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Just over half of Americans are side sleepers, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If you fall into that camp, you know how much of a pain (literally) it can be to find a pillow that has just the right amount of plushness, without being too thick. Some practically disappear under the weight of your head, while others prop your head up so high that you wake up with a kinked neck and sore shoulders. But the best pillows for side sleepers solve those problems.
If you sleep mostly on your side, you want a medium-density pillow that has a decent amount of support, but also enough give to contour your head and keep your neck and spine aligned. There are many pillows out there that purport to be the best choice for side sleepers, but some are more oriented towards all types of sleepers and don’t take into account the extra pressure relief that folks who sleep on their sides need.
We know how much of a struggle it can be to find that perfect pillow. So we combed through online reviews to find the best pillows for side sleepers, so you can get the quality sleep you need.
Adjustable and designed to give consistent support, this pillow from popular mattress company Leesa is ideal for side sleepers. It’s reversible, featuring one down-like quilted side and a cooler side to help regulate temperature. And it has an additional insert between the layers that can be removed to adjust the height of the pillow, allowing you to get absolutely perfect alignment.
What the Reviews Say: For even the pickiest of reviewers, this pillow seems to do the trick: “I have become the Goldilocks of pillows. I bought one that was too short, another that was too tall and too firm, and finally—Leesa came along and delivered the perfect pillow. As a back and side sleeper, I find this pillow to be the perfect height. I also really love the “cool side of the pillow.” In addition to being cooling, it’s also perfectly firm. The quilted side of the pillow is great for lounging, then I switch it up when it’s time to sleep.”
The Layla Kapok Pillow is stuffed with fibers made from the seed pods of Kapok trees, creating a fluffy, all-natural fill that’s softer and airier than cotton, and also free of pesticides and other chemicals. The cover is woven with a copper-infused yarn to help reduce odor and improve hygiene, so it will last much longer than other pillows that you’d have to replace after a year or two.
What the Reviews Say: While some reviewers mentioned needing to air it out for a few days, overall customers seem happy: “I’m mostly a side sleeper after laying on my back doing things on my cell until I get tired and this pillow is comfortable in both positions. I’m a large person so it’s thickness is perfect for me on my side. I used to have to stack two pillows to get the right height!”
If you’d rather invest your money elsewhere, the Wamsutta side sleeper is a great option that won’t blow your budget. This pillow was specifically designed with side sleepers in mind and has an extra-firm support level to give you perfect alignment as you snooze. It features a soft 300-count cotton cover and polyester fill, and is machine washable, just in case it gets dirty.
What the Reviews Say: While it truly is extra firm, it’s a quality most customers are happy with: “Best side sleeper pillow I’ve ever tried. It’s exactly the right height to support my head while lying on my side, and it’s the ideal (to me) firmness, too. And the price is incredibly low for such a well-made pillow. VERY happy with this purchase.”
COOP HOME GOODS
The pillow that’s right for someone else might not be perfect for you—that’s why Coop’s pillow is adjustable. You can add or remove the foam fill until you find the firmness that’s just right for you (”for more OOMPH,” as the company says). It’s also GreenGuard Gold certified, and contains no toxic or harmful chemicals. Also worth noting: The cover and the fill are machine washable, so you can keep not just your pillow cases but also your actual pillow super clean.
What the Reviews Say: With over 28,000 5-star ratings, it’s a winner for lots of folks: “I am a side sleeper who desires a great deal of support. Because this pillow has pieces of memory foam, instead of a solid piece, it does not condense and it is airy, providing air flow, keeping it cool. My highest recommendation!”
Soft but still firm enough, the Brooklinen down pillow provides the cushion side sleepers need. Brooklinen lets you choose between plush, mid-plush and firm options, but recommends that side sleepers opt for firm for that extra support and perfect alignment.
What the Reviews Say: The pillow is filled with a mix of down clusters and feather filling, with a 100% cotton sateen shell, for an overall comfy feel that seems to do the trick for most people: “As a side-sleeper, I’ve finally found the right amount of firmness and fluffiness that has me sleeping like a baby.”
If you’re someone who wakes up slightly, er, damper than you’d like, the Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow is here to help. This pillow has a shredded memory foam interior, along with a blended fabric cover that’s aimed at keeping you nice and cool during the night. And it’s overstuffed when it arrives, so you can take out the amount you want to adjust it to your needs.
What the Reviews Say: This pillow seems like a total win for many happy customers and this reviewer specifically: “If you are a side sleeper, you need this pillow. Supportive, yet soft, and your head does not sink as you sleep. It kept my head cool, as I sleep hot. Very happy with my purchase!”
This memory foam pillow is ideal for side sleepers and those who have issues with allergies. The pillow’s bamboo cover is hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant, to help keep sneezing and watery eyes at bay. The premium shredded memory foam is designed to remain uniform in density, which basically means it won’t go flat or lumpy. Similar to other pillows, this one is fully adjustable — just remove fill to achieve the right level of firmness for you. The foam conforms to your head and neck, allowing for ultimate contouring and proper spinal alignment.
What the Reviews Say: While some say it takes a while to break in, that doesn’t seem to detract from its overall value: “First it felt too hard, then it seemed too stiff, and by the third night it was perfect. Whether I sleep on my back or on my side, the pillow seems to give me the support I need. I just ordered a second one!”
This Parachute Down Sleeper Pillow has a special design with a 3.5-inch gusset that takes the strain off your neck and shoulders so you sleep—and wake up—pain free. The medium-density pillow is constructed with luxurious 750 fill power European white down stuffed inside a 100% cotton sateen shell that’s woven extra tight so no feathers poke through. The pillow is available in standard and king sizes, and because Parachute wants you to love their product, it offers an exceptional money-back 60-day trial and also a 3-year warranty. Basically, they’re pretty confident you’re going to love this, now and in the future.
What the Reviews Say: Reviewers rave about this pillow, with one person gushing: “This pillow has changed my life…I now sleep through the night, wake with no neck or back pain and feel rested and happy! An amazing pillow!!”
This cool-looking pillow was purpose-built to cut down on neck pain, headaches and other commonly-experienced sleep issues. The curved design is aimed at supporting not only your head but your neck and shoulders on your side, and also when you sleep on your back.
What the Reviews Say: The unique shape of this pillow is what stands out to many happy customers: “I spent years feeling like I was in a constant fight with my regular-shaped standard pillow…it just wouldn’t give in to my shoulder constantly pressing into it. When I saw this side sleeper pillow from Drift, I stopped dead in my tracks. It had the crescent shape I’d been pining for! This pillow has had a fantastic impact on my sleep! Now I sleep straight through the night and can turn my head to both sides in the morning.”
The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Pro combines support with cooling technology. While it’s great for side sleepers, it’s also helpful if you tend to move into other positions in the night. The pillow’s medium-support foam interior contours to your head, neck and shoulders for a comfy feel. And the cover, featuring a cooling gel layer, is also removable and washable.
What the Reviews Say: While some folks find it a bit heavy and a little firm at first, it seems to soften quickly and provide much-needed support. And its cooling qualities really win out: “I love Tempur Pedic pillows. I now have three including this cooling one. The cooling pillow is by far my favorite. It has a nice cooling effect when you first lay down and nice soft support through the night.”
To lower the risk of pain, side sleepers should use a thicker pillow that keeps your head and neck aligned, says Jessalyn Adam, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center. Less important is the fill. Be it memory foam, down or anything in between, as long as you’re getting the support you need, what your pillow is made of is really a matter of personal preference.
As a general rule, a pillow for side sleepers should be about three to six inches thick. The goal is to have adequate support that keeps your head in a straight line with your spine. The pillow shouldn’t be so thick that it tilts your head upwards or too thin that your head sinks down toward your mattress.
Since every person is different, adjustable pillows are a good option for side sleepers since you can add or remove fill based on your individual needs.
Medium firmness pillows are usually the best choice for side sleepers. If your pillow is too soft, your head can sink into it, throwing off your alignment. On the other hand, if your pillow is too firm, it can cause pain and discomfort in your neck and shoulders. Pillows that fall somewhere in the middle provide a balance of support and pressure-relieving give.
There are some real health benefits to sleeping on your side. For one, it keeps your airway open. It can also decrease acid reflux and lessen the risk of back and neck pain.