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More people prefer side sleeping than any other sleep position. When you lie on a mattress that provides adequate cushioning and support, sleeping on one side can promote even spinal alignment. This helps to reduce pressure points all over the body, including sensitive areas such as the shoulders and hips.
That said, it’s important to choose the proper pillow while sleeping in this position. Side sleepers generally need thicker pillows to fill the space beneath their head and neck. Pillows that are too thin do not provide enough cushioning, while excessively thick pillows can interfere with spinal alignment and lead to more pressure points.
Our team came up with a list of the best pillows for side sleepers. These selections are based on experiences from verified owners and customers, along with our own product research and testing. We evaluated criteria such as firmness, support, pressure relief, and overall comfort.
We provide an overview about each of our picks, covering features that set each pillow apart from the competition. Further down, we’ll take a closer look at how pillows affect side sleeping and offer a few tips for choosing a pillow based on thickness, material composition, price, and other factors.
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Our best side sleeper pillow picks begin with the Layla Pillow, which is filled with shredded memory foam and fibers from the kapok tree. The memory foam is infused with copper, which has natural cooling properties and prevents the pillow from retaining too much body heat. Copper has antimicrobial properties, as well. The kapok fibers are exceptionally soft with a down-like consistency, giving the pillow a very plush surface feel as the memory foam conforms to the head and neck.
The Layla Pillow measures 4 inches thick, making it a medium loft model. Medium loft pillows can be ideal for side sleepers because they provide excellent cushioning for the head and neck without sinking too deeply or feeling too tall. For many, this results in even spinal alignment. The Layla Pillow is highly moldable and snuggly, as well, making it a good option for people who prefer cuddling with a pillow while they sleep. The pillow can also serve as a comfortable bolster for side sleepers beneath the legs or between the knees.
At $99 in a queen size, the Layla Pillow has a mid-range price-point compared to other shredded memory foam pillows. Shipping is free for those who live in the contiguous U.S. If you reside in Alaska or Hawaii, you’ll only pay a $20 fee for your delivery. The pillow is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty.
Best Neck Support
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Most side sleepers feel comfortable using high-loft pillows because added thickness ensures adequate head and neck support. However, some who favor this position prefer low- to medium-loft instead. The Saatva Latex Pillow should serve all side sleepers regardless of their loft leanings thanks to its adjustable design.
The core consists of shredded Talalay latex that contours closely without buckling or sinking, while the outer chamber contains plush microdenier fibers meant to mimic the feel of natural down. When used together, the pillow has an 8-inch profile, but owners can separate the two components to create less loft if that’s what they prefer.
The pillow’s shell is composed of organic cotton, and you may add cotton-sateen pillowcases to your order for a small surcharge. Both the cover and the microdenier chamber are fully machine-washable for easy care at home, though the latex should never be laundered or exposed to excess moisture. Saatva recommends washing the pillow two times per year. The expected lifespan is about 3 years.
Given the Saatva Latex Pillow’s luxurious materials and high-quality construction, its price-point is quite reasonable, and shipping is free for all customers in the contiguous U.S. Your purchase comes with a 45-night sleep trial, as well as a 1-year warranty with coverage that begins after the trial period ends.
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Side sleepers who want a high-quality pillow at a budget-friendly price-point will want to consider the GhostBed GhostPillow – Memory Foam. This model’s pressure-relieving memory foam and medium firm feel offer ample support and cushioning, two qualities side sleepers tend to prefer in a pillow. The 6-inch loft level also helps keep your head and spine properly aligned while you sleep.
Memory foam pillows often retain body heat, which can cause sleepers to overheat. This pillow boasts a core made of solid, gel-infused memory foam that’s perforated to increase airflow, helping it control temperature better than traditional memory foam.
A layer of phase change material and a cover made from proprietary Ghost Ice fabric keep the pillow’s surface cool against your skin. Sleepers who prefer a plush cover can opt for the cotton velour side instead of the Ghost Ice fabric. Thin mesh separates the core from the cover and enhances breathability. Though the core can’t be washed, the cover can be laundered in your home machine.
Shoppers can purchase the GhostPillow – Memory Foam in one standard size that’s backed by a 5-year warranty covering structural and workmanship defects. Shipping is free to shoppers in the contiguous U.S. as is a 101-night sleep trial. Those who want to return their pillow must first try it for 30 days.
Best for Neck Pain
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The Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow is constructed with a distinctive U-curve on the bottom end, designed as a space for the shoulder to rest while sleeping. The top of the pillow provides plenty of support and conforming for the head and neck to help reduce neck pain and keep the spine aligned.
The pillow has a medium firmness feel, built from its combination of latex and polyester fiber fill. The outer casing is made from a breathable blend of organic cotton and polyester and can be machine washed for easy care. The organic cotton, latex, and polyester all help the pillow resist the buildup of common allergens as well.
The Side-Sleeper Pillow has a medium- to high-loft that is well-suited to the needs of side sleepers. The loft can be adjusted by adding or removing fill, with additional bags of fill available for a small charge. Adjusting the pillow’s loft will also affect its firmness, allowing it to adapt to a variety of different sleepers.
The Eli & Elm pillow ships free to the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 45-day return period as well as a 5-year warranty.
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The Birch Organic Pillow should appeal to side sleepers and eco-conscious individuals alike. The core contains shredded natural latex while the outer chamber is cushioned in organic wool, resulting in a plush medium feel, but the loft is also substantial enough to make the pillow feel supportive enough for side sleeping. The wool is sourced using cruelty-free means while the organic cotton cover has received certification from the GOTS, so sustainability-minded individuals can also rest easy knowing their pillow has been responsibly produced.
Hot sleepers should also enjoy this pillow for its breathability and cooling capabilities. The shredded latex promotes airflow without absorbing body heat, while the wool and cotton both wick away moisture to keep you dry and comfortable even during hot and humid times of the year. While the pillow shouldn’t be machine washed, you may tumble dry it to expand the full shape whenever it flattens after continuous use.
Although latex pillows tend to be expensive, this one is a notable option – its price-point falls well below average. Shipping is also free to anyone in the contiguous U.S. Each purchase includes a sleep trial that spans 100 nights, and those who keep the pillow also receive a 1-year warranty against certain structural defects.
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The Avocado Organic Luxury Plush Pillow is a latex pillow that derives much of its comfort from a chambered design cushioned with naturally plush materials. This thoughtful design gives the pillow a luxurious, medium soft feel.
The Luxury Plush Pillow is constructed with three chambers, with a solid piece of removable Talalay latex comprising the core. The latex conforms to your neck and head but is still firm enough to provide moderate support. The top and bottom chambers of the pillow contain layers of wool, silk, and mohair, which create a soft feel on the pillow’s surface. The pillow is encased in GOTS-certified organic cotton.
This model is an optimal fit for side and back sleepers, since these sleep positions benefit from pillows that balance contouring for the neck and support for the head. Latex offers natural ventilation as does cotton, while the wool, mohair, and silk excel at wicking moisture. These features should appeal to hot sleepers and those who prioritize a pillow with good temperature regulation.
Avocado offers a 100-night sleep trial and 1-year warranty with this pillow. Shipping is free within the contiguous U.S.
Best Firmness Options
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Down – which refers to the soft inner plumage of geese and ducks – is a popular pillow material due to its naturally soft and airy texture. Unfortunately, many down pillows sink quite deeply and do not offer enough support for side sleepers. Our next pick, the Brooklinen Down Pillow, is a notable exception. This pillow is available in three firmness levels. The mid-level and firm feels have a chambered design with softer down at the surface and denser feathers making up the core. This ensures more overall support without sacrificing the plush feel of natural down.
The Brooklinen Down Pillow has a higher loft. The down and feathers will compress a bit, but the pillow should provide enough cushioning for most side sleepers. The down and feathers also sleep exceptionally cool, and the cover is made from smooth cotton sateen. You won’t need to worry about this pillow absorbing and trapping body heat like those made of foam. The fill materials have also earned the pillow certification from the Down Association of Canada (where it is produced), giving you extra peace of mind as a consumer.
Down pillows can be very pricey, but the Brooklinen model is fairly affordable at less than $120 in any size. Please note the plush pillows are a bit more expensive than the other two firmness levels. Brooklinen offers a 365-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty for the pillow, both of which are exceptionally long.
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The Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow delivers adjustable support that a wide range of side sleepers will find comfortable. The shredded Talalay latex and microfiber fill is particularly well suited to hot sleepers and those who prefer a pillow that prioritizes airflow. Latex effectively relieves pressure build-up, but without the heat retention that can come with other materials like memory foam.
Shoppers searching for an adjustable pillow should also consider this model, as its loft level can be easily customized by adding or removing fill. Additionally, this model has a unique construction that’s slightly curved at the bottom to create an ergonomic shape that leaves room for side sleepers’ shoulders. Sleep Artisan also recommends this pillow for back sleepers, while stomach sleepers may prefer a more traditionally shaped model.
Our in-house testing found that this pillow conforms closely to your head and neck while in use, then bounces quickly back to its original shape. The cover is crafted from a breathable blend of organic cotton, polyester, and hemp.
You can purchase the Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow in one standard dimension and have the choice to add on a compatible pillowcase at checkout. Shipping is free within the contiguous U.S. and returns are accepted within 30 days of delivery.
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Many people long for the plush luxury feel of hotel pillows and bedding. How does one obtain this? By buying from the source itself. The Pacific Coast Hotel Touch of Down Pillow is found in luxury hotels worldwide, and for good reason. This pillow features a pillow-in-a-pillow construction filled with fluffy down and feather.
The Touch of Down Pillow contains an inner pillow filled with Resilia feathers, which are fluffier and more resilient than most feathers. This inner pillow is surrounded by high quality down, which is known for fluffiness, warmth and durability. To ensure a hypo-allergenic pillow, both the feathers and down have been washed at least 8 times. The pillow cover is made from 230-thread count 100 percent cotton, which is soft, breathable, and resilient.
Pacific Coast offers a 30 night sleep trial for the Touch of Down, so you can try before you commit. They also offer a 3-year limited warranty.
Our expert team includes product testers and researchers who bring years of experience to our guides and reviews. We also cover a wide range of body types and sleep positions to ensure every type of sleeper is represented. To select the best pillows for side sleepers, we heavily relied on feedback from testers who exclusively or primarily use the side position. However, we also sought input from back, stomach, and combination sleepers to make our recommendations as comprehensive as possible.
Our hands-on testing process involves each person lying on the pillow for several minutes to evaluate support, pressure relief, and other qualities. While these particular evaluations focused on side sleeping, we asked the testers to change positions to see if the pillow felt more or less comfortable. The top picks listed above reflect pillows that earned the most favorable ratings during these tests.
Side sleeping can also align the spine and reduce discomfort in the shoulders, hips, and other areas where pressure points tend to develop. However, this is contingent on a mattress and pillow that offer enough support to align your head and neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips.
Keep reading to learn about special pillow considerations for side sleepers, and how to choose a pillow model based on your body type and personal preferences.
The best pillow for side sleepers will provide adequate cushioning to support the head and neck. Pillows that either sink too deeply or feel too thick can interfere with spinal alignment, and neck and shoulder aches typically occur as a result. In determining the right pillow, you should look at several factors, including loft, firmness level, and material composition. In the next few sections, we’ll discuss how side sleepers can find a pillow that will work for them.
In your research for a pillow that is compatible with side sleeping, you’ll no doubt come across pillow manufacturers who claim their products are suitable for all sleep positions, or that their pillows’ construction and materials offer universal comfort for all sleepers regardless of body type or personal preference. These marketing claims are misleading. Each pillow is uniquely designed to provide a distinct feel. Given the demands of different sleep positions, any pillow you select will be better suited to some sleepers and less so for others.
Rather than using marketing jargon to guide your pillow search, focus on the following attributes instead.
The best pillow fill materials for side sleepers include memory foam, latex, buckwheat hulls, and other components that offer sufficient support without feeling too firm. However, how comfortable or uncomfortable a pillow feels for side sleeping depends on a few other factors. The most common pillow materials are outlined below.
The most popular pillow sizes are standard, queen, and king. However, some manufacturers offer additional sizes to accommodate sleepers with different preferences. The following table lists facts and figures for the five most common pillow sizes. For the dimensions column, please note these are average measurements that will differ from brand to brand.
|Size||Dimensions (Width x Length)||Availability||Best Suited for…|
|Standard||20W” x 26L”||Very common||Standard pillows are the most compact options. They are also the least expensive on average. You can get by with one standard pillow on a twin, twin XL, or full size mattress, but you’ll want at least two for larger mattress sizes.|
|Super Standard||20W” x 28L”||Rare||The super standard is slightly longer than the standard, so this size may be a good option if you find standards too small. However, you may have to do some digging – most major pillow manufacturers don’t offer this size.|
|Queen||20W” x 30L”||Common||A queen size pillow is 4 inches longer than the standard, providing more room for people who toss and turn or use the entire surface of their pillow.|
|King||20W” x 36L”||Very common||King size pillows offer the most length among common pillow sizes. This ensures ample room for anyone who tosses and turns, or otherwise moves around in bed. However, king size pillows tend to be the most expensive models.|
|Body||48W” x 20L” (or wider)||Rare||A body pillow is at least 4 feet wide, and should be ideal for anyone who enjoys snuggling with a pillow. Pregnant women often find body pillows comfortable when placed between their knees.|
In addition to selecting a supportive pillow that promotes spinal alignment, side sleepers can use the following strategies for sleeping comfortably each night.
Choose the Right Mattress: The best mattress for side sleepers will provide ample cushioning to the shoulders and hips in order to align the spine and alleviate pressure in different areas. Most side sleepers prefer mattresses with softer feels that conform closely to the body without sinking too much beneath their heavier areas.
Use a Pillow Between the Knees: A pillow between the knees can also improve spinal alignment and reduce pressure in the lower back and hips. Pillows filled with down/feathers, shredded foam, and other moldable materials tend to be most comfortable. You may also find more comfort and pressure relief by placing the pillow beneath your legs.
Invest in a Mattress Topper: A topper is a single layer of cushioning material placed on top of your mattress. Toppers can measure up to 4 inches thick, so using one can make your mattress feel significantly softer or firmer. For side sleepers, the right topper can mean closer conforming, better spinal alignment, and less pressure.
Some side sleepers prefer down or down alternative pillows, while others find that foam or other specialty pillows work better for them. Down and down alternative pillows have a comfortable, classic feel, but they are not always firm enough to offer side sleepers the neck support they need for proper spinal alignment. Because of this, side sleepers who use a down pillow should ensure theirs has a high enough loft to provide support.
Foam pillows are usually firmer and are available either as a single cut piece or filled with shredded foam for easy adjustment. Single piece foam pillows sometimes have cut-outs to accommodate and support the shoulders and neck, but side sleepers should double-check that these will work for their sleep position before purchasing.
Side sleepers usually need a medium to high loft pillow in order to keep their head, neck, and spine in proper alignment. This usually means using a pillow that is, at minimum, at least 4 inches thick. However, pillow loft is dependent on both the shape of your body and how much you sink into your mattress.
People with broad shoulders may need a pillow that is over 6 inches, while people who sink deeply into their bed might find that even a 4-inch loft is too high. Adjustable pillows can be a good choice for people who are unsure what pillow loft they need.
Side sleepers with neck pain should first check that their pillow is firm enough and at the correct loft — if these are already fine, then a memory foam or contoured foam pillow may offer more relief. Neck pain can result from your neck and head not being in alignment with your spine throughout the night, or it can be unrelated to — but exacerbated by — the wrong pillow.
Memory foam pillows offer pressure relief and the right amount of compression to align your neck, while contoured foam pillows are designed to cradle the head while releasing tension from the neck and shoulders. Contoured pillows tend to be the most popular among people with neck pain, but some struggle to adjust to their unique shape.
A medium to medium-firm pillow is ideal for side sleepers. While softer pillows may seem comfortable, these compress too much to offer enough support and can lead to spinal alignment issues. Side sleepers can also sink far enough into them that the excess filling goes over the mouth, making it difficult to get comfortable.
On the other hand, extra-firm pillows can lead to tension and pain through the neck and shoulders. If you find a medium or medium-firm pillow uncomfortable or too “hard”, consider purchasing a memory foam pillow with pressure relief for a more cushioned feel.
Our product experts have extensive experience testing just about every sleep product on the market. Send an email to [email protected] with your questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
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