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Best Pillow for Back Sleepers
Sleeping on your back is great for your spine. The cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions line up in this position producing the best results for tension relief.
While back sleepers enjoy a neutral spine position, they’re at risk for developing structural disorders in their neck. If their pillow doesn’t closely conform to the cervical spine, back sleepers may experience neck pain, apnea, and tight muscles in the shoulders.
Did you know that there are different types of pillows available for back, side, and stomach sleepers? If you’re waking up with a stiff neck, the chances are that your pillow may be the problem.
Are You Struggling to Sleep? – Your Pillow Makes a Difference
Is your neck killing you? Sleeping on your back creates a gap between the surface of your bed and the pillow edge. This gap makes the chin pull closer to the neck when your muscles relax as you drift off to sleep.
Unfortunately, this dip in your chin posture places various stresses on your neck and shoulders. It’s common for back sleepers to experience a tightness at the base of the skull in the atlas joint of the cervical spine. The joint between the cervical and thoracic spine is another area at risk of pressure pain from poor pillow support.
Structural pain in the spine leads to muscular imbalances in the neck and shoulders. Back sleepers using the wrong pillow may find that muscles in the neck and shoulders tighten up, exacerbating the symptoms of pain in the neck joints.
Apnea is a condition where the airways close off during sleep. As a result, the affected person may not breathe regularly during sleep due to a temporary collapse in the airway. While this condition typically affects overweight or obese people, it may also occur due to poor sleeping posture.
The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers
Did you know that less than 10-percent of the population sleep on their back? There are three positions associated with back sleeping, which do you fall into with your sleeping position?
- Starfish position – Arms bent at the elbows, hands resting at head level, one leg slightly bent at the knee.
- Soldier position – Arms extended and one of the legs bend slightly at the knee.
- Savasana position – Both legs and arms extend fully.
When we sleep, our body naturally moves into the most comfortable position. Some people find that they transition through different postures while they sleep, while others wake up in the same manner in which they fell asleep. No research exists on whether or not this plays a role in the restfulness of our sleep.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that whatever way you choose to sleep doesn’t matter, as long as you receive the necessary support to your neck and back during the sleeping cycle. An uncomfortable night leaves you feeling anxious, with foggy thoughts, and a stiff neck.
You deserve the best support. Pillows for back sleepers should provide a snug fit to the cervical spine, lending support for the natural curve in your neck. This contoured design prevents the chin-tilt in your posture while you sleep.
As a result, the pillow ensures even support throughout the neck, relieving any pressure points or muscular distress. Using this type of support adds up to a good night’s sleep, when you wake up in the morning, you’ll feel like a million bucks – instead of feeling like a truck hit you.
Pillow Shapes and Materials
Best Pillow For Back Sleepers - Our Top Picks
The chances are the pillow your sleeping on tonight is a fluffy rectangle. This classic design graces the beds of billions of people all over the world. However, it’s an inefficient design. If you think about it – do you ever sleep on the corners of your pillow?
Sleep science is serious business. Modern pillow designs now include the following shapes;
- The classic fluffy rectangle – Soft inner-materials for cushioning.
- The flat, solid rectangle – Firm materials for additional support.
- The butterfly shape – Provides extra support under the neck and shoulders.
- The classic curve design – Provides additional support by placing the ears of your pillow on your shoulders.
Gone are the days of relying on one type of pillow construction and filling. Today, there are plenty of different fillings and features to choose from on your hunt for the perfect pillow.
Manufacturers offer pillows in 6-sizes, from small to full body. If you enjoy snuggling with your pillow, the full-body option offers 40-liters of volume. There are options for the surface contour as well. Contoured options include recesses under the head, with high sides under the neck to allow for natural neck support.
The loft is another critical part of choosing the right pillow. This term refers to thickness.
- High-loft: Greater than 5-inches thick.
- Medium-loft: Between three to 5-inches thick.
- Low-loft: Less than 3-inches thick.
Most back sleepers prefer high or medium-loft pillows because they elevate the head and neck. The loft is a personal preference and depends on the height, weight, age, and spinal health of the individual.
The material is another significant innovation in pillows. Your old down pillow is so 1999. Here are the options available to you in the 21st century.
Viscoelastic polyfoam, and solid or shredded memory foam, softens with body heat and bounces back to its original shape when cold. These pillows offer close-conforming support with adjustable loft and no noise issues. Back sleepers do best with firmer models.
Firm and supportive, latex pillows never lose their shape. Latex provides close comfort and has a long lifespan – which offsets their high purchase price. They sleep exceptionally fresh and airy, but some may find them too heavy and dense.
Made of 40-percent bamboo and 60-percent polyester. These pillows are light and airy, with good support. They contour well for close conforming comfort. Moldable loft and easy to maintain.
Cooler than memory foam pillows, cotton pillows provide good airflow and feature organic materials. Cotton pillows are relatively inexpensive and have no odor like you may find with a bamboo pillow.
Made from the husked shells of buckwheat seeds. This type of pillow offers an adjustable loft, contour, and shape. It’s light and cooling. However, some may not like the noise of the shells rubbing together. Typically, they come with a high price-tag as well.
Excellent for warm climates. Cooling pillows consist of fibrous materials that allow for natural air-flow, or cooling sources like gel and water. Gel and water pillows have a protective sheath around the gel or liquid that prevents body heat absorption while emitting a cooling flow of air.
The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers
Coop Home Goods - Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
An affordable premium pillow from Coop Home Goods. Filled with shredded hypoallergenic Certipur memory foam. This product offers an adjustable fill that shapes to any loft or support angle you like. The shredded memory foam gives the pillow a feel of a down pillow. Unlike a down pillow, this product won’t clump up or lose support in the middle of the night.
Cross-cut viso-elastic foam combined with a combed microfiber cover allows for optimal airflow, keeping your neck and back of your head dry, even on the hottest nights.
It’s ideal for back sleepers as the design of the fill allows you to shape it under the base of your neck. This feature means that you never have to worry about your chin slumping while you sleep. Adjust the loft of this pillow to any height you like.
The customizability of this pillow is what makes it great. We love the fact that a quick fluff on this pillow puffs up the volume to your ideal sleeping height. There’s no more waking up to a stiff neck with this product.
The ultra-soft bamboo case made from 60-percent polyester and 40-percent rayon feel light and comfortable against your skin. The cover is removable and washable and the pillows available in sizes from standard to a king. This high-quality pillow comes with a 5-year guarantee and a 100-night trial phase. If you’re not happy after 3-months – send it back for a full refund.
- Cost-effective and good value for money.
- High-quality shredded memory foam.
- No PBDE’s in manufacturing.
- Breathable with excellent airflow through the bamboo cover.
- Adjustable loft for superior support.
- Guarantee and trial phase.
- Requires airing for a few days after purchase to lose the memory-foam smell.
- Might be a bit firm for those individuals that enjoy a soft pillow.
- Some may find the memory foam pieces clump after 12-months or more of use.
Nature's Guest Cervical Support Pillow
The team at Natures guest created a sleeping masterpiece with this pillow. Recommended by chiropractors and orthopedic doctors, this pillow is the ideal balance between support and comfort. The perfect choice for sleepers that switch between back and side sleeping during the night.
Featuring a concaved headrest in the center and firm support sides, this pillow allows for the recess to support the back of your head while providing the cervical spine the support it needs to remain aligned during sleep. This design results in a roll cushion that keeps your chin from slumping, blocking off your airways. It’s the ideal pillow for anyone suffering from sleep apnea.
The gusseted edges of the pillow don’t collapse under the weight of your neck and head. As a result, you achieve an ideal loft, without the need to fluff or adjust the pillow. In case you feel like modifying the filling to customize your sleep experience, there’s a dual zipper that provides access to the memory foam, allowing you to shape it as you desire. If you’re prone to back and neck pain, this is the pillow for you.
This premium quality pillow comes with a hypoallergenic polyurethane memory foam featuring excellent resilience. The soft cotton cover and silk edges provide a luxurious feel requiring no extra pillow covers. Microfiber construction over the inner cover gives that extra layer of comfort to the feel of the pillow.
This pillow is dense and heavy. It’s not suitable for those individuals looking for a soft, fluffy pillow. The manufacturer offers a 30-day money back guarantee on the craftsmanship, but the chances are that you’ll fall in love with this Nature’s guest pillow after your first night.
- High-quality construction.
- Multi-use for back and side sleepers.
- Very supportive.
- Contoured top panel.
- Breathable materials.
- A bit pricey – but worth the money.
- Heavy and no ability to fluff.
Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel-Infused Memory Foam Pillow
We love the intelligent design of the Bluewave. The pillow features two different contoured edges. One edge is flat – ideal for side sleepers. The other side is curved – providing the best support for back sleepers. This ultra-thin pillow doesn’t have much loft to it, but it provides excellent support for back sleepers that don’t require a stack of pillows. We love the soft memory foam filling that contours to the shape of your head in minutes. The resilience of the memory foam allows bounce-back to its original form without any fluffing required.
All memory foam pillows are notorious for retaining body heat. However, the gel-infused particles in the foam provide extra support and comfort while allowing for maximum airflow to keep you fresh and dry at night. The air-holes increase the cooling effect, making it the ideal choice of pillow for anyone living in a hot climate.
The memory foam filling comes CERTIPUR-US certified, manufactured with hypoallergenic materials that produce no smell. There’s hardly any time needed to air out this pillow, take it straight out of the box and onto your bed. The low loft on the pillow measures at 2.5 to 2.75-inches thick. However, it provides excellent support due to the soft, contouring memory foam. Back sleepers will love the round edge as it gives the cervical spine the perfect position to relax.
The bamboo and polyester cover breathes well and is machine washable. The super soft material in the cover naturally wicks away moisture, keeping the back of your neck and your hairline dry, even on the warmest nights.
- Good value and well-priced.
- Gel particles infused in the memory foam to keep you fresh and crisp.
- Comfortable cover that wicks away moisture.
- Dual purpose for back and side sleeping.
- High-quality memory foam.
- The thickness seems a bit on the slim side.
- No ability to adjust the filling.
Z Gel Memory Foam L-Shape Pillow for Side & Back Sleeping Comfort
We love the L-shape design of this pillow, it almost feels like a couch for your head. It’s the perfect pillow for transition sleepers that spend part of the night sleeping on their back and their side. The inner straight edge provides the ideal surface for side sleepers that need close support between their neck and shoulders.The outside edge of the pillow slopes in a gentle contour for the cervical spine. This design suits back sleepers that require an arch to the border to provide maximum cervical support while they sleep.
The filling on this pillow is as unique as its shape. The soft hypoallergenic memory foam allows much more sink to the foam than with other traditional memory foam products in its range. The “gel dough” means more support and added comfort, reducing the chances of developing any neck or shoulder pain as you sleep. You can be sure that you’ll wake up feeling restored after your nap.
The tencel cover breathes well, allowing for maximum um air flow during the night. With moisture wicking capability, this cover keeps you dry around the back of the neck and your hairline. Measuring at 25-inches by 25-inches, and 5-inches thick, this pillow has plenty of surface area to support your neck, shoulders and upper back. Back sleepers can adjust the angle to provide optimum comfort if they prefer to sleep with their head tilted to one side.
Most memory foam pillows warm up when they begin to absorb body heat. The foam in this pillow features gel particles that absorb and disperse body heat, keeping you fresh and dry while you sleep.
- Unique ergonomic design.
- Gel particles to absorb body heat.
- Two different sleeping edges for back or side sleepers.
- Moisture-wicking cover.
- Soft, “doughy” memory foam.
- High loft.
- The pillow weighs a hefty 4.65-pounds.
- Might be an awkward design for some sleepers.
Eden Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Coop goods have another winner with the Eden shredded memory foam pillow. This product provides exceptional support and comfort for its price range. Available in sizes ranging from small to a king, this pillow suits any bed. The soft, hypoallergenic shredded memory foam comes infused with gel particles to absorb body heat while you sleep. Combined with the moisture-wicking bamboo and polyester cover, you’ll never wake up with wet-head again. The cooling effect of this pillow is remarkable, even though it seems like it has a dense and heavy cover.
The edges of the pillow come reinforced to aid in stability of the loft. These gusseted edges provide unmatched support for any product in this price range. The Lulltra fabric on the cover feels luxurious against the skin, and you’ll feel like you’re in a 5-star hotel with the level of luxury on offer from the Eden pillow. This pillow is ideal for back sleepers as the sides don’t collapse, keeping your chin up and spine aligned throughout the night. The double-zipper on the sides of the pillow allows for adjustment of the filling to suit and loft or support style you prefer. The filling interlocks and remains where to place it in the pillowcase. You can expect to wake up with the same support as when you drifted off to sleep.
The Eden model is ideal for both back and side sleepers. It’s the best of both worlds, and at this price, you’ll struggle to find a better product. We appreciate the 5-year warranty on offer from Coop. The company also offer a 100-night free trial of the pillow, if you’re not satisfied at the end of the trial period, return the product for a full refund. The chances are that you’ll hold onto your new best friend.
- Excellent value for money.
- Gusseted pillow edges for additional cervical support.
- Interlocking, gel-infused, shredded memory foam.
- Breathable, luxurious pillow cover.
- Excellent warranty and 100-night sleep trial.
Cushy Form - Knee Pillow Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief
Some back sleepers transition to side sleeping during the night. Unfortunately, side sleepers have issues with their knees getting in the way of each other. As a result, they tend to shift one knee in front of the other to improve their sleeping position.
This position is a disaster for your posture that creates structural imbalances in the hips. Some side sleepers like to place a pillow between their legs to improve the comfort while keeping their hips aligned. Unfortunately, down and soft filling products tend to shift and sink during the night. As a result, side sleepers may find that they wake up with sore hips on their sleeping side and a stiff knee on the bed-facing side from the additional pressure placed on the joint.
The sciatic nerve pain relief pillow is the ideal solution to this issue. The pillow features a concave surface on both sides that keep the knees in place while providing excellent support. The memory foam filling adjusts to the contour of your upper and lower leg while molding to the shape of your knees.
It’s the ideal pillow for anyone that experiences sciatic nerve pain in the morning after sleeping on their side. While most back sleepers don’t transition while they sleep, this pillow is a must-have item for those that do have this sleeping behavior. Back sleepers that like to keep their lower legs elevated may also find this product useful. It’s also a fantastic product for pregnant women that want to keep their lower legs elevated while asleep. Doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and surgeons all endorse this pillow for its pain-relieving effect.
Cushy Form back up their product with a money back guarantee. If you’re not happy with the pillow, return it to them for a full refund.
- Excellent support for the hips and lower limbs.
- Ideal for people recovering from surgery or sport’s injury.
- Great support and comfort for pregnant mothers.
- Good value for money.
- Soft memory foam with moisture-wicking cover.
- Can’t be used as a standard pillow
Comfort and support are the most important factors when purchasing any pillow. Unfortunately, many products don’t come with the ability to customize the loft or support. The Pancake pillow is a customizable product that allows the user to adjust the loft and density to their specific needs.
The Pancake pillow comes with six independent pillows stuffed into a pure cotton pillowcase with gusseted edges. Adjusting the loft of your pillow is as easy as removing or adding one of the interior pillowcases. We enjoyed the flexibility of this product and the way it allowed us to experiment with the loft to find our perfect pillow height. Each of the six internal pillows features a soft down-alternative hypoallergenic microfiber puff fill that feels soft and supportive. The gusseted edging provides excellent support to the base of the skull and the cervical spine. This pillow won’t collapse in the middle of the night.
Due to the adjustable height and supported sides, this pillow is ideal for back sleepers suffering from sleep apnea. The additional support keeps the spine neutral and allows the airways to remain open, increasing circulation for a peaceful night’s sleep. The 300-count cotton cover feels soft and luxurious against your face. The cover promotes airflow, keeping your head dry during warm weather. We assume that the reason why the product didn’t feature memory foam was that the down-alternative works better when stacked up in this pancake concept.
The removable inners work well for back sleepers that prefer a thinner pillow. However, we feel that memory foam might have been a better choice. Nevertheless, this pillow still comes highly recommended, and we had an excellent back sleeping experience with the product.
- Adjustable loft to suit any sleeping height.
- Breathable cotton cover.
- Gusseted pillow edges for additional support.
- Expensive – but worth the extra money.
- We would have preferred a memory foam gel filling.
- It’s challenging to fit all six pillows into the case.
Best Pillow For Back Sleepers - Wrap Up
It’s time to get rid of that stiff neck and enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep. Choose a pillow that provides you with the support you need to drift off into dreamland. The right sleeping arrangement enhances the therapeutic value of your time between the sheets.
Take action today and purchase a pillow that fills your special back sleeping needs. Use the knowledge you’ve learned in this guide to make an informed purchase decision. Get rid of that old pillow, you may think it’s your old friend – but it’s probably terrible for your neck, your health, and your quality of sleep. Spoil yourself and get the rest you deserve.
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