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Best Reading Pillows – Top Picks and Buyer’s Guide

Written by Keith Cushner

Quick Overview

For many sleepers, a bed is much more than a soft surface for resting — it’s a place for lounging, reading, catching up on emails, and watching Netflix. If you spend a lot of time working or relaxing while seated upright in bed, you may have noticed it can be a struggle to find a comfortable position. Scrunching standard sleep pillows against your headboard typically offers insufficient support while compromising the durability and shape of your pillows.

To sit up in bed more comfortably while supporting your spine, consider purchasing a reading pillow. Reading pillows are specially designed to cradle and support your body comfortably while seated upright on a bed, floor, or couch. Use the guide below to learn more about reading pillows, including reviews of recommended models, associated benefits, and buying considerations.

The Best Reading Pillows of 2021

The Best Reading Pillows – Reviewed

Best OverallSleep Number Rest & Read Pillow

Best Overall – Sleep Number Rest & Read Pillow

Highlights

  • Chambered design with more padding for the head and neck
  • Designed for Euro-style shams
  • Machine washable cover
  • 30-night trial
  • 1-year warranty
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Best OverallSleep Number Rest & Read Pillow

sleepnumber.com

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The Rest & Read Pillow from Sleep Number is a standout product thanks to its chambered design. The top chamber is filled with plush down alternative fibers that provide to cushion the head and neck, while the base chamber contains a blend of down alternative and shredded memory foam for more conforming and support around the lower back. The pillow’s cover is composed of gently knit polyester for added comfort.

Both chambers feature inserts that allow owners to remove the cover whenever it needs to be cleaned. The pillow is designed for square Euro-style shams.

The pillow has received an OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification, ensuring it does not contain any harmful substances. Sleep Number offers a 30-day trial period for the pillow, along with a 1-year warranty for those who wish to keep it after the trial expires. Shipping is free for all orders within the contiguous U.S.

Best ValueContour Living Flip Pillow

Best Value – Contour Living Flip Pillow

Highlights

  • Pillow can be rearranged into 10 different positions
  • Plush down alternative fiber fill
  • Cotton or microfiber cover
  • 3 colors and 2 sizes available
  • 45-day sleep trial
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Best ValueContour Living Flip Pillow

contourliving.com

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The Contour Living Flip Pillow offers exceptional versatility thanks to its “flippable” wedge-shaped design. Owners can lie in bed with the pillow as a headrest or bolster, sit on it for extra padding in an office chair, or use it as a sleeping pillow for virtually any position. Both the top and bottom chambers are filled with soft down alternative fibers that make the pillow feel lofty and supportive. Whenever the fill begins to flatten or the pillow loses shape, simply place it in the dryer for a few minutes to recover its shape.

Customers can choose between standard or king sizes. Contour Living also offers custom-fitted covers to protect the pillow in three different colors. White covers are made of smooth microfiber, while the colored options are a soft cotton material.

Compared to other reading pillows, this model has a very approachable price-point and shipping is free throughout the contiguous U.S. Buyers can test out the pillow for up to 45 days before deciding whether to keep it. A 1-year warranty is also included with each purchase.

Most ComfortableThe Company Store Down-Free Bed Rest Pillow

Most Comfortable – The Company Store Down-Free Bed Rest Pillow

Highlights

  • Medium firm feel
  • Ultra-soft combed cotton shell
  • Plush down-free fill
  • Armrests allow for sitting up in bed
  • Lifetime guarantee
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Most ComfortableThe Company Store Down-Free Bed Rest Pillow

thecompanystore.com

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The Company Store’s Down-Free Bed Rest Pillow is designed for balanced comfort. The fill consists of down alternative fibers that perfectly mimic the plushness and lightness of real down without triggering allergies or absorbing excess body heat, while the shell is made of combed cotton that should be comfortable for anyone – especially those with sensitive skin. The pillow’s overall feel is medium, ensuring a good mix of cushioning and support.

A tall back and armrests allow owners to sit comfortably in bed while they read or watch television. The pillow should only be spot cleaned as necessary, not dry cleaned or machine washed. For those who aren’t satisfied with the feel or material quality, The Company Store offers the same design with down and feather fill.

Shipping is free for all orders of $50 or more within the contiguous U.S., which includes all size and composition options for the Bed Rest Pillow. The Company Store also backs this product with a 90-day return period and a lifetime guarantee against structural defects.

Best Memory FoamMalouf Foam Filled Reading Pillow

Best Memory Foam – Malouf Foam Filled Reading Pillow

Highlights

  • Shredded memory foam fill
  • Soft rayon from bamboo velour cover
  • Features armrests & handle
  • 3-year warranty
  • Free shipping within contiguous U.S.
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Best Memory FoamMalouf Foam Filled Reading Pillow

US-mattress.com

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As a traditional “husband pillow”, the Malouf Foam Filled Reading Pillow supports the back, shoulders, and arms with back- and armrests. The reading pillow is filled with moldable, contouring shredded memory foam, allowing you to sculpt the pillow to provide support to different areas of your body as needed.

The pillow features a soft, stretchy velour cover crafted from polyester and rayon from bamboo. The breathable cover works with the soft shredded memory foam interior to regulate body temperature and prevent overheating. The Malouf Foam Filled Reading Pillow comes in a dark, neutral gray color and is spot-clean only.

Most SupportiveXtra-Comfort Bed Wedge Pillow

Most Supportive – Xtra-Comfort Bed Wedge Pillow

Highlights

  • High-density memory foam fill
  • Removable, machine-washable polyester cover
  • Adjustable incline for sitting, lying down, or elevating legs
  • Foldable design with handle
  • Free shipping within U.S.
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Most SupportiveXtra-Comfort Bed Wedge Pillow

amazon.com

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With its unique folding wedge design, the Xtra-Comfort Bed Wedge Pillow can be used to prop up the head, back, or legs. When seated upright, the versatile wedge pillow can also be used as a desk-like surface for a computer or book.

The multifunctional pillow features a durable memory foam interior designed to conform to different parts of the body. Over the dense foam is a breathable, removable, and machine-washable polyester cover. The cover is available in one color: neutral beige.

Buying Guide – How to Choose the Best Reading Pillow

To determine the best reading pillow, take into account your personal preferences, lifestyle, and usage plans. Learn more about how to choose a reading pillow in the buying guide below. In our comprehensive guide, we discuss the benefits associated with reading pillows as well as reading before bed, and explain what to look for to choose the right pillow for your needs.

Why Buy a Reading Pillow?

Even while relaxing, it’s important to keep your spine and neck in a healthy posture. Whether you are standing, seated, or lying down, gravity exerts pressure on your joint and muscles. Good posture distributes the force of gravity evenly across your body, helping prevent strain, pain, abnormal wearing, and other concerns.

It can be challenging to keep your spine in healthy alignment when seated upright in bed. Using a headboard alone or stacking standard sleep pillows may provide inadequate support, encouraging you to slouch or twist in awkward positions that create pressure points and compress your spine. In addition to offering insufficient support, standard sleep pillows may lose their structure, shape, and firmness if constantly scrunched between you and your headboard.

Reading pillows, on the other hand, are designed to reduce the problems associated with sitting up in bed for prolonged periods of time. Often filled with memory foam or shredded memory foam, quality reading pillows support your spine and conform to your pressure points, preventing strain on your back, shoulders, and neck. Reading pillows are specially made to support the weight of your upper body, and well-designed models can withstand frequent use for several years.

Reading and Sleep

If you plan on using your reading pillow to read before sleeping, you may be doing your brain and body a favor. Research has found that the time-honored tradition of polishing off a couple of chapters before bed is associated with a variety of health benefits, including:

  • Reduced Stress – Reading has been shown to help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels.
  • Improved SleepExperts recommend using reading to help your body shift into sleep mode an hour before bed to incite restful sleep.
  • Reduced Screen Time – Reading can also help promote restful time by reducing the amount of time you spend looking at your phone, laptop, or TV before bed. Research has shown the blue light emitted by screens can stimulate the body by subduing the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it harder to doze off.
  • Lowered Dementia Risk Studies have linked reading with lower rates of dementia — a chronic mental disorder characterized by a decline in memory and other cognitive functions — later in life.

To harness the power of reading before bed, avoid reading on phones, tablets, or e-readers with blue lights to keep from interrupting the release of melatonin. Also, if you find it helpful to limit your bed to sleeping to stimulate rest, you may want to read in a chair or other area of your house when preparing for sleep.

What to Look for in a Reading Pillow

To help you narrow down your decision and find the best reading pillow for your lifestyle and usage plans, we’ve outlined key considerations below.

Inner Material & Support – As with standard sleeping pillows, reading pillows come filled with a variety of different materials, and each one provides a different kind of support. The most common types of reading pillow materials include:

  • Memory Foam. Viscoelastic polyurethane foam — aka memory foam — is a dense, highly contouring material that softens to the pressure and heat of your body. Memory foam reading pillows are generally made from one piece of foam which cradles the body, head, and neck, offering plush support while maintaining its shape.
  • Shredded Memory Foam – While standard memory foam reading pillows are made out of solid foam, shredded memory foam pillows are filled with many small pieces of foam. Shreds of memory foam move independently within the reading pillow, allowing you to sculpt its shape to provide targeted support to different areas. Compared to traditional memory foam, shredded memory foam reading pillows are softer, more moldable, and retain less heat. Some models of shredded memory foam reading pillows are adjustable, letting you remove or add filling to adjust their firmness and loft.
  • Microfiber/Polyester Fiber – Sometimes called “microfiber” or “fiber fill”, polyester fiber is a synthetic material. Inexpensive and common, this type of filling is common among both standard and reading pillows. However, these types of reading pillows may not offer the same level of support as standard and shredded memory foam reading pillows and tend to have shorter lifespans.

Outer Material – Like the fill, the outer material is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing a reading pillow. The exterior fabric impacts comfort, durability, and appearance of the pillow. The most popular reading fabrics include:

  • Faux Suede – Also known as microfiber suede or micro-suede, faux-suede is a synthetic material designed to resemble animal suede in look and feel. The sleek, family-friendly fabric is durable and tightly woven in a way that repels stains. Micro-suede reading pillows are easy to clean, and can usually be washed with common household products.
  • Velvet – Plush and shiny, velvet stands out from other upholstery fabrics, giving reading pillows a luxurious look. The durability of a velvet reading pillow may depend on the fiber type: silk velvet is quite delicate, while wool velvet and mohair velvet are both more durable and stain-resistant. Cotton velvet crushes easily, and is often blended with polyester and other fibers for added durability. Velvet reading pillows generally require professional cleaning.
  • Velour – Much like velvet, velour has a lustre and soft feel. However, velour tends to be less expensive, easier to clean, and stretchier than velvet. A velour cover is preferable to velvet if you plan on using your reading pillow frequently, or if you live with small children or animals.
  • Corduroy – Typically made from cotton or a cotton blend, corduroy is soft and durable. The fabric is characterized by ridges that run the length of the fabric. These ridges give corduroy a unique look and feel, but certain designs may snag on claws and unravel over time, making them less suited to pets. Corduroy covers are typically machine-washable.

Pillow Style – There are two primary styles of reading pillows on today’s market:

  • Traditional – Also called “husband pillows”, traditional reading pillows usually feature a high backrest with arms. These tall, wide pillows typically support the entire upper body, including the head, neck, shoulders, spine, and arms. Luxury models may include removable and adjustable neck pillows and/or headrests, in addition to cup holders and side pockets.
  • Wedge – Orthopedic pillows designed in a sloping shape, wedge pillows can be used for both sleeping and reading in addition to other up-right activities. For sleeping, wedge pillows can help ease symptoms of medical issues like sleep apnea, back pain, acid reflux, and poor circulation. Wedge pillows with higher inclines can be propped against a headboard to act as a headrest or backrest when seated upright in bed. Wedge pillows are typically made of memory foam, though polyfoam varieties are also available. If you are shopping for a wedge pillow that you plan to use while seated upright in bed, make sure you choose one with a high incline that is the appropriate size for your needs.

Color and Pattern – Many brands offer reading pillows in a variety of colors and designs, and are likely to offer one that fits your tastes. Consider choosing a neutral color that will continue to look attractive for years to come, even as your home decor and preferences change.

Added Features – As touched on earlier, some models of reading pillows — particularly luxury varieties of husband pillows — come with special features. Here are reading pillow features to consider to make your reading, working, or movie-watching experience more comfortable:

  • Handle – Larger reading pillow feature a top handle, making them easier to move from place to place or reposition on your bed.
  • Pockets – Some husband pillow models include side and/or back pockets for holding items like your phone, remote, headphones, or a book.
  • Armrests – Traditional or husband reading pillows generally come with armrests.
  • Cup-Holders – Husband pillows with armrests may also include cup-holders so you can enjoy a beverage while relaxing.
  • Headrest – Some husband pillows offer a headrest or neck roll to support your head and neck while you’re sitting upright. With some models, the headrest is detachable and may be removed to prop up your legs.
  • Removable Cover – Many husband and wedge pillow models offer a removable cover for easier cleaning. You can often purchase new covers to replace an older one.
  • Adjustable Loft – Husband pillows filled with shredded memory foam may feature an adjustable loft, meaning you can easily add or remove foam to alter its shape and firmness. Manufacturers of such pillows may include extra filling or offer it for purchase.

In addition to design and features, consider these important factors before investing in a reading pillow:

  • Cleaning – As mentioned, many reading pillows have a removable cover that may be washed in conventional machines. Other pillows may be spot clean only or require professional cleaning. In addition to determining whether the cover is washable, note whether your pillow itself may be cleaned in a conventional washer or if it needs special cleaning.
  • Shipping & Delivery – Make sure you understand the shipping and delivery policies for the reading pillow you are considering buying. When shopping on Amazon, note whether the pillow qualifies for free, two-day shipping under Prime.
  • Warranty & Returns – Determine whether you will able to return the reading pillow if you decide it’s not for you. If the vendor offers a trial period, note how long you have to test the pillow before you can return it for a refund. You may also want to look over the warranty of a reading pillow to assess the level of confidence a manufacturer puts behind their product. Being familiar with the terms of the warranty may come in handy in the event that you discover a defect after the return window has expired.
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