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Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

Welcome, side sleepers! If you’re reading this, that means you’re well on your way to finding the pillow that perfectly supports you in your go-to position. Yes, it’s true that there are literally hundreds of side-sleeper pillows out there, but I’ve saved you some time and energy by rounding up the 11 side-sleeping accessories that I think are the absolute best.

So get ready, folks, because I’m about to take you through my Best Pillows for Side Sleepers review! In this guide, I’ll give you a close look at the 10 pillows that I think are best for side sleeping, and let you in on my own methodology behind pillow-shopping. Let’s go!

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

Methodology: Picking The Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

Before we dive into the details of each pillow, let’s discuss the methodology behind my picks. Of course, a lot comes down to personal preference, but there are some key factors to consider when hunting for the perfect side-sleeper pillow:

Loft

When I’m shopping for a side-sleeper pillow, the very first thing I pay attention to is the loft, or height, of its profile. And the general rule of thumb is that side sleepers need a pillow with a higher loft (of at least 4-inches) in order to maintain neutral spine alignment and relieve pressure at the shoulders.

If you’re shopping online, scroll through the brand’s website to find the “dimensions” info in order to determine the exact loft of a pillow. Again, the loft should be at least 4-inches high. But if you’ve taken advantage of a brand’s trial period and are testing the pillow at home, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this pillow lofty enough to keep my spine in neutral alignment?
  • Is this pillow so lofty that it cranes my neck upwards, out of alignment with my spine?
  • Is this pillow’s loft providing enough pressure relief for my shoulder?

Remember — your pillow’s most important job is to promote healthy posture, and a side-sleeper pillow should be lofty enough to hold your head in neutral alignment with your spine. For more info about healthy sleeping posture, be sure to check out my guide to picking the best pillow for your position.

Firmness

The next thing I look at is firmness. In my opinion, loft and firmness go hand in hand. Why? Well, think of it this way: A high-lofted pillow won’t stay lofty for long if it’s too soft to maintain its shape. And the softer a pillow is, the more it’s going to compress under the weight of your head.

That’s why side sleepers need a pillow with a firmer level of support! A pillow with a medium-firm or firm rating is going to do a better job of maintaining its loft, which serves to keep your head aligned with your neck and spine.

Adjustable Fill

Lastly, I consider fill. It’s not mandatory, but choosing a pillow with an adjustable fill allows you to manipulate the loft and firmness in order to fit your exact needs. Again, this isn’t necessary and it’s not specific to side sleepers, but you may find that being able to customize the internal fill of your pillow helps you reach your perfect comfort zone.

For example, if you find your pillow to be too lofty or firm, simply unzip the cover and remove as much internal fill as you like. In my experience, it can take a little trial and error in order to find the perfect level of support but, trust me, good sleep is worth the effort.

Once you’ve landed on the loft and firmness that best support you, you’re ready to focus on more specific preferences. For example, do you want a pillow that feels warm or cool? Bouncy or moldable? After all, there’s a wide world of pillows out there, and it’s worth it to take every factor into consideration in order to unlock your best sleep potential!

With all that said, allow me to introduce you to the top 10 best pillows for side sleepers!

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers 2021

Editor’s Pick

Side sleeping on the Bear pillow

Bear Pillow

The Bear Pillow is my favorite pillow for side sleepers this year. I especially like it because in addition to being comfortable, it sleeps super cool.

From the cover fabric to the internal fill, every part of this pillow was made with hot sleepers in mind. Firstly, it’s covered in Phase Change Material, which is an icy-cool textile used to make fabric feel cool to the touch. And, frankly, when I first tested this pillow, I thought it had been refrigerated! Next, it’s filled with airflow-boosting ventilated foam and capped with mesh panels that increase breathability. Ultimately, this is one of the coolest pillows I’ve ever tested, and I heartily recommend it to side sleepers who run hot!

In addition to sleeping cool, this pillow is hypoallergenic, has a machine-washable cover, and has a nice medium-firm feel. Plus, it should conform nicely to your head and neck when you’re on your side. All-in-all, this pillow is definitely my top pick for side sleepers this year!

For every last detail, be sure to check my full Bear pillow review

 

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Bear Pillow
Bear Pillow
Bear Pillow

With a phase change cover, the Bear pillow is best for back sleepers who run hot. 

Best Foam Pillow

Side sleeping with the Casper Foam Pillow!

Casper Foam Pillow

Here we have the Casper Foam Pillow, a perfect pick for back and side sleepers. 

This is Casper’s first-ever foam pillow, and features a three-layer design that incorporates high and low-density foams for a balanced feel. Essentially, the soft outer layers provide the cloud-like comfort, while the firm inner layer serves as the support system. And, as I mentioned, this unique construction is perfect for both back and side sleepers!  

Of course, strict side sleepers will be glad to know that the foam layers in this pillow comfortably cradle the head and neck, relieve pressure at the shoulder, and promote neutral spine alignment throughout the night. Plus, it’s medium-firm feel prevents it from going flat while you slumber. 

Personally, this pillow’s cover fabric is one of my favorite features. It’s soft, breathable, and naturally moisture-wicking for those of us who run hot! For the full scoop, be sure to check my full Casper Foam Pillow review!

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Casper Foam Pillow
Casper Foam Pillow
Casper Foam Pillow

The Casper Foam Pillow sleeps cool and has the balanced support that's great for back and side sleepers!

Best Pillow for Combination Sleepers

Side sleeping on the Saatva pillow

Saatva Pillow

And last but certainly not least is the other pillow on my bed at home — the Saatva Dreams Pillow. 

As a combination sleeper, I can honestly say that this pillow supports me in every position (which is pretty rare, in my experience). It features a unique dual-layer design wherein an inner pillow is tucked inside an outer pillow, and they complement each other to offer balanced support. 

The outer pillow is filled with a down-alternative that feels soft to the touch, while the core of the pillow is filled with shredded Talalay latex. Essentially, the latex offers a springy feel that serves as the support system, while the down-alternative makes this pillow fluffy and foldable. 

As I said, this pillow does a great job of supporting me in every position, but stomach sleepers may find that it’s a bit too lofty. If so, I suggest removing the inner core to reduce the loft and firmness. That said, side sleepers are bound to enjoy the way this pillow-in-pillow design maintains its lofty build and medium-firm feel! 

Think this pillow is the perfect fit for you? Check my full Saatva Dreams pillow review for all the details. And for even more info, take a look at our Saatva mattress review too! 

Saatva Pillow
Saatva Pillow
Saatva Pillow

A fluffable mix of down-alternative and Talalay latex makes this pillow cozy, cool, and great for combo sleepers! 

Best Pillow For Neck Pain

The Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow

Eli & Elm Pillows

First up on my list is the Eli & Elm Side Sleeper, which I picked for folks who need help alleviating neck pain. 

I should start by saying that this is the pillow I use at home and, despite its rather specific title, I can tell you that it’s great for back sleeping too! It’s filled with a proprietary blend of latex and down-alternative, which combine to create a plush-yet-supportive feel. And while it is amply stuffed into a pretty lofty build, sleepers have the option to adjust the internal fill to their liking. 

But the main reason this pillow is great for neck pain is that it’s got a boomerang-shaped, ergonomic design that conforms to the exact contours of your head, neck, and shoulders. I find this to be ideal for side sleeping, but back sleepers should feel free to lay right in the middle of the pillow and lean against the lofty sides.

One small thing to consider is that because the pillow is not traditionally shaped, it looks a little weird inside a pillowcase. That said, its organic cotton cover is naturally hypoallergenic and super soft on its own! 

For the full scoop, be sure to check out my Eli & Elm pillow review!

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Eli & Elm Pillows
Eli & Elm Pillows
Eli & Elm Pillows

Regardless of the type of sleeper you are, Eli & Elm have a pillow for you.

Best Organic Pillow

Birch is a great choice for side sleepers that want an organic pillow

Birch Living

Side sleepers looking to go green should definitely consider this eco-friendly pillow from Birch Living. 

From the cover fabric to the internal fill, this entire pillow is made from organic materials. The cover is made from 100% organic cotton, which means no genetically modified cotton seeds or synthetic pesticides were used to make it. Meanwhile, it’s filled with a mix of ethically sourced wool, and shredded Talalay latex (that bouncy material we talked about earlier!). 

In my experience, the combination of wool and Talalay latex made for a fluffy, medium-firm feel that kept the loft at about 4-inches high. Plus, pure wool is thermoregulating, which means it adapts to your body’s temperature. It’s also worth noting that pillows made from natural materials tend to do a great job of maintaining shape throughout the night, and I definitely found that to be the case with this one! 

If you’re looking for an organic pillow that won’t go flat while you snooze, I suggest you check my full Birch Living pillow review for all the details. 

Birch Pillow
Birch Pillow
Birch Pillow

The Birch pillow is a Greenguard Gold certified product that is a great all sleep position option!

Best Memory Foam Alternative Pillow

Side sleeping on the Nolah pillow

Nolah AirFoam

Side sleepers who love a foam feel but want to avoid that deep sink into the material might want to take the Nolah AirFoam for a spin. 

Filled with one piece of Nolah’s proprietary foam, this pillow was crafted to offer a springy kind of support. Typically, foam pillows offer a deep sink and slow response to pressure, but Nolah’s foam feels a bit like latex! It’s lightweight, buoyant, and has a rather quick response to pressure. 

Side sleepers who prefer to rest on top of the pillow instead of sinking down into it might be most compatible with this one. Plus, it’s got a lofty 4-inch profile and medium-firm feel, both of which promote neutral spine alignment in the side sleeping position. 

One of the (literally) cool parts of this pillow is that the cotton cover fabric has been infused with Phase Change Material, a special textile used to make fabric feel icy-crisp against the skin. If you often find yourself flipping your pillow mid-slumber in order to sleep on the “cool side,” rest assured that this entire pillow feels cool and soothing to the touch. 

For every last detail on this sleep accessory, be sure to dig into my full Nolah pillows review

Price: $99, with a 120-night trial period. 

Perfect For: Side sleepers looking for a cooling foam pillow with a bouncy feel!

Nolah AirFoam
Nolah AirFoam
Nolah AirFoam

The fluffy down-alternative in this pillow allows sleepers to shape and fold it until they've found the loft and firmness of their liking!

Best Faux Down Pillow

The GhostPillow Faux Down has a soft and squishy feel.

GhostPillow Faux Down

If you love the feel of down, but are looking for a hypoallergenic and/or animal product-free option, the GhostBed Faux Down pillow might be the right pillow for you. Made with a microfiber gel fill, this pillow has the same soft and squishy feeling of down. It has a soft, removable outer cover that’s easy to wash, and a 100% cotton inner cover that’s nice and breathable.

I particularly like this pillow for side sleepers because it has a high loft of 7 inches — side sleepers need a taller pillow to keep their neck in line with their shoulders, which promotes a neutral spinal alignment. Additionally, as a side sleeper myself, I often prefer to sleep with a pillow between my legs to prevent my knees from rubbing together, and I found the GhostPillow to be quite comfortable in this position.

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GhostPillow Faux Down
GhostPillow Faux Down
GhostPillow Faux Down

The GhostPillow Faux Down pillow offers plenty of sinkage and is made with a cooling cover to prevent overheating.

Best Pillow for Shoulder Pain

Trying out the Layla pillow for side sleeping

Layla Kapok

Next up is the Layla Kapok pillow, and this big ol’ bedtime companion is in my top picks for a few reasons. 

Firstly, it’s filled with shredded memory foam and Kapok, which combine to offer a cozy balance between softness and support. The memory foam makes the pillow conform to pressure, while the Kapok (which is a natural tree fiber) boosts the fluffy factor! Meanwhile, copper threads are woven into the cotton cover fabric in order to draw heat away from your head, and make for a cooler snooze

But the thing that really makes the Layla ideal for side sleeping is its exceptionally lofty profile of 7-inches. As I mentioned, a high-lofted pillow serves to hold your head in neutral alignment with your spine, and supports healthy posture throughout the night. That said, this is definitely one of the loftiest pillows I’ve ever tested, which might make it particularly compatible with those looking to alleviate shoulder pain. 

If you’re looking to relieve a little pressure at the shoulder, I suggest resting the top of your shoulder on the base of the pillow when you hit the hay. The dense-yet-fluffy combination of materials will conform to your shoulder, and keep it from bearing the brunt of your body’s weight. 

For everything there is to know about this pillow, check out my full Layla pillow review. And while you’re at it, you might want to see what the Layla mattress and Layla sheets are all about! 

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Layla Pillow
Layla Pillow
Layla Pillow

A copper infusion in the cover helps to make the Layla pillow ultra cool and comfortable. 

Best Memory Foam Pillow

Side sleeping on the Tempur Cloud pillow

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud

If you’re a side sleeper who can’t get enough of that moldable memory foam feel, the TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze might be perfect for you. 

Filled with one piece of Tempur-Pedic’s proprietary memory foam, this pillow conforms to your head and neck, offers a super slow response to pressure, and lets you deeply sink into the material. Not to mention, it’s got a medium-firm feel and a lofty 6-inch profile, which makes this pillow ideal for side sleeping. 

And if you’re worried about memory foam’s tendency to trap heat, don’t sweat it. Two cooling gel pads keep this pillow from warming up while you slumber, and make both sides of the pillow feel cool to the touch.

If you’re a side sleeper looking for a cooler way to sleep, I can’t recommend this pillow enough. Of course, if you’re not a side sleeper but you love memory foam pillows, check out my full review of Tempur-Pedic pillows to see how the Breeze compares to the rest! 

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow

The TEMPUR-Cloud pillow provides the great body contouring memory foam feel that Tempur-Pedic is known for and is a great choice for the back sleepers out there!

Best Latex Pillow

The Purple Harmony pillow is very breathable.

Purple Harmony

If you’re looking for a bouncy latex pillow with a super quick response to pressure, look no further than the Purple Harmony. 

A mix of Talalay latex and the brand’s proprietary Hyper-Elastic Polymer combine to offer some springy support that should position you on top of the pillow rather than in it. If you avoid memory foam because you feel trapped by its slow response to pressure, the Purple Harmony might be right up your alley. 

Materially speaking, the Hyper-Elastic Polymer is super durable, buoyant, and gives the Harmony its shape. Meanwhile, the Talalay latex in the core of this pillow adds to its light and bouncy support! Additionally, hot sleepers might like to know that every part of this pillow’s construction is ventilated for improved breathability. 

Personally, my favorite thing about the Harmony is its resilience. In my experience, it tightly conformed to the contours of my head and neck, relieved pressure at my shoulder, and returned to its original shape every morning.

For all the details, head on over to my Purple Harmony pillow review! And if you want to know more about Purple products, be sure to check out our reviews of Purple mattresses and the original Purple pillow.

Purple Harmony Pillow
Purple Harmony Pillow
Purple Harmony Pillow

The Purple Harmony is great for any position sleeper and is extremely breathable to help you sleep cool through the night!

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve taken a close look at my favorite pillows for side sleepers, you’re well on your way to deciding which is the best fit for you. But before you get to shoppin’, remember to keep a close eye on loft, firmness, and all the little details that’ll take your sleep experience to the next level. And be sure to take advantage of those trial periods when they’re offered so you can get an even better sense of which pillow is your perfect match.

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FAQs

What kind of pillow should a side sleeper use?

In general, side sleepers need a pillow with a lofty profile of at least 4-inches in order to maintain healthy posture throughout the night. Additionally, pillows with a firmness rating of medium-firm or firm are typically better suited to the side sleeping position.

What firmness is best for side sleepers?

Side sleepers typically need a pillow with a firmer feel in order to maintain neutral spine alignment throughout the course of the night. A firmer feel can also prevent the pillow from losing its shape over time.

How high should a pillow be for side sleepers?

Side sleepers should use a high-profile pillow with a loft of at least 4-inches in order to maintain healthy posture and relieve pressure at the shoulders.

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Sarah is the Senior Writer and bedding expert at Sleepopolis. Every week, she personally tests and reviews new pillows, sheet sets, and other sleep accessories. She accompanies every video review with a meticulously detailed article to ensure her audience has all the pertinent info they need for the best shopping experience possible. Perhaps that’s why her fans have dubbed her “the most thorough pillow reviewer on the Internet.” Having tested everything from sleep trackers to mattress toppers, Sarah's expertise runs deep and is always expanding. She received her degree in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College and spends her free time doing stand-up, making pasta, and hanging with her cats.