Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers 2019: Top 7 Pillow Reviews & Buying Guide

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Affiliate Disclosure: I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase a mattress after clicking a referral link or using a coupon code on this site. That said, all content and opinions on this site are my own and are NOT affected by these payments.

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

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 2019

Pillow Price 
My Pillow Premium

My Pillow Premium

$

Classic Brands
Cool Sleep


$$

Sahara Nights Club

Sahara Nights Club

$$

Coop Home Goods
Adjustable Shredded
Memory Foam


Coop Home Goods

$$$

Malouf Z Zoned
Memory Foam


Malouf Z Zoned Memory Foam

$

Customsleeping Pillow
With Shredded Gel
Memory Foam


Customsleeping Pillow With Shredded Gel

$$

Sleep Innovations
Cool Contour
Memory Foam


Sleep Innovations Cool Contour Memory Foam Pillow

$

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My Pillow Premium

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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).  

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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.

Specs

Cleaning: Machine washable & dryable

Fill: shredded polyfoam

Cover material: 100% cotton

• Warranty: 10 years

Pros

• Contours well around the head and neck.

• Great head support.

• Easy to clean.

• Breathable and moisture-wicking cover.

• Made in the USA.

Cons

• 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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Classic Brands Cool Sleep Advanced Contour Cool Gel Memory Foam Pillow

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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.

Specs

Size: standard – 22” by 16.”

• Loft: 6.”

• Cleaning: cover is removable and washable

Cover material: Performance Knit Polyester

Fill: gel memory foam

Pros

• 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.

Cons

• 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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Sahara Nights Pillow

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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.

Specs

Fill: polyester fiber gel

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

Cleaning: machine washable

 Pros

• 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.

Cons

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

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Coop Home Goods Adjustable Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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.

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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.  

Specs

Fill: shredded memory foam

Cover material: polyester and rayon derived from bamboo

Loft: adjustable

Warranty: 5 years

Cleaning: machine washable

Pros

• 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.

Cons

• Requires regular fluffing to keep it in shape.  

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Malouf Z Zoned Memory Foam Pillow

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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”).

Specs

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

Pros

• 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.

Cons

• Non-adjustable.

• You can only wash the cover.

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Custom sleeping Pillow With Shredded Gel Memory Foam

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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.

Specs

Size: 25” by 17.”

Loft: 5” (can be adjusted)

Fill: shredded memory foam

Cover material: 100% cotton  

Warranty: 5 years  

Cleaning: machine washable

Pros

• 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.

Cons

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

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Sleep Innovations Cool Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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.

Specs

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

Pros

• Made in the USA.

• Contoured design provides great support and comfort.

• Open cell memory foam prevents overheating.

• Moister-wicking microfiber cover.  

Cons

• 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

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.

Size

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.

Firmness

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.

Fill

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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Affiliate Disclosure: I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase a mattress after clicking a referral link or using a coupon code on this site. That said, all content and opinions on this site are my own and are NOT affected by these payments.

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