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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.
This article looks at some of the best pillows for back sleepers, discusses the effects of different sleep positions, and answers some frequently asked questions about pillows for back sleepers.
A quick look at the best pillows for back sleepers
- 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 contouring 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
- Best for allergies: Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow
People sleep on their side, front, 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 worsening 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.
However, sleeping on the back may prevent wrinkles. 2016 research has found that sleeping on the side and front compresses the skin, forming creases that differ from expression wrinkles.
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.
MNT chooses mattresses, sheets, pillows, and other bedding that meet the following criteria:
- Certifications: MNT will choose products that have CertiPUR-US or other certifications. This means that the products are low in pollutants and free from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
- Size: MNT chooses products that are available in various sizes.
- 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 to suit a wide range of budgets.
- Firmness: MNT selects pillows that are available in a range of firmness options to suit most people’s sleeping styles.
- Shipping: Where possible, MNT will include shipping information, such as where the company delivers to and whether shipping is free.
- Warranties and return policies: MNT will include products that carry warranties and clear returns policies.
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.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Below is a range of pillows suitable for back sleepers.
Best for adjustable fill: Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
- Price: between $72–78
- Size: queen, king
With this pillow, the user can adjust its height by adding or removing the memory foam fill to suit their support and comfort needs.
The company describes this pillow as medium-firm, and its outer cover uses viscose rayon and polyester.
The manufacturer states that the pillow is machine-washable.
It also writes that this pillow holds CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold certifications. This means that the pillow does not contain harmful chemicals.
Coop Home Goods claims this pillow is vegan and cruelty-free.
The sizes are as follows:
- Queen size: 30 x 20 inches (in)
- King size: 36 x 20 in
The pros and cons of this pillow a person can consider may include:
- adjustable filling
- suitable for all sleep positions
- some users found the filling lumpy
- reports of a decrease in support after a few months of use
A person can buy the Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow for about $72–78 online.
Best for different firmness feels: Parachute Home Down Pillow
- Price: between $129–209
- Size: standard, king
Parachute writes 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.
The pillow features a sateen cotton shell.
A person can machine wash this pillow using mild liquid detergent, or else, they can take it to a dry cleaning company.
As this is a feather pillow, some back sleepers may prefer a foam alternative to ensure a good night’s sleep. It may not be suitable for people with allergies to down.
According to the manufacturer’s website, this down pillow holds the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification.
Parachute offers free shipping, a 3-year warranty, and a 60-day return guarantee.
This pillow measures:
- Standard: 26 x 20 in
- King: 36 x 20 in
The standard pillow costs $129–169, with prices changing depending on the firmness.
The king-size pillow costs $169–209.
The pros and cons a person can consider may include:
- available in a range of firmnesses
- holds RDS certification
- down can be a breathable filling
- unsuitable for those with down allergies
- may be more difficult to clean than other pillows
A person can order the Parachute Down Pillow online for between $129–209.
Chiropractors sometimes recommend sleep ergonomics to help people with chronic neck pain. Pillows that support the head, neck, and shoulders may help reduce pain.
Below is a range of pillows that may be suitable for people with neck pain.
Best for adaptable support: Mediflow Water Pillow
- Price: about $69.99
- Size: one size
This water-based pillow aims to conform to the shape of the head and neck. The pillow moves with the sleeper, reducing the need to adjust the pillow throughout sleep.
It features a hypoallergenic cotton shell, an insulated water pouch, and a polyester fiber layer on top.
The user can adjust the pillow’s firmness by adding or reducing the amount of water surrounding the fiber fill.
Mediflow recommends handwashing this water pillow.
A 30-day trial and a 3-year warranty are available with each order.
This pillow measures 28 x 20 x 4.5 in.
The pros and cons of this water pillow may include:
- a person can adjust the fill
- the company claims independent studies have found this product effective
- includes 30-day trial
- risk of leaking
- water pouch makes the pillow heavy
- some users found the pillow too noisy
A person can order the Mediflow Water Pillow online for about $69.
Best for head, neck, and shoulder support: Tempur-Pedic Neck Pillow
- Price: between $119–159
- Size: small, medium, large
This extra firm pillow has a 100% polyester knit hypoallergenic cover made of extra firm Tempur material. Tempur writes it is machine-washable and is suitable for back and side sleepers.
It has a memory foam fill.
The pillow aims to contour to follow the spine’s natural curve, supporting back and side sleepers’ heads, necks, and shoulders.
According to Tempur-Pedic, its foam meets CertiPUR-US standards.
Individuals who order this pillow can benefit from free shipping and a 5-year warranty. However, returns are not available on pillows.
The sizes, measurements, and prices that come with this pillow are:
- Small: 20 x 12.5 x 3.5 in
- Medium: 20 x 12.5 x 4 in
- Large: 20 in x 12.5 x 4.75 in
- designed to support the head, neck, and shoulders
- available in three sizes
- includes a removable and washable cover
- the extra firm foam may not suit everyone
- all sizes cost over $100
A person can order the Tempur-Pedic Neck Pillow for between $119–159.
Best contouring pillow: Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow
- Price: between $39–43.99
- Size: standard, queen
According to the company, this pillow may relieve all types of sleepers with neck pain. It contours to align the head, neck, shoulders, and back.
The company claims this pillow’s filling has more memory foam than similar products.
The pillowcase is machine-washable, but Epabo recommends removing the memory foam before cleaning.
Depending on the size people choose, the pillow is available in soft and firm.
People can adjust this pillow to suit their height preference by removing the bottom piece of memory foam.
A 30-day trial is available.
The company offers pillows with the following measurements:
- Standard 1: 21 x 12 x 3.9 in
- Standard 2: 22 x 14 x 4.2 in
- Queen 1: 24 x 15 x 4.6 in
- Queen 2: 24 x 15 x 4.8 in
The pros and cons of the Epabo pillow include:
- adjustable loft
- washable cover
- users found it improved neck pain
- more affordable than other brands
- some users report it is not supportive enough
- some found it too firm and the loft too high
A person can order the Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow online for about $39–43.99.
People who sleep on their backs and turn onto their sides during sleep are combination sleepers. Combination sleepers may prefer firm pillows to support the back, shoulder, and neck during movement.
Below is a range of pillows that may be suitable for combination sleepers.
Best for a cooler sleep: Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Pillow
- Price: between $59.99–99.99
- Size: standard, queen, king
A person can customize this pillow by adding or removing foam to make it more or less firm to suit their needs.
Snuggle-Pedic writes that the breathable cover helps people remain cool while they sleep.
Additionally, the company claims this product holds CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold certifications.
It uses machine-washable bamboo fabric.
Customers can also benefit from a 120-night trial and a 20-year warranty when ordering this pillow.
There is a wide range of sizes available, including:
- Standard adjustable gel memory foam: 26 x 20 x 0.01 in
- Standard adjustable shredded memory foam: 26 x 20 x 5 in
- Standard non-adjustable shredded memory foam: 10.23 x 7.87 in
- Queen adjustable gel memory foam: 30 x 20 x 0.01 in
- Queen adjustable shredded memory foam: unavailable
- Queen non-adjustable shredded memory: 11.81 x 7.97 in
- King adjustable gel memory foam: 36 x 20 x 0.01 in
- King adjustable shredded memory foam: unavailable
- King non-adjustable shredded memory foam: 14.17 x 7.87 in
The pros and cons a person can consider may include:
- adjustable design
- breathable and washable cover
- comes in a range of fills and sizes
- certain models are expensive
- some users comment it needs reshaping regularly
- others found it loses loft quickly
Prices range from about $54.99–99.99.
Best for combination sleepers: Saatva Latex Pillow
- Price: between $165–185
- Size: queen, king
The Saatva pillow has a lofty and plush organic cotton-filled interior. Saatva writes that the core of the pillow, made of shredded Talalay latex, provides head and neck support.
It states the responsive latex core provides support for combination sleepers.
It comes with a soft and breathable organic cotton sateen cover.
Although this pillow is a latex pillow, Saatva writes it is suitable for people with a latex allergy because it does not contain latex proteins.
It also says this pillow is resistant to dust mites and mildew and is hypoallergenic.
People can machine wash the case and pillow, although users must remove the latex core before washing.
The company claims it uses Fairtrade-certified cotton, meaning that workers supplying materials get fair pay.
This pillow comes with a 45-day return window and a 1-year limited warranty.
The pillow is available in the following dimensions:
- Queen: 28 x 18 in
- King: 34 x 18 in
- resistant to dust mites and mildew
- reportedly safe for people with latex allergies
- aims to relieve pressure
- people with latex allergies should use this pillow with caution
A person can order the queen-size pillow for $165 and the king-size pillow for $185.
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.
Below is a range of pillows that may suit people who snore.
Best wedge pillow: Xtreme Comforts Memory Foam Bed Wedge
- Price: about $40.50
- Size: one size
This pillow has a 30-degree angle that keeps the user’s torso elevated and spine supported. The company writes that 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 may keep the nasal passages open so that any mucus can drain away from the throat.
Additionally, a person can place the pillow under their knees, which may make back sleeping more comfortable.
The manufacturer states that the pillow is lightweight and breathable, and feels firm.
People can machine wash and tumble dry the pillowcase.
Returns are available within 30 days of purchase. The pillow also comes with a lifetime warranty.
Xtreme Comforts memory foam pillows come in the following dimensions:
- One size: 17 x 7 x 7 in
- wedge shape keeps the head elevated and airways open
- memory foam can be supportive for the head and neck
- can also be used under the knees
- some users found the shape uncomfortable
- will not fit standard pillowcases
A person can order the Xtreme Comforts Wedge Pillow online for about $40.50.
Best for neck strain: Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow
- Price: between $96–108
- Size: queen, king
Made of a soft blend of cross-cut, gel-infused memory foam and microfiber, Coop Home Goods states this adjustable pillow can accommodate a range of individual preferences.
A person can control the height of this pillow by adding or removing some fill. Achieving the ideal loft and density can reduce a person’s risk of waking up with neck pain.
Adjusting the pillow height may help reduce snoring as well. The company states it is suitable for back and stomach sleepers, so people who turn in the night may prefer this pillow.
Coop Home Goods writes this pillow is soft plush and has a down-like feel.
Its certifications include CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold.
The product is machine-washable.
It comes with a 100-day return policy and a 5-year warranty.
This pillow’s dimensions are as follows:
- Queen: 30 x 20 in
- King: 36 x 20 in
- adjustable loft
- some users report less neck and shoulder pain when waking up
- lengthy return window
- some users state the pillow flattens quickly
- limited size range
A person can order this pillow online for between $96–108.
Best for allergies: Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow
- Price: between $129–149
- Size: queen, king
Brooklyn Bedding states that its memory foam pillow reacts immediately to pressure and provides head, neck, and shoulder support.
Its copper-graphite-infused foam aims to provide breathability and reportedly has antimicrobial properties. This may make it suitable for people with allergies.
The company writes the circular knit cover draws heat away from the head and neck, which is an added benefit for people who sleep hot or live in warmer climates.
Brooklyn Bedding states its foam is CertiPUR-US certified, and users can machine wash the cover.
Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping, a 120-night trial, and a 10-year warranty.
The company does not provide the dimensions for this pillow. It comes in queen and king sizes and two lofts: low and high.
- may suit people with allergies
- cooling properties may help people who sleep hot
- lengthy sleep trial and warranty
- some users found this pillow too soft
- company does not provide dimensions
A person can order the Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow online for between $129–149.
The table below compares each pillow in this article for fill material, firmness, price, and more.
|Fill material||Adjustable loft||Certifications||Sleep trial or returns||Warranty||Price|
|Coop Home Goods Adjustable Loft||memory foam||yes||CertiPUR-US|
|100-night trial||5 years||about $72–78|
|Parachute||European down||no||RDS||60-day returns||3 years||about $129–209|
|yes||none||30-day trial||3 years||about $69.99|
|Tempur-Pedic||memory foam||no||CertiPUR-US||no returns||5 years||about $119–159|
|Epabo||memory foam||yes||none||30-day returns||none||about $39–43.99|
|Snuggle-Pedic||memory foam||yes||GREENGUARD Gold||120-night trial||20 years||about $59.99–99.99|
|Saatva||latex||no||Fairtrade||45-day returns||1 year||about $165–185|
|Xtreme Comforts||memory foam||no||none||30-day returns||lifetime||about $40.50|
|Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam||memory foam||yes||CertiPUR-US|
|100-day returns||5 years||about $96–108|
|Brooklyn Bedding||memory foam||no||CertiPUR-US||120-night trial||10 years||about $129–149|
Some 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 will be comfortable.
- 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 head 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. Wedge pillows may be harder to find pillowcases for.
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.
However, since pillows are for personal use, some manufacturers do not accept returns for hygiene reasons. However, others offer lengthy sleep trials or return windows.
People should always check that they can return a pillow in case they do not find it comfortable.
Additionally, a pillow is not a replacement for medical treatment. Anyone experiencing neck pain, chronic snoring, or other issues affecting their sleep should speak with a doctor.
There are several different pillow types and sizes available to purchase.
The following table describes the sizes of some 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: Wedge pillows angle the head up during sleep, providing more support for those who sleep on their backs. Using a wedge pillow may also help reduce snoring. Learn more about the best wedge pillows.
- Cervical pillows: These are often rounder in shape and may help ease neck and shoulder pain. Learn more about cervical pillows. Learn more about the best cervical pillows.
- Sleep apnea pillows: These may suit those with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. The pillows have a cutout to accommodate CPAP tubes and help elevate the head. Learn about the best pillows for sleep apnea.
A person may also wish to consider materials when purchasing a new pillow.
The table below describes some of the different 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
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|
|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.
Learn more about 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.
Learn how to sleep on your back here.
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 backs. People tend to stay in the position they fall asleep in 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.
Many companies sell pillows for back sleepers, including Tempur-Pedic, Saatva, Xtreme Comforts, and Brooklyn Bedding, among others.
Each pillow will vary in price and suit various budgets.
However, a person should consider different factors before making their purchase, such as the firmness, shape, and filling material of their chosen pillow.
Some products also have certifications indicating that they are free of toxic chemicals.