For this article, our team reviewed 8 articles, considered a dozen brands and spent a total of 15 hours in researching and writing.
The Best Pillow for Side Sleepers
- Our Recommendation: The Amerisleep Comfort Classic Pillow is our recommendation for the best pillow for side sleepers. Designed to keep you cool during the night with its FDA1 approved cooling cover, it features their own plant-based Bio-Pur® foam that’s soft, lightweight, and supportive to provide you with the best comfort. With a 100-night sleep trial and a 5-year warranty, you’ll see why it’s rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
We all have our different sleeping positions that we favor; back, stomach, side, or a combination of all three. Out of the different sleep positions, side sleeping is the most popular. Over two-thirds of adults sleep on their side. It’s also the healthiest. By sleeping on your side, you can better align the spine, increase oxygen intake, and improve heart health. As a side sleeper, you can fully achieve these benefits by finding the right pillow. The best pillow for side sleepers will have proper support for the neck and comfort for a better sleep. These pillows can be made from a variety of different materials with several types of fillings. Finding the right one can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for. Fortunately, we’ve created this guide, complete with a list of our favorite picks, that will help you in your search.
Top 7 Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
|Amerisleep's Comfort Classic||Queen, King||$75, $95||10-year|
|Parachute Home down||Standard, King||$89, $109, $129, $129, $149, $169||3-year|
|Wamsutta Extra-Firm||Standard/Queen, King||$15, $20||3-year|
|The Scrumptious Side||One Size||$100||3-year limited|
|Brookstone Biosense Shoulder||One Size||$60||2-3 year|
1. Amerisleep’s Comfort Classic
The Comfort Classic pillow by Amerisleep topped our list as our favorite side sleeper pillow. With Amerisleep’s plant-based Bio-Pur® filling, this pillow is light and supportive while offering excellent comfort to sleepers. Another advantage to Bio-Pur® is its open-cell structure, promoting airflow and cooling. Also, the Comfort Classic is encased in a Celliant®-infused cover to help regulate body heat at night. Further, Amerisleep offers a 100-night sleep trial, so if you don’t love it, you’ll receive a full refund.
2. Parachute Home Down
As a down pillow, Parachute created an excellent pillow that offers great support for side sleepers. The Parachute Home Down comes in Standard and King sizes, with a choice of density of soft, medium, or firm. This plush pillow is encased in a sateen cotton shell. On top of their 3-year warranty, Parachute also offers a 60-day trial, where if you’re not satisfied with their pillow, you can return it for a full refund.
3. Wamsutta Extra-Firm
A great option for those seeking a polyester option, the Wamsutta Extra-Firm pillow offers exceptional support without “sinking.” The polyester filling and cotton cover provide consistent support during the night. Side sleepers will enjoy a plush, yet firm pillow that won’t cause neck pain.
4. The Scrumptious Side
As a combination of memory foam and down, the Scrumptious Side pillow offers sleepers a softer, plush feel, while providing excellent neck alignment. The inward curvature on the bottom of the pillow allows space for the shoulder. Further, a hidden zipper can be opened for the sleeper to adjust the support by pulling out the filling accordingly. Also, they offer a 60-day trial for a full refund.
5. Brookstone Biosense Shoulder
The Brookstone Biosense Shoulder pillow has a large divot for the shoulder, allowing the head to rest higher on the pillow, offering better neck support. The memory foam pad is infused with green tea and charcoal to neutralize odor, and encased in a perforated, plush cover for added softness and cooling. Additionally, the Brookstone Biosense is hypoallergenic, making it perfect for those with allergies.
What’s a Side Sleeper
A side sleeper is someone who sleeps on their side. Unlike back and stomach sleepers, side sleepers have more flexibility when it comes to spinal alignment. They’re also better able to receive relief from pressure points in the side sleep position. Roughly 69% of people sleep on their sides. There are 4 different sleep poses – log, fetal, yearner, and sprinter.
- Fetal – Both legs and arms are bent. About 40% of sleepers sleep in this position.
- Log – Legs and arms are straight. 15% sleep in this position.
- Yearner – Legs are straight, with arms reaching out. 13% sleep in this position.
- Sprinter – Arms and back are straight, one leg curled and the other extended out. 2-3% sleep in this position.
Benefits of Sleeping On Your Side
Out of the three sleeping positions, side sleeping is the healthiest. Sleeping on one’s side offers a variety of different health benefits that include spinal alignment and pain reduction. With proper neck support, side sleepers are also able to breathe easier during the night. Those who sleep on their side include pregnant women and individuals with medical conditions. Side sleeping is not only a popular sleep position, it’s also a method on improving health.
Out of all the benefits that side sleeping provides, spine alignment is the most important one. Sleeping on your side naturally aligns your spine, no matter what type of mattress you sleep on. This allows more flexibility for side sleepers than with back and stomach sleepers who need a specific level of support in maintaining spinal alignment.
Unlike with stomach and back sleepers, side sleepers usually need a second pillow to promote spinal alignment. By placing a pillow between the legs to support the knees, side sleepers can better align the spine and prevent stiffness and chronic pain. Body pillows can be a great option for side sleepers as they can be manipulated to fit under the head and between the legs.
Without a pillow that offers proper neck support, airways can be blocked leading to snoring. Another cause of snoring is sleeping on your back. Back sleepers face the problem of their tongue moving to the back of the throat, blocking air flow and causing a person to snore. A good side pillow will provide the right support to the neck to prevent this from happening. This can also help those with sleep apnea.
Side sleeping helps to relieve shoulder, neck, and back pain by easing pressure points and offering support. As mentioned before, side sleeper pillows help to align the spine, which in turn helps to soothe pain and the pressure commonly felt in the neck and shoulder, even in the back. A pillow that eases tension and relaxes the muscles can also prevent further injury and help you wake up better rested.
Medical Conditions Helped by Side Sleeping
While many sleep on their side because it’s where they are most comfortable, some may find that sleeping on their side helps ease certain medical conditions. Many manufacturers have constructed pillows specifically to help soothe these conditions. If you’re looking for this type of pillow, the list below may help:
- Water Based – water is a wonderful element that promotes healing and wellness. Therapists and chiropractors may offer this type of pillow since it can give a customized level of support.
- Cervical Pillow – this type of pillow is an excellent source of relief to those who suffer from intense pain in the neck. Ideal for tension headaches, arthritis, whiplash injuries, and stiffness.
- Cooling Pillow – though perfect for those who sleep hot, cooling pillows are also great options for women going through menopause. They’re a welcome form of relief for hot flashes.
- Oxygen-Promoting Pillow – perfect for those with shorter necks, who need a pillow to provide a better flow of oxygen during sleep.
- Anti-Snore Pillow – by raising the head a few inches higher, snoring can be reduced/avoided with this type of pillow.
Benefits of Sleeping on Your Side When Pregnant
During pregnancy, sleeping on your side is the healthiest way to sleep. There are many pregnancy pillows that are made to specifically provide comfort to an expectant mother while supporting her belly. These types of pillows make it easier to sleep and change positions during the night. If you’re looking for a great pregnancy pillow, we recommend one that can be used throughout the pregnancy, especially one that provides cooling.
How to Find the Right Pillow
Finding the right pillow can be a challenge. With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down to what you need. Before shopping, determine the size, shape, loft, and material that you want. As a side sleeper, you’ll have plenty to choose from, but what it ultimately comes down to is your personal preference. Keep in mind the support level to achieve healthy spine alignment.
When choosing a pillow, size is an important aspect to consider. Those with a Queen mattress size or larger, usually pick King-sized pillows. Larger pillow sizes are also ideal for those who toss and turn during the night. In contrast, those who sleep in a Twin or Full-sized bed, or who are more narrow-shouldered may choose a standard pillow. Further, be sure that the pillow size you choose will also offer enough support based on your weight, bed size, height, etc.
- Small (20”x12”)
- Standard (20”x26”)
- Super Standard (20”x28”)
- King (20”x36”)
- Euro (vary, but always square)
- Body (20”x48-54”)
Find the Perfect Shape
Pillows come in a variety of different shapes. While most are even-surface and rectangular, some can be longer and circular like body pillows and pregnancy pillows. Others, like cervical or oxygen-promoting pillows, feature a raised section for the neck, with a slight recess beneath the head. The shape of a pillow can help improve support and comfort, particularly to those seeking relief from pain and tension.
Check the Pillow’s Loft
Fluff, or loft refers to a pillows’ thickness or height. While there are three different types, side sleepers prefer medium-high loft pillows. At that level, the neck is sufficiently supported. Some pillow offer adjustable loft, a great perk that’s customized to the sleeper. Side sleepers may struggle with low loft pillows, that can’t give the right level of support and cause the neck to bend. Additionally, side sleepers need to keep in mind their weight, head size, shoulder width, and the firmness of their mattress. These factors can also help determine the right type of loft a person needs.
- Low – less than 3” thick
- Medium – 3”-5” thick
- High – more than 5” thick
Most Common Materials Used in Side Sleeper Pillows
Side sleeper pillows can be made and filled with many types of materials. Each offer their own individual support and comfort. Choose a pillow that appeals to your preference.
- Buckwheat – hypoallergenic, providing excellent support. Close conforming, but sleeps cool.
- Down – adjustable and very soft. May not feel supportive to some side sleepers.
- Feather – offers more adjustable support than down. Close conforming and lightweight.
- Latex – close conforming like memory foam, but sleeps cooler as part of its natural ability.
- Memory Foam – one of the best options because of its support and contouring.
Things to Consider When Shopping for Pillows in General
There are many types of pillows to choose from:
- Goose Down/Down Alternative pillow
- Feather pillow
- Memory Foam/Shredded Memory Foam pillow
- Gel Memory Foam pillow
- Buckwheat pillow
- Latex pillow
- Neck pillow
- Full-body pillow
These pillows all have their own benefits for sleepers. The trick is knowing what you’re looking for. While you pay attention to size, shape, loft, material, and type, also stay on the lookout to see if the pillow is machine washable, if it has dust mite and/or bed bug protection, if it includes cooling gel or some type of cooling technology, and if the cover has any added beneficial properties. When on the hunt for the perfect pillow,
Is it Machine Washable?
Another factor that should be considered is how a pillow is cleaned. Care instructions can be a major deciding factor for many consumers. In today’s convenient world, many want a pillow that can be easily thrown in the washer and dryer. While there are many side pillow options that are machine washable, there are also still a good number that can only be spot cleaned or dry cleaned. For the most part, pillow covers can be removed and machine washed.
Does it Have Dust Mite/Bed Bug Protection?
Dust mites are everywhere, and while there may not be a way to completely shield your home from them, you can take steps to protect your bed. And while bed bugs are normally found in mattresses and furniture, they’re also known to lay their eggs inside pillows. When searching for the best pillow, look to see if the pillow comes with dust mite and/or bed bug protection. It can help reduce allergies and improve sleep.
Is there Cooling Gel in the Foam?
Because manufacturers add some type of cooling gel layer in their mattresses, some companies are doing the same with pillows. Cooling materials help to regulate body temperature during the night, something that helps ensure better sleep. If mattresses can contain some form of cooling technology, wouldn’t it make sense to do the same with pillows? Rather than waking in the night hot and having to change position or flip your pillow, with cooling gel, you may sleep comfortably throughout the night. While cooling gel is a nice perk for any sleeper, we especially recommend it for those who tend to sleep hot.
What’s the Cover Made Of?
Some pillows come encased in some type of cover. See if there are any properties incorporated into the cover that can offer additional benefits. Some covers are infused with copper to improve blood circulation. Others may use bamboo to help reduce allergies. When on the hunt for a good pillow, no matter your sleep position, keep a lookout for a cover with possible benefits.
Why Choose a Side Pillow
According to the National Library of Medicine, sleeping on your side is the healthiest position for the body. The body better adjusts during the night while laying on the side, with greater pressure relief. Other health benefits to the side sleeping position include improved breathing and reduced stiffness. As a side sleeper, you have several pillow options to choose from. Be sure that the pillow you choose offers proper neck support – this will provide healthy spinal alignment. Also consider shape, size, material, and loft when finding the best pillow for side sleepers. Choosing the right pillow can make all the difference in achieving the best bedding, and ultimately, a good night’s sleep.
1 The FDA has determined that Celliant® products are medical devices as defined in section 201(h) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and are general wellness products. Celliant® is designated by the FDA to temporarily promote increased local blood flow at the site of application in healthy individuals. Hologenix, LLC, the maker of Celliant®, states that Celliant® safely converts body heat to infrared energy. This energy penetrates into the muscle and tissue to promote a temporary increase in local blood flow and helps increase comfort and promotes restful sleep.