The Best Editor-Tested Pillows for Back Sleepers

published Apr 18, 2023
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.
Neatly made bed with best list pillows for back sleepers seal to the left.
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 rooms, greenery-laden patios, and cozy bedrooms with — perhaps dreamiest of all — perfectly plush pillows. But you know what those gorgeous photos can’t show you? If said pillows will feel as fantastic as they look. 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 bed blankets, best mattress toppers, and more, and now we’re ready to unveil our top picks for pillows specifically for back sleepers.

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.

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.


  • TEMPUR Material memory foam fill; removable polyester knit cover
  • 24″ long x 17″ wide x 5″ high
  • Machine-washable cover, spot-clean-only pillow
  • 5-year limited warranty

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

Good to Know: This pillow ranks as “soft” on TEMPUR-Pedic’s firmness scale.

Best Luxury: Bear Pillow

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

The Bear Pillow is crafted with special temperature-regulating technology, with layered fabric and mesh panels at either end to allow for maximum airflow throughout the night. “Both sides are pretty much ‘the cool side of the pillow’ at all times,” Ian says. Yes, it’s spot-clean only, but it’s also hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, so you don’t have to worry about dust mites, allergens, germs, and bacteria that can build up in lesser-quality pillows.


  • LOFT-X hybrid foam core; removable Double Ice cloth cover
  • Available in Standard and King
  • Spot-clean-only cover and pillow
  • 30-night trial period; 2-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Back sleepers who want to add a dose of luxe to their bedroom and wake up without aches and pains.

Good to Know: It’s a fairly wide pillow (the Standard size spans 28″), so make sure your pillowcase will fit before you buy.

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.


  • White duck feather inner pillow; white duck down outer pillow; 233-thread-count cotton shell
  • Available in Standard and King
  • 2 comfort levels: Soft Fluff and Firm Fluff
  • Spot-clean only
  • 30-night trial period
  • Comes with a 100% cotton pillow protector

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.


  • Talalay latex and hyper-elastic Polymer core; removable nylon and spandex cover
  • Available in Standard and King
  • 3 height options: Low, Medium, and Tall
  • Machine-washable cover, spot-clean-only pillow
  • 100-night trial period; 1-year warranty

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.

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.


  • Hyperfoam, premium visco elastic memory foam core; polyester inner cover; removable organic cotton outer cover
  • 23.5″ long x 15″ wide x 4.3″ high
  • Machine-washable cover, spot-clean-only pillow
  • 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.


  • CertiPUR-US certified foam fill; polyethylene cover
  • 18″ long x 28″ wide x 6″ high
  • Removable fill
  • Spot-clean only
  • 50-night trial period; 5-year warranty

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.

Some people can’t be confined to just one sleep category. “I’m a noncommittal sleeper, by which I mean sleeping in just one position for the whole night stresses me out,” says associate lifestyle editor Sofia. For those shoppers looking for a super-supportive option no matter what position you find yourself in throughout the night, take a look at The Company Store’s Legends Hotel PrimaLoft Black Label Down Alternative Pillow. After testing this option for several weeks, Sofia reports that “its height doesn’t keep my head too propped up when I fall asleep, and its medium firmness stays perfectly cozy even when I turn onto my side.”

Constructed with PrimaLoft Black Label down alternative fill, this impressive pillow features a 300-thread-count cotton sateen shell adorned with a subtle paisley pattern and finished with satin piping, making it feel elegant and refined. Even better? It’s machine washable and dryable.


  • PrimaLoft Black Label fill; 300-thread-count cotton sateen shell
  • Available in 4 sizes: Standard, Queen, King, and Euro
  • 3 comfort levels: Soft, Medium, Firm
  • Machine washable
  • Lifetime guarantee

Who It’s Best For: Hybrid sleepers who shift positions throughout the night.

Good to Know: To keep your pillow in tip-top shape for as long as possible, use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets when you’re doing laundry.