‘I’m a Sleep Expert, and These Are the 14 Best Pillows for Side Sleepers’

Photo: Getty Images / Svitlana Hulko
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If you’ve ever spent the night flipping and fluffing the pillow in sleepy frustration, then you know the importance of a good one can’t be overstated—and your choice can drastically determine the quality of your sleep. That being said, you’re going to want to find a pillow that suits your unique sleep style and position (and they have different meanings, BTW). Do you sleep on your back and wake up feeling sore and achy the next morning? Need pillows for back pain? What about TMJ pain? Are you switching positions all night long? And did you know that there are pillows specially designed to address the needs of combination sleepers too?

Experts In This Article

Personally, I’m a side sleeper all the way—and according to sleep studies, most Americans are too. Because side sleeping is easily one of the most popular sleep positions around, there are plenty of pillow options to pick from (a blessing and a curse if you’re easily overwhelmed by choice like me). To make finding the best pillow for side sleepers easy, we asked sleep experts for guidance.

Best pillows for side sleepers at a glance:

What kind of pillow should a side sleeper use?

Sleep experts agree that the best pillows for side sleepers are the ones that sufficiently fill that gap between your shoulder and the side of your head, and support neck and spinal alignment—otherwise you could risk neck and upper back pain come morning.

“Side sleepers should choose pillows that are firm enough to align their head and neck with their spine, yet cushioned enough to alleviate pressure points on their shoulders and necks,” says Susan Miller, a certified sleep technician RPSGT, at SleepMattressHQ.com. Miller goes on to say that latex or memory foam pillows are often the types that can hit that sweet spot of cushioned and supportive. “Foam or latex pillows typically offer the best support that side sleepers need while sleeping,” agrees Logan Foley, a sleep science coach and product expert at SleepFoundation.org.

While you may be tempted to stack pillows in search of more support (I myself am guilty of this), the experts agree that sleeping with more than one pillow isn’t a good idea. “Using two pillows is not recommended for side sleepers because it can cause the head to be positioned too high, which can cause neck and shoulder pain,” explains Miller. “Instead, use one pillow that provides the necessary support and sufficient cushioning.” If you really want to use two pillows, try putting the second pillow between your knees. “While it's not necessary by any means, some side sleepers prefer to use two pillows—one for their head and one to place between their knees to maintain a neutral spine alignment,” says Bridget Chapman, a sleep expert and certified sleep science coach at Sleepopolis.

How many inches should a pillow be for a side sleeper?

When it comes to side sleeper pillows, the length of a pillow doesn’t really matter, however, the height is ultra-important. “A pillow for side sleepers should be higher or thicker than one for back or stomach sleepers because side sleepers require a proper amount of support to keep their head, neck, and spine aligned,” explains Drew Miller, VP of Marketing at Sit 'n Sleep. With this in mind, Dr. Danielle Wall, a sleep advisor for Sit 'n Sleep recommends choosing a pillow that is somewhere between four and six inches tall. “The four to 6-inch loft allows side sleepers to maintain proper spinal alignment and prevent strain on the neck and shoulders,” she explains. Because of the way the body is shaped when sleeping on your side, Dr. Wall adds that it is crucial that a pillow adequately fills the space between the head and mattress in order to keep the neck in a more neutral position. 

What should side sleepers look for when pillow shopping?


According to the experts, the single most important thing to look for when choosing a pillow for side sleepers is the loft, or height, of your pillow. Remember the gap between your shoulder and side of your head I mentioned earlier? A pillow with sufficient loft should fill that space comfortably. “Side sleepers should generally seek a pillow with a higher loft (4″ or more) to help them maintain a neutral spine alignment,” says Chapman. “Pillows with adjustable loft are something that side sleepers should keep an eye out for since they allow you to fine-tune the height of your pillow to optimize comfort and support,” explains Ryan Fiorenzi, a certified sleep coach and founder of StartSleeping.org.

Material & Fill

When it comes to material, sleep experts have several recommendations. “A good pillow material to look for when shopping for a side sleeper is shredded foam,” says Elisa Regulski, a certified sleep science coach and editor at Mattress Clarity. “Shredded foam will be plush enough to offer neck support, but is also responsive and will allow you to sink into it just enough to keep proper spinal alignment.” Latex and memory foam pillows were also repeat recommendations from sleep experts, because they offer support while still cradling your neck and shoulders to keep you comfy and properly aligned. “Many side sleepers prefer memory foam in both their pillow and their mattress to give them the contouring and pressure relief they need at the neck, shoulders, and hips,” Chapman adds.


Experts say the shape of your pillow is key to keeping your neck and head supported, and preventing pain that may come as a result of side sleeping. “If you've ever experienced neck pain and find the base of your neck unsupported as a side sleeper, you may want to look out for a cervical or contoured pillow,” advises Fiorenzi. That said, it's important to remember that the best pillow shape for you will depend on your body type (read: the space between your shoulders and head), and your own personal preference.


To keep the void between your shoulder and head filled, you’ll want to choose a pillow with adequate firmness and support that'll keep its shape all night long (because who likes a flat pillow?). While the degree of firmness is largely up to personal preference, experts recommend staying within the firm category for optimal support. “Side sleepers should look for a pillow that provides support without being too firm,” says Miller. “Side sleepers are generally going to be most comfortable on a medium-firm pillow.”

Best overall

woman sleeping on the layla kapok pillow, the best pillow for side sleepers
Layla, Kapok Pillow — $109.00

Available sizes: Queen-King

Miller says the Layla Kapok (pronounced “kay-pok”) Pillow ticks all of the boxes for side sleepers. The plush pillow is stuffed with a mix of shredded memory foam and natural kapok fibers (aka java cotton), which molds to your neck and head for maximum support and softness. It comes slightly overstuffed to ensure you get the best support, and you can adjust the loft by removing stuffing in order to achieve the perfect height. The pillow cover uses a viscose-polyester blend that’s uber soft (you might even consider ditching a pillowcase) and breathable, so you feel cool all night long.

Material / Fill: Shredded memory foam, natural Kapok fibers
Cover: 66% polyester, 30% viscose, 4% poly/lycra blend
Loft: Adjustable


  • Adjustable loft
  • Conforms to your shape
  • Comfortable and supportive
  • Breathable material keeps you cool


  • Finding the right stuffing level requires some trial and error

Best adjustable

marlow pillow, one of the best pillows for side sleepers
Marlow, The Pillow — $65.00

Available sizes: Standard-King

The internet is loving Marlow Pillows, and we totally get it. It’s designed with three different loft profiles, and couldn’t be easier to adjust—no need to mess with filling, just use the two side zippers to reveal gussets for extra height. Inspired by NASA technology (fancy!), Marlow used a combination of memory foam and microfiber filling that offers plenty of support and squishy softness. What’s more, the memory foam is gel-infused, for that refreshing feeling all night long, and has a cotton sateen shell for added airflow.

Material / Fill: 80% Polyurethane Foam (memory foam), 20% Polyester Fiber
Cover: 100% Cotton, 120 GSM Sateen Fabric
Loft: Adjustable


  • Adjustable zippers (which means there’s no need to add filling yourself)
  • Gel-infused memory foam keeps you cool
  • Cushioned but supportive
  • Helps prevent neck and back pain


  • Might be too tall for some, according to reviews

Best memory foam

coop home goods original loft pillow, one of the best pillows for side sleepers
Coop Home Goods, Original Loft Pillow — $72.00

Available sizes: Queen-King

The Original Loft Pillow by Coop Home Goods is made to accommodate all sleep styles, but experts say it’s a particularly great pillow for side sleepers. It’s fully adjustable and stuffed with the brand’s proprietary blend of cross-cut medium firm memory foam and microfiber—it even comes with half a pound of extra fill for added loft if you need! What’s more, the case is made of Coop’s signature Lulltra fabric, a viscose-rayon blend that’s soft to the touch and plenty breathable, so you needn’t worry about overheating in the middle of the night.

Material / Fill: Cross cut memory foam, microfiber
Cover: 60% polyester, 40% rayon
Loft: Adjustable


  • Adjustable loft
  • Firm but malleable memory foam filling
  • Great for all sleep positions
  • Comes with an extra bag of filling
  • Soft and breathable material stays cool


  • Doesn’t maintain its shape, according to reviews

Best for neck/back pain

uttu sandwich pillow, one of the best pillows for side sleepers, on a white background
Uttu, Sandwich Pillow — $45.00

Available sizes: Queen-King

The Uttu Sandwich Pillow is made using a dynamic memory foam that contours to your neck and improves spinal alignment—making it a great pillow for side sleepers who deal with back and neck pain. The memory foam material boasts a five second rebound when squished, which means it’ll keep its shape throughout the night, and withstand the test of time. Plus, the pillow has a removable middle layer that can be easily adjusted to achieve four different heights, giving you the perfect loft. And Amazon shoppers love it too, earning it over 9,000 5-star reviews.

Material / Fill: Memory foam
Cover: 40% Bamboo Viscose, 60% Polyester
Loft: Adjustable


  • Firm yet responsive memory foam
  • Easy to adjust (no loose filling)
  • Helps improve alignment and relieve back/neck pain
  • Breathable bamboo cover
  • Contours to your neck and head


  • Might be too firm for some, according to reviews

Best body pillow

milliard u shaped body pillow, one of the best pillows for side sleepers
Milliard, U Shaped Total Body Support Pillow — $43.00

Available sizes: One size

If you like sleeping with an extra pillow between your legs, a U-shaped body pillow like this one by Milliard gives side sleepers the best of both worlds. The long, memory foam pillow helps relieve pressure throughout the body for maximum comfort while you snooze, and spooning it like you would your usual leg pillow can help keep your whole body aligned. It’s covered in a velvety soft velour fabric that’s perfect for snuggling, and the supportive memory foam filling cradles you to sleep in pure comfort.

Material / Fill: Shredded memory foam
Cover: Velour
Loft: Adjustable


  • Soft but supportive memory foam filling
  • Plush velour cover
  • Supports full body alignment
  • Helps relieve pressure throughout the body
  • Great for pregnancy and maternity
  • Filling can be added or removed for customizable comfort


  • Finding a case for it is tricky
  • Foam filling may break up after a while, according to reviews

Best for shoulder pain

cushion lab deep sleep pillow, one of the best pillows for side sleepers
Cushion Lab, Deep Sleep Pillow — $98.00

Available sizes: Standard

Designed with side sleepers in mind, Cushion Lab’s Deep Sleep Pillow features sculpted side bolsters that cradle your neck and head as you sleep and an ergonomic shoulder line that lets you snuggle close without adding pressure—alleviating pressure and shoulder pain, and enhancing spinal alignment for a good night’s sleep. Most importantly, the memory foam cushion is the perfect marriage of plush softness and firm support—it’s like you’re sleeping on a cloud. It even comes with the brand’s Fresh Face Pillowcase, a machine washable pillow case that reduces friction on your skin and hair, for reduced frizz and creasing by morning!

Material / Fill: Memory foam
Cover: 85% Cooling Nylon, 15% Spandex
Loft: 5.5” inches


  • Sculpted side bolsters help relieve pressure/shoulder pain
  • Ergonomic shoulder line lets you snuggle close without strain
  • Cloud-like memory foam
  • Good for side and back sleepers
  • Includes washable pillowcase


  • Not adjustable
  • The sculpted shape might not agree with everyone

Best value

dreamyblue pillow, one of the best pillows for side sleepers
DreamyBlue, Premium Pillow — $36.00

Available sizes: Queen-King

Perfect for side, back, and stomach sleepers, the DreamyBlue Premium Pillow is stuffed with easily removable shredded memory foam, giving you the freedom to customize your loft as needed for your best sleep yet. DreamyBlue’s shredded memory foam also gives the Premium Pillow the fluffy feel of down and the supportive firmness of pure memory foam, for balanced comfort. The bamboo-rayon blend cover is airy and breathable too, so you’ll stay cool throughout the night. It comes *highly* reviewed, with over 13,000 5-star ratings. And the best part? At $36 bucks, it’s the most affordable pillow on this list.

Material / Fill: Shredded memory foam
Cover: Bamboo, rayon
Loft: Adjustable


  • Adjustable loft
  • Has the fluffiness of down and the support of memory foam
  • Breathable bamboo cover
  • Comes with an extra bag of filling
  • Great for back, stomach, and side sleepers
  • Affordable


  • Shredded filling doesn’t keep its shape as well, according to reviews

Best latex

saatva latex pillow, one of the best pillows for side sleepers
Saatva, Latex Pillow — $165.00

Available sizes: Queen-King

The Saatva Latex Pillow delivers the head and neck support that every side sleeper needs. Designed with a latex core, it has a natural buoyancy that helps alleviate pressure, and is super durable—which means its supportive feel will last over time. What’s more, the core is surrounded by a removable, organic cotton pillow that adds loft and breathability for a comfortable and cool sleep. The cherry on top? The cotton sateen cover feels soft on skin, and is machine washable for easy maintenance.

Material / Fill: Natural latex core, cotton, microdenier fiber
Cover: Cotton sateen
Loft: Unknown


  • Latex core alleviates pressure
  • Durable design
  • Removable cotton pillow adds loft and softness
  • Cotton sateen cover adds breathability
  • Machine washable cover


  • Not adjustable
  • Pricey

Best cooling

person sleeping on the purple harmony pillow
Purple, Harmony Pillow — $161.00

Originally $179, now $161

Available sizes: Standard-King

As if “Harmony Pillow” doesn’t sound dreamy enough, this Purple pillow is wrapped in a cooling mesh material that wicks away moisture and maximizes airflow—putting pillow flipping to rest, for good. Plus, it has the same cushioned—but firm—feel as Purple’s best-selling mattresses, so you know it’s good. The latex core takes the pressure off your head and neck, and supports you in any sleeping position—and it’s available in three different lofts, guaranteeing you’ll find the best one for you.

Material / Fill: Ventilated Talalay Latex with Polyester Knit Cover
Cover: 92% Nylon Fiber, 8% Spandex Fiber
Loft: Low, Medium, Tall


  • Mesh cover stays cool and wicks away moisture
  • Durable latex core supports your head and neck
  • Cushioned but firm feel
  • Available in 3 heights


  • Not adjustable
  • Doesn’t keep its shape, according to reviews

Best down

parachute side sleeper pillow, one of the best pillows for side sleepers
Parachute, Down Side Sleeper Pillow — $159.00

Available sizes: Standard-King

Stuffed with all natural European down, Parachute’s Side Sleeper Pillow boasts a medium density that’s equal parts plush and supportive. The 3.5” inch gusset helps lock in its shape, and minimize the strain on your neck and shoulders while you sleep. And it’s finished with a soft, cotton sateen cover that feels like luxurious hotel linens. In other words, if you’re a side sleeper that’s willing to invest—this Parachute pillow is well worth the coin.

Material / Fill: 85% Down, 15% Down and Feather Fibers
Cover: 100% Cotton Sateen
Loft: 3.5” inches


  • All natural European down fill
  • 3.5″ gusset helps maintain its shape
  • Plush cotton sateen cover
  • Medium density offers support and cushion
  • Reduces strain on neck and head


  • Pricey
  • Not adjustable

Best with curved design

Sit ‘n Sleep The Scrumptious Side Pillow — $165.00

Available sizes: Queen, king

If you want a side-sleeper pillow with a curved design, Miller recommends the Sit ‘n Sleep Scrumptious Side Pillow. Constructed from CertiPUR-US certified foam and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified cover fabric, this side sleeper pillow features high-quality materials and an ergonomic design that provides ample neck support. We love it because you can actually adjust the firmness for a more customizable pillow shape and comfort level.

Material / Fill: CertiPUR-US certified foam

Cover: Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified cover fabric

Loft: Adjustable


  • It has an ergonomic design.
  • It’s designed with high-quality materials.
  • It comes with a three-year warranty.


  • It costs over $150.

Best temperature regulating

Sit ‘n Sleep Healthy Sleep Ultra-Tech Advanced Pillow — $99.00

Available sizes: Queen, king

For a temperature-regulating option, Dr. Wall recommends the Healthy Sleep Ultra-Tech Advanced Pillow from Sit ‘n Sleep. This pillow is designed with Ultratech and Tencel temperature-regulating fabric plus air pockets to help with airflow and promote an overall cooling effect. On top of that, it’s designed specifically to support and align the head, neck, and spine to keep you comfortable and in an ideal position while sleeping on your side.

Material / Fill: Not listed

Cover: Ultratech with Tencel temperature-regulating fabric

Loft: Adjustable


  • It costs under $100.
  • It features temperature-regulating air pockets.
  • It comes with a 2-year warranty.


  • It doesn’t have a curved design, which some might prefer.

Best cotton

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow — $124.00

Available sizes: One size (17 x 29 inches)

If you want a pillow that is OKEO-TEX certified and has a comfortable and breathable cotton cover, consider the Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow which features a latex and polyester fiber fill with a removable cotton cover. This pillow features a shoulder indentation for maximum comfort and spinal alignment. On top of that, you can completely adjust the loft and overall firmness by removing or adding fill as needed, giving you a more customized sleep situation.

Read our full review of the Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow.

Material / Fill: Latex, polyester fiber

Cover: Cotton

Loft: Adjustable


  • You can adjust the loft.
  • It’s OKEO-TEX certified.
  • It promotes spinal alignment.
  • It has a removable cover for easy washing.


  • It costs over $100.

Best for neck pain

Bedboss Crown Pillow — $80.00

Available sizes: One size (27 x 15 x 5 inches)

If you experience neck pain, consider the Bedboss Crown Pillow, which is constructed from a comfortable and supportive memory foam material with a sweat-wicking bamboo and polyester blend cover. This pillow is designed for all sleeping positions, including side sleeping, and can not only alleviate neck pain but also help prevent shoulder pain and stiffness while also improving sleep quality.

Material / Fill: Memory foam

Cover: Bamboo and polyester

Loft: 5 inches


  • It’s designed for all sleeping positions.
  • It has a breathable and sweat-wicking cover.
  • It features space for your shoulder.


  • The loft isn’t adjustable.

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