The 9 Best Pillows for Back Sleepers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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After testing and researching dozens of pillows, these are our top picks

<p>The Spruce / Andrea Cable</p>

The Spruce / Andrea Cable

If you mainly sleep on your back and are sick of waking up with neck pain, it may be time to get rid of your old pillow and invest in a new one that is ideal for back sleepers. According to Angela Holliday-Bell, M.D., CCSH, a board-certified physician and certified clinical sleep health specialist, “The right pillow is important to provide the support needed to keep your head, neck and spine in alignment while sleeping.”

We’ve tested over 70 pillows in The Lab and at home, evaluating their quality, durability, overall value, and more after using them for several days (or, in some cases, several months). To compile this list, we spoke with Dr. Holliday-Bell to glean expert insight into back sleeping and what back sleepers should seek from a pillow. We also scoured our testing insights, conducted additional research, and read countless customer reviews to find all kinds of pillows that are comfortable for back sleeping, including memory foam, alternative down, down, and latex options.

Best Overall: Coop Sleep Goods The Original Pillow

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What We Like

  • Adjustable, shredded fill

  • Works for back, stomach, and side sleepers

  • Five-year warranty

  • 100-day trial

What We Don’t Like

  • Not cooling

  • Heavy

Coop’s CertiPUR-US Certified memory foam helps to make its original pillow a go-to pillow for all kinds of sleepers. However, in our testing, we found that what really separates this pillow from other memory foam options for back sleepers is that it is adjustable.

The fill is a medium-firm mix of memory foam and microfiber, and every pillow comes with an additional half-pound bag of the fill, so you can add more if you prefer extra loft. For back sleepers, we’ve found that taking some of the fill out to adjust it to a lower loft may be more comfortable. You may notice some compression of the foam over the course of months or years—fluffing the pillow may help, or you can simply add more of the extra fill if needed.

This pillow isn’t designed to be cooling, so if you tend to sleep warm and are looking for a cool option, it might not be the best bet. But even for the hot sleepers on The Spruce team who have tested this pillow, that hasn’t been an issue. It’s also a pretty heavy pillow and not easily compressed, particularly if you’re using a lot of fill, so it’s not particularly portable for travel. On the plus side, the pillow’s removable cover is machine washable. If you’re a hot sleeper, we also recommend snagging the waterproof yet breathable Ultra-Tech pillow cover to increase the pillow’s lifespan. The Coop Original comes with a five-year warranty and a 100-day risk free trial.

Price at time of publish: $72

Sizes: Queen, king | Fill Material: Memory foam, microfiber | Cover Material: 60 percent polyester, 40 percent bamboo-derived viscose rayon

Best Overall, Runner-Up: Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Pillow

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What We Like

  • Soft yet supportive

  • Retains shape over time

  • Feels cool to sleep on

  • Five-year warranty

What We Don’t Like

  • Returns only accepted for product defects

Tempur-Pedic’s Tempur-Cloud Pillow is a back sleeper’s dream. Between the materials, its height, and price, and the overall quality associated with Tempur-Pedic as a brand, it checks all of our boxes. In our testing, we were impressed by the durability and composition of the pillow. It offers a nice blend of softness and support, and we didn’t see any change in its shape in the six months we used the pillow at home.

As the name implies, this pillow is made with the brand’s proprietary Tempur material, which is able to contour to your particular head and neck shape for pressure alleviation. The Tempur material separates itself from traditional memory foam by being more supportive and not just offering cushion, and this particular model has more of a medium firmness that tends to work great for back sleepers. Plus, at 5 inches thick, it falls in the mid-loft range that Dr. Holliday-Bell recommends back sleepers try when searching for a pillow.

We specifically considered the cooling properties when we tested this pillow, and we found it comfortable and crisp-feeling to sleep on—we never had to turn over the pillow in the middle of the night. The icing on the cake with this pillow is that it features a removable and washable polyester cover, which we found very easy to clean. While we found it to be a bit heavier than some other pillows we’ve tested, we appreciate that the pillow can be compressed for easier portability when traveling.

Price at time of publish: $89 for a standard-sized pillow

Size: Standard | Fill Material: Tempur-material | Cover Material: Polyester

Best Budget: Amazon Basics Down-Alternative Pillows

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What We Like

  • Two firmness options

  • Comes in a pack of two

  • OEKO-TEX Standard certified factory

What We Don’t Like

  • May lose shape after washing

  • No trial period

Finding a good pillow for your sleep style shouldn’t have to break the bank. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, consider Amazon Basics’s Down-Alternative Pillows. We sent this pillow to multiple homes for real-world testing, and we’re happy to report that it’s a bargain, without major sacrifices in quality.

The inside features a down alternative polyester microfiber, and it comes in two firmness options. We tested the soft version of the pillow, and we found it to be suitably supportive for both back and side sleepers. It’s plush, full, smooth, and odor-free upon taking it out of the box. After using the pillow for three months, we found that it maintained both its plushness and firmness. The alternative down fill conforms to the head at night, but fluffs back up by the next evening. It also doesn’t feel overly hot to sleep on. The soft pillow is our overall pick, since it performed well in our testing, but if you’re a back sleeper or you’re a combination back and side sleeper who tends to need more support, opt for the medium option.

We appreciate that the pillow is OEKO-TEX MADE IN GREEN certified, which indicates it was produced in a factory that meets specific safety and environmental standards. However, we found that this isn’t the most luxurious pillow on the market, and the fill also might lose a bit of its smoothness after washing, but fluffing it can help counter some of that potential lumpiness. Additionally, it doesn’t come with a trial period like other options on the market. But given its more affordable price point, these trade-offs don’t come as a surprise.

Price at time of publish: $39

Sizes: Standard, king | Fill Material: Polyester microfiber | Cover Material: Polyester microfiber

Best Splurge: Purple Harmony Pillow

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What We Like

  • Three loft options

  • Unique design with Gel Flex layer

  • Durable material maintains shape

  • Breathable and cool

What We Don’t Like

  • Non-traditional feel might not appeal to everyone

  • One-year warranty

While pricier than other options on our list, the combination of the loft options, resilient materials, and breathability help to solidify Purple’s Harmony Pillow as our pick for the best splurge pillow for back sleepers. It is available in low, medium, and tall options—we’ve tested the medium version and found it comfortable for combination sleepers. However, Purple recommends the 5.5-inch-high “low” option for back sleepers, so make sure to check that one out first.

Like Purple’s other products, this option uses the brand’s proprietary Gel Flex technology, a polymer geometric structure that is able to provide cushioning without losing support, all while adjusting to your body as you move. When testing the pillow, we noted that the material almost feels Jello-like—it’s a bit heavier than other traditional materials, but it feels durable and springs back up as soon as you lift your head. The small gaps in the honeycomb-shaped Gel Flex layer promote air flow to prevent overheating, which we confirmed is the case when we tested it for its cooling potential. You might be able to feel the hexagonal construction through the cover, which not everyone will enjoy. (Our testers had mixed feedback on this, so it really does seem to be a matter of preference). Additionally, the core of this pillow is made of Talalay latex to further increase resilience and aid in maintaining its shape.

At $179, this pillow is a bit pricier than other options on our list, and the feel of the Gel Flex layer might take some getting used to. We also wish the warranty was a bit longer, but Purple does acknowledge that with proper care, the pillow should last for years. All in all, if you’re interested in testing out the Harmony pillow’s unique construction, the quality, and durability can all combine to make it worth the money.

Price at time of publish: $179

Sizes: Standard, king | Fill Material: Latex, polymer | Cover Material: Nylon, spandex

Best Down: Tuft & Needle Down Pillow

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What We Like

  • Plush and luxurious

  • Temperature regulating

  • 100-night trial

  • Ten-year warranty

  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100

What We Don’t Like

  • Too lofty for some sleepers

For the back sleeper who prefers down pillows, Tuft & Needle is our go-to. We found that this pillow has a luxury look and feel. It is soft and fluffy right out of the box, and it provides more support than some other down pillows we’ve tested.

Down fill tends to be softer than other materials like latex and memory foam, but this pillow has plenty of loft to counter the sinking-in feeling. At 6 inches tall, the height is on the high end, but we think it works out well to account for the natural compression of down filling. One member of our testing team, a combination back and side sleeper, reported that it was most comfortable to use for back sleeping. Its medium firmness might be too firm for some people, but we found it softened and molded to the head with more use. Down can be a great fill to regulate body temperature, and this pillow is no exception. It remained cool throughout our three months of testing.

The pillow is well-made and extremely easy to care for. The down pillow is machine washable and dryer safe, and we experienced no leakage of feathers or other negative effects from washing. We also appreciate that the down is made from ethically sourced North American down, and that it has a Standard 100 certification from OEKO-TEX to ensure the materials are free of harmful substances. Tuft & Needle offers a 100-night trial and a ten-year limited warranty, which can be comforting when purchasing a pillow at this price point. The brand also offers free shipping and returns.

Price at time of publish: $140

Sizes: Standard, king | Fill Material: Down | Cover Material: Cotton

Best Cooling: Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow

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What We Like

  • Open-cell foam allows for air flow

  • GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US certified

  • 100-night trial

  • Ten-year warranty

What We Don’t Like

  • Too soft for some combination sleepers

Dr. Holliday-Bell prefers memory foam pillows for their comfortable support. For back sleepers, we love the original memory foam pillow from Tuft & Needle. We tested it at home for three months, and we noted that the 5-inch-thick pillow is cushy yet firm enough to retain its shape and support, making it a solid option for back sleepers. As for its cooling features, unlike traditional memory foams that can trap heat, Tuft & Needle proprietary Adaptive foam is open-cell for exceptional breathability and to aid in temperature regulation. In our tests, the temperature of the pillow did increase 9 degrees Fahrenheit—but many pillows we tested grew hotter than that, and we didn’t notice a significant difference when laying on this pillow.

In terms of quality, we love that this pillow is UL GREENGUARD Gold certified and certiPUR-US certified. This ensures that the pillow doesn’t emit harmful levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC), which can contribute to indoor pollution, and that the foam was manufactured without phthalates and ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Like other products from Tuft & Needle, this pillow comes with a 100-night trial, ten-year warranty, and free shipping and returns. Do be aware, though, that the softness doesn’t make it ideal for side sleepers, and some find it to be a bit too soft for their needs.

Price at time of publish: $100

Sizes: Standard, king | Fill Material: Memory foam | Cover Material: Polyamide, polyester

Best Down Alternative: Casper Original Pillow

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What We Like

  • Works for back, stomach, and side sleepers

  • Features two layers for comfort and support

  • 30-night trial

What We Don’t Like

  • Requires fluffing

For a down-like feel that is great for back sleepers, we love this down alternative pillow. After testing Casper’s Original Pillow at home, we appreciate the clever, adaptive design that makes it suitable for back, stomach, and side sleepers alike. The pillow has two layers—a supportive inner pillow that’s surrounded by a soft outer layer—which combines for a pillow that we found to prevent our heads from sinking while still feeling comfortable.

When it comes to breathability, this option excels in our book. A cotton cover is made in a percale weave to promote airflow for a cooler night of sleep. We also appreciate that it comes with double stitched seams that make it a stronger and more durable pillow.

One thing to note with this option is that Casper recommends that you fluff it daily, a fairly minor inconvenience but one worth mentioning nonetheless. An added bonus with this pillow is that Casper offers free shipping and returns in the continental United States and Canada, and it comes with a 30-night trial.

Price at time of publish: $65

Sizes: Standard, king | Fill Material: Polyester microfiber | Cover Material: Cotton

Best Latex: Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

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What We Like

  • Two loft options

  • Breathable design

  • 30-day trial

What We Don’t Like

  • Too soft for some

  • Mild off-gassing odor

Latex pillows can be a great option for back sleepers, and Brooklyn Bedding’s Talalay Latex Pillow checks off a lot of boxes. For starters, the material tends to be dense (as far as pillows go) but very responsive and able to conform, resulting in a surface that adjusts to your individual head and neck.

This pillow is available in both low and high lofts. We haven’t tested this particular pillow yet, but we would suggest starting with the lower loft option, which is 4 inches thick, if you’re a back sleeper and seeing how that feels. If it’s not a great fit and you need a taller pillow, you can take advantage of the 30-day return policy and exchange it for the higher version.

Users have noted that this pillow stays cool during use, too, likely due in part to the aerated design and breathable cotton cover. We read some reports that this pillow has a mild off-gassing odor, but that should dissipate if left in a well-ventilated area.

Price at time of publish: $89

Sizes: Queen, king | Fill Material: Latex foam | Cover Material: Cotton

Best with Neck Support: The Cushion Lab Neck-Relief Ergonomic Cervical Pillow

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What We Like

  • Ergonomic design

  • CertiPUR-US-certified foam

  • Washable cover

What We Don’t Like

  • Too firm for some

  • Has an adjustment period

If you struggle to find a pillow that feels comfortable, you might want to give Cushion Lab’s Neck Relief Ergonomic Cervical Pillow a try. Designed by ergonomists, it is constructed to stretch the neck while cradling the head to maintain the natural curvature of the neck. It features a curved shoulder cushion, sloped neck ramp, and concave head basin work to ensure that both back and side sleepers are accommodated.

In terms of materials, this option is composed of a proprietary gel-infused memory foam that’s CertiPUR-US certified. The removable, washable cover has a cotton exterior with a mesh layer inside to help keep air flowing. Cushion Lab rates this as a 7.5 out of 10 on its firmness scale, offering just the right amount of support and give for a back sleeper. While it is conforming, some users have found it a bit too firm for them when they first use it, and it may require an adjustment period.

Price at time of publish: $61

Sizes: 23.5 x 15 inches | Fill Material: Memory foam | Cover Material: Cotton

Our pick for the best overall pillow for back sleepers is the Coop Sleep Goods The Original Pillow at Amazon for its adjustable loft for truly customized support. If you’re looking to spend less money, we suggest checking out Amazon Basics’s Down-Alternative Pillows, as they are full and plush, and they come in a budget-friendly pack of two.

How We Tested

After several rounds of pillow testing, we've evaluated upwards of 70 pillows to date. We've tested a wide range of pillows from different manufacturers, including ones made with down, down alternative, latex, and memory foam. While each round of testing can incorporate slight differences in methodology, we closely evaluate a number of consistent factors: First, we consider the quality of the pillow by evaluating its material and construction upon unboxing. Then we'll put the pillow to the test—for testing in The Lab, we cross-reference each pillow's manufacturer information to confirm that the pillow meets listed specifications. In real-world testing, we actually take the pillows home and use them for at least a week, at which point we assess how supportive the pillow is and give it a comfort rating. (If a pillow performs well in the initial round of testing, we'll often slate it for long-term testing, in which case we continue to use it for at least three months.) To evaluate durability, we wash the pillow case and/or cover based on manufacturer instructions and note how the pillow feels and looks afterward. Finally, we compare our observations with the list price to determine the pillow's overall value.

What to Look for in a Pillow for Back Sleepers

Fill Material and Cover

There are many types of bed pillows to choose from, including memory foam, down, down alternative, and latex. When it comes to finding the proper fill material for a back sleeper, Angela Holliday-Bell, M.D., CCSH, tells us that she prefers memory foam pillows. She says, “They tend to provide the best amount of support while still being soft enough to maintain comfort.” Other material options like down and down-alternative can work, as well, but they can sometimes be too plush to comfortably accommodate back sleepers. Latex pillows are another good choice for many back sleepers, but keep in mind that while bouncy and durable, latex tends to be firmer and denser than other materials.

As is the case with the fabric types used in bedding more generally, the pillow cover material will mainly come down to personal comfort preference; in terms of back sleeping specifically, the cover material itself won’t make much of a difference in comfort. Where fabric choices are relevant, though, is in aiding in keeping you cool. If you’re looking for a moisture-wicking material, bamboo-derived fabrics can be a nice option. Conversely, cotton fabrics are often breathable but not moisture-wicking. It’s also helpful long-term if the pillow itself or the cover is machine washable for easy cleaning.

Firmness Level

Dr. Holliday-Bell tells us that personal preference will play a major part in finding the proper firmness level for your pillow, but she tells us that “back sleepers tend to do well with a medium firm material,” while stomach sleepers will do better with a softer option and side sleepers may prefer firmer pillows. With this in mind, we particularly like Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Pillow, our "best overall, runner-up," for back sleepers since it has a medium-firm feel and great contouring.


While support is ultimately a matter of preference, Dr. Holliday-Bell recommends opting for a “mid-loft” option, which tends to fall in the 3- to 5-inch range when compressed by a head laying on it, if you’re a back sleeper. This is in comparison to stomach sleepers, who may feel more comfortable with lower lofts, and side sleepers, who may prefer thicker options. If you're not sure how much support you prefer and you’d like to experiment with different lofts, consider our “best overall” pick, The Original Pillow from Coop, which can be adjusted to meet your own personal comfort preference levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of pillow is best for sleeping on your back?

There is no one perfect pillow for back sleepers—that's because pillow comfort is highly individual. That being said, Dr. Holliday-Bell suggests that a medium-firm pillow made of memory foam can be a great option for back sleepers. This combination of firmness and material may help promote spinal alignment while still offering contouring—but ultimately, there are many factors when it comes to choosing a pillow you’ll love. What works for another back sleeper might not be the most comfortable option for you, and vice versa.

How high should a pillow be for back sleepers?

According to Dr. Holliday-Bell, a pillow that measures between 3 and 5 inches in thickness when compressed by your head can be a good place to start for back sleepers. When considering a pillow's height, keep in mind that too much loft will tilt your head forward, and too little loft can tend to allow your head to fall back. But ultimately, the ideal height of a pillow will depend on the individual shopper.

What is the best material for a pillow?

As stated above, this will ultimately come down to preference, though memory foam is a widely appealing option. However, if you are someone who is looking for something that is firmer, you may prefer a latex pillow. Conversely, if you prefer something fluffier, consider opting for a down or down alternative option.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Jack Byram is a freelance writer who writes about all things related to sleep. He has sampled countless pillows and is consistently trying new ways to improve his sleep. For this article, he spoke with Angela Holliday-Bell, M.D., CCSH, a board-certified physician and certified clinical sleep health specialist, to get expert tips on choosing the best pillows for sleeping on your back. From there, he scoured the internet, reading numerous customer reviews to find a wide range of pillows across a spectrum of materials, price points, and features.

What Is The Spruce Approved?

Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.

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