The best thin pillows promote proper spinal alignment without propping you up too far above the mattress – especially if you regularly sleep on your front or back. For fans of thin pillows though, finding the right option can be difficult as there are typically far fewer choices due to most retailers favoring plumper pillows.
Full disclosure: pillow experts don’t generally recommend thin pillows, though they can very often be the right choice for some sleepers. Particularly for front and back sleepers, thin pillows can help you to avoid the over-arching of your neck, which can become achy and uncomfortable. And of course, the best pillow is different for everyone; it’s all down to your personal preference.
To cover the full spectrum, we’ve also featured a couple of adjustable loft pillows in our guide, alongside naturally flatter pillows. These adjustable pillows often come with multiple layers or filling that you can remove to achieve your desired thinness –which is a boon for those who like thinner pillows and can’t seem to find one that’s a good fit.
Many of the best thin pillows on our list have been tested by our home and sleep experts, Amy Hunt and Alison Barretta. The featured pillows are among the best out there for various types of sleepers, and they span a range of price points, so you’re likely to find something within your budget.
How we tested the best thin pillows
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In order to fully recommend the below pillows, we have tested many of them in our own homes and in our own beds. We have put the best thin pillows to the test by sleeping on them night after night (usually around 4-5 nights), to properly judge various factors, including:
- Comfort: This is the number one factor we test for; what else is a pillow for if not for comfort? When sleeping on each pillow, and upon waking in the morning, we judged how comfortable it felt to lay our head on, and how soundly we slept on the pillow. Just like with a new sofa, one of the top priorities is being able to cozy up on your pillow without feeling like you’re constantly needing to adjust it.
- Support: Similarly, we judged how supported our heads and necks felt by the pillow throughout the night. Even thin pillows need to support our spinal alignment, to ensure we aren’t plagued by aches and pains throughout the day, and that we don’t cause any long-term damage. A big part of this testing aspect is how firm (or not) a pillow is. While we all have our own personal preferences – some prefer an ultra-soft, cloud-like experience, while others want a super-firm pillow. The key is that your pillow doesn’t leave you in pain the next morning, and makes your upper body feel supported.
- Value-for-money: Finally, one of the most important parts of any new purchase is whether it’s worth the money or not. Everyone has their own budget, but no one wants to pay over the odds for something that just isn’t worth the price. In our assessments of the best thin pillows, we’ve considered whether higher-price pillows are worth the splurge, whether lower-price options are good enough quality to recommend – and whether they’re actually a steal for the price.
The best thin pillows to buy in 2022
The Co-op Home Goods Original Loft Pillow is the best thin pillow you can get right now….despite the fact that it arrives overly stuffed. So why does it top our list? For one, this is an adjustable pillow with crosscut memory foam fill that you can add or remove as you see fit. What’s more, Co-op Home Goods offers expert loft customization at no extra charge so you’ll know just how thick or thin you’ll need your pillow to be for maximum comfort based on your sleep style and body type.
A downside to the Co-op Home Goods adjustable pillow is that you’ll have to find a way to store excess fill, which includes any fill you remove from the pillow and the additional 1.5-lb. bag of crosscut memory foam that’s included. However, it’s good to have that extra fill on hand should your pillow become too flat and therefore not as supportive as you need it.
Co-op Home Goods includes a 100-night risk-free trial with purchase, so you can take the time you need to get used to the pillow. If you decide it’s not right for you, you’ll be able to return it for free and receive a full refund.
The Pancake Pillow adjustable layer pillow strives to meet the needs of all sleepers. If you’ve yet to find your ideal height, this customizable solution may be perfect for you. Each of its six layers is removable, allowing you to experiment until you find your favorite stack of ‘pancakes’. This flexibility makes it one of the best pillows for neck pain on the list too.
No matter how thin you choose to go, the puff gel microfibre filling guarantees your head will have a soft place to land. If you like your thin pillow to still be fluffy and comfortable, like the best hotel pillows, this is a great option.
Overall, the Pancake Pillow can take the stress out of buying online—the retailers boast that it’s impossible to accidentally buy the wrong size, as you can adjust the pillow to your preference. And unlike the Co-op Home Goods pillow above, there’s a lot less mess involved, as you only have to remove layers and not actual fill.
Bluewave Bedding is a great company if you’re after a flatter pillow, since they’re well aware that thin pillows can often be preferred for sleepers who don’t want to sleep too high up in bed. Their memory foam gel pillow is available in three loft sizes — Slim, Super Slim, and Hyper Slim.
Their thinnest option, the Ultra Slim, comes in at just two-and-a-half inches tall, but still boasts a soothing gel filling and the rounded edges of traditional pillow shapes. Not only can this design accommodate your thin-pillow needs, but it’s also said to help reduce snoring and back pain. Customers raved that this pillow is a great option for stomach sleepers and for those who sleep with their arms under their heads.
Bluewave has made sure to counteract the heating effects some memory foam can have by adding temperature-regulating gel particles into the material—making it one of the best cooling pillows on this list, too.
Orthopedic pillows are brilliant for reducing pain at night. The Nature’s Guest Adjustable Cervical Orthopedic Pillow is among the best types of pillows for those who need more support when sleeping on their side or back. The deep contour of Nature’s Guest’s cervical pillow allows for a thin feel while still providing adequate back, shoulder, and neck support.
The Nature’s Guest pillow is divided into three sections. The middle section is the back sleeping area, which gently cradles the neck and head. And the sides are designed to help side sleepers alleviate any neck and shoulder pain. Stomach sleepers won’t find much relief with this pillow, however, despite thinner pillows being better for stomach sleepers.
As with the Pancake Pillow and the Co-op Home Goods pillow, you are put in control of your comfort here. The filling of this pillow can be tailored to your preferences in every section, allowing you to choose your ideal level of height, squish and support. The microfiber stuffing is also designed to promote healthy airflow and provide users with a more restful sleeping experience.
This SUQ I OME Slim Sleeper Pillow is thin, at a maximum of 6cm in height on one of the curved edges, but has a dip in the middle to allow your head to lie flat while you sleep. A curved pillow can reduce pressure on the neck and shoulders, and prevent you from waking up with pain in these areas.
Handily, this pillow also has a removable inner cover for easy washing and is made of memory foam, which will help to shape the pillow to your body. However, this thin pillow option doesn’t have cooling properties to counteract the heating effect memory foam can have, so it may not be the right pick for those who get warm in bed.
Customers who have bought the pillow have praised its firmness and support, with many explaining that they’ve felt the benefit all the way from their neck down through their spine.
Blissbury works to guarantee that you’ll have the perfect pillow no matter where you go. Their super-thin Stomach and Back Sleeping Pillow is also one of the best travel pillows, not just because of its size, but because it has a handy little carrying case too, and bends easily to fit into it.
This slim sleeper is just a couple of inches of gel and memory foam. The filling is equipped with small ventilation holes that help to regulate body temperature as you sleep. On top of that, its cover is made with bamboo and polyester. These natural materials help to reduce moisture and create a cool sleeping experience
However it’s worth noting that this is one of the very thinnest pillows on our list, so may not be the right pick for you if you’re a side sleeper or need a little more loft.
The Lavender Bliss Memory Foam Pillow is more of a stratus cloud and is packed with specially-designed memory foam. It aims to eliminate tension in the shoulders, neck, and back. You can pick up this relaxation pillow in three sizes: standard, queen, or king.
That’s not the only way this pillow aims to soothe, however. It is also lightly scented with lavender oil, which is known for its sleeping aid benefits. The subtle hint is not overwhelming and is also designed not to fade over time, to allow for the perfect descent into a peaceful sleep. If you’re sensitive to essential oils or potent scents in general though, we advise you pass on the Lavender Bliss pillow, as there are some great thin pillows on this list that won’t be potentially irritating in this way.
The Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows are always at or near the top of Amazon’s best-selling pillows. They’re also among the most reasonably-priced—and considering that you get two of them, that equates to one of the lowest prices-per-pillow we’ve found.
These hotel-quality pillows are quite plush but not too lofty. Back sleepers tend to find them comfortable and supportive for their head and neck. However, side sleepers may find these pillows don’t cradle their neck and shoulders well enough in this position, and stomach sleepers might want something a little less fluffy.
Anyone who suffer from allergies will appreciate the hypoallergenic down alternative fill of the Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows. We do wish it came with a clear warranty, but if the hundreds-of-thousands of 5-star Amazon reviews are anything to go by, you’ll be receiving fantastic value here.
Simba sells some of the best mattresses around, so it’s no surprise that their pillows are also supremely comfortable. The Hybrid pillow (one of just two Simba pillows) has two layers—an outer cover made from cotton, and an inner cover, filled with squishy blue foam ‘Nanocubes’. Because of this, when you first receive the pillow, it will seem fairly plump and thick. All you need to do to create a thinner pillow is to remove as many of the cubes as you want—if you want a low elevation, they suggest removing around eight to 10 handfuls. Handily, Simba also provides a small white bag to store the extra cubes in.
During testing, this pillow gave us one of the best night’s sleep we’ve had in recent years—even after removing some of the cubes for a thinner design, it still felt plush and incredibly comfortable when sleeping on both our back and our side. It also provided a brilliant mix of support and comfort. While some pillows can feel too firm in order to be supportive, this pillow perfectly treads the line between the two, and our heads, necks, and shoulders felt supported all night. We also woke up with no aches and pains, and none developed during our week or so of testing, either.
The Hybrid pillow is also made using Simba’s well-known Stratos fabric, which is designed to keep air flowing through the pillow and acts as a temperature regulator. And during our nights of testing, we found this function worked well (though not flawlessly)—the pillow didn’t heat up and we stayed fairly cool all the way through until the morning.
Unlike the adjustable pillows on our list, this is a truly thin(ner) pillow that should work perfectly for those who don’t like to feel too high when they sleep. Its shallower profile is ideal for whatever sleeping position you prefer, but especially for back and side sleepers. During testing, we slept largely on our side and found that the Soak & Sleep Wool pillow was comfortable and supportive without being thick and oversized. Unlike some thin pillows we’ve tried, we didn’t wake up with a sore neck and shoulders—in fact, we felt very well rested.
One of the serious draws of this pillow is also the fact that its filling is 100% Mitchell wool, straight from New Zealand. Wool has a number of benefits; it’s hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking, and a brilliant temperature regulator—and this all proved to be true during testing. While we often wake up with a sniffly nose, our breathing was clear and easy come the morning. And for those who like a cool pillow, this option was fantastic (perhaps even better than the Simba), as it stayed almost cold the entire night, which provided very welcome relief during an unseasonably warm November evening.
The only slight drawback to this pillow was the fact that it did make a slightly crinkly sound whenever we moved about during the night, which could be disruptive to light sleepers, or light sleeping partners. However, we reckon this could be easily solved by using a thicker pillowcase—you’ll probably want to avoid the best silk pillowcases with this option.
This pillow from Kally Sleep is another adjustable option, meaning it’s a solid choice for those who want to experiment with the height of their pillow a little bit. It comes with four inner sleep pads to create a unique sleeping experience. Consider it the Goldilocks of thin pillows; if it’s not quite thin enough, or too thin, you can simply stack up the inserts or remove some to create the right height – even switching it up from night to night if you want to. This pillow also comes with a 14-night trial, so you can return it during this time if it isn’t right for you.
We first tested the pillow with just one insert. But we found this was almost too thin, and left too much gaping within the cover. So even if you are after a thin pillow, we’d advise placing two inserts inside the cover at a minimum. After this, the pillow was much more comfortable and was still flat enough that our head and shoulder didn’t feel overly elevated. In fact, this Kally Sleep Pillow was one of the best options we tested for allowing our entire spine to feel in total alignment. During the night, the pillow also felt firm, so our heads and necks felt well supported.
When it comes to quality, this option (including the inserts) didn’t feel quite as high-end as the Simba, for example. But this is reflected in the price, which is much more affordable. For a pillow you can customize entirely to fit your preferences, we’d say the Kally Sleep Adjustable pillow offers brilliant value for money. One of our other gripes was that you’ll need to store any leftover inserts somewhere, as it doesn’t come with a storage bag; but don’t let this put you off the pillow.
How to choose the best thin pillow for you: Key considerations
There are a few things to think about when deciding which thin pillow is best for you. These include:
- Your sleeping position: When choosing the best thin pillow, you should “acknowledge whether you’re a back, stomach, or side sleeper, and assess your own physiology when determining the proper thickness,” says Stephen Light, co-owner of Nolah Mattress (opens in new tab). Front and back sleepers are usually better suited for thin pillows than side sleepers — who actually benefit from thicker pillows since they’ll need something that can comfortably fit between their ear and shoulder. If you tend to switch positions, consider an adjustable pillow so you can change things up when needed.
- The pillow’s filling: Filling material is another component to keep in mind when buying a thin pillow. Alex Savy, Certified Sleep Science Coach and the Founder of SleepingOcean (opens in new tab) recommends memory foam for sleepers who like their pillow to cradle their head and neck, while latex and polyfiber offer more buoyancy. Hot sleepers, meanwhile, should seek cooling materials such as gel-infused foam or kapok, or a company’s own cooling technology. If the pillow mentions cooling technology, it is generally a good option for hot sleepers.
- Whether you want adjustable or not: As demonstrated above, you generally have two options if you’re on the hunt for a thin pillow; a naturally flatter option, or an adjustable pillow. Adjustable pillows can be incredibly helpful if you’re not sure how flat you want your pillow and want the option to experiment. But some prefer the feel of naturally flatter pillows – so when choosing the best thin pillows for you, consider your priorities here.
- Trial periods: If possible, look for a pillow that offers a trial period of at least 30 days – though any trial period is better than none. This will give you time to adjust to the pillow before determining whether or not it’s right for you.
Why are thinner pillows better for your neck?
Plush, oversized pillows may be popular among manufacturers, and they are a great option for support. But much thicker pillows are sometimes not the best choice for back or stomach sleepers.
“The goal for any pillow is to allow the spine to maintain a straight, horizontal line as much as possible…without putting a bend in the neck,” says sleep therapist Risa Gabrielle (opens in new tab). If the loft of the pillow is too high, it’ll put your neck at an angle – leading to back and neck pain.
Savy adds that thin pillows may be better for the neck since “they are less likely to tilt the head and cause neck strain. Additionally, thinner pillows can fill in the neck’s natural curve, offering decent support in that area.”
However, it’s important to note that even with thin pillows, a supportive option that is going to cradle your neck, back, shoulders, and the head is essential, especially to help you avoid aches and pains. That’s why the options above are still supportive, despite being technically flatter than some more plump pillows on the market.
How else are thin pillows beneficial for some sleepers?
Every sleeper needs a different sort of pillow. Side sleepers will need more support—perhaps even two pillows. But if you prefer to sleep on your front or back, a thin pillow can provide the correct alignment, which means your shoulders and your spine are in the same alignment as if you were standing upright with the correct posture.
Thin pillows can be especially beneficial for front sleepers. Hayley Chaytor, a spokesperson at Silentnight (opens in new tab), said, “Thin pillows are recommended for front sleepers as this sleep position requires very little support. They also have an advantage, as they can be stacked to match the individual’s exact height preference when it comes to their sleep.”