The Best Pillows for Back Pain Relief in 2023
Jun 29th, 2023 •
Dealing with back pain, especially while you’re trying to get a comfortable night’s rest, can be a pain. But it doesn’t have to be.
With the right sleeping setup that supports your spine, you can say goodbye to nights with back pain and wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested. Sleeping on a mattress for back pain relief and using a pillow that supports proper spinal alignment are key.
In this guide, we’ll share our top picks for the best pillows for back pain relief and then fill you in on everything you need to know when shopping.
Best Pillows for Back Pain Relief
- Best Overall – Saatva Latex Pillow
- Best Cooling Pillow – Lagoon Fox Pillow
- Best for Side Sleepers With Back Pain – Eli and Elm Cotton Side Sleeper Pillow
- Best for Stomach Sleepers With Back Pain – Brooklyn Bedding Cooling Memory Foam Pillow
- Best for Back Sleepers With Back Pain – Coop Sleep Goods Eden Pillow
- Best Memory Foam Pillow for Back Pain – Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Pillow
Best Overall Pillow for Back Pain
Saatva’s pillow has a three-layer construction that sandwiches a latex core inside a luxurious, high-thread count pillowcase and down alternative inner pillow. It’s an excellent choice for those suffering from back pain due to its ability to keep your neck supported and spine in a neutral position while you slumber. It also provides excellent pressure relief, particularly through the back.
The pillow is somewhat adjustable due to its removable core; if you want the pillow to be softer and less elevated, you can take out the central latex layer. No matter how you sleep on it, the pillow feels comfortable, supportive, and breathable—with a nice level of responsive bounce that makes it easy to reposition your head.
Best Cooling Pillow for Back Pain
To maintain ideal alignment of your neck and spine, you can dial in the amount of support you want from the Fox pillow by adding or removing handfuls of its CertiPUR-US Certified shredded memory foam. This allows you to get just the right amount of comfort and support for all body types, whether you’re sleeping on your side, back, or stomach.
The pillow is built with breathable, cooling materials like gel-infused foam, so it sleeps much cooler than traditional memory foam. It also includes eco-friendly, sustainable materials like bamboo and high-quality poly fibers that are designed to hold up for years to come.
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers With Back Pain
Not only is this pillow well-suited to side sleepers, but it was designed exclusively with them in mind. The pillow has a longer length with a cutout designed to contour to your shoulder, so when you rest on your side you get the optimal amount of support and alignment. It also has a customizable fill to further tweak your neck and spine alignment—just remove fill until you find your neutral position and preferred loft.
Inside the pillow, high-quality and organic latex and cotton materials help support a cool, breathable, and comfy sleep experience. The only downside to this pillow? You’ll have to buy a custom pillowcase for it or add on one at purchase.
Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers With Back Pain
Stomach sleepers need a low-lofted pillow that won’t throw their necks out of alignment. This memory foam pillow from Brooklyn Bedding is a solid option because it comes in two heights—high and low—so you can get the best one to suit your sleep position.
The pillow is made from copper-infused gel memory foam with a cotton-polyester blend cover that sleeps cool. It does an excellent job at supporting your spine and neck while you sleep, and provides solid pressure relief in the form of contouring memory foam. It’s also a very responsive pillow, so you should have no problems repositioning throughout the night to get your comfiest sleep.
Best Pillow for Back Sleepers With Back Pain
The Eden is another customizable pillow that allows you to calibrate the fill level by adding or removing its shredded foam fill. It even comes with a ½ pound of extra fill, so you can make it firmer and more elevated than its baseline, if you choose. This allows you to find a good height that keeps your spine aligned and your neck supported, regardless of your sleep position.
Back sleepers often prefer a medium level of loft, but this can vary—if you’re a back sleeper who prefers a lower, softer pillow, you can remove fill; if you’d like it to be firmer and higher, you can add it. The Eden sleeps cool due to its use of gel-infused memory foam and a soft bamboo and polyester cover.
Best Memory Foam
In our testing we found that the Tempur-Cloud’s soft firmness and slim profile is ideal for back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and combination sleepers. Because the Tempur-Cloud’s proprietary Tempur memory foam molds to fit your head and neck, it supplies just the right amount of pressure relief and adaptive support, so you won’t experience any further tension—and might even feel your current pain start to subside.
For those who have problems finding a pillow that’s not so tall it wrenches your neck out of alignment, this is a good buy—the pillow has a low height and compresses down easily but doesn’t disappear entirely the way some down pillows seem to. It feels soft and forgiving, without sacrificing support.
Why Buy a Pillow for Back Pain?
Back pain, whether it’s caused by work, poor spinal alignment, or pregnancy, is a very common occurrence. But that doesn’t mean you have to just “power through” it. There are ways to reduce your back pain, and one of the most cost-effective methods is with a pain-relieving pillow. The right pillow can provide better spinal alignment, support areas in pain, and support various muscles to help prevent pain from starting in the first place.
Work and Injury
Back pain can compromise your quality of life. Not only is the pain hard to handle, but it interferes with sleep which can leave you tired, grumpy, and less focused during the day. Back pain is a common reason people miss work and a leading cause of disability world-wide.
Sitting for prolonged periods, which many modern jobs require, is a leading cause of back pain. Stomach muscles can become slack, and they are important for supporting the back. This can further affect posture and can lead to poor sleeping positions if not balanced with stretching and exercise.
Poor Spinal Alignment
Sleep and back pain are also intimately intertwined. Your posture and alignment while you sleep is equally as important as when you’re awake. Sleeping with good alignment takes painful pressure off of your back and allows the muscles around it to relax as they are not strained.
Proper alignment starts at your neck and works its way down to the base of your spine. If your back pain troubles are due to poor alignment, chances are you are also dealing with neck pain. A proper pillow keeps your neck supported, instantly improving spinal alignment.
Related: Best pillows for neck pain
Pregnant women often suffer from back pain as their body grows and changes to accommodate new life. Though back sleeping is regarded as the best position for back pain relief, it is highly recommended that pregnant women sleep on their side. The best way to get comfortable and relieve some of that back pain and discomfort is to use a pregnancy pillow.
How to Find the Best Pillow for Back Pain
How can you pick a pillow that is right for you when there are so many to choose from? Think about the following.
Type of Pillow
The type of pillow you need often depends on your sleep position and if you have back pain throughout the day. Do you want a regular head pillow, a wedge pillow, a body pillow, a contour pillow, or a knee pillow? When it comes to fill here are some of the best options:
- Memory foam pillow: Memory foam relieves pressure and contours to your body, providing excellent support. Shredded foam pillows allow you to adjust the loft, making them great for all sleep positions.
- Feather pillow: Feather pillows are known for being firm and lofty, making them a great option for side sleepers with back pain.
- Latex pillow: Latex is pain relieving like memory foam but is naturally cooling. Latex pillows also provide even head support.
- Buckwheat pillow: Buckwheat fill is a natural option for those who want an organic pillow for back pain because they are adjustable and hypoallergenic, allowing them to be compatible for all types of sleepers.
Side sleepers with back pain should try a good support pillow for the head and neck. The pillow should be rather lofty, so the neck is in line with the spine. A knee support pillow, like the ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow will also help with back pain.
Back sleepers with low back pain should consider a pillow under the knees like the BeautifulLife – Half Moon Bolster Knee Pillow. If you have upper back pain that goes along your shoulder and into your neck, chances are you are also a back sleeper with neck pain, which is may be due to using the wrong pillow. Check out our best pillows for back sleepers guide to explore your options.
Stomach sleepers with back problems should avoid sleeping on their stomach altogether as it can exacerbate the problem.
Your weight affects how much you sink into your mattress and the distance between your neck and head and the bed. Heavier people generally sink further into the mattress and can benefit from a lower loft pillow, whereas light weight individuals float more on the surface of the bed and have a larger gap that needs a higher loft.
How firm your mattress is and how much you sink into it affects spinal alignment and the loft (height) of the pillow that will work best for you. You may just need a new mattress. But where to begin?
The answers to these questions can point you in the right direction. There is an interplay between your weight, your sleep position, your mattress firmness, and the kind of pillow you need to keep your spine aligned and prevent back pain. If you are heavy, and sink into your soft mattress, there may be little room for loft and a low loft pillow may be best. If you are slight and sleep on a firm mattress you may have more distance between you and the bed necessitating a higher loft pillow. Sleep position adds a variable to this equation as well.
Check the chart below for some examples of how this might work. This is not a comprehensive list and there are many different possibilities not listed.
|If Your Body Weight is:||And Your Sleep Position is:||And Your Mattress is:||Choose a Pillow Loft That is:|
|Under 130 lbs.||Stomach sleeper||Soft||Low: under 3 inches|
|130 to 230 lbs.||Back or side sleeper||Medium||Medium: 3-5 inches|
|Over 230 lbs.||Side sleeper||Firm||High: over 5 inches|
What do you want to spend? You can find back support pillows or good supportive bed pillows from $20-$200 or more. Set a price range before you go looking and use this as part of your guide.
What Else Helps with Chronic Back Pain?
In addition to the support that pillows offer, there are a number of things that can help alleviate back pain. Top recommendations include:
- Change your sleeping position: Sleeping on your stomach can cause increased back pain, so to wake up feeling better, you may want to try sleeping on your side or on your back.
- Don’t sit for a prolonged period of time: Prolonged sitting strains the back muscles and weakens the stomach muscles, leading to increased back pain. Try to get up and move around every 45 minutes or so.
- Stretch or do yoga: Stretching and yoga both help increase the flexibility and strength of your muscles, which can help alleviate back pain.
- Alternate applying heat and ice: Ice helps reduce inflammation while heat helps soothe and relax aching muscles, so they can both be a huge help in reducing back pain.
- Get a massage: If it works with your budget, deep-tissue massage can go a long way in reducing back pain.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can reduce inflammation and help ease back pain.
Compare the best pillows for back pain below:
|Pillow||Material/Type||Best for||Customer Rating|
|Saatva Latex Pillow||Cotton blend cover with a latex core inside||Best Overall Pillow for Back Pain||4.8/5|
|Lagoon Fox Pillow||Bamboo/polyester blend cover with shredded memory foam inside||Best Cooling Pillow for Back Pain||4.7/5|
|Eli and Elm Cotton Side Sleeper Pillow||Cotton and polyester cover with latex and polyester inside||Best Pillow for Side Sleepers With Back Pain||4.3/5|
|Brooklyn Bedding Cooling Memory Foam Pillow||Knit cover with memory foam inside||Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers With Back Pain||4.5/5|
|Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow||Polyester cover with memory foam and micro-fiber fill||Best Pillow for Back Sleepers With Back Pain||4.7/5|
|Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Pillow||Polyester knit cover with memory foam inside||Best Memory Foam Pillow for Back Pain||4.5/5|
What is the best pillow for back pain? The one that works for you. There are many great pillows that really can offer relief. The goal of this article is to introduce you to some of the best pillows for back pain and to give you an idea of how to choose one. Think about your weight, your sleep position, and your mattress firmness to help determine the pillow loft that will best keep your spine in alignment.
Consider other kinds of back support pillows for driving or at the office. For side sleepers a knee pillow can be just the ticket to move your back into a pain-free zone. Think about other things you can go to help your back like stretching or losing weight. Don’t just live with back pain, get a support pillow and get on the road to feeling better.
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