Sleep Accessories

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

The best pillows for side sleepers will provide spinal alignment and pressure relief. Learn our pillow picks for side sleepers and what to look for in a pillow.

By Natalie Yerger

The most common tips for a better night’s sleep tend to be like a revolving door: get a great mattress, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the late evening, keep a regular bedtime, and so on.

Often missing from this list is a tip that involves the most essential accessory for achieving an excellent night’s rest: get a great pillow. And if you’re a side sleeper, you’ll need a particular type of pillow to sleep deeply. Here are the best pillows for side sleepers and an overview of what side sleepers should look when pillow shopping.

Best Pillows for Side Sleeper

Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow

Editor’s Pick

Made from adaptive foam, which contours to the sleeper’s body for exceptional neck and head support, this is the most moldable pillow we’ve found for side sleepers. It’s made with graphite and cooling gel, both of which encourage temperature neutrality. Inside of the casing is one piece of proprietary T&N foam, which is custom cut rather than shredded, to help keep the pillow airy and supportive. The foam is covered with a breathable micro-polyamide and polyester cover, which can be easily unzipped and washed. The Tuft & Needle pillow is available in standard and king sizes for $75 and $100, respectively. 

Brooklyn Bedding Shredded Foam Pillow

Best Value

This shredded foam pillow from Brooklyn Bedding comes with many of the components side sleepers are looking for and is under $50 in all sizes. To make this pillow, high-quality foam is shredded and then encapsulated in a removable cover. The foam is made with cooling gel that draws heat away from you as you sleep, and the charcoal bamboo cover is both moisture-wicking and antimicrobial, making this pillow a great option for side sleepers who sleep hot or have allergies. 

Saatva Pillow

Best Latex

Saatva makes excellent quality latex products, and this pillow is no exception. The core is filled with shredded Talalay latex, which sleeps cooler than memory foam and is hypoallergenic, dust-mite resistant, and mildew-proof. The middle layer contains down alternative and organic cotton, providing a plush feel and more airflow. The core and middle layer are encased in a 100% organic cotton cover in a sateen weave, further adding to the pillow’s moisture-wicking and cooling properties. The cover can be easily unzipped for washing and has gusseted sides to help the pillow maintain its shape. The Saatva Pillow comes in two sizes, queen and king, that cost $145 and $165, respectively.

Helix Pillow

Best Adjustable

If your pillow preferences fluctuate from night to night or season to season, an adjustable pillow with removable core materials can provide you with multiple loft options in one product. The Helix Pillow has a customizable design that allows you to do just that. The interior of the pillow is made from memory foam and down alternative fibers, which cushion the head and neck for a medium-soft feel. The cover is made from a breathable cotton Tencel and has gusseted edges. With purchase, you’ll receive two removable memory foam/down alternative inserts which, when added, resulting in a firmer pillow with a higher loft. The pillow comes in standard and king sizes, which both cost less than $100, is backed by a 100-night sleep trial, and comes with a three-year warranty. 

Brooklinen Down Pillow

Best Down

Filled with white down that’s treated to make it ultra-antimicrobial, this pillow is covered in a 400 thread count, 100% cotton shell with double-stitched edges for durability. The down is sustainably sourced from Hutterite farms. We like that this pillow comes in three options, including firm, mid-plush, and plush. The mid-plush will work best for side sleepers, providing a balance of softness and support. The Brooklinen Down Pillow comes in standard and king sizes, and the company offers free exchanges if you’re not satisfied happy with the product. 

Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow

Best Luxury

Made specifically for side sleepers, as evidenced by its name, this pillow is a side sleeper’s dream. It comes in a medium-density and its 3.5” thickness is intended to take pressure off of the neck and shoulder areas. It has 750 fill power, meaning it’s extremely durable and soft and is made with European white down that’s encased in a breathable sateen cotton shell. We love that the pillow comes with a 3-year warranty and is machine-washable for easy cleaning.


What Side Sleepers Should Look for in a Pillow

Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position. Thanks to this, you’re in luck. The variety of pillows catered to side sleeper is seriously wide, but it’s still important to know what to look for in your ideal pillow rather than to purchase the first pillow you see labeled ‘good for side sleepers’ and call it a day. Here’s what we recommend keeping an eye on as you’re pillow shopping. 

Size

The size of your pillow should offer the proper amount of support for your height, your weight, and the size of your bed. Pillow sizes range from small to standard, super standard, queen, king, euro, and body. The most common options are the standard and the queen size. A standard is compact and usually the cheapest. Those who find the standard size too small or who toss and turn throughout the night will enjoy the queen or the super standard. If you enjoy watching TV in bed and would like a headrest, the king or euro pillows will work. Body pillows, which come in C-, U-, and J-shapes, are a great option for pregnant women who sleep on their sides. 

Shape

The shape of a pillow refers to its surface, and pillows can be either even or contoured. It’s most common to see even-surface pillows when shopping. Contoured pillows include cervical memory foam pillows, which are recessed below the head and elevated below the neck to encourage proper alignment. If you experience chronic neck pain in a side sleeping position, a curved pillow could provide some relief.

Material

Materials have benefits and drawbacks associated with them, and pillows can be made from a variety of natural and synthetic materials. Each material will vary in temperature neutrality, cost, odor potential, softness, and lifespan. Here’s a brief overview of the common pillow material types and the pros and cons of each for side sleepers:

  • Feather: Filled with the outer feathers of ducks or geese, feather pillows are costly yet soft and conforming, and they’re a very good choice for side sleepers.
  • Buckwheat: These pillows are filled with 5 to 10 pounds of buckwheat outer shells and have an adjustable loft, conform closely, and keep sleepers cool. They’re expensive, but they’re an excellent, durable choice for side sleepers.
  • Down: Down pillows are filled with the inner plumage of ducks and geese and are known for their cooling properties and long lifespan. They’re a good option for side sleepers but may not be supportive enough as they can tend to be low-loft.
  • Down Alternative: Polyester pieces mimic down in these pillows, and they’re priced much lower than authentic down pillows. However, they require fluffing, have a short lifespan, and don’t retain their shape, making them a poor choice for side sleepers.
  • Latex: Latex pillows can be filled with either shredded or solid latex. Solid latex pillows are a good option for side sleepers, as they conform closely to the head and neck to alleviate pressure. However, solid latex pillows can’t be adjusted for loft.
  • Memory Foam: Memory foam pillows can also be filled with shredded or solid foam. These are an excellent option because they conform closely and provide great support. Shoppers should be prepared for a heftier price tag, however, and some odor potential.
  • Polyester: In polyester pillows, shredded polyester fibers (synthetic) are placed inside. These are low cost and have good shape retention, but they also have short lifespans and noise potential. If you can find one in the right loft, it can be a good short-term option.

Loft

Otherwise known as thickness, the loft of a pillow is crucial for side sleepers as too much or too little could lead to pain and pressure. There are three categories of loft:

  • Low: Measure less than three inches thick.
  • Medium: Measure three to five inches thick.
  • High: Measure more than five inches thick.

Side sleepers generally prefer pillows with medium or high loft levels. This is because low loft pillows may cause the neck to overextend to the side, leading to pressure and pain. When sleeping on one’s side, more space is created between the sleeper’s neck and the pillow. The thicker the pillow (or the higher the loft), the more the pillow will compensate for this area. Keep in mind that your size and body weight will impact this decision as well. For example, those at heavier weights may sink in too much on a medium-loft pillow, and a high-loft pillow would be more suitable for them.


Investing in a more appropriate pillow for your sleeping style can be life-changing if you’ve slept on an ill-suited pillow for a long time. Before you embark on the search for the perfect pillow, do a bit of self-discovery with regard to your sleeping position, any areas of tension or pain, and the type of feel and firmness you prefer. Once you’ve narrowed down the selection, the pillows we recommended above and the guidelines for what to look for should guide you on your way to finding the best pillow for your sweet, side sleeping dreams. 


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