Best Pillows for Side Sleepers – Our Picks and Buyer’s Guide

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Quick Summary

Side sleeping is the most common sleep position, and is also generally considered the healthiest. Those who sleep in this position enjoy good spinal alignment, which can help alleviate aches and pains throughout the body. Additionally, side sleeping opens up airways and improves circulation in the sleeper’s breathing passages; as a result, it can be beneficial for sleepers with certain medical conditions triggered by back sleeping, such as acid reflux and sleep apnea.

However, comfortable side sleeping depends on a mattress and bedding system that provides adequate support to the sleeper’s body. In terms of pillow selection, many side sleepers prefer pillows that have a fuller shape and keep the neck and spine aligned. Soft, conforming materials like memory foam and buckwheat are also popular with side sleepers because they alleviate pressure points that develop in the neck and shoulders.

This guide will discuss pillow recommendations for side sleepers. First, let’s look at the top 5 pillows for side sleepers. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

Editor’s Pick – Layla Pillow

Best Price – Brooklyn Bedding Shredded Foam Pillow

Best Luxury – Luxe Pillow

Best Memory Foam – Tomorrow Sleep Cooling Memory Foam Pillow

Best Latex – Latex for Less Pillow

How We Decided

 

70 pillows considered –– 105 hours of research –– 4 sleep experts consulted

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers – Tuck's Top 5 Models

Layla Pillow – Editor's Pick

layla pillow
Highlights
  • Made using all-natural Kapok
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Free from pesticides and harmful chemicals
  • Comes with a 120-day trial
  • Has a 5-year warranty

The Layla Pillow is our Editor’s Pick because it represents everything side sleepers want in a pillow. It’s affordably priced and yet designed to last for years. It can be hard to get the loft right when trying to sleep on your side, and the Layla contains a zipper that allows you to remove as much of the memory foam and natural kapok fill as you want so that you’re able to have just the right amount of support for your head and neck.

It’s hypoallergenic, pesticide-free, and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. Additionally, the Layla Pillow comes with a cover woven with CuTEC, a unique copper yarn. The yarn is widely used in performance fabrics; this material not only improves hygiene, but it can help to remove dead skin cells, and even replenish them.

Good For:

  • Sleepers with fluctuating loft preferences
  • Head and neck support
  • Anyone with allergies or sensitive skin
  • Those who want a long-lasting pillow
  • People who prefer environmentally friendly products

Brooklyn Bedding Shredded Foam Pillow – Best Price

Pillow
Highlights
  • CertiPur-US Certified foam
  • Includes anti-microbial pillow cover
  • Wicks away moisture, letting you sleep dry
  • The cover is removable and machine washable

If you want a moldable, highly customizable foam pillow but don’t want to overspend, the Brooklyn Bedding Shredded Foam Pillow is a great option. This pillow uses a blend of memory foam and gel foam, allowing it to draw away heat. In addition, the inclusion of latex with memory foam provides increased airflow. The foam is CertiPUR-US Certified. It will provide a dry, comfortable, and hygienic environment for sleepers.

The pillow comes with a charcoal bamboo cover that is antimicrobial, removable, and machine washable. It’s good at wicking away moisture, making it perfect for hot sleepers. The cover is The zipper component allows you to fill the pillow with as much or as little foam as you like, letting you decide your own level of sleep comfort.

Good for:

  • Those who sleep hot
  • Sleepers who want an adjustable pillow

Luxe Pillow – Best Luxury

Highlights
  • ‘Soft’ firmness
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • Medium loft
  • Layered down and feather construction
  • Cool and breathable

Down and feather pillows are popular among side sleepers because they sink deeply beneath the head and neck and provide close conforming. As a result, side sleepers often experience improved spinal alignment and pain/pressure relief. Our pick for the Best Down/Feather Pillow for Side Sleepers is the Luxe Pillow, which features a central chamber of firmer, more supportive waterfowl feathers and outer chambers of ultrasoft down. The pillow provides a balance of support and softness that is suitable for most side sleepers – particularly those who weigh 230 pounds or less.

The Luxe Pillow also features a 300TC cotton cover and a down/feather insert that can be removed to wash the cover. Both the cover and the insert have piped edges to prevent fill material from escaping. Temperature neutrality is another strength of the Luxe Pillow; its breathable cover allows hot sleepers to remain cool and comfortable throughout the night. And because Luxe Pillow abides by the Responsible Down Standards practices, the product is a good option for eco-friendly shoppers.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Tomorrow Sleep Cooling Memory Foam Pillow – Best Memory Foam

tomorrow
Highlights
  • CertiPUR-US® certified foam
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Moderates temperature, making it unnecessary to flip
  • A highly durable and cooling surface

Buy the Tomorrow Sleep Cooling Memory Foam Pillow and say goodbye to pillow flipping forever. This two-sided memory foam pillow comes with a Polyethylene cover that protects and cools the surface. It features a DuoCore design that helps manage the temperature on both sides of the pillow. Additionally, the Tomorrow Sleep Cooling Memory Foam Pillow is constructed with three layers to better moderate its overall temperature. These qualities allow it to evenly disperse heat away from the top of the pillow, making both sides equally cooling.

As well as keeping hot sleepers cool, this ultra-modern memory foam pillow contours to your body’s head and neck, isolating movement. It’s great for keeping the head and neck supported as you sleep, and keeping your spine aligned.

Tomorrow’s pillow is made from CertiPUR-US certified, hypoallergenic foam. It’s highly durable and will stand up to years of wear and tear. That’s why it’s backed by a three-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Those who need spine support
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Latex For Less Pillow – Best Latex

Latex For Less
Highlights
  • Can choose between solid and shredded latex.
  • Pillows are made from 100 percent natural and organic materials.
  • Provides great head and neck support.
  • Breathable material, lets you sleep cool all night.

The Latex For Less Pillow is available with either a solid latex foam or shredded foam filling. Sleepers have different preferences, and Latex For Less makes it easy to buy according to your individual preferences.

Choose a solid latex foam pillow for buoyant softness and material that easily conforms to your head and neck. No matter which sleep position you prefer, the solid latex pillow will provide the right amount of support. If you prefer the option to fluff your pillow and manually adjust its shape, you’ll want to go with shredded latex. Shredded latex pillows have the moldability of a more traditional pillow but are far more resilient.

Both pillows come with 100 percent organic cotton covers and are made from all-natural latex. These highly breathable pillows are hypoallergenic and don’t contain any fillers or chemicals.

Good for:

  • Anyone who sleeps hot
  • Those who prefer organic materials
  • People who suffer from allergies

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers Buyer's Guide

Side sleeping is considered the healthiest sleep position because it opens up the airways to improve circulation. This position can also benefit sleepers with certain medical conditions, such as acid reflux and sleep apnea, and it also provides more comfort for pregnant women. However, using the right pillow can be a deciding factor between comfort and discomfort for side sleepers. Certain pillow sizes and materials are conducive to side sleeping, while others can cause pain and pressure points to develop.

This guide will look at the mechanics of side sleeping, explore the different pillow types, and list the top-rated pillows for side sleepers according to the people who use them every night.

What You Need to Know About Side Sleeping

Generally speaking, there are three specific side sleeping positions (as illustrated below).

side sleeper positions

More than 40% of side sleepers utilize the fetal position, with their knees tucked in and their elbows bent. Other positions include the log, which involves straightening out the legs and arms, and the yearner, where the sleeper straightens out their legs and stretches out their arms.

Advantages

Side-sleeping is very common, and there are some great advantages to sleeping in this position. It’s easier on the neck and back than some other sleep positions, and very comfortable. Some of the best benefits of being a side-sleeper include:

  • Improved spinal alignment: Sleeping on one’s side aligns the spine with the pelvis, which can decrease pain and alleviate pressure points. However, mattress and pillow choice are crucial. Supportive mattresses and pillows can improve spinal alignment, while others with less support can worsen pain and pressure symptoms.
  • Reduces acid reflux: People with acid reflux experience chronic heartburn because stomach acid moves up the esophagus. Sleeping on one’s back or stomach can worsen heartburn symptoms, but sleeping on one’s left side improves circulation through the airways and helps alleviate heartburn. Sleeping on the right side, however, may exacerbate heartburn (since it puts pressure on the heart).
  • Reduces snoring: People with obstructive sleep apnea often snore the most when lying on their backs. Side sleeping, on the other hand, can reduce snoring for apnea patients, as well as people who snore for other reasons (such as obesity).
  • More comfortable for pregnant women: Pregnant women may experience discomfort when sleeping on their back because of the weight concentrated in their stomachs. Sleeping on one’s side transfers the weight away from the body. The side sleeping position is also safe for fetal health.

Disadvantages

One of the reasons it’s so instinctive to sleep on your side is because of how comfortable it is, especially if you happen to have back issues or find yourself snoring. However, there are a few drawbacks to constantly sleeping on your side. Some common disadvantages that arise due to sleeping on your side are:

  • Added pressure on organs: As discussed above, sleeping on the right side can increase the discomfort of heartburn. Sleeping on the left side can also cause discomfort by putting pressure on vital organs like the liver, stomach, and lungs. Sleepers can mitigate this problem to some extent by sleeping with a pillow beneath their neck, as well as pillows under their waist and between their knees.
  • Fetal position issues: Those who sleep in the fetal side position are susceptible to unique problems. These include increased symptoms of arthritis, as well as diaphragm restriction that may lead to problems with deep breathing. People with arthritis or circulatory issues may be more comfortable sleeping in the log or yearner side positions.
  • Wrinkles: Unfortunately, this position forces sleepers to lie with one side of their face on the pillow. This can cause wrinkles to form over time — and those who strictly sleep on one side may notice more wrinkles on one side than the other.

Choosing the Right Pillow for Side Sleepers

If your best sleep position is on your side, then you want to make sure you choose a pillow that lets you rest comfortably through the night. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the pillow properly cradles your head and neck and offers good back support. There are various considerations to take into account when selecting the right pillow. Read on to learn about these important factors so that you’ll be better prepared to buy a pillow that suits your sleep needs.

Size

Size is a very important aspect when choosing your pillow. In addition to choosing a good size for sleeping on your side, you’ll want to make sure it offers a practical amount of support based on your height, bed size, etc. Below are standard pillow sizes and the related advantages of each size.

  • Small (20W” x 12L”): This size is usually found with specialty pillows, such as cervical memory foam and buckwheat models. They are elevated around the neck and dip down beneath the head in order to provide targeted support.
  • Standard (20W” x 26L”): This is the most common standard pillow size, as well as the most compact. It may not be ideal for people who tend to toss and turn, but Standard-size pillows are usually the cheapest option.
  • Super Standard (20W” x 28L”): This is a good alternative for people who find the Standard-size too compact, including those who toss and turn.
    Queen (20W” x 30L”): The Queen is the second most popular size after the Standard. It will accommodate most sleepers who toss and turn.
  • King (20W” x 36L”): In addition to being a good option for people who toss and turn, the King-size is usually long enough to provide a comfortable backrest or headrest for reading or watching TV in bed.
  • Euro (dimensions vary): Euro-size pillows are unique, in that they are always square. They come in a wide range of dimensions; common examples include 26W” x 26L” and 20W” x 20L”. Many people find they are not comfortable for sleeping, but they make good head and backrests.
  • Body (48-54W” x 20L”): Body pillows are exceptionally long, making them suitable for side sleepers who prefer to snuggle with a pillow while they sleep, as well as pregnant women.

Shape

Generally speaking, pillows come in even or curved surfaces. Even-surface pillows are far more common. They may have full or flat shapes, depending on the material. The best-known example of a curved-surface pillow is a cervical memory foam pillow, which is elevated beneath the neck and recessed beneath the head. These pillows are popular with sleepers who experience chronic neck and shoulder pain.

Loft

Loft, or thickness, is important for side sleepers. Generally speaking, there are three categories of pillow loft:

Low-loft: Pillows that measure less than three inches (3″) thick.
Medium-loft: Pillows that measure three to five inches (3″ to 5″) thick.
High-loft: Pillows that measure more than five inches (5″) thick.

Side sleepers tend to prefer medium- or high-loft pillows. The reason is simple: sleeping on one’s side creates more space between the sleeper’s head/neck and the pillow, and thicker pillows compensate for this gap. Low-loft pillows may cause the next to bend, which can lead to pain and pressure. However, in addition to sleep position, there are several other factors that should be taken into account when choosing the right pillow loft. These include the sleeper’s weight, head size, and shoulder width, as well as the mattress firmness. The table below illustrates optimal conditions for each of the three loft categories.

Loft Category Thickness Optimal Weight Optimal Head Size Optimal Shoulder Width Optimal Mattress Firmness
Low Less than 3″ More than 230 lbs. Small Narrow Soft to Medium Soft
Medium 3″ to 5″ 130 to 230 lbs. Average Average Medium
High More than 5″ Less than 130 lbs. Large Broad Medium Firm to Firm

It’s important to note that some pillows offer adjustable loft; the owner simply removes or adds more filling to decrease or increase the thickness. Adjustable-loft pillows may be most suitable for side sleepers whose thickness preferences tend to fluctuate.

Material

Pillow Material Filling Description Pros Cons Side Sleeper Rating
Buckwheat Roughly five to 10 lbs. of removable buckwheat hulls (outer shells) Adjustable loft
Close conforming
Good support
Sleeps cool
High price-point
Too firm for some
Noise potential
Heavy
Very Good
Buckwheat pillows are suitable for side sleepers due to their above-average support and adjustable loft
Down Removable duck or goose down, which are the soft inner plumage found beneath the outer feathers Adjustable loft
Very soft and lightweight
Sleeps cool
Short break-in
Long lifespan
High price-point
Poor shape retention
Fluffing needed
Allergy and odor potential
Good
Down is soft and comfortable, but some pillows may not be supportive enough for side sleepers
Down Alternative Polyester puffballs that mimic the softness and weight or authentic down Adjustable loft
Low price-point
Very soft and lightweight
Short break-in
No allergy risk
Short lifespan
Poor shape retention
Fluffing needed
Short lifespan
Poor
Down alternative pillows lose their shape easily and deteriorate quickly, and most side sleepers find them unsupportive
Feather Outer feathers of ducks or geese (may also include some down for extra softness) Adjustable loft
Close conforming
Very soft and lightweight
Long lifespan
High cost
Quills can poke
Fluffing needed
May sleep hot
Odor potential
Very Good
Feather pillows may be quite soft, but adjustable loft allows side sleepers to customize the supportiveness
Latex Solid latex, which is a natural substance extracted from the sap of rubber trees Close conforming
Good support
Close conforming
Long lifespan
Sleep cool
No noise
Non-adjustable loft
High cost
Too dense and heavy for some
Odor potential
Good
Latex pillows conform closely and alleviate some pressure, but most cannot be adjusted for loft
Memory Foam Shredded or solid memory foam, or viscoelastic polyfoam, which softens when warm and retains shape when cool Adjustable loft (shredded)
Close conforming
No noise
High cost
Short lifespan
Odor potential
Very Good
Memory foam pillows (including cervical pillows) conform closely and provide good support for most side sleepers
Polyester Shredded or interlocking polyester fibers; polyester is a synthetic fabric Low cost
Good shape retention (interlocking)
No allergy risk
No odor potential
Short lifespan
Poor shape retention (shredded)
Noise potential
Fair
Interlocking polyester pillows have a fuller shape, which provides more support to side sleepers, but shredded polyester pillows flatten easily and are not recommended
Polyfoam Foam made by adding water to polyurethane plastics Lightweight
Inexpensive
Springy
Resilient
Durable
Doesn’t provide too much airflow
Can degrade easily
Good
A high-quality polyfoam pillow will provide great neck and back support

Moldability

In addition to the qualities listed in the table above, moldability is a pillow characteristic that is somewhat unique to side sleepers. Some pillows retain a full shape no matter how tightly a sleeper holds them, while others are moldable, or scrunchable, meaning they can be reformed to match the sleeper’s position. Moldability comes down to personal preference. The most moldable options include shredded memory foam, feathers, down, and buckwheat, while the least moldable options are solid memory foam and latex pillows.

Cost

Lastly, let’s look at price-point — which may be the main deciding factor for many pillow shoppers. All pillow materials vary by brand and model in terms of cost, but the table below contains a general price breakdown for the seven most common pillow types.

Material Buckwheat Down Down Alt. Feather Latex Memory Foam Polyester Polyfoam
Average Price-point $50 to $75 $70 to $100 $20 to $30 $25 to $50 $40 to $60 $50 to $60 $10 to $15 $40 to $100

Additional Tuck Resources

To learn more about the best pillows for other sleeping positions and needs, you can visit our additional guides below.