We present below our top 7 best pillows for back sleepers. Many people choose a mattress suitable for their specific sleeping position, whether back, stomach or side. However, they often underestimate the importance of their pillow and fail to choose one suitable for them. Side and stomach sleepers generally sleep with the side of their face on the pillow, while if you are a back sleeper, you will usually sleep with the back of your head in contact with the pillow. Your choice of pillow is important.
Your pillow helps to support your head and also helps keep your spine straight. If your head, neck, and spine are not properly supported, you could have an uncomfortable sleep and awaken with aches and pains in your spine and neck. We have chosen our best seven pillows for back sleepers from the large number we reviewed. Our choices are based upon their construction and suitability for back sleepers, principally the way they support your head and help maintain a straight and pain-free spine.
Here are our choices and their ratings (Standard size dimensions provided where options are available).
* Thickness depends on the level of fill (This is an adjustable fill pillow).
** Thickness depends on firmness level: Soft, Medium or Firm
Table of Contents
1. Parachute Down Pillow
The Parachute Down pillow is made using 85% European white down and 15% feather fibers and is an excellent back sleeping pillow that deserves its top rating. It gets amazing reviews. The filling is contained in a shell of 100% sateen cotton. This pillow is extremely comfortable due to the white European down at 750 fill power. This pillow is available in Standard and King size and at three fill levels: soft, medium and firm. Back sleepers can choose the fill level that best meets their preference.
If you prefer down pillows to synthetic polyurethane or memory foams, then this is for you. The price reflects their quality and comfort, and the pillows can be machine-washed and tumble dried. The pillow cover is of a fine weave to prevent feathers from poking through and is reinforced with a double stitched piping seam.
Editor’s Notes: We made this our first choice even though many people feel more comfortable using foams rather than down and feathers. The Parachute Down Pillow is of a very high quality and very comfortable pillow for back sleepers. If it has a weakness, it is that the fill cannot be adjusted as those below can. You can choose from soft, medium and firm, but you can’t make any adjustments should you feel the pillow too firm or too soft for you. That said, this is the best pillow in terms of quality of the eight we have chosen to be listed here and firmly deserves its top ranking.
2. Bluewave Bedding Gel Ultra-Slim Memory Foam Pillow
This is a flat pillow at 2.5” thick. Many back sleepers prefer a thin/slim pillow, although if you find this is too thin for you, you can return it at your expense for a refund or to change your pillow for a thicker version (up to 4.5 inches.) It is also suitable for stomach sleepers. The slim profile of this pillow works to keep your neck and spine straight throughout the night and help prevent or reduce neck pain that is caused by muscle strain by sleeping on too thick a pillow. Many people with neck pain benefit from sleeping on a thinner pillow.
The memory foam used is infused with gel and ventilated for good cooling properties. It is supportive and safe to use and is also extremely durable in spite of its low profile. It comes with a dual cover: an inner mesh cover and an outer cover that is made using polyester (60%) and bamboo-derived rayon (40%) – the latter cover keeps the pillow cool and wicks away any moisture that gets on it at night. It is also odor-resistant.
Editor’s Notes: This is a good pillow if you are a back sleeper and have neck pain. It is also good if you have no pain. You have options on thickness to suit those who prefer a thin pillow to a thick one, and also to help those who suffer neck pain. There is no warranty as such.
3. Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury
The Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury pillow is made using shredded memory foam. The zippered cover enables you to adjust the fill or loft/thickness of your pillow by removing or adding more fill. Additional foam is available if you require it, and you can customize the foam blend you use with regard to density. You can adjust your pillow to provide the most suitable thickness, bounciness, and level of support for your needs. By adjusting the fill of your pillow you can change the position of your head to keep your neck straight and help keep your airway open. This is a great option for snorers.
Editor’s Notes: The Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury pillow deserves its inclusion in our best pillows for back sleepers reviews because of its versatility. You can add as much shredded memory foam as you need to get the loft and support level you need free of charge. It is a healthy pillow to use, and the 120-day free sleep trial enables you to return the pillow using a free return label if you don’t like it after almost 3 months use. It is ideal for back sleepers due to you being able to adjust it to get your head and neck properly supported.
4. Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow
Although the Nature’s Guest cervical pillow is ideal for back sleepers, it can also help those with neck and back pain. The pillow is sculpted with a depression in the middle where your head will rest, while your neck is properly supported by the raised part below the depression. Your head is kept stable by the raised sides of the pillow. The company states that the design is as recommended by orthopedic experts and chiropractors. You can also add or remove fill by means of the two zippers to customize it to your needs.
Editor’s Notes: This is the first contoured pillow we have reviewed specifically for back sleepers. If you also like sleeping on your side from time to time, then this pillow should also meet your needs. If you have an orthopedic reason for having to sleep on your back, then pillow may be for you. It’s worth a try, and you can send it back for a small transportation fee and receive a full refund. The pillow is made in China.
5. Sweet Night Pillows
Sweet Night Pillows are suitable for any sleeping position, but particularly for back sleepers, we have found. When testing this as a general pillow for our 10 Best Pillows In 2020 Review we realized that it would be better included in a Best Pillow for Back Sleepers review. This was one of the reasons why we carried out this review: because some pillows are especially beneficial for those who sleep on their back but also tend to suffer from neck and back pain.
This pillow is available in Standard, Queen and King sizes. If you are a back sleeper but like to roll over onto your stomach occasionally, this may be the best pillow in our review for you. If you sleep on your side you can also adjust the filling to suit your sleeping position. It has two zippers either side that enable you to remove or add filling to suit your preference. This video shows you how to fluff it up. If you make it thinner, you get a bag to store the filling in case you want to thicken up your pillow again. You can get extra filling if you need it. The pillow is made in China.
Editor’s Notes: This is a good pillow for back and stomach sleepers, and also for side sleepers if they bulk the pillow up a bit. The fact that the filling can be adjusted is a definite plus so you can make it harder or softer, increase or decrease the loft and set the filling to suit your specific needs. The cover is washable by machine or by hand, and you get a 30-day trial period after which you can return it for a full refund.
6. Sahara Nights Pillow
The Sahara Nights pillow is an excellent back sleeping pillow that is also good for side sleepers. It conforms well to your head, neck, and shoulders without smothering you. If you don’t like latex or memory foam then this 100% polyester gel fiber filled pillow may be ideal for you. Like those above, this Chinese made soft but supportive pillow is used in many top-class hotels.
Editor’s Notes: This is an excellent pillow for back sleepers, but it is lower in our list than it could have been due to there being no warranty or sleep trial. Once you have paid, it is yours – even if you find problems with your purchase. However, we have included it because it gets a high number of good reviews. Perhaps it doesn’t need a warranty or sleep trial!
7. Classic Brands Cool Sleep Gel Memory Foam Pillow
This gel memory foam pillow is the perfect thickness for back and side sleepers. The responsive memory foam molds to the shape of your head, neck, and shoulders, supporting each equally to promote a comfortable, pain-free night’s sleep. Not only does the gel absorb and dissipate any heat generated, but the cover has been designed to keep you dry and cool by wicking away moisture. This is the ideal pillow for back sleepers to complement the benefits of any mattress in our Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers Reviews 2020.
Editor’s Notes: The Classic Brands Cool Sleep pillow provides excellent support and it also helps keep you cool at night. The cover also helps keep you dry, which is a welcome feature on hot nights. This pillow for back sleepers gets its ranking here, not only because it meets the needs of back sleepers, but also because it is extremely comfortable to lie on and its thickness supports your head, your neck and your shoulders equally to help promote a pain free night’s sleep. The pillow is made in China.
Buyers’ Guide to Pillows for Back Sleepers
Here is our buyer’s guide to pillows for back sleepers that will help you choose the best pillow for you if you sleep on your back. You should change your pillows every two or three years, and this is a good time to change their loft (height), firmness or fill according to anything you have learned from your old pillows. If they have served you well, and you can sleep comfortably on your back with no pain or discomfort, then replace them with the same. If not, then this guide should help you change to a pillow more suitable for you. Your best pillow may not be somebody else’s best pillow, so choose carefully.
When you sleep on your back, the back of your head is normally resting on your pillow. If your head can sink into the pillow, creating a downward angle of your cervical (neck) vertebrae, then this can lead to neck pain and sometimes even back pain. When sleeping on your back, your head should be raised slightly in order to maintain the natural alignment of your spine. You are best to choose a medium to a firm pillow to achieve this.
Note: It is OK for your head to sink into the pillow so long as it is still slightly raised relative to your shoulders. This may also help provide support for your neck due to the raised part of the pillow between your head and your shoulders.
Back Sleeping Pillow Fillings
Back sleepers may seem to have a wide choice of pillows, but the choice is not as wide as they may believe. First, you have a choice of fillings: down and feathers, memory foam, latex and even buckwheat in some cases that we do not recommend. Some prefer soft pillows to hard pillows. Some like memory foam and others don’t. There is no pillow fits all, and we are careful to explain the types of filling in each back sleeping pillow we recommend.
We have not included any latex pillows in our selection, simply because none we have looked at deserve to be in our top seven. Here are the fillings we recommend.
Memory Foam Pillows: Memory foam responds to the heat and pressure of your body. A memory foam pillow will conform to the shape of your head and neck then revert to its normal shape when you move away from it. A dense memory foam pillow enables your head to sink into it while providing excellent support for your neck and cervical vertebrae. It is a good choice if you prefer to sink into your pillow and not lie on top of it. Many people believe memory foam pillows to be the most comfortable type. They reduce pressure points and adjust as you move your head during the night.
Gel Memory Foam: A memory foam pillow that contains a cooling gel is also widely used. The gel is distributed throughout the pillow, or may even be focused on those parts of the pillow with which you may be in contact. It absorbs heat and distributes it throughout the filling of the gel-infused pillow. This will keep you cool while you sleep, particularly if you are one of those who naturally tend to sleep hot.
Polyester Pillows: Polyester filled pillows are available in a range of firmness levels from very soft to very firm. Some polyester pillows can be machine-washed, but not all. They are relatively inexpensive, although a medium to firm polyester filled pillow supports your head and neck quite adequately. They are OK if you need a budget pillow.
Down Pillows: Down and feather pillows, or a combination of the two, tend to be softer than those above, although firm down pillows are available – although the extra packing needed to produce a medium to firm pillow increases the cost. The highest quality, and most expensive are goose down pillows. Duck feathers are fine, but chicken feathers do not last long since they are naturally straight and the artificial curling needed does not last long. We have included one down pillow in our top seven pillows for back sleepers.
Keep in mind that some people have an allergy to down or feathers, so make sure the casing of the pillow is of a fine weave to prevent the feathers or down poking their way through.
Molded Pillows: These types of back sleeping pillow are designed with a central depression for your head, and slightly raised part where your neck is in contact with the pillow. They are designed to hold your head steady while also supporting your cervical vertebrae. This helps you keep your entire spine properly supported in its natural shape.
Think of Your Mattress
There are several factors involved in choosing a pillow, many of them discussed above. Does your mattress have a bearing on what type of pillow you should buy? Yes, it certainly does! A high loft pillow (5 inches thick plus) goes best with a firm mattress, while a low loft pillow (2 – 3 inches) tends to go well with a soft mattress, particularly if you sleep on your back.
That’s because your pillow is lying on a soft mattress, and as you sink into a soft mattress, the angle of your neck drops downwards if your head is lying on a firm or high loft pillow. This forces your head forward, upsetting the natural angle of your neck in relation to your spine. Similarly, if you have a softer or low loft pillow but a firm mattress, then your head and neck might be too low, again leading to neck pain or back pain.
There are so many types of the pillow it’s difficult to know which pillow is best. A helpful tip is to choose your pillow based on your mattress. For example, if you have a memory foam mattress, a memory foam pillow will support your head and neck in the same way as the rest of your body. As well as this, the best type of pillow for you is based on your sleeping position and any medical conditions you may have such as neck pain. Pregnancy will likely also have an effect, and you may be wise to try medium and firm pillows to establish which is best for you.
Use the Trial Period
Finally, If you are unsure what level of firmness you need in your pillow, then it may be wise to choose a vendor or brand that offers a trial period. Some manufacturers or vendors allow you to try out a new pillow for a period of time and return if you don’t want to keep it. Even if only for a short period, you can try out the pillow, and if you feel it is too soft or firm for you, you can return it for another firmness option. Keep in mind that there may be a charge applied for return transport.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions our readers often ask:
Your mattress is very important, but so is your pillow. It should enable you to sleep comfortably without putting strain on your neck (or cervical vertebrae) by keeping your head at the right angle to keep your neck straight. If you sleep on your back, your neck bones (cervical vertebrae) should be at an angle that keeps them in line with the rest of your spine.
If you lie on your back, your pillow should support the natural curvature of the cervical region of your spine. This term refers to your head, neck, and shoulders, each of which your pillow should be able to support. A pillow for back sleepers should be of lower height, or loft, than one for side sleepers. If you suffer from back pain or strain, placing one or two pillows beneath your knees should help to reduce or eliminate this pain.
Neck pillows are contoured pillows that may also be referred to as orthopedic or cervical pillows. They have a depression in the center that allows your head and neck bones to lie in their correct positions. Some people love them since they help keep the cervical and general areas of your spine in their correct alignment with each other. They may work for some back sleepers, but not for others. No pillow will be suitable for everybody. If it works for you then great! If not, then try another type of pillow.
Choosing the correct pillow for yourself is a process of trial and error. There is no such thing as a pillow that works for everybody. Try various types of pillow, and if find one that seems to work for you. That will be the one you want to buy and use. If you get one that is adjustable, such as an adjustable fill or a pillow that can be used in a number of different sleeping positions, then keep it if it seems comfortable for you.
Your head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds which is quite a weight for your neck to hold. It’s OK when you are up and about since this weight is distributed through the length of your spine. However, when sleeping, a 12-pound weight pulling on your neck a; night could lead to serious neck pain. Even back pain, particularly if you already have occasional pains in your back. Choose the wrong pillow, and this weight could damage your neck or spine. Choose the right pillow, and you can avoid this.
You should change your pillows every 2 – 3 years, or when they become lumpy and misshapen and cannot be plumped back to their original shape. Sometimes you can do this in a tumble dryer – check the label or instructions. After a few years your pillow can contain around 10% or more of dead, moldy skin cells and dust mites (dead or alive – and their droppings.)
Best Pillows for Back Sleepers: Conclusion
We have presented you with our 7 best pillows for back sleepers along with a short guide on how to choose the pillow most suitable for you. Fundamentally, your choice should ensure that your spine is maintained in its natural alignment while you are in bed. Your head should neither be forced forward by a firm high loft pillow nor allowed to drop back into the body of a soft pillow.
Parachute Down Pillow
Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim
Snuggle-Pedic Ultra Luxury
Nature’s Guest Cervical Support
Sweet Night Pillows
Sahara Nights Pillow
Classic Brands Cool Sleep
Each of our chosen seven has its benefits, although there is no such thing as the perfect pillow that suits everybody on all mattresses. Nevertheless, we are confident that you will be able to choose a suitable pillow for you from our seven options. They all get good reviews from other back sleepers, and our Buyer’s Guide to Pillows for Back Sleepers should make your choice a bit easier to make.