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The best pillows for stomach sleepers tend to be thin rather than thick. The problem with a thicker medium to the firm pillow is that your head is forced up off the mattress, bending your neck which can lead to severe pain. However, too thin a pillow may leave your head lying literally level with the mattress. You need a happy medium between the two, though on the thinner rather than the thicker side. A 2.5-inch loft is good for a foam stomach sleeper’s pillow.
We have already discussed the best mattress for stomach sleepers and your choice of pillow is just as important. Many believe that a down pillow is best for stomach sleepers, particularly goose down, and we include one of these in our top 5. Down compresses very easily, so down-filled pillows should be thicker than foam alternatives. We recommend no thinner than 4 inches. However, such pillows tend to be expensive so we also include some memory foam pillows and a fiber pillow. Here is our top 5, after which we will answer some questions then provide you with a Buyer’s Guide to Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
* Standard size
** Queen size
*** The dimensions stated for this pillow apply to king size only.
Table of Contents
1. Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow
The Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim gel memory foam pillow is designed specifically as a stomach sleeper’s pillow. It has a low profile at just 2.5 inches thick (stated as “below 2.75”) which is ideal for stomach sleepers. This pillow is slightly rounded each side, though it sleeps fairly flat which is preferred for stomach sleepers in order to maintain a level spine from the neck downwards. Many stomach sleepers with neck pain find the pain to lessen or even disappear altogether shortly after beginning to use this type of pillow. That said, it can also be used by small or lightweight side and back sleepers.
The memory foam is infused with a cooling gel which helps keep you cool along with the ventilated open cell structure of the foam. Memory foam conforms to your body shape, providing full support for your neck while also allowing it to sink into the pillow and maintain a level spine from top to bottom. The removable zippered cover can be machine washed and is made from 60% polyester and 40% bamboo-derived rayon.
Editor’s Notes: We believe this to be one of the best pillows for stomach sleepers that we have come across. Our second choice, the Elite Rest Ultra Slim, is very close to it but is a bit firmer due to the differences in the structure of the respective memory foams used. The Elite Rest pillow is not as cooling as the Bluewave Bedding product. The latter contains a gel which absorbs localized heat and dissipates it throughout the pillow. The Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim gel memory foam pillow has an inner mesh cover for added protection. The outer cover is cooler than cotton, and it resists odor and wicks away any moisture that gets on it.
2. Elite Rest Ultra Slim Sleeper
The Elite Rest Ultra Slim Sleeper, manufactured by Delta Comfort Labs, is a very thin, firm memory foam pillow ideal for stomach sleepers and most back sleepers. The thin, flat design helps support your spine in its correct alignment and helps belly sleepers to breathe easily while sleeping. It also helps prevent neck, shoulder or back pain.
This stomach sleepers’ pillow is designed with one side flat and the other rounded. It is designed to have the flat side down for stability on the mattress, with the rounded side up for sleeping comfort. This means you can’t flip the pillow during the night, although it is a good stable design. You can also find a slightly thicker version (3 inches) here.
Editor’s Notes: The DC Labs Elite Rest Ultra Slim Sleeper pillow is ideal for stomach sleepers. It has a low 2.5-inch loft which keeps your head and neck in the correct alignment with your spine. Some may find it too low for them, or too hard (it is a firm pillow) although many users have praised it for eliminating, or at least reducing, their neck pain shortly after starting to use it. If you suffer neck pain, or perhaps even back pain, we suggest you try it, and if it doesn’t work for you then return it for a full refund. This will then give you a guide as to the type of pillow that would suit you better.
3. The Pancake Pillow
The Pancake Pillow is of a unique design, with six layers like a stack of 6 pancakes inside the casing, any number of which can be removed to provide you with the height of pillow you find best for you. Belly sleepers will likely find it best using just 2 of these, but the beauty of this pillow is that you can try out anything from one to six layers. If you don’t use all six (which is likely for front sleepers) then you can use the spares later to refresh your pillow or change its loft.
Each section is filled with soft puff microfiber, which is regarded as a luxury down alternative. The 300 thread-count pillowcase itself is zippered on three sides for easy removal and insertion of layers. If you and your partner sleep in different positions, each pillow in a set of two can be adjusted independently. This saves you having to purchase two different types of pillow.
Editor’s Notes: This appears to be an excellent concept, and one that other manufacturers may consider using. It seems that just one layer is too low, and the down alternative compresses to almost flat. However, you have another 5 to add so somewhere between 1 and 6 layers is almost certain to suit anybody. It is recommended to anyone with neck problems associated with their sleeping position. In spite of the price, a big majority of those that purchased it are more than happy with it. It is extremely adjustable and meets the needs of those who prefer a thin pillow and also stomach sleepers who prefer to sleep on something thicker.
4. eLuxurySupply Extra Soft
This pillow is packed with 80% goose down and 20% feathers. It supports your head and neck in such a way that many find it can alleviate neck pain. The casing is a tightly woven cotton ticking to prevent any feathers poking through. The pillow is well packed to avoid the down and feather filling from compacting too much. It is designed to keep you cool at night.
The eLuxurySupply Extra Soft goose down pillow is exceptionally comfortable to lie your head-on, and is specifically designed for stomach or belly sleepers. However, should you not like it, you have 30 days from delivery to return it free of for a full no-quibble refund. Simply contact the supplier, explain the issue and they will send you a prepaid return label.
Editor’s Notes: This is a well-made pillow with no obvious faults that we could find. It’s hard to go wrong with a down pillow, but if you find it too soft for you, or don’t like it for some other reason, then you can return it free of charge for a full refund within 30 days of delivery. It is an excellent stomach sleeper’s pillow and we couldn’t find fault with it other than you need to fluff it up in dryer now again to prevent it flattening out too much. Down pillows have always been a favorite pillow for stomach sleepers.
5. The Purple Pillow for Stomach Sleepers
The Purple Pillow is filled with a durable hyper-elastic polymer. It is on the firmer side of medium, but if you sleep on your stomach, and prefer a firmer pillow to a soft down pillow, then this could the answer to your dreams. It conforms to those parts of your head, neck, and shoulders with the most pressure on them, and conforms to their shape to support them correctly and provide you with a very comfortable sleep. The cover is made from a blend of 92% polyester, bamboo fiber, and 8% Spandex. It can be machine washed on cold and tumble dried.
Need a pair, but your partner is a side or a back sleeper? The Purple Pillow is good for any sleeping position! The fact that side and back sleepers can use it does not detract from the superb comfort it offers to stomach or belly sleepers. We place it at #5 because it is not an exclusively designed pillow for stomach sleepers, but it is just as good as those above in our review – if not better! You can find a full Purple Pillow review and a wonderfully amusing video of it here.
Editor’s Notes: The Purple Pillow is one of those pillows that can be used for any sleeping position. It gets included in our Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers 2021 because of its versatility, and also because it is an excellent pillow for stomach sleepers. It can be used with a 3-inch loft, which is ideal for stomach sleepers, and this thickness can be adjusted to suit your needs.
Buyer’s Guide to Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
Whatever reason you have for sleeping on your stomach, it is important to choose the correct pillow. Depending on what source you use for the figures, between 6% and 16% of people sleep on their stomach, and manufacturers tend to cater for the rest. However, it is possible to find mattresses and pillows suitable for belly sleepers.
Your selection of pillow is very important. Too thick a pillow that does not easily compress will bend your neck to one side in relation to the rest of your spine. This can lead to severe pain. On the other hand, to thin a pillow might fail to offer proper support, which can also lead to pain. Here are some of the more common issues connected to belly sleeping:
- Neck Pain: It is uncomfortable to lie with your face downwards on your pillow (tends to block your nose and mouth!). By lying with your face to one side you can suffer neck strain, particularly if your pillow is high loft (thick) and forces your head back so your neck is at an angle to the rest of your spine as explained earlier. This is common with stomach sleepers.
- Strained Spine: When you sleep on your stomach, your body weight forces your spine downwards. This can flatten out the natural curve in the small of your back, again leading to severe pain- this time in the small of your back.
- Disturbed Sleep: Stomach sleepers can feel significant discomfort, causing disturbed sleep through tossing and turning while trying to find a comfortable sleeping position. This can leave you feeling tired the following day.
- Discomfort in Pregnant Women: While sleeping on your stomach will not harm your baby, it can feel uncomfortable as your child grows inside you.
Sometimes a thin pillow beneath your stomach can help keep your spine in its natural curved shape by reducing at least some of the pressure on your stomach while in bed. A thin down pillow will compress to a thinner level associated with the pressure on your belly, or simply go for a 2.5-inch thick foam pillow. Memory foam would be best. Here are some tips on choosing the best pillow for stomach sleepers that helps reduce or avoid the effects of belly sleeping described above.
Too small a pillow might not enable you to get the support you need from it. It should be deep enough to support your head and neck. 16 Inches is the narrowest pillow we recommend, while the smallest side to side is 24 inches. These Standard size dimensions are good for proper support. Some may find these dimensions too small, but if you prefer, you can always choose the Queen or King sizes where available
Pillow Loft or Thickness
Pillows generally come in three loft (thickness) levels:
- Low: Generally 2.5 to 3 inches thick.
- Medium: Generally between 3 and 5 inches thick.
- High: Generally over 5 inches thick.
The loft is very important, and it is often necessary to check the filling inside the pillowcase. Goose down fillings compress very easily and quickly and should be at least 5 inches thick. A 3-inch thick down pillow would compress to an almost immeasurably thin layer when slept on. A 3-inch memory foam pillow, on the other hand, would be almost perfect for a stomach sleeper.
The memory foam mattresses we recommend are 2.5 inches thick, which is about as near perfect as you can get for this type of foam. When choosing your pillow, keep in mind that most manufacturers and vendors offer a trial period – generally up to 30 days or more. If you find your pillow too thin or thick, then you can return it for a full refund. Some offer free returns while others charge for return transportation – which isn’t much for a pillow.
Some people get warmer than others when they sleep on their stomach. Many people make a point of purchasing a cooling mattress (Check our best cooling mattress reviews here.) In the above review, we have included two pillows with this property (#1 and #4).
Cooling can be achieved in memory foams by means of a gel which absorbs heat, then distributes that heat throughout the body of the foam, effectively diluting it. It is achieved in down pillows by means of air circulation around the down or feathers. Some covers also assist with cooling by being of a relatively wide weave that allows hot air to leave the pillow to be replaced with cooler air.
A pillow for stomach sleepers can be filled with memory foam, latex, polyester foam, microfiber, down and feathers. Buckwheat is also used, but many don’t find it as comfortable as those above. It tends to be hard and a bit noisy to sleep on. Memory foam is most popular since it conforms to the shape of your head and neck, and so provides excellent support without loss of comfort. Some latexes are good, but down or a mixture of down and feathers, offer a high loft pillow that is suitable for belly sleepers.
Microfiber down alternative is a good option to down, though many would prefer the genuine down rather than a copy of it. Microfiber, down, or a down and feather mix, can provide you with a pillow that appears thick, but that compresses down to a thickness appropriate for a stomach sleeper when you lie on it. However, gel-permeated memory foams and down are the most popular pillow fills for most users.
Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers FAQs
The pillow has a bladder at the bottom that can be filled with air. You should start off with the standard 3” and if you feel you would like it a bit higher, and then add air to the bladder till it feels comfortable. Stomach sleepers are best with the initial 3 inches, but they can increase this if needed. If you sleep with a partner, you can purchase a pair of Purple Pillows and adjust your partner’s to suit their needs up to 7.5 inches and over.
Not necessarily! Most are more suitable for belly sleepers than back or side sleepers. Others, particularly the adjustable loft pillows (#3 & #5), may suit back sleepers also, and at a push, side sleepers who generally prefer thicker pillows. Many back sleepers prefer a low loft pillow, and the difference between firm, medium and soft pillows are a matter of personal preference. What some stomach sleepers find too firm or too soft, others may find ideal.
It’s all down to the angle between the neck (cervical) vertebrae and the rest of your spine. Your spine should be maintained in its natural shape when you sleep. A thick pillow made from the foam will likely raise your head when you lie on it so that your neck bones are higher than the rest of your spine (unless you lie on your face!). This can lead to neck and back pain. When you lie on your front, your head is twisted in relation to the rest of your body. If your neck is pushed up (this would be sideways relative to the rest of your spine) it is at an unnatural angle and can lead to great pain over a period of time. A thin mattress prevents this – or a thick down mattress that compresses almost flat when you lie on it.
Much depends on what type of sleeping surface you like best. Some like memory foam best while others prefer an innerspring mattress. Your mattress should give support while being soft enough to keep you comfortable without restricting your breathing or putting excess pressure on your belly. A mattress with a firmness rating of 6.0 to 6.5 on a 1-10 scale (where 10 is firmest) would be ideal. We have tested a number of mattresses to find our top 10 best mattresses for stomach sleepers. Check out the Inside Bedroom review of our top 6 mattresses for stomach sleepers 2021.
The mattress is certainly important, but if you have too high a pillow (too much loft) then your neck could be forced into an unnatural angle. The vast majority of stomach sleepers sleep with head sideways, so if the pillow is too high your head will be forced up at an unnatural angle. This means that your neck will be at an angle to the rest of your spine when viewed from the side. This almost inevitably leads to neck pain, and some cases pain right down your spine. A firm thin pillow may be best, though some prefer a thicker down-filled pillow that compresses down when you lie on it.
It is best not to continue sleeping on your stomach late into your pregnancy. This can disrupt the flow of blood between the lower and upper areas of your body, leading potentially to dizziness and increased heart rate. The same may be true of sleeping on your back. There are pillows shaped like a donut that can help support your belly to help prevent this. However, we do not suggest you sleep on your stomach in the later stages of pregnancy. See your doctor for a considered opinion.
Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers – Conclusion
The above is our opinion of the best pillows for stomach sleepers after testing many others. The main features of a stomach sleepers’ pillow are a low profile, or thin pillow, but also one that is comfortable to sleep on and does not make you feel as though you are sleeping on concrete! Here are two tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Slip a thin pillow under your pelvis. This will help prevent your pelvis sinking into your mattress and misaligning your spine. This can help reduce the possibility of lower back pain.
- In addition to a good stomach sleeper’s pillow, it is also important to use a good mattress for stomach sleepers. Such mattresses support your neck and your pelvis while allowing your stomach to sink into it. If you are sleeping on the wrong mattress, then you could suffer neck and back pain irrespective of your pillow. If you cannot buy a new mattress at this time, then a pillow for stomach sleepers is even more important.
- Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim
- Elite Rest Ultra Slim
- The Pancake Pillow
- eLuxurySupply Extra Soft
- Purple Pillow
If you follow the advice above and choose one of our preferred pillows, then you should be able to sleep comfortably on your stomach. The stomach sleeping position is not uncommon, but like all other sleeping positions, there are some rules you should follow if you intend making sure that you have a good night’s sleep. Those variables are available to you in this review.