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Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers According to Experts

Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
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Updated April 10, 2024

Stomach sleepers are in the minority—they make up less than a quarter of U.S. adults—but they have some special advantages. Researchers believe this pose helps decrease snoring and sleep apnea, and according to at least one study, stomach sleepers are also more likely to have sociable, outgoing personalities!

However, the position can also put undue pressure on the neck and lower back, and can even lead to spinal misalignment and chronic pain. According to Dr. Sarah Doyle, physical therapist at HealWell Regenerative Institute in Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, “Stomach sleepers tend to have a lot of pain in their upper trapezius. Those are the muscles that are reaching up toward your ears when you shrug your shoulders, and I see really tight ‘traps’ on stomach sleepers.”

Kristen Smith, certified personal trainer and founder of Miami Beach Bootcamp, shares some advice based on personal experience: “I used to be a stomach sleeper, and the most important thing is that you want to have spinal alignment when you sleep. If you’re sleeping on your stomach, your head will often be cocked to the side, which could give you some nerve pinching in the base of the neck, potentially leading to headaches.” To avoid these common belly-sleeper blues, invest in one of the best pillows designed for your sleep style.

How to choose the best pillow for stomach sleepers

Consider the loft

The loft, or height of your pillow, is a key factor impacting how comfortable it is for your body. While low loft pillows are typically recommended for stomach sleepers, no two bodies are built the same, meaning everyone will gravitate towards a different loft. To get the perfect loft, you may need to try before you buy.

Fill material

The material your pillow is stuffed with will have a major impact on how the pillow feels.

One of the most popular stuffings is down. Down is the wispy white insulation under a bird’s body feathers, and goose down is particularly prized for its superior softness. However, natural down can flatten after continuous use, so it’s important to fluff your pillow.

Down can also prompt allergy symptoms like itchy eyes or sneezing fits. To avoid these issues, many people turn to down alternatives, which are fibers made from polyester or cotton, and are designed to feel similar to down.

Another option is memory foam. Made from polyurethane, it tends to sink under the weight of your head, and mold around your form.

If you like the plush-yet-firm quality of memory foam, but find the sinkage uncomfortable, a latex pillow might be a good choice. Natural latex is derived from the sap of rubber trees, and tends to be more bouncy and buoyant than memory foam.

Firm versus soft

Your pillow’s fill material will impact the softness or firmness of your pillow. Some types of fill, like down, will always be ultra-soft. However, other fill categories, like latex, can come in a variety of firmness levels ranging from ultra soft to very firm. Softer pillows are typically recommended for stomach sleepers as opposed to firm pillows, which are the best pillows for side sleepers.

Our top picks

Best cooling pillow for stomach sleepers: Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow

For stomach sleepers who run hot, a truly cooling pillow can seem as unattainable as a trip to the moon. But now, thanks to NASA, cooling relief is finally in reach! Slumber Cloud’s new ultra cooling pillow is made with unique Outlast® fabric, which was originally designed for astronauts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It also features premium temperature-regulating technology designed to keep both sides of the pillow cool. Never again will your sleep be disrupted by the need to rotate a hot pillow! The Slumber Cloud cooling pillow keeps you cool as a cucumber.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Polysilk™ down-alternative fiberfill
  • Cover: Proprietary Outlast™ fabric
  • Firmness level: Soft/Medium, Medium/Firm
  • Sizes: Standard, King
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Certifications: OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified
  • Price: $69 - $ 89

What we like:

  • Unique NASA-designed technology ensures that both sides of the pillow stay cool
  • 4-star average customer rating
  • Reasonably priced
  • Offered in two different firmness options

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviews complain that the pillow loses structure/falls flat after a few uses
  • Some reviews say that the cooling technology didn’t work for them

The bottom line:

If you want a pillow that reaches for the stars, turn to one designed by NASA.

Best cooling pillow for stomach sleepers
Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow

Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow

Best adjustable pillow for stomach sleepers: Layla Kapok Pillow

For stomach sleepers, pillow height is one of the most crucial factors impacting your quality of sleep. A pillow that’s too tall will strain the neck, but one too low may not provide enough support—and so, like Goldilocks, it can be tough to find an option that’s just right. Layla has you covered with a premium pillow that’s 100% adjustable. The pillow arrives overstuffed, and then it unzips for easy access to the shredded material within. The fill is made from memory foam blended with Kapok fibers.

Kapok is derived from the Kapok tree, and it's used because it's especially light and airy. To adjust the height, just remove the fill until it sits at the correct loft for your sleep needs. As a bonus, the Layla Kapok doubles as a cooling pillow: It features a hexagonal stitch design on the cover, which is made of breathable fabric that promotes airflow.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Shredded memory foam blended with natural Kapok Fibers
  • Cover: 66% polyester, 33% rayon, 1% spandex (removable)
  • Firmness level: n/a
  • Sizes: Standard/Queen, King
  • Care: Zipper cover is machine washable
  • Certifications: CertiPur-US® Certified memory foam
  • Price: $109 - $129

What we like:

  • No shipping fees are charged for returns
  • 5-year warranty
  • 4.5-star rating and thousands of reviews
  • Rates well with back sleepers

What we don’t like:

  • Pricey
  • Some reviews say it sleeps hot

The bottom line:

This pillow is easy to adjust, making it comfortable for every sleep style—especially stomach sleepers.

Best adjustable pillow for stomach sleepers
Layla Kapok Pillow

Layla Kapok Pillow

Best budget pillow for stomach sleepers: The Belly Sleeper Pillow

As the name implies, this is a pillow specifically designed for stomach sleepers, and it’s also offered at an affordable price. The Belly Sleeper features an ultra-low profile of just 2.5 inches, and is crafted with premium memory foam designed to contour to your form, delivering even pressure on the head and neck, and promoting spinal alignment. Unlike standard memory foam, which can tend to run hot, The Belly Sleeper is filled with cooling gel to help ward off sweaty, restless sleep. With over 75% of reviewers giving it 5 stars, The Belly Pillow is a reasonably priced option that promises superior slumber.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Polyurethane memory foam
  • Cover: Bamboo polyester blend (removable)
  • Firmness level: n/a
  • Sizes: Standard
  • Care: Cover is machine washable
  • Certifications: n/a
  • Price: $39.99

What we like:

  • Cooling gel ensures it stays cooler than other memory foam options
  • Affordably priced
  • Ultra-low profile is idea for stomach sleepers

What we don’t like:

  • Not fluffable, so it’s not great for those who want to hug their pillow at night
  • Some reviews complain of issues with delivery and customer service

The bottom line:

A budget pillow that’s specifically designed for stomach sleepers.

Best budget pillow for stomach sleepers
The Belly Sleeper Pillow

The Belly Sleeper Pillow

Best down pillow for stomach sleepers: Pacific Coast Double DownAround® Medium Support Pillow

When you think of the heavenly-soft pillows you would find at a fancy hotel, you might be thinking of one of the best down pillow brands: Pacific Coast. Their Double DownAround® pillow is so popular, it’s used at hotels worldwide. This is a pillow within a pillow. The inner pillow is stuffed with premium Resilia® feathers, while the outer pillow contains 550 fill power down. No wonder it’s a crowd favorite!

Resilia® feathers undergo a special process that results in tightly curled feathers that are soft yet bouncy—adding to the superior softness and buoyancy of the pillow. Stomach sleepers often enjoy a softer pillow, and many stomach sleepers also like a malleable pillow they can fluff up. This pillow offers both. For ultimate cloud-like softness, nothing beats the Pacific Coast Double DownAround® Pillow.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Resilia® feathers and down
  • Cover: 233 thread count organic cotton
  • Firmness level: Medium
  • Sizes: Standard/Queen & King
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Certifications: American Down & Feather Council (ADFC) Certified
  • Price: $100 - $110

What we like:

  • Popular at luxury hotels
  • Elegant navy blue cord adds a colorful flair
  • Machine washable
  • Hyperclean® down and feathers are washed and rinsed up to 8 times

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviews say the pillow flattens down too much for their taste
  • Some reviews complain the pillow has an odor

The bottom line:

The Double DownAround® pillow is delightfully soft and stuffed with premium quality down.

Best down pillow for stomach sleepers
Pacific Coast Double DownAround® Medium Support Pillow

Pacific Coast Double DownAround® Medium Support Pillow

Best down alternative pillow for stomach sleepers: Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillow

In addition to selling eco-friendly mattresses and bed sheets, Boll & Branch makes multiple types of pillows, like this down alternative one. Whether you’re plagued by allergies or just slightly sensitive to the occasional flare-up, the dander in natural down can trigger itchy eyes and a sneezy nose—the last thing anyone wants when they’re trying to get some shuteye! This is especially true for stomach sleepers, who inevitably come face-to-face with their pillow—along with whatever allergens are inside that pillow. A quality down-alternative pillow can be a lifeline, and Boll & Branch makes one of the best down alternative pillows around. Of the three different densities offered, the soft option is the most ideal for stomach sleepers.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: PrimaLoft® Luxury Down Alternative®
  • Cover: 100% organic cotton
  • Firmness level: Soft, Medium, Firm
  • Sizes: Standard, King
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Certifications: OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified
  • Price: $89 - $119

What we like:

  • Offered in three different density options
  • Hypoallergenic
  • 5-star rating with hundreds of reviews
  • Company is 100% organic Fair Trade Certified™
  • Pillow is machine washable

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviews complain the pillow emits an odor
  • Some reviews say that even the firm option runs soft

The bottom line:

When allergy season strikes, you can sleep easy on this high quality, hypoallergenic, down- alternative pillow.

Best down alternative pillow for stomach sleepers
Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillow

Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillow

Best memory foam pillow for stomach sleepers: Blissbury Ultra Thin Pillow

Memory foam is known for being soft and pliable, and for conforming around the shape of the user. This flexibility can be appealing to stomach sleepers because it can relieve tension and promote spinal alignment. For stomach sleepers searching for a memory foam pillow, the Blissbury Ultra Thin is a comfortable, affordable option. A low-profile pillow is typically ideal for stomach sleepers, and this pillow sits at just 2.6 inches tall. It also comes with a double weave pillowcase that wicks away moisture, promoting a cooler night’s sleep. With an average customer rating of 4.4 stars, it’s a popular option at a reasonable price.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Gel memory foam
  • Cover: Rayon (removable)
  • Firmness level: n/a
  • Sizes: Standard, 3.3 inch Standard, King
  • Care: Machine washable cover
  • Certifications: CertiPUR-US Certified foam, OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified
  • Price: $39.99

What we like:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Ultra-low profile is ideal for stomach sleepers
  • Also comes in a cooling pillow option

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviews complain the pillow gives off an odor
  • Ultra-low profile means it’s too thin for some reviewers

The bottom line:

Great for stomach sleepers, and also budget-friendly.

Best memory foam pillow for stomach sleepers
BLISSBURY Stomach Sleeping Pillow - Thin Memory Foam Pillow for Stomach Sleepers | Ultra Thin Pillow for Sleeping | Flat Pillows for Sleeping, Slim Pillow, Stomach Sleeper Pillow | 2.6 Inch Thickness

BLISSBURY Stomach Sleeping Pillow - Thin Memory Foam Pillow for Stomach Sleepers | Ultra Thin Pillow for Sleeping | Flat Pillows for Sleeping, Slim Pillow, Stomach Sleeper Pillow | 2.6 Inch Thickness

Softest and most comfortable pillow for stomach sleepers: Cozy Earth Silk Pillow

With over 500 glowing 5-star reviews, this pillow has been reverently called “the one” for stomach sleepers. Filled with 100% mulberry silk and covered in a premium bamboo shell, it’s designed to provide a luxurious sleep experience. Reviewers also say it’s ultra-soft and fluffy without being too hard or too tall—all of which makes it a great option for stomach sleepers. As a bonus, the fill material is airy and breathable, making this a great cooling pillow for hot sleepers as well.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Mulberry silk
  • Cover: Premium bamboo viscose
  • Firmness level: Soft
  • Sizes: Standard, King
  • Care: Spot clean or dry clean
  • Certifications: N/A
  • Price: $209.30 - $244.30

What we like:

  • Bamboo shell provides luxurious silky feel
  • Soft texture is great for stomach sleepers
  • Includes cooling features
  • The filling has a warranty against shifting

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive
  • Too low profile for some reviewers

The bottom line:

A luxuriously soft pillow that’s also cooling—perfect for stomach sleepers.

Softest and most comfortable pillow for stomach sleepers
Silk Pillow (Size: King) - Cozy Earth

Silk Pillow (Size: King) - Cozy Earth

Best sustainable pillow for stomach sleepers: Coyuchi Down Pillow

The Coyuchi down pillow is here to make your sustainable dreams come true. The company employs a sustainability manager, and they pride themselves on deploying a number of different sustainability initiatives—like their packaging, which is made of either organic fabric, or recycled plastic poly…helping you sleep easier knowing you’re not contributing to the global plastic waste crisis. These all-natural down pillows are also sustainably made in the USA. The feathers are sourced from an Indiana duck farm; sourcing from a single American supplier helps them to reduce their environmental footprint. And although Coyuchi isn’t ADFC or RDS certified, the company advertises that their ducks are humanely raised on a healthy grain diet.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Double-washed down
  • Cover: 100% certified organic cotton
  • Firmness level: n/a
  • Sizes: Standard, King, Queen
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Certifications: None
  • Price: $168 - $238

What we like:

  • American made
  • Down is sourced from humanely-raised ducks

What we don’t like:

  • Pricey
  • No ADFC or Responsible Down Standard certification
  • Loft is initially high and takes two months to compress to its working thickness

The bottom line:

This pillow offers quality and sustainability, with a price tag to match.

Best sustainable pillow for stomach sleepers
Coyuchi Down Pillow Queen White

Coyuchi Down Pillow Queen White

How we selected the best pillows for stomach sleepers

I interviewed multiple experts, including physical therapists and trainers, who spoke about the different physical pain issues that arise for stomach sleepers. I then researched pillows in the categories and styles that the experts recommended for stomach sleepers, taking into account factors like softness vs. firmness, loft, cooling features, and more. Once I narrowed the options down to a shortlist, I then read through reviews and made comparisons to collate a list of the very best pillows for stomach sleepers.

What pillow materials are best for stomach sleepers

As many experts note, stomach sleepers typically do best with a softer pillow, so they often gravitate towards down or down alternative pillows. However, memory foam and latex pillows can still give stomach sleepers the softness they crave. Check the product description to see if the pillow is described as “soft” or “firm.”

Tips for stomach sleepers

According to Smith, a low loft pillow is typically best for stomach sleepers. “Make sure your spine is straight from your back into your neck—one long line—to avoid pinching nerves and restricting blood flow. One of the best ways to achieve that for stomach sleepers is with a very low loft pillow.”

Dr. Kellen Scantlebury, founder of Fit Club NY, advises that a soft pillow is typically recommended for stomach sleepers—but most important is personal preference. “Ultimately, you must choose what’s most comfortable for you, so even if a soft pillow is recommended for your sleeping position, if you find a firmer pillow is more comfortable, that’s what you should choose.”

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Are firm or soft pillows better for stomach sleepers?

Most experts recommend a softer pillow for stomach sleepers. Says Dr. Scantlebury, “For stomach sleepers, we recommend a softer pillow so the head and neck can be in better alignment. Often, stomach sleepers will turn their head to the right or the left. And the more firm the pillow is, the more your neck is going to be in extension, which is what we don’t want, especially if it’s rotated to the side. So we recommend a softer pillow for stomach sleepers.”

However, Smith recommends that stomach sleepers consider buying a second, firm pillow to support the hips. “If you’re on your stomach, you’re going to want a firm pillow for under the hips, and a soft pillow for under your head, so that your head can stay low with your spine, and your hips can be elevated up a little bit.”

How thick should pillows be for stomach sleepers?

A low-loft, or very thin pillow, is typically recommended for stomach sleepers. Smith notes, “Stomach sleepers do well with a thin pillow, and you also want it to be squishable, so you can position it under your head to keep your spine in alignment as much as possible. The last thing you want is your head to be cocked up high when you’re on your stomach, because that would result in a dramatic skew in the spine. So a shallow pillow allows you to keep your head to the side while still keeping your spine relatively straight, and that’s what a stomach sleeper wants.”

Is it bad for you to sleep on your stomach?

Many experts note that stomach sleeping can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain. Dr. Doyle comments, “If you’re able to sleep in a different position, then I would advise avoiding stomach sleeping because of the pain issues that can arise.” That said, Dr. Doyle also notes that it may not be possible to change your sleep style, in which case, finding a pillow designed to support stomach sleepers is a great option. “I wish my patients would sleep on their backs, but getting a great pillow is the most helpful thing we can do.”

Should stomach sleepers avoid using a pillow?

While some stomach sleepers may do well with no pillow at all, a very thin pillow is typically what’s best for stomach sleepers. Either way, Dr. Scantlebury stresses that, “it’s important to pay attention to your body’s specific needs, so try out different options and experiment to find what works best for you.”

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

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