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Side sleepers are often searching for a pillow that is soft enough to be easily moldable and just fluffy enough to be supportive. Personal preferences regarding fill and loft are to be expected, but the majority of side sleepers will be most comfortable with a bed pillow that keeps the head, neck, and shoulders aligned.
"The most helpful pillow is going to be one that gives your posture support. So if you are back sleeper, your ear should be in alignment with the midpoint of your shoulder," says Dr. Samantha March-Howard, doctor of chiropractic at 100% Chiropractic office in Dunwoody, Georgia. "If you are a side sleeper, there is an imaginary line that cuts us all in half between our eyes and goes down our body. So that imaginary line should cut evenly through the face and align itself through the body evenly."
Pillows for side sleepers include memory foam, feather, and down alternative fill options. You can also find soft, medium, or firm pillows to accommodate your comfort level.
Below, here are the best pillows for side sleepers to help you get a great night's rest.
Best Overall: Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
Side sleepers, rejoice! This adjustable pillow is sure to cradle and support your head, neck, and shoulders in a way that feels just right. Inside the Coop Home Goods pillow is a fluffy blend of memory foam and microfiber that’s breathable and hypoallergenic. For added peace of mind, the foam is also CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold-certified, meaning it's met rigorous safety testing standards. The pillow is described as being medium-firm, though its texture can be called cloud-like.
The real perk of this pillow for side sleepers is that it ships with an additional half-pound of filling that you can add to the pillow for extra loft. Side sleepers will especially appreciate this feature since sleeping on your side can create the need for higher support between your shoulder and neck. The stretchy liner makes it easy to squish, scrunch, and mold the pillow into the position that's just right for you. What's more, the breathable outer cover is made from bamboo-derived viscose rayon for a soft touch and cooling feel.
It’s hard to beat the assurances that come with this adjustable pillow for side sleepers. In addition to customizing the fill, the company offers a 100-night sleep trial in case you don't love it right away. It's also machine washable for years of sweet dreams.
"The foam has a fluffy feel—similar to a down-filled pillow—and it even comes with a bag of extra foam for those who prefer a denser cushion."—Michelle Hainer, Product Tester
Best for Neck Pain: Parachute Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow
The Parachute Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow is a top option to consider if neck pain keeps you up at night or plagues your morning routine. Side sleepers face a special challenge to keep the head, neck, shoulders, and back aligned while sleeping, and may need extra support to reduce neck and shoulder strain.
To meet the challenge, this medium-density side sleeper pillow is constructed with a generous 3.5-inch gusset (that's the edges of the pillow that sit against your neck and shoulder). The extra width of the gusset helps keep your body in proper alignment and also ensures the fluffy microfiber fill inside remains evenly distributed. Also great: The 100 percent cotton sateen shell is breathable and smooth.
While primarily intended as a comfy, supportive pillow for side sleepers seeking a down alternative pillow, this option may also alleviate neck pain and help you wake up feeling more relaxed and refreshed.
Best for Side and Stomach Sleepers: Casper Original Pillow
If you frequently shift between your side and stomach while you snooze, the Casper Sleep Pillow features a unique pillow-in-pillow design that supports all sleep positions. It has a supportive inner pillow and soft and fluffy outer pillow to keep you comfy and align your neck. Plus, there's a breathable 100 percent cotton cover with a percale weave that feels crisp and cool. What's more, the pillow has a 2-inch gusset along the sides to support the neck and keep the microfiber fill evenly distributed.
Aside from accommodating multiple sleeping positions, the pillow-in-pillow design makes it easy to remove and machine-wash the outer layer. We think you'll find the pillow to be soft, but not so soft that it won't support your head throughout the night.
"We were pleasantly surprised to find that the pillow delivered a lot more loft and support than expected. The inner core of the pillow prevented our heads from sinking straight through to the mattress, while the outer fluff amped up the comfort factor."—Tierney McAfee, Product Tester
Best Plush: Utopia Bedding Gusseted Pillow
Side sleepers who like a plush feel will appreciate the fluffy fill and gusseted design of this pillow from Utopia Bedding. The pillow has a high loft that cradles the head and neck when sleeping on your back and aligns your neck and shoulder when side sleeping.
If you like a lot of softness and support and your head to rest higher, you'll love the thickness of this pillow. And not only do the stylish gusseted sides come in six colors—including blue, gray, and black—but they also enhance the pillow's durability so you can sleep comfortably for years to come.
Best Down: puredown Natural Goose Feather Pillow
Down feather pillows are a popular option with side sleepers since they offer soft support that easily conforms to a variety of sleeping positions. This set of two goose down pillows features a gusseted design with medium support for your neck and shoulders, whether you’re a true side sleeper or also sleep on your back and stomach.
One advantage of these Pure Down pillows: They don’t lose a considerable amount of feathers compared to other down pillows on the market because the weave of the 100 percent cotton pillow cover helps keep the feathers inside. Not only does this keep the pillow full for longer, but it also means fewer feathers poking you when you lay your head down at night.
These down pillows may look very flat upon unpacking, but follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to give these pillows 24 hours to fluff up to their full loft. Feather pillows can also be cleaned in the washing machine.
Best Memory Foam: Made By Design Cool Touch Memory Foam Pillow
Keep cool and sleep better with this memory foam pillow for side sleepers. Designed to be breathable and supportive, the Made by Design Cool Touch Memory Foam Pillow is a good choice if you often overheat at night.
The Cool Touch pillow is supportive without being stiff. Side sleepers will find it strikes a perfect balance that supports the head and neck without pressure points—particularly on the ear. Even hot sleepers will find this pillow to be comfortable enough to sleep on, which isn’t always the case with memory foam pillows.
Just be sure that you follow proper care instructions to clean your foam pillow—never put it in the washing machine. Instead, hand wash this pillow and leave it in a well-ventilated area to dry for many nights of sweet zzz’s.
Best Budget: Wamsutta Extra-Firm Density King Side Sleeper Pillow
The Wamsutta Extra-Firm Side Sleeper Pillow is an option that's both good quality and affordable. This pillow features a breathable 100 percent cotton cover and polyester fill, and the 2-inch side gusset gives the pillow a comfortable construction for side snoozers.
While this pillow may lose shape over time, it's an excellent budget option that lasts a while. And since firmness is a matter of personal preference, your mileage may vary on whether it’s truly "extra-firm," but it’s soft and supportive enough for most sleepers.
Best Body Pillow: Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Body Pillow
The Snuggle-Pedic Body Pillow is constructed with shredded memory foam and offers a solid pillow with plenty of give that can support your legs, back, or arms. Some side sleepers might like to rest their head on top of the body pillow and use the rest to support their neck, torso, and knees for proper spinal alignment.
"Putting a pillow between your legs [when sleeping on your side] helps the hips and lower back to relax. That way it reduces pain," says Dr. March-Howard. "On your back, having a pillow beneath the knees can also relax the lower back muscles and reduce pain."
Since everyone has different views on how firm a pillow should be, Snuggle-Pedic offers fill customization. The company will actually adjust the proprietary mix of shredded foam inside to make changes to the support, firmness, thickness, or weight of the pillow if you go to the manufacturer directly.
You may find the pillow is lumpy when it's initially unpacked, but following the manufacturer’s instructions to fluff and refresh the pillow in a dryer seems to help. And while Snuggle-Pedic has stellar customer service and pillow customization, one con is that the pillow is sewn shut on the end and you can’t make simple adjustments to the fill yourself.
When it comes to the best pillow for side sleepers, we recommend the Coop Home Goods Adjustable Pillow. It’s filled with a combination of memory foam and microfiber so it’s both breathable and hypoallergenic. However, if neck pain keeps you up at night, Parachute’s Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow is an excellent choice. The unique construction helps keep your body in proper alignment throughout the night for a more comfortable night’s sleep.
What to Look for in Pillows for Side Sleepers
Pillows come in a whole range of materials, and each has its pros and cons. Think about what is most important to you, and look for a material that supports that. For instance, memory foam pillows are firm and maintain their shape well, but they can trap heat at night. Down pillows and polyester-stuffed pillows are fluffy and pliable, but may not offer enough support for those who like a firm place to lay their head.
Look for a pillow shape that will properly support your neck and accommodate your shoulders properly when you sleep on your side. The best pillows for side sleepers are a bit boxy, rather than round, in order to keep your neck and spine aligned as you sleep.
In the case of pillows, softer isn't always better. While your preferred firmness is a personal decision, side sleepers will want some support to keep your neck properly aligned while you rest. If you like a super-soft surface to lay your head, consider a pillow with a firmer core and a fluffier outer layer to give you the best of both worlds.
Why Trust The Spruce?
For additional background on pillows, we spoke to Dr. Samantha March-Howard, doctor of chiropractic at 100% Chiropractic office in Dunwoody, Georgia, who spoke about pillows and reducing body pains.