Find the Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

Smiling young girl relaxing in bed in the morning

Key Points

  • The right pillow is crucial for side sleepers to foster healthier sleep patterns and nurture overall well-being, going beyond mere comfort to include factors like spinal alignment and preventing orthopedic issues.

  • Considering individual needs, the optimal pillow should balance loft and firmness, supporting the neck and shoulders adequately, potentially preventing chronic pains, and ensuring rejuvenation each morning.

  • Critical aspects to evaluate when choosing a pillow include cost-efficiency, supportive structure, and temperature regulation, all contributing to a restful and deep sleep cycle essential for maintaining overall health and well-being.

Are you a side sleeper struggling with restless nights? The secret to restorative slumber might lie beneath your head. While the comfort of a pillow is essential, for side sleepers, the right choice can be the difference between waking up refreshed and battling orthopedic issues.

Discover why your pillow choice is about more than just luxury; it's about health, alignment, and the quality of your sleep. Find the perfect balance between loft, firmness, and support, and why spending a little extra time on this decision can transform your nights.

Why Side Sleepers Need To Be Careful About Their Pillows

In the quest for a good night's sleep, the right pillow is paramount, especially for side sleepers. In general, a side sleeper will need a higher-loft pillow with a medium to medium-firm feel.

Picking the appropriate pillow is not just about comfort but also about safeguarding the health and alignment of your spine. When you sleep on your side, the neck and shoulder require adequate support to maintain a neutral position, preventing strains and pains that can disrupt a peaceful sleep. A wrong pillow choice can lead to muscle stiffness, pinched nerves, and other orthopedic issues.

However, it also makes sense to sleep on your side. An article from the Mayo Clinic mentions that side sleeping can be good for you, as it "helps prevent the airway from collapsing and can reduce snoring."

For side sleepers, this choice transcends comfort; it's a matter of well-being. Investing time and thought into selecting the right pillow for you is a key step in fostering healthier sleep patterns and nurturing overall health.

How To Maintain Spinal Alignment as a Side Sleeper

Maintaining spinal alignment as a side sleeper prevents back and neck pain. The goal is to keep the spine in a straight, natural line, which requires a pillow that fills the space between the mattress and your neck adequately.

Choose a pillow that fills the space between your neck and shoulder, supporting you without causing a tilt. Depending on your needs, it may also be beneficial to place a pillow between your knees to alleviate pressure on the hips.

This approach not only promotes better sleep but also protects you from potential chronic pains and strains that can emerge over time, ensuring that you wake up rejuvenated and ready for the day ahead.

Illustration of a man sleeping on his side

What You Need To Look For in a Side Sleeper Pillow

Choosing the perfect pillow for side sleepers goes beyond mere comfort. Certain key factors significantly influence the quality of sleep.


While it's tempting to opt for the most affordable option, remember that a pillow is an investment in good sleep and health. Prices can vary widely based on materials, brand reputation, and features.

However, higher cost doesn't always equate to better quality. It's crucial to find a balance, ensuring you receive value for your money without compromising on essential attributes for side sleepers.


Loft refers to a pillow's height when laid flat. For side sleepers, an optimal loft is critical to ensure the head and neck remain aligned with the spine. Too high or too low could lead to neck strain or misalignment issues.

Your body type, shoulder width, and mattress firmness play a role in determining the perfect loft for your needs.


Firmness in a pillow determines how much it compresses under weight. Side sleepers need a pillow that provides ample support without being too hard.

A medium to firm pillow typically offers the necessary support, ensuring the head doesn't sink too much or stays elevated too high. Again, personal preference plays a role, but the key is maintaining spinal alignment.


The optimal support from a pillow is crucial for side sleepers to prevent neck and back discomfort. The pillow should provide a firm yet adaptable structure that maintains the alignment of the spine, head, and neck, thereby minimizing the risk of muscle strains and sprains.

Moreover, the right support can prevent the development of pressure points, ensuring a restful sleep night after night.

Temperature Regulation

An often overlooked yet essential feature in a side sleeper pillow is temperature regulation. Pillows with cooling technologies or breathable fabrics can prevent overheating at night, promoting a more comfortable sleep.

Additionally, these features can fend off disturbances like sweating, helping you to remain in the deeper phases of sleep for longer periods, which is vital for overall health and well-being.


The size of your pillow is pivotal in ensuring comfort throughout the night. The most common sizes include:

  • Standard (20 x 26 inches): The most compact option, standard pillows are versatile and fit most sleeping arrangements.

  • Queen (20 x 30 inches): Offering an extra four inches in width compared to the standard size, queen pillows provide more room for movement, making them particularly suitable for restless sleepers.

  • King (20 x 36 inches): The king-size pillow is the largest standard size available, ideal for those who might change positions frequently or even those who enjoy reading in bed. The added length provides ample support and flexibility.

Selecting the right pillow size ensures your head and neck are adequately supported, reducing the chances of waking up with stiffness or discomfort.

The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

For side sleepers, finding the right pillow can be the difference between a good night's sleep and neck pain. Dive into the best options available, ensuring your sleep feels heavenly.

Saatva Latex Pillow

The Saatva Latex Pillow has a shredded natural latex core that ensures responsive support for the head and neck. You have choices in loft fill heights. The Standard Loft, around four to five inches tall, suits stomach sleepers and those who like a lower pillow.

Moreover, the removable layer boasts organic cotton, filled with down-like microdenier fibers. This layer is machine washable. The Fair Trade Certified™ cotton pillow cover offers machine-washability too.

One customer mentions: "After days and plenty of hours of research into pillows… I'm very happy with this pillow. It's firm, cool, and very comfortable… My search for a new pillow was due to neck and shoulder pain… After a day or two, the pain was gone… It is expensive, but so far, it has been worth it."

From this, it's clear the Saatva Latex Pillow addresses more than just comfort; it might also aid in alleviating physical discomforts. Remember, it's always essential to find what works best for you, but the Saatva stands out among the best.

Ultimate Side Sleeper Pillow

by Eli & Elm

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11/30/2023 11:15 pm GMT

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

The Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow features a distinct U-shape design that aims to alleviate neck pain and promote spinal alignment, a vital requirement many flat pillows fail to fulfill. Its customizable firmness, attained by adjusting the amount of latex and polyester filling, allows for a tailored sleep experience. You can easily unzip the pillow to modify the filling to your preference, providing either a softer or firmer feel.

This pillow blends 75 percent latex and 25 percent polyester fiber in its fill, while the cover combines cotton with polyester and spandex. For maintenance, the removable cover with an interior liner ensures easy washing, holding up to machine washing in cold water and tumble drying on low heat.

As one user aptly puts it: "I am a side sleeper, and finding a comfortable pillow hasn't always been easy. I started experiencing neck pain when I woke up… I took the plunge on the Eli and Elm side sleeper. After several months so far, I can honestly say it's not only comfortable, but I haven't had any neck pain since! It is expensive for a pillow but honestly, it's worth it. In fact, I'm getting one for my partner now."

Furthermore, you can rest easy knowing the product is OKEO-TEX Certified, ensuring it is free of harmful chemicals, adding to its list of merits — and potentially justifying the higher price point. At least it's cheaper than Princess Diana's "black sheep jumper," which recently went for $1.14 million at an auction. However, buying this pillow won't allow you to own a slice of a deeply tragic moment in history.

Boll & Branch Down Chamber Pillow

The Boll & Branch Down Chamber Pillow features a hypoallergenic PrimaLoft Luxury Down Alternative filling. This material offers not only the gentle characteristics of down but also a choice between soft, medium, and firm densities. This attribute makes it a favorable option for side sleepers seeking substantial neck support, as one user highlighted, describing it as a "great pillow. Provides good neck support for side sleeping."

The 100 percent organic cotton shell, crafted from premium long-staple certified cotton, maintains its purity from seed to finish, devoid of harsh chemicals. The easy-care design is another benefit, facilitating regular maintenance with machine washing and tumble drying to maintain its fluffiness.

The Fair Trade Certification is a testament to the brand’s responsible business practices, promising a product free from toxins at every production step.

The Last Word on Pillows for Side Sleepers

For side sleepers, choosing a pillow isn't merely about comfort; it's an essential aspect of overall well-being. The ideal pillow ensures proper spinal alignment, preventing neck and back pain.

Beyond loft and firmness, factors like cost, support, and temperature regulation play pivotal roles in the selection process. A well-chosen pillow aids in achieving a rejuvenating sleep, protecting from potential discomforts, and promoting long-term health.

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