Why You Should Trust Us
Our team consists of sleep product experts with different sleep positions, body weights, and preferences. Testers personally assess hundreds of pillows based on the criteria that matter most to sleepers, such as temperature control, moldability, and conforming. Our stomach sleepers were particularly interested in finding models that provide support and cushioning without excessive loft.
Keeping Your Spine Aligned While Sleeping on Your Stomach
Sleeping on the stomach is the least common position, with most sleepers spending less than 10% of their sleeping hours on their stomachs. People who sleep on their stomachs lie chest down on the mattress. Their face typically lies on the pillow or to the side with their ear touching it.
Stomach sleeping causes the sleeper’s midsection to sink deeper into the mattress, often resulting in an arched back, raised upper body, and spinal misalignment. An excessively thick or firm pillow can exacerbate the issue by forcing the head up, putting pressure on the neck.
We generally recommend that stomach sleepers choose a firm mattress and a soft, low-loft pillow to avoid adverse effects. This combination helps ensure your torso does not compress into the mattress and your head remains better aligned with your spine.
Is Sleeping on Your Stomach Bad?
Our sleep experts usually advise against stomach sleeping due to its potential drawbacks. Stomach sleepers typically awake with more pain than side or back sleepers resulting from spinal misalignment and back strain. Although this position is uncomfortable for most, some may prefer it and feel no discomfort. Sleeping on your stomach can also reduce snoring and sleep apnea symptoms.
What to Look for in a Stomach Sleeper Pillow
Every sleep position requires the right pillow to achieve spinal alignment, proper support, and comfort. Stomach sleepers generally require pillows with low lofts, soft to medium firmness levels, and compressible fill to align the head, neck, shoulders, and back.
- Low-profile loft: Loft refers to a pillow’s thickness. It is the most important factor to consider for stomach sleepers. A low loft ensures the head and neck remain better aligned with the spine. Some stomach sleepers may prefer medium lofts depending on head size and personal preferences. High-loft pillows angle the head and neck upward, resulting in discomfort and strain.
- Soft to medium firmness: Stomach sleepers usually find soft to medium firm pillows most comfortable. They easily mold to the shape and size of the head, ensuring the head remains as close to the mattress as possible for better alignment.
- Compressible fill: Fill type affects a pillow’s loft and firmness level. Compressible fills are fitting for stomach sleepers because they provide cushioning without too much lift. Stomach sleepers may find even higher-loft pillows comfortable if they contain easily compressible fills, such as down, down alternative, shredded latex, and shredded memory foam.
- Quality materials: Higher-quality materials typically last longer, extending the pillow’s usable lifespan. Lower-quality materials may go flat or get lumpy, which could be uncomfortable for stomach sleepers.
- Cooling and breathability: Stomach sleepers who tend to get hot may prefer a pillow with strong temperature regulation. Pillows with ample airflow don’t retain much heat. Models specially designed for cooling may also help dissipate warmth.
- Shape and moldability: Moldability enables the sleeper to shape their pillow into different positions. Stomach sleepers often prefer moldable pillows that form to their heads to support good posture.
- Easy to clean cover: Since the pillow cover rests near a stomach sleeper’s face, regular cleaning is important. Care instructions vary. Some covers are removable and machine-washable, some pillows are fully machine-washable, and others require dry cleaning.
Best Pillow Types for Stomach Sleepers
Many types of pillows are available, but some are better for stomach sleepers than others. Pillows filled with compressible, soft material are typically well suited for stomach sleepers because of their moldability. The best materials for stomach sleepers include down, down alternative, memory foam, and latex.
Down pillows contain feathers from the underbelly of waterfowl, such as ducks or geese. The fluffy fill compresses easily, meaning sleepers can squeeze the pillow to form a lower loft and keep the head and back in line. Although down is ideal for many stomach sleepers, it tends to be expensive.
Down alternative pillows have a similar feel to down at a lower price. They also do not use animal products, making them hypoallergenic. Instead, they consist of synthetic material, such as polyester fibers, that mimics down. Down alternative pillows are also compressible, which is ideal for stomach sleepers.
Memory foam pillows contain either a solid foam core or shredded pieces of memory foam. A solid foam core is generally firmer and less moldable, so we recommend only lower-loft options for stomach sleepers. Shredded memory foam pillows are more compressible, making them well suited to stomach sleeping.
Latex pillows consist of either natural, synthetic, or blended latex, though natural is most common. Like memory foam pillows, latex pillows are available with solid or shredded fill. A thin solid latex pillow can provide contouring and support for stomach sleepers, whereas a shredded latex pillow is more compressible.
What Should Stomach Sleepers Avoid?
Stomach sleepers should avoid several types of pillows and mattresses. Certain firmness levels and lofts can result in spinal misalignment. Stomach sleepers prone to overheating should also avoid materials that trap body warmth.