Pillows aren’t just for sleeping, and when you’re looking to sit in a comfortable position that allows your back to rest on something comfy and supportive, a backrest pillow is pretty tough to beat.
Today, we’re shifting our focus to help you find the best backrest pillow for bed sitting, but not before talking about what it means to have a good pillow and why you might need a backrest pillow yourself.
Top 3 Picks
Best for Children: Milliard Petite Reading Pillow
With its smaller size and comfortable design, the Millard Petite backrest pillow with arms might be perfect for your little one to correctly sit upright in bed.
Budget Pick: ComfortSpa Reading Pillow
When you’re shopping on a budget and have to find a backrest pillow for bed sitting, the ComfortSpa model seems to incorporate all the right elements for a good price.
Customer’s Choice: Milliard Reading Pillow
“Very comfortable and so soft! I really love that the cover comes off when it needs washing.” (Customer review)
Why You Might Need a Backrest Pillow
Sitting in an incorrect posture is one of the leading causes for back pain, regardless of whether you’re sitting in an office chair, an armchair, or even on the bed. Also known as a reading pillow, a backrest pillow can support a good posture. Sitting down usually puts strain on your muscles and joints, but when you have a correct posture, gravitational force is distributed evenly across your body, preventing any signs of strain and potential pain.
However, adopting that correct posture isn’t always easy, especially when you’re sitting upright in bed. Plenty of people choose to stack up pillows and lean their backs against the headboard, but standard pillows don’t usually provide the right amount of support. That means that your body will start to experience awkward pressure points. As you’re trying to find a comfortable position, you’re bound to keep twisting and turning, ending up compressing your spine in the process. Furthermore, the construction of standard sleeping pillows will likely cause them to lose firmness and shape, since they will constantly be rubbed and scrunched between the headboard and your back.
Backrest pillows are designed to help prevent plenty of the problems associated with upright bed sitting for long hours. They are usually made with regular or shredded memory foam, which is a material often used in mattress construction, as it provides pressure point relief and adequate support. The shape and design of these pillows also makes them a better choice for upper body weight support, with the best model capable of lasting for years on end.
What to Look for In a Backrest Pillow
When you’re shopping for a backrest pillow, it’s important to know the features in detail, as this will help you determine what is the best product for you. The things that you have to pay attention to include:
The fill (also called “inner material”) is one of the first things to look into. There are three main materials you’re likely to find inside a backrest pillow: memory foam, shredded foam, and microfiber/polyester fiber, so let’s talk a little bit about each. Memory foam, as you may already know, is a material with high contouring properties, meaning that it draws heat away from the body and uses it to soften the surface, offering you a softer material to lean against.
They are typically made from a single piece of memory foam that offers cradling for the neck, head, and upper side of the body. Shredded memory foam pillows are filled with just that: tinier pieces of memory foam. Each of the pieces moves independently inside the pillow and they are more flexible and easier to sculpt, capable of providing targeted support for certain areas of the body.
Shredded memory foam pillows usually retain less heat compared to memory foam (because the space in between the pieces facilitates airflow), with some models being adjustable (meaning you can add or remove the fill to make the pillow softer/firmer and adjust its loft). The final category, which consists of microfiber/polyester fiber pillows, are filled with synthetic materials that make for inexpensive pillows. They are not that great at offering support compared to memory foam or shredded memory foam pillows, and they don’t usually last that long either.
The cover of the pillow (also known as the “outer material”) is that piece of fabric that holds the fill in place. Naturally, different material will offer different properties, with advantages and drawbacks that have to be taken into consideration prior to making a purchase. Some of the most common materials include: faux suede (which resembles the look and feel of animal suede; it can repel stains due to its tight weave, is typically easy to clean, and is made from a durable synthetic fiber), velvet (a material with a very distinctive feel, making pillows look luxurious and shiny; the durability of the pillow is influence by the type of velvet use, with silk velvet being more delicate, while mohair or wool velvet are more durable), velour (a material with a soft feel, which is easy to clean, less expensive, and highly stretchable compared to velvet), and corduroy (generally made from a cotton blend, has a unique feel sue to the ridges that run across the fabric’s length; isn’t a suitable choice for households with pets as the material snags on claws).
There are two different backrest pillow styles that you will come across in your product research endeavors. The first style is traditional (these pillows are also known as “husband pillows”), characterized by high backrests and lateral arms. Traditional pillows offer enough support for the upper side of the body. Some models even more with removable/adjustable neck pillows, aside from a bunch of extra features (such as side pockets or cup holders). The second category consists of wedge pillows, which have a sloped shape and can be used for sitting and sleeping alike. These pillows are also a common choice amongst people that suffer from sleep apnea, poor circulation, back pain, acid reflux, etc. Some models have high inclines that allow you to incline them against the headboard of the bed. They are usually made from memory foam and the degree of the slope needs to be carefully chosen depending on a person’s particular needs.
In terms of aesthetic, you have different colors and patterns to choose from, but that depends on the brand. Most people are drawn to neutral colors because they can fit into different types of room decors and regardless of the chromatic scheme of the room. Furthermore, neutral tones are useful because whenever you change your room decor, the style and color will still fit regardless of the new colors chosen.
Extra features might be important to some people, but know they are not mandatory for the proper functioning of the pillow. That means that with or without these features, the pillow will still be able to fulfill its purpose and give you the support and comfort you need. Some pillows are equipped with handles, which makes it easier for you to reposition them or carry them to a new location. Armrests are a common extra feature, but they are not a mandatory one (a backrest pillow with arms is usually larger than other models). Cup holders are a nice feature because they can hold your beverage in place when you’re working on your laptop or reading a book in bed. If you opt for a pillow with packers, you will have a place for holding the items you want to have nearby, such as your phone or your glasses. Removable covers are a nice feature because they make it easier to clean the pillow.
Best Backrest Pillows
The WOWMAX is a large wedge pillow that runs across the entire width of the bed, meaning that two people can use it simultaneously. This pillow has a button-tufted design and serves a decorative and functional purpose alike. It is filled with polyester fibers and has a cover made from a polyester blend. The cover is secured with a zipper and can be removed for easier cleaning. There are four different size options to choose from, with the smallest one being 20” H x 54” W x 8” D and the largest one measuring 20” H x 76” W x 8” D. You also have seven different color options, including yellow and blue.
- 4 size options.
- Removable and washable cover.
- Can serve as a headboard alternative.
- Loft is not adjustable.
A cost-effective option for everyone looking for a husband pillow that doesn’t cost a fortune is this model by Ebern Designs. It measures 23” H x 34” W x 22” D and is made from recycled polyester fill and features a cover that’s made from pretty much the same material. It has a handle located on the top side, to make it easier to manipulate the pillow and enhance its portability. It has side armrests that provide comfort and support for your arms, but also a nice feeling of being hugged due to the shape of the pillow.
- Armrests included.
- Convenient carrying handle on top.
- Made with recycled fibers.
- Cover is not removable.
Another comfortable reading pillow is the one by Milliard, available in multiple size options. For travel, their Petite 14-inch pillow is the best, as it is highly portable and small enough to be used on sofas and armchairs as well. The pillow measures 19.21 x 7.99 x 2.09 inches and comes with a removable fill that allows you to adjust the loft and the firmness of the pillow to make sure it meets your needs. It is filled with shredded memory foam and covered in a velour fabric that can be removed thanks to the integrated zipper design.
- Adjustable loft.
- Various sizes available.
- Good for travel.
- Doesn’t offer standalone support.
This is basically the 18-inch version of the 14-inch people we showed you earlier, being perfect for those looking for a larger product to use at home. It measures 14.96 x 11.02 x 17.72 inches and has the same construction as the model above, meaning that it also provides the same benefits. It is filled with removable shredded memory foam as the velour cover offers zippered access to the contents. The cover can also be removed and cleaned, which is always a plus with backrest pillows.
- Removable fill.
- Top carrying handle.
- Removable and washable cover.
- Requires time to decompress after unboxing.
Another amazing backrest pillow with arms is this model right here, delivered by ComfortSpa. It is filled with shredded memory foam which provides better air circulation and makes the pillow easier to maneuver. Much like the models before, this pillow also comes with a velour cover that feels really soft to the touch. There is a carrying handle located on the top so you can easily move the pillow around and adjust it as needed. There is also a side pocket that can hold your phone, remove control, earbuds, glasses, or whatever it is that you can to fit in there.
- Convenient carrying handle.
- Side pocket included.
- Comfortable shredded memory foam fill.
- Complaints about strong odor.
Similar to some of the other models we’ve looked at today, the ComfortCloud pillow promises to be your support buddy whenever you’re in need of doing some extra laptop work, reading, watching TV, or can perform other activities that can be done while sitting upright in bed. This product is designed with a removable cover that makes it easy to care for the pillow whenever it gets smelly or dirty. The velour cover can be unzipped to reveal bits of shredded memory foam which can be removed if you want the pillow to have less loft.
- Removable cover.
- Adjustable loft.
- Side pockets included.
- A bit too small for adults, better suited for children.
The final product that we wanted to show you today is a large pillow that can support your upper back and is available in lots of sizes that make it suitable for one and even two people. Created with a button-tufted design, this pillow offers great support and a design that looks pretty good from an aesthetic point of view. The pillow is filled with high-resilience polyester fiber and neatly covered in Korean suede fabric. The cover has a concealed zipper that makes it easy to remove and clean in your home washing machine.
- Multiple size options.
- Come with extra sets of buttons.
- Removable and washable cover.
- Not as firm as pictured.
What is the best pillow for sitting up in bed?
Husband pillows are often appreciated for their design, which allows them to provide proper upper body support while you’re sitting upright in bed. Memory foam and shredded memory foam pillows are the optimal choice, as they provide close conforming and proper support.
What is the best back rest pillow?
The best backrest pillow is the one that caters to your needs, while also managing to provide you with enough upper body support in the process. These pillows are usually made with a single block of memory foam or shredded foam (which is a better option if regular foam is too hot for you).
What is a pillow with arm rests called?
Pillows with armrests are often referred to as “backrest” or “husband” pillows.
Are husband pillows good for back?
Yes. In fact, they are recommended by plenty of experts to people that are known for adopting incorrect postures while sitting in bed, but know they can also be used on sofas, armchairs, and other seating surfaces.
There are plenty of reasons why backrest pillows will always trump regular pillows stacked on top of each other and leaned against the headboard. Designed to offer better support and sometimes equipped with extras that make using the pillow even more practical and comfortable, backrest pillows are designed to provide support to the upper part of your body while you’re sitting down in an otherwise incorrect posture.