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While only eight percent of people sleep comfortably on their back, doctors and sleep specialists agree that they are making, by far, the healthiest choice.
In this sleep position, you are effectively helping your mattress do its job by properly supporting and aligning your spine. Aside from ensuring neck and spine health, you're also improving blood flow, which helps minimize morning pain and stiffness. Furthermore, sleeping on your back can also prevent wrinkles, since your face isn't being smushed up against your pillow night after night.
On the downside, back sleeping can exacerbate sleep apnea and snoring because the tongue naturally slides back, blocking the passage of breath through the airway. In this case, you'll want to opt for a pillow that elevates the head a few inches off the bed to minimize snoring. Sleep specialists often recommend that back sleepers use a special contoured pillow so that the neck and head get the right amount of support. However, the perfect loft and firmness vary from person to person depending on the shape of their head, their weight, and personal comfort preferences.
If you are sleeping on your back regularly, continue reading to find out more about an ideal pillow for your sleep position. We've reviewed the best pillows for back sleepers, listed certain factors you should consider before you buy and more. So without further ado, let's get started!
The Best Pillow For Back Sleepers
- YourFacePillow: the best anti-aging pillow for back sleepers
- Bluewave Bedding: the most breathable pillow for back sleepers
- Sweetnight: the best affordable pillow for back sleepers
- Nature's Guest: the best pillow for back sleepers with back pain
- MARNUR: the best pillow for back sleepers with neck pain
- Coop Home Goods: the best shredded memory foam pillow for back sleepers
- Sahara Nights: the best down alternative pillow for back sleepers
Table of Contents
The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers Comparison Table
- Anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, and acne prevention pillow
- Super slim design for back sleepers
- Adjustable loft to accommodate your sleep position
- Chiropractor and orthopedic recommended design
- Supports the natural curve of the neck
- Innovative adjustable design
- Feels just like a down pillow
The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers Reviews
YourFacePillow: The Best Anti-Aging Pillow for Back Sleepers
Numerous medical studies show that continuous pressure on your face can form facial wrinkles and cause premature skin aging.
Rather than smashing your face against your pillow every night, you can use the YourFacePillow to comfortably support your head while sleeping on your back. This keeps your facial skin free from wrinkle-causing contact with your pillow and allows you to breathe easily. Therefore, this product is your overall skincare solution for preventing wrinkles and developing acne.
This back sleeper pillow is made with two towering memory foam head supports protruding from each of its sides. The breathable middle area between the two supports is where you lay your head face-up. Below that there is a tapered neck area with cooling channels to keep you comfortable. YourFacePillow keeps your head comfortably in place for the entire night. Designed for back sleepers, it works for side sleepers as well.
The pillow comes in two sizes, standard or large, and has a removable, machine-washable bamboo fabric cover. You can also buy a separate silk carrying case. The product is certified CertiPUR for safety, optimal comfort, and support.
Bluewave Bedding: The Most Breathable Pillow for Back Sleepers
Many of today's pillow manufacturers are focused on breathability, and cooling features and Bluewave Bedding absolutely succeeded with its Ultra Thin Pillow design.
This back sleeper pillow is filled with a temperature controlling cooling gel that keeps it from absorbing body heat while you sleep. The gel, along with the well-placed ventilation holes, prevents the pillow from heating up. It comes with a 40% bamboo rayon and 60% polyester cover, for a soft, breathable surface.
Less than 3 inches high, this ultra-thin pillow is extremely comfortable for back sleepers, as well as stomach and side sleepers with small frames. The thin flat design has been known to reduce snoring for some individuals while relieving neck, shoulder, and back pain. Additionally, its half-pillow design with a rounded top and flat bottom works well for people who do not flip their pillow when sleeping.
Furthermore, this product is hypoallergenic, low-odor, and CertiPUR-US certified, guaranteeing that the memory foam inside contains no harmful toxins. The soft removable cover is machine-washable and moisture-wicking.
Sweetnight: The Best Affordable Pillow for Back Sleepers
Sweetnight pillows come in standard, queen and king sizes to fit any size bed. These are among the best pillows for back sleepers, but they also work well for those who sleep on their stomach and/or sides. So, if you mainly sleep on your back, but change positions throughout the night, this may be the right option for you.
One reason why Sweetnight Shredded Gel Memory Foam pillow fits any style of sleeper is because you can adjust the loft to suit your preferences. Two small zippers on each side allow you to add or remove antibacterial, hypoallergenic memory foam shreds - add foam if you want to sleep on your side, keep it "as is" for back sleeping and remove foam if you want to sleep on your stomach. You can store the excess in a small storage bag that comes with the pillow. Customizing the pillow to suit your sleeping position will keep you from tossing and turning so you can get a better night's sleep.
Sweetnight is made of 90% high-density shredded memory foam with 10% gel foam for cooling. This ergonomically designed pillow perfectly aligns your upper body for a good posture so that you can avoid waking up with annoying neck and back pain. Another great feature of this back sleeper pillow is that it maintains its fluffy yet firm shape, so you don't need to worry about it getting lumpy or going flat.
The soft cotton and rayon cover is easy to keep clean as it is removable and machine washable. Sweetnight offers a money-back guarantee and ships in a small eco-friendly box.
Nature's Guest: The Best Pillow for Back Sleepers with Back Pain
Many people suffer from back pain, which is often worse when waking up in the morning. While the mattress quality and sleeping position can contribute, some people experience relief with the right pillow.
The Cervical Support Pillow by Nature's Guest is designed to optimally support the cervical area while properly aligning the head, neck, and spine during sleep.
This back sleeper pillow features a significant depression in the center for the head to rest. The areas above and below the depression are also reduced but less so, to allow for cervical support without irritation. The raised side of the pillow helps keep the head in place in the center. Nature's Guest promotes its unique design as meeting chiropractor and orthopedic recommendations. In addition to the pillow's design, you can customize its shape by using the two zippers to add or remove fill in both the back (neck roll cushion) and side sleeping areas. Pillow can be adjusted from soft to medium firmness.
Nature's Guest is made with a microfiber filling and a hypoallergenic cotton cover. The company offers a 90-day satisfaction guarantee.
MARNUR: The Best Pillow for Back Sleepers With Neck Pain
If you wake up with a stiff neck, cervical pain, or a major headache, your pillow could be the culprit. The MARNUR Contour Memory Foam Pillow is designed to relieve common neck pain while providing a comfortable night's sleep.
MARNUR is constructed in a unique way, with a shape specifically designed for back sleepers who suffer from neck pain. This is not your typical rectangular pillow, as it's made with a valley in the middle to support the head and neck, a deeper cavity in the center where the headrests, a cervical contour shaped to support the neck and spine, plus an extended wedge for the back. In addition, MARNUR has edge guards to ensure the head is kept in place and armrests on each side.
The filling is slow-rebound memory foam, so it keeps its shape. The machine-washable removable cover is made 40% bamboo and 60% polyester. Although this is one of the best pillows for back sleepers, it's also recommended for people who sleep on their sides and/or stomachs.
Coop Home Goods: The Best Shredded Memory Foam Pillow for Back Sleepers
This classically shaped pillow is filled with shredded memory foam mixed with microfiber, resulting in a medium-firm pillow. Coop Home goods perfectly balances support with comfort, offering the deepest, most restful sleep possible. It is pliable and great for back sleepers who prefer molding their pillow to the most comfortable shape. Users can adjust the medium-firm filling by adding or removing memory foam to suit their shape, size, and sleep position.
The Lulltra fabric pillow cover is made from a perfect blend of bamboo viscose rayon and polyester, for a breathable and soft sleeping surface. The pillow and cover are hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant, providing allergy sufferers with a good night's sleep. Coop Home Goods has undergone a very strict series of lab tests, earning both the CertiPur-US and GREENGUARD Gold certifications. This assures buyers that the product contains no toxic chemicals and meets the highest standards of quality and safety, making it one of the best pillows for back sleepers.
Although back sleepers find this pillow very comfortable, stomach sleepers often say it has too high a loft. So, if you toss and turn during the night, this may not be the right choice for you. However, many buyers claim this back sleeper pillow relieved their pain and gave them a very comfortable night's sleep. The pillow arrives shrink-wrapped and may have a faint odor that will dissipate once it's had time to expand and breathe. The Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Pillow comes with a 5-year warranty.
Sahara Nights: The Best Down Alternative Pillow for Back Sleepers
Have you ever been on a fabulous vacation and absolutely loved the pillows in your luxury hotel? The chances are that you slept on a Sahara Nights Pillow because it feels just like a down pillow although it's filled with a polyester gel fiber. If you haven't slept on one of these yet, you really must! Most users claim they first tried one while on a trip and then just had to buy one for their home.
Shaped like a standard bed pillow, it looks just great on any bed. This back sleeper pillow offers the perfect level of firmness for most people. Some consumers describe it as feeling "soft but firm." The polyester gel fiber filling and soft 100% cotton cover make for a perfectly comfortable, long-lasting, and hypoallergenic.
Some of the country's top hotels count the Sahara Nights Pillow as one their best-kept secrets. This is one of the best pillows for back sleepers who love the feel of sleeping with a down pillow but need the durability of a synthetic.
Buying Guide for the Best Pillows for Back Sleepers
Benefits of Sleeping on Your Back
Many medical professionals believe that sleeping on your back is the healthiest of all sleep positions providing quite a few health benefits, as follows:
Acid Reflux Relief: People suffering from acid reflux have stomach acid that rises up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. When you sleep on your back with a supportive, slightly elevated pillow, this can be avoided. However, if you are sleeping flat on your back with no pillow, your acid reflux symptoms can be exacerbated.
Wrinkle Prevention: Stomach and side sleepers routinely sleep with their face smashed against the pillow, which can lead to wrinkles. Because their faces don't touch the pillow, back sleepers don't have this worry.
Just One Pillow Needed: When you sleep on your back, you only need one pillow, whereas side and stomach sleepers often need a second pillow placed between or under their legs to feel supported.
Optimal Spinal Alignment: Sleeping on your back offers optimal neck and spine alignment. Yet, many experts agree that the best possible alignment is achieved when you sleep without a pillow. However, most people can't get comfortable without a pillow. A thick, firm pillow that supports the neck without allowing the head to tilt too far back is the best type of pillow for back sleepers.
Back Pain Relief: Records show that in the U.S., approximately 31 million people suffer from back pain to some degree. Furthermore, doctors agree that sleeping in the wrong position can often be the cause. Back pain can be minimized if you sleep on your back because your body's weight is evenly distributed, putting the least amount of strain on sensitive pressure points.
Drawbacks of Sleeping on Your Back
While there are quite a few benefits, back sleeping does have several drawbacks. Here are the major ones to keep in mind:
Can be Problematic for Pregnant Women: If you're pregnant and you start sleeping on your back, you are increasing the risk of compressed veins. These include the inferior vena cava, running beneath the uterus. If this happens, it can cause blood pressure levels to drop dangerously. Most physicians urge their pregnant patients to sleep propped up on their sides. This is quite comfortable, especially in the later months of pregnancy and will minimize the odds of any vein compression.
May Lead to Neck Pain: Many back sleepers can relieve their neck pain when using a supportive pillow that keeps their head, neck, shoulders, and back aligned all night long. But, if you sleep with your neck bent to one side, your alignment is disrupted, which can cause aches and pains even if your pillow provides sufficient support.
More Likely to Snore: When you're sleeping on your back, the breathing muscles in your airway relax, which can cause snoring. People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), are highly prone to snoring when sleeping on their back. This is why doctors recommend that sleep apnea patients sleep on their sides, along with those who snore for other reasons.
How Does a Back Sleeper Pillow Work?
The best pillow for back sleepers will fill the entire space between the mattress and the sleeper's neck, as it molds to the body's contours. Ideally, you would want a pillow that will give your head, neck, shoulders, and upper back the necessary support, while ensuring that your spine remains aligned along its natural curve.
On that note, your preferred back sleeper pillow should meet certain specifications regarding firmness and thickness. If either of these is wrong, it could disrupt your sleep and cause you a lot of unnecessary pain and aggravation. If your pillow is too soft, your head will sink back too far and ultimately cause neck and shoulder pain. If your pillow is too firm, you could wake up with a stiff neck and other annoying aches and pains.
What you need is a pillow with medium firmness, but not one that's too thick because it would force your chin forward. If that happens, the natural curvature of your spine would be put out of alignment, causing you to wake up with possible long-term discomfort.
Having said that, the best pillows for back sleepers follow the body's natural contour and shape. Here are some steps you can take to determine whether the pillow you have is best for you:
- Stand straight up with your back against the wall and imagine that you're lying down on your bed.
- Rest your head on the wall. At this point, you'll realize that your head and neck are not in alignment with your spine. It's up for your pillow to fill in the gap.
- Put your pillow between your head and the wall and observe the alignment now.
- If your pillow is doing its job right, your eyes will be gazing straight ahead with your neck perfectly straight as well. That would outline that the spine, neck, and head are adequately positioned.
Benefits of a Back Sleeper Pillow
Here are the benefits associated with a back sleeper pillow:
Reduces acid reflux. If you suffer from acid reflux, as 20% of people in the U.S. do, sleeping on your back can help. The best pillow for back sleepers will elevate the head just enough that stomach acid can't make its way up to the esophagus, which is what causes discomfort and burns.
Keeps your head, neck, and cervical spine aligned and at the same level. This keeps you from waking up with a stiff neck and/or neck pain while also preventing back pain by keeping you from tossing and turning during sleep. People who move around a lot at night do this because they can't get comfortable. When you have a good back sleeper pillow, you'll sleep more soundly.
Helps with neck pain. If you suffer from persistent neck pain as the result of a medical condition or injury, a high- quality pillow made for back sleepers can help. Contoured designs that offer the right head and neck support work best.
Reduces snoring. If you sleep flat on your back, your airways will constrict, which is bad for people who have difficulty breathing or suffer from sleep apnea. A back sleeper pillow positions your head so that your airways remain open, allowing you to breathe more easily and snore less.
Keeps you from straining your neck. The best pillow for back sleepers will properly cradle your head so that it doesn't force your neck out of alignment.
Things to Consider Before Making a Purchase
Selecting the best pillow for back sleepers can be a challenge, especially if you are on it for the first time. There are a number of things you'll want to consider before you actually make a purchase, as follows:
Pillows are made in six standard sizes:
- Body (dimensions vary): People who are most comfortable snuggling with their pillow at night love Body pillows. These typically range from 48" to 54" in length based on their shape, which also varies including rectangular, square, C-shaped, U-shaped or J-shaped.
- Euro (dimensions vary): Euro-sized pillows are not rectangular in shape, they're square and typically are not used for sleeping, but more as headrests or backrests. The most common dimensions are 20" x 20" and 26" x 26".
- King = 20" x 36": Many people love a King-sized pillow because it's long enough to serve as a headrest or backrest for those who love watching TV or reading in bed.
- Queen = 20" x 30": This pillow size works great for most people who tend to toss and turn at night because it's a full 4" longer than a Standard.
- Super Standard = 20" x 28": As you can see this pillow is 2" longer than the Standard, which makes it better for those who toss and turn a lot in their sleep or find the smaller size to be too short.
- Standard = 20" x 26": Most people use Standard sized pillows, and these are the most compact and typically have the lowest price tag. People who move around a lot in their sleep are not well served by this size because their heads can slip off one of the pillow sides too easily.
The thickness of a pillow is an important feature for people who sleep on their back. If there is too little or too much loft, it can throw their spinal alignment out of whack with painful results. There are three different pillow lofts:
- High = More than 5" thick
- Medium = 3” to 5” thick
- Low = Less than 3" thick
For back sleepers, we recommend a medium--loft pillow to provide the head, neck and cervical spine with better support. You need to be careful because if the loft is too high, it won't follow the natural curvature of the neck. A pillow with too little loft can make the head drop too far back, creating too much curvature in the neck, with even worse results. Thus, the best pillows for back sleepers usually have a medium loft.
Looking into the options, you will need to consider your shoulder-width, head size, and weight. To determine the correct loft, lie down on your bed while a friend or family member evaluates your position. When your pillow is in place, your spine should be in a straight, horizontal line.
Generally speaking, when you're sleeping on your back, the pillow shouldn't be too firm. Keep in mind that when you increase the loft, it usually results in increased firmness. This being said, a medium-firm pillow works best for back sleepers as it provides sufficient support and prevents stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
If you sleep on your back, it's especially important that you have a malleable pillow, which refers to how easy it will conform to the shape and curvature of your head and neck. For example, if you turn your head to the side, does the pillow follow along and continue offering you the support you need? Also, how easily does it keep its original shape so that you don't strain your neck during the night?
A pillow's moldability is a matter of personal preference. Do you want a pillow that keeps its shape no matter how tightly you hold it? Or do you want a pillow that you can scrunch up to accommodate your sleeping position and have it stay this way? The most moldable choices include shredded memory foam, buckwheat, feathers, or down, whereas the least moldable pillows would be made with solid memory foam or latex.
Pillows come in a variety of shapes with either contoured or even surfaces. Pillows with an even surface are the most common. They can be flat- or full-shaped, depending on the materials they're filled with. But they are never contoured.
Curved-surface pillows include cervical memory foam pillows, which are elevated below the neck and recessed below the head. They work well for all sleeping positions and are especially helpful for people suffering from neck or shoulder pain.
Durability is also important in a pillow. You want a long-lasting product that won't flatten out with regular use. When choosing a back sleeper pillow consider that both latex and memory foam materials last a lot longer than feather or buckwheat hulls that have to be constantly fluffed up, even when they're new.
Back sleepers need a pillow material that is sufficiently firm to support and slightly elevate their head and neck. Because there are so many different materials on the market, we've compiled a list of the most common options. We explain how well each one accommodates the back-sleeping position, as follows:
- Gel Fiberfill. A pillow made with gel fiberfill feels a lot like a memory foam pillow. But gel fiberfill is more malleable and adjustable than memory foam while offering support. Another benefit is that gel fiberfill will keep you cool during the night.
- Synthetic Down. These pillows do not actually contain feathers, but rather polyester puffs that offer the same feel as down. Just as down-filled pillows aren't right for back sleepers, neither are synthetic down pillows, as they flatten out quite easily and in short, order, offer little support for the head and neck.
- Feather. Standard feather pillows are filled with the outer feathers of geese and ducks, which are much sturdier than down. Since standard feathers have more heft than down feathers, pillows filled with this type of material are firmer and can provide more support, which may be just fine for back sleepers.
- Down Feathers. Down pillows are filled with the softest inner feathers from the bellies of ducks and geese. These make for very soft and fluffy pillows that the head can sink way down into. We cannot honestly recommend down pillows to back sleepers as they are just too soft to provide the head and neck with sufficient support.
- Buckwheat. These pillows are filled with buckwheat husks, which can be added or removed to suit your needs. This is a great choice for back sleepers because they offer the sufficient firmness and support and allows you to adjust the loft to the thickness that you're most comfortable with.
- Shredded Memory Foam. Pillows filled with shredded memory foam have many of the same benefits of solid memory foam pillows, but with two advantages: First, you can adjust a shredded memory foam pillow by adding or removing fill to customize the firmness and loft. Second, the shredded pieces allow for the free airflow, which can keep you from getting too hot during the night. For these reasons, shredded memory foam pillows are among the best pillows for back sleepers.
- Memory Foam. A pillow that contains solid memory foam will conform to your body shape, offering ideal support. If you select a contoured or cervical memory foam pillow, you should be quite comfortable sleeping on your back. However, if you tend to get hot and sweaty at night, solid memory foam pillows would not be your best choice because they do retain heat.
- Latex. You can choose either natural or synthetic latex, and either of these can work well if you sleep on your back. Latex is durable and long-lasting, holds its shape well, and is sufficiently firm to support your head and neck. Latex also will not retain your body heat so you can sleep cool throughout the night. The only downside is that latex pillows tend to be pricier.
Ease of Cleaning
We all want a pillow that's easy to clean. It's a matter of good hygiene, so make sure you check out how to wash the pillow before you buy it. Some pillows can just be thrown in a washing machine and dryer, while others cannot. Solid memory foam pillows are not machine-washable, so if you buy one of these, make sure it has a removable cover to keep the pillow as clean as possible.
Pillow covers come in many different fabrics, with the most common being cotton. What's so great about cotton is that it provides you with a nice smooth sleeping surface. Cotton is also a very breathable material that promotes good air circulation. This is important because many people get hot at night and fabric like cotton helps dissipate body heat so you can stay cooler.
Clearly, the features we've already discussed above provide you with plenty of information on the best pillows for back sleepers in general, however, there are some other factors you'll want to consider before you make the final decision.
Do you sleep hot?
When you get too warm during the night, it makes it difficult to get a good night's sleep. It's hard to get comfortable, so if you have this problem, you need to find a back sleeper pillow with a cover made of natural fibers, like cotton or bamboo. It would also help to find a gel-infused pillow or one with a layered or shredded filling as they draw heat and moisture away from your body.
Do you snore?
Back sleepers are particularly prone to snoring because in this position their tongue can relax and slip back, creating the blockage. The right pillow can help open the airways to prevent snoring unless there is an underlying medical condition. If you've been to your doctor and had sleep apnea ruled out as a cause, it might be a good idea to try a wedge pillow. It will lift your head and neck, which can help keep your airways open.
Are you a combination sleeper?
If you move around in your sleep, changing positions all the time, you may be a combination sleeper. Some people toss and turn because they can't get comfortable, while others do it naturally because that's just the way they sleep. If you're aware that you routinely change sleeping positions, you should look for the type of pillow that supports you comfortably in those particular positions.
How often should I replace my pillow?
The recommendation of many sleep experts is to replace your pillow every year. But everyone seems to be so busy these days that this doesn't always happen. You should definitely replace your pillow if you wake up with a stiff or sore neck and/or if it doesn't support your head, neck, and spine in proper alignment. Whether you sleep on your back or on your sides, you need a pillow thick enough to keep you naturally aligned.
Which materials are the best pillows for back sleepers made of?
Today's pillows come in a huge variety of materials, and quite a few are well suited for back sleepers. Your best options would be memory foam, latex, polyester blends, and buckwheat.
Which type of pillow works best for back pain?
If you suffer from chronic back pain, you need a back sleeper pillow that will support your head, neck, and shoulders while keeping them aligned. We highly recommend a cervical neck pillow with a cavity in the middle to cradle the head and raised edges for proper alignment.
What firmness do you recommend for back sleepers?
A medium-firm pillow works best in most cases.
No two people are alike, which means no two back sleepers are alike either. Therefore, no single pillow is best for all back sleepers in the world. You need to look for a pillow that meets your own individual needs in terms of comfort and support. Generally speaking, back sleepers are more comfortable with a thinner, relatively responsive pillow that provides a proper neck support. The types of pillows we've discussed above span a broad range of designs, fillings, shapes, sizes, and types of covers. Given your sleeping preferences, body shape, and size, you should have the information you need to make the best choice for you. But to be safe, check the warranty and return policy before you buy.