The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers With Neck Pain

Perhaps it’s your affinity for the corpse pose. Or the desire to perfect your imitation of a log. Maybe it’s just the position you find most comfortable. Whatever the reason, if you identify as a back sleeper, you’re in the minority. That doesn’t been there aren’t quite a few great pillows for back sleepers, however.

There are many advantages to sleeping on your back. After all, the position allows for the natural alignment of your spine and limits your body’s need for extra cushioning. It also means that your weight remains evenly distributed throughout the night, maximizing blood flow. As a result, you’re less likely to toss and turn and more apt to have a restful sleep. What’s more, back sleeping can even minimize acid reflux and help you avoid wrinkles.

Unfortunately, it’s not all smooth sailing for you back sleepers. The position leaves you prone to both snoring and neck pain. To combat those issues, you need a pillow that provides the proper support and offers relief for your pressure points. Lucky for you, we’ve done the research and found some great options.

Best Overall: Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

Queen – $119

best pillow for back sleepers nest

We feel obligated to issue this warning: once you rest your head on the Nest Bedding Easy Breather, there’s a good chance you might not want to pick it up again. The pillow is filled with shredded memory foam that offers the total cushioning and top notch support back sleepers need. The foam allows the Easy Breather to contour to your head and neck, thus alleviating pressure. Another benefit? You can tailor the pillow’s loft to your liking. That’s because it actually arrives overstuffed; you can add or remove filling to achieve your preferred thickness. If you’re not already sold, this pillow has great airflow and a breathable Tencel-blended cover — which means you will definitely sleep cool. Lastly, Nest Bedding offers a 100-day sleep trial and a two-year warranty. Though we suspect that after your first night’s sleep, you will never want to part with this pillow.

Good For:

  • Small to averaged size individuals
  • People who sleep hot
  • People who want to adjustability

Best Value: Sahara Nights Pillow

Queen – $43

best pillow for back sleepers sahara nights

Have you always wanted to trick yourself into believing you’re sleeping at a high-end resort on a nightly basis? Consider investing in a Sahara Nights pillow. Hotel-quality and hypoallergenic, these pillows are filled with a polyester gel fiber that feels surprisingly like down, but without the problem of sinkage. Moreover, they manage to achieve a nice combination of firmness and softness. They also retain their shape quite well and are able to adjust to the contours of your head and neck. Additionally, Sahara Nights Pillows are highly durable and they even sleep cool. All in all, you can expect maximum plush for a great price.

Good For:

  • Back and stomach sleepers
  • People who need a hypoallergenic pillow
  • People who like their pillows plush but firm

Best Cooling Pillow: Purple Pillow

Standard – $99

best pillow for back sleepers purple 1500x1000

You’re sure to have sweet dreams after laying down on a Purple Pillow. After all, its patented Smart Grid Design ensures your head is gently cradled and your neck receives optimal support. The grid is also temperature-neutral and designed for passive airflow. In turn, this helps to wick away body heat. Given the 3-inch loft, it’s ideal for people with smaller heads and narrow shoulders as well as individuals who prefer a thinner pillow. Helpfully, it’s still able to retain its shape rather well despite not being overly fluffy. Additionally, the Purple Pillow is easy to care for. The cover is machine washable and the pillow itself can be cleaned in warm water with a gentle soap. Best of all, the company offers a 100-night sleep trial and a one-year warranty. You can rest easy with this great cooling pillow purchase.

Good For:

  • Small-to-average sized sleepers
  • People with a lower-loft preference
  • People who sleep hot

Most Breathable: Bluewave Bedding Pillow

Ultra Slim – $45

best pillow for back sleepers blue bedding

This Blue Wave pillow puts to bed the question of whether it’s remotely possible to find a high-quality, ultra-thin pillow. The answer is unequivocally yes. Though it’s only 2.5 – 2.75 inches thick, it offers the perfect amount of support for back and stomach sleepers as well as individuals who have small frames. In fact, the pillow’s limited loft helps with spinal alignment and improves breathing. Sleeping on a Blue Wave may even reduce snoring tendencies and curb neck and shoulder pain. While the cover is made from a combination of polyester and rayon-derived bamboo, the pillow itself features hypoallergenic, low-odor memory foam. It’s even smartly designed with ventilation holes to maximize air circulation. You’ll stay cool even if you’re dreaming about the tropics.

Good For:

  • Back and stomach sleepers
  • People with neck pain
  • People who sleep hot

Best Adjustable Pillow: Coop Home Goods – Eden

Queen – $80

best pillow for back sleepers coop home goods 1500x1000

If your plush preferences are ever-evolving, you are bound to love the Eden pillow from Coop Home Goods. The Eden’s adjustable design allows for total customization; thanks to a zippered inner and outer cover, you can easily access the filling to add or remove as needed. The benefits don’t end there, though. This pillow is gusseted, which prevents the edges from sloping together and the filling from getting pushed to the side. Thus you’re guaranteed to have total neck support. Additionally, it’s made with gel-infused memory foam and features a bamboo-rayon cover. The foam helps to draw out heat while the cover offers breathability so you’ll definitely stay cool and comfortable. And fear not – the Eden is also great at retaining its shape. Coop Home Goods is so confident you’ll love this pillow that the company offers a 100-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty.  

Good For:

  • All sizes/weight classes
  • Individuals with neck or shoulder pain
  • Back and side sleepers

Choosing the Best Pillow for Back Sleeping

You’ve peeped at our top picks. Nevertheless, you still want to shop around and make sure you find the best pillow for you. We can respect that. As you hunt for the perfect pillow, here are some factors you’ll definitely want to keep in mind.

Body Size

Pillows come in a wide range of sizes – from small (12 x 20-inch) to full body size (48-54 x 20-inch). A standard pillow is typically 20 x 26-28-inch and a queen is 20 x 30-inch. Of course, dimensions will vary by brands. If you’re a bigger person or you tend to toss and turn, you will probably want to invest in a larger pillow.

Loft

Referring to a pillow’s thickness, loft is one of the key elements to consider. Why? Well, your spinal alignment can easily be compromised if there’s too much (or too little) loft.

Importantly, loft can be broken down into three basic categories: low-loft (less than 3 inches thick), medium-loft (3 – 5 inches thick) and high-loft (over 5 inches thick). Many back sleepers opt for medium or high-loft pillows since they tend to elevate the head and neck best. However, you should consider your head size, shoulder size, and weight when making this decision. A low-loft pillow is best for heavier set individuals as well as people with smaller heads and narrower shoulders. A high-loft pillow is better for a slim person or someone with a large head or broad shoulders.  

Filling

Pillows can be manufactured with a wide variety of fillings, both natural and synthetic. And since these determine thickness and firmness, it’s important to understand your main options:

  • Buckwheat: Typically thick, firm and adjustable; great for back sleepers.
  • Memory Foam: Adjustable and conforms well; great for back sleepers.
  • Latex: Not adjustable but conforms and supports well, sleeps cool; great for back sleepers.
  • Polyester: Affordable but can easily flatten; not great for back sleepers.
  • Down and/or Down Alternative: Adjustable loft but fairly soft and flattens easily; will not provide enough support for back sleepers.

Firmness and Malleability

As with most things bed-related, malleability and firmness should be crucial to your decision-making. For back sleepers, a medium firmness is likely ideal. A pillow that’s too soft will cause your head to sink and could result in a misaligned spine. Conversely, an overly firm pillow can easily lead to a stiff neck or shoulders. You also want to select a pillow that’s somewhat malleable so it contours to your head and neck. This will help eliminate unnecessary strain.

Surface Shape

By and large, pillows have two main surface types: even or contoured. Even surfaces are certainly more common, and they can appear full or flat. Contoured pillows (also referred to as cervical pillows) have a curved surface that’s usually elevated at the neck and then recessed at the head. Contoured options are often recommended for people who have shoulder or neck pain.

Ease of Cleaning

We’re going to operate on the assumption that you want to be clean and hygienic. Therefore, you’ll want to check and see if the pillows you’re considering are machine washable. Some pillows, especially those made with solid memory foam, are not. In those cases, you should make sure that they come with a removable cover that can be cleaned. Another pro tip: It also doesn’t hurt to purchase a pillow protector.

A good night’s sleep is critical to your health. And there’s no question that finding the right pillow is a critical step toward some solid slumber. Follow our guide and you’ll be well on your way to some sweet dreams.

Looking for more great stuff? Find best pillows for stomach sleepers, best mattresses for side-sleepers, and pillows for side-sleepers.

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