The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
The amount of pillow options for side sleepers is vast; we’ll help break down what to look for in a side sleeping pillow and give you our picks for the best ones.
Feb 21st, 2022 •
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.
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The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
1. Leesa Hybrid Pillow
The Leesa Hybrid Pillow brings a new meaning to the phrase “bells and whistles” with all its features. It is both adjustable and reversible! What makes it adjustable is the pillow inside the pillow: use the zipper to remove the access and change your support level. The two-sided design coins the reversibility: one side is a down-like polyester microfiber combo that is cool to the touch, and the other side is made of ventilated cooling gel, perfect for hot sleepers.
Another reason the zipper feature comes in handy is that it makes the cover machine washable. Simply remove the gel insert for spot cleaning, or for the outer cover and inner insert, machine wash warm on gentle cycle.
Leesa is so sure of their hybrid design they offer a 100-night trial with free return offered. You also will receive a 3-year limited warranty. Shipping is free, and the pillow should be delivered anywhere between 2-8 business days.
- Price: $125 (standard), $135 (queen)
- Size: 16” x 24” (standard), 16” x 28” (queen)
- Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars, 56 reviews
2. Xtreme Comforts Kool-Flow Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow
Best Memory Foam Pillow for Side Sleepers
The Xtreme Comforts memory foam pillow is the definition of value. The interior is made of CertiPUR-US certified foam which means it contains no ozone depleters, TCEP flame retardants, TDCPP, PBDEs, lead, mercury, and heavy metals, formaldehyde, phthalates regulated by the CPSC, or CFCs—essentially, it’s super safe and healthy. The foam also contours to your head and neck for awesome support and spine alignment.
The bamboo cover is micro-vented to provide circulation and airflow, keeping you cool all night long. The whole pillow is machine washable and dryer-safe. In its entirety, the pillow is hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, and mold resistant.
Built for durability, the Xtreme Comforts pillow comes with a 30-day money back guarantee and a 6-year warranty for all sizes.
- Price: $49.99-$69.99, depending on size
- Size: 5” x 17” (standard), 6.4” x 17.4” (queen), 8” x 17” (king), 12” x 15.3” (body)
- Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars, 2,870 reviews
3. Layla Kapok Memory Foam Pillow
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Neck Pain
Layla’s memory foam pillow contains fluffy kapok fibers, which come from seeds of the Kapok Tree, mixed with shredded memory foam to be both soft and supportive. This interior is all natural and wrapped in CuTEC®, woven copper-infused yarn. CuTEC® yarn reduces odor, improves hygiene, and replenishes dead skin cells. Because copper is a conductive metal, your body heat moves away from your face making it so your pillow stays cool.
The Layla pillow cover comes with a zipper that makes cleaning super easy—just remove and toss into the wash. The zipper function can also be used to adjust the firmness and thickness of the pillow by letting you control the amount of filling.
The purchase of this pillow comes with a 120-night trial: a 100% refund policy, including no return fees and no shipping fees, as well as a 5-year warranty. Shipping is free and financing is available through Affirm.
- Price: $99 (queen), $119 (king)
- Size: 18.5’ x 28.5” (queen), 18.5” x 35” (king)
- Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars, 807 reviews
4. Nectar Pillow
Best Firm Pillow for Side Sleepers
The Nectar Pillow has a pillow-in-pillow design with a quilted memory foam outside shell and Tencel fabric for a cool night’s sleep. This memory foam pillow is adjustable so you can make it fit to the firmness that works best for your alignment. The inner pillow is naturally more firm and supportive and the outer pillow is more plush to provide comfort and loft. Adjust to your comfort by removing stuffing, but save it for later in case you want it firmer later on!
- Price: $75
- Size: 17” W x 29” L x 5.5” H
- Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars, 61 reviews
5. Coop Home Goods Pillow
Best Cooling Pillow for Side Sleepers
The Coop Home Goods 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: $59.99 for queen
- Size: 20” x 30” (Queen) or 20” x 36” (King)
- Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, 11,977 reviews
6. Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow
Best Organic Pillow for Side Sleepers
The Eli & Elm 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 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. No more night’s of sweating through your pillow!
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: $99.99
- Size: 17” x 29”
- Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, 44 reviews
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.
4. 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.
As a quick recap, see our table below to compare the best pillows for side sleepers:
|Pillow||Type||Best for||Customer Rating|
|Xtreme Comforts||Memory Foam||Memory foam comfort||4.1/5|
|Layla||Kapok Memory Foam||Neck pain||4.4/5|
|Coop Home Goods||Memory Foam||Cooling||5/5|
|Eli & Elm||Organic Cotton||Organic||5/5|
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 top rated mattresses for side sleepers.
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