The Best Pillows for Every Sleeping Position
Your pillow needs can fluctuate based on how you like to sleep. What's more, professionals say that a certain degree of personalization is key—that means the best pillow for you might not be the ideal fit for your partner and vice versa. "When it comes to quality sleep, your pillow is ultra-important," explains Dr. Kien Vuu. "They play an important role in maintaining proper spinal alignment, so it's critical to understand how your sleep position informs which pillow is best for you."
For example, back sleepers generally get a better night's sleep with a pillow that offers soft to medium support, while those who prefer to sleep on their stomachs may feel more comfortable throughout the night when they use a softer pillow. As for side sleepers? They will benefit from a medium to firm iteration (as well as the occasional extra for pelvic support). Ahead, a few of our favorite pillows to help you tailor your sleep environment.
- Gel Pillow for Combination Sleepers: Ella Jayne Overstuffed Plus Gel Pillow
- Extra-Firm Pillow for Back Sleepers: Beautyrest Extra-Firm Pillow
- Medium Support Pillow for Back Sleepers: James Hotel Quality Polyester Pillows
- Contoured Face Pillow for Stomach Sleepers: Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow
- Memory Foam Pillow for Side Sleepers: Sealy Molded Memory Foam Pillow
Combo Sleepers: Shredded Foam Pillow
If you prefer an adjustable pillow that can meet a slew of needs, try this shredded foam-filled iteration. "I personally like shredded foam pillows since they can be adjusted for any sleep position. The Sleep Artisan brand has great designs for all sleepers," says Dr. Kien Vuu. Best of all, you can raise or lower the built-in loft so you can customize your head position; simply remove any excess fill until you reach your desired height.
Shop Now: Sleep Artisan Encore Pillows, $84.99, sleepartisan.com.
Combo Sleepers: Memory Foam Pillow
If you toss and turn—switching from one sleeping position to the next—or run hot, you will benefit from a breathable, high-stretch performance-fabric pillow like this one from Tempur-Adapt. The cooling fabrics are soothing and the medium support fill offers comfort to combination sleepers.
Shop Now: Tempur-Adapt ProMid + Cooling Memory Foam Pillow, $189, homedepot.com.
Combo Sleepers: Adjustable Foam Pillow
Not sure about your preferred sleep position? Try this adjustable foam cluster pillow, which allows you to customize the fill level until you find the one that clicks.
Shop Now: Great Sleep Foam Cluster Cuddle Pillow, $70, macys.com.
Back Sleepers: Extra-Firm Pillow
According to Dr. Vuu, back sleepers make up approximately 10 percent the population. A common concern? Neck stiffness. The likely culprit? A lackluster pillow. "It's important to have a pillow that amply supports your neck and head," he explains. Firm to extra-firm options, like this one from Beautyrest, will help.
Shop Now: Beautyrest Extra-Firm Pillow, $31, amazon.com.
Back Sleepers: Medium Support Pillow
Not too soft, but not too firm—this medium support pillow is just right for people who prefer an option with mid-level support. Back sleepers will appreciate the way this pillow cradles the head.
Shop Now: James Hotel Quality Polyester Pillows, $31.99, wayfair.com.
Back Sleepers: Wedge Memory Foam Pillow
If you are most comfortable sleeping on your back, but can no longer do so due to digestive issues like heartburn and acid reflux, consider a wedge-shaped pillow. The subtle slope offers support all the way down to your mid-back, which can also alleviate pain and reduce snoring.
Shop Now: Hastings Home Wedge Pillow, $31.66, lowes.com.
Stomach Sleepers: Soft Support Pillow
Do you prefer to rest on your stomach? If so, you fall into a category of just 16 percent of all sleepers, notes Dr. Vuu. "The best pillows for stomach sleepers are down or down alternative because they are especially soft," he says, noting that they offer gentle face support. That's exactly why we like this classic feather-down iteration; the cover is made from 100-percent cotton, while the filling is composed of genuine feathers.
Shop Now: Pottery Barn Classic Feather-Down Pillow, $79, potterybarn.com.
Stomach Sleepers: Contoured Memory Foam Pillow
Dr. Vuu advises stomach sleepers to note how high a pillow raises their head: "In general, stomach sleepers should aim for the head to be no more than an inch or so off the mattress." Sleep soundly (and more comfortably) on your stomach with this cervical memory foam pillow by Elviros. The contoured pillow offers additional shoulder and neck support—while providing that one-inch lift—by allowing you to tuck your arms underneath your head without applying additional pressure to them while you sleep.
Shop Now: Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow, $49.99, amazon.com.
Side Sleepers: Memory Foam Pillow
"Side sleepers make up about 74 percent of all sleepers—this is the most common type," continues Dr. Vuu. "Side sleeping can cause pressure on your joints and back, so it's especially important to choose the right pillow." He recommends "firmer memory foam" options, like this one from Sealy. The molded composition offers relief from those aches and pains that can result from slumbering on too-soft pillows; this keeps your head straight and your spine in proper alignment as you rest.
Shop Now: Sealy Molded Memory Foam Pillow, $38.42, amazon.com.
Side Sleepers: Knee Pillow
Those who prefer to side sleep don't just need head and neck support—their knees need attention, too. This contoured pillow, which should be placed between your legs, keeps your pelvis aligned and prevents your knees from resting uncomfortably together.
Shop Now: Sleep Philosophy Standard Knee Pillow, $46, macys.com.