Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on April 19, 2020

Most people have a favorite sleep position, and maybe yours is sleeping on your stomach. That’s the preference of about 1 out of 14 people, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The good news is that stomach sleepers don’t tend to snore. Unfortunately, stomach sleeping can stress your back and neck, particularly if you aren’t using the right pillow strategy. Here’s how to find the best stomach-sleeper support.

Go for Soft

For stomach sleepers, a pillow that’s too firm can force your neck back, which can contribute to neck pain. A softer, thinner pillow may be better for spinal alignment and general comfort. (It may also help to put a flat pillow under the hips.)

Check the Fill

Pillow fill can make a big difference in how supportive or comfortable a pillow feels, no matter what position you sleep in. If you’re allergic to natural materials, you’ll want to choose a synthetic material such as polyester fibers. Or you may want a denser material, such as memory foam or latex, which conforms to the shape of your head.

Take It for Test Drive

Some pillows seem perfect in the store, but when you get them home, they’re firmer or fluffier than you can handle. Don’t be afraid to lie down in the pillow store and try the pillow out to make sure it works for your sleep position.

Consider Sleeping Face Down

One of the issues with sleeping on your stomach is that you lie for long periods with your head turned to the right or the left, which can leave you with neck pain.

If sleeping on your stomach is what works for you, try propping your forehead on a pillow and lying face down to keep your neck and spine more aligned and help keep upper airways open.

Or Consider a Body Pillow

Experts agree that sleeping on your stomach can strain your body. If you’re trying to break the habit or transition to a side-sleeper position, try a body or side pillow. They may provide pressure on your stomach that mimics what you feel when you sleep belly-down.

Or Try No Pillow

There’s no rulebook that says you need a pillow to sleep, particularly when a pillow puts strain on your lower back. Try sleeping without a pillow and see how your back and neck feel over time.

Update Pillows Regularly

No matter how fancy your pillows are, they age after nightly use as they absorb body oil, dead skin cells, and hair. Dust mites can build up and the pillow fill will break down and become less supportive.

You should buy new pillows about every 1-2 years. Test your pillow’s longevity by folding it in half. If it doesn’t spring back into its former shape, go shopping.

Show Sources


National Sleep Foundation: “The Best Sleep Position for Your Body,” “How to Choose a Pillow,” “How to Prevent Snoring,” What Are the Most Common Types of Pillows?” “What Pillow is Best for You?” “When Should You Replace Your Pillow?”

Harvard Health Letter: “Is Your Pillow Hurting Your Health?”

American Sleep Association: “Best Pillows.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Back, Side or Stomach: Which Sleep Position Is Best for You?”

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