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Best Pillows for Back Sleepers to Wake Up Feeling Refreshed

Pillows for Back Sleepers
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Updated January 8, 2024

The best sleeping position can vary among individuals, and yours may well change throughout your lifetime. Sleeping on your back is one of the healthiest positions, since when done properly it can promote a healthy spine, reduce acid reflux and sinus inflammation, and even slow the appearance of wrinkles (when the best night cream isn’t enough). As with any sleeping position, though, having the right pillow can significantly improve your quality of sleep. Read on to find our picks for the best pillows for back sleepers.

What to consider when buying the best pillow for back sleepers

Loft

The loft of your pillow is the height and thickness of your pillow, which is important for your spine alignment as you sleep. The proper loft for back sleepers will vary based on each individual, but typically you want to look for medium-loft pillows between 3 and 5 inches.

Support and firmness

Lack of support and firmness in your pillow can allow your head to sink throughout the night, affecting your spine alignment and causing pain in your neck and back. For back sleepers, it’s generally helpful to look for medium-firm pillows that hold your head and neck in place as you sleep.

Price

It’s important to consider your budget before you start shopping. Are you looking to try a cost-effective solution at first, or are you in so much pain that you’ll pay any price? A word of warning on the latter: Be careful about equating price with quality, since good pillows that provide a restful night’s rest can fall within a huge price range. The best pillows are ones whose price tag won’t keep you up at night. 

Our top picks for best pillows for back sleepers 

Best down alternative pillow for back sleepers: Parachute Down Alternative Pillow

Parachute makes a down alternative pillow that’s 100% hypoallergenic and comes in soft, medium, or firm densities, for whatever give and support suits you best. Even the firmest option is plush and fluffy for a luxurious night’s sleep on your back. We also love that it’s machine washable and that it comes with a three-year warranty. 

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Microfiber
  • Cover: Cotton sateen 
  • Firmness level: Soft, medium, firm 
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Dry clean or machine wash cold; tumble dry with wool dryer balls; recommended to fluff every time you wash your sheets, about once a week 
  • Certifications: Oeko-Tex and RDS certified
  • Price on publish: $80 - $110

What we like:

  • Hypoallergenic 
  • Three-year warranty and 60-day return policy 
  • Machine washable

What we don’t like:

  • Recommended weekly fluffing

The bottom line: 

The Parachute Down Alternative Pillow comes in two sizes, three levels of firmness, and its hypoallergenic fill is ideal for a down alternative for back sleepers.

Best down alternative pillow for back sleepers
Standard Down Alternative Pillow | Parachute

Standard Down Alternative Pillow | Parachute

Best down pillow for back sleepers: Garnet Hill Heirloom European White Goose Down Pillow

One of the best down pillows available now comes from Garnet Hill, a luxurious brand of bedding. The Heirloom European White Goose Down is offered in soft, medium, and firm, in standard and king sizes, with a 400 thread count cotton shell. Though it’s on the pricier side, down pillows are usually long term investments that are made to last.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: European white goose down
  • Cover: Supima cotton shell
  • Firmness level: Soft, medium, firm
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Machine wash cold and tumble dry
  • Certifications: None
  • Price on publish: $209 - $399

What we like:

  • Available in multiple firmness levels
  • Machine washable

What we don’t like:

  • More expensive option
  • Some users say it doesn’t hold firmness

The bottom line: 

For back sleepers who like down filling, the Heirloom European White Goose Down Pillow from Garnet Hill is a luxurious option to splurge on.

Best down pillow for back sleepers
Heirloom European White Goose Down Pillow

Heirloom European White Goose Down Pillow

Best memory foam pillow for back sleepers: Casper Hybrid Pillow

Casper, the well-known mattress brand (particularly for their mattress-in-a-box offerings), also makes no-fluff (literally), low-maintenance pillows. Layered foam prevents the fill from clumping over time, and maintains the support you need long term, making it an ideal option for back sleepers in need of a more reliable shape and support.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Polyester fiber 
  • Cover: 92% polyester, 8% spandex
  • Firmness level: Medium
  • Sizes: Standard, king 
  • Care: Machine wash cover cold and dry flat 
  • Certifications: None
  • Price on publish: $99

What we like:

  • Free shipping 
  • Removable, machine washable cover 
  • You can save by ordering a two-pack
  • No need to fluff it

What we don’t like:

  • No trial period

The bottom line: 

Casper’s affordable hybrid pillow retains shape over time, with little maintenance required.

Best memory foam pillow for back sleepers
Casper Hybrid Pillow

Best budget pillow for back sleepers: Beckham Hotel Collection Luxury Linens Down Alternative Pillow

Calling all budget back sleepers! The Down Alternative Pillow from the Beckham Hotel Collection offers a standard-size two-pack for under $70. Made from OEKO-TEX Certified premium materials, this pillow has a plush and luxurious feel, with cooling elements in the foam and the cotton cover. It’s also hypoallergenic, machine washable, and retains its shape no matter how you sleep, making it one of the lowest maintenance pillows on our list.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Down alternative
  • Cover: Cotton
  • Firmness level: Medium
  • Sizes: Standard, king
  • Care: Machine wash, air dry
  • Certifications: OEKO-TEX
  • Price on publish: $54.99

What we like:

  • Machine washable 
  • Hypoallergenic 
  • Breathable, cooling fabric

What we don’t like:

  • No warranty

The bottom line: 

Brooklyn Bedding’s Down Alternative Pillow offers a cooling, hypoallergenic, and supportive option for budget shoppers.

Best budget pillow for back sleepers
Beckham Hotel Collection Luxury Linens Down Alternative Pillow

Beckham Hotel Collection Luxury Linens Down Alternative Pillow

Best pillow for side and back sleepers: Layla Kapok Pillow

The Kapok Pillow from Layla uses fill made from natural Kapok fibers, light and airy fibers sourced sustainably from the Kapok Tree. The pillow itself is adjustable via removable fill–just add or subtract as you see fit. It’s a great fit for back sleepers because the natural fibers offer a slightly denser, more supportive feel than traditional memory foam, which allows it to hold its shape throughout the night.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Shredded memory foam blended with natural Kapok fibers 
  • Cover: 66% polyester, 30% viscose, 4% poly/lycra blend 
  • Firmness level: Medium 
  • Sizes: Standard, king 
  • Care: Cover is machine washable 
  • Certifications: All foams are CertiPur-US Certified
  • Price on publish: $109

What we like:

  • Cooling pillow 
  • 5-year warranty and 30-night trial 
  • Free shipping and free returns

What we don’t like:

  • A little on the pricier side

The bottom line: 

For combination side and back sleepers, the Layla Kapok Pillow offers a luxurious combination of give and support with natural fill materials that keep you cool throughout the night.

Best pillow for side and back sleepers
Layla Kapok Pillow - Queen

Layla Kapok Pillow - Queen

Best neck support pillow for back sleepers with neck pain: The Original Groove Pain Relief Pillow

Sufferers of neck pain rejoice! The Pain Relief Pillow’s funky-looking shape is designed to cradle your neck to support a neutral spinal alignment all night. Not only does it alleviate muscular and spinal pain, it can also help open your airways to reduce snoring. With five stars on Trust Pilot and a 100-night trial period, it’s hard not to be tempted by this option. Even if you turn on your side throughout the night, the pillow’s shape supports the same neutral spine, making it one of the best pillows for side sleepers, too. Tackle your partner’s neck pain as well and save a few bucks by buying a two pack!

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Bamboo charcoal memory foam 
  • Cover: Scuba pillow protector 
  • Firmness level: Medium 
  • Sizes: Standard 
  • Care: Machine-washable, removable cover 
  • Certifications: None
  • Price on publish: $49.95

What we like:

  • 2-year warranty 
  • 100-night trial 
  • Works for back and side sleepers 
  • Affordable

What we don’t like:

  • Some complain it gets too hot

The bottom line: 

For back sleepers struggling with neck pain, the Original Groove Pain Relief Pillow stabilizes your head throughout the night and promotes a neutral spine for a pain-free, restful sleep.

Best neck support pillow for back sleepers with neck pain
The Original Groove Pain Relief Pillow

The Original Groove Pain Relief Pillow

Best neck support pillow for back sleepers: Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow

Brooklyn Bedding’s Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow sports a design that adapts and contours to your head, providing the proper support for your neck. (The gel-infused foam also makes it one of the best cooling pillows.) Depending on your measurements and preferences, you can choose a high or low profile to best fit between your shoulder and head.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Copper-infused memory foam 
  • Cover: Cooling cover 
  • Firmness level: Medium 
  • Sizes: Standard, king 
  • Care:  Machine-washable, removable cover 
  • Certifications: None
  • Price on publish: $90.30

What we like:

  • Hypoallergenic  
  • 30-day trial

What we don’t like:

  • Company’s warranty doesn’t apply to pillows

The bottom line: 

Brooklyn Bedding’s Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow is a hypoallergenic and luxurious option for back sleepers who prioritize neck support.

Best neck support pillow for back sleepers
Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow

Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow

Best pillows for back sleepers who snore: 10-in-1 Flip Pillow by Sharper Image

Snoring can be a nightmare for your partner, and it can also be indicative of more serious issues, too, such as sleep apnea or illness. Whether your snoring is chronic or acute, one of the safest ways to combat night-time snoring is by keeping your upper body elevated, and the 10-in-1 Flip Pillow by Sharper Image helps you do just that. It’s also the most versatile pillow on our list—it can be configured in multiple shapes, used on a bed, floor, or chair, and works for stomach sleepers, as well. When configured as a wedge, it allows you to comfortably lie on your back while keeping your torso slightly elevated and your neck supported.

If you’re a back sleeper struggling with snoring, you could also try the WoodyKnows Side-Sleeping Backpack, which promotes side sleeping by preventing you from turning onto your back. This is similar to the “tennis ball” remedy that experts have recommended to promote side sleeping, whereby you sew a tennis ball into the back of your pajamas.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: 100% polyester fill 
  • Cover: 100% polyester 
  • Firmness level: Not listed
  • Sizes: Standard, king 
  • Care: Not listed
  • Certifications: None
  • Price on publish: $49.99

What we like:

  • Versatile uses 
  • Custom pillow cases available

What we don’t like:

  • No trial period

The bottom line: 

For back sleepers who snore and want a pillow that keeps them upright, the 10-in-1 Flip Pillow by Sharper Image is a good, affordable solution.

Best pillows for back sleepers who snore
10-in-1 Flip Pillow by Sharper Image - Standard

10-in-1 Flip Pillow by Sharper Image - Standard

Best adjustable pillow for back sleepers: Coop Home Goods Original Loft Pillow

If you’re still working on becoming a back sleeper, the Original Loft Pillow from Coop Home Goods allows you to add or subtract memory foam fill. That means you can easily go from the plushness required for a stomach sleeper or the loftier fill of an ideal side sleeper pillow, to the medium-firm support you’ll need on your back. Each pillow comes with an extra side of memory foam fill, which you could use to make an entire additional neck or throw pillow.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Memory foam, microfiber 
  • Cover: 60% polyester, 40% rayon 
  • Firmness level: Medium, adjustable 
  • Sizes: Standard, king 
  • Care: Machine-washable, removable cover; machine wash pillow on cold, gentle cycle and tumble dry low 
  • Certifications: CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold certified 
  • Price on publish: $72

What we like:

  • Adjustable for multiple sleeping positions 
  • Pillow is machine washable 
  • 5-year warranty 
  • 100-day trial period

What we don’t like:

  • May take a while to get rid of the manufacturing scent

The bottom line: 

Coop Home Goods’ Original Loft Pillow is a tried and true option for back sleepers who want the flexibility of adjusting their pillow themselves.

Best adjustable pillow for back sleepers
Coop Home Goods Original Adjustable Pillow, Queen Size Bed Pillows for Sleeping, Cross Cut Memory Foam Pillows - Medium Firm Back, Stomach and Side Sleeper Pillow, CertiPUR-US/GREENGUARD Gold

Coop Home Goods Original Adjustable Pillow, Queen Size Bed Pillows for Sleeping, Cross Cut Memory Foam Pillows - Medium Firm Back, Stomach and Side Sleeper Pillow, CertiPUR-US/GREENGUARD Gold

Best orthopedic pillow for back sleepers: Moon Pod 4D Pillow

The 4D Pillow from Moon Pod has an adaptive, flexible design that’s supposed to help ease anxiety, ADHD, and general stress with sensory relaxation technology. Its inner seams contour to properly support your head and neck, while high-density micro-beads conform to fit your body. The only real complaint is the size: At just 24 inches long and 13 inches wide, it’s slightly smaller than a standard size, which doesn’t work well with most pillowcases and bed sheets and can leave some of our more mobile sleepers hanging off the side during the night.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: High-density EVA beads
  • Cover: Proprietary blend 
  • Firmness level: Not listed
  • Sizes: Smaller than standard size  
  • Care: Machine-washable, removable cover 
  • Certifications: N/A
  • Price on publish: $119

What we like:

  • Can request extra beads for more support 
  • 3- or 5-year warranty

What we don’t like:

  • No trial period 
  • 20% restocking fee

The bottom line: 

The Moon Pod 4D pillow is a high-end, customizable orthopedic pillow that’s great for back sleepers, but also works for side and stomach sleepers.

Best orthopedic pillow for back sleepers
Moon Pod 4D Pillow

Moon Pod 4D Pillow

How we selected the best pillows for back sleepers

We thoroughly researched the best places to buy pillows, including a selection of online and traditional retailers, to make our recommendations for the best pillows for back sleepers, with an emphasis on value, price, and transparency. All but one of our picks are priced under $115.

Best type of pillow for back sleepers

Generally, it’s important for back sleepers to choose a pillow that holds its shape and stays supportive throughout the night, to keep your head stable and your spine in a neutral position. Though the best types of pillows for you will vary depending on a number of other factors, in general, experts recommend a medium-height shredded memory foam or down alternative pillow that’s not too soft or too firm.

Tips for back sleepers

Don’t prop your head too much

When sleeping on your back, propping your head too high can put a strain on your neck and create problems with your cervical spine. To mitigate this, look for a pillow lower than the distance from your neck to your shoulder. 

Keep your spine neutral

Sleeping on your back can place extra strain on your lower back muscles and cause you to wake up with aches and pains. (If achiness is a frequent complaint, consider upgrading to one of the best mattresses for back pain.) To keep a neutral spine, consider sleeping with another pillow or wedge pillow under your knees and upper legs.

Choose the right mattress

Back sleepers of average weight usually do best with a medium-firm mattress for proper support. Mattresses on the firmer side help you keep that neutral spine.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is a firm pillow better for back sleepers? 

Generally, the consistent support of a firm pillow is best for back sleepers, as a pillow with less give will hold its form better as you shift throughout the night. If you’re a combination sleeper, a medium-firm pillow is best.

Is a thick or thin pillow better for sleeping on your back?

While you don’t want anything too thin (because your neck needs some support while you sleep, to avoid straining your neck), your pillow shouldn’t be thicker than the distance between your head and your shoulder.

How should I position my pillow for back sleeping?

For the best neck support for back sleepers, experts advise that only your neck and head should be on top of the pillow, never your shoulders.

How can I make my back sleep more comfortable?

To maximize comfort as a back sleeper, look for a pillow that’s not too lofty (high) and not too low. You don’t want your head to be pushed up as that puts a strain on your neck, but you do need your neck to be supported. You also want something between soft and firm that doesn’t lose its shape throughout the night. Lastly, many experts recommend placing a pillow or wedge under your knees or upper legs, which keeps your spine neutral and relieves pressure in your lower back.

How often should you replace pillows? 

This can vary depending on your sleeping habits and the material of your pillows, but generally it’s recommended that you replace your pillows every one to two years to avoid pain and prevent allergens.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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