Buying a new pillow can feel like a very involved and stressful process when you start digging into your options. In fact, you should get excited; this is going to be the pillow that helps you fall asleep quicker, stay asleep longer, and ease aches and pains in the neck and back. But even if you’ve just done some light skimming of the pillows out there, you’re probably overwhelmed with the incredible number of pillows available to you. Luckily, you can narrow down your choices somewhat easily.
There are a few things you should ask yourself when you start looking for that perfect pillow: What position do I like to sleep in? Do I prefer to stomach-sleep? Do I sleep super hot and need a cooling pillow? Do I prefer a high loft or something to sink in to? Then, you can start to filter through some of the brands you recognize; while the brand doesn’t mean everything, you can trust big names and the heavy-hitting pillow and top quality mattress companies to create a long-lasting and high-quality product.
Finally, you can check out guides; we’ve filtered through some of our favorite brands and even some lesser-known brands to give you some of the best pillows for side sleepers.
The best pillows for side sleepers
- — $26 at Amazon
- — $30 at Amazon
- — $50 at Amazon
- Tuft & Needle Pillow — $75 at Tuft & Needle
- Leesa Hybrid Pillow — $87 at Leesa
- — $80 at Amazon
- Layla Kapok Pillow – $99 at Layla
- — $100 at Amazon
- — $90 at Amazon
- — $117 at Amazon
Sure, this is a pricey choice, but if you need an ultra-supportive pillow with a high loft and something that will let you sleep “on top” of it rather than “in” it, Tuft and Needle created a great pillow for you. It’s still comfortable despite being quite firm, and that means you’ll wake up feeling less sore, more refreshed, and you won’t feel like you’ve been straining your neck or shoulders with a low-loft pillow. Memory foam pillows, in general, are great choices for side sleepers, who need plenty of support and loft, but it’s always good practice to try a pillow higher than you think necessary at first. If you’re new to buying a pillow, you’ve likely been using a pillow that’s one-size-fits-all, and you’re no stranger to the middle of the night dance to fold over your pillow and get it to an appropriately high loft. Stop doing that; just buy a lofty pillow like this one.
Interested in the Tuft and Needle Original Foam Pillow? Read our Tuft and Needle pillow review so you know exactly what you’re getting into with this choice.
The Layla pillow is another very lofty and supportive pillow, which makes it perfect for broad-shouldered or heavy sleepers. If you feel like you’re wearing through pillows way faster than you think they should be lasting, you’re likely a heavier sleeper who needs to look into a pillow that will support you longer and won’t flatten out after a few weeks. This shredded memory foam pillow will do the trick. Shredded memory foam is known for sleeping cool thanks to the increased level of airflow the shredded foam offers, and one of the best parts of many shredded memory foam pillows is the fact that you can just unzip the side and let out or add some memory foam if the pillow feels too lofty or too flat for you.
This quilted hybrid pillow looks quite different from most pillows, but the quilting is an intentional choice to make the pillow more functional and to ease your frustrations at night. If you’re a heavy sleeper who often wake up with all of the pillow filling on the edges of the pillow cover and not under your head, this pillow’s quilted design will prevent that shifting. It’s filled with a down-like material, making it super comfy and soft. Plus, this pillow has increased cooling power, as it’s filled with a combination of gel and memory foam. Gel is a popular material in sleep products, as it doesn’t hold onto heat or moisture like other materials do.
If you frequently wake up with pain in your shoulders, neck, or even with headaches, the first culprit probably isn’t your pillow. However, your pillow is a likely culprit, and if you’re waking up in pain, you’re definitely not getting good quality sleep. With its curved design, the Honeydew Sleep Company Scrumptious Side Sleeper curves around your shoulder, allowing you to slip the pillow further into your neck. This pillow isn’t a great choice for stomach or back sleepers, but if you exclusively sleep on your side, try this pillow out for the 60-day trial and you’ll likely decide to keep it longer.
This heavy pillow is made for the broadest-shouldered sleepers who need the most loft and firmness. Your average pillow has curved sides, coming to points at each seam, but this pillow was made in three dimensions so your head is kept far from the mattress all night. One of the biggest concerns for side sleepers is dropping the head too far into the mattress, which can cause problems in the spine. You may not notice any pain or discomfort now, but if you sleep on the wrong pillow for years, you’ll undoubtedly cause lasting damage to your shoulders and spine. So, try out a pillow that will support and cradle you. This is also a great choice for sleepers on a budget, made with 100% polyester fill. That fill may not last quite as long as some other pillow materials, but what feels luxurious to one sleeper might be different for another.
If you know a little bit about pillows, you probably already know that down pillows aren’t typically suggested for side sleepers. In fact, side sleepers are told to actively avoid down pillows; they let your head sink too far in, they can sleep hot and force you to breathe directly into the pillow all night, and they can cause headaches for heavier and broader-shouldered sleepers. But this hotel-quality goose down pillow by Downlite is great for side sleepers and back sleepers alike, with a pillow that’s overstuffed with down to create a lofty and firm sleep experience. Down is a luxury material, so you’re going to be spending a little more money with this choice, but your worries about spending will melt away as soon as your head hits this pillow. Still, the largest side sleepers should do their homework to ensure they’re not buying a too-soft down pillow.
This curvy pillow wasn’t designed just for looks. If you think of the silhouette of a side sleeper, consider the dramatic curve between the jaw and shoulder. With your neck unsupported, many side sleepers can feel uncomfortable or wake up feeling like they’ve been raising their shoulders all night to compensate for the space between their mattress and neck. Obviously, that’s not good. However, contoured pillows like this one by Sleep Innovations are designed to nestle into your neck and support it so your shoulders don’t have to. Again, this is a poor choice for back sleepers, and stomach sleepers should just stay away completely, but if you’ve awoken with a tight neck and shoulders, test out this contoured pillow.
Coop Home Goods offers a few great options, especially for side sleepers, but the Eden pillow is particularly great. It’s soft enough that it will naturally reshape to your body, but it’s not so soft that you’ll feel like you’re not sleeping on a pillow at all. The viscoelastic polyurethane and polyester fill means it’s super soft and filled with a shredded material that will encourage airflow and natural cooling, so you won’t feel like you’re overheating at night, even if you’re sleeping with your arms under your pillow. Then, the pillow comes with a bamboo-derived viscose rayon and polyester case so this pillow is super soft to the touch and won’t irritate your skin.
We keep going on and on about shredded memory foam both here on Digital Trends and throughout our sleep content on The Manual, but it really is a great fill choice for sleepers of all kinds. Shredded memory foam is particularly great if you’re not exclusively a side sleeper, as you can remove and add shredded memory foam to the pillow at will and make it softer or firmer as you want. But shredded memory foam is also super air flow-conducive and sleeps cooler than loaf memory foam pillows. Side sleepers are prone to getting hot at night, but this pillow will keep your head off the mattress and keep you cool in the process. It comes with a bamboo cover, which is a sustainably sourced material and super soft to the touch.
As much as we preach the word of shredded memory foam, loaf memory foam is simply better for tons of sleepers. And no matter who you are, you really can’t go wrong with a Tempur-Pedic pillow. Designed for side sleepers, right down to the name, this pillow features a subtle curve to support your neck and shoulders, and it sleeps cool if you need a pillow to help deal with your body heat. The other interesting thing about this pillow is that it’s sloped downward vertically. If one side is feeling too low or too high on any given night, just turn the pillow 160 degrees and get a different and more comfortable night’s sleep.
Are you sick of waking up in the middle of the night, and staring at the ceiling wishing you were asleep? Check out our guides to the best mattress toppers, pillows for back sleepers and curtains that will keep out the light so you can wake up feeling your best.
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