No matter how exhausted you might be after a long day, if you don’t have the best pillow for your sleep style, you probably won’t be getting the sweet shut-eye you crave. The best pillows are far from one size fits all, as we all have our own unique requirements and individual sleeping styles, and the wrong one could see your sleep becoming worse over time. “Anything that will make you more comfortable will improve the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep,” Dr. Lawrence Epstein, a sleep expert at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told Harvard Health Publishing.
To avoid this and start sleeping as soundly as you deserve, we’ve researched the best pillows on the market for stomach, side, back, and even combination sleepers to help you find a fit that’s right for you.
How to Choose a Pillow
The best pillow should work to support your sleep posture. Firm pillows which fully support the neck may work wonders for side sleepers, for instance, but do little to help stomach sleepers, who need a softer pillow to avoid pushing on the neck. Similarly, the best pillow for a stomach sleeper can exacerbate shoulder or back pain in side or back sleepers.
There are so many things that can get in the way of a full night of peaceful, undeterred rest, including, but not limited to, back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, sciatica, neck pain, allergies, and acid reflux, and each issue may require a different pillow choice. Below, we’ve come up with a handy general guide for what kind of pillow you’ll need based on the way you sleep.
- Best Pillows for Side Sleepers: This sleeping position makes up 70 percent of the population, according to a Consumer Reporters survey. Those that tend to snooze on their sides should look for a firm, thick pillow that’s roughly 4 inches deep for maximum comfort, as suggested by a 2015 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
- Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers: By contrast, front-facing sleepers will want to opt for a soft, squishy pillow that will help maintain their neck’s natural curve.
- Best Pillows for Back Sleepers: Like Goldilocks, back sleepers need a pillow that’s not too flat, so your neck’s not going too far back, and not too soft, but just right. “You want a pillow that’s a little firmer so the head’s not going back too far,” orthopedic surgeon Rocco Monto, MD, an orthopedic surgeon told Health in January 2019.
- Best Pillows for Combination Sleepers: Since you’ll likely be changing positions throughout the night, you’ll need a highly adaptable pillow, or one with both firm and soft sections, to suit your varying needs as you move about.
Once you’ve identified the right shape and level of support for your particular needs, other factors, such as allergy-free fill, size, fabric, and more, can be taken into consideration.
We can happily confirm that finding one of the best pillows that are made for your particular needs can make a massive difference, leaving you waking up feeling more refreshed than ever before. Keep scrolling for FIRST’s picks for the best pillow for your sleep style.
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The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
The most common issues side sleepers suffer from are neck and shoulder pain. If the pillow is too soft or flat, the neck can get crooked, and a lot of pressure can be put on the shoulder. Thankfully, we’ve found the best firm pillows that are tailor-made for side sleepers.
1. Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Neck Pain — Royal Therapy Memory Foam Pillow
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers With Neck Pain — Royal Therapy Memory Foam Pillow
Where to buy: $43.99 (Originally $49.95), Amazon
Fed up with waking up with a stiff neck? Then Amazon’s choice for the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain, aka the Royal Therapy memory foam adjustable orthopedic contour pillow, will be your new best friend. Providing incredible support for the neck, upper back, and shoulders, this pillow has three separate foam sections which you can remove or add to to suit your firming needs. They'll be no more sneezing either, thanks to its hypoallergenic construction.
“The effects on our necks were instantaneous,” wrote one reviewer who, along with her husband, experienced daily neck pain upon waking up every morning. “Imagine not waking up feeling like your neck was all messed up just after one day!”
2. Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain — Duro-Med Body Pillow with Contoured Support
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain — Duro-Med DMI Body Pillow
Where to buy: $19.99 (Originally $51.59) Amazon
One dilemma all side sleepers face is not knowing what to do with that bottom arm when sleeping. Consequently, waking up with a numb or even painful arm and shoulder is a common occurrence for this sleep style. The Duro-Med DMI body pillow with contoured support has a special nook that your shoulder fits into while keeping your head comfortable and elevated, alleviating pressure from the shoulder and neck.
One customer, a side sleeper with an old shoulder injury, wrote, “I was having problems sleeping on a regular pillow because I would wake up with shoulder and arm pain, even numbness in my right hand. … After using [this pillow] for a month I’m impressed with how much better I feel. It keeps your head in the right position to reduce pressure on your neck and shoulder.”
3. Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Acid Reflux — Avana Contoured Bed Wedge Support Pillow
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Acid Reflux — Avana Contoured Bed Wedge Support Pillow
Where to buy: $99.00, Amazon
Anyone who suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or acid reflux disease, which typically presents as heartburn, knows the trials and tribulations of trying to catch those quality zzzs. Doctors recommend that patients with GERD sleep on a wedge-shaped pillow that keeps you partially upright. That’s all well and good if the patient is a back sleeper, but what about side-sleeping sufferers?
Enter the Avana contoured bed wedge support pillow. Designed with amazing ergonomic contouring that was specially created for side sleepers, this find will make sure you're propped slightly upright, keeping acid reflux at bay, all the while providing support to the whole of the side of the body. “It has basically cured my acid reflux,” one happy buyer reported.
4. Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Sciatica — Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Knee Pillow
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Sciatica — Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Where to buy: $22.90 (Originally $34.95), Amazon
Another rife problem among side sleepers is hip pain and sciatica. Sleeping for hours on one’s side can cause immense strain on the pelvic and hip bones. The Everlasting Comfort memory foam knee pillow is a must for any side sleeper who regularly wakes up with sore hips.
When placed in between the knees, the ergonomic orthopedic contour of this pillow keeps the knees separated and the legs, hips, and spine aligned, providing relief from pelvic girdle pain, hip pain, and lower back and lumbar issues. One of its many five-star reviews reads, “This pillow somehow seems to have realigned my hips and knees in such a way that when I get out of bed in the morning I can actually walk!”
The Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
The Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
The most common issues that stomach sleepers have is finding a soft enough pillow that won’t give them a massive crick in the neck. Alternately, if the pillow is too soft, their faces can sink into it causing sleep apnea. Our picks for the best pillows for stomach sleepers solve all these issues.
5. Best Cooling Pillow for Stomach Sleepers — Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Max Cool Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Best Cooling Pillow for Stomach Sleepers — Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Max Cool Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Where to buy: $46.95, Amazon
The Bluewave Bedding ultra slim cool gel pillow kills two problems that stomach sleepers face with one stone — or one pillow, if you will! For one, its thin design makes sure the neck is straight, reducing pain, and even snoring. Secondly, its cooling properties will help you maintain just the right temperature so you never get hot, even if you like to nestle your face into the pillow as you sleep.
“I’m obsessed with needing a cool surface to sleep on and this pillow made the constant flipping the pillow around and trying to find a cool spot a distant memory," explained one satisfied buyer.
6. Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers with Neck pain — Coisum Belly Sleeper Pillow
Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers With Neck Pain — Coisum
Where to buy: $49.99, Amazon
Amazon’s choice for the best pillow for stomach sleepers who suffer from neck pain is the squishy orthopedic and ergonomic number known as the Coisum belly sleeper pillow. Not only does this headrest have convenient cutouts around the edge which allow you to wrap your arms around it for ultimate comfort, there is a higher and a lower side, so you can just flip the pillow over if it feels too hard to keep your neck in line.
“It’s soft but supportive, [and] soooo comfortable,” one review read. “I woke up with less neck and back pain after using it."
“Exactly what my neck needed,” raved another.
7. Best Adjustable Pillow for Stomach Sleepers — Brookstone BioSense Layer Adjust Foam Pillow
Best Adjustable Pillow for Stomach Sleepers — Brookstone BioSense
Where to buy: $59.99, Bed Bath & Beyond
It’s futile to expect that every pillow for a certain sleeping style will suit you down to a T, since we're all different shapes and sizes, but the Brookstone BioSense features three removable and interchangeable inserts — each with a different level of softness — that bring it pretty close to the perfect, lower-than-average pillow height for you belly sleepers.
“I love how customizable this pillow is,” one happy shopper wrote. “I love something soft yet with support… My first time using it I slept like a baby… It makes a huge difference in the quality of your sleep!”
The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers
The Best Pillows for Back Sleepers
The best pillows for back sleepers need to have specialized density and shape in order to avoid creating — or worsening — back and neck pain. If the pillow doesn’t provide adequate support, apnea, snoring, and stiff neck can become problematic. Read on for three of the best pillows for back sleepers.
8. Best Pillow for Back Sleepers with Sleep Apnea — Contour Products CPAPMax 2.0 Pillow
Best Pillow for Back Sleepers with Sleep Apnea — Contour Products CPAPMax 2.0 Pillow
Where to buy: $59.95, Amazon
If anyone has the need for a specialized sleep pillow, it’s those who use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines for sleep apnea. Without the right head support, the machine can come off, leak, make too much noise, and even stop working. This Contour Products CPAPMax pillow has ergonomic mask cutouts to eliminate interference and three-layer adjustable construction, so you can create the ideal pillow height for you.
This pillow is plush, hypoallergenic, and has a concave center portion that provides excellent head support for back sleepers with this condition. “Since starting CPAP, I have had months of waking up with severe aerophagia [a condition marked by excessive air swallowing],” explains one reviewer who sleeps on her back. “Not only does [this pillow] increase mask comfort and stop air leaks, it cures aerophagia!”
9. Best Pillow for Back Sleepers with Neck Pain — EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow
Best Pillow for Back Sleepers With Neck Pain — EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow
Where to buy: $43.99, Amazon
The luxurious EPABO contour memory foam pillow is like a firm caress for your neck. Amazon’s choice for best pillow for neck pain, its orthopedic and ergonomic memory foam construction provides therapeutic relief from aches and pains in the area. What’s more, it’s breathable and hypoallergenic.
“The first night I used it, I slept through the night for the first time in I don’t know how long, and woke up with zero neck pain," we read in one of the more than 2,000 reviews. “This is worth every penny.”
10. Best Pillow for Back Sleepers with Acid Reflux — AllSett Health Bed Wedge Pillow
Best Pillow for Back Sleepers Who Snore — AllSett Health Bed Wedge
Where to buy: $59.99, Amazon
A bed wedge pillow is one of the best ways to eliminate snoring by supporting your upper back and shoulders, which in turn can help keep your airways open. The AllSett Health bed wedge is an No. 1 Amazon best-seller in this category for good reason. With a whopping seven different adjustable positions — including low incline, high incline, long incline, and sitting — a more supported posture is practically guaranteed.
One purchaser noted that it got the job done for her, writing, "[This pillow] has helped reduce my snoring."
11. The Best Pillow for Combination Sleepers — Coop Home Goods Premium Pillow
The Best Pillow for Combination Sleepers — Coop Home Goods Premium Pillow
Where to buy: $59.99, Amazon
It may be that your sleeping style is a little of this and a little of that. If you’re a combination sleeper, not to fret: We have the ultimate pillow for you, too! Ladies and gents, allow us to introduce you to the Coop Home Goods premium adjustable loft pillow. Its novel design allows you to add and remove filling as you see fit, meaning you'll be able to stay comfortable no matter which position you find yourself in.
With more than 17,000+ reviews on Amazon, this pillow is one of the most cozy, hypoallergenic options on the market. “The pillow supports whatever sleeping position I choose all through the night,” wrote one reviewer. And another shared, “I got the best night sleep I have had in years."