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

Our Review Process | Disclosure

 

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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 6 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 – Coop Home Goods Eden

Best Value Pillow – Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

Best Luxury Pillow – Hullo

Best Cooling Pillow – Snuggle-Pedic

Best Loft Range – MyPillow Premium

Best Pillow for Pain Relief – Nest Bedding Easy Breather

How We Decided

 

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

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers – Tuck's Top 6 Models

Coop Home Goods Eden – Editor's Pick

Highlights
  • ‘Medium Soft’ firmness
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 5-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Great shape retention

The Eden from Coop Home Goods is constructed with gel memory foam and combed microfibers. These materials conform to the sleeper’s neck and shoulders to alleviate aches and pains that develop. The pillow comes with a zippered cover, allowing owners to adjust the loft whenever they want by removing or adding fill. The Eden also features a bamboo-rayon cover, making it suitable for people who sleep hot.

The Eden retains its shape well and does not require much fluffing. The pillow is also highly durable, with a longer-than-average lifespan of three years. The pillow is easy to clean, as well, due to its removable polyester liner and machine-washable cover.

Coop Home Goods offers mattress protector and pillow bundles, allowing customers to save money on these bedding products when purchased in bulk. Shipping is also free to customers in all 50 states. The Eden is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those with fluctuating loft preferences

Check Price | Read Our Full Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow Review

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow – Best Value Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Extra Firm’ firmness
  • 5-year warranty
  • Multiple loft options (3″, 4″, 4.5″)
  • Pressure-relieving orthopedic design
  • Exceptional durability

The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow from Tempur-Pedic is an orthopedic pillow with an ergonomic shape that offers great support and pressure relief. This pillow is made from solid memory foam and considered ‘Extra Firm,’ meaning it will not conform as closely; this makes it particularly well-suited for people with larger heads and broader shoulders, as these sleepers tend to sink too deeply into excessively soft pillows.

The memory foam used to construct the TEMPUR-Neck Pillow has exceptional longevity, making the pillow less susceptible to early deterioration (a common problem with solid foam models). The pillow also retains its shape very well and is fairly moldable. The polyester knit cover can be removed and washed in a machine.

The TEMPUR-Neck has a below-average price-point compared to most memory foam pillows, making it a top-value pick for shoppers. Tempur-Pedic offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S., as well as a five-year warranty for the pillow.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who prefer ridged, orthopedic designs

Check Price | Read Our Full Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow Review

Hullo – Best Luxury Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Firm’ firmness
  • 60-night sleep trial
  • Adjustable loft
  • Sleeps very cool for most
  • Close conforming and pressure relief

The Hullo is an eco-friendly pillow constructed with an organic-cotton twill cover and buckwheat hull fill. The buckwheat hulls hug the sleeper’s head, neck, and shoulders closely to alleviate aches and pains in these areas. Good air circulation in the interior of the pillow and a cool cover give the Hullo great temperature neutrality, as well.

The Hullo is ‘Firm,’ as is the case with most buckwheat pillows. Owners can adjust the loft at any time by adding or removing hulls; Hulltex LLC, the company that makes the Hullo, sells hulls in bulk to pillow owners who need to replenish their supply. The buckwheat components never need to be cleaned; the cover is removable and machine washable.

The Hullo costs $99 in a Standard size and $149 in a King size, making it a good option for shoppers with bigger budgets. Hulltex LLC offers free shipping for the Hullo anywhere in the contiguous U.S., as well as a 60-night sleep trial.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Check Price | Read Our Full Hullo Pillow Review

Snuggle-Pedic – Best Cooling Pillow

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’ firmness
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 20-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Cool, pressure-relieving comfort

The Snuggle-Pedic (also known as the Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo Pillow) from Relief Mart contains shredded memory foam. Good circulation throughout the interior, along with a velour cover made from a bamboo rayon blend, allow the pillow to sleep exceptionally cool for most. The Snuggle-Pedic also offers adjustable loft, making it suitable for sleepers with different thickness preferences, as well as those whose desired loft may change from night to night. Owners can ship the pillow to Relief Mart whenever they want a loft adjustment.

Pain and pressure relief are key strengths of the Snuggle-Pedic, which offers close conforming. The pillow is very moldable and well-suited for sleepers who like to cuddle with a pillow during the night. It also retains its shape fairly well and can be machine-dried to expand the pillow back to its full size. Off-gassing potential for the Snuggle-Pedic is also lower than most memory foam pillows.

Customers in the contiguous U.S. who order the Snuggle-Pedic will qualify for free shipping. The pillow is also backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty, both of which are much longer than average.

Good for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination)
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who like to snuggle with a pillow while they sleep

Check Price | Read Our Full Snuggle-Pedic Pillow Review

MyPillow Premium – Best Loft Range

Highlights
  • Multiple firmness options
  • 60-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Multiple loft options
  • Sleeps cool and retains shape well

Many side sleepers have a hard time deciding which loft, or thickness, is best for them. The MyPillow Premium offers multiple options in order to accommodate a wide range of sleepers. Customers can choose from four different colors – Yellow, White, Green, or Blue – with different loft measurements based on their sex and T-shirt size.

The MyPillow Premium contains interlocking polyfoam, a material that conforms closely for good pressure relief and also sleeps fairly cool. The ring-spun cotton cover also improves temperature neutrality. Regardless of the selected color, all MyPillow Premium models can be periodically machine-dried to expand the pillow back to its full shape. The pillow is fully machine washable, as well, making it very easy to clean.

Shipping fees for the MyPillow Premium are less than $10 in the contiguous U.S. and less than $20 for Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. territories, and international destinations. The pillow comes with a 60-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy)
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who tend to sleep hot

Check Price | Read Our Full MyPillow Premium Review

Nest Easy Breather Pillow – Best Pillow for Pressure Relief

Highlights
  • ‘Medium’ firmness
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 2-year warranty
  • Adjustable loft
  • Sleeps cool and alleviates pressure well

The Easy Breather pillow from Nest Bedding contains shredded memory foam housed in a cool, breathable Tencel® lyocell cover. The pillow hugs the sleeper closely, forming a tight shape around their head, neck, and shoulders that alleviates a significant amount of pressure, even by memory foam pillow standards. The loft is also adjustable, making it suitable for sleepers with different thickness preferences.

Like other shredded memory foam pillows, the Easy Breather is high moldable and suitable for snuggling. The pillow also has great shape retention and can be machine-dried in order to expand it back to its full dimensions. In addition to the standard Easy Breather, the pillow is available in a ‘Natural’ design that substitutes latex for shredded foam; this model offers comparable levels of pain and pressure relief, as well as great temperature neutrality.

Nest Bedding ships the Easy Breather pillow for free anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty.

Good for:

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

Check Price | Read Our Full Nest Easy Breather Pillow Review

Best Pillows for Side Sleeping 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 involve straightening out the legs and arms, and the yearner, where the sleeper straightens out their legs and stretches out their arms.

Some advantages and health benefits of sleeping on your side 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 unsupportive choices 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.

However, there are some drawbacks to sleeping on your side. These include:

  • 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|

For side sleepers, there are several variables to consider when choosing a new pillow and comparing different brands and models.

Size: There are six standard pillow sizes to choose from, as well as a smaller specialty size for certain pillow types.

  • 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.

Surface 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 CategoryThicknessOptimal WeightOptimal Head SizeOptimal Shoulder WidthOptimal Mattress Firmness
LowLess than 3″More than 230 lbs.SmallNarrowSoft to Medium Soft
Medium3″ to 5″130 to 230 lbs.AverageAverageMedium
HighMore than 5″Less than 130 lbs.LargeBroadMedium 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.

Pillow Material: Pillows are made from a wide range of materials, and each one has unique pros and cons associated with them. Most side sleepers prefer pillow materials that conform to their head and neck for targeted pressure relief and improved spinal alignment. However, temperature neutrality, cost, and odor/allergy potential may also be factors. The table below breaks down each of the seven most common pillow materials.

Pillow MaterialFilling DescriptionProsConsSide Sleeper Rating
BuckwheatRoughly 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
DownRemovable duck or goose down, which are the soft inner plumage found beneath the outer feathersAdjustable 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 AlternativePolyester puffballs that mimic the softness and weight or authentic downAdjustable 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
FeatherOuter 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
LatexSolid latex, which is a natural substance extracted from the sap of rubber treesClose 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 FoamShredded or solid memory foam, or viscoelastic polyfoam, which softens when warm and retains shape when coolAdjustable 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
PolyesterShredded or interlocking polyester fibers; polyester is a synthetic fabricLow 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

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.

MaterialBuckwheatDownDown Alt. FeatherLatexMemory FoamPolyester
Average Price-point$50 to $75$70 to $100$20 to $30$25 to $50$40 to $60$50 to $60$10 to $15

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