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Best Pillows for Back Pain – Top Picks and Buying Guide

Written by Tuck Staff

Quick Overview

Millions of adults in the U.S. experience frequent back pain that compromises their overall sleep quality, leaving them tired and unfocused the next day. Choosing the right pillow can be highly beneficial for those with chronic back pain, as some pillow materials conform closely to the sleeper’s head, neck, and shoulders in order to improve spinal alignment and alleviate pressure points. Sleeping with a pillow between one’s legs can reduce back pain, as well. By the same token, choosing the wrong pillow can worsen the symptoms of back pain.

Pillow shoppers face several considerations when choosing and comparing models. One important factor is loft, or pillow thickness; sleepers should take their weight, sleep position, head size, and shoulder width into account when deciding how thick or thin their pillow should be. Other key variables include temperature neutrality, shape retention, moldability, and price-point.

This guide will discuss some strategies for choosing a pillow that will alleviate back pain. Below you will find our picks for the best pillows for back pain sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.

Best Pillows for Back Pain

The Best Pillows for Back Pain - Reviewed

Best OverallTEMPUR-Neck Pillow

Best Overall – TEMPUR-Neck Pillow


  • Extra firm
  • Available in four sizes
  • Ergonomic design supports your head and neck
  • 5-year warranty
  • Free shipping
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Best OverallTEMPUR-Neck Pillow

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The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow features a contoured shape that offers relief to those who suffer from back pain. A raised bottom edge promotes alignment by supporting your neck and following your head’s natural curve. Tempur-Pedic is well-known for its high-quality products, and this pillow is no exception. Shoppers may also appreciate the TEMPUR-Neck’s approachable price-point, which is within the average range for an orthopedic pillow.

The pillow’s fill is a proprietary memory foam blend that’s designed to adapt to your individual shape and weight. The memory foam relieves pressure by cushioning your head and neck, while the pillow’s ergonomic shape offers support. Side and back sleepers are most likely to appreciate this pillow’s extra firm feel. Stomach sleepers may prefer a softer pillow.

Shoppers can purchase the TEMPUR-Neck in four loft options: small (3.5 inches), medium (4 inches), large (4.75 inches), and travel (4 inches). The removable, polyester knit cover is designed to be hypoallergenic and can be machine washed. Though Tempur-Pedic doesn’t allow returns or exchanges on this pillow, it does carry a 5-year warranty. UPS ground shipping is free within the contiguous U.S.

Good for:

  • Back and side sleepers
  • Shoppers who want multiple loft options to choose between
  • Sleepers seeking pressure relief
  • Those who prefer a firm pillow

Best ValueCoop Home Goods Eden

Best Value – Coop Home Goods Eden


  • Medium soft
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 5-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Great shape retention
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Best ValueCoop Home Goods Eden

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The Eden from Coop Home Goods is filled with shredded, gel-infused memory foam. The material offers close conforming and improved spinal alignment but also sleeps cooler than solid memory foam. The bamboo-rayon cover helps with temperature neutrality, as well. Additionally, the Eden’s loft is fully adjustable. Owners simply add or remove shredded foam fill to increase or decrease the loft, which can be helpful for those with thickness preferences that shift from night to night.

The Eden has an expected lifespan of three years or longer, which exceeds that of most other shredded foam models. The pillow is also easy to clean; a removable polyester liner allows owners to wash the cover in a machine without damaging the foam. The Eden is highly moldable, making it suitable for those who sleep with a pillow between their legs, but its shape retention is better than average.

The Eden has a price-point that is much lower than that of the average shredded memory foam pillow. Coop Home Goods will ship the pillow for free to all 50 states; the Eden is backed by 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

Best LuxurySaatva Pillow

Best Luxury – Saatva Pillow


  • Made from all-natural and renewable materials
  • Highly breathable, moisture-wicking cover
  • Hypoallergenic core
  • Mildew-proof and resistant to dust mites
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Best LuxurySaatva Pillow

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Few pillows are as luxurious as those reserved for guests at the best hotels. We feel the Saatva Pillow is as close you’ll get to enjoying high-quality hotel pillow without making a reservation. The pillow is made from a combination of 100 percent organic cotton, micro-denier fiber, and 100 percent shredded American Talalay latex. The Saatva Pillow is proof that you can enjoy luxury goods that are very well made but also responsibly constructed using only all-natural and renewable materials.

The Saatva Pillow comes encased in a breathable sateen cover, that wicks away moisture while promoting maximum airflow. Its inner core consists of highly responsive latex, which offers optimal head and neck support. Additionally, the core is naturally hypoallergenic, mildew-proof, and resistant to dust mites.

The outer pillow is washable. Remember to separate it from the core before cleaning it.

Good for:

  • Anyone who tends to sleep hot
  • Those who prefer products made from renewable materials
  • Sleepers in need of improved head and neck support
  • Avoiding allergies

Best For Side SleepersLayla Pillow

Best For Side Sleepers – Layla Pillow


  • Adjustable loft for comfort
  • CuTEC yarn helps remove dead skin cells
  • Free of harmful chemicals and pesticides
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Five-year warranty
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Best For Side SleepersLayla Pillow

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It can be tough getting the right amount of loft to support your head and neck while resting on your side. The Layla Pillow comes with a zipper that allows you to open the pillow and remove as much foam as you need to for getting the loft just right. The pillow is not only made for comfort, but it’s affordably priced and designed to last for years.

The Layla Pillow comes with a cover woven with a unique copper yarn known as CuTEC. Although associated with performance fabrics, this material helps remove dead skin cells and while keeping the pillow hygienic. The Layla Pillow is free of harmful chemicals, pesticides, and is hypoallergenic.

After purchasing the Layla Pillow, you have a 120-day trial window to return it for a full return. Additionally, it’s backed by a five-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Those who prefer to manually adjust their pillow loft
  • Shoppers who want to make sure their products are free of chemicals
  • Anyone in need of head and neck support

Best for Stomach SleepersParachute Down Alternative Pillow, Soft Composition

Best for Stomach Sleepers – Parachute Down Alternative Pillow, Soft Composition


  • Hypoallergenic microfiber filling
  • Designed to keep the neck in a more neutral position
  • Reinforced by a double-stitched piping seam
  • Comes with a three-year warranty
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Best for Stomach SleepersParachute Down Alternative Pillow, Soft Composition

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Parachute’s Down Alternative Pillows are great for providing plush comfort, and we think the soft density pillows are best for stomach sleepers. The soft version of the pillow is designed to keep the neck in a neutral position, allowing stomach sleepers to rest comfortably all night. In addition, Parachute’ Down Alternative Pillow comes with a pure microfiber filling is completely hypoallergenic. It comes wrapped in a 100 percent sateen cotton shell and reinforced by a double-stitched piping seam.

Parachute recommends dry cleaning the pillows, but if you do clean them yourself, machine wash cool on a delicate cycle using mild liquid laundry detergent. Tumble dry on low and remove immediately.

These pillows have a 90-day trial. Like all of Parachute’s down and down alternative products, they’re backed by a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Hypoallergenic microfiber filling
  • Designed to keep the neck in a more neutral position
  • Reinforced by a double-stitched piping seam
  • Comes with a three-year warranty

Best for Back SleepersBear Pillow

Best for Back Sleepers – Bear Pillow


  • Medium
  • 30-night sleep trial
  • 2-year warranty
  • Medium loft (5.5")
  • Conforms closely to alleviate pressure
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Best for Back SleepersBear Pillow

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The Bear Pillow is constructed from a single piece of aerated polyfoam and a polyester cover with mesh panels to promote airflow. The pillow sleeps very cool compared to other all-foam pillows. It also offers close conforming and pressure relief in the neck, shoulders, and other sensitive areas. The Bear Pillow is medium in terms of firmness, which is one of the most popular firmness levels among back sleepers – particularly those in the light and average weight groups. It is suitable for side and stomach sleepers, as well.

Additionally, the Bear Pillow is very moldable and scrunchy, but also retains a full shape due to its dense foam construction. And unlike many other all-foam pillows, the Bear Pillow produces minimal off-gassing odor; this is partially due to the mesh panels, which circulate air throughout the pillow and help push out unpleasant smells.

The Bear Pillow qualifies for free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 30-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Those who tend to sleep hot
  • People who prefer to snuggle with pillows while they sleep

Buying Guide - How to Shop for the Best Pillows for Back Pain

Back pain is, unfortunately, quite common among adults and children. Causes of back pain may include anything from muscle strains and arthritis to skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis. The right pillow can mitigate some of the pressure and discomfort associated with back pain — and by the same token, choosing the wrong pillow can have the opposite effect. Sleepers with back pain should consider factors like pillow size, shape, loft (thickness), and material composition when deciding which pillow will best meet their needs.

This guide explores the causes and symptoms of conditions that can lead to back pain, as well as tips for pillow buyers and our picks for the best pillows for back pain.

How Does Back Pain Affect Sleep?

Millions of Americans are living with chronically painful conditions. Pain is a leading cause of disability and the major contributor to healthcare costs. Back pain sufferers account for as much as 50 percent of America’s working population. Unfortunately, frequent pain often contributes to a lack of sleep. At the same time, not getting enough sleep increases the risk of chronic pain syndromes. For those suffering from back pain, getting comfortable enough to sleep is an especially delicate issue.

How Back Pain Negatively Impacts Sleep

If you’re not able to get your spine into the most ideal alignment and get as much support as possible, it will likely mean enduring more pain during the night. Before attempting to sleep, it might be best to consider how your sleep position might play a role in keeping you from getting enough rest.

For instance, sleeping on your back is actually considered the best possible position for proper spine alignment. If you experience frequent back pain, you might believe that sleeping on your stomach is the best possible way to avoid pain. In actuality, sleeping on your stomach is one of the worst positions for spine alignment and if you lack proper support from mattresses and bedding, this position might be backing your back condition worse.

When back pain keeps you from sleeping, you’re kept from getting the rest you need to be at your best the next day. Prolonged sleep deprivation often has severe consequences.

  • The body is unable to heal and recharge: When your back hurts too much to sleep, you’ll lose hours tossing and turning, unable to enter the healing stages of deep and REM sleep. It’s during sleep that your body removes toxins from your brain that build up while you’re awake. If you’re unable to cope with pain well enough to get rest, not only are you risking a risk in chronic pain, but also limiting your body’s ability to heal and recharge overall.
  • Greater risk of accidents or injury: Even though news stories and research is readily available about the dangers of drunk and distracted driving, operating a vehicle while sleepy can be just as dangerous. When you’re sleep deprived, your reaction time slows, which can lead to dangerous situations while driving.
  • Your chronic pain gets worse: As already stated, a lack of sleep actually raises your risk of developing chronic pain. A vicious cycle can develop where a lack of sleep due to back pain increases your symptoms which, in turn, makes it harder to sleep.

The implications of poor sleep are severe, so it’s important to do what you can to get a good night’s sleep and help your body. Fortunately, there are ways you can cope with chronic pain during the day that can ease symptoms enough to sleep at night.

Ways To Cope With Chronic Back Pain

Although it might seem out of your control, there are certain changes you can make in your everyday life that can ease the symptoms of chronic back pain. A few suggestions include:

  • Take up yoga: Yoga is an ancient fitness practice with scientifically proven health benefits. For instance, study results suggest that yoga is an effective form of physical therapy for improving moderate to severe lower back pain.
  • Avoid sitting or standing in one place for hours at a time: It’s very common that certain occupations where one sits with poor back support for a very long time can contribute to lower back pain.
  • Consider weight loss options: Carrying extra weight around the midsection can make you vulnerable to developing chronic back pain conditions.
  • Change your sleep position: Certain positions, such as sleeping on your stomach or in a fetal position, can put extra strain on your spine and cause pain. The best positions for avoiding these conditions are sleeping on your back or side.

Lastly, you should develop a series of bedtime habits that you act out every night when it’s getting close to bedtime. Turn down the lights, take a soothing bath, and read for a few minutes. Make sure activities are relaxing and that they encourage you to feel physically ready for bed. You’ll also want to make sure that you repeat these habits each night at around the same time as a way of training yourself to get ready for bed.

Additionally, make sure that your mattress and bedding are at an optimal firmness and softness level that will help you more easily cope with back pain. The combination of back support and improved sleep hygiene can help you ease chronic back pain symptoms over time and allow you to more easily sleep through the night.

Pillow Positioning Options for People with Back Pain

Individuals who experience back pain can adjust or reposition their pillows in order to alleviate their discomfort. According to Healthline, the following methods may be suitable for different sleepers:

  • Side sleeping with a pillow between the knees. You should ensure your body makes contact with the mattress between your shoulder and buttocks. The pillow should be placed in a position where it won’t slip out; this will help the hips and pelvis align with the spine, which can reduce pain and discomfort. If a gap forms between your side and the mattress, then a smaller pillow may be used to fill that space.
  • Fetal position with both knees tucked. To achieve this position, lie down on your back and then roll onto one side with both knees bent and tucked toward your chest. Bend your upper body toward the knees; this will help expand the spine and alleviate pressure on the disks. Be sure to rotate to the other side if you begin to experience discomfort.
  • Stomach sleeping with a pillow beneath the pelvis. Although stomach sleeping can exacerbate back pain symptoms, a pillow placed under the pelvis can relieve stress on the neck and back disks. Some sleepers in this position are more comfortable without a pillow beneath their head.
  • Back sleeping with a pillow beneath the knees. Lay flat on your back and place a pillow beneath both knees. This helps straighten out the spine and alleviates pressure points between the neck and hips. If you find this is insufficient, consider placing a rolled-up towel under your lower back.

Understanding Pillow Size, Shape, and Loft

There are six standard sizes for pillows, as well as smaller specialty sizes normally associated with specific pillow types (such as orthopedic memory foam pillows). The following table breaks down the width and length dimensions of these seven sizes, as well as suitable pillowcase measurements.

Pillow shape is also important for people with back pain. Although a wide selection of pillow shapes are available, pillows generally fall into one of these two categories:

  • Even: These pillows have an even, non-contoured surface. They may not be as suitable for sleepers with back pain, but pillows made from certain materials (such as shredded memory foam or feathers) conform beneath the head and neck for targeted pain and pressure relief.
  • Curved: Also known as cervical or orthopedic pillows, curved pillows are usually made from foam and have a contoured surface. The neck is raised with the area for the head dips down, which can provide better support for people with neck pain — but some sleepers claim that these pillows are more comfortable when they are placed upside down on the mattress.

Lastly, let’s discuss pillow loft, a term that refers to how thick a pillow is when not bearing weight. Specific loft measurements vary by model, but there are three general loft categories:

  • Low-loft: Less than three inches thick.
  • Medium-loft: Three to five inches thick.
  • High-loft: More than five inches thick.

The loft will help determine how supportive and comfortable the pillow feels, and whether it is suitable for people with back pain. However, there are several factors to take into account when selecting a pillow based on loft. These include:

Sleep position

Choosing the right pillow based on loft depends on whether the sleeper prefers the back, side, or stomach position.

  • Back-sleepers are usually most comfortable with medium-loft pillows because they find the right balance between thickness and softness.
  • Side-sleepers often prefer medium- or high-loft pillows because this position can cause large gaps to form between their head/neck and the pillow.
  • Stomach-sleepers tend to prefer low-loft pillows because higher-loft models elevate the neck too much, causing the spine to become uneven; this can lead to aches and pains throughout the body. Some stomach sleepers find that not using a pillow at all is most comfortable.

Pillow position

People who sleep with a pillow completely beneath often prefer medium-loft pillows because there is less space. For those who sleep with a pillow partially beneath their head, then a medium- or high-loft pillow may be needed to fill the larger gap.

Mattress type

Certain mattresses, such as all-foam and latex models, are designed to sink deeply beneath the sleeper’s body. A low-loft pillow may be most suitable for these mattresses because there is less space between the neck and the mattress surface. Other mattresses, such as innersprings and hybrids, are less responsive and will not sink as much. A medium- or high-loft pillow can help fill the extra space and provide more support.

Body weight

People with above-average weights (more than 230 pounds) may sink deeper into their mattress than lighter individuals, and thus prefer a low- or medium-loft pillow that won’t elevate their heads too much. People with below-average weights (less than 130 pounds) may prefer medium- or high-loft pillows because they don’t sink as much.

Head size

People with larger-than-average heads are more likely to feel comfortable on a high-loft pillow that won’t sink too deeply. Low- or medium-loft pillows may be the best option for those with small or average-size heads

Shoulder width

People with wider shoulder spans experience larger gaps between their head/neck and their pillow, and may need a higher-loft pillow to compensate for the space. Those with narrower shoulders usually feel more comfortable with low- or medium-loft pillows.

It’s important to note that many pillows offer adjustable loft. The owner simply unzips the pillow cover and adds or removes the fill material to increase or decrease the loft. Adjustable-loft pillows may be the best option for people whose loft preferences tend to vary from night to night.

Best Pillow Materials for People with Back Pain

Pillows come in a wide selection of fill materials, each with unique benefits and drawbacks for sleepers with back pain. The table below lists pros, cons, and back pain ratings for the seven most common pillow materials.

Additionally, some pillows contain interior water chambers that can be filled or drained to adjust the loft. The chambers are usually padded with foam to make the pillow more comfortable. Many sleepers with back pain claim that water chamber pillows alleviate pain and pressure to a noticeable extent.

Other Strategies for People with Back Pain

Select the right mattress or mattress topper

For those who suffer from chronic back pain, it’s important to find the right mattress and mattress topper to allow for a comfortable night’s sleep. The right amount of firmness will provide better support for your spine. Your ideal firmness gets determined by factors that include your body weight and natural sleep position. Use the chart below as a guide for determining the ideal firmness level for your mattress and mattress topper.

Choosing the right mattress firmness by sleeping position and weight

Weight Group Below-average (less than 130 lbs.)/span> Average (130 to 230 lbs.) Above-average (more than 230 lbs.)
Ideal Firmness for Side Sleeping 3 (Soft) to 4.5 (Medium Soft) 5 (Medium) to 6.5 (Medium Firm) 6.5 (Medium Firm) to 8 (Firm)
Ideal Firmness for Back Sleeping 4 (Medium Soft) to 5.5 (Medium) 5 (Medium) to 6.5 (Medium Firm) 6 (Medium Firm) to 8 (Firm)
Ideal Firmness for Stomach Sleeping 3 (Soft) to 4.5 (Medium Soft) 4 (Medium Soft) to 5.5 (Medium) 6 (Medium Firm) to 7.5 (Firm)

Best mattress material for back pain

Mattress Type Innerspring Foam Latex Hybrid Airbed
Rating for Sleepers with Back Pain Poor to Fair Good to Very Good Good to Very Good Fair to Good Fair to Good

Use a mattress topper

A little extra support in the form of a mattress topper is a great strategy for reducing back pain. A topper is an individual layer of cushioning. It rests on top of the mattress cover. Mattress toppers are made to adjust the firmness level of your sleep surface. Although manufacturers typically design most toppers to provide layer of softness, certain models may add firmness as well. Mattress toppers are made up of variety of materials such as feathers, latex, memory foam, or wool. A mattress topper is ideal for anyone who’s not very satisfied with their mattress’ firmness but aren’t able to replace it. A topper is also a great buy for couples with differing firmness preference.

A topper’s firmness, density, and thickness are each important considerations. An individual’s weight and sleeping position will likely decide the ideal qualities of their mattress topper. The table below includes more relevant information:

Sleep Position Weight Group Ideal Firmness Ideal Topper Thickness Ideal Topper Density
Side Less than 130 lbs Soft to Medium Soft 1″ to 2″ 2.5 PCF and lower
130 to 230 lbs Medium Soft to Medium 2″ to 2 1/2″ 3 to 4 PCF
More than 230 lbs Medium Firm to Firm 2″ to 3″ 4 PCF and higher
Back Less than 130 lbs Medium Soft to Medium Firm 1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″ 2.5 to 3 PCF
130 to 230 lbs Medium to Firm 2″ to 3″ 3.5 to 5 PCF
More than 230 lbs Medium Firm to Firm 2″ to 3″ 4.5 PCF and higher
Stomach Less than 130 lbs Medium Soft to Medium Firm 1″ to 1 1/2″ 3 PCF and lower
130 to 230 lbs Medium Firm to Firm 1″ to 2″ 2.5 to 4 PCF
More than 230 lbs Firm to Extra Firm 2″ to 3″ 3.5 to 4.5 PCF

Practice good sleep hygiene

A good night’s sleep begins with proper sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a term for your nighttime rituals and habits that prepare you for a good night’s rest.

A few good sleep hygiene habits include the following:

  • Make sure the bedroom is the right temperature: If it’s too hot or too cold, it can be hard to get comfortable enough to drift off to sleep. Additionally, the air temperature can also impact how you feel pain, possibly adding to your discomfort.
  • Turn down the lights: A dimly lit or dark room makes it easier for you to fall asleep
  • Eliminate distractions: If you want to get as full a night’s sleep as possible, that means turning off your computer and phone at a decent hour. Maybe read a book for a while if it’s likely to make you sleepy. Otherwise, stop doing anything that’s going to keep you up instead of letting you get some rest.
  • Avoid blue lighting: You might have turned off the bedroom lights, but still be browsing social media with just the light on your smartphone. What you don’t realize is that the blue lighting common in smartphones and laptops interfere with your circadian cycle, making it harder to fall asleep when you should.
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