The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers of 2022

The bedroom can be a source of stress or serenity, depending on how much sleep you get. If you toss and turn all night, it might be time to invest in a new place to rest your head. 

By Emily Blackwood | Updated Jul 7, 2022 12:49 PM

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Best Pillow For Side Sleeper

Photo: amazon.com

You spend about a third of your life asleep, but you may end up paying for it the next day if restless sleep means those hours don’t count. Poor quality sleep can lead to memory issues, weight gain, mood changes, increased blood pressure, and heart disease—not to mention how you feel when waking up after an entire night of restlessness.

If you find yourself struggling to snooze, one of the first steps to improve your sleep quality may be to upgrade your environment. The right kind of pillow helps keep your spine in alignment, leading to more restful nights and better overall health, especially for side sleepers. High-quality pillows often help create high-quality slumber, so check out this list of some of the best pillows for side sleepers.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Coop Home Goods – Eden Adjustable Pillow
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Zamat Contour Memory Foam Pillow
  3. BEST FOR NECK PAIN: Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow
  4. BEST FOR SHOULDER PAIN: MedCline Shoulder Relief Wedge and Body Pillow System
  5. BEST MEMORY FOAM: Casper Sleep Foam Pillow
  6. BEST DOWN: downluxe Goose Feather Down Pillow Set of 2
  7. BEST DOWN ALTERNATIVE: Fern and Willow Down Alternative Pillows – Set of 2
  8. BEST COOLING: Qutool Shredded Memory Foam Cooling Bamboo Pillow
  9. BEST HYPOALLERGENIC: Lifewit Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
  10. BEST ADJUSTABLE: Layla Sleep Pillow
Best Pillow For Side Sleepers

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Pillows for Side Sleepers

Studies show that most people prefer to sleep on their side, and while many pillows cater to that snooze style, not all are created equal. Different materials provide various levels of support, firmness, and comfort. While preferences differ, knowing the benefits of each will help narrow down your search for the perfect side sleeping pillow.

Looking for good pillows for side sleepers? Read on to learn more about the different kinds available and the advantages of each.

Memory Foam 

Thanks to its ability to conform to the body, memory foam pillows comprise some of the most popular pillows. Created from viscoelastic polyurethane, this specialty foam is engineered to soften when it comes into contact with heat.

Memory foam pillows are typically on the firmer side, providing solid head and neck support. A great memory foam pillow for side sleepers will distribute the weight of your head to relieve some pressure points and align your spine while you sleep.

Polyfoam 

Polyfoam arrived on the marketplace long before memory foam, and it remains one of the most common types of foam in mattresses and pillows. While it doesn’t provide that deep contour that memory foam does, it’s often more adaptive to the body—making it an excellent option for those looking for a softer, yet still conforming, pillow.

Note that polyfoam often warms up, so it might not be the best option for hot sleepers. But many manufacturers have begun to ventilate their foam to minimize the heating effect.

If you’re looking for a side sleeper pillow at a reasonable cost, polyfoam pillows are usually the least expensive option.

Buckwheat 

For shoppers seeking firm pillows for side sleepers, look no further than a traditional Japanese buckwheat pillow. This type of pillow, also known as a Sobakawa, includes buckwheat kernels’ hard casings as the filling. Most buckwheat pillows are adjustable, offering a customizable loft by adding or removing kernels.

The material is tougher, so buckwheat pillows are often compared to bean bag chairs. Even so, buckwheat’s malleable texture adjusts shape to fit your needs, which leads to one of the buckwheat pillow’s most popular benefits: easing tension and strain through proper spinal alignment.

Latex 

One of the most durable types of foam available, latex works well for sleepers who need serious support for their upper bodies. Made from the latex of a rubber tree, this responsive material often outlasts most memory foam products.

Not only does latex provide localized support for specific areas of the body, but it also reacts to almost every move the sleeper makes. Plus, it doesn’t sink in deeper the longer one lies on it—making it one of the best pillows for side sleepers who experience neck and shoulder pain and move around continuously throughout the night.

Down 

Often associated with pricey hotels and expensive bedding, down pillows are filled with soft duck and goose feathers, usually plucked from the back, wing, and chest. This filling makes for a very light and airy pillow. Sleepers who like to cradle a pillow between their legs or arms often choose this type of pillow. The best down pillows for side sleepers will have plenty of fill for cushiony support.

As luxurious as they may be, down feathers also absorb body heat and provide insulation, which is bad news for warm sleepers. Sleepers looking for the cozy, soft feeling of down pillows without the night sweats may be interested in a down alternative.

Down Alternative

Typically made from polyester fibers—although some are made from cotton fibers—down alternative pillows mimic the soft, fluffy feeling of down pillows. Some include gel fibers and other types of materials to maximize the cooling effect of the fill material. Also noteworthy: Down alternative pillows use no animal products and usually cost less than the real deal.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pillow for Side Sleepers 

While comfort and durability are two obvious factors, consider a few other characteristics of the top side sleeper pillows before upgrading your current one. The attributes listed here will help you make your decision.

Material

When selecting the best pillow for side and back sleepers, quality materials should be top of mind. Knowing which material suits your needs is the first step; you can refer to the section on types of filling above.

Once that’s locked down, check the quality of those materials. Latex, for example, typically lasts a lot longer than polyfoam. More durable materials not only keep their shape for years, but they also continue to hold in less heat.

Shape

A pillow made with fluffier materials such as down or down alternatives often loses its shape and needs regular fluffing to restore it. An option filled with more solid materials like memory foam and latex, however, usually holds its shape over time.

Rather than the standard rectangle, pillows designed specifically for side sleepers and people with neck or shoulder pain will sport an indentation or crevice to fit the shoulder and head snugly.

Thickness 

Pillows vary in thickness, also called “loft.” While some sleepers report that fully stuffed pillows are the coziest, others prefer a flatter feel. Fortunately, many manufacturers offer a few different thickness levels to help sleepers find their ideal. Generally, pillows between 3 and 6 inches in thickness provide adequate support for back and stomach sleepers; side sleepers would do better with even more support.

Support 

In pillows, support generally refers to how well the pillow balances the head and neck to alleviate pressure on the upper body. If the cushioning sinks in too much or if the head is too high, that position may impair spinal alignment—a critical consideration when shopping for pillows for side sleepers. Additionally, if the head is too low or too high, it’s often very uncomfortable. Memory foam and latex pillows usually rank as the most supportive options.

Firmness 

While the ideal firmness level is typically personal preference, pillows that provide mid-level support are generally the best for side sleepers. They often conform and shape to match the body, pillows with mid-level firmness are usually the most comfortable for side sleepers.

Meanwhile, pillows with low firmness levels will sink, which adds additional pressure to the neck, shoulders, and upper body. Sleeping in this position for too long might cause spinal issues. Too firm pillows can elevate the head too much, causing a different, but still uncomfortable, effect on the shoulders and neck.

Pressure Relief 

If pressure or pain occurs in the neck and shoulders overnight, the pillow could be the cause. A pillow that doesn’t provide adequate support keeps the head, neck, and shoulders out of alignment with the rest of your body, causing discomfort. Many side sleepers find relief using a pillow that contours to their body and keeps their spine completely aligned.

Adjustability 

To help sleepers find their perfect comfort level, many pillow manufacturers engineer their pillows so that some (or all) of the pillow’s loft can be added to or removed. People who either don’t know what level of loft they need to support their spine or who desire variable thickness levels often prefer an adjustable pillow.

Our Top Picks

The best pillows for side sleepers are designed specifically to provide the right support to align the spine. Even when constructed with different fill materials, top-quality pillows aren’t too soft or too firm. The following recommendations include reputable brands that know how to strike that balance as well as other products engineered with the latest technology to help provide comfortable rest. Read on to learn about the top-rated pillows for side sleepers.

Best Overall

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers Coop
Photo: amazon.com

While many people sleep on their sides, not all side sleepers are created equal. The Coop Home Goods Eden Shredded Memory Foam Pillow’s adjustable fill accommodates the sleeper’s preferred level of loft. Not only can the material come out, but each purchase also includes an extra 1/2-pound bag of soft, gel-infused fill to add as needed.

In addition to adjustability, the gel-infused memory foam and microfiber fill boasts a cooling effect, which can be helpful for hot sleepers. Plus, the pillow is hypoallergenic, made of cruelty-free products, and created with the brand’s signature fabric derived from sustainable bamboo.

Product Specs 

  • Fill: Gel-infused memory foam and microfiber
  • Care: Machine washable (cover and fill separately)
  • Sizes available: Queen and king

Pros

  • Cooling
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Greenguard Gold and CertiPUR-US certified

Cons

  • Some users report an initial chemical smell

Get the Coop Home Goods pillow for side sleepers on Amazon.

Best Bang For The Buck

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers: Zamat Contour Memory Foam Pillow
Photo: amazon.com

This memory foam pillow’s contoured design cradles the neck to support spine alignment and prevent shoulder, neck, and back pain. Its adjustable height makes it easily customizable. Users can rotate the pillow to choose a lower or higher contour, and if the lower option is still too high, there is a removable 0.8-inch-thick insert at the bottom of the memory foam. For added height, the company sells extra inserts.

The medium-soft fill is CertiPUR-US certified and odorless. Made to stay cool, the included pillowcase is constructed of hypoallergenic cotton with a polyester liner. The case is machine washable for easy cleaning.

Product Specs 

  • Fill: Memory foam
  • Care: Machine-washable cover
  • Sizes available: Queen (firm or soft) and standard

Pros

  • Adjustable height
  • Contoured design for neck support
  • Odorless

Cons

  • Contoured design won’t work for all users

Get the Zamat pillow for side sleepers on Amazon.

Best For Neck Pain

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers:Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow
Photo: amazon.com

The Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow has a unique design featuring a hollow center that cradles the head to maintain the natural cervical curve and support alignment of the back and neck. Users can opt for two different heights, switching between a lower and higher contour by rotating the pillow. This option is well suited for users who prefer firm cushioning.

A polyester mesh fiber pillowcase allows for breathability and airflow for those who like their pillow to remain cool. It is machine washable and CertiPur-US certified. This memory foam pillow for side sleepers is available in either a standard or queen.

Product Specs 

  • Fill: Memory foam
  • Care: Cover is machine washable
  • Sizes available: Queen and standard

Pros

  • Ergonomic design to relieve neck pressure
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • Breathable

Cons

  • May be too firm for some users
  • Has a slight odor before airing out

Get the Elviros pillow for side sleepers on Amazon.

Best For Shoulder Pain

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers MedCline
Photo: amazon.com

Those with general shoulder pain—as well as rotator cuff injuries, arthritis, bursitis, nerve impingement, and in post-surgical recovery—may find the MedCline Shoulder Relief System worth its hefty price tag.

This set includes three components: a bed wedge, a full-length memory foam body pillow, and a smaller insert pillow. The combination is designed to take the pressure off the downside shoulder and help provide a more neutral sleeping position. Thanks to its patented arm pocket system, it works for sleeping on both sides.

While this pillow set can be a game-changer for those dealing with shoulder pain, the price tag might not fit every budget. The Shoulder Relief System comes in only one size—30 inches wide and 45 inches long—and it’s not recommended for lower back or hip injuries.

Product Specs 

  • Fill: Shredded memory foam
  • Care: Pillow cases are machine washable
  • Sizes available: One size (wedge: 6 by 30 by 30 inches, body pillow: 6 by 22 by 50 inches)

Pros

  • Relieves pressure to help with shoulder pain
  • Included body pillow
  • CertiPUR-US certified, gel-infused foam
  • Soft velour-style cover

Cons

  • Only recommended for side sleeping
  • Expensive

Get the MedCline pillow for side sleepers on Amazon.

Best Memory Foam

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers Casper
Photo: amazon.com

For fans of memory foam, the Casper Sleep Foam Pillow’s three inner layers of low- and high-density foam may be a dream. It features a 2-inch gusset and contours to the head and neck, making it an ideal option for side sleepers who need personalized support to align their spine.

The tiny channels in the memory foam help circulate air and prevent overheating, allowing it to stay cool throughout the night. The breathable cool jersey knit cover also helps.

While it’s one of the softer memory foam pillows on the market, those looking for a fluffier or firmer texture might not appreciate Casper’s signature squishiness.

Product Specs

  • Fill: Memory foam
  • Care: Cover is machine washable
  • Sizes available: King and standard

Pros

  • Designed to stay cool
  • Comes with a 100-night sleep trial
  • Maintains loft

Cons

  • Somewhat heavy

Get the Casper pillow for side sleepers on Amazon or at Casper.

Best Down

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers downluxe
Photo: amazon.com

Made with goose down and goose feathers that fill a 100 percent, 300-thread count cotton shell, the downluxe Goose Feather Down Pillow may be one of the softest and most breathable products the brand offers.

While soft, sinking pillows are typically not ideal for side sleepers, this pillow boasts enough filling to give it a plush feel that provides enough support for most side sleepers. Its unique, double-layered fabric helps avoid feathers sticking out of the pillow, a common issue in many down versions. It also comes in both queen and king sizes, and it can be machine washed on the gentle cycle with cold water.

Even though this pillow comes in more supportive styles, down pillows are on the softer side. Those who need extra support may prefer latex or memory foam.

Product Specs 

  • Fill: Goose feather down
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Sizes available: King and queen

Pros

  • Thick and plush
  • 300-thread-count cotton shell
  • Breathable

Cons

  • May not provide enough support for some side sleepers

Get the Downluxe pillow for side sleepers on Amazon.

Best Down Alternative

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers: Fern and Willow Down Alternative Pillows - Set of 2
Photo: amazon.com

If you love the feeling of down filling but don’t like how it can flatten over time, consider this set of down-alternative pillows from Fern and Willow. They offer the feel of a natural goose or duck down, but the microfiber filling is made to maintain loft. Users can even add or remove fill to reach their desired comfort level.

The fill is infused with gel, making these well suited to hot sleepers that prefer a cooling pillow. They are allergen- and cruelty-free and entirely machine washable. The pillows are available in king, queen, and standard sizes.

Product Specs 

  • Fill: Microfiber down-alternative with cooling gel
  • Care: Machine washable
  • Sizes available: King, queen, and standard

Pros

  • Adjustable fill
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Cooling
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Doesn’t include extra fill

Get the Fern and Willow pillow for side sleepers on Amazon.

Best Cooling

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers Shredded
Photo: amazon.com

A heat-trapping pillow can prevent sleepers from getting their well-deserved rest, but the Qutool pillow contains shredded memory foam with cooling gel particles to help sleepers maintain a comfortable temperature overnight. This hypoallergenic bamboo cover promotes breathability.

Its zippered inner cover allows users to add or remove the foam filling to change the height. Sleepers can ensure their adjustable pillows are just firm enough to provide head and neck support while sleeping on their side.

Product Specs 

  • Fill: Memory foam with cooling gel
  • Care: Pillow case and liner are machine washable
  • Sizes available: Queen and king

Pros

  • Cooling gel
  • Adjustable fill
  • Hypoallergenic bamboo cover

Cons

  • No standard size

Get the Qutool pillow for side sleepers on Amazon.

Best Hypoallergenic

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers: Lifewit Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Photo: amazon.com

Users can sleep soundly on this allergen- and chemical-free pillow. It is made from a combination of memory foam and microfiber filling that can be adjusted to the user’s liking by simply adding or removing the shredded foam. Aerogel within the fill makes this a good choice for hot sleepers.

A double cover offers added protection and can be machine-washed, keeping the pillow dry and clean. This option is available in both queen and king sizes.

Product Specs 

  • Fill: Memory foam and microfiber with aerogel
  • Care: Cover is machine washable
  • Sizes available: Queen and king

Pros

  • Comes with extra memory foam filling
  • Adjustable
  • Cooling
  • Chemical- and allergen-free

Cons

  • No standard size

Get the Lifewit pillow for side sleepers on Amazon.

Best Adjustable

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers Layla
Photo: amazon.com

Described as soft and supportive at the same time, the Layla pillow makes it easy to achieve your ideal comfort: Simply unzip the cover and remove any additional Kapok fibers and reactive memory foam fill to adjust its loft. The memory foam mix allows this moldable pillow to retain its shape while retaining a lightweight, feathery feel. This overstuffed pillow usually provides enough support to provide for proper spinal alignment but may still be less firm than traditional memory foam options.

On its exterior, Layla Sleep Pillows’ cover is woven with a copper-infused yarn to help reduce odor and replenish dead skin cells. The copper emits a cooling effect to prevent overheating. Plus, it’s antibacterial and CertiPur-US certified.

Product Specs

  • Fill: Memory foam
  • Care: Spot clean
  • Sizes available: Queen and king

Pros

  • Cooling
  • Maintains shape
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Attractive hexagon stitching

Cons

  • Pricey
  • No machine-washable cover

Get the Layla pillow for side sleepers on Amazon.

Our Verdict

We chose the Coop Home Goods pillow for side sleepers as our best overall pick because we think it will please most side sleepers. We love that it is hypoallergenic, cooling, and has an adjustable loft. For shoppers on a budget, the Zamat pillow for side sleepers features a contoured design for spinal support and also an adjustable height at a reasonable price point.

How We Chose the Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

When researching the best pillows for side sleepers, we looked at current and popular options. We took note of the qualities that add comfort for side sleepers, including added support and contouring for proper alignment. This included looking at the shape and fill of our top choices. We took note of any special features that might help with existing neck, back, or shoulder pain.

We narrowed down our picks by considering various factors including user rating, price, materials, hypoallergenic qualities, size options, breathability, cooling abilities, and more. We prioritized choices that were adjustable to suit many users and that used materials that were nontoxic.

FAQ 

Now that you’ve explored some of the best high-quality pillows for side sleepers, it’s time to answer any remaining questions. Below, you should find the answers to any questions you may have about side sleepers and the top pillows to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Q: How common is side sleeping?

Sleeping on your side is very common. Sleep.org reports that more than 40 percent of adults sleep in the fetal position, which is on your side with your knees bent.

Q: Do side sleepers need a firm pillow?

Yes. If a pillow is too soft, your spine will be out of alignment. However, a pillow that’s too firm also can cause neck and shoulder discomfort.

Q: How thick should a side sleeper pillow be?

Most side sleepers need pillows with a medium to high loft to prevent their head and neck from sinking too low.

Q: How many pillows should a side sleeper use?

Side sleepers usually use at least one pillow under their head. However, many side sleepers place a second pillow between their knees to help align their spine.