8 Best Thin Pillow: A 2020 Complete Guide

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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. Thin pillows, on the other hand, are explicitly designed to be that way.

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 best thin pillows of 2020.

In this article, we’re going to review the following Thin Pilows:

  1. Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow – Editor’s Pick
  2. Mugetu Gel Infused Memory Foam Cervical Pillow – Best Thin Cervical Pillow
  3. Pancake Pillow Adjustable Layer Pillow – Runner-Up Thin Pillow
  4. Coop Home Good Adjustable Loft Pillow – Best Adjustable Pillow
  5. Sleep Restoration Gel Pillow – Best Thin Gel Pillow
  6. Elite Rest Ultra Slim Sleeper – Best Budget Thin Pillow
  7. Ultra Slim Sleeper Memory Foam Pillow – Most Versatile Thin Pillow
  8. Belly Sleep Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow – Best Thin Pillow For Stomach Sleepers

Our Top Picks – Top 8 Best Thin Pillow of 2020

1. Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow – Editor’s Pick

Up first is the Bluewave Bedding ultra-slim memory foam gel 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 stomach or back 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. The pillow design is optimal for those who do not like to flip their pillow over during the night.

The custom shape also helps the pillow keeps its overall shape better over time. This low profile memory foam gel pillow is perfect for those who have trouble falling asleep or frequently wake up with pain in the neck and shoulders.

Pros

  • Unique dual-surface designs
  • Low profile, good for stomach sleepers
  • Gel-infused material keeps you cool
  • Ventilated open cells help it breathe

Cons

  • Gel foam can have a strange factory smell for a few days after opening
  • Takes a few days to expand to full size

2. 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. Cervical pillows like the Mugetu are specifically made for those who have neck problems and need a low loft pillow.

The Mugetu sits 3.9” at the lowest point and 4.7” at the highest point, but you can remove filling so it is only 2.9”-3.5” tall. The ventilated foam is infused with a temperature controlling gel which keeps the pillow cool, firm, and consistent.

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 is 100% machine washable and hypoallergenic.

The manufacturer even offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and comprehensive lifetime warranty.

Pros

  • Generous return policy
  • Unique shape supports the cervical spine
  • Removable and machine washable cover
  • Adjustable thickness

Cons

  • Memory foam gel can have a funky smell
  • Not very good for sleepers

3. Pancake Pillow Adjustable Layer Pillow – Runner-Up Thin Pillow

Up third is this unique adjustable pillow. Rather than a traditional fill, the Pancake Pillow features 6 stackable internal layers that you can add or remove to change the thickness.

Each layer is filled with a soft microfiber down alternative and each layer is covered with a 300 count cotton case.

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. The filling is 100% hypoallergenic and the outer covering is machine washable.

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.

Pros

  • Removable layers mean you can adjust pillow height
  • Can be either a thick or thin pillow
  • Each layer is machine washable and filled with a down alternative

Cons

  • May have trouble finding the sweet spot if it’s between layers
  • Layers are not varying firmness

4. 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.

This adjustable pillow features a 60/40 polyester/bamboo cover and has a removable memory foam filling so you can adjust the thickness to the desired height. The medium thickness offers the perfect mix of comfort and support.

The unique feature of this 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.

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. Best of all, the manufacturer offers a 100 night return period and a generous 5-year warranty.

Pros

  • Generous 5-year warranty
  • Bamboo/polyester fabric machine washable cover
  • Adjustable memory foam filling

Cons

  • Foam can clump and get lumpy over time.
  • Requires daily fluffing

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.

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.

They are a great choice for those who have respiratory issues like asthma or allergies.

This gel pillow comes with a 100% cotton machine washable cover that is fade and stain-resistant. The Sleep Restoration will help you achieve the desired sleeping position that prevents back and neck injuries.

Pros

  • Special gel-filled fiber construction
  • Each fiber is tailored to not shift while sleeping
  • Mold & mildew resistant
  • Fade & stain resistant

Cons

  • Not adjustable
  • Still can get hot

6. Elite Rest Ultra Slim Sleeper – Best Budget Thin Pillow

True to its name, the Ultra Slim Sleeper from Elite Rest is an extra thin 2.5 inches thin with specially designed ergonomic edges designed for stomach and back sleepers.

The premium memory foam filling is 100% safe, durable, anti-fungal and effectively wicks moisture away. 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.

The thin flat design promotes good spinal alignment and support which can help reduce snoring and breathing problems. It comes with a 100% premium cotton cover that is machine washable, though it can also be used without a cover entirely.

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.

 Even better, the manufacturer offers 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.

Pros

  • Extra thin design (2.5 inches)
  • Dual surface design for increased stability
  • Machine washable 100% premium cotton cover
  • Also works well as a back pillow

Cons

  • Might be too thin for some
  • Some users complain it is not firm enough

7. Ultra Slim Sleeper Memory Foam Pillow – Most Versatile Thin Pillow

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.

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 and back sleepers, the firm pillow prevents head sinkage and will prevent you from waking up with pain in your neck or back.

It is a bit firmer than your typical memory foam but that is a plus for stomach and back sleepers. It also doubles as a useful chair or back pillow.

Pros

  • 3” loft is recommended height
  • Hypo-allergenic washable cover
  • Good for neck pain in particular

Cons

  • Memory foam is not amazing quality
  • Does not handle moisture very well

8. Belly Sleep Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow – Best Thin Pillow for Stomach Sleepers

Last on our list is this gel-infused memory foam pillow from Belly Sleep. As the company name might imply, this pillow is designed specifically for stomach sleepers and is made to give the spinal support they need.

It comes with a soft bamboo/polyester 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 unique feature is the cooling gel in the memory foam that keeps the pillow cool and breathable. Although designed for stomach sleepers, this pillow works equally well for back sleepers.

Pros

  • Designed specifically for stomach sleepers
  • Curved edges minimize head movement
  • Bamboo cover wicks moisture and keeps you cool

Cons

  • Polyurethane foam is not amazing quality
  • Some people are sensitive to the gel odor
  • Too firm for some stomach sleepers

Buying Guide & FAQ – Best Thin Pillow

Benefits of Using a Thin 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.

Big fluffy pillows usually do not let your head lie flat, so your neck 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 thin 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.

Aligns the Spine

Building off the last point, a thin 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 side sleepers 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 sleeping on your stomach. When you sleep on your stomach, 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.

Decrease Wrinkles

Yes, you read that correctly; there is a reason to think that using a thin pillow or sleeping with no pillow at all can reduce the formation of wrinkles on your face.

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 stretched normally 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.

Thin pillows keep all that stuff away from you which can help your face stay young-looking and in good shape.

Keeps Your Head Still

Large fluffy pillows sometimes suffer 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.

Cooler/Drier Sleep

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

Animation of a boy sleeping - Sleep Standards

Put all of these benefits together and you have a pillow that ultimately contributes to better quality sleep.

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 The Best Thin 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.

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 flat pillow.

Materials

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 gel, latex foam, or natural fillers like down, feathers, or buckwheat hulls. We will talk about each material in turn.

Memory Foam GelLatex FoamNatural Materials
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.

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 memory foam gel fusion that combines the properties of memory foam with those of a gel.

Memory foam gel has the basic shape retention properties of memory foam but the gel makes it much cooler and breathable. Further, many memory foam gel pillows are infused with natural substances that act as antimicrobial and antifungal agents.

Latex foam is a natural material made from the sap of the rubber plant. Latex foam is a popular material for pillows because it is very durable, molds to the body like memory foam, and offers excellent support.

There are two major methods of manufacturing latex foam for pillows: the Dunlop method which creates a dense, layered matrix of latex and the Talalay method that creates a more springy homogenous layer of latex.

Along with the durability and support, latex breathes very well. An average latex pillow should last your about 3-4 years if taken care of properly.

Natural materials like feathers, down, or buckwheat hulls are some of the more popular materials for thin pillows. Feather pillows, as the name would imply, are filled with either feathers or down, normally from geese.

Feather pillows are both thin and soft, but they do not last as long as other kinds of pillows. Feathers can poke through the fabric covering.

There is also the option of buckwheat pillows. Buckwheat pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls, the outer casing of buckwheat kernels. Buckwheat pillows are a bit heavier and have the texture and flexibility of a heavy bean bag chair.

Buckwheat pillows offer a lot of support and most of the time they are adjustable and you can change the thickness by adding or removing hulls. Buckwheat pillows have relatively good airflow and help you stay cool.

Sleeping Position

Different sleep positions

You also need to consider your preferred sleeping position. While everyone can benefit from a thin pillow, back and stomach sleepers will probably benefit the most.

Both positions rely on proper spine alignment to be comfortable.

A thin pillow gives just enough support to keep your head and spine level and prevents back pain from your neck moving or sitting at an awkward angle.

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 loft pillow.

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.

Final Thoughts

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 best thin pillow can help get rid of those problems and promote the quality sleep you deserve.

Additional Resources

Best Pillow For Headaches

Best Bamboo Pillow

Best Pillow For Sleep Apnea


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