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 seven pillows for side sleepers. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow comes in three firmness options to accommodate different sleepers. The interior contains 100% shredded microfiber; a material that cushions the head and neck, offering the same plush, luxurious feel of a down pillow but will not trigger allergies.
The Brooklinen Down Alternative Pillow also sleeps fairly cool, due in part to its soft, 400 thread-count cotton shell. All Brooklinen pillows are treated with Ultra Fresh Antimicrobial. This substance is certified by the U.S. EPA, OEKO-TEX, and is BPR compliant, and helps prevent the growth of bacteria while extending the life of the pillow.
The pillow comes in Standard and King sizes. Brooklinen ships internationally and offers a 365-night sleep trial – far longer than most pillows – and is backed by a lifetime warranty.
If you’re a side sleeper looking for some bang for your buck, the Original Casper Pillow may be your best bet. This innovative down alternative pillow has a unique pillow-in-pillow design with a supportive ‘gusset’ along the side. The inner pillow is firm, providing a supportive foundation for your head, neck, and shoulders, while the outer pillow provides a plush surface that conforms to your head.
The backbone of all this is the side gusset, which allows for better neck alignment and help keeps the fill evenly distributed. On the outside is a 100% cotton cover in a percale weave, ensuring soft, durable, and breathable surface.
The Casper Pillow comes in two sizes, standard and king, which feature a 5 and 6 inch lofts respectively. The relatively high loft and combination of support and conforming make this pillow a perfect match for side sleepers, although it should suit back sleepers as well. None of the materials in the pillow trap too much body heat, so it’s also a great option for those who tend to sleep hot.
Finally, the Original Casper Pillow comes with a 100 night sleep trial and a 1-year limited warranty, allowing you try it and get a refund if it doesn’t work out.
Side sleepers who experience chronic neck pain
Sleepers on a budget
Best Neck SupportPillow Cube Pro
3 loft options
Solid memory foam core
Quilted polyester cover
Solid support for side sleeping
30-day return period
Our readers can get the Pillow Cube Pro at the lowest price.
Side sleepers generally require more loft than those who use the back and stomach positions, but personal thickness preferences tend to vary based on factors like head size and shoulder width. The Pillow Cube Pro caters to a wide range of side sleepers because it is sold in three different lofts. Those who smaller heads and narrower shoulders will probably prefer the 4-inch pillow, whereas people with larger heads and wider shoulders should find the 6-inch option more comfortable. Anyone who falls in the middle should consider the 5-inch Pillow Cube Pro.
The pillow contains a solid piece of memory foam that contours closely to the head and neck sinking too much. This ensures extra support and optimal alignment for side sleepers, which can alleviate aches and pains that often occur with this position. The cover is composed of quilted polyfoam, and can be removed and laundered in household machines – but the foam should only be spot cleaned. A pillowcase is also included with each purchase.
All three loft options for the Pillow Cube Pro share the same approachable price-point, and ground delivery is free of charge for customers in all 50 states. The pillow may be returned in new and unused condition within 30 days of the original order.
All side sleepers regardless of head size or shoulder span
People who experience aches and pains around their neck
Down pillows are popular with side sleepers because the material is extra soft, allowing the pillow to contour very closely. The Brooklinen Down Pillow is a supportive down pillow containing a combination of down and feathers.
Three firmness settings are available: ‘Plush,’ ‘Mid-Plush,’ and ‘Firm.’ The pillow’s composition varies by feel: the ‘Plush’ design is 100% down; the ‘Mid-Plush’ has an 80/20 feather-down ratio; and the ‘Firm’ has an 86/14 feather-down ratio. This range ensures most side sleepers can find a suitable option regardless of their firmness preferences.
The Brooklinen Down Pillow also sleeps fairly cool, thanks to its breathable cotton casing. All down and feathers used in the pillow are ethically and sustainably sourced from Hutterite farms, making it a good choice for animal-conscious shoppers.
Brooklinen offers a 365-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty for the pillow, both of which are much longer than average. Free shipping is also available.
Any side sleeper regardless of their firmness preference
Animal conscious individuals
Best Memory FoamCoop Home Goods Eden
'Medium Soft' feel
Shredded, gel-infused memory foam and microfiber fill
Many side sleepers enjoy the conforming feel of memory foam pillows. The material molds to the head and neck to alleviate discomfort and prevent new pressure points from developing. The Coop Home Goods Eden is a comfortable pillow padded with shredded, gel-infused memory foam and polyester microfibers. The cover is a combination of polyester and rayon made from bamboo.
In addition to providing consistent conforming, these materials are also very breathable, allowing the pillow to sleep cool. The Eden offers adjustable loft; owners can add or remove fill at any time to increase of decrease the volume of the pillow. This makes it ideal for sleepers with fluctuating loft preferences.
Coop Home Goods also sells extra fill in bulk for owners who need a replenishment. The company provides free shipping to all 50 states. The Eden is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty.
Latex is a popular pillow material because it is supportive and resilient; it also tends to sleep cooler than memory foam. The Saatva Pillow is a standout latex pillow due in part to its customizable design.
The interior contains a shredded Talalay latex core, along with a middle layer of down alternative microdenier and organic-cotton. Owners can remove the interior components to adjust the loft anywhere from 2? to 8? thick. This makes it ideal for side sleepers with varying loft preferences.
The Saatva Pillow also sleeps fairly cool; in addition to the temperature-neutral inner components, the pillow also has a breathable organic-cotton cover. And because of its durable material construction, the product has a longer-than-average expected lifespan.
Saatva offers free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 45-night sleep trial.
Ergonomically shaped specifically to suit the needs of side sleepers, the wool-filled myDual Side Pillow from Sleep & Beyond offers adjustable fill. This allows sleepers to remove or add more wool to the interior of the pillow, which increases or decreases the firmness and loft to achieve a custom fit. The pillow features a specially shaped cotton pillowcase woven with a sateen weave for a smooth feel. The pillowcase is machine washable and the cotton has a 300 thread count.
The British Shropshire wool and cotton used in this pillow are both naturally hypoallergenic and temperature regulating, making this pillow a good choice for those with allergies or those who frequently overheat at night. The adjustable fill enables a wide range of side sleepers to achieve proper spinal alignment. The pillow is available in both standard and queen sizes.
Sleep & Beyond backs the pillow with a 5 year warranty and customers can return the pillow within 45 days of receiving it, but it must be unused and in its original packaging to be eligible for a refund or exchange.
Those with allergies
Indivuals who tend to sleep hot
Side sleepers looking for an adjustable pillow
Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Pillow as a Side Sleeper
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).
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 of Side Sleeping
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 of Side Sleeping
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 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.
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, 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.
Optimal Sleeper Weight
Optimal Head Size
Optimal Shoulder Width
Optimal Mattress Firmness
Less than 3"
More than 230 lbs.
Soft to Medium Soft
3" to 5"
130 to 230 lbs.
More than 5"
Less than 130 lbs.
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.
Our analysis of different pillow materials for side sleepers is found below.
Shredded or interlocking polyester fibers; polyester is a synthetic fabric
Good shape retention (interlocking)
No allergy risk
No odor potential
Poor shape retention (shredded)
Interlocking polyester pillows have a fuller shape, which provides more support to side sleepers, but shredded polyester pillows flatten easily and are not recommended
Foam made by adding water to polyurethane plastics
Doesn’t provide much airflow
Can degrade easily
A high-quality polyfoam pillow will provide great neck and back support
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.
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 eight most common pillow types.
Average Price Range
$50 to $75
$75 to $100
$20 to $30
$25 to $50
$40 to $60
$50 to $60
$10 to $15
$40 to $100
What types of pillows are best for side sleepers?
Generally speaking, the best pillows for side sleepers tend to be those made with memory foam, feathers, or buckwheat. These materials are able to provide the extra support that side sleepers need to keep their neck aligned properly.
What loft level should a side sleeper choose for thier pillow?
Side sleepers tend to prefer medium-to-high loft pillows due to the increased space between the sleeper’s head and the bed’s surface when lying in that position. Of course, the best pillow loft for each sleeper will also depend on other factors, such as the firmness of their mattress and the width of their shoulders.
What types of pillows should side sleepers avoid?
Pillows filled with down alternative often lose their shape easily and lack the level of support that those who sleep on their side need to prevent neck discomfort. Polyester pillows likewise often flatten over time and don’t provide enough support.
How common is side sleeping?
Side sleeping is the most popular sleep position by far, with about 40% of people choosing this position for sleep each night. Women in particular tend to favor this position, as twice as many women sleep on their sides as compared to men. Side sleeping is beneficial for those who snore or individuals with sleep apnea or acid reflux.