Home / Best Pillows of 2022 / Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

Daniel Noyed

Written by

Daniel Noyed, Certified Sleep Coach

Jenny Iyo

Medically Reviewed by

Jenny Iyo, Physical Therapist

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Methodology

We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guide to provide accurate, data-driven recommendations. Learn More

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After our most recent round of pillow tests, we've updated this page to include the Cozy Earth Silk Pillow as the best luxury pick. We've also upgraded the Saatva Latex Pillow to the best overall spot.

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More people prefer side sleeping than any other sleep position. If you are a side sleeper, the best mattress should provide adequate cushioning and support in order to 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 just as 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.

The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

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.

Product Details

Saatva Latex Pillow

Best Overall

Saatva Latex Pillow

Saatva Latex Pillow
Price: $155 - Queen $175 - King
Fill: Shredded 100% American Talalay latex and down alternative
Firmness: Medium Soft
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who prefer pillows with adjustable thickness levels
  • Hot sleepers
  • People who wake up with sore necks
Highlights:
  • Balanced support thanks to responsive latex core cushioned with down-like microdenier fibers
  • Chambered design allows owners to adjust the loft
  • Cotton cover is breathable and certified as organic
Saatva Latex Pillow

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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.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“If you can’t decide between a supportive or plush pillow, the Saatva Latex offers the best of both worlds with its double-chambered design. And thanks to the adjustable loft, most testers on our team found this model comfortable.”

Layla Kapok Pillow

Best Neck Support

Layla Kapok Pillow

Layla Kapok Pillow
Price: $99 - Queen $119 - King
Fill: Shredded memory foam and kapok tree fiber blend
Firmness: Medium Soft
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers looking for a medium loft pillow
  • People who prefer a soft and conforming pillow feel
  • Hot sleepers
Highlights:
  • High-loft design encourages spinal alignment for side sleepers
  • Memory foam gently contours to the head and neck
  • Copper infusion intended to reduce heat retention
Layla Kapok Pillow

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Layla pillows

The Layla Kapok Pillow features a fill made from shredded memory foam and fibers from the kapok tree. The memory foam is infused with copper, which is meant to prevent 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 Kapok 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 Kapok 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.

The Layla Kapok 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. The pillow is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“Our test team recommends the Layla Kapok for sleepers who like to snuggle pillows and also need a fair amount of firmness. The shredded foam is moldable but doesn’t compromise on support.”

Brooklinen Down Pillow

Most Comfortable

Brooklinen Down Pillow

Brooklinen Down Pillow
Price: $69-$99 - Standard $89-$119 - King
Fill: Canadian white down with feather core
Firmness: Plush, Mid-Plush, Firm
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers looking for a high loft pillow
  • People who prefer the plush, airy feel of a down/feather pillow
  • Hot sleepers
Highlights:
  • Fill consists of lofty, authentic down
  • Available in three loft/firmness options
  • Dense feather core improves support while maintaining a plush feel for the head and neck
Brooklinen Down Pillow

New Brooklinen Customers can use code HOLIDAY15 to get 15% off their orders

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. Many down pillows sink deeply and do not offer enough support for side sleepers, but 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 in a sateen weave. You won’t need to worry about this pillow absorbing and trapping body heat like those made of foam. The fill materials have certification from the Down Association of Canada (where the down is produced), ensuring the down is ethically sourced.

Down pillows can be very pricey, but the Brooklinen model is fairly affordable. 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.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The side sleepers in our test lab really enjoyed the high loft of the Brooklinen Down Pillow. We found that the cushioning of the down prevented the pillow from cranking the neck too high.”

Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow

Best Value

Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow

Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow
Price: $99 - Queen $119 - King
Fill: Plant-based down alternative fibers
Firmness: Medium
Who it's best for:
  • People who are allergic to real down
  • Hot sleepers
  • Value seekers
Highlights:
  • Lofty, breathable down alternative fill derived from plant matter
  • Cotton cover is soft and silky-smooth
  • Pillow can be washed and dried in any household machine
Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Sweet Zzz pillows

Finding a high-quality pillow with a reasonable price-point can be somewhat challenging. The Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow is constructed with fill and cover materials that are both breathable and long-lasting. For a model with such thoughtful construction, the pillow is quite affordable and a great option for shoppers with limited budgets.

The pillow’s fill is composed of plant-based down alternative fibers that mimic the natural loftiness and softness of real down without triggering allergy symptoms or using animal-based components. A cotton cover encases the fill. The fabric is luxuriously smooth and well suited to people with sensitive skin.

While the pillow should be thick enough for most side and back sleepers, the fill may flatten over time. Whenever this occurs, you can re-expand the shape by placing the pillow in any household dryer. The entire pillow is also fully machine-washable, so cleaning is a quick and easy process. Simply wash on a cold, gentle cycle and tumble dry on low.

Queen and king sizes are available for the Plant-Based Pillow. Both sizes are competitively priced and Sweet Zzz offers free ground shipping throughout the contiguous U.S., as well as reasonable flat rates for Canadian customers. Each purchase is backed by a 50-night trial period and a 1-year warranty against structural defects.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“Our testers saw no distinction between down pillows and this down alternative pillow from Sweet Zzz. It has all the luxurious softness and loft of a down pillow but without the potential allergy triggers.”

GhostBed GhostPillow - Memory Foam

Best Cooling

GhostBed GhostPillow - Memory Foam

GhostBed GhostPillow - Memory Foam
Price: $95
Fill: Aerated Gel Memory Foam
Firmness: Medium Firm
Who it's best for:
  • Value seekers
  • Hot sleepers who prefer foam
  • People who experience pressure points
Highlights:
  • Perforated memory foam enhances airflow
  • High loft level performs well for side sleepers
  • Competitive price-point
GhostBed GhostPillow - Memory Foam

SF Readers get 25% off pillows at GhostBed

Memory foam pillows often retain body heat, which can cause sleepers to overheat. The GhostBed GhostPillow – Memory Foam 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.

Side sleepers who want a high-quality pillow at a budget-friendly price-point will want to consider this pick. 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.

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.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“Even though foam pillows tend to run hot, GhostBed did a nice job keeping the GhostPillow cool despite its memory foam core. The cooling fabric and phase change material make this pillow cooler than many of the other foam pillows we’ve tested.”

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

Best for Neck Pain

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow
Price: $120
Fill: 75% Latex and 25% Polyester Fiber
Firmness: Medium, adjustable
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers looking for pillow with an adjustable loft and firmness
  • Hot sleepers
  • Side sleepers who want support for the head and neck
Highlights:
  • Specifically designed for side sleepers
  • U-shaped design accommodates the shoulder, reducing pressure on the neck
  • Breathable organic cotton and polyester cover
Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

SleepFoundation readers get 20% off. Discount automatically applied to cart.

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.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The side sleepers on our team found that the subtle U-shape of the Cotton Side-Sleeper really helped reduce pressure against the shoulders, which can sometimes occur with conventional rectangular pillows.”

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

Best for Spinal Alignment

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow
Price: $89 - Queen $99 - King
Fill: Talalay latex foam
Firmness: Medium firm
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • People who are prone to sore necks during sleep
  • Those who enjoy the responsive feel of latex
Highlights:
  • Talalay latex balances contouring and support
  • Two loft options
  • Cotton cover enhances breathability
Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Brooklyn Bedding pillows

If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll want to find a pillow with the right combination of loft and contouring to ensure your neck is supported without being cranked too high. The Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow provides gentle cushioning, and is available in two loft options. This design helps ensure an even balance of cradling and support to promote healthy spinal alignment for different side sleepers.

The pillow is composed of solid Talalay latex, which moderately contours to the head and neck but also feels bouncy and supportive. The cover consists of organic cotton, a material known for its breathability and lightweight feel. Latex is naturally breathable, as well, so this pillow will feel very comfortable for sleepers who are prone to overheating.

The low-loft model is 4 inches thick and the high-loft model is 6 inches thick. While loft can be a matter of personal preference, side sleepers may prefer the higher loft pillow to ensure adequate support and cushioning for the head and neck. The cover is machine-washable on a gentle cycle and low tumble dry setting, but the insert should be spot cleaned only.

Brooklyn Bedding offers a 30-night sleep trial with this pillow, as well as a 3-year warranty for shoppers who decide to keep the pillow. Shipping is free within the contiguous U.S.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“We’ve tested a lot of pillows that improve spinal alignment, but the Talalay Latex stands out by offering close contouring without compromising support.”

Brooklinen Marlow Pillow

Best Custom Firmness

Brooklinen Marlow Pillow

Brooklinen Marlow Pillow
Price: $65 - Standard $85 - King
Fill: 80% memory foam, 20% polyester fiber
Firmness: Adjustable
Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • Those who are unsure of their ideal firmness and loft
  • Anyone seeking pressure relief for the neck at night
Highlights:
  • Adjustable loft and firmness
  • Solid memory foam contours evenly for a balance of contouring and support
  • 365-day return policy
Brooklinen Marlow Pillow

Limited time only! New and returning Brooklinen customers get 15% off all sheets and pillows with our code: SF15

Many pillows offer adjustable loft, but few allow you to customize firmness level. The Marlow Pillow is a memory foam model with a unique design that lets sleepers adjust firmness with ease.

The pillow is filled with 80% memory foam and 20% polyester fiber. The shell is 100% cotton, with a mesh gusset made from polyester. Customers can adjust the firmness and loft through a simple zippered construction. If you prefer a pillow with higher loft and a firmer feel, you may zip the side of the cover. If you wish to decrease the loft and firmness, simply unzip the side.

Regardless of the firmness option you choose, the foam construction provides excellent contouring for your head and neck without sacrificing support. Side sleepers should find the cradling quite comfortable. Back sleepers typically need substantial support as well as moderate contouring, and the adjustable firmness will allow them to pick the loft that suits them best.

The Marlow comes with a generous 365-day return policy as well as a 2-year warranty. Shipping is free within the contiguous U.S.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“Sometimes it’s hard to know if you need a high or low loft pillow, which is why our testers love the Marlow’s innovative design. A simple zip or unzip lets you change the loft to fit your needs.”

Boll & Branch Down Pillow

Softest

Boll & Branch Down Pillow

Boll & Branch Down Pillow
Price: $158-198 - Standard $168-228 - King
Fill: Down, down-feather core
Firmness: Soft, Medium Firm, Firm
Who it's best for:
  • Shoppers seeking a down pillow with above-average firmness
  • Sleepers who enjoy snuggling their pillow
  • Side and back sleepers
Highlights:
  • Three firmness options
  • Down fill provides luxurious, fluffy feel
  • Breathable cotton shell helps ventilate the pillow
Boll & Branch Down Pillow

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Down pillows are known for their luxurious plushness, and the Boll & Branch Down Pillow is a standout example. The fluffy feel of this well-constructed pillow is synonymous with high-end bedding, and the multiple firmness options should appeal to a wide array of sleepers.

The pillow is available in a soft, medium, and firm model. The softer options cater to sleepers who enjoy deep sinkage and contouring, while the firm model is best for sleepers who need additional support to keep the head and neck aligned with the spine. Regardless of firmness, all pillows have the lightweight, lofty feel that people typically associate with down. The insert is encased in a shell made of 100% cotton, which has breathable properties to help keep the pillow cool at night.

Shoppers may choose between standard and king size. All pillows come with a 30-night sleep trial and Boll & Branch provides free shipping for all orders to the contiguous U.S.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“Most down pillows that we’ve tested are on the softer side, so our testers appreciated the firmer versions of this Boll & Branch model. You get the plushness and fluffiness but with more support than the average down pillow.”

Cozy Earth Silk Pillow

Best Luxury

Cozy Earth Silk Pillow

Cozy Earth Silk Pillow
Price: $263 - Standard $311 - King
Fill: 100% long-strand mulberry silk
Firmness: Medium soft
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • People who prefer exceptionally soft surfaces for their head and neck
  • High-end shoppers
Highlights:
  • Fill consists of luxurious, durable mulberry silk
  • Breathable bamboo-derived viscose shell helps the pillow sleep exceptionally cool
  • Excellent shape recovery ensures good resistance to clumping and shifting
Cozy Earth Silk Pillow

Shop Cozy Earth's biggest sale yet and get 25% to 30% off sitewide

The Cozy Earth Silk Pillow is an excellent choice for side sleepers who want to splurge a little on their pillow purchase without breaking the bank. The fill consists of mulberry silk, an exceptionally soft material that is also highly durable. The silk creates a decadent cushion for the head and neck, but each strand holds its shape well and you shouldn’t need to fluff the pillow too often.

Silk is also highly breathable, and air circulates freely throughout the pillow’s interior. Another temperature-regulating component is the cover made of viscose derived from bamboo. This material retains the natural cooling properties of its botanical source and wicks away moisture to keep you comfortable on humid nights. A sateen weave gives the fabric a luxuriously smooth feel that is ideal for people with sensitive skin.

To preserve the pillow’s structural integrity, you should only machine wash on a cold, gentle cycle and tumble dry with low heat or hang to dry. Too many laundry cycles can damage the pillow over time, so owners should spot or dry clean if minor stains or smudges occur. Cozy Earth recommends using a pillowcase to maintain a clean, hygienic surface and minimize the need for machine washing.

Given the quality and expected longevity of the Silk Pillow, its price-point is reasonable. All Cozy Earth orders come with 100-night sleep trials, giving you plenty of time to decide if the pillow is right for you. The company also backs the pillow with a warranty against shifting fill.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“We haven’t tested many pillows that match the Cozy Earth Silk Pillow in terms of softness, but I also noticed very little sinkage. The silk fibers don’t buckle like foam or other materials in comparably soft pillows.”

Why You Can Trust Us

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.

How We Evaluated These Pillows

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.

The Benefits of Side Sleeping


Side sleeping is the most popular sleeping position among U.S. adults. This position has a few advantages over back or stomach sleeping. For one, side sleeping can minimize snoring because it keeps your airway open; back sleepers snore more often because the tongue falls back into the throat, creating an obstruction for the airway. Side sleeping can be beneficial to people with sleep apnea and/or acid reflux for the same reason. If you’re a pregnant woman, chances are you’ll feel more comfortable on your side than you will in other sleep positions; a bolster pillow for the legs or knees can also provide comfort for pregnant sleepers.

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.

How to Choose a Pillow for Side Sleepers

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 best 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.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Pillow for Side Sleepers

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.

Key Points
  • Loft: Loft, or thickness, is arguably the most important consideration for side sleeping. Most side sleepers need medium to high loft pillows that provide enough cushioning for the head and neck without sinking too low. If your thickness preferences vary by night, you may be a good candidate for a pillow with adjustable loft levels.
  • Support: Support refers to how well the pillow maintains an even surface for your head and neck. Spinal alignment is imperative for side sleepers, so you’ll want a pillow that doesn’t sink too much or elevate your head excessively. Pillows with solid foam or latex cores typically provide the best support.
  • Firmness Level: A pillow that feels too soft will probably sink too much beneath your head, leading to alignment issues and the potential for added pressure. If the pillow is too firm, then you may experience discomfort around the neck and shoulders. Pillows with mid-level firmness are usually the best choice for side sleepers because they provide a balance of contouring and support.
  • Pressure Relief: Many side sleepers feel pressure in the shoulders and hips because their mattress is not supportive enough. Likewise, pressure points may develop around the neck and shoulders if the side sleeper’s pillow does not keep these areas aligned with the spine. For this reason, side sleepers generally need a supportive pillow that also contours to the body.
  • Shape: Some fill materials compress over time, causing the pillow to flatten and feel less comfortable. You’ll need to regularly fluff these pillows in order to give them a full shape. Other materials, such as solid foam and latex, maintain their shape with less effort.
  • Price: The price of a pillow largely depends on its material components. Pillows made of polyfoam, down alternative, and feathers typically have the lowest price-points, while those with memory foam, latex, down, and buckwheat hulls tend to be the most expensive models. That said, you should be able to find a high-quality pillow with any fill material for $150 or less in a queen size.
  • Quality Materials: The materials used to construct a pillow’s cover and inner components can impact a wide range of qualities, including durability, temperature regulation, and shape retention. You may pay more for a pillow with higher-quality components, but you can also count on more longevity and stronger performance from many of these models.

What Pillow Materials Are Best for Side Sleepers?

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, However, the amount of comfort a pillow offers side sleepers depends on a few other factors. The most common pillow materials are outlined below.

  • Memory Foam: Memory foam, or viscoelastic polyurethane foam, is engineered to feel softer when it comes into contact with body heat. This creates deep conforming for your head and neck when lying on a memory foam pillow, which can help to align the spine and reduce pressure in different areas.
  • Buckwheat: Buckwheat pillows are filled with hulls, the hard outer casings of buckwheat kernels. These pillows have a very firm and supportive feel; many liken them to hard bean bags. Most buckwheat pillows can be adjusted for loft by adding or removing kernels, and they promote good airflow, too.
  • Feather: Feathers are the outer plumage of ducks and geese. While light and airy, feathers have a coarser and denser feel than down. As a result, side sleepers won’t sink as deeply into the pillow. Feather pillows also sleep very cool and offer good durability compared to other pillow types.
  • Latex: Latex is a substance derived from the sappy extract of rubber trees. When molded into a foam, latex contours to the body like foam but feels much more responsive. Side sleepers may find a latex pillow more supportive since the material does not sink as deeply.
  • Down: Down is the soft inner plumage of ducks and geese. The material is exceptionally airy and light, and it also promotes insulation. To ensure adequate support for sleepers, many down pillows are reinforced with feathers in their outer chambers. This prevents side sleepers from sinking excessively.
  • Polyfoam: Polyfoam molds to the body but it also feels more responsive. You won’t feel the same deep contour as memory foam, but the material is more adaptive than latex. Polyfoam has a tendency to sleep hot, but many manufacturers ventilate or aerate their foam to minimize body heat absorption.

What Size Pillows Are Available?

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.
Scroll L – R for more details

Other Tips for Side Sleepers

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What pillow types are best for side sleepers?

    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 doublecheck that these will work for their sleep position before purchasing.

  • What pillow loft works best for side sleepers?

    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 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.

  • What pillow type is best for side sleepers with neck pain?

    Side sleepers with neck pain should first check that their pillow is firm enough and at the correct loft. If the firmness and loft are comfortable, then a memory foam. Neck pain can result from your neck and head being misaligned with your spine throughout the night. It can also be exacerbated by an incompatible 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.

  • How firm should a pillow be for a side sleeper?

    A medium to medium firm pillow is ideal for side sleepers. If a pillow is too soft, side sleepers may also sink so far that the pillow covers the mouth, causing discomfort. 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.

Still have questions?

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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About Our Editorial Team

author
Daniel Noyed

Certified Sleep Coach

Danny is a Certified Sleep Science Coach with an in-depth knowledge of sleep health. He has tested hundreds of mattresses and sleep products.

author
Jenny Iyo

Physical Therapist

DPT

Dr. Iyo is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at an orthopedic clinic in Seattle. She specializes in hands-on therapy and tailored exercise programs.