Best Pillows for Back Sleepers – Our Picks and Buying Guide

Our Review Process
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Quick Summary
Back sleeping may not be as common as side or combination sleeping, but many adults prefer this position the most. Those who sleep on their backs experience natural spinal alignment, and do not need extra cushioning in sensitive areas the same way side sleepers do. However, there are certain drawbacks to back sleeping, such as a higher risk of snoring and higher risk of neck pain.

Pillow selection can make a significant difference in sleep quality for back sleepers. Pillows with higher loft (or thickness) offer more support to the head and neck, which can minimize snoring. Additionally, back sleepers tend to feel most comfortable on pillows that conform closely to alleviate pain and pressure points that develop in the neck, as well as the shoulders and other sensitive areas.

This guide includes pillow considerations and buying tips for back sleepers, as well as our picks for the best pillows for back sleepers sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.

Best Pillows for Back Sleepers

Editor’s Pick – Nest Bedding Easy Breather

Best Value Pillow – Coop Home Goods Eden

Best Luxury Pillow – Leesa Hybrid Pillow

Best Cooling Pillow – Purple Pillow

Best Loft Range – Hullo

Best for Pressure Relief – Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

How We Decided

 

70 pillows considered –– 120 hours of research –– 4 sleep experts consulted

Best Pillows for Back Sleepers – Tuck's Top 6 Pillows

Nest Bedding Easy Breather – Editor's Pick

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’ firmness
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 2-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Sleeps cool and alleviates pressure well

Our Editor’s Pick is the Easy Breather from Nest Bedding, a shredded memory foam pillow that provides excellent support and optimal cushioning for back sleepers. The foam conforms closely to cradle the neck and alleviate pressure points. The pillow also sleeps exceptionally cool due to good airflow within the interior of the pillow; the breathable Tencel® lyocell cover also plays a role in the Easy Breather’s great temperature neutrality.

Another benefit of the pillow is adjustable loft. Owners can add or remove the shredded foam in order to increase or decrease the thickness, making the Easy Breather ideal for sleepers with fluctuating loft preferences. Additionally, the pillow is very moldable and perfect for those who like to snuggle with pillows while they sleep.

The Easy Breather qualifies for free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Nest Bedding offers a 100-night sleep trial for the pillow, as well as a two-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • Sleepers with shifting loft preferences

Check Price | Read Our Full Nest Easy Breather Pillow Review

Coop Home Goods Eden – Best Value Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Medium Soft’ firmness
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 5-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Great shape retention

Another great shredded memory foam pillow is the Eden from Coop Home Goods. This pillow features gel-infused memory foam contained within a bamboo-rayon cover; these components allow the Eden to sleep exceptionally cool. The loft is also fully adjustable to accommodate back sleepers with different thickness preferences.

Cleaning the Eden is fairly easy; simply remove the polyester liner and wash the cover in a machine. The pillow also retains its shape fairly well – a problematic issue for many shredded foam models – and will not need much fluffing. The Eden carries an expected lifespan of three years, which is longer than average.

The Coop Home Goods Eden is our Best Value Pillow because its price-point is well below that of the average memory foam pillow. The Eden qualifies for free shipping in all 50 states, and comes backed with a 100-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty – both of which are longer than average.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Sleepers with shifting loft preferences

Check Price | Read Our Full Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow Review

Leesa Hybrid Pillow – Best Luxury Pillow

Highlights
  • Flippable with dual firmness (‘Medium Soft,’ ‘Medium Firm’)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 3-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Innovative, multi-textured design

The Leesa Hybrid is a flippable pillow with one side that is quilted, contoured, and padded with down alternative, as well as a flat side with a gel insert. This innovative design allows back sleepers to choose from two different feels: soft and pressure-relieving, or supportive and exceptionally cool. The down alternative fill can be added or removed at any time to adjust the loft, making the Leesa Hybrid suitable for sleepers of all body types.

Additionally, the Leesa Hybrid offers two different firmness settings: ‘Medium Soft’ on the quilted side and ‘Medium Firm’ on the cool side. These are two of the most popular firmness settings among back sleepers. The pillow is also easy to clean; the cover and interliner are both machine washable.

The Leesa Hybrid has a price-point that is above-average, making it a good option for shoppers with bigger budgets. Leesa offers free shipping to all 50 states; the pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Those with shifting loft preferences
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers

Check Price | Read Our Full Leesa Hybrid Pillow Review

Purple Pillow – Best Cooling Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 1-year warranty
  • Medium loft (3″)
  • Excellent shape retention and exceptional durability

Like the mattresses that share its name, the Purple Pillow is constructed with the innovative ‘Smart Grid’ design that features buckling-column gel dispersed throughout an elastic polymer grid. These materials conform closely to the sleeper’s head and neck, much like memory foam and latex, but the polymers do not deteriorate as quickly and the pillow’s lifespan is much longer than average.

The Purple Pillow also sleeps cooler than most pillows on the market today. This is due to great air circulation throughout the grid, as well as the breathable polyester and spandex mesh cover. Owners do not need to fluff the pillow often, either, due to its strong shape retention. Its 3″ loft is optimal for sleepers who prefer thinner pillows – as well as those with relatively small heads and/or narrow shoulders.

Purple will ship the pillow anywhere in the contiguous U.S. free of charge. The pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a one-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Those who prefer lower-loft pillows
  • Shoppers with bigger budgets

Check Price | Read Our Full Purple Pillow Review

Hullo – Best Loft Range

Highlights
  • ‘Firm’ firmness
  • 60-night sleep trial
  • Adjustable loft
  • Sleeps very cool for most
  • Close conforming and pressure relief

Buckwheat pillows have gained a large following among sleepers in recent years due to their adjustable loft, great temperature neutrality, and above-average levels of pain and pressure relief. The Hullo is one of the best buckwheat pillows sold today, as well as one of the most eco-friendly; it contains natural buckwheat hulls with no synthetic fillers housed within a cover made of organic-cotton twill.

The Hullo is ‘Firm,’ which makes it most suitable for sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups. The loft is fully adjustable; a resealable opening allows easy access to the interior of the pillow, where owners may add or remove hulls at will. Hulltex LLC, the company that produces the Hullo, sells hulls in bulk whenever more are needed. The cover is machine washable and the hulls never need to be cleaned.

Hulltex LLC offers free shipping for the Hullo anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The pillow comes with a 60-night sleep trial.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups
  • Those with shifting loft preferences
  • Eco-friendly pillow shoppers

Check Price | Read Our Full Hullo Pillow Review

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow – Best Pillow for Pressure Relief

Highlights
  • ‘Extra Firm’ firmness
  • 5-year warranty
  • Multiple loft options (3″, 4″, 4.5″)
  • Pressure-relieving orthopedic design
  • Exceptional durability

Many back sleepers who live with chronic neck pain prefer to sleep on orthopedic pillows, which have a ridged shape that offers enhanced neck support. The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow from Tempur-Pedic is a standout orthopedic option because it is available in multiple thickness options ranging from 3″ to 4.5″, accommodating sleepers with low- and medium-loft preferences. Tempur-Pedic memory foam is also highly durable, giving the TEMPUR-Neck an expected lifespan that far exceeds that of the average foam pillow.

The pillow is made from single-piece ‘Extra Firm’ memory foam, and offers supportive cushioning to the neck and head without excessive sinking, which can affect spinal alignment. As a result, the pillow will alleviate aches and pressure points in the sleeper’s most sensitive areas. The cover is removable and machine washable.

The TEMPUR-Neck has a below-average price-point, making it a high-value option for shoppers. Tempur-Pedic offers free pillow shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S., and the TEMPUR-Neck is backed by a longer-than-average five-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups
  • Value seekers
  • Those who prefer ridged, orthopedic designs

Check Price | Read Our Full Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow Review

Best Pillows for Back Sleepers Buyer's Guide

Fewer than 10% of adults primarily sleep on their back. This position (unlike side sleeping) aligns the spine and neck, and is associated with less neck and shoulder pain than stomach sleeping. However, people tend to snore more when sleeping on their back and this can lead to sleep disruption for the sleeper and their partner.

Choosing the right pillow is crucial for getting a good night’s rest as a back sleeper. This guide will explore how the body responds to back sleeping, look at different pillow types, and reveal our picks for the best pillows for back sleepers.

|What You Need to Know About Back Sleeping|

The three general positions associated with back sleeping are illustrated below. They differ in terms of arm and leg extension. In the Soldier position, the arms are fully extended while one or both knees are bent slightly. In the Starfish position, both arms are bent at the elbows with the hands resting at the head level. And in the Savasana position, both arms and both legs are fully extended.

Sleeping Positions - Back

Some advantages of sleeping on one’s back include the following:

  • Optimal spinal alignment: Back sleeping provides more spinal alignment than other positions. However, sleeping without a pillow is considered the best position for alignment — and most people find this uncomfortable. A thicker, firmer pillow that cradles the head and neck without letting it tilt too far back is the best option for most back sleepers.
  • No extra pillows needed: People who sleep on their sides or stomachs often utilize secondary pillows between or beneath their legs for extra support. Most back sleepers do not need to use secondary pillows (but many do anyway).
  • Fewer wrinkles: Side and stomach sleepers often sleep with one side of their face on the pillow, which can cause early wrinkles to form. Because their faces don’t touch the pillow, back sleepers do not need to worry about this issue.
  • Can minimize acid reflux symptoms: Acid reflux is a medical condition characterized by stomach acid rising into the esophagus. Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux. Sleeping on one’s back can alleviate heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux as long as the pillow is supportive and elevated — otherwise, back sleeping may exacerbate these symptoms.

Now, let’s look at some disadvantages of sleeping on one’s back.

  • Higher snoring potential: Sleeping on one’s back causes breathing muscles in the airway to relax, which can lead to heavy snoring. People with obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, are especially susceptible to snoring when lying on their back. For this reason, doctors recommend side sleeping for people with sleep apnea, as well as people who snore heavily for other reasons.
  • Greater risk of neck pain: Back sleepers can reduce aches and pains by using a supportive pillow and keeping their bodies aligned throughout the night. However, sleeping with one’s neck bent to one side can disrupt alignment and cause pain and pressure points to develop, even if the pillow is sufficiently supportive.  
  • May cause issues for pregnant women: Pregnant women who sleep on their backs are at risk for compressed veins. These include the inferior vena cava, which runs beneath the uterus; a compressed inferior vena cava can cause blood pressure levels to plummet. Most physicians urge pregnant women to sleep on their sides; this position is generally more comfortable, particularly during the latter stages of their pregnancy, and minimizes the risk of vein compression.

|Choosing the Right Pillow for Back Sleepers|

Back sleepers should consider several variables when selecting a new pillow. These include the following:

Size: Pillows come in six standard sizes, as well as a smaller specialty size that is normally reserved for certain types of pillows.

  • Small (20W” x 12L”): This specialty size is normally associated with cervical memory foam pillows, as well as pillows made from materials like buckwheat (see below). 
  • Standard (20W” x 26L”): Standard is the most common pillow size, as well as the most compact and — usually — the lowest priced. This size is not ideal for people who toss and turn, as their heads can easily slip off one of the sides.
  • Super Standard (20W” x 28L”): The Super Standard is two inches longer than a Standard, making it a possible alternative for people who toss and turn and find the smaller size to be too short.
  • Queen (20W” x 30L”): A Queen-size pillow will accommodate most sleepers who toss and turn, since it is four inches longer than a Standard.
  • King (20W” x 36L”): The King is ideal for people who prefer longer pillows, and this size also provides a comfortable backrest or headrest for people who read or watch television in bed.
  • Euro (dimensions vary): Unlike the other standard pillow sizes, Euro-size pillows are square-shaped. They come in many different dimensions; the most popular dimensions include 26W” x 26L” and 20W” x 20L”. Most people in the U.S. do not sleep with Euro pillows as their primary head and neck support, but they are popular choices for backrests and headrests.
  • Body (48-54W” x 20L”): Body pillows are exceptionally long. They are a good choice for sleepers who like to snuggle with a pillow.

Surface shape: Pillows may have even or contoured surfaces. Even-surface pillows are the more common option; they have full or flat shapes, depending on the material, but no contours. Curved-surface pillows include cervical memory foam pillows, which are elevated below the neck and recessed below the head. Curved-surface pillows are suitable for all sleepers, especially those with neck and/or shoulder pain.

Loft: Loft, or thickness, is crucial for back sleepers because too much or too little loft can compromise their spinal alignment. Generally speaking, there are three categories of pillow loft:

  • Low-loft: Less than three inches (3″) thick.
  • Medium-loft: Three to five inches (3″ to 5″) thick.
  • High-loft: More than five inches (5″) thick.

Most back sleepers prefer medium- or high-loft pillows because they elevate the neck and head. This can help the sleeper maintain spinal alignment, and it also cuts down on snoring for some. Low-loft pillows may cause the head to drop back, which can cause more snoring and may also lead to pain and pressure points.

However, choosing the right pillow loft depends on other factors like the sleeper’s body weight, head size, and shoulder width, as well as the firmness of the mattress they use. The table below lists optimal conditions for each loft category.

Loft CategoryThicknessOptimal Sleeper WeightOptimal Head SizeOptimal Shoulder WidthOptimal Mattress Firmness
LowLess than 3″More than 230 lbs.SmallNarrowSoft to Medium Soft
Medium3″ to 5″130 to 230 lbs.AverageAverageMedium
HighMore than 5″Less than 130 lbs.LargeBroadMedium Firm to Firm

Many pillows offer adjustable loft; simply remove or add more filling to the interior pocket to decrease or increase how thick it feels. Adjustable-loft pillows are a suitable option for people whose thickness preferences vary from night to night.

Pillow material: Pillows may be made from a wide range of natural or synthetic materials. Each material option has benefits and drawbacks associated with them. Back sleepers generally need a pillow that is firm and thick enough to support their head and neck, which helps them maintain spinal alignment. In addition, shoppers should consider other factors like cost, temperature neutrality, and odor or allergy potential. The table below lists descriptions, pros, cons, and back sleeper ratings for the seven most common pillow materials.

Pillow MaterialFilling DescriptionProsConsBack Sleeper Rating
BuckwheatBetween five and 10 lbs. of removable buckwheat hulls (outer shells)Adjustable loft
Close conforming
Good support
Sleeps cool
High cost
Too firm for some
Noise potential
Heavy
Very Good
Buckwheat pillows are usually thick and firm enough to support back sleepers, and adjustable loft allows them to make the necessary customizations
DownDuck or goose down, which is the soft inner plumage found beneath the outer feathersAdjustable loft
Very soft and lightweightSleeps cool
Short break-in
Long lifespan
High price-point
Poor shape retention
Fluffing needed
Allergy and odor potential
Fair
Most down pillows are fairly soft, even at maximum loft, and will not provide sufficient support for back sleepers
Down AlternativePolyester puffballs that mimic the softness and weight or authentic downAdjustable loft
Low price-point
Very soft and lightweight
Short break-in
No allergy risk
Short lifespan
Poor shape retention
Fluffing needed
Short lifespan
Poor
Down alternative pillows have short lifespans and become flat easily, which can be problematic for back sleepers seeking thick, firm pillows that elevate their head
FeatherOuter feathers of ducks or geese (may also include some down for extra softness)Adjustable loft
Close conforming
Very soft and lightweight
Long lifespan
High cost
Quills can poke
Fluffing needed
May sleep hot
Odor potential
Good
Feathers are not as soft as down, making them more suitable for back sleepers who can adjust the loft accordingly
LatexSolid latex, which is a natural substance extracted from the sap of rubber treesClose conforming
Good support
Close conforming
Long lifespan
Sleep cool
No noise
Non-adjustable loft
High cost
Too dense and heavy for some
Odor potential
Very Good
Latex pillows maintain a full shape and are firm enough to support most back sleepers
Memory FoamShredded or solid memory foam, or viscoelastic polyfoam, which softens when warm and retains shape when coolAdjustable loft (shredded)
Close conforming
No noise
High cost
Short lifespan
Odor potential
Very Good
Memory foam pillows are suitable for back sleepers, particularly firm models or cervical pillows that are shaped for elevated support
PolyesterShredded or interlocking polyester fibers; polyester is a synthetic fabricLow cost
Good shape retention (interlocking)
No allergy risk
No odor potential
Short lifespan
Poor shape retention (shredded)
Noise potential
Fair
Interlocking polyester pillows maintain a full shape, making them suitable for back sleepers; shredded polyester pillows lose shape and become flat easily, so these are not recommended for back sleepers

Cost: Finally, cost is an important consideration because price-points vary by material. Low-cost options include down alternative, feather, and polyester, while buckwheat, down, and memory foam are considered the most expensive options. The table below lists average price ranges for the seven most common pillow materials.

MaterialBuckwheatDownDown Alt. FeatherLatexMemory FoamPolyester
Average Price-point$50 to $75$70 to $100$20 to $30$25 to $50$40 to $60$50 to $60$10 to $15

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