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Side sleepers need a pillow that keeps their head and neck in alignment at night. A pillow that is too high will hyperextend their head, while a thin option won't give enough support. The best pillow types can come in memory foam, down, or polyester fill, but a medium firmness is ideal.
We tested these options for durability, comfort, and quality after months of sleep. And found the Coop Home Goods Original Loft Pillow to be the best pick for most side sleepers, but when it comes to pillows, personal preference plays a big part.
After months of testing, here are the best pillows for side sleepers.
Best Overall: Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow
Who else recommends it? Forbes, Allure, and The Strategist all picked the Coop Home Goods Original Loft Pillow.
What do buyers say? 88% of 49,500+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
This adjustable pillow was a winner with our tester because it could be customized to their needs with the easily removable stuffing that can be added or taken out. The thick cover also provided added support while our tester slept on this.
The fill is unique with its 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 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.
Best Down Alternative: Parachute Down Alternative Side Sleeper Pillow
Gussets are a great option to look for when purchasing a pillow for a side sleeper. Gussets keep the fill in place which prevents you from having to re-fluff throughout the night. The 3.5-inch gusset on this pillow is just the right height to give your shoulders and neck support without putting too much strain on alignment.
In general, a medium-firm pillow, like this option, is the best for side sleepers because it's not too soft or too firm for your body. If you suffer from allergies you'll enjoy the hypoallergenic down-alternative fill that gives you the down-like feel without the sneezes. But for those who do prefer down pillows, you can get the same side sleeper pillow with that fill.
Our testers have always enjoyed Parachute's premium pillow shell, and this 100 percent cotton sateen shell adds a nice luxurious touch while also looking good after many nights of rest.
Best for Combo 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.
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 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 need a medium-firm pillow 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.
How do you wash pillows?
Just as you'd wash your sheets and beddings, you may want to wash your pillows from time to time. The good news is, many pillows can go in the washing machine. Foam pillows may not tolerate the agitation of a washing machine, so stick with hand washing for those. Before you wash any pillow, read the care instructions on the label. In general, it's best to use the gentle cycle, cool water, and mild detergent.
How often should you replace pillows?
Over time, your pillow can accumulate dirt and allergens and lose its shape, which can affect your sleep comfort. According to the Sleep Foundation, it's a good idea to replace your pillows every one or two years. Of course, you can try a new pillow any time you want!
Why do pillows turn yellow?
As with any fabric, a pillow can discolor over time due to normal wear and tear. If you wear makeup or sweat, you may notice more yellowing on your pillow. Taking care of your bedding with regular washing can increase its longevity, but you may need to replace your pillow if it's yellow beyond repair (if only for aesthetic purposes).
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. Additional reporting was done by Ashley Abramson, a writer whose work has appeared in MyDomaine, the New York Times, Washington Post, Allure, InStyle, and more.