Sleeping on your back has numerous benefits. But if your pillow isn't right, you might start your day in a world of hurt. If you're naturally a back sleeper or you’re training yourself to be one, the pillow you choose can have dramatic effects on how well you sleep.
Why Your Sleeping Position Matters
Your body needs to be in a neutral position to keep all the bits and pieces in your back intact. This helps to prevent unnecessary pressure on your nerves, discs, and muscles. For this reason, your sleeping position and pillow should work together to achieve this position.
The ideal pillow for a side sleeper is a firm or extra firm pillow. Softer pillows tend to collapse over the weight of the head when sleeping on your side. Stomach sleepers will benefit more from a pillow with less fill to reduce strain on the spine.
While most experts recommend back sleeping because it encourages a better sleeping posture, a pillow can make or break this effort. If you pick a very thick pillow, it will bend your neck upwards leading to muscle strain.
Conversely, if you use a pillow that is too thin, your neck will bend downwards leading to a sore neck.
What Makes the Best Pillow for Back Sleepers
With the wide variety of sizes, materials, shapes, and designs, it can be difficult to make a choice. However, knowing what to look for when selecting the best pillow for back sleepers makes your shopping a lot easier.
The term loft refers to the thickness of your pillow. It is a crucial aspect for back sleepers. Too little or too much loft will compromise your spinal alignment. Moreover, there are three types of pillow loft. They include:
- Low loft
- Medium loft
- High loft
Medium and high loft pillows are a great option for back sleepers. This is because they elevate both your head and neck. As a result, it helps you achieve the neutral position.
When choosing the right loft, other factors come into play, such as your body weight, shoulder width, head size and firmness of your mattress. Many pillows also have an adjustable loft.
This means that you can either add or remove the filling to adjust the thickness of your pillow. This feature is great when you are training to sleep on your back.
With the wide range of natural and synthetic materials, it can be overwhelming to know which is the best choice for you. Different materials will work for different people. Again, each option has its benefits and drawbacks. So what materials make the list of the best pillow for back sleepers?
This synthetic fabric is low cost and readily available. There are two kinds of polyester pillows: interlocking and shredded. The interlocking option maintains a full shape, which is why they are ideal for back sleepers. On the other hand, the shredded option softens and shrinks when it absorbs body heat. Due to this, it doesn't provide consistent head and neck support.
Feather pillows consist of duck or goose feathers mixed with down for extra softness. One major benefit is that they are lightweight and have a long lifespan. However, poking quills may make them uncomfortable
Latex pillows can be natural, synthetic or a mix of the two. These pillows have a great amount of firmness making it an ideal option for back sleepers. Equally important, they are allergen-free and resistant to dust mites. Nevertheless, these features make them quite pricey.
Memory foam pillows
Memory foam pillows react to your body heat to mold itself to your shape. Then it bounces back to its original shape without body pressure. These pillows come in the form of standard, shredded and viscoelastic polyfoam. In addition, the firm models or cervical pillows provide elevated support making them ideal for back sleepers.
The filling of buckwheat pillows comes from the outer shell of natural buckwheat hulls. These pillows mold to the shape of your neck just like memory foam. In contrast, they are breathable and environmentally friendly. What makes buckwheat pillows one of the best pillows for back sleepers is the fact that they are thick and firm. Yet they are not for the light sleeper because they are noisy.
The top part of this pillow is made from polyester while the bottom has water. They are a great option for people who often get too hot at night. The height and firmness are adjustable making the pillow a good pick if you’re training to sleep on your back.
Memory foam and latex pillows tend to get hot as they absorb body heat. This can cause sleep discomfort. Gel pillows regulate temperature and absorb heat. What makes gel pillows stand out as one of the best pillows for back sleepers is that it offers the same level of firmness. The only turn off is that gel reduces your pillow’s lifespan.
Most of us are accustomed to the standard fluffy rectangular pillow. However, advancements have led to contemporary designs with different shapes. Some of the shapes to expect include butterfly, flat rectangular and contoured surfaces.
Some pillows are customized so that you can adjust according to your preferred sleeping position. This helps remove a layer or even fill to suit your height. Other pillows are created from responsive foams in a way that instead of sinking, they cradle.
Ultimately, the best pillow for back sleepers should keep your spine in a neutral position. Remember to look at the warranty and return policies in case you change your mind on an expensive pillow.
How to Care for Your Pillow
You can increase your pillow’s lifespan by purchasing at least two pillow protectors that match the size of your pillow. This will act as a barrier against dirt and oil on your pillow. Likewise, keep an extra supply of pillowcases to change frequently.
When it comes to laundering your pillow, read and follow the instructions on the tag. Pay attention to whether the material can be machine-washed or not. For instance, feather fillers are machine-friendly, but foam pillows are not.
To know if it is time to replace your pillow, fold it in half. If the pillow doesn’t bounce back into shape, it’s time to go shopping.
How We Found the Best Pillows for Back Sleepers
We read numerous customer reviews from Amazon on each product to come up with an unbiased review. Furthermore, we looked at the brand’s models and explored their strengths and weaknesses to find the best pillow for back sleepers.
Overall Price Range
The price you pay for a pillow depends on the material, brand, and features. Low-cost options include feather and polyester. Buckwheat, memory foam, latex, and water pillows are expensive options. Therefore, the lowest amount you can expect to pay for a pillow is around $20 and the highest price is around $100.
The 10 Best Pillows for Back Sleepers
Here are our top picks for the best pillows for back sleepers on the market in 2018. Please note that this list is in no particular order.
- STOMACH SLEEPING & FIRM SUPPORT: 3.25-inch super low profile provides maximum comfort for stomach, back, and...
- SPINAL ALIGNMENT & IMPROVED BREATHING: Thin and flat design with firm spinal support may reduce snoring and improve...
- COOLING FEATURES: Infused gel particle technology with ventilation holes help regulate heat and maximize air circulation
The Bluewave Bedding Gel-Infused Memory Foam pillow is constructed for back sleepers in need of a thinner and flatter pillow. This product allows pressure point reduction and keeps a firmness for optimal head and neck support. Again, the gel infusion offers cooling features to combat heat retention making it a major option for the best pillow for back sleepers.
Customers on Amazon gave the Bluewave Bedding a star rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. Some said that the pillow was great for neck pain but others complained that they felt it was too thin.
- THIS PILLOW IS DESIGNED TO HELP CORRECT SPINAL POSTURE OF THE NECK. The concave center cradles the head as the cervical...
- CHOOSE A FIRMNESS. This pillow must be firm to provide therapeutic benefits. For the most aggressive correction, choose...
- CHOOSE A SIZE: Most men and taller women prefer the full size pillow. Most women, petite men, and children over 10...
The Tri-Core pillow is a cervical support pillow made from hypoallergenic and anti-microbial fiber. It has a trapezoid center with two thick sides along with wide top and bottom neck rolls. This keeps your head, neck, and spine in a neutral position throughout the night. For this reason, the Tri-Core pillow is an ideal choice for sleep trainees looking for the best pillow for back sleepers.
The Tri-Core pillow has an Amazon rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars. While most customers were happy with the product, one customer pointed out that it can be uncomfortable at first. Another cited that the pillow is not ideal for stomach sleepers.
- FULLY ADJUSTABLE PILLOW with our PROPRIETARY MIX of SHREDDED VISCO ELASTIC MEMORY FOAM - ADD or REMOVE foam to adjust to...
- REST ASSURED - CertiPUR-US Certified foam. Our pillows are made without ozone depleters, PBDEs, TDCPP, TCEP flame...
- HYPOALLERGENIC & DUST MITE RESISTANT - allergy sufferers no longer need to compromise comfort! EASY TO CARE FOR -...
The Coop Home Goods pillow is made with shredded Visco elastic memory foam. This offers greater airflow than the standard memory foam. It also comes with a removable cover made up of polyester and bamboo that regulates temperature.
Customers rated this pillow 4.3 out of 5 stars and stated that the major highlight was the ability to adjust the filling to your ideal loft. Unfortunately, some customers complained that the adjustable filling might get messy.
- Patented SoftCell Select design features individual pockets filled with our exclusive designer down alternative for...
- Flip the pillow over to experience the reserved response of cooling gel-covered memory foam
- Cover provides a physical barrier that resists allergens, bed bugs and dust mites
The PureCare PCFRIOP602 Reversible Hybrid Pillow features a reversible design with down alternative fill with quilted zones on one side. The other side contains ventilated gel to flip when it gets hot. This product comes with another pillow insert between both sides to adjust your support level.
Customers on Amazon rate this luxury pillow 3.5 out of 5 stars. While most customers were happy with the cooling features, some complained that they could still sense a chemical smell a week later.
- BED PILLOW: This pillow for neck pain provides therapeutic support so you wake up feeling refreshed, recharged and ready...
- COMFORT & SUPPORT: Choose between the higher and lower contours for the support that feels best.
- MADE IN THE USA: This Sleep Innovations queen pillow is proudly made in the USA, always holds its shape and comes with a...
The Sleep Innovations Contour Memory Foam pillow features contours designed to match the contours of your body. This provides maximum support to your spinal column. The product also uses the Sure Temp memory foam that resists heat build-up to keep your pillow cool throughout the night.
This pillow had a rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Most customers said that they liked that the pillow is softer than its previous version. Unfortunately, some complained that the pillows are not as firm.
- Memory foam is CertiPUR - US certified for durability, performance, and content. No mercury, lead, heavy metals and...
- This orthopedic curved memory foam pillow complies with human nature curve and makes breathe smooth thus reduces snore....
- This contour pillow is especially designed for people who need neck support. Pillow promotes proper spinal alignment....
The Tampor Memory Foam Contour pillow cradles your head at just the right angle for better neck support and spine alignment. This contour pillow provides technology that makes it soft yet firm and breathable. This is could be the best pillow for back sleepers because it cradles your head and neck to prevent snoring by allowing you to breathe smoothly.
This pillow has an Amazon rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars. Even though customers were relatively happy with the product, some complained that it was not comfortable.
- FINALLY! The wrinkle-prevention beauty pillow that's the TOTAL beauty sleep solution - Anti-Wrinkle, Anti-Acne, Patented...
- IMPORTANT DIRECTIONS: If you aren't a back sleeper, training yourself isn't easy, takes time, and ultimately is not for...
- ANTI-WRINKLE (face, neck, chest, breast), ANTI-ACNE, AIDS BACK SLEEPING (Also helps train those new to back sleeping)
The Back to Beauty Anti-Wrinkle Head Cradle offers a crescent neck support built into the pillow to keep you from turning. This is why it is the recommended choice for those training to sleep on their back.
The Amazon rating for this product is 3.5 out of 5 stars. Customers said that it was a great pillow for sore necks but complained that it was super small.
- Anti Aging
- Anti Wrinkle
- Wrinkle Prevention
A YourFace pillow is a great option for side sleepers training to become back sleepers. This is because it has side supports that keep you from tossing and turning. This product is made from supportive foam and a washable bamboo as its outer cover. It is a great alternative to the Back to Beauty pillow due to its larger size.
Customers on Amazon gave this product a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Customers applauded the quality of this pillow and their customer service. However, some customers complained that it takes time to get used to the pillow.
- Side sleepers rejoice: an MD-recommended pillow that won't press on your face, mouth or ears
- No more ear pain: for sensitive earlobes, piercings & ear buds, ear holes can remove all side pressure
- Height-adjust design. Neck, head & back in one line. For added height AMZsearch: The Womfy Firm Riser
The Womfy Ear & Neck Pain Relief pillow mimics the shape of your head. It consists of a mix of both memory and gel foam for a firm support and temperature regulation. It is also great for transition sleepers as it prevents pain and pressure. This means that it won’t press your ears if you find yourself in the side sleeping position.
This product has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. While most customers were happy with the innovation, some complained that the pillow was too low to provide neck support.
- THE PURPLE PILLOW NO LONGER INCLUDES THE ADJUSTABLE BOOSTER.*** PERFECT FORM PILLOW - The Purple Pillow by Purple...
- BEST NECK PILLOW - Our pillow is made with hundreds of tiny triangles that let the pillow relax under pressure without...
- NO FLUFF PURPLE STUFF - With Purple bed pillows, you will never have to fluff your pillow again. Our patented design...
The Purple pillow features the Smart Grid design that comprises gel infused throughout an elastic polymer grid. Polymers conform to your head and neck like latex and memory foam, but they tend to have a longer lifespan. It also has great air circulation throughout the grid and strong shape retention.
Customers on Amazon rated this pillow 3.3 out of 5 stars. Majority of customers were relatively happy with the Purple pillow, but a few complained that it was too dense.
Our Verdict of the Best Pillow for Back Sleepers
Even though all the pillows in this list are great options for back sleepers, the Tri-Core pillow takes the crown. It offers great support and features that guarantee freedom from backaches and neck pain in the morning. Equally important, it is a much more affordable option on the market in 2019.
Are you a back sleeper? Do you have a suggestion for the best pillow for back sleepers? Tell us about it in the comments.