A good pillow is a central component for a great night’s sleep especially if you sleep on your side. While all pillows are designed with one major goal in mind- comfort- the best pillows for side sleepers support the head at the proper angle to ensure a proper alignment of the neck, shoulders, and the spine.
Generally, most side sleepers prefer pillows that are a little bit thicker and firmer than what stomach and back snoozers go for. However, there are several other variables that come into play when shopping for these bedding accessories including size, loft (height of the pillow), and pillow material among other things.
We will take you through each of these considerations (and a few more) in another section on how to buy the best pillow for side-sleeping.
At this moment, let’s take you through our review team’s picks of the best performers in this category.
Our top pick slot for the best pillow for side sleepers was a stiff competition between the Scrumptious and the Coop (reviewed below). After a thorough consideration and comparison though, our review team settled for the former for 2 major reasons: its unique curved design and its amazing plushy feeling.
Handcrafted in Los Angeles, the Scrumptious pillow was originally meant for the side sleepers although most back sleepers are also using it nowadays. This pillow is made with a combination of shredded gel memory foam and silk-like fiber. The essence here is to offer you a good level of support for your spinal, shoulders, and neck alignment needs without making the pillow so stiff beneath you.
In addition, the shredded memory foam fillings allow air to pass through thereby solving the issue of heat retention that is commonplace with solid block memory foam pillows.
This is a medium-loft pillow boasting a height of 5 inches. It should, therefore, be a great pick for most people weighing between 130lbs and 230lbs and with average shoulder widths. But what makes this a go-to pillow for most people is that its height and density can be adjusted via a hidden zipper to fit your exact needs.
- Full of support yet squishy
- Adjustable Loft
- Made with Certipur-US certified memory foam
- Quite pricey
Coop Home Goods pillow (The Original)One of the most popular pillows online today (it flaunts 15k+ reviews when typing this), the Coop Home Goods Original is another highly recommendable model especially if you feel that the Scrumptious is on the pricey side.
Right off the bat, the major difference between these 2 pillows is that the Scrumptious is a notch higher in terms of malleability compared to the Coop. Make no mistake though; the Coop Home Goods remains one of the best memory foam pillow for side sleepers who’d do with a little bit more firmness.
This pillow is made from finely shredded Certipur-us certified memory foam that offers a unique balance between conformability and heat dispersion. Its contouring effect gets a really nice boost from its loft-adjustable design and a 2-way stretch inner liner that allows excellent moldability.
On the other hand, its heat dispersion capabilities are promoted by the luxurious outer cover that is made with highly breathable bamboo to keep you cool all night long.
This manufacturer understands that The Original may not suit everyone. In that case, you’ll get this pillow with a 100-day satisfaction or money-back guarantee. This is quite a generous offer considering that you only need utmost a week to determine whether to keep a pillow or not.
- Fully adjustable
- Firm but with a good level of buoyancy
- Highly breathable
- Hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant
- Its finely shredded foam fillings might make getting a good balance of support and contourability tricky
When we sought to compile this list of the best pillows for side sleepers in 2018, we were pretty sure that the Xtreme Comfort Pillow would show up.
The Xtreme Comfort is actually a revamped version of another model that didn’t offer the convenience of loft adjustability. Right from the package, this pillow has a height of around 6 inches– the furthest that we can guarantee your comfort and support needs as a side sleeper.
As we have noted in the buying section below, this height makes the best pillows for people who weigh below 130lbs and have a large-size head and broad shoulders. The ability to remove and add the fillings, however, makes it possible for almost anyone to use it.
Similar to our first 2 options, the Xtreme Comfort pillow uses shredded memory foam. The difference between this model and the Coop above is that the Xtreme Comfort uses slightly thicker shreds than the Coop. The advantage of this is that you can easily get a balance between softness and support which most people found to be a little bit tricky with the Coop.
Another great feature that makes the Xtreme Comfort the best pillow for hot side sleepers is its bamboo cover that, according to the manufacturer, is crafted with Kool-Flow technology. While we can’t vouch for this design’s performance, we can confirm that it does not suffer heat retention and will, therefore, be a great pick for sleepers who get so hot when asleep.
There’s also another feature that we can’t fail to mention here: the Xtreme Comfort is fully machine-washable.
- Easy to remove the fillings without losing support
- Height is adjustable
- Fully machine-washable
- Excellent breathability
- 30-day satisfaction or money back guarantee
- May have a strong chemical strong at first
Switching gear to something a little bit different, the Cradle Me Cervical Pillow might be what you want if you are looking for the best pillow for side sleepers with neck and shoulder pain.
The Cradle Me is an orthopedic pillow that has been designed to promote spinal alignment. It also aims at relieving any existing pressure and pain around the neck and shoulder region. Unlike the 3 side-sleeping pillows that we’ve seen so far, this model uses a solid block of memory foam and, therefore, does not allow height adjustment.
The good news, however, is that its 3D butterfly design features multiple heights. Thus, it’s actually height-adjustable only that the process is much simpler than adding and removing shreds. In addition, unlike the traditional cervical pillows, the Cradle Me has a slightly curved indentation around the middle that comfortably cradles your head in place.
Even better, the wings offer additional support from all angles thereby boosting the healing process for people with chronic neck pains.
- Great head and neck support
- Multiple heights for different needs
- Best for neck and shoulder pains
- Replacement or money back guarantee
- Getting the ideal height may take a few nights of trial and error
Just like our number one slot, our last pick was a battle between 2 pillows from renowned giant beddings brands; the Simmons Beautyrest and the Snugle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo foam pillow. After a thorough inspection though, we realized that the Snugle-Pedic and the Xtreme Comfort that we saw earlier are exactly the same only that the cases have been changed. And that’s how the Simmons Beautyrest won.
One of the features that pulled us into this pillow is that it’s made of latex which is a great relief from the rather too common memory foam. Precisely, this pillow uses Talalay latex which is preferred for pillows since its cell structure is more consistent than that of Dunlop. It is also slightly softer than Dunlop (albeit firmer than memory foam) and more pillow-like.
These 2 characteristics coupled with this pillow’s 6-inch loft make it the best pillow for side sleepers who have broader shoulders and who prefer sleeping on a pillow that is slightly firmer than memory foam but a little bit softer than Dunlop. You could think of this as a firm yet not hard pillow.
True to latex, the Simmons also has a unique springiness that ensures continuous support even when turning. And this makes it an easy choice for sleepers with neck and pain issues. Again, it does retain heat and neither will it choke you with strange chemical smells.
- Firm yet not hard
- Sleeps cool
- Very comfortable
- Holds its shape for long
- Talalay latex uses a few more chemicals than Dunlop
Best Pillow for Side Sleeping Buying Guide
Sleep specialists opine that sleeping on your side is the second best after your back. The former is ideal especially for people who are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and those who are prone to neck and back pain. It’s also the best for snorers and expectant moms.
Being a side-sleeper, however, makes the process of identifying the perfect pillow a little bit hectic since you want a model with the right combination of comfort and support.
Ideally, the best pillow for side sleepers should bridge the gap between your ear and the mattress thereby supporting your head, neck, shoulders, and spine in a natural alignment to eliminate pains and pressure points.
So, what matters when choosing the right pillow as a side sleeper?
Loft simply refers to the height/thickness of the pillow. Generally, pillows come in different heights and can be grouped into 3 major categories;
- Low-loft pillows- less than 3’’ in thickness
- Medium-loft pillows- 3’’-5’’ thick
- High-loft pillows- above 5’’
Most side sleepers tend to prefer medium-to-high loft pillows. Don’t just choose blindly though. There are a few things that come into play when determining your ideal pillow’s thickness including your weight, the size of your head, your optimal shoulder width, as well as your current mattress’ firmness level.
Medium-thickness (3’’-5’’) makes the best pillows for side sleepers who;
- Weigh 130-230 pounds
- Have an average sized head
- Have average shoulder width
- Use a medium-firm mattress
A high-loft pillow will fit the bet if you;
- Weigh less than 130 pounds
- Have a large sized head
- Have broad shoulders
- Use medium-to-firm mattress
As you focus on the loft, you also want to put into consideration the material used for the pillow while being particularly conscious of its characteristics on all the fronts that affect your sleep; moldability, temperature retention, and odor/allergy potential.
Pillows are made from a number of materials including memory foam, latex, buckwheat, down, down alternative, and feathers.
Hands down, feathers, down, and down alternatives are the best especially if you want a cloud-like feeling. The major drawback, however, is that these materials tend to collapse easily under your head thereby failing to offer you the much needed support.
Memory foam, latex, and buckwheat are the most recommendable materials for side sleepers as they offer the most support while conforming to your natural curves to minimize pains. However, you should keep in mind that these 3 materials also have different characteristics and will appeal differently.
Here is a break-down of their strengths and drawbacks
Memory foam: It’s common and easy to find. It’s highly rated for its excellent conformability that consequently translates to amazing levels of support. Shredded memory foam has an adjustable thickness and also tends to solve the issue of heat retention that is commonplace with its block alternative.
In general, the major drawbacks that pull memory foam down include heat retention and its medium-to-high price tag. Memory foam pillows might also ship with a chemical odor that might be a little bit disturbing to some sleepers.
Latex: latex is a little bit pricier than memory foam but it’s more durable and also don’t tend to sleep as hot like memory foam. It’s also much more responsive compared to memory foam and, therefore, offers constant support which is a great bonus for people who turn a lot. This is, in fact, why it makes the best support pillow for side sleepers with neck pains. Its major drawback is that it costs a pretty penny.
Buckwheat: although so common in Asia, buckwheat pillows have for long been made and used in the USA as well. This material offers a superb combination of firmness, malleability, and breathability for an all-natural and restful sleep. Their major disadvantage is that they make a rustling sound when moved although most people get used to it over time. In addition, low-quality buckwheat pillows may have been filled with incompletely cleaned husks that have the potential to attract bugs.
Size also matters a big deal. Here are the different pillow sizes that you are bound to come across on the market and their target users
Small: these pillows measure 20’’ by 12’’ and although they are not so common, they are there. You might want one of these if you are looking for extra support
Standard: measuring 20’’ by 26’’, these are the most common and the most affordable too. They offer a good spot between functionality and size. However, this size may not be the most ideal if you switch position a lot
Super standard– these pillows are 2’’ longer than the standard. They might interest you if you turn a lot too
Queen size: these pillows measure 20’’ by 30’’. They offer a good compromise for people who want more sleeping surface on the pillow than what standard pillows offer without being as large as a king-sized pillow
King size: it measures 20’’ by 36’’. This is a multipurpose pillow that will also serve as a backrest or headrest when knitting, reading or using a computer in bed.
Wrapping it Up
While our list brings the top 5 best pillows for side sleepers, remember that choosing these bedding accessories is very much subjective especially for this sleeping position.
The Simmons BeautyRest Latex has a lot of natural springiness and might make a good choice if you have neck and shoulder issues and tend to switch positions a lot while asleep. The Cradle Me, on the other hand, might interest you if you snore a lot. If you are not sure which height to go with, then you need to look for the best pillows for side sleepers with adjustable height. In that case, the Scrumptious, Coop, and Xtreme Comfort might appeal.