If you’re a back sleeper, you may need to do a little more research to find your perfect pillow. A supportive pillow that maintains spinal alignment is best for back sleepers, according to Lauri Leadley, CCSH, RPSGT, a clinical sleep educator and president and co-founder of Valley Sleep Center.
Reviewed & Approved
We chose theCoop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow as the best overall pick because it's supportive yet comfortable: it's made up of small foam pieces so you can adjust to your liking. TheUtopia Bedding Gusseted Pillow is a budget friendly pick that also helps prevent back and neck strain.
When looking for a pillow, aim for a pillow “that will hold your neck and head in place instead of one that will have your head sinking down to the mattress,” Leadley says. Brian A. Cole, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Englewood Spine Associates, adds that a contoured pillow “should allow a neutral position of the spine when you are lying on your side or on your back.”
We looked at pillow heights and thicknesses, as well as the pillow materials for those who prefer down and those who like memory foam. We evaluated contour and shape options to address different kinds of sleeping positions for back sleepers. We also took coverings into account: whether they were removable for washing, hypoallergenic, and if the material would retain heat or stay cool.
These are the best pillows for back sleepers on the market today.
Best Overall:Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
Includes extra fill
100-night sleep trial
Strong memory foam smell
May be too firm for some
Who else recommends it? Good Housekeeping, The Strategist, and The Spruce all picked the Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow..
What do buyers say? 88% of 51,900+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
We chose the Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft pillow as our top pick because it's made of cross-cut memory foam, so it will perfectly contour your neck in order to create the perfect alignment. The best part is that the memory foam is cut into little pieces, and the pillow comes with extra in case you want to add more and increase firmness.
It also has a washable cover that’s made of a type of rayon that's derived from bamboo. The cover is hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant, so you’re sure to avoid any allergens. The pillow is available in queen and king sizes, so you can find a size that fits your bed as well.
Cover Material: Polyester, Bamboo-derived viscose-rayon | Stuffing Material: Memory foam | Sizes Available: Queen, king | Machine-washable: Yes
Best Budget:Utopia Bedding Gusseted Pillow
Comes in a set of two pillows
Can be easily shaped for support
Pillow may be too soft for some
For those that aren’t sold on a memory foam pillow, but still want something that’s supportive and alignment-friendly, this is the option for you. The Utopia Bedding Gusseted Quilted Pillow has 950-grams of comfortable poly fiber filling that makes it super breathable. Its plush level of firmness allows the pillow to cradle your head and neck for the perfect amount of support. Each pillow has a microfiber shell that resists water so that it can maintain its shape and supportive qualities.
Cover Material: Poly cotton | Stuffing Material: Polyester | Sizes Available: Queen, king | Machine-washable: No
Best for Neck Pain:MARNUR Cervical Pillow Memory Foam Orthopedic Pillow
Also good for side sleepers
May take some time to adjust to the pillow
May be too firm for some
This pillow is a champion for those experiencing any sort of neck pain or discomfort. It’s made of memory foam that has been molded into a butterfly shape that’s designed to maintain the cervical contour of the neck. The central part of the pillow perfectly cradles the neck, while the accompanying wedge extensions help support the thoracic spine.
This pillow also has armrests that allow you to support your hands during sleep. It comes with a detachable pillowcase that’s made of spandex and polyester, so in addition to being super soft, it’s easy to remove and washable.
Cover Material: Rayon/polyester | Stuffing Material: Memory foam | Sizes Available: Queen | Machine-washable: Yes
Most Restrictive:YourFacePillow Memory Foam Beauty Pillow
Alleviates pressure on face
Also good for side sleepers
Cooling memory foam
Not ideal for those who move around when they sleep
May lose firmness after a few uses
Not only does this pillow have a flat bottom and edges that contour perfectly to your neck, but it also has two memory foam edges that will hold your head in place so that you don’t toss and turn throughout the night. Since you’re not turning on your side, you don’t have to worry about any wrinkles or potential acne concerns that come from pressure on your face as you sleep on your side.
Cover Material: Bamboo/spandex | Stuffing Material: Memory foam | Sizes Available: Standard, large (21x12x6) | Machine-washable: Yes (outer case)
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Best for Multiple Positions:Sweetnight Shredded Memory Foam Cooling Gel Pillow
Cooling memory foam
Supportive but soft
Strong memory foam smell
May not be ideal for stomach sleepers
This pillow is made of shredded cooling gel memory foam so that you can add in or take out pieces to get your perfect height and firmness. Once you’ve found the correct amount of memory foam shreds, the pillow will perfectly contour to your neck and shoulders.
The covering of the pillow is easily removable and washable. It’s also made of rayon that’s super breathable so that you’re never overheating. No matter how you toss and turn during the night, this pillow will keep you supported.
Cover Material: Bamboo-derived rayon, polyester | Stuffing Material: Gel-infused shredded memory foam | Sizes Available: Standard, queen, king | Machine-washable: Yes (outer cover)
Best Breathable:Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Cooling gel-infused memory foam
Dual inner and outer cover
Available in different heights
Not ideal for stomach sleepers
May be too firm for some
Never worry about your pillow slipping around again because Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Pillow has a flat bottom and a contoured side so that you are truly supported in your perfect alignment all night long. It’s also the perfect option for those that love a memory foam pillow but can’t stand the heat that they typically trap as it has an infused gel particle technology that works to move heat away from the surface of the pillow. The cover of the pillow is made of a washable bamboo-polyester blend that is also super cooling, and even works to wick away moisture.
Cover Material: Polyester, bamboo-derived rayon | Stuffing Material: Memory foam | Sizes Available: Standard and King in three heights (Hyper Slim, Ultra Slim, Super Slim) | Machine-washable: Yes (outer cover)
Best for Back Pain:Nature's Guest Standard Size Cervical Pillow
Also good for side sleepers
Gusseted edge design for stability
Not recommended for those looking for a soft pillow
Limited size options
The layout of this pillow is truly unique. The center features different sides for large and small necks, while the sides are ideal for those that switch into sleeping on their sides in the middle of the night. This indentation at the center also works to keep your spine safe from any movement.
They have a microfiber support filling that can be adjusted to your liking by taking it in or adding in more via a zipper on the side of the pillow. It is designed with neck and cervical support in mind and keeps the head, neck, and spine aligned throughout the night. It’s also great for people who like a firmer pillow.
Cover Material: Cotton, silk trim | Stuffing Material: Microfiber polyester | Sizes Available: Standard | Machine-washable: Yes (outer cover)
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Best Down-Filled:Parachute Down Pillow
Supportive and durable
Available in three densities (soft, medium, firm)
Not for those allergic to feather fill
Parachute is known for its luxurious, comfortable bedding and sheets but their Down Pillow is also a great pick for back sleepers. It boasts a 750 fill power that offers support and durability while providing the soft and airy quality that makes for a comfortable bedtime routine.
The Parachute Down Pillow comes in three densities—soft, medium, and firm—so you can choose that support that fits you best, although the medium is recommended for back sleepers. The pillow is plush and soft against the head but keeps the neck in the necessary neutral alignment.
Cover Material: Sateen cotton | Stuffing Material: European white down | Sizes Available: Standard, king | Machine-washable: Yes
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For an all-around great pick that supports the spine while sleeping on your back, Coop Home Goods Premium Pillow is a great option for getting a good night's rest. If you want a cooling pillow, make sure it's a pick where the outer fabric is washable and that any memory foam is breathable, like the Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Pillow.
How We Selected
To find the best pillows for back sleepers, we spoke with sleep experts and specialists, researched and reviewed pillow height and options for ordering different thicknesses, as well as the pillow materials for those who prefer down and those who like memory foam.
We evaluated contour and shape options to address different kinds of sleeping positions for back sleepers. We also took coverings into account: whether they were removable for washing, hypoallergenic, and if the material would retain heat or stay cool. Based on all these factors, we put together this list of best pillows for back sleepers.
What to Look for in Pillows for Back Sleepers
You'll want to find a pillow that either has an adjustable filling or that can be ordered in a variety of thicknesses. For some, a thicker pillow may be more natural for spine alignment, while others might need a flatter option.
You can tell if the pillow is a good fit for you by noticing any unnatural strain that may occur while lying on your back. “Any pillow which maintains the normal curvature of the spine from the neck below is going to be ideal,” says Abhinav Singh, MD, MPH, FAASM, and expert at SleepFoundation.org. “As head sizes and body types vary, the height choice of the pillow will also be variable.”
When shopping for a pillow for a back sleeper, opt for a pillow that holds its support throughout the night — something that is too soft will lose its shape and its support over time, according to Kevin Lees, DC, a chiropractor and the manager of auditing and quality at The Joint Chiropractic in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Memory foam or natural latex are good options that usually hold up for a long time,” says Dr. Lees. “Natural latex is better for those who have chemical sensitivities. For those that feel memory foam or latex is too hot, a cotton filler is a good alternative as it breathes very easily. Cotton does tend to clump over time though, so the durability may not last as long.”
If you are sensitive to heat, it may also be important to consider the material of the pillow covering and make sure it is cooling and comfortable. To prevent overheating, look for a covering that is made of rayon or bamboo so that it circulates heat. “Another point of consideration could be a pillow that does not let the temperature rise, and allows for breathability, keeping the neck and back and scalp cool,” says Dr. Singh.
Some types of pillows, such as cervical pillows, are specifically shaped to guide your head and neck into the right angles during sleep. “Cervical pillows help keep the spine in its natural curve through the night,” says Dr. Lees. “They often have a raised area on the edge that supports the neck and allows the head to fall back in a neutral position.” Keep in mind, however, that using a new type of pillow may cause initial soreness until a person gets used to the change. This shouldn’t last more than a couple of days, according to Dr. Lees.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of pillow is best for a black sleeper?
“A supportive pillow that maintains spinal alignment is best for back sleepers,” says clinical sleep educator Lauri Leadley, CCSH, RPSGT, co-founder of the Valley Sleep Center. “Look for a pillow that will hold your neck and head in place instead of one that will have your head sinking down to the mattress.” Whether you choose memory foam or down is up to you, but down will compress more from the weight of your head.
What height pillow is best for back sleepers?
A mid-height pillow is best for back sleepers to keep the spine in alignment. “Pillows that average four inches are best for back sleepers, especially since they are most prone to snoring and sleep apnea,” says Leadley. “Pillows in this height range help clear the airway and ease breathing throughout the night.” Look for a pillow that doesn't elevate your neck and head so that they are out of alignment.
How firm should a pillow be for a back sleeper?
A medium-firm pillow is best for most back sleepers so that it keeps your head in the proper position. “A pillow should be about medium to medium-firm for back sleepers,” says Leadley. “Medium pillows allow for more flexibility for anyone who moves a lot in their sleep, but medium-firm pillows handle pressure better with resistance.”
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What type of pillow is best for back sleepers? ›
Back sleepers tend to prefer medium-loft pillows, which are those that measure between 3 and 5 inches thick. With a medium-loft pillow, most back sleepers will maintain spinal alignment. A supportive pillow will hold your head and neck in place, rather than allow them to sink all the way down to the mattress.Where should your pillow be placed when you sleep on your back? ›
If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of your lower back. You might try a small, rolled towel under the small of your back for additional support. Support your neck with a pillow.How high should my pillow be for back sleeper? ›
Back Sleepers – If you get your shuteye on your back, consider a pillow between four and five inches in height. These mid-loft pillows can help you keep your head in the clouds and in line with your spine all night long.Are there pillows to help you sleep on your back? ›
One of our favorite down alternative pillows, the Parachute pillow is available in three firmness levels: soft, medium and firm. Parachute recommends firm for back sleepers, medium for combination sleepers and soft for stomach sleepers.Should shoulders be on pillow when sleeping? ›
Your shoulders should not be on the pillow. Not So Great: On your side, with your legs curled up towards the chest. This does not provide spine alignment for the shoulders and neck. It also does not evenly distribute weight throughout your body and can lead you to waking up in the morning with back pain.What pillow does Oprah use? ›
Chosen for Oprah's Favorite Things List, the Jetsetter Mini is always ready for takeoff! The compact, neck-hugging design provides luxury and comfort without taking up your whole carry on bag.How much should I spend on a good pillow? ›
But how much do pillows typically cost? A brand new pillow can cost below $10 or over $1,000, although on average will land somewhere under $200.Where do hotels get their pillows from? ›
Hotels often purchase their pillows directly from a pillow manufacturer, and usually in bulk. In many cases, these pillows are custom-made for the hotelier. Most importantly, most hotel-grade pillows or actual pillows used by hotels can be purchased by consumers.Should you sit with a pillow behind your back? ›
If you have a small pillow on your chair or sofa, you can use that as a lumbar roll. Simply place the pillow behind your back when you are sitting to support your spine's normal lordosis and maintain proper posture.Is it better for your back to sleep without a pillow? ›
While research is limited, anecdotal reports show that sleeping without a pillow can help reduce neck and back pain for some sleepers. Stomach sleepers are generally best suited for going pillowless, because the lower angle of the neck encourages better spinal alignment in this position.
How do you tell if pillow is too high or too low? ›
The notch above the sternum is called the suprasternal notch. These two areas should be level when lying on your side. If the philtrum is lying higher than the suprasternal notch then your pillow is too high. If the philtrum is lying lower than the suprasternal notch then your pillow is too low.What happens if my pillow is too high? ›
Aligning Pillow Height with Sleep Position and Body Size
If the pillow is too high when sleeping sideways or on the back, the neck is bent abnormally forward or to the side, causing muscle strain on the back of the neck and shoulders.
The rule of thumb for a proper pillow is that it should keep your neck parallel to the mattress, rather than bent down or up. “The most common mistake people make is choosing a pillow that bends your neck forward or to one side,” Dr. Bang says.Is memory foam good for your back? ›
Yes, memory foam mattresses are the best for relieving back pain. They conform to your body providing pressure-point relief, reducing aches. Memory foam's body-conforming feature is the best in all mattress types. This viscoelastic foam forms to the natural curvature of your spine, promoting lumbar support.What kind of pillow is best for back sleepers with neck pain? ›
A 2020 study discovered that latex and memory foam are the best pillow materials for neck pain. This is because these materials provide neck support, which can improve sleep quality.How can I sleep on my back without it hurting? ›
Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees
Lay flat on your back. Place a pillow underneath your knees and keep your spine neutral. The pillow is important — it works to keep that curve in your lower back. You may also place a small, rolled up towel under the small of your back for added support.
Sleeping on your left side is thought to have the most benefits to your overall health. Still, either side can offer benefits in terms of sleep apnea and chronic lower back pain relief. You don't have to stick with one side the entire night. Feel free to start on your left side and see how your body feels.What is the best position to sleep in for your heart? ›
We recommend sleeping on the right side since it may be the key to a healthier heart. Studies suggest it reduces pressure on the heart and stabilizes your blood pressure and heart rate.What is the best sleeping position for weight loss? ›
Side sleeping: This position helps to improve sleep, lose weight and pain. back, avoid swelling in legs, buttocks, thighs. Sleeping on the left side is a good position for the digestive system, avoiding the accumulation of fat.How do you wash pillows at night? ›
Machine wash cold on gentle settings or hand wash. Air dry. Do not tumble dry. Iron or steam as needed on a low heat setting.
How much sleep does Oprah get? ›
On the other hand, we have some people, like Oprah Winfrey (8 hours), Serena Williams (7 hours), and Bill Gates (7 hours) who definitely stick to the expert's advice of getting between 7–9 hours' sleep.What kind of feathers are in down pillows? ›
Feathers will typically come from geese or ducks. Down clusters from both birds provide good insulation and loft but since geese tend to be bigger animals than ducks, their clusters will be larger and they'll have a higher fill power.Do expensive pillows make a difference? ›
Luxury pillows are made with high-quality materials that offer long-lasting support and comfort. Sleepers can often feel the difference, especially when compared to a lower quality pillow that does not retain its shape or offer consistent support.When should I buy new pillows? ›
Most experts recommend replacing pillows every 1 to 2 years. Doing so helps to ensure that you're using pillows that are supportive, clean, and free of allergens. It is also important to care for the pillows you use to ensure their longevity. Generally, you'll be able to tell when it's time to replace your pillows.Why are good pillows so expensive? ›
The best sleeping pillows...
Expensive pillows are typically defined by their filling and the two most popular and comfortable pillows are down or a combination of down and feather. So why is down so expensive? There is much less down than there are feathers on a goose or duck. That translates into higher prices.
Most hotels' luxury pillows are filled with 100% goose down. I'd sleep here! Goose down is undeniably great pillow filling. Down pillows are durable, moldable, and work reasonably well for all sleep positions.Do hotels use soft or firm pillows? ›
Most standard hotel pillows have a medium to firm feel, but some manufacturers also produce soft hotel-style pillows. Fill: The fill of a pillow is responsible for its pressure relief, support, and overall comfort.What type of pillows do most hotels use? ›
Down is generally seen as the luxurious filling choice for pillows, which is why luxury hotels will tend to supply down hotel pillows. The most common type is goose down pillows, although duck down pillows are also a potentially cheaper alternative.Is sleeping on your back good for your heart? ›
Sleep positions to avoid if you have a heart condition
Also, many people with heart failure report having trouble breathing in this position. Sleeping on your back can worsen sleep apnea and snoring. You should speak with your doctor before sleeping on your back if you're dealing with any breathing issues.
If you're a back-sleeper, a medium-firm mattress is a good choice because it prevents the heavier portions of the body from dropping too deep into the mattress, so it limits over-flexion of the spine while still cushioning your shoulders, hips, and lower back.
What does sleeping on your back say about your personality? ›
People who sleep flat on their back tend to work in transport and logistics, according to Sealy's research. And they're also most likely to wake up feeling “refreshed.” But maybe that's because back-sleepers tend to be a young group, in general, with most of them being between the ages of 25 and 34.Why do females sleep with a pillow in between their legs? ›
Putting a pillow between your legs keeps your pelvis neutral and prevents your spine from rotating during the night. Maintaining good alignment can relieve some of the stress from the tissues in your back and may potentially reduce pain caused by a herniated disc or sciatica.Why does my back hurt after sleeping? ›
If you feel lower back pain every morning after sleeping, your sleep position3 could be at fault. Sleeping in an unsupportive position can increase pressure on your spine and lead to back pain. When you sleep on your stomach, you are more likely to twist your neck out of alignment with the rest of your spine.Where do you put a towel under your back? ›
10 Tips to Stop Back Pain NOW with a Towel, Sheet, Belt, or Pillow.Is it better to sleep with socks on or off? ›
Wearing socks can help a process called distal vasodilation7, which refers to an increase of blood to your hands and feet that reduces your core body temperature8 quicker. Increasing blood flow by warming the feet, either through wearing socks to bed or other means, can help you fall asleep quicker9.Is a firm pillow better for back sleepers? ›
Back sleepers should avoid extra-soft or extra-firm pillows. For proper support, back sleepers will want a medium to medium-firm pillow. This should keep the spine aligned properly. Certain materials affect the density and firmness of the pillow.What kind of pillow is best for back sleepers with neck pain? ›
A 2020 study discovered that latex and memory foam are the best pillow materials for neck pain. This is because these materials provide neck support, which can improve sleep quality.Is it better for your back to sleep without a pillow? ›
It's generally recommended to use a pillow if you sleep on your back or side. However, what's most important is that you feel comfortable and pain-free in bed. If you have neck or back pain, or if you have spine condition like scoliosis, sleeping without a pillow may be unsafe.What are the healthiest pillows to sleep on? ›
Organic wool and down are produced with improved animal welfare compared to traditional means. Whether they're made of buckwheat, latex, wool, cotton, or other organic materials, organic pillows represent a choice that's better for you and the planet.What pillows do hotels use? ›
Cover Material: Most hotel pillows use cotton covers in either a percale or a sateen weave. Cotton is popular for its smooth feel and breathability. Some hotel pillows may use lyocell, polyester, rayon, and/or other materials in their covers, all of which can be comfortable depending on their quality and composition.
How often should you change your pillow? ›
Most experts recommend replacing pillows every 1 to 2 years. Doing so helps to ensure that you're using pillows that are supportive, clean, and free of allergens. It is also important to care for the pillows you use to ensure their longevity. Generally, you'll be able to tell when it's time to replace your pillows.Is it better to sleep with a hard or soft pillow? ›
Back sleepers should use a very firm pillow or wedge to elevate the top half of the body. Stomach Sleepers. If your preference is to sleep on your tummy, you will want to seek out a soft pillow. By using a softer pillow, your head will be closer to the mattress, keeping the integrity of your neck's natural alignment.What type of pillows do chiropractors recommend? ›
I usually recommend that people look for a good contoured, or cervical pillow. You may have seen these types of pillows before. They are the ones with a dip in the middle, and that dip is there to support your head and your neck better than a non-contoured pillow.How do you fix a dowager's hump while sleeping? ›
BEST sleeping position to Fix Neck hump or Forward Head ... - YouTubeAre bamboo pillows any good? ›
Bamboo fabric is known for its excellent breathability. Combined with a shredded memory foam or bamboo fiber fill that promotes greater airflow than traditional solid memory foam pillows, most bamboo pillows will provide a temperature neutral sleep surface for your head and neck.How should I sleep to align my back? ›
The best sleep position to keep your spine neutral is on the back. When you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees and a little roll underneath the small of your neck. The pillows will help you maintain the natural curves of the spine.Is it better to sleep with socks on or off? ›
Wearing socks can help a process called distal vasodilation7, which refers to an increase of blood to your hands and feet that reduces your core body temperature8 quicker. Increasing blood flow by warming the feet, either through wearing socks to bed or other means, can help you fall asleep quicker9.Are memory foam pillows unhealthy? ›
Memory foam may contain isocyanates, which, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Exposure to isocyanates can also lead to chest tightness and asthma.Do dust mites live in feather pillows? ›
Dust mites can infest all kinds of pillows -- feather, down, microfiber, or polyester foam. That means notone type is immune to them.Are feather pillows unhealthy? ›
Most reactions can actually be attributed to dust mites or mold, both of which can thrive inside a down pillow. Down feathers tend to become more allergenic with age – they slowly become more and more contaminated. For this reason, some recommend that down pillows be replaced as often as every 6 months.