The Best Editor-Tested Pillows for Back Sleepers

updated Jun 6, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Bed made with lots of pillows with Best List Seal beside.
Credit: Esteban Cortez

If you’re as home decor-obsessed as we are, then you probably spend a good portion of your social media time scrolling through images of luxe living spaces, complete with bedrooms that look out-of-this-world cozy. While fluffy blankets and comforters contribute to the dreamy aesthetic, perfectly plush pillows are what usually stand out the most to us. 

As much as we love perusing bedding inspo pics, there is one thing they can’t do: Tell us if said pillows feel as fantastic as they look on-screen. That’s where Apartment Therapy swoops in to give you our expert, well-researched opinions on the best home items you can find to fit your specific tastes and needs. We’ve already given you our recommendations for award-worthy sleep essentials like the best mattress toppers and more, and now we’re ready to unveil our top picks for pillows specifically for back sleepers, thoroughly tested by the back sleepers on our staff.

Below, take a peek at our absolute favorites, along with tips on what you should keep in mind when you’re ready to buy your next pillow.

The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers

What to Consider When Buying a Pillow for Back Sleepers

In general, the two most important features to consider when shopping for pillows are firmness and fill. When you’re looking for something specific to your sleep style, height becomes an important factor, too. Back sleepers can benefit from a pillow that’s supportive yet soft, keeps the spine aligned, and helps you attain a restful night’s sleep that your current pillow doesn’t.

Firmness and Height

If you’re a back sleeper, look for a pillow that is firm enough to support your head and low enough so that your neck won’t strain if you stay in the same position all night. The space between the shoulders, neck, and head differs from person to person, so the right pillow combo will vary, too.

Types of Fill

Pillows come with a wide variety of fill types, and you can reference our complete guide for a detailed breakdown. For the basics on the most common fill materials, take a look below.

Memory foam: This filling type tends to allow the head to sink into it. Keep in mind, leveling up the firmness of a memory foam pillow could also mean experiencing extra warmth from heat trapped by its density.

Gel: Gel is a form of memory foam that’s much more breathable, which is great for anyone looking for a pillow that will stay cool all night long.  

Down: Down, made from the natural material found under the feathers of geese or ducks, starts out firm but tends to flatten over time. Down pillows typically don’t provide the support that back sleepers need.

Down alternative: If you want the same luxurious feel as natural down, there are plenty of down alternative options that are nearly identical to the real thing. The added benefit here is that synthetic down fill has less of a tendency to flatten over time.

Latex: Soft, bouncy, and durable, latex is a chemical-free alternative to foam. It’s also hypoallergenic and anti-fungal, and it doesn’t absorb heat like foam does. Because it’s derived from the rubber tree, latex is a common fill for organic pillows.


  • CertiPUR-US: Ensures the foam is free from harmful chemicals, flame retardants, heavy metals, and more.
  • GREENGUARD: Ensures the foam has low chemical emissions.
  • Responsible Down Standard (RDS): Confirms that the down used comes from animals not subjected to any harm.
  • eco-INSTITUTEnsures the brand goes beyond usual standards and mandatory legal, national, and international requirements on health-agreeable home products.
  • Intertek’s Clean Air: Ensures products comply with low VOC emission requirements and certifies on behalf of BIFMA e3, California CDPH, LEED, and WELL.
  • Downmark: Ensures the authenticity and high quality of down-labeled products.
  • GOTSProducts align with the Global Organic Textile Standard, which defines the worldwide recognized requirements for organic textiles.
  • GOLS: Products align with the Global Organic Latex Standard, which defines the worldwide recognized requirements for organically grown natural rubber latex.
  • MADE SAFE: Ensures everyday products are non-toxic, made with safe ingredients and materials, and are family-safe.
  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100: Ensures every component of a product has been tested and is free of harmful chemicals.
  • CPSIA: Ensures a product is safe for children and meets general consumer product safety rules.

What We Look for in a Pillow for Back Sleepers

We tested a wide range of pillows, judging them on the following criteria:

  • Support: How tall is the pillow? Is it firm or soft? Is the firmness and height combination supportive? Does it lessen (or eliminate!) soreness in the morning?
  • Longevity: What’s the fill material? What about the shell? Are they conducive to supporting a back sleeper over time?
  • Shape: Does the pillow fit into a standard-size pillowcase? Does it contour around the head, neck, and/or shoulders? Does the shape really improve sleep?

The dual-sided TEMPUR-Symphony Pillow combines the benefits of two pillow types into one product. One side of this Best List winner is slightly arched to appeal to back sleepers, while the other is flatter for those who sleep on their sides and stomachs. “This pillow is a hybrid sleeper’s dream!” says AT executive lifestyle director Charli. “I’m a side sleeper who often winds up on my back in the middle of the night. I love that I can flip it over to meet whichever need I have.”

Made from TEMPUR Material memory foam, the TEMPUR-Symphony Pillow is specially designed to relieve pressure and adapt to your specific shape the more you use it. “I have a lot of neck pain at night, and this pillow made me forget that was even a thing,” Charli says. It even comes with a hypoallergenic polyester cover that’s easy to remove and throw into the washing machine.


  • 100% polyester cover with TEMPUR Material memory foam fill
  • 24″ x 17″
  • 5″ loft
  • Soft feel
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Cover is machine washable in cold water; tumble dry low (do not over dry)
  • 5-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Back and hybrid sleepers who want a pillow that’s incredibly supportive.

Good to Know: The pillow insert cannot be washed.

If you’re ready to invest in your quality of sleep, Sleep Number’s popular — which we say because it has thousands of five-star reviews — AirFit Pillow is a solid bet. The classic AirFit is adjustable, but unlike most other options on the market where you manually remove the fill, it involves the simple twist of a dial. It removes or adds air inside, so that you can find your ideal firmness and support. The pillow isn’t just air on the inside, of course; soft memory foam adds to the comfort.

Another major bonus? The cover has a cooling effect that makes it suited for hot sleepers as well as the summer months. That impressed AT staff writer Quinn, who also says that she “really appreciate[s] that you’re able to adjust the height so easily.”


  • Polyester, nylon, and olefin-blend cover with memory foam fill
  • Available in 2 sizes and 2 shapes
  • Adjustable height (Contour pillow has a 4″ – 5″ loft)
  • Machine wash cover in warm water and tumble dry low; pillow insert is spot clean only
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • 100-night trial

Who It’s Best For: Back sleepers who like a little extra oomph in terms of loft and firm support.

Good to Know: “I did find that even after letting out as much air as I can, the height and firmness are a little too sturdy [and] high for my back-sleeping,” Quinn says. However, she had an overnight guest who fell in love with it, so it’s up to personal preference!

Most of the pillows on our list are crafted from synthetic materials that were invented to provide support, but if you prefer the luxurious look and feel of a feather pillow, Fluff Co.’s Down & Feather Pillow is our top pick for back sleepers. It provides hotel-level quality, with a pillow-in-pillow design that offers the best of two fills: a white-duck-down outer pillow that’s soft and airy, and a white-duck-feather inner layer that provides fantastic support. “I used to be a stomach sleeper but it was giving me lower back problems, so I was looking for a pillow that would make me comfortable sleeping on my back,” says AT associate social media director Rachel. “This pillow did just the trick!”

This elegant choice includes stylish touches like subtle gray cording and double-needle-edge sewing that also help it last longer than standard pillows. And while Fluff Co. advises to either spot-clean or professionally dry-clean this beauty, it comes with a free, 100 percent cotton pillow protector that’s machine washable.


  • 100% cotton shell with white duck down outer pillow and white duck feather inner pillow
  • Available in 2 sizes and 2 firmness levels
  • Includes 100% cotton pillow protector
  • Responsible Down Standard materials
  • Spot clean for small stains, dry clean for large stains
  • 30-night trial period

Who It’s Best For: Back sleepers who prefer natural materials to synthetics.

Good to Know: Down can trigger allergies, so this pillow isn’t the best choice if you have a sensitivity to feathers.

Best Cooling: Purple Harmony Pillow

If you want a pillow that provides optimal neck support and works wonders for hot sleepers, look no further than the Purple Harmony Pillow. This pick is packed with features that separate it from the competition. It boasts a honeycombed GelFlex layer as well as a hypoallergenic Talalay latex core, providing a comfortable landing spot for your head and neck. In fact, the pillow’s construction uses the same cushioning technology as one of our favorite mattresses.

Add in the moisture-wicking, breathable mesh outer shell, and you have a winner that stays firm and cool all night long. “This is the first ‘cooling’ pillow I’ve used, and I definitely noticed the difference!” says our tester, Deb, who had used down pillows for years before trying this one. It even felt comfortable when she shifted to her side with her arm under her ear, a feat that most pillows struggle to accomplish. It comes in three heights, but Purple recommends that back sleepers choose the lowest one.


  • Nylon and spandex cover with hyper-elastic polymer grid and ventilated Talalay latex core
  • Available in 2 sizes and 3 heights
  • Hypoallergenic cover
  • Machine wash cover and air dry; pillow is spot clean only
  • Clean Air Gold certified
  • 1-year warranty
  • 100-night trial

Who It’s Best For: Back sleepers who sleep hot.

Good to Know: “The honeycomb texture took a little getting used to,” says Deb, but it should only take a couple of nights for your body to adjust.

Coyuchi was created with the goal of offering luxury products that have a minimal impact on the planet, so if sustainability and quality are important to you, look no further. The brand’s Molded Organic Latex Pillow offers a medium-firm feel that works for side sleepers, too. (Combination sleepers, this one’s for you!) The latex insert provides even coverage, allowing your head to sink in, but not as much as it would with shredded latex, down, or poly fillings. The brand claims that the springy latex will retain its shape for years, and you’ll definitely love it if you’re sensitive to mold or dust, since the material resists them. Moisture, too, thanks to the small holes that promote air flow.

“It’s a great pillow if you want a more shallow, but firm pillow,” says social media manager Sam. The coverings also earned high marks from her, which makes sense because the protector is made of 380–400 thread count organic sateen cotton and the cover is soft cotton jersey knit.


  • 100% organic cotton protector and cover with Organic Dunlop latex fill
  • Available in 3 sizes
  • 4.5″ – 5″ loft
  • Machine wash protector and cover on gentle cycle (hand wash recommended), then tumble dry low; pillow insert is spot clean only
  • GOLS- and GOTS-certified

Who It’s Best For: Back sleepers who aren’t into a ton of fluff, are sensitive to dust, and prioritize sustainability in their home products.

Good to Know: It may take a few days to get used to it, but once you do, it becomes “a great adjustment for back sleeping,” according to Sam.

Its shape may look peculiar at first, but if you suffer from neck and back pain, Cushion Lab’s Neck Relief Ergonomic Cervical Pillow could be the solution you’ve been searching for. It’s ergonomically engineered to cradle your head, stretch your neck, and align your spine’s natural curve. “The Cushion Lab Ergonomic Cervical Pillow is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a comfortable and supportive pillow that can help alleviate neck and shoulder pain,” says AT social media manager Brian. The pillow’s concave headrest, raised face support, pressure-relief neck cushion, sloped neck ramp, and curved shoulder cushion all work together to offer a supportive sleep experience, whether you’re a back or hybrid sleeper.

Beyond its appearance, this pillow incorporates features that lend themselves to better, more restful sleep. It’s made with HYPERFOAM gel-infused memory foam that conforms to your position, includes a mesh inner layer to help circulate air, and comes with a soft, organic cotton cover. “Overall, the Cushion Lab Ergonomic Cervical Pillow is a fantastic investment for anyone looking to improve their sleep quality and reduce neck and shoulder pain,” says Brian.


  • 100% organic cotton shell with polyester inner cover and memory foam fill
  • 23.5″ x 15″
  • 4.3″ loft
  • Medium-firm feel
  • Hypoallergenic cover
  • Machine wash cover and tumble dry low; pillow insert is spot clean only
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Back sleepers who suffer from neck, head, and shoulder pain.

Good to Know: On a scale of 1-10, Cushion Lab gives this pillow a 7.5 for firmness.

Sure, some pillows on this list offer multiple firmness options at checkout, but if you want a sleep accessory that you can truly customize to your specific needs, an adjustable pillow is the answer. Our top pick in the category, the Nectar Sleep Resident Pillow, arrives overstuffed, and you can easily unzip it to remove as much fill as you see fit. It also features a quilted memory foam outer shell.

Charli tested this pillow as well and gives it rave reviews. “Having the option to stuff it two ways was super impressive, and it is very comfortable and supportive for back sleepers,” she says. “It’s clearly flexible and durable.” Spot-clean as needed with warm water and gentle soap.


  • Quilted memory foam shell with foam fill
  • 28″ x 18″
  • 6″ loft
  • Features removable fill
  • Spot-clean only
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • 5-year warranty
  • 50-night trial period

Who It’s Best For: Sleepers who want to customize their pillow to their exact needs.

Good to Know: Nectar recommends keeping the fill you remove in case you want to make your pillow firmer later.

*Honorable Mention: Filled with Loft-X Foam, a hybrid material that offers the support of memory foam and the bounce of latex, The Bear Pillow is designed to provide optimal performance no matter your sleeping position. “It never needs to be fluffed or adjusted, and it provides excellent support,” says senior commerce editor Ian, who tested and loved this option. “I never wake up with a sore neck!”