Best Pillows for Side Sleepers: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
We spend hours and hours trying to find the perfect mattress, and for good reason— we plan to spend at least one-third of our lives on it, so it should be comfortable! Likewise, the pillow where you rest your head every night should be comfortable, durable, and supportive.
A universally perfect pillow hasn’t been invented yet, but knowing your preferred sleep position can help you choose the best pillow for a good night’s sleep. In this guide, we’ll delve into the best pillows for side sleepers, how your sleeping position can affect your sleep quality, and what to look when buying a pillow.
30 Second Summary: Best Pillow for Side Sleepers
Our Recommendation: Amerisleep Comfort Classic — We recommend Amerisleep’s Comfort Classic Pillow to side sleepers because it has an ideal 6-inch loft, supportive Bio-Pur® foam, ventilated airways to keep you sleeping cool, and is easy to clean! It also comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
|Amerisleep Comfort Classic Pillow||Stuffed with soft but supportive Bio-Pur® foam and encased in removable cover for easy washing.|
|Coop Home Goods Original Pillow||Adjustable fill for customized comfort and a dust-mite resistant and machine washable cover. |
|Wamsutta® Pillow||A 100% machine-washable, cotton cover and 2” gusset.|
|Snuggle-Pedic Pillow||Uses a machine-washable Koolflow Organic Bamboo Cover and adjustable inside filling.|
Easy Breather Pillow
|A cool Tencel-blended cover and adjustable fill to upgrade your night's sleep, it also comes with a 30-night sleep trial.|
The Amerisleep Comfort Classic Pillow is our recommendation for side sleepers because it’s the perfect medium loft. The pillow is filled with Amerisleep’s classic Bio-Pur®— a plant-based memory foam with an open-cell structure for ultimate breathability.
Many reviews point to this pillow being great especially for side sleepers because it has a 6” loft, or thickness, so you won’t have to constantly fluff it or fold it to properly support your head. A supportive pillow like the Comfort Classic should keep your neck level with your shoulders and promote healthy spinal alignment. If you are a side sleeper, it might take more than a pillow to give you optimal comfort. When looking for your next mattress, consult our article on the best mattresses for side sleepers.
- Stuffed with eco-friendly, pressure-relieving foam.
- Ventilated airways in the foam make the Comfort Classic breathable and cooling.
- Designed especially for back and side sleepers.
2. Coop Home Goods Original Pillow
Coop Home Goods makes one of the top-selling bed pillows on the internet. This medium-firm pillow is filled with an adjustable blend of memory foam and microfiber. The foam is CertiPUR-US® and Greenguard Gold certified, ensuring the pillow is free from harmful chemicals and safe for sleepers of all ages.
Lots of customer reviews mentioned the convenient adjustable fill, a major selling point of this pillow. Adjustable pillows allow you to remove or add as much fill as you want (you need to purchase additional fill if you want to add more). Coop Home Goods markets this pillow as excellent for side sleepers because of its medium-firm support.
You can buy this pillow on their website or Amazon.
Coop Home Goods Highlights
- The pillow comes with a 100-night sleep trial.
- Features adjustable memory foam and microfiber fill.
- Has a medium feel perfect for side sleepers.
3. Wamsutta® Pillow
The Wamsutta® pillow is made to be extra-firm for side sleepers who need additional support. It comes with 2” gussets sewn on either side. You can wash this pillow in your washing machine, making it a bit lower maintenance than others on our list.
An extra-firm pillow may seem counterintuitive for side sleepers, but numerous customer reviews stated the extra support was perfect for their neck pain. A firmer pillow can also withstand lots of use.
You can buy The Wamsutta® Side Sleeper Pillow on Amazon or at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
- Extra-firm pillow with 2” gussets makes it ideal for side sleepers.
- 100% cotton cover.
4. Snuggle-Pedic Pillow
The Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo Pillow is another adjustable option for side sleepers, filled with hypoallergenic shredded memory foam. The small pieces of foam make the pillow super soft and fluffy.
The pillow comes wrapped in a thick bamboo cover made with Kool-Flow®, a micro vented fabric that breathes and stretches easily. Snuggle-Pedic uses their Kool-Flow® material to prevent an uncomfortable night of sleep. Customer reviews commented on this pillow’s durability and plentiful shoulder support.
- Comes with a generous 120-night sleep trial.
- Breathable KoolFlow® Organic Bamboo Cover keeps you cool.
- Adjustable memory foam filling.
5. Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow
The Easy Breather gets its name from a breathable Tencel-blended fabric cover, letting you sleep comfortably with plenty of support. A lofty 8” of shredded memory foam supports the neck and head, but you can adjust the fill to make it lower or higher if needed.
Reviewers used words like “plush,” “versatile,” and “perfectly balanced” to describe the Easy Breather Pillow. It comes with a 30-night sleep trial and free shipping and you can get it directly from Nest’s website.
Nest Easy Breather Highlights
- CertiPUR-US® certified shredded memory foam fill.
- 30-night sleep trial.
- Medium feel mimics a down pillow while cradling and supporting your neck.
Special Concerns for Side Sleepers
When it comes to side-sleeping, flat pillows are a pain in the neck— literally! Sleeping laterally with or without your arms under the pillow presents some potential issues.
Supporting your head and neck are the most important things your pillow does for you, whether you realize it or not. If your neck is arched unnaturally, your spine will follow, leading to back, neck, and shoulder pain.
Side-sleepers should take certain things into consideration when shopping for a pillow:
Pillow loft, or thickness, tells you how much space the pillow will put between you and your mattress. Stomach sleepers typically choose pillows with a low loft, and back sleepers prefer high lofts. It only makes sense that side sleepers feel most comfortable on a medium loft pillow.
Loft affects the way your neck and head feel as you sleep. If your pillow is too short and unsupportive, your head and neck will sink, forcing you to adjust the pillow, your sleep position, or both all night. Conversely, if your pillow is too firm or thin, you could wake up with aches and pains all over.
Medium loft pillows usually fall between 3 and 5 inches thick. Anything lower or higher than that may be troublesome for side-sleepers.
Some pillow models have gussets for extra loft, which are simply fabric panels sewn onto the sides of the pillow.
Side and stomach sleepers are more likely to press their faces into their pillows and because of that, they will need to take special care in choosing a pillow with a breathable, soft cover.
If you suffer from allergies, consider a hypoallergenic pillow made using latex, memory foam, Kapok, Tencel, or bamboo.
Paresthesia (Pins and Needles)
That numb, tingly feeling you get when you’ve put too much pressure on a limb is known as paresthesia. It’s harmless as long as you readjust and prompt circulation to flow again. Side sleepers are prone to pins and needles in their arms and sometimes legs, especially if they sleep with their arm or arms under the pillow.
This is when loft comes into play again— a medium loft pillow will keep the pressure the pressure from your head off your arm(s), thus avoiding waking up with sleeping, numb limbs.
For side sleepers avoiding pain, choose a pillow made with supportive materials like foam, latex, or buckwheat. We only suggest side sleepers use down or down alternative pillows if they are marketed as medium or medium-firm, since this will feel a bit more comfortable and offer extra support.
Nope, we’re not talking about wrinkles on your pillowcase (although that might be a concern for you, too!). Side and stomach-sleepers are more prone to facial wrinkles than back sleepers, and while a pillow can’t necessarily prevent this, the pillowcase can. Try using a silk pillowcase to potentially avoid premature wrinkling.
Advantages to Side Sleeping
Side-sleeping is one of the healthiest sleep positions for a multitude of reasons. If you sleep on your stomach or back, try teaching yourself to sleep on your side by practicing it a few times a week or when taking naps.
Sometimes knowing the benefits can convince us to break a habit more than anything else, so let’s go over a few of them:
Spinal alignment: Good posture is not just for the daytime— posture that doesn’t strain your back or neck while you sleep can be the key to managing pain. Your pillow and mattress will help a lot in this regard— additionally, your sleeping position should not strain your body at all. Side-sleeping allows your spine to rest naturally and your neck to lie straight.
Reduces acid reflux: If you suffer from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or acid reflux, sleeping can stir up the symptoms because you’re laying down. During the day, you’ve got gravity to keep the stomach acid at bay, but at night, it’s much trickier. Sleep on your side to ensure your esophagus is higher than your stomach, keeping acid down where it belongs.
Reduces snoring: If you sleep on your back, this can cause the base of your tongue and the soft palate to collapse against the back wall of your throat, leading to snoring. Sleeping on your side can prevent this from happening.
More comfortable if you’re pregnant: As we mentioned earlier, sleeping on the side is not only more comfortable for pregnant women, but it’s also healthier for the baby.
Good for organs and heart health: Sleep Junkie recommends sleeping on the right side whenever possible because studies show it’s the optimal position for heart health.
Optimal brain health: New studies have revealed that side-sleeping can allow your brain to more efficiently remove waste that contributes to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Best and Worst Pillow Types for Side Sleepers
Pillows these days are much more than a pillowcase stuffed with fluffy cotton. Different pillow types are best for different sleeping styles. Let’s go over the best and worst for side sleepers:
Buckwheat: Buckwheat pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls for substantial support and moldability. They’re a good option for side sleepers thanks to their medium-high loft and support.
Down: Down pillows are filled with the soft inner plumage of ducks or geese. These pillows are typically ideal for stomach sleepers since they’re very soft, moldable, and tend to flatten after some use. Side sleepers may be comfortable on down pillows depending on their construction.
Memory foam: Memory foam is an excellent option for side sleepers because it conforms closely and offers both softness and support. Some shredded memory foam pillows are even adjustable to make customizing easy.
Latex: Latex, made from the sap of rubber trees, is bouncy, supportive, and soft. It’s a good option for side-sleepers, but usually not adjustable like some foam pillows.
Down alternatives: Down alternative feels similar to down but is made of polyester. It’s a good alternative for those with feather allergies or people looking for a more affordable but equally soft option. However, it’s not as supportive as down can be, so it’s not the best choice for side-sleepers.
Polyester: Polyester pillows are a bit less common nowadays, but they are much cheaper than other pillow types. They do not usually keep their shape for long, so they likely won’t be supportive enough for side sleepers.
Additional Pillow Components to Consider
There are a couple of other things to think about before buying the most supportive pillow for your sleeping position, such as pillow size and cost. While these things may not be the first thing that comes to mind when pillow-shopping, be sure to at least consider them before purchasing.
Your pillow’s size can definitely influence how comfortable you are while you sleep. It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but the broader your shoulders, the bigger your pillow should be.
If you have neck pain, a cervical pillow may be best. Cervical pillows are typically smaller than standard-sized pillows and are made with ergonomic features to cradle the neck.
A standard or queen size is suitable for most sleeping positions, but again, if you have broad shoulders or just want a pillow to use as a headrest, you can consider other sizes. Euro pillows are square-shaped and typically used as throw pillows.
|Pillow Type||Dimensions||Good For...|
|Small||20W" x 12L"||Specific needs like neck pain or travel|
|Standard||20W” x 26L”||Most sleepers except those who toss and turn|
|Super Standard||20W” x 28L”||Those who toss and turn|
|Queen||20W” x 30L”||Those who toss and turn|
|King||20W” x 36L”||Back or headrest, broad-shouldered sleepers|
|Euro||Dimensions vary, always square||Back or headrest, throw pillows.|
Cost may not be an object for you when pillow-shopping, but for others, it’s the deciding factor driving the pillow purchase.
Pillow price depends on a few different factors: the pillow type, adjustability, any additional features such as cooling technologies, as well as the return policy and warranty coverage.
Taking these things into consideration, have a look at the average cost for each pillow type as you continue your search:
Sleep Trials, Returns, and Warranties
Sleep trials are a frequent perk with mattresses these days, but they are not as common when it comes to pillows. Depending on the brand, sleep trials for pillows last anywhere from 30-120 days.
Return policies will typically coincide with sleep trial— you can return the pillow within the sleep trial window for a full refund. However, if the company does not offer a sleep trial, you will need to do some research on their conditions for returns.
Pillow warranties can also vary, but the average length is 3-5 years, with some companies even offering lifetime warranties. Pillow warranties cover defects in the material or workmanship beyond normal use, such as seams coming apart, sagging, or changes in the shape.
Frequently Asked Questions
How thick should a side sleeper’s pillow be?
Side sleepers usually prefer mid- and high-loft pillows, around 3 to 6 inches thick, because they fill the gap between the shoulder and the head. You’ll want to consider your body type and shoulder breadth when choosing the best possible loft. Those with broader shoulders will need taller pillows, while those with smaller statures will require thinner pillows.
Are memory foam pillows comfortable for side sleepers?
Memory foam pillows are great for side sleepers because they offer cushion for the neck and head, relieving tension and preventing aches and pains in the morning. If you’re somebody who wakes up with a stiff neck or headache, a memory foam pillow may be able to ease some of that discomfort.
How many pillows should a side sleeper use?
You should always sleep with only one pillow below your head, but side sleepers can also benefit by throwing a pillow between their knees. Sleeping with a knee pillow or body pillow between your knees prevents your top leg from falling out of alignment and the lower back from twisting. Side sleeping with a body pillow is also helpful if you’re trying to transition from stomach to side sleeping.
Should you sleep without a pillow?
Side sleepers cannot get away with sleeping without a pillow because they need a cushion to fill the gap between the mattress and their head. Stomach sleepers are the only ones who can get away with sleeping without a pillow, and even most stomach sleepers choose to use a very thin pillow rather than going completely pillow-less.
What pillow firmness is best for side sleepers?
Side sleepers usually find medium pillows the most comfortable because they give the head some cushion without causing the neck to fall out of alignment. Too-firm pillows can lead to morning headaches, while too-soft pillows can lead to neck pains.
Did You Find Your Next Pillow?
When it comes to good sleep, your pillow can make all the difference. The best pillow for side sleepers has a medium loft, ample support for the neck and head, and softness. If your pillow doesn’t seem to be giving you all the support you need, it might be time to reconsider your sleep set.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.