No, it’s not a pillow that has been squashed with a steam roller, although you would be forgiven for thinking it is. This flat pillow is actually exactly what many stomach sleepers and back sleepers look for in a pillow. Slimness.
Find out why as we take a detailed take a detailed look at thin pillows and which is the best for you.
Psst… Want to skip the story and learn which thin pillows performed the best? Here is a quick summary…
But if you want to know everything there is about slim pillows, including the thin pillows we reviewed, why we chose our top picks and why other thin pillows fell short, then read on!
What is a thin pillow?
The definition of “thin” varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. We found multiple cases where manufacturers referred to their pillow as thin even though it was 5 inches high.
While there is no hard rule, we decided that in order for a pillow to truly be classified as thin, it should be a height of 3 inches or less.
Below you can see how a thin pillow sizes up to a standard bed pillow.
Yep, you can stack three thin pillows on top of each other and they are still slimmer than your standard high loft pillow.
Note: Some manufacturers refer to a thin pillow as one with less filling. While the may not look thin, it will compress right down when the weight of your head is applied. These pillows are referred to as low-fill pillows. We cover low fill pillows in our best pillow for stomach sleepers guide.
Who needs a thin pillow?
The whole purpose of a pillow is to keep your spine straight and your head supported while you sleep.
The head of a stomach sleeper sits closer to the mattress than a side sleeper. The same is true of back sleepers. And a pillow that is to thick can cause you to sleep with your head in an awkward position, either too far forward or too far back like so…
While you may feel comfortable enough to sleep, this can lead to you waking up with neck pain the next morning.
A thin pillow, on the other hand ensures that your neck is kept level and your head supported in both back and side sleeper positions:
So if you suffer from neck pain, swapping over to a thin pillow could actually fix the problem!
Thin pillows are also perfect for those of you who prefer to sleep pillow-less or on a folded up blanket. A thin pillow provides your head with a flat, comfortable platform to rest your head without being too bulky.
Some parents even use a thin pillows as a “first standard pillow” for younger kids, once they have outgrown their toddler pillow.
One reader even reported that she used a thin pillow to add just a small amount of height to her regular pillow. While it may have worked for her, we don’t recommend this. If you have to sleep on two pillows to get comfortable, then you are not using the right pillow for you. One is enough.
Stomach sleepers and back sleepers benefit the most from thin pillows.
Sorry side sleepers, thin pillows are generally not high enough to fill the gap between your shoulder and your head. Side sleeping on a thin pillow angles your head down, which can lead to a stiff neck.
It is also worth mentioning that thin pillows typically feel firmer than thicker pillows made from the same material. This is because if your head sinks too into a thin pillow, you will be able to feel the mattress below your pillow. And if that happens, you might as well not sleep on a pillow at all!
Other names for thin pillows
If you are shopping online or at a bedding store, you may see the pillow referred to as low loft or low-profile.
These are just fancy words for “thin”.
Which pillow is the thinnest of the thin?
The thinnest sleeping pillow we came across was, according to manufacture’s specs, was 2.5”. These pillows were referred to as either ultra slim or ultra thin.
While 2.5” may not seem to be thin enough, when you add the weight of your head to the pillow, it will compress further again. If the pillow was any thinner, your head would be able to touch your mattress!
Despite this, the manufacturers claimed specifications did not always match up with the actual thickness of the pillow.
Take the TruContour Super Thin pillow above, for instance. While TruContour claims that the pillow is 2.5”, we found that it was closer to 1.8” thick. As you might have guessed, the pillow simply does not offer enough support or comfort, and was one of the worst performing thin pillows we tested.
When it comes to thin pillows, the choice is limited
As I write out this review, there are not all that many thin pillows on the market. And the few that do exist are targeting different customers. This is largely the slim pillow market is relatively new. It is likely that we will see the market segment get more competitive over time. And when that happens, we will keep this guide up to date, so that you can always find the ideal slim pillow for you right here.
Best memory foam thin pillows
The vast majority of thin pillows are made from memory foam. This is because it is easy for manufacturers to cut a block of foam at a specific density and height (compared to filling a pillow with loose stuffing).
Unfortunately, many pillows were let down by poor customer service. Many sellers refused to answer basic questions about their pillows, such as whether or not the memory foam in their pillow had been certified (free from lead, formaldehyde and other nasties, as tested by an independent certifier).
A representative from Trucontour went so far as to say that “this is a trade secret”. Ahem, I’m sorry – but if you can’t tell me that your pillows have been tested and deemed to be safe, then I won’t be sleeping on it for 8 hours each night.
But after testing over 20 thin memory foam pillows, there was one stand out pillow which offered comfort, support and a great customer service…
Best Memory Foam Thin Pillow – Bluewave Bedding
- Size: 24” x 16”
- Loft: Two choices – 2.5” loft (ultra slim) 2.75” (extra slim)
- Inside: CertiPUR-US Certified Gel Memory Foam
- Cover: Rayon (40%) Polyester (60%)
When it came to thin memory foam pillows, it was easy to crown Bluewave Beddings the best. With prompt customer service, and great after sales support (including a 30 day no questions asked refund period), there is instantly a lot to like about the company.
But a brand is only as good as their product. And I am happy to report that Bluewave Bedding’s thin pillow was the preferred pillow of ten stomach and back sleepers.
Interestingly, Bluewave bedding was the only memory foam pillow brand to use gel-infused memory foam, which is supposed to help you sleep cooler at night (memory foam products often sleep warm). Truth be told, we found little difference between the gel memory foam temperature, and the standard memory foam found in other thin pillows.
But the pillow is supportive and comfortable, and the unusual trapezium design offered a slightly different experience depending on the side of the pillow you slept on.
The pillow does allow for slight sink age, cradling the head and offering support. But not so much that my head could feel the mattress below. The lower height helped keep stomach sleepers spine aligned and even back sleepers reported the pillow to be comfortable to use.
Bluewave bedding offers two different heights, 2.5” and 2.75”. While difference between the two is marginal, the height difference is obvious enough to make a noticeable difference in sleeping comfort at night.
Highly recommended. And coming in at half the price of some of the other thin pillows we tested, reasonably priced too.
Is there a 100% natural thin pillow?
At the time of writing this, we could not locate a pillow that was three inches tall or less that was made of 100% natural ingredients. While the DC Labs Latex Slim Sleeper did come close, the cotton shell was bleached (cotton is naturally an ivory/white color) and appeared to be blended with polyester, as is a common on many pillows.
But we do have another solution for you.
Buckwheat pillows not only come with an unbleached cotton shell, but the natural buckwheat hulls inside can easily be removed. By removing the buckwheat hulls you can adjust the loft of the pillow, until it is as thin as you like it.
Be sure to check out the top rated buckwheat pillows here.
Be mindful that buckwheat pillows are firm, and are unsuitable for those of you looking for a soft pillow to sink your head into.
Those of you looking for a soft yet thin natural solution will have to explore low-fill pillows, that compress to a thin size when you place your head on them. Kapok is a great soft and natural filling for low-fill pillows.
Do you sleep on a thin pillow? Let me know in the comments below!