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Studies have identified several features of a pillow that may benefit people who sleep on their backs. Pillow temperature, support, and shape are important considerations.
- Best for adjustable fill: Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
- Best for different firmness feels: Parachute Home Down Pillow
- Best for adaptable support: Mediflow Water Pillow
- Best for head, neck, and shoulder support: Tempur Pedic Neck Pillow
- Best for a contour pillow: Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow
- Best for a cooler sleep: Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Pillow
- Best for combination sleepers: Saatva Latex Pillow
- Best for a wedge pillow: Xtreme Comforts Memory Foam Bed Wedge
- Best for neck strain: Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
People sleep on their side, front, or back, or a combination of the three. A
The researchers note that sleeping on the back may lead to poorer quality sleep. Additionally, people who have sleep apnea may experience a worsening of symptoms while in this position.
The National Sleep Foundation also states that sleeping on the back can lead to snoring. When people lie on their backs, their airways constrict due to gravity. Sleeping in an inclined position, such as raising the head on a pillow, may reduce snoring.
Sleep wrinkles may disappear quickly when a younger person wakes up, but older adults may develop permanent creases. The researchers state that sleeping on the back can reduce the likelihood of sleep wrinkles.
How we choose products
Medical News Today chooses products that fit the following criteria where possible:
- Shape: MNT chooses products that are available in various shapes that may suit different sleeping styles.
- Materials and fill: MNT selects products made from different materials and fills, such as memory foam and latex, to suit a range of sleep and lifestyles.
- Budget: MNT features products that are available in a wide range of budgets.
- Loft: MNT selects products that have different lofts, which may help lessen symptoms of sleep conditions, such as snoring.
Some additional factors to consider when purchasing a pillow include:
- Price: Various factors may influence a pillow’s price, including the fill, the size, and the shape. People should consider their budget before purchasing a pillow.
- Support and firmness: Pillows may offer different firmness feels. Companies may recommend a certain firmness for different sleeping positions. It is also important to research the areas a pillow supports to ensure it fits a person’s requirement.
- Loft: Pillows come in different heights or lofts. Pillows with a higher loft may reduce snoring. However, higher lofts may also increase neck pain if the skull is raised too high above the spine.
- Shape: Pillows may come in different shapes. For example, wedge pillows are thinner at the bottom and thicker at the top, resulting in a gentle head incline.
This article looks at some of the best pillows for back sleepers.
Best for adjustable fill
The user can adjust the pillow’s height by adding or removing the memory foam fill to suit their support and comfort needs.
It is non-toxic, contains no harmful chemicals, and is vegan and cruelty-free.
Pros and cons
An advantage of this pillow is that people can change the loft to suit their needs by adding or removing the memory foam fill. Additionally, reviews on the product’s Amazon page note that the pillow is suitable for all sleeping positions and may help reduce neck and shoulder pain.
However, negative reviews state that the pillow may be too firm for everyone. Additionally, some reviewers say that the pillow filling began to clump and did not give adequate support after several months of use.
Best for different firmness feels
This European white down pillow has a supportive and airy structure.
Although the pillow is available in soft, medium, and hard firmness, the company suggests back sleepers may prefer a medium pillow.
As this is a feather pillow, some back sleepers may prefer a foam alternative to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Pros and cons
Some advantages of this pillow include the differing levels of firmness available to purchase. Additionally, people may find that they have a cooler sleep as down creates more air channels that may prevent excess sweating while asleep.
However, this pillow is not suitable for people who are allergic to down products. Additionally, down pillows may require more reshaping and extra care when cleaning to prevent clumping.
Chiropractors sometimes recommend sleep ergonomics to help people with chronic neck pain. Pillows that support the head, neck, and shoulders may help reduce pain.
Best for adaptable support
This water-based pillow conforms to the shape of the head and neck. The pillow moves with the sleeper, reducing the need to adjust the pillow throughout sleep.
The user can adjust the pillow’s firmness by adding or reducing the amount of water that surrounds the fiber fill.
Pros and cons
Some advantages of this product include an adjustable fill, and the pillow does not require as much adjusting during the night as some other products.
However, people with water pillows may experience leaks if the fiber shell becomes damaged.
Best for head, neck, and shoulder support
Designed for back and side sleepers, this extra firm pillow has a 100% polyester knit hypoallergenic cover made of extra firm Tempur material.
The pillow also contours to follow the spine’s natural curve, supporting back and side sleepers’ heads, necks, and shoulders.
Pros and cons
An advantage of this pillow is that it can support a person’s head, neck, and shoulders when they sleep on their sides or backs. Additionally, the firm support may help reduce pain in the neck and shoulders.
However, because this product is extra firm, it may not be suitable for all sleepers. Some people may find that it is uncomfortable to sleep with this pillow.
Best for a contour pillow
This pillow may provide relief for all types of sleepers with neck pain. It contours to align the head, neck, shoulders, and back.
People can adjust this pillow to suit their height preference by removing the bottom piece of memory foam.
Pros and cons
An advantage of this product is that people can adjust the loft of the pillow by adding or removing the bottom piece of memory foam. Additionally, customer reviews on Amazon state that the pillow can help relieve neck pain.
However, other reviewers state that the pillow did not provide enough support. Others say that the pillow was too firm and too high, causing more neck pain.
People who sleep on their back and then turn onto their side during sleep are combination sleepers. Combination sleepers may prefer firm pillows to support the back, shoulder, and neck during movement.
Best for a cooler sleep
A person can customize this pillow by adding or removing foam to make the pillow more or less firm to suit their needs.
The breathable cover material might help people remain cool while they sleep.
Pros and cons
Some advantages of this product are its adjustable fill and its breathable cover material. People can adjust the loft to their requirements and may have a cooler sleep while using this pillow.
However, negative reviews on the product’s Amazon page state that people need to reshape this pillow often. Reviewers say that the pillow loses its loft quickly, which can lead to a more uncomfortable sleep.
Best for combination sleepers
The Saatva pillow has a lofty and plush organic cotton-filled interior. The core of the pillow, made of shredded Talalay latex, provides head and neck support.
The responsive latex core provides support for combination sleepers.
Pros and cons
An advantage of this product is that the latex fill provides head and neck support, which may reduce neck and shoulder pain. Additionally, the company states that this product is suitable for those with latex allergies, as there are no latex proteins in the pillow.
However, those with latex allergies should use this product with caution, and discontinue use immediately if they experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction.
A head-positioning pillow designed to prevent someone from sleeping on their back may reduce the severity of snoring.
However, a pillow may not resolve snoring in all situations.
Weight reduction can also reduce snoring.
Best for a wedge pillow
This pillow has a 30-degree angle to the mattress, which allows the user to keep their torso elevated and spine supported. The high-quality memory foam will not flatten over time.
The wedge pillow allows back sleepers who snore to continue sleeping on their backs. The design keeps the neck and spine aligned, which keeps the nasal passages open so mucus can drain away from the throat.
Pros and cons
An advantage of this pillow is its wedge shape. The shape helps elevate a person’s head, which can help reduce snoring. Additionally, the memory foam fill may help reduce neck and shoulder pain, as it conforms to the shape of a person’s head.
However, reviewers on the product’s Amazon page state that the wedge shape can be uncomfortable, with people saying they found they slept on the shallowest incline or off of the pillow altogether.
Additionally, some reviewers say that it is difficult to find a wedge-shaped pillowcase.
Best for neck strain
Made of a soft blend of cross-cut, gel-infused memory foam and microfiber, this adjustable pillow can accommodate individual preferences.
Achieving the ideal loft and density of a pillow allows people to avoid neck strain after sleeping. A person can control the height of this pillow by adding or removing some fill.
Adjusting the pillow height may help reduce snoring as well. It is suitable for back and stomach sleepers, so people who turn in the night may prefer this pillow.
Pros and cons
An advantage of this product is that people can change the loft to suit their preferences. Additionally, positive customer reviews on the pillow’s Amazon page state that they noticed less neck and shoulder pain after using this product.
However, more negative reviews state that this pillow becomes flat after several uses. Additionally, some reviewers say that their pillow did not have much memory foam.
A person can shop for pillows either in-store or online.
Many different stores sell pillows, including dedicated sleep stores and grocery stores. An advantage of shopping in-store is that a person can feel the support, firmness, and loft of the pillow before committing to a purchase.
Purchasing a pillow online may be more convenient for people who do not have the time to shop in-store or those who know what type of pillow they require. However, a person should always check a company’s return and warranty policies to ensure they can return the pillow if it is not suitable.
Learn about some of the best pillows to buy here.
There are several different pillow types and sizes available to purchase.
The following table describes the sizes of some of the pillow shapes a person may purchase.
|Pillow shape||Pillow size|
|Rectangular (standard)||20 x 26 inches (in)|
|Rectangular (queen)||20 x 30 in|
|Rectangular (king)||20 x 36 in|
|Rectangular (travel)||12 x 16 in|
|Body pillow||20 x 54 in|
A person may also purchase pillows that do not come in standard sizes. The following pillow types may be suitable for certain sleeping conditions:
- Wedge pillows:This pillow type angles the head up during sleep, providing more support for those who sleep on their backs. Using a wedge pillow may also help reduce snoring.
- Cervical pillows:These pillows are often rounder in shape and may help ease neck and shoulder pain. Learn more about cervical pillows.
- Sleep apnea pillows:These pillows may suit those who have continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. The pillows have a cutout to accomadate CPAP tubes and help keep the head elevated.
A person may also wish to consider materials when purchasing a new pillow.
The table below describes some of the different types of materials a person may consider, along with their pros and cons.
|Down||• offers more warmth than other pillows|
|• more expensive than some other materials|
• not suitable for those allergic to ducks and geese
|Down alternative||• hypoallergenic|
• less expensive than some other materials
|• not as warm as down pillows|
• may not provide as much support as other materials
|Wool||• may lead to a cooler sleep|
• provides a plush feel
|• not suitable for vegans|
• usually requires dry-cleaning
|Memory foam||• contours to the head and neck|
• may help reduce neck and shoulder pain
|• some pillows may have ‘off-gassing’|
• some types of memory foam may require reshaping
|Latex||• may lead to a cooler sleep|
• offers similar support to memory foam
|• not suitable for those that have a latex allergy|
• some types of latex may require reshaping
|Buckwheat||• conforms to the head and neck|
• durable material
|• may be noisy when the hulls rub together|
• buckwheat hulls may spill if a person tears the pillow shell
|Water||• offers an adjustable fill|
• suitable for use with most allergies
|• not as soft or as conforming as other materials|
• risk of leaks
Below are some frequently asked questions about pillows for back sleepers.
Do back sleepers need a pillow?
Back sleepers who do not use a pillow may experience neck pain due to a lack of neck and shoulder support. A thinner pillow that supports spinal alignment may be more comfortable than sleeping without a pillow.
What is the right height pillow for a back sleeper?
There is no right height pillow for a back sleeper. However, most back sleepers may prefer a thinner pillow that does not raise the head too far. If a person sleeps with a higher loft pillow, their neck may be out of alignment with their spine, leading to neck pain.
Can those who are pregnant sleep on their backs?
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) states that people who are 28 weeks pregnant and sleep on their back double the risk of stillbirth.
However, the NHS also says that people should not worry if they wake up on their back. People tend to stay in the position they fall asleep in for most of the time they are sleeping. People who are pregnant should move position to their side if they wake up on their back.
Learn about the best ways to sleep when pregnant here.
Since pillows are for personal use only, some manufacturers do not accept returns.
People should always check that they can return a pillow that is uncomfortable or unsuitable.
To find the best pillow, people need to consider their sleep position, pillow height, pillow support, and firmness.
People may have to try a range of pillows before they find the most suitable one.
A pillow is not a replacement for medical treatment. Anyone experiencing neck pain, chronic snoring, or similar issues should speak with a doctor for advice.