Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

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Are you a proud back sleeper in search of the perfect pillow that will cradle your head and neck? Tired of waking up with back ache? Well, look no further, my fellow slumber enthusiasts, for I have embarked on a quest to unearth the finest pillows in the UK that have been designed for those who prefer the back sleeping position.

️‍Best Pillows for back-sleeping

As a back sleeper, you have unique needs when it comes to pillow selection (as much as you do for a mattress in fact). Specifically, the firmness and support levels must be carefully calibrated to maintain optimal spinal alignment and also to alleviate any potential discomfort or strain.

In other words, a pillow that is too firm can cause undue pressure on our sensitive neck areas, while one that is too soft can fail to provide the necessary support. It’s a bit of a balancing act.

But fear not, as I have delved deep into the realm of pillows, consulting with sleep experts and conducting extensive research, to present you with a curated selection of sevreal pillows that you can buy right now.

To write this review, I considered various factors, including firmness levels, pillow materials, thickness/heights, and breathability, to ensure that every pillow recommended is tailored to the unique needs of back sleepers.

Here at WhatMattress we take mattress research seriously - all our product tests are done as fairly and honestly as possible.

That's quite a bold claim, but we're proud of the attention to detail that you're hopefully seeing within our reviews. Our methodology sets us apart from many other review websites. I like to think this is because WhatMattress is only run by two people - Carrie and Anthony. Over the years we've hand-tested multiple mattresses, pillow and other bedding products - so that you don't have to!

Every single mattress is put through its paces using the following tests:

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  • And in most cases, we've bought the mattress ourselves and haven't been given a free one.

So, get ready to bid farewell to restless nights and embrace the blissful embrace of a pillow perfectly attuned to your sleeping style. 🙂

1. DreamCloud ‘A Whole Night’s Sleep’ – Best Overall

The DreamCloud A Whole Night’s Sleep Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow comes with a range of features designed to enhance the sleep experience of back sleepers in particular.

With a focus on comfort, support, and temperature regulation, this pillow aims to deliver a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep.

When I tested it out, one impressive feature I really liked was the Tencel cover, which had a luxurious, plush feeling surface for your head and neck.

Tencel – for those who aren’t aware – is known for its ability to absorb and release moisture quickly, preventing humidity build-up throughout the night. This isn’t just marketing nonsense, but has been tested extensively, and this feature contributes to a cool and comfortable sleep environment, ideal for those who tend to sleep hot.

But the best feature here is the cooling. The DreamCloud pillow incorporates cooling gel memory foam, a viscoelastic foam infused with gel beads, it sounds technical but it really isn’t. This combination helps to reduce the build-up of heat within the foam, allowing for better temperature regulation and providing a cooler, fresher feeling during sleep.

Comfort

In terms of comfort/support, the pillow offers maximum pressure relief, allowing your weight to spread evenly and reducing the risk of discomfort or pain. The adjustable design is another notable feature, as it allows you to customise the height and feel of the pillow by removing filling/layers to your liking. For back sleepers looking for the optimum level of support, this feature cannot be overstated.

Lastly, the pillow comes with a removable cover, offering convenience and ease of cleaning. The only downside is that there’s no free sleep trial, sadly, though it does come with a 2 year warranty.

In a nutshell:

With its reasonable price, plush cover, cooling gel memory foam, pressure-relieving properties, adjustability, and hypoallergenic features, the DreamCloud A Whole Night’s Sleep Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow presents itself as a compelling choice for back sleepers seeking a pillow that promotes optimal comfort, support, and temperature regulation throughout the night.

2. Panda Bamboo Memory Foam – Best Eco Choice

I’ll be honest, with this pillow, back sleepers should expect a mixed bag of pros and cons – mostly pros (as it does some things very well), but there are a few drawbacks.

One of the positive features of this pillow is its memory foam core. It’s been designed to contour to the shape of your head and neck, providing a personalised level of support. If you’ve never done this before, it’s a game-changer for back sleepers who crave that perfect alignment.

However, the one drawback is that it was just not quite thick enough for me, so I had to resort to additional measures, such as using another flat pillow underneath, to prevent snoring and alleviate pressure points. In testing, while the pillows were comfortable to some extent, the lack of thickness prevented them from fully meeting my expectations in terms of providing ample support.

What’s it like?

In terms of breathability, the bamboo cover of the Panda Pillow does a decent job of promoting air circulation. In short, this helps prevent overheating during the night, which is a common concern for back sleepers, as I cover in more detail later.

Durability is an important factor to consider too, and here the Panda Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow has received mostly very good reviews on other websites. You will however need to ‘fluff it up’ every so often – but this is the case for all memory foam-based pillows.

Why is this my top eco choice? Simply because of the eco-friendly nature of the Panda Pillow: it’s made from sustainable bamboo and is free from harmful chemicals, which is a plus for those who prioritise environmentally friendly or natural products. It’s also made in the UK.

In a nutshell:

Ultimately, the Panda Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow offers a respectable combination of support, comfort, and breathability for back sleepers, though it’s not quite as thick as I’d like, but it does have impressive eco features.

3. Simba Hybrid Pillow – Best Adjustable

Ah, the Simba Hybrid – it feels a bit long in the tooth now, but it’s still going strong and one of the best pillows around.

First and foremost, the Simba Hybrid Pillow’s adaptable firmness is one of its most appealing qualities here. Why? Becase you can adjust the firmness of the pillow to your preference by adding or removing the memory foam cubes – that Simba bizarrely call ‘nanocubes’. Silly name aside, it’s a clever idea that lets you customise your level of support and comfort.

Nowadays, a few other pillows have this feature, but Simba were the first to do it.

But here’s the catch: even with all of the cubes inside, if you like a fluffy cushion-like feeling, this might not be the best option for you. While it’s not firm, it’s definitely not one of those pillows that you sink into. Still, that’s the best type of pillow for back sleepers…

Let’s speak about how the Simba Hybrid Pillow controls your body temperature. You generally won’t have to worry about overheating on summer evenings because of the mineral-enriched fibres, ventilation strip, and fabric cover  – all of which in my testing showed promise. However, several reviewers and customers have mentioned that the pillow isn’t as cooling as they expenected, so for people who have trouble sleeping in hot bedrooms, this may help a little, but it may not be a game-changer.

But, let’s not ignore the Simba Hybrid Pillow’s eco-friendly features. It uses pollution-free foam and cotton grown by members of the Better Cotton Initiative. Therefore, if you value eco-friendly products, this is something you should think about, and all of Simba’s products are now B.Corp certified too.

The Simba Hybrid Pillow stands out from the crowd thanks to its adaptable support and environmentally friendly construction. Others have copied it, but it’s still the best adjustable pillow around, as long as you don’t mind the higher price.

Comparison: Top 3

Here’s my side-by-side comparison table of the above three pillows.

DreamCloud PillowPanda Bamboo PillowSimba Hybrid Pillow
? InteriorGel-Infused Memory FoamMemory FoamMemory Foam cubes
❄️ CoolingCooling Gel TechnologyBreathable Bamboo CoverVentilation Strip
?️ Temperature RegulationGel Foam for Cooler FeelNaturally BreathableOptimal Heat Dissipation
? Best ForFront & Back SleepersFront & Back SleepersCombination Sleepers
? Size Options (UK)Standard SizeStandard SizeStandard Size
? HighlightsCustomised SupportSoft & SustainableCustomised Support
? Price£99£44.95£81.75
⏰ Trial LengthN/A30 Nights30 Nights
? Warranty2 Years10 years2 Years

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Is back sleeping good or bad?

Overall, mostly good: back sleepers are known to experience better spinal alignment, which is considered a healthier sleeping position compared to side or stomach sleeping. However, even for back sleepers, it is essential to find a pillow with the right loft to avoid potential pressure points in the neck area.

While back sleeping offers benefits, individuals prone to acid reflux may find it more challenging to manage this condition in this position. To alleviate symptoms, it is recommended to have a light dinner or allow a sufficient time gap of at least four hours between eating and lying down.

Snoring tends to be more prevalent among back sleepers, especially for those with untreated sleep apnoea. To address this issue, back sleepers can try sleeping on a slight incline to facilitate easier breathing during the night, as just one example. The NHS website carries more information & tips.

So in summary, when searching for pillows suitable for back sleepers, specific considerations come into play… Striking a balance between a decent depth or height, which helps reduce snoring, and maintaining proper spinal alignment is really my crucial recommendation.

Related pillow reviews:

What should I look for?

When shopping for pillows as a back sleeper, it’s crucial to pay attention to specific features that can greatly impact your sleep experience. While pillow brands often advertise their products in a way that makes all pillows sound great, it’s essential to look past the hype and focus on what truly matters. Ultimately, many pillows are absolutely rubbish!

  • Rather than solely relying on manufacturer claims about comfort, it’s advisable to identify the key features that are important for back sleepers like you, and evaluate prospective pillows based on those factors. This approach allows you to make a more informed decision and select a pillow that truly meets your needs.
  • Consider features such as depth/height, which refers to the pillow’s thickness or sometimes it’s called ‘loft’. Back sleepers typically require a pillow with a moderate loft that provides adequate support to maintain proper spinal alignment. It’s important to find a balance between a pillow that is too thick, causing the head to tilt forward, and one that is too thin, leading to insufficient support.
  • Additionally, look for pillows that offer excellent neck support. Back sleepers need proper neck support to avoid strain and discomfort. Pillows with contoured designs or memory foam that molds to the shape of your head and neck can provide optimal support and alleviate pressure points.
  • Furthermore, consider the pillow’s material and breathability. Breathable fabrics and fillings, such as cooling gel-infused memory foam or Tencel™ covers, can help regulate temperature and prevent overheating during the night, ensuring a comfortable sleep environment.

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So do I need a firm or soft pillow?

Generally speaking, back sleepers typically benefit from a firmer pillow. The reason for this is it’s best at maintaining proper spinal alignment while also providing adequate support to the neck and head.

Confused? Think of a firm pillow for back sleepers as the sturdy foundation of a well-built bridge. Just like the solid pillars that support and align the bridge, a firm pillow maintains the natural curvature of the spine and offers steady support to the neck and head. It acts as the reliable backbone that keeps everything in balance, ensuring a smooth and stable journey throughout the night’s slumber.

A medium-firm to firm pillow helps prevent the head from sinking too deeply into the pillow, which can lead to an unnatural curvature of the spine and strain on the neck muscles. The pillow should be supportive enough to keep the head aligned with the rest of the body, promoting a neutral position.

But you also need to consider your body weight and size. In general, if you’re a heavier person who sleeps on your back, then you need to go for a firmer pillow. And the same is true for people with larger heads.

In both cases, a firmer pillow provide greater support and helps distribute the weight evenly, reducing the risk of the head sinking too deeply into the pillow.

How common is back sleeping?

Despite being one of the least popular sleeping positions, back sleeping is generally considered good for overall spinal alignment and reducing the risk of developing pain or pressure points.

Surprisingly only around 10-20% of people regularly sleep on their backs…! This is a shame because when you sleep on your back, your body weight is evenly distributed, and your spine can maintain a more natural and neutral position. This can help alleviate back, neck, and shoulder pain among other things.

However, sleeping on your back during pregnancy is not recommended, especially in the later stages. That;’s because the weight of the growing uterus can compress major blood vessels, including the vena cava, which can reduce blood flow to the baby and lead to complications. It may also cause discomfort for the pregnant woman, as the weight of the uterus can put pressure on the back and internal organs.

For pregnant women, sleeping on the side, particularly the left side, is generally advised – this position helps to improve blood circulation to the baby and organs and prevents the uterus from pressing on major blood vessels. It can also help reduce the risk of snoring and alleviate acid reflux, so do give it a go.

Verdict

When it comes to finding the perfect pillow, back sleepers need to consider a few important factors like support, thickness, and, of course, personal preferences. I know that isn’t easy if you can’t test the pillow yourself, so thankfully most of the options here have a sleep trial.

After diving deep into research and analysis, I’ve narrowed down the top contenders that will have your back (literally).

Honestly, everyone is different, and what works for one back sleeper might not work for another. So in short you need to consider factors like your body weight, the size of your head (yes, it matters), and of course, your personal preferences. Oh, and don’t forget to give your pillow some love by maintaining it properly and replacing it when needed.

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Edit History:

Our experts continually monitor the mattress & sleep tech space, and we update our reviews & articles when new information becomes available.

  • 13th January 2024
    Current Article - By Carrie Taylor
  • 21st February 2024
    Checked & Reviewed - By Morag Park, Ph.D.
  • 18th May 2023
    Copy Edited - By Carrie Taylor
  • 13th May 2024
    Reviewed - By Carrie Taylor

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