There’s hardly anything as important as a good night’s sleep. Not only will your sleep quality impact you in the short-term — affecting your overall day, performance and mood — but chronic poor sleep quality can also cause serious, long-term health issues. To get the best night’s sleep, though, you’ll need a few things, like the perfect pillow.
It’s not uncommon to sleep on your side, and if you’re one of the many folks who do find themselves in this sleeping position, you’ll want to purchase both your mattress and your pillow accordingly. What’s going to give you the most support as a side sleeper?
While there are lots of mattresses you could choose, here are our top recommendations for best side sleeper pillows, plus some tips for getting your best night’s sleep.
What to Look for in a Pillow
Before you start shopping for pillows, it’s important to consider all the various elements that go into that pillow, which then impact your nightly sleep. There’s so much more to consider beyond just picking up a pillow in the store, giving it a squeeze and deciding if it feels comfy (or not).
Choose too thin a pillow, and you could be causing yourself a painful night’s sleep. If you’re a side sleeper, you need a thicker, firm pillow. That pillow should be able to fill the gap that’s created between your neck and the mattress when you turn on your side. This ensures the proper amount of neck support, so you’re not straining your back and pressure points. Spinal alignment is everything when it comes to choosing pillows and mattresses.
Pillow height is often also referred to as “loft.” You may see a pillow’s loft described in inches. Some recommend shopping for a pillow with a loft of at least four inches for accurate spinal alignment.
Filling and Firmness Level
But beyond pillow height, you also have to consider what’s actually in the pillow. In order to fill that gap between your neck and the mattress and not break down over time, a side sleeper pillow should offer firm support. Pillows that are medium-to-firm will help keep your spine aligned during the night.
Look for memory foam pillows, poly foam pillows, latex pillows or down or down alternative pillows.
Of course, there are other filling factors that come into play as well. In addition to thinking about how a pillow’s filling directly impacts your needs as a side sleeper, also consider how a pillow’s filling might impact how cool or hot you sleep, as well as any allergies.
You will find some fancy, specially shaped side sleeper pillows out there (like u-shape pillows), but do you really need one? Not usually. Most side sleepers are fine with a traditional pillow, so long as it offers that necessary height and filling firmness.
However, if you’ve tried quite a few pillows and still aren’t achieving a painless sleep experience, you might want to give a specialty side sleeper pillow a shot, just in case. You’ll see that our list of favorite side sleeper pillows includes a mix of both traditional and specialty shapes.
No one can sleep when they’re too warm. If you find that you’re warmer than most, specifically look for a pillow with cooling features. While you’re at it, consider shopping for cooling sheets as well. Bamboo sheets are a nice option, as the lightweight materials provide both a silky-smooth feel and a cooler, airier sleep experience.
You sleep on your pillow every single night, and if you’re not jumping straight from the shower and into bed, you’re covering your pillow with all sorts of possibly gross stuff. Makeup residue, hair product, sweat, oil — ew. You need to wash your pillows regularly, but some brands don’t make that easy, unfortunately.
As you shop for pillows, pay special attention to care instructions and washing recommendations. Even though many pillows are only suitable for spot cleaning, they should at least feature a removable pillowcase or washable cover.
Our 12 Favorite Side Sleeper Pillows
So, with all the above in mind, are you ready to start shopping? Here are our 12 favorite and best pillows for side sleepers.
You may have already heard of Pillow Cube. This innovative brand is changing the game of pillows with its cube-shaped, blocky creations. However, while these pillows may not look all that comfortable, just give them a try, and you’ll see why some rave about their results.
These pillows feature a (soft, plush) 90-degree angle that naturally fits into that gap between your neck, shoulder and the bed for greater support and spinal alignment. The pillow’s memory foam filling is high-quality and durable, and the pillow comes in three sizes. It features a machine-washable cover.
The only downsides? This pillow is on the higher-end of things, price-wise, and it’s not going to be comfy if you occasionally sleep on your back or stomach. This is a side-sleeper-only design.
But if money is no object for you (after all, good sleep is a worthwhile investment) and you don’t mind dropping some cash on a pricey pillow, consider this highly ranked option from Saatva. Filled with a latex core and a down-like microfiber, which provides superior support, the pillow gives you that hotel pillow feel for a vacation-worthy night of sleep.
Kamila Fleiger with Green Snooze says, “If you’re looking for a pillow that will help keep your neck and spine aligned while you sleep, look no further than an organic latex side sleeper pillow. This type of pillow is designed to provide extra support to your head, neck and shoulders while sleeping on your side. Plus, unlike memory foam pillows, latex pillows are free of harsh chemicals and other toxic materials, making them a great choice for those who suffer from chemical sensitivities.”
The bed pillow comes with a machine-washable cotton cover. The pillows are available in either a queen or king size. Try it and don’t love it? You can return the pillows for free for up to 45 days.
This pillow is a bit of a cross between a specialty side sleeper shape and a traditional pillow shape. It looks just like a normal pillow … but with a dip in the middle. This dip is intended to hold your shoulder, so you get that support for your neck and head that you need.
Another unique feature? This pillow is filled with latex and polyester that can be removed and added back in, as desired, to create the perfect firmness and support level for your individual needs.
Reviewers rave about how this pillow has solved painful side sleeping issues, including neck pain, back pain and shoulder pain.
This medium-firm pillow features a patented, three-layer design that’s ideal for both side sleepers and back sleepers — making it a great pick if you’re a frequent side sleeper but you sleep on your back on occasion, too. The pillow is filled with plant-based down and comes with a cotton, cooling cover for no more nighttime neck sweat.
Reviewers report that they like that they can buy a set of these support pillows and everyone in the bed enjoys the feeling, regardless of whether or not they’re a side sleeper. They also say the plant-based down alternative really does feel like real down.
There’s no reason to go to a specialty retailer to buy a good pillow, though. You can order this highly touted pillow from Amazon easily.
Reviewers love that this pillow is highly customizable to fit all your sleeping needs. The machine-washable 36″ by 20″ pillow features a removable filling that you can remove or add back in as necessary. The pillow comes ready to go for side sleepers, but you can remove about a quarter of the filling if you’re a back sleeper or about a third of the filling if you’re a stomach sleeper. All you have to do is unzip the outer and inner cases and store the removed filling somewhere safe for later use.
This luxury adjustable pillow also features removable and addable filling but ups the ante with a bamboo blend cover that keeps you feeling cool and carefree all night long. To add even further to the pillow’s cooling powers, the shredded foam filling makes for maximum airflow, so you get that other-side-of-the-pillow feel without ever actually having to flip over your pillow.
There’s a good reason why latex is becoming a more popular filling choice for both mattresses and pillows, as this pillow from Brooklyn Bedding demonstrates. Talalay latex is hypoallergenic and sensitive skin-friendly, as well as eco-friendly. Plus, the latex filling nearly instantly reacts to pressure and touch, meaning the pillow is always perfectly contoured to your head and neck as soon as you move.
The particular latex sourced for this pillow, the brand says, boasts up to seven times greater airflow for an even cooler experience for hot sleepers.
If you prefer down pillows all the way, but find that traditional down just isn’t supportive enough or you don’t like the environmental implications of down, go with this down alternative option from Tuft & Needle.
Made from polyester, the filling is hypoallergenic (just another benefit that synthetic down offers over traditional down) and durable, for no squishing or clumping over the months and years. The pillows are designed with both side and back sleepers in mind and come in both standard and king sizes.
If you really don’t like the firmness that most side sleeper pillows provide, you might want to try this foam and fiber mix option from Casper. You get a super-soft feel but the support you need. It’s all thanks to the pillow’s three-layer design and squishy outer shell that covers the firmer, more supportive inner core.
But we get it. A lot of the pillows on this list are pricey. While some are under $100, others are at least that. If that’s totally out of your budget for a new pillow, you’re going to want to take a look at this super budget-friendly pillow available on Amazon for under $50.
Made from and filled with 100% microfiber and available in three sizes, the pillow is soft, breathable and supportive, thanks to the microfiber’s durable construction that maintains the pillow’s shape over time.
Reviewers mention how difficult it can be to find inexpensive pillows for side sleepers but that these pillows tick all the right boxes.
Even though this pillow is available in three different densities, it’s still extremely supportive, no matter which density you choose. If you go with the soft version, the pillow is filled with adjustable down throughout. If you go with the medium or firm versions, the pillow is filled with down in an inner chamber and then another type of down and feathers in the exterior chamber for a mixed approach that provides extra firmness.
Do note that these pillows are filled with traditional down fluff and feathers. However, the brand does assure shoppers that its down is “responsibly sourced from farms in the United States and triple-washed to guarantee a cleaner, longer-lasting loft.”
Thought you were buying a cooling pillow in the past, just to discover that the pillow you purchased didn’t really cool you down at night at all? Then maybe consider this high-end best cooling pillow from the pros at Tempurpedic.
The pillow is made from a singular piece of proprietary Tempur material that’s guaranteed to keep its shape forever. It features a removable, washable cover that’s cool to the touch. An inner cooling gel keeps things even colder.
Getting the Best Sleep as a Side Sleeper
To get the best night’s sleep from your new pillow, be sure to position yourself correctly. When you lie on your side, your ears should align with your shoulders, and your chin should not be tilted up or down. To relieve pressure, sleep with a second pillow (like a body pillow) between your knees and keep your knees folded. Also, try to keep your arms from raising over your head during the night.
With the right posture and the right pillow (and maybe one of the best mattresses), you can start experiencing a better night’s sleep — and seeing the impacts throughout every area of your life.
You might also be interested in: 10 Best Melatonin Gummies For A Good Night’s Sleep
The 12 Best Side Sleeper Pillows:
- The Pillow Cube Side Sleeper Pro
- The Saatva Latex Pillow
- The Eli & Elm Side Sleeper
- Sweet Zzz Side Sleeper Pillow
- Coop Home Goods Original Loft Pillow
- The Nolah Squishy Pillow
- Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow
- Tuft & Needle Down Alternative Pillow Set
- The Casper Hybrid Pillow
- Himoon Standard Cooling Pillows
- Boll & Branch Down Chamber Pillow
- Tempurpedic’s Breeze Pro Advanced Cooling Pillow