Thin pillows can reduce pressure on your neck and prevent you from waking up with pain in your back and shoulders.
There is a big difference between a thin pillow and a bad quality one that is not cushioned. Bad quality pillows can be flat, but that is because they are made of materials not good for sleeping. The best thin pillows, on the other hand, are explicitly designed to be that way. This can greatly enhance your sleeping experience.
Since there can be a lot of confusion on buying a flat pillow, we have put together this handy guide and product review list of the top 8 thin pillows of 2021.
What Is The Best Thin Pillow?
Here Are The Best Thin Pillow in 2021:
- Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow – Editor’s Pick
- Pancake Pillow Adjustable Layer Pillow – Runner-Up
- Coop Home Good Adjustable Loft Pillow – Best Adjustable Pillow
- Mugetu Gel Infused Memory Foam Cervical Pillow – Best Thin Cervical Pillow
- Sleep Restoration Gel Pillow – Best Slim Gel Pillow
- Elite Rest Ultra Slim Sleeper – Best Budget Option
- Ultra Slim Sleeper Memory Foam Pillow – Most Versatile Thin Pillow
- Belly Sleep Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow – Best Option For Stomach Sleeping
The Best Thin Pillow Of 2021
1. Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow – Editor’s Pick
Up first is the Bluewave Bedding ultra-slim gel-infused memory foam pillow. This pillow is made from gel-infused memory foam with particle technology and extra ventilation holes to help it breathe.
Standing only 2.5 inches high, the Bluewave has a very low loft and is the perfect thickness for back sleepers and stomach sleeping. It can also be a useful option for side sleepers. All used materials are CertiPur-US certified for additives, quality, and durability.
The most unique feature of the Bluewave Ultra-slim is the dual sleeping surface with a rounded top and a flat bottom. One side is flat, while the other has a rounded surface. The pillow design is optimal for those who do not like to flip their pillow over during the night. The design also provides better head and neck support.
The custom shape also helps the pillow keep its overall shape better over time. This low profile memory foam pillow is perfect for those who have trouble falling asleep or frequently wake up with pain in the neck and shoulders. It allows for a more comfortable sleep.
2. Pancake Pillow Adjustable Layer Pillow – Runner-Up
Up third is this unique adjustable pillow. Rather than a traditional fill, the Pancake Pillow features 6 stackable internal pillow layers that you can add or remove to change the thickness. This is one of the best thin pillows that has an adjustable thickness. The pillow layers effect helps you get better customization for your preferred sleeping positions. This is the right pillow if you prefer more versatility. If you want the best pillow for combination sleepers, then the adjustable layers will be a great asset to your bed. It also features built-in cooling effects and helps to avoid a spinal misalignment. This also ensures you can sleep cool, even if your sleeping environment is a little warm.
Each layer is filled with a soft microfiber down alternative, and each layer is covered with a 300 count cotton case. The adjustable system helps to create a more personalized spinal alignment. It also ensures back and stomach sleepers can get a customized sleeping experience.
The 6 layers let the pillow range in height from a solid 8 inches to a thin 1 ½ inches, perfect for virtually every kind of sleeper. It also improves air flow in the pillow. The filling is 100% hypoallergenic. The pillow comes with a machine washable cover. The washable cover makes it easier to keep the pillow clean. It is certainly a pillow with maximum versatility.
The best part of the Pancake is that you can adjust the pillow thickness depending on your needs, and you can even use the individual layers as a pillow if you want.
3. Coop Home Good Adjustable Loft Pillow – Best Adjustable Pillow
Sitting at the halfway point of our roundup is this adjustable memory foam pillow from Coop Home Goods. The use of shredded memory foam makes this a great sleeper pillow for people who prefer a responsive surface underneath their heads. This is the right pillow for you if you prefer something that is more responsive. It helps with spinal alignment and goes great with any mattress.
This adjustable pillow features a 60/40 polyester/bamboo rayon cover and has a removable memory foam filling so you can adjust the thickness to the desired height. This is a preferred type of cover material. The pillow covers are known to provide better softness for everyone. It also helps with airflow. The medium thickness offers the perfect mix of comfort and support. The use of bamboo helps to protect you against dust mite problems. The bed pillow also helps with temperature regulation.
The unique feature of this bed pillow is its bamboo derived cover. The bamboo/polyester blend coverlets the pillow breather extremely well and wicks moisture away to keep you cool during the night. The product has a washable cover, reducing the need for maintenance while cleaning the ultra-slim pillow.
Bamboo is also dust resistant and has natural antibiotic properties, so it prevents the build-up of bacteria and fungus. A zipper on the side gives access to the interior where you can add or remove filling.
All materials used in the pillow are CertiPUR-US certified for content, durability, and toxicity. The materials provide a great balance in softness, providing a responsive surface that is still firm enough to support your posture, as well as your neck and spine. The safer materials are also great for people with health issues like allergies and respiratory illnesses. Best of all, the manufacturer offers a 100 night return period and a generous 5-year warranty. The sleep trial adds to the value offered by the sleeper pillow.
4. Mugetu Gel Infused Memory Foam Cervical Pillow – Best Thin Cervical Pillow
The first thing to notice about the Mugetu is its unique curved design that is higher in the back than in the front. One side offers a curved sleeping experience, while the other side of the sleeper pillow offers a flat surface. Cervical pillows like the Mugetu are specifically made for those who have neck problems and need a low profile pillow. The curved design also makes this the best neck support pillow. The head and neck support helps to reduce the risk of pain in the area after sleeping. Gel particles are used. This helps improve the sleeping experience and takes care of issues like insomnia.
The Mugetu sits 3.9″ at the lowest point and 4.7″ at the highest point, but you can remove the filling, so it is only 2.9″-3.5″ tall. This helps you create a customized feeling. It also helps with spinal alignment. The ventilated foam is infused with a temperature controlling gel, which keeps the pillow cool, firm, and consistent. The firmness also provides a more comfortable sleep. The pillow is great for multiple sleeping positions.
The unique shape of the Mugetu means you can flip it around if you need the higher part closer to your neck. The pillow comes with a breathable and removable microfiber cover that you can wash in the machine and hypoallergenic.
The manufacturer even offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and comprehensive lifetime warranty.
5. Sleep Restoration Gel Pillow – Best Thin Gel Pillow
Sitting comfortably at 5th is this neat gel/fiber combo pillow from Sleep Restoration. This pillow is made from a unique mixture of gel-filled fibers arranged into a fluffy flexible layer of cushion. The microfiber fill with gel particles adds to the fluffiness and support of the body. It is great in any bedroom and can be used by people with certain health issues.
Each fiber is specially tailored to keep its shape and not move when sleeping, providing you with the maximum amount of comfort and support. The gel-infused fibers also have anti-odorant properties, are mold and mildew resistant, and are 100% hypoallergenic. Its ventilation holes help to regulate your temperature. This, in turn, results in more comfortable sleep. With this in mind, it is the right pillow for people who frequently wake up in pools of sweat at night.
They are a great choice for those who have respiratory issues like asthma or allergies. It is an ideal option for both stomach and back sleepers.
This gel pillow comes with a 100% cotton cover that is fade and stain-resistant. The Sleep Restoration will help you achieve the desired sleeping position that prevents back and neck injuries. It is also great for people with a neck ache. It has a good width to provide adequate support. The pillow has a washable cover, making it easier to keep it clean too.
6. Elite Rest Ultra Slim Sleeper – Best Budget Option
True to its name, the Ultra Slim Sleeper from Elite Rest is an extra thin 2.5 inches thin with specially designed ergonomic edges. It is the best pillow for back and side sleepers due to its specific design. If you are a side sleeper, you will find the pillow helps to provide better support for your back. The thin design and pillow size also provide adequate support for belly sleepers.
The premium memory foam filling is 100% safe, durable, antifungal, and effectively wicks moisture away. It is great for different sleeping positions and creates a responsive feeling for an enhanced sleeping experience. The special dual-surface design has a flat bottom and rounded top for extra stability and is for those who don’t flip their pillow over while sleeping.
Like all shipped memory foam pillows, it takes about a day or two to expand to full size, but unlike most memory foam pillows, you can put it in the wash and dry on gentle and low heat settings. The memory foams used add a responsive touch to the pillow. Stomach and back sleepers will find that the pillow offers them adequate support. The pillow helps to keep the neck and spine in better alignment.
Even better, the manufacturer of these memory foam pillows offer a generous return policy, no questions asked. Though they wager, you will be so impressed with the pillow’s performance; you’ll never have to use their return policy.
7. Ultra Slim Sleeper Memory Foam Pillow – Most Versatile Option
The penultimate entry on our list is this ultra-slim memory foam pillow from Perfect Soft. At just 3” high, this pillow is the optimal loft height that is recommended by sleep experts. This thin memory foam pillow supports your spin, head, and neck. The pillow uses gel particles to provide better air circulation. The pillow filling also offers support for different body types.
It includes a washable 60/40 polyester/viscose cover that is hypoallergenic and soft on the skin. The 3” height offers the perfect mix of comfort and support and will help keep your spine aligned during the night.
Ideal for stomach sleeping, as well as back sleepers, the firm pillow prevents head and neck sinkage and will prevent you from waking up with pain in your neck or back. Stomach sleepers will also find that the pillow helps to align their spine during the night.
It is a bit firmer than your typical memory foam, but that is a plus for stomach sleeping. It also doubles as a useful chair or back pillow, apart from being a great option for stomach sleepers. The hypoallergenic pillow cover also helps to reduce allergic reactions.
8. Belly Sleep Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow – Best Option For Stomach Sleeping
Last on our list is this gel-infused thin memory foam pillow from Belly Sleep. This is an ultra slim pillow with a built-in cooling effect. As the company name might imply, this pillow is designed specifically for stomach sleepers and is made to give the spinal support they need. This is one of the best pillows for sleeping if you want something to help you while sleeping on your stomach.
It comes with a soft bamboo/polyester pillow cover and has curved edges that reduce head rotation and movement. The case does a great job of wicking away moisture, and the polyurethane memory foam offers a great mix of comfort and support. The cover also helps to reduce the risk of dust mites. These are factors to consider when using the product as a stomach pillow or a standard sleeping pillow.
The unique feature is the cooling gel in the memory foam pillow that keeps the product cool and breathable. Although designed for stomach sleepers, this pillow works equally well for back sleepers. It promotes air circulation for a cooler sleep too, making it the perfect pillow if you constantly find yourself waking up due to a buildup of heat.
Buying Guide & FAQ – Best Thin Pillow
Benefits Of Using A Slim Pillow
Better Neck Positioning
Some may find it odd that there are people who want flat pillows. You might think that thin flat pillows must be uncomfy, and the better option is to buy a bigger cushioned pillow.
This is not entirely true.
While there certainly are people who prefer bigger fluffier pillows, large cushioned pillows can actually contribute to neck and shoulder pain. This is a problem among all types of people, including stomach sleepers.
Big fluffy pillows usually do not let your head lie flat, so your neck and spine can be positioned in an awkward angle while sleeping. Thick pillows keep your neck bent, which can make it hard to sleep and hurt your neck.
In contrast, a slim pillow lets you keep your head level and prevents your neck from being bent in awkward angles. Thinner pillows made of feathers, down, or polyester foam keep your head level, so your neck does not take up the brunt of the pressure. These pillows are good for all body types. They often provide support through a memory foam gel instead of a microfiber fill – offering a more responsive feel. Some even use these thinner options as a stomach pillow.
Aligns The Spine
Building off the last point, a slim pillow also helps keep your spine aligned when sleeping and reduces pressure on the upper shoulders.
Big, fluffy pillows that keep your head angled upward do not let your spine lie flat, which over time, can cause a bunch of problems.
Thicker pillows can make it very hard for you to sleep on your back and cause you to toss and turn all night.
Additionally., a thinner pillow can help better align your spine while you are sleeping on your side or stomach.
When you sleep on your side, the curvature of your body creates more pressure points between your body and the mattress.
This is one reason why a person who is a side sleeper like to sleep with a pillow under them. The problem is, if the pillow is too thick, it overcompensates for the body’s curvature, which can end up making you even more uncomfortable.
The same is true for stomach sleepers. Stomach sleepers often have a problem with their spinal alignment. Your spine can curve unnaturally. Using a flat pillow under your stomach is a way for stomach sleepers to get a more natural sleeping position that keeps their spine straight. This gives you a chance to enjoy the sleeping position you are comfortable with.
Yes, you read that correctly; there is a reason to think that using a slim pillow or sleeping with no pillow at all can reduce the formation of wrinkles on your face—this account for anywhere, including back, side, and stomach sleepers.
The simple explanation is that when you use a bigger pillow, more of the pillow makes contact with your face, particularly the sides. The more contact your face makes with the pillow, the more likely you are to form wrinkles in those spots.
Flat pillows keep your facial skin normally stretched and prevent premature wrinkling because they do not make as much contact with facial skin.
Additionally, thick fluffy pillows can be bad for your skin. Thick pillows pick up more dust, dead skin cells, and oils, which can exacerbate things like acne or eczema and cause allergies. Side sleepers and stomach sleepers often find that a larger part of their face touches the pillow. With this in mind, take special caution when buying a pillow for side sleeping.
The best thin pillows keep all that stuff away from you, which can help your face stay young-looking and in good shape. The pillow cover comes into play here too. Make sure you take a look at the cover material. Some materials are better at providing this particular benefit.
Keeps Your Head Still
A large fluffy bed pillow sometimes suffers from what we call the “bucket effect.” These pillows are so fluffy they make a bucket-like indent where your head is supposed to go.
The problem is that this shape can cause your head to roll from side to side if you move around during your sleep, which can cause neck pain.
Thin pillows do a better job of keeping your head in one place during the night and can prevent the associated neck and spinal pain from too much head movement.
The action helps to maintain the alignment of your spine. The sleeper pillow, in turn, would then contribute to less risk of certain body parts experiencing pain in the morning.
Large thick pillows made from materials like memory foam also have a bad tendency to get really hot during the night.
The thicker the pillow, the more heat it can store, which can make your sweaty and uncomfortable, especially during the hot summer months.
Thin pillow, since they are made from fewer materials and make less contact with your face, won’t overheat and cause you to sweat.
By the same token, thick pillows also have a bad tendency to collect moistures and sweat, which can lead to discoloration and funky smells. Thinner pillows are much easier to fully wash and get the moisture out.
Promotes Better Sleep
Put all of these benefits together, and you have a pillow that ultimately contributes to better quality sleep. From helping to reduce neck ache problems to providing more support to your spine. There are also pillows for everyone – including belly sleepers, side sleepers, and more.
Thin pillows can be a nice change of pace and a solution for those with neck problems or side and stomach sleepers. You will be less likely to toss and turn and will wake up feeling rejuvenated and recharged.
What To Consider When Choosing A Great Slim Pillow
Now to be clear, there is no standard on what counts as a “thin” pillow. Pillows that advertise themselves as “thin pillows” can range anywhere between 2 inches to 6 inches. Still, there are things you should know – including the best place to buy pillows. Not all companies are equal when it comes to looking for the best pillow on the market.
In order to enjoy the most comfort, sleep experts and doctors recommend getting a pillow that is around 3 inches thick. These pillows are normally classified as “ultra-thin” or “ultra-slim” pillows.
Aside from thickness, there are some important features you should look out for when buying a slim pillow.
Like regular pillows, flat pillows are made out of all kinds of materials. The three materials that are usually the best for thin pillows are memory foam, latex foam, or natural fillers like down, feathers, or buckwheat hulls. We will talk about each material in turn.
Memory Foam Gel
Probably the majority of thin pillows out there are made from some type of memory foam. Memory foam is a great material as it is durable, supportive, and gradually changes shape to fit your body’s profile. Some companies use shredded memory foam as a pillow filling too. This provides similar benefits. Vacuum seals are sometimes used during the packaging. The pillow will expand once removed from the package.
The one problem with memory foam is that it tends to not breathe very well, which means memory foam pillows can get very hot and uncomfortable.
That is why many pillows are made with a gel memory foam fusion that combines the properties of memory foam with those of a gel.
Memory foam has the basic shape retention properties of memory foam, but the gel makes it much cooler and breathable. Further, many memory foam pillows are infused with natural substances that act as antimicrobial and antifungal agents.
You also need to consider your preferred sleeping position. While everyone can benefit from a slim pillow, back and stomach sleepers will probably benefit the most. This type of sleeping position tends to cause a misalignment in the spine, especially with a thicker pillow.
Both positions rely on proper spine alignment to be comfortable.
A slim pillow gives just enough support to keep your head and neck level and prevents back pain from your neck moving or sitting at an awkward angle. Even though slim, it is great for any body size.
High Or Low Loft
When talking about pillows, high and low loft refers to the overall thickness of the pillow. If you want a thin pillow, then you definitely need to get a low thin memory foam option.
Low loft pillows usually fall between 2-3 inches in height while the average pillow loft is about 5 inches. The thinnest pillow can be only about an inch thick, but this may be too thin. We recommend sticking with a pillow in the 2-3 inch range. There are various options, including different choices when looking at pillow size. If you want a low loft pillow, you may want to consider something with a solid construction, instead of one with shredded memory foam or smaller gel particles.
So, which thin pillow is the best? Our pick for the top spot has to be the Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow for its dual-sided design, specially designed gel ventilation system, and overall pillow quality.
A close runner up would have to be the Pancake Pillow Adjustable Layer Pillow for its unique concept and great execution.
If you have neck and back problems and constantly wake up in pain, then it may be your pillow that is the culprit. A good thin pillow can help get rid of those problems and promote the quality sleep you deserve. Learn where to buy pillows that offer great support for your spine and neck – and consider the options we shared. Make sure to look at the customer service options from a company you buy too – this ensures you can get in touch with them if the bed pillow is not right for you.
Chris was a psychiatrist and neurologist with board certification in sleep medicine Clinical Associate Professor at the University of California. For over 10 years, he served and helped patients at Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital with their sleeping disorders.
After suffered from sleep disorders for years, Chris has been passionate about sleep health ever since. He wants to help others sleep better and wanted to make the world of sleep easy to understand for everyday people.