Best Pillows for Side Sleepers – 2022 Update

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Did you know 74% of sleepers rest on their sides at night? Even with such a large number, folks still struggle to find the best pillow for side sleepers. At Mattress Clarity, we’re here to change that. In fact, we’ve made it our mission to help people find the ideal bedding accessories. In this article, we will provide everything you need to know about the best pillows for side sleepers, including materials, special features, and pricing. For additional guidance on your pillow-buying journey, you can scroll to the bottom of this article and check out our buyer’s guide!

The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

Best Side Sleeper Pillow 2022: Video Roundup

 

How We Chose Our Products

Our team of sleep specialists tested many pillows currently on the market, using proprietary analysis and hands-on testing to find the best of the best for our readers. When building our roundup for the best pillows for side sleepers, we paid special attention to support, durability, loft, and quality of materials.

Pillows made for side-sleeping require different attributes than pillows made for other positions like stomach-sleeping, so we made sure to keep this in mind when it came to selecting pillows with a proper loft. Additionally, we featured pillows that should maintain their support and durability through the night to keep your spine properly aligned. Lastly, we wanted to place an emphasis on pillows featuring quality materials.

For more, we encourage you to check out our Buyer’s Guide at the bottom of the page. There we take a deeper dive into all of these attributes so you can make the most informed purchase possible.

Editor’s Pick

Eli & Elm Side-Sleeper Pillow

When narrowing down the options for Editor’s Pick, this one was a no-brainer. The Eli & Elm Side Sleeper pillow was specifically designed for folks who rest on their sides. With its U-shape construction, sleepers can easily keep their necks in the proper alignment throughout the night.

Who Is It For?

We like this pillow for not only side sleepers, but also some back sleepers. Those wanting a luxury feel should also enjoy the Eli & Elm.

What Makes The Eli & Elm Pillow Stand Out?

  • It’s a customizable pillow. Yes, this pillow is easily adjustable! When it arrives on your doorstep, you may find it feels extra firm and lofty; however, if you need to customize it, simply unzip the cover and remove some of the filling.
  • It boasts a soft and responsive feel. When you rest your head on it, you should feel the pillow sink just slightly. This is thanks to its unique filling made with latex noodles and polyester fiber.
  • It has a washable cover. The Eli & Elm’s pillow has an exterior cover that’s not only machine-washable, but very durable. It should last for several years.

Read our full Eli & Elm Pillow review.

Eli & Elm Organic Cotton Side-Sleeper
Eli & Elm Organic Cotton Side-Sleeper
Eli & Elm Organic Cotton Side-Sleeper

The Eli & Elm Organic Cotton Side-sleeper pillow is designed with a shoulder-friendly curvature and offers great support. 

Best Pillow For Neck Pain

Tuft & Needle Foam Pillow

We get it, flat pillows can be a pain in the neck. If you consistently run into this problem, it might be time to consider the Tuft & Needle foam pillow. (Fun fact: this pillow helped my neck pain so much, I rest on it every single night).

Who Is It For?

Because of its support, back sleepers and heavier sleepers should find a lot to love with the Tuft & Needle. Additionally, if you’re someone who sleeps hot, you might want to consider this pillow. It has ventilated foam and a breathable cover to prevent from trapping heat.

What Makes The Tuft & Needle Pillow Stand Out?

  • It doesn’t sag overnight. The Tuft & Needle’s foam construction allows it to keep its shape overnight. This is important for people with neck pain who rely on a pillow that keeps its shape and proper loft.
  • It has a responsive feel. While it is made of foam, this pillow still has some bounce to it. You shouldn’t feel stuck when moving around on the Tuft & Needle.
  • It’s priced at an excellent value. Its Standard price is $85 and its King price is $105 without discounts.

Read our full Tuft & Needle Pillow review

Tuft & Needle Pillow
Tuft & Needle Pillow
Tuft & Needle Pillow

Made with special responsive foam, the Tuft & Needle pillow feels both soft and supportive. It has many cooling features, and it's super durable. It's a great match for back and side sleepers. 

Best Cooling Pillow

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex

Nobody likes to wake up feeling stuffy and uncomfortable, so if you’re a hot sleeper, we know just the pillow for you. The Brooklyn Bedding is made of aerated latex foam, and latex is a material known for its cooling properties.

Who Is It For?

Besides side sleepers, this pillow is great for back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and those who suffer from allergies. 

What Makes The Brooklyn Bedding Latex Pillow Stand Out?

  • This pillow comes in two different lofts. For side sleepers and larger back sleepers, we recommend the high loft for proper neck support. Smaller back sleepers and stomach sleepers are likely going to need the lower loft.
  • It has a wonderful balanced feel. We felt so much support and also great pressure relief from this pillow. It has a bit of bounce and airiness that we appreciated as well, and this is due to the feel that the latex provides.
  • It has a washable cover. We also loved that the cover is so easy to take off.

Read our Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex pillow review.

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex
Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex
Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex

Brooklyn Bedding's Talalay Latex Pillow is a supportive and pressure-relieving blended latex foam pillow. It has a ventilated core and removable soft knit cover. Also, it comes in two loft options, making it a good choice for any sleep position.

Best Pillow For Overweight Side Sleepers

Purple

Big and tall side sleepers need high loft pillows that feel super supportive, and that’s exactly what you should find in the Original Purple pillow. Because it compresses under pressure, heavier sleepers typically find that the pillow feels especially firm. 

Who Is It For?

This pillow works for heavy side sleepers, but also back sleepers because of its customizable nature. Additionally, those looking for a good cooling pillow should find a lot to love in this product.

What Makes The Purple Pillow Stand Out?

  • It has a proprietary gel grid. This layer should offer a similar feel as Purple mattresses. So, if you like the feel of a Purple mattress, you will likely enjoy the pillow as well. It feels both squishy and firm at the same time.
  • This pillow comes with boosters. The Purple pillow is adjustable, so if you need to heighten the loft, just add a booster and zip the stretchy case around it
  • It has a washable pillowcase. and it’s made with durable materials.

Read our full Purple pillow review.  

Purple Pillow
Purple Pillow
Purple Pillow

Purple's original pillow is made with their signature Smart Comfort Grid polymer material that gives the pillow a plusher feel but without losing the support. 

Best Customizable Pillow

Layla Kapok Pillow

With its removable fluff, the Layla Kapok pillow works for a wide variety of people. If you need firm support, keep the fibers stuffed inside. If you need it softer, simply unzip the cooling cover and take out some of the filling.

Who Is It For?

Because of its adjustability, the Layla Kapok pillow suits many different body types. Of course, we love it for side sleepers, but its responsiveness means it’s great for combination sleepers as well.

What Makes The Layla Kapok Pillow Stand Out?

  • It’s one of the best cooling pillows. Designed with cooling in mind, the pillowcase is made with breathable polyester fabric and has copper fibers sewn in. Copper not only has antimicrobial properties, but it also helps pull heat away from the body. 
  • It boasts a plush feel. For additional comfort, Layla includes shredded pieces of open-celled memory foam. If it’s fluffiness you’re after, you can’t go wrong with the Layla Kapok. 
  • This pillow is made with high-quality materials. The filling comes from Kapok tree fibers, so it feels similar to down feathers. 

Read our full Layla Kapok pillow review.  

Layla Kapok
Layla Kapok
Layla Kapok

The Layla Kapok pillow is a mix of memory foam chunks for support and natural and organic Kapok fibers for smoothness and added plush feel.

Best Memory Foam Pillow

COOP Home Goods

If you’re looking for one of the best memory foam pillows, you’ll definitely want to take a look at the COOP Home Goods adjustable loft pillow. Its high loft and customizability make it great for side sleepers. If you want to make adjustments to the loft, remove and readjust the foam inside so it fits your needs.

Who Is It For?

Of course, side sleepers and memory foam lovers should find a lot to like about the COOP Home Goods pillow. However, combination sleepers should appreciate how easy it is to move around on this pillow, and back sleepers should like the balance of comfort and support.

What Makes The COOP Home Goods Pillow Stand Out?

  • It should maintain its firmness through the night. This is a great sign for any sleeper, because they can be sure the pillow continues support their sleeping position through the night.
  • It’s easy to clean. The soft outer cover comes right off and is washable. However, what’s most impressive is the entire pillow can be machine-washed and dried.
  • The pillow can be fluffed. Putting the pillow in the drier on low heat for 10 minutes or letting it air-dry for an hour lets it become full and fluffy.

Read our full Coop Home Goods Adjustable Loft Pillow review.  

COOP Home Goods Adjustable Pillow
COOP Home Goods Adjustable Pillow
COOP Home Goods Adjustable Pillow

The COOP Home Goods Adjustable Loft Pillow is made of Certi-PUR US certified memory foam and makes a great match for many body types and sleeping positions.

How to Choose the Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

With so many options available, it can feel dizzying trying to find the perfect pillow. However, we believe the most important thing to consider is spinal alignment. Side sleepers will want to make sure their ears line up with their shoulders and their chins align with their sternums. Selecting the correct pillow with the proper loft should prevent and alleviate aches and pains along your neck.

pillow alignment - a woman rests on her side.

So, how do you reach a neutral alignment when you’re resting on your side? Keep reading to learn more about what you should look for.

Loft

In the bedding industry, ‘loft’ is another way to describe a pillow’s height. It’s crucial to find the proper loft for your sleeping position. Side sleepers typically need pillows with a higher loft. If the pillow is too thin, you may feel your neck crane out of alignment. Over time, this can lead to tension headaches and muscle pain.

Firmness

We spend a lot of time examining the firmness level of mattresses, and pillows are no different. Side sleepers definitely want to make sure their pillow is supportive enough to keep their neck elevated. The pillow may have the perfect loft size at first, but if it sags throughout the night, you won’t maintain the correct spinal alignment.

Feel

This last category boils down to your personal preference. Do you prefer something that feels soft and malleable, like a feather pillow? Or do you want your head to gently sink into layers of slow-moving memory foam? Either way, our roundup is sure to help you find something that feels both comfy and supportive.

Popular Side Sleeper Pillow Materials

As you shop for pillows, you’ll soon realize that they’re not all the same. A pillow’s construction can change a number of other qualities and alters your sleeping experience entirely. So, we’ve outlined some of the most popular pillow materials below so you don’t have to!

Down

Down pillows contain feathers plucked from geese, duck, and swan undercoats. Fans of down pillows love their soft and fluffy feel. Plus, they evoke a feeling of luxury. You’ll often find these pillows in five-star hotels!

RELATED: Best Down Pillows

Down Alternative

Down pillows may not work for everyone. They tend to cost more than other bedding products, and they’re not vegan-friendly. But if you love the malleable and airy feel, you don’t have to settle for anything less.

Many companies now sell down alternative pillows. Instead of using animal feathers, these pillows contain pieces of shredded memory foam, polyester fibers, or tiny pieces of latex. These fillings give pillows the classic down pillow feel, but without harming any animals. And perhaps best of all, these types of pillows come at a lower price point.

Memory Foam

Memory foam pillows create a lovely slow-moving feel. If you press your hand into the material, it will take a few moments for the foam to snap back into place. These pillows provide wonderful pressure relief, and they tend to keep their firmness as the evening goes on.

Over the years, memory foam has gotten a bad reputation for trapping body heat. However, many companies have combated this issue by adding gel or copper infusions. Ventilated memory foam also helps promote airflow, which can keep sleepers cooler at night. So don’t write this material off immediately! If you’re a hot sleeper, you’ll still find tons of great options.

RELATED: Best Memory Foam Pillows

Latex

Eco-friendly shoppers gravitate toward latex pillows and mattresses. This material doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, and it’s especially kind to the earth.

Better yet, latex foam feels responsive and bouncy. You shouldn’t feel your head sink too deeply into a latex pillow. And because of this, these pillows don’t trap heat easily. As a naturally breathable material, latex works exceptionally well for hot sleepers.

RELATED: Best Latex Pillows

Benefits of Side-Sleeping

When it comes to sleeping positions, resting on your side is one of the best. Not only does it help prevent pesky aches and pains, it helps with numerous other conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of side-sleeping.

Heart Health

Though not conclusive, a 2018 study found that people who slept on their right side had no changes in the electrical activity in their heart. The study found that when people slept on their left side, their hearts shifted and turned.

People with congestive heart failure have reported feeling uncomfortable when resting on their right side. Some folks even said they had difficulty breathing, but more objective research needs to be done in order to reach a full conclusion.

Snoring

Snoring occurs when airways get blocked at night. When you’re resting on your back, you’re more likely to experience blocked nasal passages. So, the best sleeping position for snoring? You guessed it: side-sleeping. For even more information, take a look at our list of the best mattresses for snoring.

RELATED: This Smart Pillow Promises to Help Curb Snoring

Pregnancy

According to Medical News Today, the fetus may be safer when a pregnant person sleeps on their side. Back sleeping may create extra pressure on the blood vessels that supply the uterus, which can potentially reduce the amount of oxygen leading to the fetus.

side sleeping while pregnant

In fact, some studies said that sleeping on the left side is even better for the baby. This sleeping position allows more blood to flow toward the fetus, and it can alleviate pressure on the liver.

RELATED: Best Pregnancy Pillows

How to Sleep on Your Side

As you now know, side-sleeping has many benefits. But if you’re a back or stomach sleeper, it can be difficult to shake up your habits.

Need some help? Here are a few tips to follow if you want to join the side sleeper club.

  • Opt for a medium-firm mattress that offers a good balance of comfort and support, such as one of the best mattresses for side sleepers.
  • Find a pillow that helps you maintain a neutral alignment. Again, when you’re side-sleeping, you want to ensure your ears line up with your shoulders.
  • When resting on your side, place your arms and hands beneath your shoulders.
  • If you suffer from joint pain, place a pillow between your knees.
  • Lift your knees toward your chest to alleviate back pain.

Summary

Here is our list of the best pillow for side sleepers:

Pillow Best For
Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Editor’s Pick
Tuft & Needle Best Pillow for Neck Pain
Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Best Cooling Pillow
Purple Best Pillow for Overweight Side Sleepers
Layla Kapok Best Customizable Pillow
COOP Home Goods Best Memory Foam Pillow

FAQs

What pillow is best for side-sleeping?

There are so many great options out there, but it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and body type. If you’re a larger person who needs more support, opt for the Purple pillow. If you suffer from neck pain, we recommend the Tuft & Needle foam pillow.

Are flat pillows good for side sleepers?

Flat pillows don’t typically work well for side sleepers. In this sleeping position, people need a thick and firm pillow that will help keep the neck in the proper alignment. If you’re unsure whether your pillow is too flat, check and see if your ears align with your shoulders whenever you rest on it. If your ear faces upward, you may need to get a pillow with a higher loft.

Are side-sleeper pillows different?

Yes! Some companies create pillows specifically for side sleepers. These pillows have a U-shape design, which allows the head to rest at the proper position and the shoulders to sit closer to the top of the mattress. Of course, you don’t need a U-shape pillow if you rest on your side. Our list of the best pillows for side sleepers has many different options.

How many pillows should you sleep with if you are a side sleeper?

There is no specific number you should shoot for. The most important thing to consider is your alignment. If your pillow is especially thin, you may need to stack two of them on top of each other to reach the ideal loft.

How do you sleep on your side with a wedge pillow?

Wedge pillows have many benefits. They help people sleep apnea and those who suffer from acid reflux. But they can also aid side sleepers! If you choose a wedge pillow, however, make sure to place your head at the correct place. This differs from person to person, but no matter what, your ears should line up with your shoulders. For the best results, find a wedge pillow with a 35-45 degree incline.

Gravatar for Elisa Regulski

Elisa Regulski

Elisa the Editor of Mattress Clarity, where she analyzes sleep products and appears in review videos. She earned a M.A in Mass Communication from Texas State University and a B.F.A in acting from Oklahoma City University. In addition to writing about sleep health, Elisa is passionate about reviewing music. Her articles about the Austin City Limits Music Festival have appeared in Glide Magazine and Speakers In Code. When she isn’t writing, Elisa can be heard singing with national party band, Saved By The ‘90s. She also performs with Austin-based arts collective, New Manifest Theatre Company.