The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers, According to People Who Are Finally Catching Zzz’s
Why are you still sleeping on that lumpy pancake of a headrest you’ve been using since Napster was a thing? If you tend to sleep on your back, you need the Liam Neeson of pillows: That is to say, one with a very particular skill set. It shouldn’t be too plush or it will thrust your head too far forward, giving you a crick in the neck. The gold standard, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is a thin one with a slightly thicker lower third. (Experts call that having extra “loft” at the bottom, FYI.)
That design can be hard to come by. And it’s not so useful if you tend to toss and turn, spending some parts of the night on your side and stomach, so we’ve rounded up a few of the best pillows for back sleepers, according to the criteria above and the sleep-obsessed reviewers who’ve raved about them.
But Wait—What Are the Benefits of Using a Pillow Specifically Designed for Back Sleepers?
We get it: You can buy a pillow for $6—why waste time researching and paying more? But finding the right pillow for your sleep style helps keep your head and neck in alignment, so you can get a more restful sleep, says Dr. Michael J. Breus (who studies sleep so extensively he’s known as the “Sleep Doctor”). You could wake up feeling more refreshed, with fewer aches and pains. Considering you spend one third of your life sleeping, a quality pillow is well worth the investment.
The Winners at a Glance:
- Best Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow: Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
- Best Contoured Memory Foam Pillow: Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow
- Best Cooling Memory Foam Pillow: Nectar Memory Foam Pillow
- Best Medium Support Down Pillow: Parachute Down Pillow
- Best Firm Support Down Pillow: Wamsutta Dream Zone Down Firm Support Stomach/Back Sleeper Pillow
- Best Set of Down Pillows: Puredown Natural Goose Down Pillows (Set of 2)
- Best Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Pillow: Claratin Cotton Stomach/Back Sleeper Pillow
- Best Firm Down Alternative Pillow: Home Decorators Collection Firm/Extra Firm Down Alternative Pillow
- Best Set of Down Alternative Pillows: JollyVogue Down Alternative Pillows (Set of 2)
- Best Thin Pillow: Bluewave Bedding Super Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow
- Best Value Pillow: Sealy Essentials Molded Bed Pillow
- Splurge-Worthy Pick: The Pillow Bar Down Back Sleeper Pillow
- Best for Hot Sleepers: The Purple Harmony Pillow
- Best for Kids: Dreamtown Kids Standard Size Pillow
- Best for People Who Sleep *Mostly* on Their Back: Marnur Memory Foam Orthopedic Pillow
Once you’ve chosen your fit, you may want to buy two—or relegate your old one to a new purpose—because the pros at the National Sleep Foundation recommend that back sleepers use two pillows: one for their head and one to place under your knees, relieving pressure on your back. Good to know, right? Now, onto our recommendations!
1. Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
Best Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow
More than 15,000 people have strong feelings about this head rest, which isn’t your typical block o’ foam—it’s filled with shredded memory foam, so it will mold to your head and neck, but it won’t stiffen into an outline of your skull. Plus, it has an adjustable loft, so you can boost the thickness near your neck and achieve that neutral-alignment nirvana we were blathering on about earlier.
2. Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow
Best Contoured Memory Foam Pillow
On the hunt for a pillow that’ll ease your chronic back or neck pain? Look no further. This one from Epabo is ergonomically designed to align your head, neck, shoulders and back. There’s also a removable piece of memory foam at the bottom of the pillow, so you can adjust its height based on what feels best for you.
3. Nectar Memory Foam Pillow
Best Cooling Memory Foam Pillow
If you haven’t experienced the joys of a cooling pillow, you’re seriously missing out. This one is made from Tencel cooling fabric and has active ventilation to keep you comfortable all night. And it just so happens to be made of adjustable memory foam, making it ideal for back sleepers. Nectar purposely overstuffs its pillows so that they start out firm, but suggests that you remove stuffing until it gives you the proper support (so as a back sleeper, you’ll probably want it pretty thin).
4. Parachute Down Pillow
Best Medium Support Down Pillow
If you’re a diehard down pillow fanatic, but you find they’re often too fluffy for the way you sleep, don’t lose hope—Parachute specifically created a model with you in mind. Select its medium support option, which is typically recommended for people who drift off to sleep while staring at the ceiling. People rave about its softness and how it doesn’t flatten out quickly, like many down-filled pillows do.
5. Wamsutta Dream Zone Down Firm Support Stomach/Back Sleeper Pillow
Best Firm Support Down Pillow
Prefer a little more support? Go with this firmer option from Wamsutta. It’s packed with 700 fill power white goose down, which means it’ll be ultra supportive and stay that way, even after years of use. The pillow comes with a 15-year full manufacturer’s warranty if you have any doubts.
6. Puredown Natural Goose Down Pillows (Set of 2)
Best Set of Down Pillows
Have a partner who’s also a back sleeper? Then this two pack from Puredown is a no-brainer. Stuffed with 85 percent goose feather and 15 percent goose down, they have a medium firmness that’ll feel just right as you drift off to dreamland. And you truly can’t beat the price point.
7. Claratin Cotton Stomach/Back Sleeper Pillow
Best Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Pillow
If you struggle with allergies, down alternative is the way to go. And this pillow is made by Claritin (yes, the allergy medicine brand), so you know you’ll breathe easy throughout the night. It has a special barrier cover that protects against dust mites, pet dander and other potential allergens.
8. Home Decorators Collection Firm/Extra Firm Down Alternative Pillow
Best Firm Down Alternative Pillow
“So far so good for sleeping on my back. Feels like a cloud,” writes one content reviewer. He notes that the large King size adds a luxurious feel, which definitely earns this pillow some points in our book. One thing to note? Some reviewers say they wish it was a little firmer, so keep that in mind if you like your pillows really dense.
9. JollyVogue Down Alternative Pillows (Set of 2)
Best Set of Down Alternative Pillows
Hate when pillows get lumpy and deflated after a month or two? Same. Thankfully, these are described as “resilient” and designed to fluff back up to their original size within 24 hours. And at $33 for a set of two, they’re perfect for a back-sleeping couple...or just someone who prefers to sleep with two (*raises hand*).
10. Bluewave Bedding Super Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Best Thin Pillow
At 3 ¼ inches tall, Bluewave Bedding’s Super Slim pillow cushions your head without cradling your chin to your chest as you rest. It’s especially comfy for people with smaller frames or those who don’t need as much of a boost. Stomach sleepers and those who sleep with an arm under their pillow rave about this design, too, with roughly 74 percent of its 952 reviewers ranking it a whopping five stars.
11. Sealy Essentials Molded Bed Pillow
Best Value Pillow
You’d never think to go pillow shopping at Best Buy, but if you’re looking for a deal…apparently, it’s the place to go. This Sealy Essentials pillow’s soft fill conforms around your noggin to reduce pressure around your head and neck. And at $20, it won’t break the bank. Win-win.
12. The Pillow Bar Down Back Sleeper Pillow
What makes a pillow worth $230, you ask? First, there’s the sterilized, hypoallergenic down fill. You don’t see that every day. The fact that it’s filled precisely with folks who sleep on their backs in mind helps, too. The Pillow Bar is known for making luxury pillows, and this one definitely fits the bill.
13. The Purple Harmony Pillow
Best for Hot Sleepers
Take the cover off, revealing the grape-colored, rubbery helix-grid pillow underneath, and you’ll seriously question whether this is even a pillow at all. It is, but it’s unlike any other. That Flubber-like base gives you firm-yet-cushy support that never requires fluffing or karate-chopping to maintain its shape. And the grid gives the pillow solid air flow, so that—combined with the moisture-wicking cover—will keep you from waking up sweaty. Back sleepers should opt for the lower, 6 1/2 -inch model.
14. Dreamtown Kids Standard Size Pillow
Best for Kids
A large, medium/firm pillow might not be the best fit for your little back sleeper. Instead, try this one from Dreamtown. It was designed by a chiropractor and upper cervical specialist to support kids’s heads properly.
15. Marnur Memory Foam Orthopedic Pillow
Best for People Who Sleep *Mostly* on Their Back
Where this head support really shines is in its unique design: Its special shape maintains the natural curve of your neck while the center divot cradles your head. If you roll onto your side or stomach, it will keep your head and neck aligned, and you can settle your arms on the convenient armrests.