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Everyone dreams of the ultimate fluffy pillow, but you know as a stomach sleeper that fluff equals pain. When you wake up with a nasty crick in your neck because you’ve slept all night with your head at a weird angle, it might be time for a new pillow. Stomach sleepers have very specific needs when it comes to a pillow, so asking your friends or family for recommendations may backfire.

Here’s the thing. You know that bigger loft isn’t going to work out in your favor, but does that mean you need to sleep as flat as possible? Is flatter always better? We’ve answered that and a few other questions you may have about how to choose the right pillow. We’ve also put together a list of our top five best pillows for stomach sleepers, so you can make your best decision. Let’s take a look.

What Makes A Stomach Sleeper Pillow Different?

Stomach sleepers have a unique set of needs centered around the neck and upper shoulders. Mattresses should be very firm to prevent the spine from overextending, but what about the pillow?

Pillows with too much loft and thickness force your head to sleep at an angle to your body. This may not be a big deal in the beginning, but night after night as your spine lays curved at a strange angle, you may notice that pain develops in your neck and upper shoulder area.

Sleeping on a lofty pillow with little support isn’t going to work either. You’ll struggle to find a position that doesn’t interfere with your breathing, causing you to toss and turn all night (and your sleep quality to plummet.

If you go the opposite direction and get a completely flat pillow, that isn’t going to work either. It’s going to force your head into the opposite position by laying too far to the side (almost in line with your shoulder) and straining the muscles that connect your neck to your upper shoulders.

The ideal pillow is one without much loft or thickness, but not too flat. It should fit nicely in the space between your neck and shoulder and allow your head to sink into a good position. Your spine stays aligned from your neck to your upper back, and your breathing is unimpeded.

What Does Loft Mean?

Loft is how fluffy the pillow actually is. You’re probably aware of the different sizes of pillow, but you also have to consider the loft.

Low loft pillows measure about three or so inches thick and sometimes less. Medium loft can be anywhere from three to five inches thick. High loft is more than five inches.

Measure five inches. Now imagine that your head is pushed back about that much, and you’ll begin to understand why you have pain in the morning with such a thick pillow. It might be perfect for a side sleeper, but your spine is going to suffer.

Stomach sleepers are looking at low loft pillows. Medium could work provided the pillow is highly breathable, and you’re able to find a position that doesn’t interfere with your respiratory system. Low loft pillows won’t put as much material and filling directly into your face.

What If I Have Back Pain?

If you have back pain, you may need an adjustable pillow. This gives you the freedom to get exactly the right amount of support so that your head is in the correct position. Most likely, your medical practitioner is encouraging you to sleep on your back, so an adjustable pillow allows you to customize the support as you make that change.

If you don’t have an adjustable pillow, many lower loft pillows can transition from stomach sleeping to back sleeping. You might stack two pillows on top of each other to give you a bit more height if you find that your low loft pillow doesn’t provide enough support once you switch positions.

What If I Have Allergies?

Allergies are a big question. You’re sleeping with your face directly into the pillow on your stomach, so respiratory allergies can be a bit worse.

Latex and memory foam are bedbug and dust mite resistant, and they’re also antimicrobial. Memory foam may produce off-gassing that gives you trouble, so look for the CertiPur label at the very least. That certification means the pillow produces minimal amounts of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that are likely to irritate your allergies.

Other specifications could include organic cotton materials, or other natural, organic materials. Organic means the cover materials weren’t grown with pesticides or produced with synthetic chemicals. These can also irritate sensitive allergies and make for a rough night of sleep.

What Kind Of Fill Material Is Best?

Different fill materials produce different results. Memory foam tends to be the most comfortable option because there isn’t much loft to interfere with breathing. It molds to your head and neck well without forcing your spine to curve.

Other types of fills are suitable if they make the pillow moldable. It’s essential for stomach sleepers to be able to mold their pillows to fit into the curve of their necks. This helps the head get into the correct position and keeps the pillow materials from getting bunched up around the face.

A Note About Cost

Investing in a pillow may hurt, especially if you’ve just upgraded your mattress and your wallet looks lonely. However, investing in a pillow is pretty crucial for your health and wellbeing, especially if you’re a stomach sleeper.

Your firm mattress isn’t going to do you much good if your terrible pillow keeps putting a massive crick in your neck. Your body doesn’t work independently. Pain usually has a holistic cause, so proper alignment in your lower back isn’t going to stay that way if your neck isn’t straight.

Investing in the pillow should give you at least three to five good years of proper alignment, which may lead to more pain-free nights. It could also help relieve your allergies. Bargain shopping your pillow is going to cost you in the long run, especially if it translates to more doctor’s or chiropractor’s visits, or more pain medication just to get through the day.

Do yourself a favor. Invest in your health.

The List

And now for our favorite pillows for stomach sleepers. Let’s take a look.

Muse – Our Top Pick

Muse produces excellent mattresses that allow you to choose your unique firmness level. Their pillow isn’t any different. It uses the same types of materials that make the Muse bed so great, and the pillow comes in four different lofts.

We like the ultra-low loft if you’re exclusively a stomach sleeper. It’s under four inches total, but the clustered memory foam on top provides just the right amount of sink. Underneath is a dense layer of memory foam that supports your head and neck, keeping your nose out of the materials.

The cover materials are Muse’s cold-wire plus fabric. This material wicks heat away from your head, so you don’t have to keep flipping your pillow looking for a cool spot. You find a comfortable position more efficiently, and you stay there instead of tossing and turning.

If you’re transitioning to back sleeping because of back pain, or you’re a combination sleeper who doesn’t always sleep on your stomach, you might consider the low loft pillow. It’s five inches of loft, but it scrunches up easily when you’re stomach sleeping. It gives you a lot of rebound so as you move around, it moves with you.

Your pillow comes in plastic in a box, but there isn’t a need to compress it the way your mattress is compressed. You won’t have to wait for it to inflate before use. It may have a small odor, but this should dissipate quickly.

You get 120 nights to try out the pillow to decide if it’s the right one for you. We recommend using the pillow for a few weeks to see if it’s going to work out because your body needs time to adjust.

You’re covered by a three-year warranty against defects. Make sure you’re using the pillow for its intended purpose (of course), so you don’t void the warranty accidentally.

Shipping is free and happens fairly quickly.

Puffy – Runner-Up

Puffy’s pillow also uses the same types of materials that are found in their mattresses. Puffy uses a memory foam filling that conforms to the shape of your head and neck for better spine alignment.

The cover materials are a blend of bamboo rayon. It stays cool to the touch and is hypoallergenic. These materials zip off for two reasons. First, you can throw them in the wash to sanitize them. Second, you can add or remove layers to customize your loft specifically for your sleeping position. If you’re attempting to transition to a different sleep position permanently, this is good news.

The inner materials are CertiPur-US certified. They use no formaldehyde, mercury, or lead, and produce few VOCs. THere are no phthalates present either. The pillow is dust mite resistant and completely hypoallergenic.

You have 101 nights to try your new pillow out. It comes to your house wrapped in plastic but not compressed, so you don’t need to worry about it inflating again. Try to sleep on the pillow for at least a few weeks, so you have time to adjust.

You’re covered by a three-year warranty against pillow defects, so be sure you keep your receipt and use the pillow only for its intended purpose.

Honorable Mention

If you fall into a few of these other categories, you may want to consider one of these pillows instead.

Sleephi Collection Microfiber Pillow – Best For Back Pain

Sleephi’s pillow is a unique cushion shaped pillow that helps keep your head in exactly the right position to alleviate back pain. It’s dipped in the middle with more loft on the sides. It’s best if you sleep exclusively on your stomach without changing to different positions throughout the night.

It’s a down alternative, which should be good for those of you with allergies or sensitivities to down. It gives support without bending your neck as you sleep. The microfiber cover materials are soft and easily spot cleanable.

The convex shape prevents your neck from overextending due to your sleep position. As you sleep, your chin can fall into a more natural position, instead of straight out to the side. It discourages tossing and turning, which should help you sleep a bit better.

Give your body time to adjust to the new pillow before deciding if you want to return it. The strange shape of the pillow may take you some time to get used to. Contact the seller directly to find out about different warranty information for your pillow, especially if you’re purchasing on Amazon.

The pillow arrives uncompressed, so you shouldn’t have to wait for it to inflate before using it.

Classic Brands Embrace Firm Latex Pillow – Best For Heavier People

If you’re heavier than average, your weight can cause pain. Even your pillow can be over compressed by extra weight, so it’s vital that you find one that won’t collapse underneath you. The Classic Brands Embrace Firm is a latex pillow that will keep its shape and provide the proper support for your head and neck.

It’s a slightly higher loft, which should give you more clearance for broader shoulders and stomach areas. It sleeps very cool due to the ventilated latex, a highly breathable material that forces air through pockets as you move through the night. If you’re more than 230 pounds, latex will hold its shape well, and you shouldn’t get any abnormal dips in the pillow.

The pillow is sold exclusively through third-party distributors (including Amazon), so you’ll need to check with your seller for things like a sleep trial and warranty information. Try to find one with at least a one to three-year warranty, so you’re covered. If you can find a sleep trial for at least 30 days, this should give you a good idea if the pillow is going to work out for you.

Latex pillows usually are very cumbersome, but this aerated latex is lighter weight. If you move or adjust your pillow throughout the night, it won’t be such a task.

Bear Pillow – Best For Combination Sleepers

So, you sleep on your stomach but not all the time? Bear’s cooling pillow is a medium loft pillow that should adapt to whatever your sleep position happens to be. It’s layered with fabric that stays cool to the touch regardless of your natural body temperature, wicking heat and moisture away from your head. Side panels of mesh encourage better airflow throughout. No more tossing and turning.

It has a washable, removable cover. The entire pillow is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. Loft-X memory foam is also dust mite resistant. It’s very moldable, so if you like to cuddle your pillow, or adjust it around your neck, you can do that easily. The odor of the pillow is low, and the pillow arrives at your house wrapped in plastic but not compressed.

This moldable feature means that when you switch to a different position, you can change the pillow to mold around your neck and shoulders, so your spine is always aligned. It fits in well moving from stomach position to another position without you having to worry about losing the support that you need for each position.

You have 100 nights to try the mattress out in your home before deciding if you’d rather something different. Give it at least a few weeks before you decide to do something else because your body will need time to adjust.

The pillow has a two-year warranty to protect against defects. Make sure you use your pillow only for its intended purpose, so you don’t accidentally void the warranty.

Final Thoughts

Your pillow is a vital part of your sleep routine. If you’ve upgraded your mattress and you haven’t given any thought to your pillow, it will need some consideration. Your pillow is the final part of keeping your spine aligned and your shoulders decompressed. Otherwise, you might continue to wake up with pain that you weren’t expecting.

Stomach sleepers have unique needs because your head only moves so far. If your pillow has too much loft, it can cause your head to move too far back and stress those muscle groups in your upper shoulders. Without any support, your head can move too far to the side, putting a strain on the ligaments in your neck and upper shoulders. You guessed it. More pain.

Consider as well if you have any allergies that might get worse with your nose and face so close to pillow materials. The loft shouldn’t block your nose, and you should look for hypoallergenic where ever possible. If you can balance your allergies with your support needs, you should be able to find precisely the right pillow for you.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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