If you sleep on your back then you know how hard it is to find a pillow that meets you needs. Our team of experienced sleep product reviewers spent countless hours testing all of the leading brands so you don’t have to. Our Editor’s Choice for best pillow for back sleepers is the Tuft & Needle Down Pillow.
Our Top Picks for Back Sleeper Pillows
- Tuft & Needle Down Pillow – editor’s choice
- Bear Pillow – best cooling pillow
- Saatva Down Alternative Pillow – best down alternative pillow
- Amerisleep Dual Comfort Pillow – best memory foam pillow
- Layla Kapok Pillow – best adjustable pillow
#1. Tuft & Needle Down Pillow
- Cruelty-free, ethically sourced down
- Soft and pliable
- Gives off a faint smell
- Not for those who live a vegan lifestyle
Our experience with Tuft and Needle
Used in most high-end hotels around the world, down pillows are the epitome in bedding luxury. Filled with eiderdown from either ducks or geese, down pillow are supremely soft and very malleable. Although some down pillows can come with a very high loft (read: super thick), they are pliable enough to be molded to suit your sleep position.
Back sleepers need a pillow height of a mid loft pillow – not too low and not too high. This is to ensure a neutral position wherein one’s head and neck aligns with the spine. Spinal alignment is crucial when it comes to sleep positions and the right mattresses and pillows can help keep your spine aligned.
While back sleepers can get proper spine alignment from sleeping on a firm, supportive mattress, sleeping on a firmer pillow can throw their head and neck out of whack. Pillows for back sleepers should only be able to slightly elevate your head in order to provide the best support. A medium firm pillow would be their best bet.
The Tuft & Needle Down pillow is made from sustainably sourced down, meaning no animals were harmed in any part of the production. This makes it a good option for those who aim to live a cruelty-free lifestyle. For this reason alone, this is, by far, the best down pillow we have tried.
Soft and plush, we found the Tuft & Needle Down pillow to still be able to give ample support to both the head and neck and if you are someone who suffers from chronic neck pain, a soft, supportive pillow is what you need.
Down is also naturally temperature-regulating and the soft, breathable cotton cover of the Tuft & Needle Down pillow helps wick away heat and moisture, ensuring a cooler and more restful sleep.
The plush feel may bit a bit too soft for some back sleepers though and if you belong in that category you might want to look into getting a slightly firmer pillow like the Tempur Cloud pillow.
Another thing we found with the Tuft & Needle Down pillow is that it does give off a faint barnyard smell that is unique only to true down pillows, so if this bothers you, you might want to look into getting a down alternative pillow. A down alternative pillow gives off the same plush feel as true down pillows, but they are made with synthetic materials. We did find that the Tuft & Needle pillow only gave off the faintest of smells compared to other down pillows we have tried.
Both the 100% organic cotton cover and down pillow can go straight into the washing machine should you need to clean your down pillow, which we found to be very convenient. You might have to do some extra fluffing once the pillow is out of the dryer to mold the Tuft & Needle Down pillow back into shape. That said, we did find that it held its shape well for a very long time.
Certified by both Standard 100 by OKEO-TEX and the International Down Standard by IDFL, the Tuft & Needle Down pillow does not contain any contaminants or toxic chemicals that may be detrimental to both the health and the environment. The International Down Standard by IDFL also ensures that the down used in all Tuft & Needle Down pillows were humanely and ethically sourced.
If you are a back sleeper who suffers from sleep apnea though, you might want a pillow that provides a higher loft than the Tuft & Needle Down pillow and we have included them further down on our list.
Tuft & Needle does not offer a sleep trial for their pillows and bedding but their Down pillow does come with a 2 year limited warranty. All of the pillow materials used are sourced and made in the USA.
#2. Bear Pillow
Check Current Price | Best Cooling Pillow | 25% Off Coupon: SLEEPLINE25
- Contouring yet responsive
- Good for those who suffer from breathing problems
- Could be too thick for some
- Slight off-gassing
Save 25% with coupon code “SLEEPLINE25”
Our experience with Bear
Sleeping hot is the main reason why sleepers are not able to get a full, good night’s sleep which in turn, affects sleep quality. While foam mattresses are the biggest culprit when it comes to heat retention, a traditional memory foam pillow can also affect your sleep temperature.
Layered with a special, proprietary fabric that stays cool to the touch throughout the night, the Bear pillow is one of the most cooling pillows we have ever tried. Only fitting, since we have found Bear mattresses to also be some of the most cooling mattresses we have tried.
Not quite memory foam and not quite latex, the Bear pillow utilizes what they call a LOFT-X hybrid foam – which combines the contouring support of memory foam and the resilience and bounce of latex foam. Memory foam pillows cradle and contour the head and neck while latex pillows allow for easier movement, especially when switching sleep positions through the night. A combination of both, like the one found in the Bear pillow, provides sleepers respite from any neck pain or shoulder pain, while allowing them to move freely and not feel ‘sunk in’.
Latex foam is also naturally hypoallergenic, and helps repel dust mites, bacteria and allergens, making the Bear pillow a great choice for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.
We found the Bear pillow to be not too firm and not too soft, something more of a medium leaning ever so slightly firm. For people who suffer from sleep apnea, this could offer enough neck support and head support to ensure proper spinal alignment while keeping your airways high and clear.
Featuring a Double Ice breathable cotton cooling cover that’s unique only to Bear pillows, the Bear pillow also has mesh panels on both ends which helps the pillow maintain airflow to help wick away any heat. The cover is non-removable and not washable though, so spot cleaning is key.
We did experience a little bit of off-gassing with the Bear pillow and we believe it is due to the memory foam component. It did dissipate after a couple of days use. If you prefer, you can also air the pillow out in a well ventilated room for a day or two after first unboxing it.
Bear does not offer a sleep trial for their pillows although they do have a 30 day return policy. The Bear pillow comes with a 2 year limited warranty. Bear offers free shipping for their pillows within the continental United States.
Buy: Bear Pillow
#3. Saatva Down Alternative Pillow
Check Current Price | Best Down Alternative Pillow
- Soft and pliable
- Non removable cover
- Not washable
- Non adjustable pillow
Our experience with Saatva
Although traditional down pillows remain a favorite among many, there are also a good number of people who would prefer an alternative. Down pillows are considered kings in the pillow world but there are a few important points to consider such as price, lifestyle and health considerations.
Well known in the mattress community as purveyors of mattresses and bedding that are all-natural and organic, Saatva offers a Down Alternative pillow for sleepers that want a down pillow feel without the need for sacrificing a living thing. Although it must be said, there are quite a few brands now who do offer feather pillows that are ethically and humanely sourced.
Saatva’s Down Alternative pillow feels light and airy, just like traditional feather pillows. While we did find it to be a little lofty, the Down Alternative’s micro air pockets allowed us to mold the pillow to be low or as high as we wanted it to go – just a little fluffing about is all you need.
Made from a blend of hypoallergenic down alternative fibers, a microdenier down alternative and supportive memory fibers, we get an almost latex and memory foam pillow feel when laying on the Down Alternative pillow. This makes if a good option for back sleepers, especially ones that suffer from neck pain and/or shoulder pain. A mid loft pillow for back sleepers is crucial for proper spinal alignment.
When used as a body pillow, it also acts almost like a contour pillow as it molds to your body’s shape. Aside from back sleepers, combination sleepers would also find this pillow to be an excellent choice as a body pillow.
The cotton cover that the Down Alternative pillow comes encased in is made from 100% pure organic cotton that’s both soft, breathable and finished with a classy satin piping. It also helps wick away heat. The cotton cover is non-removable though and the entire pillow cannot be thrown into the wash so spot cleaning is of utmost importance should any spills or accidents happen.
All of the materials used in Saatva’s Down Alternative pillow are certified organic as well as certified Fair Trade. The standards that Saatva hold their products to are to ensure that everything they offer are made with care for both people and the planet.
We experienced no instances whatsoever of any off-gassing with the Saatva Down Alternative pillow.
Saatva does not offer a sleep trial for their pillows but their Down Alternative pillow comes with a 45 day return policy. They also offer 1 year limited warranty for all of their pillows, as well as free shipping. All of Saatva’s bedding products are made entirely in the USA.
#4. Amerisleep Dual Comfort Pillow
- Good for hot sleepers
- Comes in two thickness options
- Slight off-gassing
- Cannot be used as a body pillow
Save 30% with coupon code “SLEEPLINE”
Our experience with Amerisleep
Memory foam pillows usually come made up of shredded memory foam but Amerisleep’s Dual Comfort pillow comes in one huge slab of their proprietary memory foam alternative called Bio-Pur. It feels like having a mini memory foam mattress made just for your head.
Contouring just like traditional memory foam (i.e. Tempur memory foam), the Amerisleep Dual Comfort pillow will still allow sleepers to move about freely and not feel sort of stuck – this is because Bio-Pur features an open-cell design that not only helps keep heat away but it also provides a responsiveness that is comparable to latex pillows.
Most memory foam pillows, especially ones that are made with traditional memory foam, are heat retentive. That’s just how memory foam rolls. But Amerisleep’s Dual Comfort pillow is designed with wide, cooling channels in the form or air holes, that allow heat to escape and for fresh air to flow through freely. This helps keep the pillow cool and fresh. This also helps keep critters such as dust mites away as they thrive in moist, damp environments.
We found the Dual Comfort pillow to be a medium to medium-firm pillow. Medium firm pillows are a good bet for most types of sleepers, including back and side sleepers, as well as some combination sleepers. Strict stomach sleepers need a thinner pillow as well as a softer pillow so as to avoid neck strain.
Back sleeper pillows should be low to medium loft though as higher loft pillows can throw their spinal alignment out of balance. One of the things we liked about the Amerisleep Dual Comfort pillow is that you have the option to choose between two thicknesses – a low loft and a mid loft option (5″ and 6″). As we all know by now, picking the right low for your sleeping position is critical when it comes to helping the neck stay in the best position as you sleep. Sleeping positions do dictate how to best choose our mattresses and pillows.
Amerisleep’s Dual Comfort pillow also features sloped, tapered edges. This helps give your neck and shoulders a more customized fit and feel while also helping provide extra support. Because of this feature though, we would not recommend the Dual Comfort pillow to be used as a body pillow.
The pillow comes encased in a soft cotton cover that’s removable and machine washable. We did experience a tiny amount of off-gassing with the Dual Comfort pillow and it took a couple of days to completely dissipate. This is normal for most pillows (and mattresses as well) that are made out of memory foam.
Amerisleep’s Dual Comfort pillow comes with a substantial 10 year warranty – one of the longest we have ever seen for a pillow. It does not come with a sleep trial. All of Amerisleep’s products are made in the USA.
#5. Layla Kapok Pillow
Check Current Price | Best Adjustable Pillow
- Airy and breathable
- Good for all sleeper types
- Slight off-gassing
- Slight stuck in the mud feel
Our experience with Layla
A pillow’s thickness or loft is one of the most important things when hunting for the perfect pillow. Whether you personally prefer a thicker pillow or a thinner pillow, loft is the one that dictates whether your spine is perfectly aligned. Oftentimes, sleeping on a pillow that’s too high or too low for your sleep position can cause issues such as neck strain and back problems.
Adjustable pillows like the Layla Kapok pillow is a great choice for just about everyone, including those that sleep strictly on their backs. Adjustable pillows allow you to change their thicknesses by simply adding on or taking out the filling. The Layla Kapok pillow even comes with a complimentary drawstring bag to place your extra filling in. This is not only convenient but also hygienic.
Containing a blend of shredded memory foam (that’s also copper-infused) and kapok fibers, the Layla pillow is plush, contouring and yet airy and light. We think its one of the best pillows for back sleepers because not only can the loft be customized but also because it is very much pressure-relieving. This is a good choice especially for back sleepers who suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pain.
We found the Layla pillow to also offer good neck support. A good memory foam pillow for back sleepers should not only be a supportive pillow but also a cooling pillow. Because of its kapok fibers which help keep the pillow breathable and plush, air flows freely throughout and you won’t have to deal with uncomfortable heat retention that can be a problem when it comes to shredded foam. The copper-infused memory foam also helped in wicking heat away. Back sleepers who are also hot sleepers would certainly get a comfortable night’s sleep on the Layla pillow.
Because it is contouring due to its memory foam blend, we found that it can also be used as a really good body pillow if you are the type of sleeper who needs it. We also found the Layla pillow to be a great choice for side sleepers and stomach sleepers as well.
The pillow does come fully stuffed so do not be surprised if it arrives super thick. Like we’ve mentioned, you can easily take out the fill to get your desired loft.
The Layla pillow comes encased in the same breathable, cotton cover that features Layla’s signature hexagonal design as their mattresses. The pillow cover is removable and can be easily cleaned by machine washing. A washable cover is important, especially if you have kids.
Due to its memory foam content, we did experience some slight off-gassing with the Layla pillow but this dissipated within a day of use. If you prefer, you can air out the pillow in a well-ventilated room for a day or two prior to first use.
Layla does not offer a sleep trial for their pillows but they do have a risk-free return policy that goes up to 4 weeks. The Layla pillow also comes backed by a 5 year warranty.
Buy: Layla Kapok Pillow
What back sleepers need to consider when buying a pillow
Deemed to be the healthiest sleeping position, back sleeping or the prone position helps one maintain good spinal alignment without putting too much pressure on the body’s main pressure points such as the hips and shoulders.
Just like with different mattress types, pillow materials can make a difference but it all boils down to your personal needs and preferences.
In general, back sleepers need a pillow that’s mid loft. This means it is neither too high nor too low. Too high of a pillow can cause neck strain and too low of a pillow can cause breathing problems, especially for those that suffer from sleep apnea.
When it comes to materials, pillows can either with made with one or more (or a blend) of the following:
- Latex – cooling and responsive but usually not very contouring
- Memory foam – contouring and pressure relieving but can retain heat and restricting
- Down – soft and plush but can be a little smelly
- Down Alternative – also soft and plush but some can be either too thick or too thin
While firmness levels in pillows are not as extensive as mattress firmness levels, how soft or how firm a pillow is can also help you get better rest. Back sleepers usually need a pillow that’s of medium firmness although some may favor a softer, plusher pillow. If that’s the case, then make sure that you choose a softer pillow that’s a little thicker than usual as time and use may cause it to lose some of its loft over time.
A pillow should not be too thick or too thin for those that sleep strictly on their backs. A mid-loft pillow of either 5 to 6 inches would be best.
A soft, contouring pillow that still offers good support is the best type of pillow for back sleepers.
How We Rate Pillows
There are many different types of pillows. We rate pillows by 6 standards:
- Firmness and Support
- Loft & Adjustability
- Structural integrity & Durability
View our full rating process for pillows.
Related product reviews:
Psst… the sleep review industry is full of liars, sharks, and thieves. It’s a modern-day version of getting ripped off at your local mattress store. So, why should you trust us?