Mattress Accessories & Bedding

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

For a side sleeper, choosing the wrong pillow could mean neck pain and sleepless nights. Here's our guide to choose a perfect side-sleeper pillow.

By Natalie Yerger

It’s estimated that roughly 70% of adults sleep on their sides. Even considering how common this sleeping position is, finding the right pillow for side sleepers can prove tiresome. While back sleepers and stomach sleepers can get by on low-loft pillows, side sleeping requires a specific amount of support to avoid neck pain and discomfort. The ideal side-sleeper pillow will fill the gap created in this position between your ear and shoulder, which will encourage spinal alignment.

Medium-loft and high-loft bed pillows tend to do the best job at this, but there are other factors you should take into account when choosing a side sleeping pillow, including your weight, shoulder width, and personal preferences.

To make the search for the perfect pillow a little easier on you, we’ve rounded up the best pillows for side sleepers in 2020. Below you’ll find our top picks (and why) at a variety of price points. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide at the bottom of the article with tips on how to choose the best side sleeper pillow for your body type. And if you’re looking for a new mattress while you’re at it, here’s our top mattress picks for side sleepers

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Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

Helix Pillow

Editor’s Pick

Our Editor’s Pick, the Helix Pillow, has a removable support insert layer so you can adjust the height and firmness for the perfect fit. It’s made with a breathable, 100% cotton cover and gel microfiber fill to keep you from overheating at night.

Reason to Buy: With the Helix Adjustable Pillow, side sleepers don’t have to choose between a plush or firm pillow—they can simply adjust the feel to their liking. That being said, Helix recommends the firm option if you sleep on your side, as reducing the loft too much could throw the spine out of alignment and create shoulder pressure.

The microfiber fill offers the same plush, luxurious feel of a down pillow but is hypoallergenic, so it won’t trigger allergies. The pillow’s gel-infusion properties, combined with the cotton cover, will dissipate heat for people who sleep hot. To boot, the Helix has an easy-to-clean machine washable cover. It also comes with a 100-night sleep trial, free shipping, and a 1-year warranty. The Helix is available in Standard and King sizes for under $100.

Tuft & Needle Pillow

Best Pillow for Side & Back Sleepers

The T&N Pillow features the company’s proprietary Adaptive Foam, which combines the contouring of memory foam with bounce and support. The foam has open cell technology, heat-wicking graphite, and cooling gel to help you sleep cool.

Reason to Buy: This pillow sets itself apart with its proprietary T&N foam construction, which, while resembling memory foam, won’t lose its support or shape over time. It’s one of the only memory-foam-like pillows that’s appropriate for side sleepers of all sizes, and it has multiple design details to promote temperature neutrality. The pillow is moldable – so it will contour to your neck in the side sleeping position – but you’ll never have to fluff it.

The pillow is also hypoallergenic and eco-friendly, and the softcover is machine washable. The T&N pillow is available in Standard and King sizes, and it comes with free shipping, a 100-night sleep trial (30 nights if ordered on Amazon.com) and a three-year limited warranty.

Wamsutta Pillow

Bes Pillow for Side Sleepers with Neck Pain

The Wamsutta Pillow, available on Amazon, has an extra firm setting and features a 100% cotton cover and polyester fill. Made specifically for side sleepers, the pillow has a three-dimensional design that prevents the neck from drooping too close to the mattress, even along the seams.

Reason to Buy: This $25 pillow is our value pick for a few reasons. It features a high-quality design that’s tailored to side sleepers, with a 3-D construction and a 2” gusset that helps it maintain a comfortable yet firm shape from edge to edge. The 100% polyester fill may not last as long as more expensive fill types, but this is an ideal option for side sleepers who want guaranteed neck support and pain relief but don’t have a large budget. The pillow is machine-washable for easy cleaning.

One Amazon reviewer wrote, “Try this first before you pay a lot more for….other expensive ‘therapeutic’ brands. At this price, you could even buy two. [It] solved my sore neck and shoulder problems.” The Wamsutta Side Sleeper Pillow  is available in a Standard Queen size and comes with free shipping.

Bear Pillow

Best Cooling Pillow for Side Sleepers

The Bear Pillow has extra bells and whistles to help you sleep cool, including Double Ice Fabric and mesh panels at both ends. Filled with a solid piece of Bear’s proprietary Loft-X Foam, this pillow is neither too firm nor too soft for side sleepers who need a cool night’s sleep.

Reason to Buy: No matter how soft a pillow’s cover or how perfect its loft, if it sleeps hot, chances are a healthy sleep pattern won’t be achievable. Bear went above and beyond with this pillow’s design to ensure breathability. One reviewer wrote that the “cooling cover feels like something out of science-fiction” because it sleeps so cool. The Double Ice Fabric cover with mesh panels promotes above-average breathability, and it’s also machine-washable.

Inside, the Loft-X foam has the contouring support of memory foam, but it’ll never go flat because it has the resilience and bounce of latex. Hot side sleepers should be able to find a nice mix of cooling, support, and comfort in this pillow, which costs just $100 for a Queen size. The Bear Pillow is available in Queen and King sizes and comes with a 2-year limited warranty. If you’re looking for more of Bear’s especially-designed cooling power, look no further than the Bear Hybrid mattress.

Coop Home Goods Pillow

Best Memory Foam Pillow for Side Sleepers

This pillow has a Medium Soft feel and contains shredded, gel-infused memory foam and microfiber. It sleeps cooler than most memory foam options and can be adjusted.

Reason to Buy: If you enjoy the conforming feel of memory foam around your head and neck, the Coop Home Goods Pillow is a good option to prevent pressure points from developing. While the original design may work for lightweight side sleepers, average and heavyweight sleepers may want to add extra fill to the pillow to achieve a loft that’s supportive enough; Coop Home Goods sells extra fill in bulk.

The highlight of this pick is its breathability. Most memory foam pillows retain heat, but the shredded foam mixture and cooling polyester and bamboo cover in this pillow’s design prevent that from becoming an issue. This pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and comes with a five-year warranty.

Read more: Best Memory Foam Pillows

parachute pillow 2

Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow

Best Firm Pillow for Side Sleepers

The Parachute Pillow features a blend of ethically-sourced European down and feathers in a smooth cotton-sateen cover. Designed with a 3.5-inch gusset to take the strain off your neck, it has a medium-density that marries support and comfort for side sleepers.

Reason to Buy: Down fill is easy to love, with its close conforming and luxurious feel. However, side sleepers who want a down pillow need to find an option with firmness and shape that’s designed to support the neck while allowing the shoulders to rest—a down pillow that’s too soft could result in neck and shoulder tension.

The Parachute Down Pillow combines the comfort of white down with the support of a thicker-than-average gusset, double-stitched piping seams, and a medium-density feel. You’ll experience the same neck support in the center of the pillow as you will toward its edges, thanks to the rectangular 3-D design. The shell is breathable, and the entire pillow can be machine washed. A luxury option, the Parachute Pillow comes in Standard and King sizes, costs $125 for Standard size, and comes with a three-year warranty.

Saatva Pillow

Best Latex Pillow for Side Sleepers

The Saatva Pillow features a Talalay latex and down alternative core and has an innovative 3-layer design and Medium feel. Its loft is adjustable, meaning that side sleepers of any size can customize it to their liking.

Reason to Buy: Latex is more supportive and resilient than other pillow fill styles, which make it a popular option for shoppers looking for durability and shape retention. The interior of the Saatva Pillow contains shredded Talalay latex and a middle layer of down alternative. You’ll have the option to adjust the pillow so that the loft can measure anywhere between 2” to 8” thick.

The temperature-neutral inner lining on the pillow helps it sleep cool, as does the organic cotton cover. The breathable, moisture-wicking cover can be removed for machine washing, and, as with most Saatva products, this pillow lasts longer than average. The Saatva pillow is available in Queen and King sizes and comes with free shipping and a 45-night sleep trial.

What Pillow Types are Best for Side Sleepers?

The type of pillow isn’t the primary concern for side sleepers, but rather the support and loft. The ideal side sleeper pillow will have a high loft (roughly 4” thick) to keep the head and neck in a neutral position. A firmer feel in the pillow can also prevent the head and neck from sinking. The larger and broader-shouldered you are, the higher loft you’ll require to fill the space between your ear and neck.

That being said, all pillow styles can be a good fit for side sleepers, so the right type will come down to your personal preferences.

Memory Foam

Memory foam pillows can be filled with large chunks of shredded memory foam or a solid block of the material. A solid memory foam pillow with the right loft and firmness level can support your head in one position if you don’t toss and turn, but a shredded memory foam side sleeper pillow is usually adjustable, meaning you can add and remove fill to create a loft that suits your body perfectly.

Latex

Latex is an increasingly popular pillow fill because it’s comfortable yet resilient, and it sleeps cooler than memory foam. Some latex pillows are adjustable, but most have a solid block of latex at their core. They conform closely and alleviate some pressure, and they’ll feel a little bouncier to the touch. If you’re interested in a latex pillow, take a look at our best latex pillows page. 

Down

Down is a luxury pillow fill made from the plumage of geese and ducks. It’s very soft and lightweight, so side sleepers will need a down pillow with a very dense fill in order to find support on this type. Keep in mind that down is soft and comfortable, but it requires some fluffing and is usually more expensive.

Down Alternative

If you like the feel of down but can’t foot the bill, a down alternative offers a similar lightweight body and often comes without the allergy risk of down. Similar to down, down alternative pillows require fluffing, may not hold their shape well, and will need to have a high-density fill to support side sleepers’ necks.

FAQs

Are there great pillows for side sleepers available on Amazon?

Yes, dozens of pillows that are appropriate for side sleepers are available on Amazon.com. Examples from this list include the Wamsutta, the Coop Home Goods, and the Tuft & Needle pillows.

What type of pillow should a side sleeper use?

Side sleepers should opt for pillows with a high loft and Medium-Firm or Firm feel. A dense fill that’s also comfortable will allow the shoulders to relax and the neck to be supported, leading to pressure relief that makes it easier to fall asleep.

What is the best pillow for a side sleeper with neck pain?

If you’re experiencing neck pain in the side sleeping position, your current pillow may be to blame. By purchasing a new pillow that encourages proper neck alignment, you may notice that your pain subsides. If pain continues with a proper side sleeping pillow, consider transitioning to back sleeping, which is the healthiest sleeping position according to doctors.

Conclusion

No matter if you prefer memory foam, latex, or down, we hope this selection of side sleeper pillows leads you to the perfect pillow for your preferences and body type. Just keep that neck-to-ear space in mind when choosing loft and firmness, and you should be well on your way. To learn more about pillows and which might be right for you, check out our Best Pillows Guide.


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