Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers 2021: Top Picks, Reviews & Buying Guide

See My Favorite Products of 2020!
Select a list >MattressesToppers & PadsCooling/HeatingPillowsSheets
Touch a tab above to reveal my top picks for that category.
Of the 60+ beds I've reviewed, these are my current favorites:
My Top PickType of MattressPrice
1. Saatva ClassicInnerspring$799 - $1,599
Save $200!
2. Puffy LUX
Luxury Foam$1,145 – $1,695
Save $300!
3. Leesa Original
Budget Foam$624-$1,049
Save Up to $150!
4. Nest Alexander HybridLuxury Hybrid$949-$1,699
Save 20%!
5. PlushBeds Botanical BlissLuxury Organic Latex$999 – $1,998
Save $1,200+!
6. EcoterraBudget Latex$749 - $1,249
Save $175!
7. DreamcloudLuxury PillowTop$599-$1,099
Save $200!
8. LaylaFlippable/2-Sided$499 - $999
Save $200!
9. Big FigFor Plus-Sized People$1,299 - $1,999
Save $300!
10. HelixCustom-Fit$500 - $1,149
Save $200!
Mattress toppers & pads are a great way to cool your bed and extend its life.
Topper SizeMaterialFirmnessWarr.
LINENSPA 2 Inch Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper, Twin
Best Value2"Gel memory foamMedium3 years
Best Comfort3"Memory foamMedium-firm5 years
MyPillow Three-inch Mattress Bed Topper (Twin)
Best pressure point relief3"FoamMedium-firm10 years
LUCID 2-Inch Ventilated Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper - Full
Best cooling2"Gel memory foamSoft3 years
Milemont Mattress Topper Twin, 2-Inch Cool Swirl Gel Mattress Topper for Twin Size Bed, Blue
Best for back pain2"Gel memory foamMedium10 years
Pure Green
Pure Green 100% Natural Latex Mattress Topper - Firm - 2 Inch - Queen Size
Best for stomach sleepers2"Natural latexExtra-firm5 years
Sleep Innovations
Sleep Innovations 4-inch Dual Layer Gel Memory Foam Enhanced Support, King, Made in the US Mattress Topper
Best for side sleepers4"Gel memory foamSoft10 years
Sleep Number DUAL TEMP
Sleep Number DUAL TEMP
Best temperature regulation-Forced Air-1 year
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR Supreme 3-Inch Mattress Topper Medium Firm, Full, White
Best memory foam3"Memory foamMedium-firm10 years
Avocado Green
Avocado Green
Best organic2"Organic latexSoft/firm10 years
Bed cooling/heating systems have come a long way – especially the BedJet, my favorite.
SystemTypeBest For...Temp. RangeControl
BedJet V3
BedJet V3
Air cooledBest Overall (esp. for night sweats)66°F-104°FWireless remote control/smartphone app
ChiliPad Cube 3.0
Chili Technology chiliPAD Cube 3.0 - ME and WE Zones - Cooling and Heating Mattress Pad - Individual Temperature Control, Great Sleep Enhancement, Wireless Remote Integration (Queen (80" L x 60" W))
Water cooledBest water cooling system55°F-115°FWireless remote control
Ooler Sleep System
Ooler Sleep System
Water cooledBest temperature control55°F-115°FSmartphone app via Bluetooth
The Pod by Eight Sleep
The Pod by Eight Sleep
Water cooledBest smart cooling system55°F-115°FSmartphone app/smart voice assistant
Mattress Cooler "Classic"
2020 Mattress Cooler "Classic" Chilled Water Sleep Cooling System (Now with a Spare "27x63" Cooling Pad)
Water cooledBest budget cooling systemN/AWireless remote control
SleepNumber Dual-Temp v3
SleepNumber Dual-Temp v3
Air cooledN/ARemote control
bFan Cooling System
bFan Cooling System
FanBest bed fanN/AWired remote control
Brookstone bed fan
Brookstone Bed Fan with Wireless Remote
FanN/AWireless remote control
These pillows excel at relieving neck and shoulder pain:
PillowWhy I Like It
PlushBeds Shredded Natural Latex Pillow
Best Cooling Mattress Pads

best shredded latex pillow for side sleepers
Coop Home Goods Memory Foam
Coop Home Goods - Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow - Hypoallergenic Cross-Cut Memory Foam Fill - Lulltra Washable Cover from Bamboo Derived Rayon - CertiPUR-US/GREENGUARD Gold Certified - Queen
perennial, proven Amazon Choice with over 16,000 reviews
MARNUR Contour Pillow
MARNUR Cervical Memory Foam Pillow Orthopedic Contour Pillows for Neck Pain Ergonomic Pillow with RoHS Certification and Pillowcase Covers, White(23.5×14.5×5.5 Inch)
perfect spine support using a groove down the middle
SleepRightSplintek Side
SleepRight Splintek Side Sleeping Pillow Memory Foam Pillow – Best Pillow for Sleeping On Your Side – 24" x 5" Standard Size
full facial cradle plus a perfectly-angled shoulder cradle
Xtreme Comforts Adjustable Pillow
Xtreme Comforts Hypoallergenic, Adjustable Thickness, Kool-Flow Micro Vented Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Bed Pillow for Sleeping, Back, Stomach & Side Sleepers, Queen Size, Made in USA
thinner and softer than most, so your head will not bend back
UTTU Sandwich Pillow
UTTU Sandwich Pillow, Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow, Bamboo Pillow for Sleeping, Cervical Pillow for Neck Pain, Neck Support for Back, Stomach, Side Sleepers, Orthopedic Contour Pillow, CertiPUR-US
designed specifically for neck support and alignment.
Mediflow Water Pillow
Mediflow Fiber: The First & Original Water Pillow, clinically Proven to Reduce Neck Pain & Improve Sleep. Therapeutic, Ideal for People Looking for Proper Neck Support
clinical tests prove it reduces neck pain
Cradle Me Cervical Pillow
Cradle Me Cervical Pillow - Orthopedic Contour Memory Foam Pillow for Back and Side Sleepers with Neck and Spine Support - Helps Reduce Back and Neck Pain
best overall design with lots of position choices
KaUa Neck Roll
K Ka Ua Neck Roll Pillow Cervical Bolster with Bamboo Cover – Memory Foam Spine Lumbar Traction Spondylosis Support 4” Diameter x 17 “Length (4 Inch)
1,000s of satisfied customers & rave reviews
J-Pillow Travel Pillow
J-Pillow Chin Supporting Travel Pillow - 2020 Version - British Invention of The Year Winner - Supports Your Head, Neck & Chin (Blue)
added chin support prevents your head from falling forward.
Nursal Contour
NURSAL Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers - Wedge Contour Support Pillow for Leg, Orthopedic Knee Pillow for Sciatica Relief, Back Pain, Leg Pain, Pregnancy, Hip and Joint Pain
great reviews, washable cover - and half the price
These are my favorite luxury sheet sets sold online:
Best Luxury SheetsIncludesSizesColours
Fitted sheet + two pillowcasesTwin to Cal KingSand, Slate, White, Light Grey, Blue
Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set – Includes 1 Flat Sheet, 1 Fitted Sheet + 2 Pillowcases – 480 Thread Count Sateen Sheet Set – 100 Percent Long-Staple Cotton – Oeko-TEX Certified – Smoke – Twin
One flat sheet, one fitted sheet, and two pillowcases.Twin to Cal KingWhite, Cream, Steel, Smoke, Smoke Stripe
One flat sheet, one fitted sheet, and two pillowcases.Twin to Cal KingWhite, Ivory, Grey
Boll and Branch
Boll & Branch Luxury Fair Trade Long Staple Organic Cotton Sheet Set - Full, Natural
one fitted sheet, one flat sheet, and two pillowcases.Full, Queen, King, Cal King onlyWhite, Solid Natural, Striped White, Pewter
Best For Specific Needs Soft and Warm: Parachute’s Sateen sheets Most Luxurious: Brooklinen’s Linen sheets Organic Luxury Sheets:  Saatva Lofton Organic sheets Breathable/Cool: Percale sheets from Parachute or Brooklinen
NOTE: We earn from qualifying purchases made via Amazon Associates and other affiliate programs. Learn more.

Are you a back sleeper looking for a really comfortable pillow?

Have you been looking for the Best Pillow for Back Sleepers? You’ve come to the right place.

You may not know it, but when it comes to pillows, back sleepers have very different needs than side- or stomach-sleepers.

For example, a back-sleeper pillow needs to be firm enough to prevent your head from pivoting too far back on your neck while remaining soft enough to mold around and support your neck.   This is to keep your spine aligned correctly so you don’t wake up with a stiff, sore neck.

When you sleep on your back the right pillow is also essential for clear breathing. If your head is held too far forward your neck will compress and restrict your airway, which can worsen snoring and sleep apnea.  

In this in-depth buying guide, we will review the seven best pillows for back sleepers currently sold online.

Note: If you are experiencing back pain, I recommend pairing these pillows with the right mattress. Read my reviews of the best mattresses for back pain for a few good suggestions. 

What's In This Buying Guide?

In this pillow buying guide, I'll review what I believe are the best 7 pillows for people who sleep primarily on their back.

I'll also cover the unique needs of back sleepers, the features to consider when buying a pillow for a back sleeper, how to correctly position a pillow for back sleepers and cover a few Frequently Asked Questions.

I hope this guide will simplify your decision and bring you many nights of pleasant, restful sleep.  And no neck pain in the morning.

So let's dive in!

Best Pillows for Back Sleepers

PlushBeds Solid
Latex Pillow

PlushBeds Solid Natural Latex Pillow


My Pillow Premium

MyPillow Premium Series [Std/Queen, Medium Fill] Available in 4 Loft Levels


Classic Brands
Cool Sleep

Classic Brands Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Gusseted Bed Pillow, Queen, White


Sahara Nights Club

Sobel Westex: Sahara Nights Pillow, Best Pillow for Back and Stomach Sleepers – Hotel & Resort Quality Pillows – Gel Fiber Fill 100% Cotton – Hypoallergenic Pillow (Queen Size Pillow)


Coop Home Goods
Adjustable Shredded
Memory Foam

Coop Home Goods - Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow - Hypoallergenic Cross-Cut Memory Foam Fill - Lulltra Washable Cover from Bamboo Derived Rayon - CertiPUR-US/GREENGUARD Gold Certified - Queen


Malouf Z Zoned
Memory Foam

MALOUF ZZQQHFZD Queenhigh Loft Firm, Queen, White


Customsleeping Pillow
With Shredded Gel
Memory Foam

ORIGINAL Cervical pillow with PREMIUM memory foam for a DEEP, Happy SLEEP - like a baby! BETTER POSTURE Adjustable Neck Support for Neutral body Alignment, COMFY orthopedic pillow|Gift-FREE PILLOWCASE


Sleep Innovations
Cool Contour
Memory Foam

Sleep Innovations Cooling Contour Memory Foam Pillow, Cervical Support Pillow for Sleeping, Made in The USA with 5 - Year Warranty, Standard Pillow


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1. PlushBeds Solid Natural Latex Pillow

PlushBeds Solid Natural Latex Pillow

The PlushBeds solid natural latex pillow is a great choice for back and side sleepers. If you frequently go from sleeping on your back to your side during the night, the PlushBeds pillow ensures you stay comfortable in either position.

With a loft of 4” for the Standard size and 5” for the Queen and King sizes, the PlushBeds pillow is a medium-loft design, which is perfect for back and side combo sleepers.

When you are on your side, the medium-high loft ensures your neck and spine are properly aligned. When you turn on your back, the pillow holds your head at the right height.

In both positions, the medium firm feel of the latex pillow allows it to conform easily to your head, neck and shoulders. This eliminates pressure points, ensuring you don’t wake up with a sore neck or shoulder.

In fact, the PlushBeds natural latex pillow is great choice for sleepers already suffering from neck pain or back pain. 

To get the best from the PlushBeds pillow, pair it with a mattress that’s also comfortable for back sleeping. We recommend a medium-firm or firm mattress like the PlushBeds Botanical Bliss. If your current mattress is uncomfortable and you don’t want to buy a new one, get a mattress topper designed for back sleepers

Underneath the organic cotton cover is solid natural latex. Latex has many advantages over memory foam.

The biggest is that it sleeps cooler. If you have trouble with overheating or sweating too much at night, sleeping on the PlushBeds natural latex pillow should help.

The organic cotton cover also helps a big deal with cooling and sweat absorption. It feels much better against your skin compared to a pillow with a polyester cover.

Many people also love how latex pillows retain their shape even after many years of use. Natural latex’s springiness allows it to regain shape when you wake up.

The PlushBeds natural latex pillow should last you several years. It comes with a 3-year warranty to guarantee it.

As for care and cleaning, you have two options. The first is to spot clean the pillow if it get dirty or stained.

Obviously, you cannot throw the latex pillow into the washer and the cotton cover is not removable. Spot cleaning is the only way to get dirt spots out of the cover.

The second option, and this is the one we recommend, is to get a second pillow cover. Look for a cotton cover so that you don’t compromise the pillow’s breathability. A bamboo cover is also great.   

Using a second removable pillowcase protects the pillow, and you only need to wash the case.


Fill: Solid natural latex

Cover material: Organic cotton

Loft: 4-5 inches

Warranty: 3 years

Cleaning: Spot cleaning


  • Great support for back and side sleepers.
  • Sleeps cool.
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking organic cotton cover.
  • 3-year warranty.


  • You cannot remove cover for washing.
  • Cost more than foam pillows.

2. My Pillow Premium


MyPillow Premium Series [Std/Queen, Medium Fill] Available in 4 Loft Levels


The MyPillow company was the idea of an entrepreneur, Mike Lindell, who started it after he couldn’t find a comfortable pillow.

The pillow is filled with shredded polyurethane foam like many other pillows. But the foam pieces are different shapes and sizes.     

This allows the pieces to interlock when compressed. The smaller pieces fill in the spaces in between the larger pieces, giving the pillow a firm-but-contouring feel that is perfect for back sleepers.

A 2” gusset gives the pillow a comfortable 6” loft.

My Pillow Premium ensures you turn less at night, sleep more comfortably, sore less and breathe better.

The pillow arrives rolled up and looking rather flat. The company recommends putting it in the dryer for 15 minutes. It will rise its natural plump and soft shape.

Most customers never do this, which explains the negative reviews complaining about the pillow being too flat.

MyPillow claims that the pillow will never go flat. They back that up with a 10-year warranty. You need to plump it regularly.  

The pillow comes in 2 sizes and four fill/comfort options. The dimensions are Standard Queen (16.6 x 26 inches) and King (16.5 x 32 inches).  

MyPillow Premium Series [Std/Queen, Medium Fill] Available in 4 Loft Levels

Comfort options are color-coded: yellow for least firm, white for regular fill, green for more fill and blue for the firm.

If you are not sure which is the best fit for you, they have a handy guide that use t-shirt sizes to recommend the right size.

If you have been sleeping on a feather pillow, they recommend going one size lower than what the chart recommends. So if you are an ‘XL’ drop one level and get the ‘Large’ comfort fit.


Cleaning: Machine washable & dryable

Fill: shredded polyfoam

Cover material: 100% cotton

Warranty: 10 years


  • Contours well around the head and neck.
  • Great head support.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking cover.
  • Made in the USA.


  • You can feel the shredded pieces through the cover.
  • Fairly expensive considering it uses poly foam, a cheap type of foam and a simple cotton cover.

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3. Classic Brands Cool Sleep Advanced Contour Cool Gel Memory Foam Pillow

Classic Brands Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Gusseted Bed Pillow, Queen, White

If you live in a hot area or you tend to get hot at night, this is the best pillow for you. It’s also a great choice if you have frequent hot flashes at night.

The pillow contains cooling gel to keep your head and neck cool. Also, the memory foam is perforated. This improves ventilation, ensuring the foam does not trap heat.

That’s not all. The cover consists of cool pass fiber that wicks away excess sweat. This is great for those who experience night sweats.

The pillow is designed for back and side sleepers.

With a loft of 6,” it’s at the perfect height to hold your head in alignment with your spine.

The memory foam contours perfectly around your head and neck, providing support and pressure relief exactly where you need them.

In the middle where your head goes, a slight depression cradles your head. Then the raised edge goes under your neck, which keeps it from getting all stiff and sore when you sleep.

For the few times you sleep on your side, one side of the pillow curves inwards, leaving a nook to accommodate your shoulder.

This ensures that your shoulder and head are not both on the same level which would strain your neck.


Size: standard – 22” by 16.”

Loft: 6.”

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable

Cover material: Performance Knit Polyester

Fill: gel memory foam


  • Antimicrobial, allergen, dust mite, mold and bacteria protection.
  • Memory foam fill provides excellent head and neck support.  
  • Contoured surface for added comfort.
  • Stays cool and wicks away moisture.


  • Even with the cooling gel, the memory foam may still feel a bit too warm for those who are extra-sensitive to heat.   
  • You can only wash the cover, not the entire pillow.

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4. Sahara Nights Pillow

Sobel Westex: Sahara Nights Pillow, Best Pillow for Back and Stomach Sleepers – Hotel & Resort Quality Pillows – Gel Fiber Fill 100% Cotton – Hypoallergenic Pillow (Queen Size Pillow)

If you like the feel of a down pillow but would also prefer something a bit firmer to support your head and neck, try the Sahara Nights Pillow.

It hits that sweet spot between firm and soft that most back sleepers love. It is soft enough to contour around your head but also firm enough that your head doesn’t sink too much.

The pillow uses a polyester fiber gel fill that not only feels comfortable but also keeps you fresh.

The hypoallergenic soft cotton cover does an excellent job wicking away perspiration and maintaining free airflow for heat dissipation.

The pillow is available in 3 sizes: Standard, Queen, and King.


Fill: polyester fiber gel

Cover material: 100% cotton (woven with 233 thread count)

Cleaning: machine washable


  • Luxury hotel comfort level (the Sahara Nights pillow is used in many top hotels).
  • A soft-yet-firm feel that is perfect for back sleepers.
  • Gel fiberfill keeps the pillow cool.
  • Machine washable.
  • Great price.


  • Doesn’t last very long – around one year.

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5. Coop Home Goods Adjustable Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Coop Home Goods - Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow - Hypoallergenic Cross-Cut Memory Foam Fill - Lulltra Washable Cover from Bamboo Derived Rayon - CertiPUR-US/GREENGUARD Gold Certified - Queen

Pillows with shredded filling are particular favorites for back sleepers. They mold better to your head and neck, and you can adjust the loft of the pillow by removing some of the fillings.

This shredded memory foam pillow by Coop Home Goods is one of the most popular with over 15,000 reviews on Amazon.

It uses CertiPUR-US Certified foam so don’t worry about PBDEs, phthalates or other harmful chemicals. It contains none of them.

The memory foam immediately molds to your head when you go to sleep. The 4.5” loft keeps your head at the right level in alignment with your spine.

But if it feels too high, it’s easy to adjust the pillow. Just take some of the foam out to lower it.

Coop Home Goods - Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow - Hypoallergenic Cross-Cut Memory Foam Fill - Lulltra Washable Cover from Bamboo Derived Rayon - CertiPUR-US/GREENGUARD Gold Certified - Queen

The hypoallergenic and dust mite-resistant cover is consists of polyester (60%) and bamboo-derived rayon (40%).

Rayon helps keep the pillow cool while the polyester part of it adds durability and wicks away perspiration.

There is also an inner stretchy liner that improves contouring.

The pillow is available in Queen (20” by 30”) and King (20” by 36”) sizes.  


Fill: shredded memory foam

Cover material: polyester and rayon derived from bamboo

Loft: adjustable

Warranty: 5 years

Cleaning: machine washable


  • One of the most comfortable pillows for back sleepers.
  • Adjustable height and comfort.
  • Hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant cover.
  • Machine washable.
  • Stays cool and dry.
  • Contours better and lasts longer than solid memory foam pillows.


  • Requires regular fluffing to keep it in shape.  

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6. Malouf Z Zoned Memory Foam Pillow

MALOUF ZZQQHFZD Queenhigh Loft Firm, Queen, White

I’m a big fan of pillows (and mattresses) that provide zoned support sections for different parts of the body. 

This Z-zoned pillow is a great example. Instead of a uniform surface, it provides different firmness levels for your head and neck.      

The center where your head goes is softer. This allows the foam to cradle your head in a comforting hug.

The edges, where your neck is positioned, are firmer. This ensures your neck has proper support and alignment.  

The zoned design provides just the right balance of support and comfort.

The filling is memory foam. It is an open cell to ensure it doesn’t retain too much heat. For additional cooling, the pillow is wrapped in a removable tencel cover.

Compared to cotton, Tencel is cooler and better at wicking moisture.

The 7” loft may seem a bit too high, but it’s comfortable for most back sleepers. But if you think it is too high, there is a lower loft option (4.5”).


Size: queen – 29” by 16.”

Loft: 7” or 4.5.”

Fill: Open cell memory foam

Cover material: tencel

Warranty: 5 years

Cleaning: cover is removable and machine washable


  • Zoned support design provides enhanced contouring and support for back sleepers.
  • Open cell foam keeps the pillow cool and fresh.
  • Cool and moisture-wicking tencel cover — two loft options.


  • Non-adjustable.
  • You can only wash the cover.

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7. Custom Sleeping Pillow With Shredded Gel Memory Foam

ORIGINAL Cervical pillow with PREMIUM memory foam for a DEEP, Happy SLEEP - like a baby! BETTER POSTURE Adjustable Neck Support for Neutral body Alignment, COMFY orthopedic pillow|Gift-FREE PILLOWCASE

This is another great option for those who love the contouring feel of shredded foam pillows.

This orthopedic one by Custom Sleeping is a bit more advanced than your standard shredded memory foam.

What we like most is the customizability.

You can remove or add filling to change the loft of the pillow and make it softer or firmer. There is also a neck roll that you can adjust to fit any sleeping position.

The shredded memory foam is infused with gel to keep you cool through the night. It’s also blended with angel hair cluster fibers to give it a more fluffy and plush feel without sacrificing support.

If you have chronic neck pain, this is one of the best pillows you can buy. The design focuses on neck support.


Size: 25” by 17.”

Loft: 5” (can be adjusted)

Fill: shredded memory foam

Cover material: 100% cotton  

Warranty: 5 years  

Cleaning: machine washable


  • Great for those with neck pain.
  • Shredded memory foam filling provides a great mix of contouring and support — adjustable comfort.
  • Gel memory foam and cotton cover keep the pillow cool.
  • Includes free Tencel pillowcase.


  • Adjusting the filling and neck support is a bit tedious.

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8. Sleep Innovations Cool Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Sleep Innovations Cooling Contour Memory Foam Pillow, Cervical Support Pillow for Sleeping, Made in The USA with 5 - Year Warranty, Standard Pillow

This memory foam pillow has the same contoured design as the Classic Brands pillow: a low center to cradle your head and a raised lip on the edges to support your neck.

One edge is slightly higher than the other. I recommend trying both sides for three days each to see which one feels more comfortable.  

The pillow is made from memory foam, so contouring is not an issue. Many customers describe it as sleeping on a soft-but-firm cloud.

It cradles your head while supporting your neck.

The memory foam has an open-cell design that keeps air flowing freely in and out of the pillow. This helps with temperature and moisture regulation.

The microfiber cover further helps keep the pillow cool and wicks away sweat.


Size: Queen (24” by 15”) & standard (20.8” by 14.2”) sizes

Loft: 5.”

Fill: solid open cell memory foam

Cover material: microfiber

Warranty: 5 years

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable


  • Made in the USA.
  • Contoured design provides great support and comfort.
  • Open cell memory foam prevents overheating.
  • Moister-wicking microfiber cover.  


  • Might feel too warm for extra heat sensitive sleepers.
  • The slight chemical smell when you unbox it. It dissipates in 2-3 days.

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Features to Consider When Buying Pillows for a Back Sleeper

Sleeping on your back keeps your spine in natural alignment and can help with acid reflux. 

But it also increases the risk of neck strain and can worsen snoring.

To avoid these problems, get a pillow that props up your head at the right height to maintain good breathing and provides proper support for your neck.

Here’s what you should consider when shopping for a back sleeper pillow.


Loft refers to the height of the mattress.

If it’s too high, your head will be higher than your body, and your neck will be forced to curve upwards. If it’s too low, your head will drop too far back, and your neck will curve backward.

Both are bad for your neck and spine.

The best loft for back sleepers is somewhere in the middle – between 4” and 7”.

This ensures your head and neck are perfectly aligned with your spine.

If you are not sure the exact height that will be comfortable for you, get an adjustable pillow with customizable loft.


Pillow sizes range from small (20” by 12”) to full body size.

The most common sizes are Standard (20 by 26 in), Queen (20 by 30 in) and King (20 by 36 in). Note that the dimensions vary slightly from brand to brand.

Get a larger pillow if you have a bigger body. You’ll also appreciate a wider pillow if you toss and turn a lot at night.

Surface Design

If you don’t want the traditional pillow with a smooth uniform surface, get a contoured pillow, also called a cervical pillow.

This is a pillow with a sunken center and raised edges. It molds perfectly to your head and neck profile, proving a great combination of support and contouring.

Contoured pillows are beneficial for people with specialized comfort needs such as neck pain, pinched neck, and other joint and spinal problems.


As with loft, back sleepers find middle-of-the-road firmness pillows to be the most comfortable. It shouldn’t be too firm or too soft.

This allows the pillow to provide a good mix of support and contouring.

Some pillows have a zoned support design. This is where certain sections are firmer than others.

A good example is the Malouf Z Zoned Memory Foam Pillow I have reviewed above.

Zoned pillows generally provide better contouring and support than pillows with a uniform firmness. They are especially beneficial for people with special comfort needs.


Back sleepers need a pillow that is neither too soft nor too firm. So the type of filling, which determines firmness, is essential.

The best pillow materials are buckwheat, memory foam, shredded memory foam or polyfoam and latex.

These pillows provide an excellent level of firmness and the right loft.

If you tend to get too warm at night, go for latex or gel memory foam pillows. They sleep cooler than standard memory foam pillows.

We don’t recommend down, down alternative or polyester pillows. They tend to flatten out too quickly and are too soft to provide proper support.

Solid vs Shredded Memory Foam

If you are planning to get a memory foam pillow, there are two popular options: solid memory foam and shredded memory foam.

Solid memory foam is just that; a solid uniform piece of memory foam. The foam will often be open-celled or infused with gel for cooling.

While they provide excellent support for back sleepers, the lack of adjustability is a big issue for some people. These pillows also tend to wear out faster.

Shredded memory foam pillows consist of small pieces of memory foam.    

They mold better to your head and neck compared to solid memory foam, providing better support and pressure relief.

These pillows also tend to last longer. They do not flatten as quickly as solid pillows.

The biggest advantage of shredded pillows is that you can often adjust the loft and feel of the mattress by taking some of the pieces out.

Cover Material

Most pillows have a cotton cover. It’s right at wicking away sweat. It’s also breathable, which keeps the pillow cool.

Some pillows use unique fabrics like Tencel and Rayon to enhance cooling.

Ease of Cleaning

Before you buy a pillow, check whether you can machine-wash it. This makes it easy to keep the pillow clean and hygienic.

Some pillows, especially those that use solid memory foam, cannot be washed. The only option is to remove the cover and clean it.

If you buy such a pillow, make sure the cover is removable and washable. I also recommend purchasing a pillow protector to keep the pillow clean and stain-free.

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How to Position the Pillow Correctly for Sleeping on Your Back

There’s no rocket science to positioning your pillow for maximum comfort. Just use it normally.

Make sure only your head and neck are resting on the pillow. If part of your back is on the pillow, it’s going to mess up your neck-spine alignment.

If the pillow is adjustable, you may need to test different configurations to find the most comfortable one for you.

This usually involves removing or adding filling.

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Benefits of a Back Sleeper Pillow

  • It prevents your neck from straining. A good back sleeper pillow ensures your head position is not forcing your neck into an awkward shape.
  • It promotes good breathing and reduces snoring. Sleeping on your back constricts your airways and is especially unpleasant for people with sleep apnea and breathing problems. A back sleeper pillow raises your head and neck, allowing you to breathe normally.
  • It helps with neck pain. If you have chronic neck pain because of an accident or a medical condition, a good quality back sleeper pillow can help. Contoured and zoned support pillows are especially good.
  • It maintains proper sleeping posture. A back sleeper pillow keeps your head, neck, and spine at the same level. This not only keeps your neck from getting stiff and sore, but it also prevents back pain — less turning and tossing. If you toss and turn a lot at night, it’s probably because you are not comfortable. A good back sleeper pillow should help you sleep more soundly.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What firmness is best for back sleepers?

Medium firm.

What is the best pillow for back pain?

Any pillow that provides good support and alignment for the head and neck.

I highly recommend a cervical pillow with a sunken middle and raised edges. It provides the best alignment and support.

What kinds of pillows are used in hotels?

Hotel pillows tend to fall more on the soft and plush side. This is because they use down, down alternative or microfiber.

This is a problem for back sleepers who often need firmer support and a loftier pillow. But most hotels are glad to provide you with a foam pillow if you ask.

Are memory foam pillows good for your back?

Yes, they are.

They provide a right balance between firm support and soft comfort. The pillow will let your head sink into a soft hug but hold your neck at the right height.

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