Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

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Welcome, side sleepers! If you’re reading this, that means you’re well on your way to finding the right pillow to support you in your go-to position. Yes, it’s true that there are literally hundreds — maybe thousands! — of options out there, but we’ve saved you some time and energy by rounding up the 10 that we think are the absolute best pillows for side sleepers.

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

 

Editor’s Pick

Brooklinen Marlow Pillow

The Brooklinen Marlow pillow offers a comfy, quicksand feeling that can be great for side sleepers in search of a memory foam pillow. Along with having the classic memory foam feel, its foam is gel-infused, so it’s also a great match for side sleepers who tend to overheat. 

Why It’s Good for Side Sleepers

  • The foam contours nicely to the head and neck, promoting spinal alignment. 
  • It’s adjustable, so sleepers can choose the right comfort level for them. 
  • Its polyester fiber provides support for sleepers.

Price: $65–$85 with a 365-night trial. 

Our full review for the Brooklinen Marlow pillow is coming soon!

Brooklinen Marlow Pillow
Brooklinen Marlow Pillow
Brooklinen Marlow Pillow

With a classic memory foam feel, this latest pillow from Brooklinen should give side sleepers plenty of contouring and pressure relief.

Best Pillow for Combination Sleepers

Saatva Latex Pillow

The Saatva Latex Pillow is supportive in multiple positions, including side sleeping. 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

Why It’s Good for Side Sleepers

  • The outer pillow is filled with a down-alternative that feels soft to the touch. The core of the pillow is filled with shredded Talalay latex.
  • The latex offers a springy feel that serves as the support system, while the down-alternative makes this pillow fluffy and foldable. 
  • Side sleepers are bound to enjoy the way this pillow-in-pillow design maintains its lofty build and medium-firm feel.

Price: $165–$185, with a one-year limited warranty.

Think this pillow is the perfect fit for you? Check out our full Saatva pillow review for all the details. And take a look at our Saatva mattress review while you’re at it!

Saatva Latex Pillow
Saatva Latex Pillow
Saatva Latex 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

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

The Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper pillow is a great pick for folks who need help alleviating neck pain. With a boomerang-shaped, ergonomic design that conforms to the exact contours of your head, neck, and shoulders, it’s truly ideal for side-sleeping.

Why It’s Good for Side Sleepers

  • It has a cotton cover, and is filled with a blend of latex and polyester, which combine to create a plush yet supportive feel.
  • While the pillow comes amply stuffed into a lofty build, sleepers have the option to adjust the internal fill to their liking.
  • Despite its rather specific title, it’s great for back sleeping too! 

Price: $120–$135.

For the full scoop, be sure to check out our review of all the Eli & Elm pillows!

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Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow
Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow
Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

The unique boomerang shape of the Eli & Elm pillow conforms to the exact contours of your head, neck, and shoulders, making it perfect for side sleepers.

Best Foam Pillow

Nectar Resident Pillow

Structurally, the Nectar Resident has a pillow-in-pillow design. The inner pillow provides support with two different types of memory foam, while the outer pillow creates an exterior of soft comfort. Best of all, you can add or remove the filling to your liking. 

Why It’s Good for Side Sleepers

  • Each pillow is overfilled, giving side sleepers plenty of room for adjustability and allowing them to create the loft that suits them best.
  • The outer shell is quilted for some added softness.
  • You can spot-clean the pillow with soap and water.

Full review coming soon!

Price: $75, with a 50-night home trial and five-year warranty.

Nectar Resident Pillow
Nectar Resident Pillow
Nectar Resident Pillow

With its pillow-in-pillow design, the Nectar Resident can be customized to your liking.

Best Latex Pillow

Side sleeping on the Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex pillow.

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

Brooklyn Bedding’s Talalay Latex Pillow is made from natural materials and can be purchased with either a high or low loft. We chose this pillow because its latex construction creates responsiveness and conformance to the neck and head to promote a neutral spinal alignment. 

Why It’s Good for Side Sleepers

  • The ability to choose a high or low loft makes this pillow a good choice for side sleepers, as well as sleepers in every other position.
  • Eco-friendly shoppers should love this pillow, which contains sustainably sourced and hypoallergenic materials.
  • Talalay latex foam is naturally breathable, making it a nice choice for hot sleepers, too.

Price: $89–$99, with a 10-year warranty and 120-night trial.

Learn more in our full Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex pillow review

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow
Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow
Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

This pillow is made with natural Talalay latex and has a buoyant, cushiony feel.

Best Adjustable Pillow

WinkBeds Adjust-a-Cube Pillow

If adjustability is your game, you’ll be excited to discover that WinkBeds’ filling of gel-infused memory foam cubes can be infinitely modified into any mold or fluff combination you desire. This allows side sleepers to find a loft that helps maintain a healthy spinal alignment. Hot sleepers should thoroughly enjoy this pillow as well, thanks to its optimal air circulation and ability to keep you cool all night long.

Why It’s Good for Side Sleepers

  • The cover is made from a cooling, knit polyester.
  • It has a pillow-within-a-pillow design, with an outer layer of memory foam and and inner pillow filled with gel-infused foam cubes.
  • The cover is 100 percent washable. 

Price: $89–$119, with a five-year limited warranty.

Full review coming soon!

WinkBeds Adjust-a-Cube Pillow
WinkBeds Adjust-a-Cube Pillow
WinkBeds Adjust-a-Cube Pillow

The WinkBeds Adjust-a-Cube Pillow is a great choice for sleepers who want to customize their sleeping experience.

Most Breathable Pillow for Side Sleepers

Leesa Pillow

Covered in the same soft material as the Leesa mattress and employing some of the same foam, the Leesa pillow is so soft, it can be used without a pillowcase.

Inside, the cover is one solid piece of Avena foam. While the foam isn’t shredded, it is designed with holes to enhance the pillow’s breathability. There are actually hundreds of these little ventilation channels within the foam, so if you’re a hot sleeper, this increased airflow might help you keep cooler at night.

Feel-wise, this pillow is medium firm and has a bouncy-quick response to pressure. It was designed to be an all-position pillow built to meet the needs of every type of sleeper.

Why It’s Good for Side Sleepers

  • The combination of airiness and medium-firm support allow the pillow to conform to pressure really well, adapting to your head as you change positions.
  • Its response to pressure is much quicker, and when you sink a little bit, the sides puff up around your head. It doesn’t have a particularly lofty build, but its durable resilience helps it to maintain shape.
  • Because it’s not very lofty, it’s also a comfortable side-sleeping pillow. Its buoyancy and medium-firm support help you keep a healthy posture and your head and neck in neutral alignment.

Price, $89–$109, with a three-year limited warranty and 100-night sleep trial.

For more on this Leesa pillow, check out the full review.

Leesa Pillow
Leesa Pillow
Leesa Pillow

The Leesa pillow offers a super-quick response to pressure, ideal for side sleepers who need help maintaining healthy posture throughout the night! 

Best Organic Pillow

Birch Living

From the cover fabric to the internal fill, this entire pillow is made from organic materials. The cover is made from 100 percent organic cotton, which means no genetically modified cotton seeds or synthetic pesticides were used to make it. It’s filled with a mix of ethically sourced wool, and natural shredded Talalay latex. 

Why It’s Good for Side Sleepers

  • The combination of wool and Talalay latex make for a fluffy, medium-firm feel that keeps the loft high enough for side sleepers.
  • Pure wool is thermoregulating, which means it adapts to your body’s temperature.
  • Pillows made from natural materials tend to do a great job of maintaining shape throughout the night. The Birch is no exception.

Price: $99–$119, with a one-year warranty and 100-night sleep trial.

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

Birch Organic
Birch Organic
Birch Organic

With its environmentally friendly materials, the Birch pillow is GREENGUARD Gold certified, and should match with many sleeping positions.

Best For Back Sleepers / Side Sleepers

The TEMPUR-Neck’s wavy shape.

TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

Looking for a pillow to better support the neck? Well, look no further than the TEMPUR-Neck pillow. As the name suggests, it’s all about neck support and preventing pain in that area. Along with being a high-quality product, the TEMPUR-Neck also offers nice pressure relief.

Now, we already recommended a pillow that’s good for combination sleepers (people who switch between all three sleeping positions). But we found that the TEMPUR-Neck Pillow is an especially nice fit for those who change between just their back and their side. 

Why It’s Good for Back/Side Combo Sleepers

  • The ergonomic memory foam keeps the neck supported without causing any craning. 
  • It has a slow-sinking memory foam that’s comfortable for side sleepers. But it still has a firm feel, thus creating enough support for back sleepers.
  • It comes in three different sizes, so you can pick the right one for you.

Price: $109–$149 with a 5-year warranty.

Check out our full review of the TEMPUR-Neck Pillow for more information!

TEMPUR-Neck Pillow
TEMPUR-Neck Pillow
TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

The TEMPUR-Neck is a molded memory foam pillow with an ergonomic shape designed to follow the natural curvature of the body.

Best for Hot Sleepers

Cozy on the Puffy pillow while lying on my side!

Puffy Pillow

The Puffy Pillow comes outfitted with a cooling cover, so even the warmest sleepers can have two sides of the pillow that are cool. The pillow is also adjustable, which is one of the reasons we love it for side sleepers. You can add or take out the pillow’s filling until you reach the needed height to keep your neck in line with your spine. 

Why It’s Good for Side Sleepers

  • It comes with a 101-night sleep trial, so you can rest easy knowing you have plenty of time to try it out.
  • The cover is removable and washable.
  • The Puffy Pillow is made in the USA with hypoallergenic materials.

Price: $120, with a limited lifetime warranty.

For a deeper dive into the Puffy Pillow, check out the full review!

Puffy Pillow
Puffy Pillow
Puffy Pillow

The Puffy pillow is filled with breathable shredded memory foam that can be removed to adjust the loft.

How to Choose the Best Pillow for Side Sleeping

Now that you have a few pillows in mind, let’s discuss the methodology behind our picks. While a lot comes down to personal preference, consider the key factors below. And if you’ve already made your decision, you can check out our list of the best pillowcases to go with your pillow!

Loft

When shopping for a side-sleeper pillow, the very first thing to pay attention to is the loft — or height — of its profile. The general rule of thumb is that side sleepers need a pillow with a higher loft of at least four inches in order to maintain a 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. Or, 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 your spine in a straight line, or does your head sink below the shoulders?
  • Is this pillow so lofty that it cranes your neck upwards, out of alignment with your spine?
  • Is this pillow’s loft providing enough pressure relief for your shoulders?

Remember, your pillow’s most important job is to promote healthy posture, and a side-sleeper pillow should be the right height to hold your head in neutral alignment with your spine. For more info about healthy sleeping posture, be sure to check out our guide to picking the best pillow for your position. And if you’re not sure what loft you’d prefer, check out some adjustable loft pillow options.

Firmness

The next thing we look at is firmness. 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, firm, or even extra 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. So look for firm pillows that don’t compress too far under your weight while you shop.

Support

Loft and firmness level work hand in hand to create support. It’s crucial for side sleepers to find a pillow that offers them appropriate neck support. You don’t want to crane your neck up or down as you sleep, as this can lead to pain over time. A pillow that properly supports your head and neck will help you achieve a neutral spinal alignment, which can help prevent neck and back pain. Generally, a high loft and firm feel will provide appropriate support for side sleepers.

Pressure Relief

While you want a supportive pillow, you’ll also want one that offers a bit of pressure relief. If you pick a pillow that’s too firm, you could end up with a sore ear or stiff neck. Make sure you feel comfortable with the amount of cushion your pillow is offering around the side of your head.

Keep in mind that a pillow that offers soft support might let your head and neck sink below your shoulders. This will actually increase pressure around your shoulders, which can feel uncomfortable over time. So a pillow that offers firm support will actually offer more pressure relief in your shoulder area.

Shape

While you can feel comfortable on a standard-shaped pillow regardless of your preferred sleep position, some brands offer alternatively shaped pillows specifically designed for side sleepers. If you struggle with neck pain, you may want to consider an ergonomically designed side sleeper pillow. These pillows often feature a u-shape that fits around your shoulder and reduces pressure around your neck. If that appeals to you, take another look at the Eli & Elm pillow above.

Cooling

A breathable pillow is important for all kinds of sleepers. If you’re a hot sleeper you may want to opt for pillows made of materials like latex or gel-infused memory foam, which tend to sleep cool. You might also want to consider pillows made with covers that encourage airflow. Take a look at our best cooling pillows to learn more about choosing a breathable pillow option.

Wash Care

You’ll also want to consider wash care when choosing a pillow for side-sleeping. Many of the best side-sleeping materials (like memory foam) are spot-clean only. We’d recommend opting for a pillow with a removable and machine-washable cover as a way to keep wash care simple.

Fill

Speaking of materials, choosing the right fill for your pillow is quite important for side sleepers. We’ll go over how the different pillow fill materials perform for side sleepers in the next section, but first let’s take a minute to talk about whether or not to choose an adjustable fill as a side sleeper.

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, 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 our experience, it can take a little trial and error in order to find the perfect level of support. But trust us, a good night’s sleep is worth the effort.

Choosing the Right Pillow Materials for Side-Sleeping

The pillow fill material you choose has a big impact on how your pillow feels. While the right loft and firmness level for side sleepers are fairly universal, fill materials can impact more specific preferences. For example, do you want a pillow that feels warm or cool? Bouncy or moldable? Let’s go over a few different pillow materials:

Memory Foam

Memory foam pillows have a slow response to pressure and offer a lot of body-contouring. In our opinion, dense memory foam pillows with a high loft are some of the best options available to side sleepers. Memory foam has a tendency to trap heat, but choosing a gel-infused foam or a pillow that uses a shredded memory foam fill (instead of a solid block of foam) can help mitigate these heat trapping tendencies.

Poly foam

Poly foam is a little more responsive than memory foam, and is often less dense. If you’re looking for a foam feel but don’t like a lot of body-contouring, a poly foam pillow could be a nice option for you. But keep in mind that poly foam is often a little less durable than other foams, so your pillow may not last as long.

Latex

Latex pillows are naturally cooling and hypoallergenic. They have a very bouncy feel that sleepers who like to feel “on top of” their pillow should prefer. Latex offers less sinkage than most other pillow materials, so it could be a supportive option for many side sleepers. Check out our best latex pillows roundup to learn more about this material.

Buckwheat

Buckwheat pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls and naturally feel very firm. If you prefer fluff and softness, this is not the pillow material for you. But buckwheat pillows are often great options for side sleepers, as they’ll stay supportive for a long time. In fact, a high-quality buckwheat pillow can last up to 10 years. These pillows can also be very helpful with combatting neck or back pain. Learn more in our best buckwheat pillows roundup.

Feather

Feather pillows are cooling, fluffy, and soft. They’re a little denser than down or down alternative pillows, which can make them more moldable. You can find flat or overstuffed feather pillows, so side sleepers after fluffiness and malleability should be able to find a feather pillow that meets their loft and firmness needs. Check out our best feather pillows roundup to see a few options.

Down / Down Alternative

Down and down alternative pillows often feel soft, fluffy, and luxurious. Down alternative pillows offer a similar fluffy feel, but are more eco-friendly. You also don’t have to research manufacturing and sourcing to be sure that your new down alternative pillows are cruelty-free.

Since down compresses more easily than other pillow materials, we recommend it more for back sleepers and stomach sleepers than side sleepers. However, a firmer down option can also work for side-sleeping. Our best down pillows and best down alternative pillows roundups include some great side sleeping options.

How to Position Your Pillows as a Side Sleeper

Before you drift off to sleep, consider positioning your pillows like this to improve your sleep posture and prevent pain.

  • When you lie down on your pillow, make sure your ears are in line with your shoulders and your chin is neutrally positioned. Tucking your chin against your chest or curving your neck down can lead to pain over time.
  • Place a second pillow between your knees and lift them up towards your chest. This helps keep pressure off your knees and hips, which means your back will stay straighter at night.
  • Make sure your arms and hands are below your shoulders. Some people find hugging another pillow near their waists can make this more comfortable. You can also try using a body pillow as a between the legs and under the arm solution.

Avoiding Neck Pain

If you struggle with neck pain, you should try to stick to the tips above to reduce pain. If you’ve replaced your old pillows and are maintaining the sleep posture suggested above, but still struggle with neck pain, you might want to consider training to sleep on your back. Back-sleeping is often best for maintaining a healthy posture and avoiding pain. You might also want to check out some of the best pillows for neck pain.

More Resources for Side Sleepers

FAQs

What kind of pillow is best for side sleepers?

Preferences may vary, but side sleepers usually need a pillow with a higher loft (4″ or more) to help them maintain a neutral spine alignment.

What firmness should side sleepers look for in a pillow?

While this is somewhat subjective, side sleepers are generally going to be most comfortable on a medium-firm pillow.

Do side sleepers need two pillows?

While it's not necessary by any means, some side sleepers prefer to use two pillows — one for their head and one to place between their knees.

Is memory foam good for side sleepers?

Yes, many side sleepers prefer memory foam in both their pillow and their mattress to give them the contouring and pressure relief they need at the neck, shoulders, and hips.

Amelia Jerden

Amelia Jerden

Amelia is a Staff Writer for Sleepopolis. She primarily covers bedding and sleep accessory products in reviews, how-to guides, and more. You can also find her over on the Sleepopolis YouTube channel. Amelia is a graduate of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her free time, you can usually find her listening to a favorite podcast, out on a hike, or taking a nap.