Best Pillows for Side Sleepers (2023)

By Loren Bullock

Mar 27th, 2023

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Side sleeping happens to be the most common sleep position: approximately 56% of people sleep on their sides or in the fetal position. Head and neck support is crucial in this position, and not all pillows offer that, meaning over half the population may not be getting all the benefits of sleep simply because of their pillow.

But we are here to help. We’ll share what we’ve discovered to be the best pillows for side sleepers everywhere and help you understand why your pillow choice is so important for good sleep.

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers: Our Top Picks

Eli & Elm Cotton Side Sleeper Pillow

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

Best Pillow Overall

The Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow is an organic cotton pillow ideal for eco-friendly shoppers who are also side sleepers. Built with latex and polyester fiber filling, organic cotton, and a polyester cover, this U-shaped pillow is naturally breathable and extremely comfortable. Eli & Elm’s proprietary latex foam is also infused with cooling gels to help regulate your temperature while you sleep.


Some other highlights for the Eli & Elm Side-Sleeper Pillow are that it is made without harmful chemicals and it is antimicrobial, dust mite-resistant, and mildew-proof.


  • Price: $131.24
  • Size: 17″ x 29″
  • Rating: 4.3/5, 1,471 reviews

Read our full Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow review.

Lagoon The Otter Pillow

Lagoon Otter Pillow

Best Adjustable Pillow for Side Sleepers

The key to a great adjustable pillow is what’s inside. Lagoon fills its Otter pillow with pieces of gel-infused memory foam that you can remove (or put back in) to give your pillow just the right height and firmness. Side sleepers will find it easy to customize the pillow to get their neck and back comfortably aligned.


In addition to having CertiPUR-US certification, the foam is blended with 20% down alternative fibers. The bamboo/polyester blend cover adds breathability and durability. The Lagoon Otter pillow is backed by a 5-year warranty and a 100-night sleep trial.


  • Prices: ($119.99 queen, $139.99 king)
  • Sizes: Queen (20″ x 30″), king (“20 x 36”)
  • Rating: 4.8/5, 40 reviews
nectar pillow

Nectar Memory Foam Pillow

Best Firm Pillow for Side Sleepers

The Nectar Memory Foam Pillow uses a pillow-in-pillow design to produce a firm core surrounded by softness. The inner pillow is firm and supportive, while the outer pillow is more plush to provide comfort and loft. It’s a unique way for side sleepers who like a firmer pillow that leaves their neck in comfortable alignment.

The Nectar Memory Foam Pillow has a quilted memory foam outer shell with Tencel fabric to improve cooling. It’s also adjustable, so you can add or subtract filler to achieve just the right loft and firmness.


  • Price: $75
  • Size: 17″ x 29″
  • Rating: 3.7/5, 3 reviews

Read our full Nectar Memory Foam Pillow review.

Nest Side Sleeper Easy Breather Pillow

Nest Side Sleeper Easy Breather

Best Side Sleeper Pillow for Neck Pain

The Side Sleeper version of Nest’s Easy Breather takes neck pain relief in an interesting direction. One side of the pillow has an ergonomic curve with a crescent shape, which is the key feature of this pillow designed specifically for side sleepers and combination sleepers. Inside the distinctively shaped pillow are shreds of high-quality foam for pressure relief and contouring.


You can add and remove the foam to adjust firmness and loft, although Nest recommends that side sleepers try the pillow as-is. The Nest Side Sleeper Easy Breather Pillow comes with a 2-year warranty and a 30-night sleep trial.


  • Price: $119
  • Size: 17″ W x 29″
  • Rating: 4.5/5, 14,759 reviews
layla kapok pillow

Layla Kapok Pillow

Best Memory Foam Pillow for Side Sleepers

Layla’s Kapok Pillow contains fluffy fibers derived from the seeds of Kapok trees mixed with shreds of reactive memory foam. The unique result is a pillow that feels soft and supportive. The interior is woven with copper-infused yarn to utilize copper’s natural cooling properties.


The removable pillow cover makes for easy cleaning—just unzip, remove, and toss into the wash. You can also unzip the cover to adjust the firmness and thickness of the pillow by adding or removing filling. In addition to a  120-night sleep trial, the Layla Kapok Pillow comes with a 5-year warranty.


  • Price: $109 (queen), $129 (king)
  • Size: 18″ x 28″ (queen), 18″ x 3″ (king)
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 3,266 reviews

Read our full Laya Kapok Pillow review.

Coop Home Goods Pillow

Coop Home Goods Original Pillow

Best Cooling Pillow for Side Sleepers

The Coop Home Goods Original Pillow is a medium-firm memory foam pillow with a breathable design that’s great for people who sleep hot and need a cooling pillow. The cooling materials in this pillow include polyester and bamboo-derived viscose rayon. This pillow is also adjustable so you can shape it to your liking.


The Coop Home Goods pillow has other great benefits and features. It’s made in the USA, is cruelty-free, hypoallergenic, and comes with an extra ½ pound bag of fill if you want to make the pillow more firm.


  • Price: $72 (queen), $92 (king)
  • Size: 20″ x 30″ (queen) or 20″ x 36″ (King)
  • Rating: 4.7/5, 15,077 reviews

Read our full Coop Home Goods Original Pillow review.

Why Side Sleepers Need a Specific Type of Pillow

When sleeping in the side position, it’s important that your head is properly supported at the correct height to keep your spinal alignment in the proper position.

Side sleepers often have a hard time keeping their head propped up high enough because average pillows tend to be too flat. To keep the head up and the spine aligned, side sleepers should choose a thicker, more firm pillow.

Most side sleeper pillows have an ergonomic design to provide pressure relief to the neck and shoulders. Shoulder broadness comes in a variety of sizes, so many pillows made for side sleepers are customizable to your shoulder height. With a good side sleeping pillow, you can have perfect posture while you’re sleeping, even when turning from side to side.

Some side sleepers may not have an issue with their pillow, but if you are experiencing chronic neck pain, back pain, snoring, acid reflux, or if you are pregnant, it may be time to make the switch. Regardless, if you sleep on your side, wouldn’t you rather have a pillow made specially for you?

What to Consider When Searching for a Side Sleeping Pillow

Being the most popular sleep position, there are a wide range of pillows designed just for side sleepers. Check out this list of things to keep in mind while shopping.


Like with most pillows, side sleeping pillows come in a variety of sizes. Standard is the size of a typical pillow and is ideal if you don’t tend to toss and turn. Queen and king sizes, however, allow room for tossing. Often times, companies will make a standard/queen size hybrid which is longer than a standard, but shorter than a queen.

Body pillows are designed to be the width of a person and are perfect to cuddle with. Side sleeping is the only position body pillows work for and are especially good for pregnant women.


The loft of a pillow is the height—essentially, how high it lifts your head off of the mattress. It’s best to have a pillow with a height around 5 to 7 inches for side sleeping.

Because your head will be lifted higher than if you were a stomach or back sleeper, a higher loft would be more suitable. Many side sleeping pillows come customizable, so you can find the perfect loft for your shoulder size. All of the pillows on our list are adjustable.


The firmness level seems like a personal choice, but it is actually crucial in the effectiveness of a side sleeper pillow. The firmer the pillow, the less your head sinks into it. Because alignment is key in this sleep position, side sleepers should look for a firm to extra firm pillow.

Comfort/Pain Relief

If you are shopping for a side sleeper pillow for your health or a medical condition, make sure it has qualities that are compatible with your needs: i.e. if you are pregnant, make sure the materials in the pillow are safe and suitable for pregnancy, if you are snoring look for one with the best neck alignment, etc. See if there is anything you can pair the pillow with to amplify the effects such as a knee pillow or a side sleeper specific mattress.


The best materials for side sleeper pillows are:

  • Feather: soft, adjustable, and supportive
  • Memory foam: great shape and contouring
  • Buckwheat: firm and moldable
  • Latex: alleviates pain and is responsive
  • Down: comfortable and adjustable

The materials that make up the pillow are what makes the pillow itself side-sleeper friendly.


If you are a hot sleeper, make sure the pillow you choose accommodates that. Every pillow on our list has a cool sleeping component: make sure your choice does as well if needed.


To ensure the pillow lasts for as long as possible, accessing how to keep your pillow clean is important. All of the pillows on our list have a machine washable component, but not all pillows are designed this way. See the directions on any pillow you plan to purchase to get a sense of how to care for it.


Side sleeper pillows range from $20-$200 in price. Check your price point and compare it with the qualities you need in your side sleeping pillow.

Frequently Asked Questions

What pillow firmness is best for side sleepers?

A firmer feeling pillow is best for side sleepers who need extra firmness to maintain proper posture and support the neck. Medium-firm to firm pillows work best.

How do you pick a side sleeper pillow?

Side sleepers should look for a pillow with a high-profile of at least 5 inches that is medium-firm to firm. It’s important that the pillow side sleepers use keeps the spine aligned while laying down.

How high should a pillow be for side sleepers?

Side sleepers need a high-profile pillow with a height between 5 to 7 inches. Any less than 4 or 5 inches will not support proper posture for comfort and pressure relief.

Recap: Our Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

As a quick recap, see our table below to compare the best pillows for side sleepers:

Pillow Award Customer Rating
Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Best Overall 4.3/5
Lagoon Otter Pillow Best Adjustable 4.8/5
Nectar Memory Foam Best Firm Pillow 3.7/5
Nest Side Sleeper Easy Breather Best for Neck Pain 4.5/5
Layla Kapok Pillow Best Memory Foam 4.5/5
Coop Home Goods Original Best for Cooling 4.7/5

Being a side sleeper means you are in the majority. This position offers great support and health benefits, but only with the right sleep accessories. The perfect side sleeping pillow is lofty, firm, and cooling. If you’re looking to make the switch, your body will thank you every morning. If you’re looking to improve your sleeping situation even more, head over to our roundup of best mattresses for side sleepers.