Bed at its Best: Scandia Home Down Comforter

All comforters are not created equal. Take the St. Petersburg from Scandia Home, filled with 100 percent Siberian goose down. Where most duvets use Chinese duck feathers (allergy alert), the Siberian goose is a much cleaner animal. Plus it enjoys a free-range lifestyle, albeit a cold one. But the chillier the climate, the thicker grows the down, as nature has equipped these birds with a highly effective thermal capacity. That explains the St. Petersburg’s incredible 850 to 900 fill-power rate (the highest possible). In translation, this blanket has one unbelievably fluffy lifespan. From $2,800; scandiadown.com.Tasha Green

Nightmare Scenario: An Anonymous Writer’s Encounter with Bedbugs

I got bedbugs and a Birkin bag for Christmas last year. After noticing several bites, I had our Park Avenue super call in a specialist: Bugsy, the canine detective, and his handler. “Search,” he commanded, and Bugsy sniffed around. He sat next to my side of the bed and poked his head beneath the bed skirt. “See,” the handler explained. “He’s showing you where they are—inside the box spring.”

I immediately threw it out, along with the mattress. The next day our bedbug caseworker–who doesn’t go to the movies or sit in public places—ordered us to store everything in plastic bags to prepare for fumigation. My husband had hidden my Birkin. “Does that have to go into quarantine, too?” I asked. “Everything,” the caseworker said. We spent weeks treating the clothes we didn’t want to dry-clean by placing them in a dryer or baking them at 150 degrees. Heat kills the bugs.

Today we’re almost back to normal. We ordered encasements from Protect-a-Bed ($140; protectabed.com) for our new mattress and box spring. While they won’t prevent the bugs from hitching a ride, they will keep them from nesting in our bed. Short of staying home, it’s the best option. In the end, the exterminators never found any bedbugs; apparently they’re brilliant at avoiding detection. But the dog seemed to know his stuff, which is why I’ve named my Birkin “Bugsy.”