The best pillows for side sleepers have just the right amount of plushness—and if you’re a side sleeper, you know how much of a pain finding the perfect loft can be (pun intended). Some pillows practically disappear under the weight of your head, while others prop it up so high, you wake up with a kinked neck and sore shoulders. Furthermore, the ideal pillow shouldn’t require a routine of fluffing and re-fluffing every time you shift throughout the night.
Generally speaking, side sleepers should opt for a firmer, medium-density pillow that has a balance of support and softness to contour your head and keep your neck and spine aligned. We’re partial to customizable options like the Layla Kapok and the curved Honeydew Sleep Scrumptious that let you add and remove filling, but we’ve got lots more options—from memory foam to down to microfiber—on this list.
From our popular Best Mattresses Of 2023 guide to a half-dozen pillow-specfic sleep stories, we know a thing or two about getting good z’s. So scroll on for the best pillows for side sleepers based on research, reviews and testing, plus a how-to guide on how to pick the right one for you.
- Best Pillow For Side Sleepers Overall: Layla Kapok
- Best Value Pillow For Side Sleepers: Beckham Hotel Collection
- Best Curved Pillow For Side Sleepers: Honeydew Sleep Scrumptious
- Best Down Pillow For Side Sleepers: Brooklinen Down
- Best Pillow For Side Sleepers On Amazon: DreamyBlue Premium
- Best Reversible Pillow For Side Sleepers: Leesa Hybrid
- Best Cooling Pillow For Side Sleepers: Tempur-Cloud Breeze
- Best Adjustable Pillow For Side Sleepers: Coop Adjustable Loft
Best Pillow For Side Sleepers Overall
A Side Sleeper Pillow That Checks All The Boxes
Layla Kapok Pillow (Queen)
Fill: Shredded memory foam, kapok fibers | Trial period: 120-night trial period | Adjustable: Yes
In a nutshell, the Layla kapok has it all: softness and support, sustainability, adjustability, washability, hygienic and cooling features and of course, great customer reviews. It’s stuffed with a blend of kapok fibers—a responsibly-sourced, natural plant material with a “down-like” feel—and body-molding memory foam for a mix of cushiness and support. The cover is infused with copper, known for its hygienic and cooling properties and the fill can be removed or added to customize your comfort level. According to Layla, it’s “the only pillow you’ll ever need,” and thousands of 5-star reviewers agree.
What the reviews say: “Supportive yet malleable and comfortable,” says one buyer. “I finally found a pillow that helps me sleep comfortably through the night. The option to customize [the] filling made all the difference—I removed some filling to make it mine.”
Best Value Pillow For Side Sleepers
This Pair Of Soft, Popular Pillows From Amazon
Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows, Set of 2 (Queen)
Fill: Down alternative fill | Trial period: 30-day return policy | Adjustable: No
Amazon’s bestselling pillow has gel memory foam filling and a rectangular shape that offer an ideal combo for side sleepers. It’s important to have a pillow that contours to the head and neck, and this pillow does just that. Its no-shift design makes it ideal for the side sleepers who switch sides during the night and don’t want to constantly adjust to find that perfect angle for a quality night’s sleep.
What the reviews say: “I have been having neck and shoulder pain with stiffness for some time. Going to physical therapy helps, but pain gradually returns. These pillows have made a huge difference for me, no more stiffness or pain in the morning,” writes a 5-star reviewer.
Best Curved Pillow For Side Sleepers
A Curved Pillow That's Made In The USA
Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow (Queen)
Fill: Shredded memory foam | Trial period: 60-day trial period | Adjustable: Yes
This unique-looking pillow was purpose-built to cut down on neck pain, headaches and other commonly experienced issues of side sleepers. It has a curved design aimed at supporting your head, neck and shoulders and is filled with shredded copper gel memory foam designed to keep you cool. It’s also adjustable so you can customize your perfect loft; just unzip to add or remove filling to your liking.
What the editors say: “I’m a total combo sleeper, but when side sleeping, my neck can collapse into my shoulder if I use a too-flat pillow. Now that I have the Scrumptious, it’s the one I reach for when I settle on my side—I love how it curves around my shoulder and props my head so it doesn’t sink too far. Another huge plus, in my opinion, is that Honeydew pillows are all made in the USA.”
Best Down Pillow For Side Sleepers
A Sustainable Down Pillow With Three Firmness Options
Brooklinen Down Pillow (Standard, Firm)
Fill: Down and feathers | Trial period: 365-day return policy | Adjustable: No
The Brooklinen down pillow is constructed of sustainably sourced Canadian down clusters and feathers, which provide the cushion side sleepers need. This pillow comes in plush, mid-plush and firm options, making it suitable for all types of sleepers, but the company recommends that side sleepers opt for firm for extra support and spine alignment.
What the editors say: “Each night, my head feels like an egg perfectly nestled into its protective egg carton,” shares Lindsey Vickers, our sleep and mattress editor, in her Brooklinen Down Pillow review. “Little clouds of down cradle and cushion my cranium like a heap of freshly blown dandelion seeds.”
Best Pillow For Side Sleepers On Amazon
An Affordable Foam-Filled Premium Pillow
DreamyBlue Premium Pillow (Queen)
Fill: Shredded memory foam | Trial period: Lifetime replacement and warranty | Adjustable: Yes
Finding a pillow with the right amount of support is critical for side sleepers. Made with the brand’s trademark shredded memory foam, the DreamyBlue pillow allows sleepers to add and remove foam until they achieve their ideal feel, ending their days of stacking pillows. Plus, the pillow case is breathable and Certipur-US certified so you can sleep cool without worrying about harmful chemical exposure.
What the reviews say: “With these pillows, I can sleep on my side and keep my neck straight without curling the shoulder I was sleeping on,” says a reviewer. “It gives just as much support for my neck when I feel like sleeping on my back. I no longer wake up to neck pain, a great way to start the day.”
Best Reversible Pillow For Side Sleepers
A Dual-Sided Pillow With Two Different Textures
Leesa Hybrid Pillow (Standard)
Fill: Microfiber, cooling gel | Trial period: 30-day return policy | Adjustable: Yes
Adjustable and designed to give consistent support, this pillow, from popular mattress company Leesa, is ideal for side sleepers. It’s reversible, featuring one down-like quilted side and a cooler side to help regulate temperature.It also has an additional insert between the layers that can be removed to adjustthe height of the pillow, allowing you to get absolutely perfect alignment.
What the reviews say: “This is an amazing pillow,” one reviewer begins. “It has distinct experiences on either side and I definitely have a preference, so I only use one side but it’s nice to have options.” They continue, “Sleeps very cool so no flipping necessary.”
Best Cooling Pillow For Side Sleepers
An All-Positions Pillow With Cooling Gel On Both Sides
Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling (Queen)
Fill: Memory foam, cooling gel | Trial period: Not returnable; 5-year limited warranty | Adjustable: No
This Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling pillow is made with all sleepers in mind, but it’s especially great for side sleepers. It has adaptive technology that provides medium firmness that keeps your head properly propped up. But the real star of the show? This pillow has Tempur-Breeze Gel on both sides that keeps it cool so there’s no need to constantly flip and flop to find that beloved “cool side.” You can also score a deal if you’re buying multiples: Get two queen sizes for $239 (for a savings of $139) or two kings for $309 (for a savings of $169).
What the reviews say: “I love that when you sink your head into it, it shapes your head for that maximum comfort,” says one 5-star reviewer. “But my absolute favorite thing is the cooling aspect. Unlike other cooling pillows I've tried, this one actually stays cool while you lay on it all night.”
Best Adjustable Pillow For Side Sleepers
Customize This Pillow To A Just-Right Height
Coop Home Goods Adjustable Loft Pillow (Queen)
Fill: Shredded memory foam | Trial period: 100-night sleep trial | Adjustable: Yes
The pillow that’s right for someone else might not be perfect for you—that’s why Coop’s pillow is adjustable. You can remove or add the foam fill (“for more oomph,” as the company says) until you find the firmness level that’s just right for you. It’s also GreenGuard Gold certified and contains no toxic or harmful chemicals. Also worth noting: The cover and fill are machine-washable, so you can keep both your pillow cases and your actual pillow super clean.
What the reviews say: With a majority of the ratings being five stars, it’s clear that reviewers love this style from Coop. “This pillow is so soft & cloud like. I can move it around to make it exactly as I want it,” says a rave review. “I sleep on my side and back so I can fix it to fit under my neck whichever way I like. It molds to my shape.”
MORE FROMFORBES VETTED
Why Trust Forbes Vetted
Over the years, we have written dozens of sleep articles including stories on mattresses, sheets and comforters. To find the best pillows for side sleepers, we checked in with Dr. Grant Radermacher, a chiropractor in Brookfield Wisconsin (quoted below), to determine the best features to look for. From there, we researched top-rated pillows from reputable brands, then analyzed their key features and customer reviews.
We frequently update this story to ensure accuracy and was last edited in March 2023.
How We Chose The Best Pillows For Side Sleepers
To make the cut, each pillow had to offer the ideal loft (or adjustability) for side sleepers. A couple options, including the structured Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow and the curved Drift Side Sleeper Pillow are specially designed for this sleeping position. We also chose picks made with a variety of materials, including down, memory foam and cooling gels and covers, to cater to different sleep preferences. Finally, each pick had to have an average customer rating of at least 4 stars with hundreds, if not thousands, of reviews.
What To Consider When Buying A Pillow For Side Sleepers
The fill is important; after all, it can completely change the way the pillow feels underneath your head. Dr. Grant Radermacher, a chiropractor in Brookfield, Wisconsin, recommends a firm memory foam block pillow over more malleable fills like down, poly-fil or natural fiber materials. “Side sleepers generally need more support than back or stomach sleepers to keep their neck, upper back and shoulders in proper alignment throughout the night,” he explains. If you really want something more malleable, he suggests the firmest shredded foam pillow you can find.
Most pillows come with different firmness options, but Dr. Radermacher strongly recommends a medium-firm pillow for side sleepers. “Anything softer will usually end with your head sinking down too deep while your sleep,” he says.
The loft of a pillow refers to its height when your head is on it. Choosing the wrong loft can lead to neck pain, shoulder pain and tension headaches. “Your pillow should lift your head high enough that it keeps your neck in line with your spine, but not so high that it cranes your neck to the opposite side,” Dr. Radermacher says.
The best way to determine the right loft for you is to test out several different options. If you can, get someone else to help you. Lie down on your pillow and ask them to tell you if your head and neck are straight. If not, you likely haven’t found the right pillow for you.
If you don’t want a memory foam pillow, you might want to look into an adjustable pillow, which allows you to remove or add fill to make it as plump as you want it to be. “A customizable fill level can help you figure out the loft that works best for your body,” Dr. Radermacher says. This isn’t a necessary option, but it certainly is a nice feature.
Many pillows come with trial periods (usually 30 days) that allow you to test out the pillow as needed. This is really the best way to find a pillow that works for you, since pillows can change shape as you lay on them. Buying a pillow with a trial period makes it a little easier for you to find the pillow that is most comfortable for you.
What Kind Of Pillow Should Side Sleepers Use?
The rule of thumb is to opt for a medium-firm pillow that’s thick enough to support your head while keeping your neck and spine aligned. There are excellent side sleeper pillows made from fills of all kinds, so ultimately, it comes down to a matter of preference.
What Pillow Filling Is Best For Side Sleepers?
The ideal loft for side sleepers can be achieved with any fill, including memory foam, down or cotton. That said, you may want to consider a material that tends to keep its shape to avoid frequent re-fluffing, like memory foam or densely-packed down. Shredded memory foam is a popular choice because it’s airier than a solid piece of foam while offering the contouring texture that fans of the material love. If you sleep hot, there are also options with cooling materials and covers you’ll want to consider.
Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to choose an adjustable pillow, especially if you’re unsure which loft will work best for you. On this list, the shredded memory foam-filled Layla Kapok, Honeydew Sleep Scrumptious, Coop Loft and DreamyBlue Premium allow you to add and remove stuffing to your liking. The Leesa Hybrid is also adjustable but is stuffed with cotton and has a down-like feel.
How Thick Should Pillows For Side Sleepers Be?
Generally, side sleepers should aim for a pillow that’s 3 to 6 inches thick; the goal is to keep your head and neck in a straight line with your spine. That said, your pillow shouldn’t be so high that it makes your head tilt, nor should it be so low that it collapses toward your shoulders.
If you’re unsure or if your preferences change, adjustable pillows are a smart choice for all sleepers. These include the Leesa Hybrid, the Drift Side Sleeper Pillow, the Layla Kapok Pillow and the Coop Adjustable Loft Pillow, all on this list.
More Pillow Stories To Shop
- Best Pillows
- Best Pillows On Amazon
- Best Pillows For Neck Pain
- Best Pillows For Back Sleepers
- Best Pillows For Stomach Sleepers
- Best Memory Foam Pillows
- Best Down Pillows
forbes.comPurple Promo Codes | 10% Off In March 2023 | Forbes