Last Updated: April 2018
For most of us, we spend 8 hours out of every day either sleeping or trying to get to sleep. That?s a full one-third of the day. When you take that fully on-board, it?s clearly a good idea to create the best sleeping environment possible to allow our bodies to rest and regenerate properly over enough hours.
The process of regeneration e.g. fixing health issues doesn?t begin right away, nor does REM sleep, so it?s important to get as much non-interrupted sleep as possible to get into the states that do your body the most good.
Every person is different. We all have our own preferred sleeping position. For people who are back sleepers, you have a good amount of weight on your spine, neck and head during the night. Not only does the mattress need to properly support your posture, but your pillow does too. As you know, when you sleep in a bad position all night, you wake up with a painful back and a crank in your neck that won?t go away all day. Very painful!
Only around 14% of people are back sleepers. It is believed to be the best posture while catching some Zzzzsss because blood flow is promoted throughout the body. Sleeping in other positions like on the side or stomach leads to circulation issues, adds pressure points and creates the tossing and turning cycle we?re all familiar with.
Here we share to some basics about what the best pillow is for people who sleep on their back. If that?s you or your partner, please read on?
What you need to know
- Best sleep position for increase blood flow
- Less tossing and turning during sleep
- Reduced need to elevate the neck
- Low loft/height pillows work just best
- Heavy-set people put considerable weight on their spine when sleeping on their back
- Many pillows are too thick and cause neck pain
- Some products create hot head when sleeping
- Not every pillow shape is ideal for back sleeping
Our Best Pillows for Back Sleepers Recommendations
Eve Pillow Review
The Eve Pillow has a new formulation of memory foam that provides better responsiveness to body movement. It?s only available in a single size (16.5-inches by 26-inches). Pressure point relief is strong with their memory foam which helps back sleepers to sleep longer.
The foam is perforated to allow more air flow. The UltraFresh formula used on the foam ensures it avoids mildew, mold and other bacterial buildup. It stays cool enough to be usable in hotter climates without causing unnecessary tossing and turning onto the front.
The attractive white with yellow trim cover is machine washable up to 40-degrees to get it completely clean. The Jersey polyester cover is knitted together which allows more stretching of it. A separate Eve pillowcase is also available in two sizes.
For back sleepers, the Eve 30-night trial is ideal to see if it doesn?t sit too high for their use. We don?t believe it does. There?s also a 3-year warranty which given that the pillow core is not washable is probably long enough to match its useful life free of germs.
Below is our final score of the Eve pillow based on multiple criteria that we use when testing all of our pillows.
Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Shredded Pillow Review
The Coop Home Good Premium pillow is a good all-rounder that ticks a lot of boxes for back sleepers. It is available in Standard, Queen and King sizes.
Firstly, the memory foam is shredded which allows it to ventilate warm air more easily. Secondly, adjusting the positioning of the memory foam particles allows you to minutely adjust the feel of the pillow under your head. Thirdly, the memory foam filling is adjustable to change the loft of the pillow.
Unlike a solid block of memory foam, the separated parts move around letting warm air escape the pillow. This process keeps the temperature under the head at a more manageable level. For back sleepers who tend to need to lay quite low above the mattress level, being able to adjust the height level is key to a good night?s sleep without injuring their neck.
All the foam is certified as CertiPUR-US and is free from a host of chemicals, metals and ozone depleters to the product to be fully approved for sale in the USA (it?s made in California).
The cover is an attractive quilt-like one made from 60% polyester and 40% Rayon derived from bamboo. Machine washable, the cover is comfortable to lie on and breathable too.
A 30-day money back guarantee along with a 5-year warranty provides quality assurance.
Below is our final score of the Coop Home Good Premium pillow based on multiple criteria that we use when testing all of our pillows.
Snuggle-Pedic Ultra Luxury Shredded Adjustable Pillow Review
The Snuggle-Pedic Shredded Adjustable pillow is designed to provide good support for the head and neck while delivering customizable loft levels.
The pillow unzips at the side of its inner cover to let the shredded foam be removed. By doing so, the height of the pillow is manually adjustable for back sleepers who find they sleep flatter on their mattress than most plumper pillows allow.
The memory foam is CertiPUR-US certified, is Biogreen too, and avoids the use of any metals, or ozone depleters. All parts of the product have been verified as made in the USA, not assembled here and produced elsewhere.
Heat levels are managed well through shredded foam instead of a single layer of memory foam and the cover which also lets air move around. The cover is stretchable due to its use of Lycra, plus over 56% is polyester and 43% is viscose originating from bamboo which adds a natural feel and antibacterial properties too.
The product is machine washable with Snuggle-Pedic standing by its position that the foam will never go flat. There?s a generous 90-day return policy and an extensive 20-year warranty too.
Below is our final score of the Snuggle-Pedic Shredded Adjustable pillow based on multiple criteria that we use when testing all of our pillows.
My Pillow Premium Series Bed Pillow Review
The My Pillow Premium Series Bed Pillow comes in a Standard/Queen size and a King Premium pillow size. The pillow is available in five levels of firmness from Extra Firm to Least Firm. Even the firmer options are not especially firm, so you should aim higher than the firmness level desired to order to receive the firmness level you really want.
The fill used is an inter-locked one to improve the density. The product is self-contained, so it?s machine washable and dies quite easily without losing its bounce. The fill, which the company has filed a patent on, and the fabrics used are made in the USA.
The two-inch gusset that runs around the entire pillow is unusual and raises the height before the head sinks down into it. The poly fill is open cell which avoids the trapping of heat and lets it flow out.
The product is rolled up and shipped out in eco-friendly packaging.
Below is our final score of the My Pillow Premium Series Bed Pillow based on multiple criteria that we use when testing all of our pillows.
Classic Brands Cool Sleep Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Gusseted Pillow Review
The Classic Brands Cool Sleep Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Gusseted Pillow is much flatter than many other pillows. It offers a flatter surface, but with a high 6-inch profile. It uses a Cool-Pass fiber cover and blue gel memory foam that?s been ventilated both to let air flow well.
There are Standard, Queen, and King size pillows. There is also an interesting Contour Standard model which uses the same materials but is shaped with a curved gap at the front center to fit a neck easily into; there?s also inwardly curved sides.
The cover in white with blue trim looks attractive and provides support for back sleepers who want some elevation without being too high. The gel-infused memory foam keeps temperatures down to acceptable levels while offering medium-plush firmness level. As such, this pillow won?t offer firm neck support but for back sleepers who want a softer pillow that?s cool too, this one is an attractive choice.
The knit cover is machine washable to keep it hygienic. Both the cover and memory foam are resistant to bacterial buildup too.
Below is our final score of the Classic Brands Cool Sleep Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Gusseted Pillow based on multiple criteria that we use when testing all of our pillows.
Cushy Form Back Pain Relief Half-Moon Bolster / Wedge Review
The Cushy Form Back Pain Relief Half-Moon Bolster / Wedge is an unusual shape and design for a reason. The pillow is often recommended for medical reasons by chiropractors, doctors and sports physios. It is suitable for back sleepers, side sleepers, pregnant women, or to elevate an injured leg or knee.
The pillow is 20.5-inches long, 8-inches wide and 4.5-inches tall. The height is useful to provide elevation where need to take the pressure off different parts of the body, as needed.
The filling is memory foam to provide adjustable form to let you sink into the pillow to better support your weight. The half-moon pillow is covered by a soft white organic cotton cover which is machine washable, unlike the pillow itself.
The firmness isn?t that hard, so it?s between plush and medium at best. The pillow is tall, so there is plenty of foam to sink into though.
There is a money back guarantee with this product too.
Below is our final score of the Cushy Form Back Pain Relief Half-Moon Bolster / Wedge based on multiple criteria that we use when testing all of our pillows.
Features & Benefits
There are a few features to consider when shopping for the best pillow to support you when sleeping on your back.
Types of Materials
The materials used with a pillow can create all manner of problems if you?re a sensitive person with allergies that react to certain materials. Let?s look at the newer technologies being used in pillow manufacturing today:
- Polyurethane ? The hypoallergenic foam is formulated to be more breathable and resistant to mold, mildew and forms of bacteria.
- Memory Foam ? Once a problem for heat retention and off-gassing levels, modern memory foam now often includes air ventilation throughout, gel beads to capture heat and redistribute it, and covers that ensure hot air moves away from the pillow.
- Gel Fiber Fill ? Works similarly to foam slabs, but combines cool gel beads to dissipate heat and fiber for a softer feeling that permits warm air to move around and escape out of the pillow.
- Memory Cluster Fiber ? Acts in a way not unlike memory foam, but separated into multiple sections. Tends to be firmer than most memory foams used.
- Cotton ? Cotton is present in many of the covers that fit over a pillow. They might be high thread count cotton or more breathable versions to focus more on ventilation.
- Bamboo-Viscose ? The use of bamboo fibers offers improved air movement and not trapping odors inside the pillow. Bamboo fiber tends to antibacterial, so it naturally avoids germs, mold and other unwanted elements attaching themselves to the cover.
Pillows were once upon a time all fluffy, rectangular ones that were so plush that you sunk right into them. They now come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
Here?s some examples:
- Traditional rectangle
- Rounded wedge
- Triangular wedge
- Pillows with a depression in the center for the head and a raised area supporting the neck
- Lower loft/height for back sleepers
- Higher loft/height for side and stomach sleepers
- Firmer or weak edge support (depends mostly on the fill)
Where memory foam pillows use shredded foam and not a single slab of foam, then it?s possible to adjust the shape of the pillow. Not necessarily the rectangular appearance so much, but the areas that have more foam support and the areas that don?t.
The level of loft (or height) is something relevant to sleep position because depending on the sleep posture, the neck is placed into a different position that is either natural or unnatural. When in an unnatural position, the neck is strained while sleeping which causes pain (or worse) in the morning.
Some pillows now allow the removal of some of their foam to adjust the loft level. This is mostly the case with shredded memory foam pillows. As such, some pillows are now height adjustable too.
At one end, you have pillows that are ultra-plush which means they?re super soft with your head sinking deep into them. On the other end, a pillow is firm (with various levels like medium-firm) indicating that it?s a reasonably hard surface with minimal give when laying your head down on it.
The interesting thing about firmness is that while most of us enjoy a super soft feeling of laying down on a pillow top mattress and an ultra-plush pillow, it?s not always good for our bodies. This is especially the case when you?re a back sleeper where there?s a greater need to provide proper spinal, neck and head support during the night.
A pillow is malleable when it follows the contours of your neck and head. When moving your head around while sleeping, it can stretch the neck muscles and cause pain. By picking a pillow that supports your head and neck while sleeping on your back, strains on the body can be removed.
Things to know
The use of memory foam is the classic good and bad situation. While the foam adjusts its shape to match the shape of the body, head or neck during its use, when the memory foam remembers the previous shape too well it fails to adjust to the new position that you may have moved into. At that point, you?re feeling uncomfortable because the foam is still shaped to match your previous position and not your current one.
Improved Memory Foam
The latest generation of memory foam has considerably improved upon the responsiveness of this NASA invention from the 1960s. Modern memory foam responds very quickly to changes in movement to better match the body as it adjusts. We do not move around too much or too often when sleeping, so the memory foam can mimic our new body shape quick enough to make the necessary adjustments.
One of the newer changes to pillows is the inclusion of a zipper on inner cases. By using shredded memory foam that is easily extractable, it?s now possible on certain models to adjust the loft of a pillow by removing some of the memory foam and storing it elsewhere.
Shredded Memory Foam
Some memory foam is shredded up into hundreds of smaller pieces. Doing this helps air flow more readily, the shape of the pillow filling more personally adjustable, and the loft height no longer set in stone.
Breathable gel layers on the top of a foam pillow or gel beads infused inside the pillow?s foam cool down hot spots by sucking out the heat and placing it inside the gel itself. Heat is then spread evenly across the gel layer and away from the head and neck areas that were heating up. Gel foam tends to be blue in color and easy to spot.
Many foam pillows now have tens or hundreds of strategically placed holes at the front, back, sides, top and underside to maximize the air flow. The ventilated foam avoids a single foam block gradually trapping body heat and becoming too hot to sleep on.
Antibacterial & Microbial
Both the memory foam and covers are antibacterial and often microbial too. Dust mites, mildew and bacteria has a hard time settling on the cover or foam. With the use of the aforementioned gel memory foam, whisking away warmth prevents the foam from heating up or becoming wet from sweat which also lessons the likelihood of bacteria.
Washable or Not?
Some pillows are self-contained and washable; others are not. Pretty much all pillow covers are now designed to be machine washable.
Q: Is sleeping on the back the best sleep posture?
A: Usually, yes. Greater blood flow is possible in this position. However, people who are heavy-set may find sleeping on their back causes them back pain from the extra belly weight pushing down on them for 8 hours.
Q: Should I avoid high loft pillows?
A: Unless you have an unusually high neck that suits a high loft, most pillows suitable for back sleepers are low to medium loft.
Q: Is it necessary to have a medium-firm to firm pillow or can I use a plush one?
A: A plush one is fine when you don?t require firm neck and head support. It depends on your body whether it requires more support than the dream-like floating experience of sleeping on a plush pillow.
Q: How long should I expect a pillow to last?
A: If the quality is good, then 3-5 years is a good rule of thumb. This also matches guarantees provided by several manufacturers.