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Best Pillow For Back Sleepers

Best Pillow For Back Sleepers

Check out our post to discover five of the top pillows for back sleepers.

Last Updated: January 5, 2021

Matt Ross

Are you a back sleeper looking for a few comfy additions to your mattress? In this post, we discuss our top pillow picks for those who favor sleeping on their back. We’ll discuss the details of five different contenders including Tuft & Needle’s pillow and Purple Harmony -- find out here which one you’ll like the best.

Best Pillow For Back Sleepers Overview

Sleeping on your back is beneficial for a few reasons, cosmetically and health-wise. When you sleep facing the ceiling it can help prevent acid reflux, wrinkles and premature aging. Back sleepers should make sure their pillow accommodates their sleeping style because those additional perks don’t mean nearly as much if your quality of sleep is suffering.

In this list, we’ve included options from well-known online brands like Tuft & Needle and Purple, and other pillows that we thought have stood out to us like the GhostPillow. We curate our Best Lists based on the opinion of our different team members, who all have different weights, sizes, and a favorite sleeping position. Below we’ve listed a few of our favorite pillows for back sleepers, and you can find their individual reviews in each section if you want to learn more.

The position you sleep in should have a major influence on the pillow you decide to purchase. Petite to average-sized back sleepers need one without a ton of loft (height), while heavier back sleepers can get away with a loftier pillow for more support. As a rule of thumb, regardless of your size, your neck should make a slight “C” curve. Essentially, you should be looking more towards the ceiling than the wall in front of you when you’re laying on it.

Below we’ve listed a few of our favorite pillows that properly accommodate back sleepers, and you can find their individual reviews in each section if you want to learn more. You can also check out our Best Mattress for back sleepers review if you are also looking for a new mattress to go with your pillow.

Tuft and Needle — Editor’s Choice For Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

It’s not often that you see a pillow completely made out of polyurethane foam (neutral-foam), so we were excited to receive the Tuft & Needle Pillow.

Tuft Needle Pillow Review Aerated Foam
A look at the aerated neutral-foam slap inside Tuft and Needle’s pillow

This pillow is made with the brand’s CertiPUR-US and OEKO-TEX certified aerated T&N Adaptive Foam, which is the same stuff you can find in Tuft and Needle’s flagship mattress that made the brand so popular. It’s dense, soft, and generally comfortable, which is why we think a lot of people enjoy it. Overall, we think most back sleepers will find it accommodating, and this might be our pick for best pillow for back sleepers with back pain.

It’s also infused with graphite to help with the pillow’s temperature regulating abilities. We wouldn’t necessarily say it sleeps cold like Purple Harmony, but it can help prevent folks from overheating during the night.

tuft and needle pillow review sleeper types
The Tuft & Needle Pillow has an accommodating loft height

There are two sizes; standard and king. Prices start at about $75 for a ~4lb standard pillow, and go up to $100 for the 7 lb king size. So, if you’re a heavier back sleeper, we think the king option might provide a little more support. Tuft & Needle is known for its affordable pricing, so it’s not too surprising that its pillow is one of the most affordable on our list.

Why we picked this pillow — There’s a lot to like about the Tuft & Needle pillow, including the price. It also comes in a couple sizes, which makes it accommodating for a large number of people. We like that it’s fully made from polyfoam and think it will be comfortable for pretty much any back sleeper.

Layla Kapok — Best Shredded Foam Pillow

Layla is mainly known for the Layla flippable mattress, and it has implemented the same versatile idea into its pillow. The brand added a zipper so you can remove the filling on the inside, making it customizable so any sized back sleeper can adjust the loft to perfectly accommodate their needs.

layla pillow review memory foam for side sleepers
The Layla Pillow is made with a zipper to remove filling

The filling is made with Kapok fiber and memory foam. We think it feels airy and light, but at the same time, the memory foam provides some resistance that you don’t find in most down pillows.

That’s why we think the feel reminds us of a memory foam/down feather blend. We think it’s comfortable.

The Layla Pillow cover is infused with copper to help draw heat away from the body, so this pillow also can help regulate temperature. Again, don’t count on it to be cool-to-the-touch, but it can help.

layla pillow review
The signature Layla hexagonal pattern on the pillow’s copper-infused cover

The queen size goes for about $100, and you’ll have to fork out about $120 for the king size. You should keep an eye out for discounts, however, so double check their website every now and then if you’re waiting for a good promotion.

Why we picked this pillow — We like that this pillow has an adjustable filling, making it fully customizable. It also has cooling technology that should help regulate your temperature while you’re sleeping.

Purple Harmony — Best Cooling Pillow

The Purple Harmony Pillow is probably unlike anything you’ve ever felt before, unless you have a Purple mattress or one of Purple’s other products. It’s made with what Purple calls “360° Grid Hex,” the brand’s proprietary material made with Hyper-Elastic Polymer, which is a gel-like substance that reminds us of a Dr. Scholl’s insole.

Purple Harmony Pillow Review Overview
An overhead look at the Purple Harmony Pillow

The core of the pillow is made with Talalay latex, which also contributes to the pillow’s overall feel. We think it’s light, responsive, breathable, and almost makes your head feel like it’s buoyant when you’re laying on it.

Because of the latex and 360° Grid Hex, this pillow is amazingly breathable. The mesh cover adds to the airflow as well. So, we recommend Purple Harmony to back sleepers who warm up during the night.

Purple Harmony Pillow Review Construction Pic
Harmony’s talalay latex core and Geluxe Hex Grid that’s sewn into the cover

As a plus for folks who are prone to allergies, the Purple Harmony Pillow is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. That means it’s resistant to dust mites, mold, pet dander and other nasty household allergens.

If you want to get your hands on this pillow, it’s one of the more expensive on this list. We suggest the standard model to most back sleepers, which is $160. However, heavier back sleepers can purchase the Purple Harmony Tall which is also $160.

Why we picked this pillow — This is the best pillow option if you run hot while you sleep. The Purple Harmony utilizes the company’s proprietary foam filling to keep everything super cool, plus it’s hypoallergenic and antimicrobial.

Helix Adjustable — Best Down Alternative Pillow

This pillow is similar to the Layla pillow in that it has an adjustable loft feature. It has two inserts on the inside, and you can adjust the loft to your liking. So, we’d recommend this pillow to back sleepers of all sizes.

The filling is made with gel microfiber and cotton so it’s soft, fluffy, but supportive. If you’ve never felt microfiber, it’s sort of like memory foam in that it’s pressure relieving, though, it’s not as viscous. Accordingly, if we were to say the difference between the Helix pillow and the Layla pillow, this one might wane more towards a down-like feel.

helix sleep pillow review filling and construction
The filling inside a Helix pillow feels like an alternative to down

Regardless, we think it’s comfortable and a good option for back sleepers looking for a down-alternative pillow.

Even though it’s more expensive than something you’d find at JCPenny or Target, the Helix Adjustable Pillow is more affordable than Layla or Purple Harmony. The standard goes for about $85, while the king is around $100.

Why we picked this pillow — This pillow comes in at a great price point. We also like that the Helix is adjustable, allowing you to remove inserts to adjust the loft and firmness levels. It’s also very soft but still provides support.

GhostPillow — Best Back Sleeper Pillow For The Money

Are you a back sleeper who loves memory foam and tends to warm up at night? This is another pillow that helps cool down warm sleepers because it has a gel memory foam core, a patent-pending phase change material that absorbs your body temperature, and an inner mesh cover for airflow.

To top it off, the cover is infused with proprietary “Ghost Ice Fabric” which we think is physically cool to the touch.

ghost pillow ghostbed review
The cover on GhostPillow feels cold when you touch it

Aside from sleeping cool, we think GhostPillow feels like memory foam, but it’s more of a new-age memory foam. It’s not as viscous as the traditional stuff you remember from the ‘90s. Though, it does still have slight resistance to pressure when you push down on it. In a nutshell, we think if you like memory foam, you’d like the feel of GhostPillow.

Unlike the other pillows on this list, it’s only available in one size. It retails for about $85, but if you catch it on sale, you can purchase for $15-$20 off.

Why we picked this pillow — Not only is this pillow a good deal, but it’s a great option if you sleep hot. This pillow actually feels cool to the touch, plus it has a comfortable memory foam feel.

Review team

  • kenzie
    McKenzie Dillon

    Combo Sleeper

  • Jon Gomez

    Side Sleeper

  • JD
    JD Christison

    Combo Sleeper

  • Owen Poole

    Side Sleeper

Company Policies

Purchasing bedding accessories online is a little different than purchasing in-store, so companies want to ensure they make it worth your while. Accordingly, you’re guaranteed a few policies if you purchase from one of the brands listed above.

First of all, they’ll mail you your pillow for free so you won’t have to cover transportation costs — even returns.

You’ll also be given a risk-free trial so you can determine if you want to keep your pillow or not, but the length of the trial ultimately depends on the brand you purchase from. The average we’ve seen is either 100 or 101 nights, but you want to double check with the brand before you purchase. Sometimes the trial is only 30 days, and you don’t want to be stuck with a pillow you don’t end up liking because you thought you had more time to test it out.

If you decide you don’t love your pillow, reach out to customer service. They’ll get you started on the refund process so you can get your money back. If you do keep it, your pillow will usually be backed by a warranty policy to cover manufacturer defects. Again, it all depends on the brand you purchase from. Layla, for example, offers a 5-year warranty, but we’ve also seen 1-year policies from the online space. It’s best to double check a brand’s website for policies before you purchase, that way you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Washing Your Pillow

Most, if not all of these pillows come with machine washable covers, so check your specific pillow’s care tag to find out the exact wash instructions. Most commonly, it will say to use cold water with a mild detergent and to tumble dry on low. If you happen to get a pillow without a machine washable cover, you’ll just have to spot clean with a gentle soap and warm water to prevent any damage.

You’ll also have to use the same spot technique with foam inserts like the one inside GhostPillow or in Purple Harmony. Running them through the wash can seriously damage the foam and ruin your pillow. Check out our blog post on how to clean and wash a pillow for more detailed instructions.

Pillow Materials

  • Memory foam – Pillows made with memory foam provide a good amount of pressure relief and are also slow to respond to movement because this is a viscous material. 
  • Poly foam – This foam is a little quicker to respond and has a more neutral feel.
  • Latex foam – This foam provides a great amount of support, but it’s on the bouncy side. Some latex foam is also hypoallergenic and eco friendly.
  • Down – Down pillows are soft and fluffy, but that sometimes means they don’t offer a lot of support. 
  • Down alternative – This is the eco-friendly option that will still give you the down feel.

Best Firmness And Loft For Back Sleepers

If you’re a back sleeper, finding the right pillow should be fairly straight forward. You want to ensure your spine is in alignment while you sleep, which usually means a pillow with a loft and firmness at a medium level should suit you. However, not everyone is created equal, so more petite sleepers or heavier people may need to adjust that standard. Typically a loft of 3-4 inches should lift your head enough to take pressure off your neck, and a medium-firm pillow will provide proper support.

Other Considerations For Back Sleepers

Price

Pillows can have a wide range in price, so it’s up to you what you spend, and we suggest having a price point in mind before shopping. Higher-quality pillows will be a larger cost up front, but chances are you’ll be replacing them less often.

Material Quality

Similar to price, there is a wide range of materials that can be in pillows and higher-quality materials will cost more but need to be replaced less often.

Special Circumstances 

There are plenty of options for pillows, so you can definitely find one to suit you. If you want a memory foam pillow for back sleepers, in particular, but can’t find quite the right pillow, you can try for an adjustable pillow so you can take out some of the filling to suit you better. There are also pillows that are made for temperature regulation, should you get hot while you sleep.

If you still need help finding the perfect pillow, check out our piece on how to choose a pillow.

Best Pillow For Back Sleepers Prices

PillowStandardKing
Tuft & Needle$75$100
Layla Kapok $99$119
Purple Harmony$159
Helix Adjustable$85$99
GhostPillow$85

Best Pillow For Back Sleepers Recap

PillowBest Of TitleMaterial 
Tuft & Needle PillowEditor’s ChoicePolyfoam
Layla KapokBest Shredded Foam PillowKapok fiber and memory foam
Purple HarmonyBest Cooling PillowLatex and proprietary foams
Helix Adjustable PillowBest Down AlternativeCotton and gel microfiber
GhostPillowBest ValueGel memory foam

FAQs

What is the best pillow for back sleepers with back pain?

Everyone’s different, but we do like the Tuft & Needle pillow in particular for back sleepers because it has a good balance of loft and firmness.

What is a pillow with adjustable fill?

Both the Layla Kapok and the Helix Adjustable have inserts that can be removed to adjust the loft and firmness.

What is the best pillow firmness for a back sleeper?

Typically back sleepers do well with a medium firmness level but that can vary based on your size.

What is the worst kind of pillow for back sleepers?

Back sleepers are actually uniquely fit to sleep on just about any pillow. The “worst” pillow for you is one that puts your spine out of alignment or gives you any neck pain.