The Best Pillow for Back Sleepers 2021

Updated on March 2, 2021 While all product recommendations are chosen independently, we may receive compensation for purchases made through our site. Learn more about how we make money here.

While all sleep positions come with perks and pitfalls, sleeping on your back is widely considered to be the healthiest position by sleep scientists and doctors.

If you are among the estimated 8 percent of Americans who sleep on their back, you’re effectively helping your mattress do its job by properly supporting your spine. By snoozing in this healthy position, you allow your head, neck, and spine to align in a neutral position. In addition to promoting spine and neck health, sleeping on your back improves blood flow while helping to minimize the aches and pains you’ll experience the next morning. The supine sleep position can even help prevent wrinkles, since you’re spending the night with your face towards the ceiling instead of squished against a pillow.

The primary drawback of sleeping on your back? This sleep position can aggravate snoring and sleep apnea, since the tongue tends to block the passage of breath through the airway.

When you sleep on your back—or in other sleep position, for that matter—the pillow you use can have a dramatic impact on the quality of sleep. Sleep specialists sometimes recommend a taller, firmer pillow for back sleepers to support the head and neck while reducing snoring. However, ideal loft and firmness may vary from back sleeper to back sleeper depending on their weight, head shape, and many other factors.

As a back sleeper, you can learn more about choosing the best pillow for you with the guide below. Read on to review top pillow picks, buying considerations for back sleepers, and more.

Our Top Picks

BrandBrand/ModelType of PillowLoft LevelPrice
Malouf Z Latex PillowMalouf Z Talalay Latex PillowTalalay latex7” and 7.2”$135
Nest Easy Breather Contour PillowNest Bedding Easy BreatherShredded Memory FoamVaries$89
Coop Home Goods PillowCoop Home Goods EdenShredded gel memory foam and combed microfibersAdjustable$70
Leesa Hybrid PillowLeesa Hybrid PillowGel insert and polyester microfibersAdjustable$125
Purple PillowPurple PillowHyper elastic polymer grid3”$99

Malouf Z TripleLayer Down Pillow

Why We Like it

  • Firmer, feather core offers more support than traditional down pillows
  • Made from responsibly harvested feathers and natural cotton
  • Profits support survivors of child sex trafficking
  • Three sizes available

Malouf Logo Image

Malouf Z Latex Pillow

We don’t usually recommend down pillows for back sleeping because they are often too soft to offer sufficient support—but the Malouf Z TripleLayer Down Pillow is different.

The pillow is made from a blend of 90 percent natural down and 10 percent feathers, and features a sturdier support core of 90 percent feathers and 10 percent down. The firmer, middle layer is able to deliver the additional support needed to keep your head elevated and neck in its natural curvature when you sleep on your back.

The Z TripleLayer Down pillow features a cover made from unbleached cotton. Its down filling makes the pillow light and breathable with virtually no off-gassing odor. The Z TripleLayer Down is available in two lofts: 7-inches (Queen) and 7.2-inches (King). The pillow is a solid options for all sleep positions—not just back sleeping, but side and stomach sleeping as well.


Nest Bedding Easy Breather Contour Pillow

Why We Like it

  • Dual-sided with different heights for smaller and larger sleepers
  • Designed with high sides and low center to support natural curvature of neck
  • Shredded memory foam contours and sleeps cool
  • Free shipping within contiguous U.S. with 30-night home trial

Nest Bedding Logo

Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

The Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow is filled with shredded memory foam. The pillow offers adjustable loft, meaning you can add or remove the foam to achieve your ideal thickness.

The foam cradles the neck while the shredded fill promotes airflow and cool sleeping. The pillow is covered in a Tencel-blend cover that contributes to the pillow’s overall cool sleeping experience.

The pillow is designed for back sleepers and side sleepers of all sizes. Made with memory foam, the Easy Breather may emit some initial off-gassing odors when it is first unwrapped. The pillow is fully machine-washable. Simply separate the cover from the inner pillow, then machine-wash in cold water and dry on low heat. Please consult the care instructions tag for more details.


Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow

Why We Like it

  • Adjustable loft
  • Gel-infused memory foam and microfiber offer above-average moldability
  • Shredded construction and bamboo cover promote cool sleeping
  • Three sizes available
  • Free shipping to all 50 states with 100-night home trial

Coop Home Goods Logo

Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow

An adjustable pillow, the Coop Home Goods Eden is filled with shredded gel-infused memory foam and microfibers. The pillow comes six inches tall, and you can adjust the height and firmness by unzipping the cover and liner to remove the memory foam-microfiber filling within.

The gel-infused memory foam is highly conforming, while the combed microfibers keep the pillow from becoming lumpy. The Eden is designed to be highly moldable, so you can adjust its shape according to your preferences. The pillow features a soft, breathable, machine-washable cover made from a hypoallergenic blend of bamboo and polyester. Below the cover is a polyester inner liner that helps support the head and neck.

With its adjustability and moldability, the Coop Eden pillow is suited for sleepers of all styles and sizes. Although the pillow comes with features that promote breathability—including a shredded construction, cooling gel memory foam, and breathable case—some reviewers claim the pillow sleeps hot. There are also complaints of a strong, lingering off-gassing odor.


Leesa Hybrid Pillow

Why We Like it

  • Reversible design with Medium Soft and Medium Firm sides
  • Adjustable loft
  • Chilling fibers and ventilated gel layer promote cool sleeping
  • Two sizes available
  • Free shipping to all 50 states with 100-night home trial
  • One pillow donated for every 10 sold

Leesa Logo

Leesa Hybrid Pillow

The latest pillow from mattress-industry pioneer Leesa Sleep, the Leesa Hybrid pillow comes with a number of thoughtful technological advances. The dual-sided pillow is flippable, with a softer and firmer side. The soft side is down-like, quilted, and contoured with a polyester-filling, while the firmer side is a flat with ventilated gel.

Between these two layers, the Leesa Hybrid features a pillow insert that can be removed to adjust the support and loft. The whole pillow is covered with a machine-washable, Tencel-blend fabric that helps keep you cool.

As a highly customizable pillow with dual firmnesses, the Leesa Hybrid is a good fit for sleepers of all styles and sizes. The pillow may come with an initial off-gassing odor that should dissipate within a few days.


Purple Pillow

Why We Like it

  • Above-average shape retention
  • Micro-cushions adapt to cradle your head, neck, and shoulders
  • Soft, breathable machine-washable cover  

Purple logo

Purple Pillow

From the innovators behind the Purple mattress, the Purple pillow is unlike most other pillows you’ll find on the market. Instead of filling, the pillow is crafted from the company’s proprietary “Smart Comfort Grid”. This hyper-elastic polymer is arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern that buckles under pressure, contouring to your head and neck when pressure is applied and regaining its original shape as soon as it is removed. The pillow features firmer edges that support your neck and a softer middle that cradles your head when you sleep on your back.

The hyper-elastic polymer grid allows free airflow, while the machine-washable, polyester-spandex mesh cover contributes to a cool sleep experience. The pillow features a three-inch loft, making it suited for back and side sleepers of all sizes who prefer a thinner pillow. The pillow is not recommended for stomach sleepers.

Some reviewers have noted a strong off-gassing odor that disappears within a few days.


Pillow Considerations for Back Sleepers

While every sleeper has unique needs and preferences when it comes to pillows, there are a few elements to keep in mind when shopping for a back sleeper:

Loft or height

The loft or height of a pillow is among the most critical considerations for back sleepers. For this type of sleep position, we generally recommend a medium- or high-loft pillow to better support the head, neck, and spine. A pillow that is too high can compromise the natural curvature of the neck, while a pillow that is too low can cause the head to drop back and exaggerate the curvature of the neck.

Choosing the proper pillow for you may depend on your weight, head size, and shoulder-width. To determine whether your pillow is the correct loft, try lying down while someone else takes a photo or assesses your position. When using your pillow, your spine should appear in a neutral alignment or as a straight, horizontal line.

Firmness and support

For back sleepers, the firmness and support of a pillow can also affect alignment. Ideally, you’ll want a pillow that delivers enough support to prevent your head from dropping backwards. However, your pillow should also be capable of conforming to adapt to the space beneath your neck.

Size and shape

Pillows come in all shapes and sizes, and choosing the right shape and size is often a matter of personal preference. Contour pillows—which feature a curved shaped designed to keep your head aligned with your back—are often excellent choices for back sleepers.


As a back sleeper, you need a pillow material with adequate firmness and support to elevate your head and neck. There is a huge variety of different pillow materials on the market, and we’ve taken a closer look at how some of the most common engage with the back sleeper position below.

  • Latex. Latex—either natural or synthetic—is often a good choice for back sleepers. The durable, supportive material is generally able to retain its shape and offer adequate firmness to support the head and neck. This material also sleeps cool, helping to prevent overheating at night.
  • Memory foam. Memory foam pillows are made from an adaptive material that conforms to pressure and heat. Firm memory foam pillows—particularly contour or cervical pillows—are often an excellent choice for back sleepers. Note that this material tends to trap heat, and may not be suitable if you tend to sleep hot.
  • Shredded memory foam. Shredded memory foam pillows provide many of the benefits of conventional memory foam, but with two advantages: First, shredded memory foam pillows are often adjustable, allowing you to remove material to adjust loft and firmness. Second, the shredded design allows airflow that can help prevent overheating.
  • Buckwheat. Made from removable buckwheat husks, buckwheat pillows are often a solid choice for back sleepers. These types of pillows provide adequate support and firmness and feature an adjustable loft so you can customize your pillow to a height that’s best for you.
  • Down. Down pillows are made from the soft inner feathers found on the belly of geese and ducks. These soft, high-loft types of pillows tend to let the sleeper’s head sink into the surface. We do not typically recommend down pillows to back sleepers, as they may be too soft to support the head and neck.
  • Feather. Unlike down pillows, feather pillows are designed from the sturdier, outer feathers of ducks and geese. Because these feathers are not as soft as down, this type of pillow is able to offer additional firmness and support and may be more suited to back sleepers.
  • Synthetic down. These types of pillows are made from polyester puffs that imitate the feel of down feathers. Synthetic down tends to be a poor choice for back sleepers, as they can easily flatten over time and become increasingly inadequate at supporting the head and neck.

Top picks

1 Malouf Z TripleLayer Down Pillow $135
2 Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow $89
3 Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow $70
4 Leesa Hybrid Pillow $125
5 Purple Pillow $99
*Prices without discount/promo applied.
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