Best Pillow For Side Sleepers 2021
If you’re a side sleeper looking for a comfortable pillow, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve tested a ton of different pillows here at the Slumber Yard so you don’t have to, and now we’ve made this list to help side sleepers find the most accommodating option.
Don’t worry; no one paid us to have control over this list or the pillows that we’ve selected. Everything we write comes from the opinions of our experienced editors and team members who test out all types of bedding products on a day-to-day basis. Below, we reveal the ones that we think work best for those who sleep predominately on their side. You can visit our Pillow Reviews page to see all of our guides and read about other pillows that may work for you.
- Editor’s Best Pillow Choice :Eli Elm Side Sleeper PillowCheck price
- Best Cooling Pillow :Purple Harmony PillowCheck price
- Best Shredded Foam Pillow :Layla Kapok PillowCheck price
- Best Down Alternative Pillow :Casper Down PillowCheck price
- Best Foam Pillow :Tuft Needle PillowCheck price
- Safest Pick :Leesa Premium Foam PillowCheck price
- Best Pillow For Neck Pain :Pillow CubeCheck price
What Makes These The Best Side Sleeping Pillows?
When looking for the best pillow for side sleepers, our Slumber Yard team members looked back on our years of experience with pillows and chose the ones that fit certain important criteria for side sleepers, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
In general, side sleepers typically like taller, firmer pillows to keep their heads in proper alignment with their spine. In other words, down pillows usually aren’t your biggest friends. All the choices below are pillows that we think stand out from the rest of the pack.
Eli & Elm – Editor’s Choice
This best pillow list is catered specifically to side sleepers, so the first one that came to mind was the Eli & Elm Side Sleeping Pillow. Not only is it ergonomically designed with a “U” shape to contour around the curves of your neck and shoulders, but it also has an adjustable fill so side sleepers of all sizes can find a comfortable height and firmness for them.
Smaller-sized sleepers may prefer this pillow with less fill, while heavy sleepers over 230 lbs will likely keep all of the fill inside to maintain a firmer profile.
The filling on the inside of the Eli & Elm Side Sleeping Pillow is made with shredded polyester and latex foam, while the cover is 37% cotton, 2% spandex, and 61% polyester. We think it feels light and bouncy, but also supportive enough to keep your neck and spine in proper alignment.
It comes in one size (17″ x 19″), and retails around $150. It’s not the most affordable option on our list, but it certainly is comfortable and accommodating for folks who predominately sleep on their side.
Purple Pillow — Best Cooling Pillow
The Purple Harmony Pillow has a completely original feel thanks to the “360 Purple Grid Hex” that utilizes the brand’s unique Hyper-Elastic Polymer material. The main material is like a grid of gel-like hexagons that are soft, supportive and really bouncy. The hexagons allow for a bunch of tiny air pockets, while the machine-washable mesh cover promotes even more airflow throughout it.
It comes in two different sizes; standard which is 6.5” in loft (height), and tall which is 7.5” in loft and ideal for sleepers weighing over 240 pounds. They’re each the same price, and will usually cost about $160. So the Purple Harmony Pillow is definitely one of the pricier additions on this list, we think it’s a really luxurious pillow and perfect for side sleepers looking to shake up their go-to bedding.
Layla Pillow — Best Shredded Foam Pillow
Layla’s pillow is lightweight and reminds us of a blend between memory foam and down feathers. We say this because the fill is made with Kapok fiber and little shreds of memory foam. The cover is soft-to-the-touch, machine washable, and copper-infused to help draw heat away from your body. It’s a pretty lofty pillow at around 8” tall uncompressed, but we think it works really well for side sleepers of almost all body types, from petite to those with a heavier build.
This pillow has an adjustable loft, which is one of our favorite features of this pillow. This pillow comes in a queen size and a king size, and will cost about $100 or around $120 depending on the one you decide on.
Casper Pillow — Best Down Alternative Pillow
The Original Casper Pillow is filled with polyester microfiber that’s individually blown into the cover and encased in a 100% cotton cover. This makes the Original Casper Pillow feel super fluffy and soft but slightly denser than their Down Pillow. It’s about 5-6” in the loft, which we think is enough for most side sleepers, but we might not recommend this pillow to heavy side sleepers who need a real lofty pillow.
The entire pillow is machine washable, which makes cleaning super easy to do. These pillows are available in standard and king sizes, with the standard model selling for about $65, while the king pillow retails for about $85.
Tuft &Needle Pillow — Best Foam Pillow
The T&N Pillow is available in two different sizes: standard and king. The entire thing is made out of aerated Tuft & Needle Adaptive foam, which is soft and fluffy, but it also has the contouring support of memory foam with the bounce of latex foam. The cover is made with micro polyamide and polyester, meaning it’s breathable and really soft.
Compared to the other pillows on this list, it’s pretty moderately priced, as the queen will cost you about $75 and the king is around $100. Though, you may be able to get it for cheaper if you manage to purchase it during one of their promos.
Leesa Pillow — Safe Pick Option
Lessa’s Premium Foam pillow feels soft, light, and responsive. This pillow is made with one big slab of high-quality aerated polyurethane foam (mattress jargon for neutral-foam). Neutral-foam has a feel almost all people find to be comfortable, and it’s more breathable than your standard memory foam.
The cover is similar to the one on Leesa’s mattress and it’s machine washable. It’s not the loftiest pillow we’ve ever seen, so we’d mostly recommend it to petite and average side sleepers. Leesa’s Premium Foam pillow is available in two sizes; the standard is about $80 without discount and the king size retails for about $100. Compared to other prices on this list, we think the Leesa Pillow is pretty affordable.
Our editorial director tested the Pillow Cube herself for a month (and counting), and loves it. She’s dubbed it the best pillow for strict side sleepers and it’s great for those who suffer from neck pain because it keeps a side sleeper’s neck and spine in perfect alignment. With two height options to choose from, it should work for side sleepers of all sizes.
Aside from being comfortable and promoting better sleep, Julie also claimed it helped put a stop to her evening headaches. She said “I used to sleep on the Casper Pillow, which is for all types of sleepers, and I would wake up with a headache at least once every other week and neck pain pretty regularly. Since I changed to the Pillow Cube, I’ve only had two headaches — from April to now! And both headaches were because I used the pillow incorrectly, meaning I was laying on my back with it (read more about that in the “what I dislike” section). When I fall asleep on the pillow properly (side sleeping), I wake up in the morning with no neck pain or headaches!”
Our members are a diverse range of sleeping and body types from 140 lbs to over 250 lbs, so we are a good representative of different buyers’ needs and offer a great perspective on which pillows are the best fit. We also want to note how our team doesn’t receive payment by bedding companies for positive reviews. So you can rest assured all of our content is 100% authentic, honest and reflects our true opinions.
Considerations for Side Sleepers
When choosing the best pillow for side sleepers, here are the major considerations you should take into account:
Loft is another term used to describe the height of a pillow. The best kind of pillow for side sleepers is something lofty (tall) and of course, accommodating. A pillow that’s too thin can lead to a kinked neck or sore shoulder due to a lack of support, so side sleepers want something lofty enough to keep their spines in neutral alignment.
Petite Side Sleepers
For those of you who are more petite, a pillow with a loft between 3”-5” might be ideal.
Average Side Sleepers
For average weighted side sleepers, we think a good rule of thumb is that the pillow should have a loft around 4”-6”.
You’ll want a pillow that supplies the perfect balance of loft and support to keep your neck and shoulders aligned. Side sleepers should opt for a firmer material, as this will keep your neck at the proper height through the night. Meanwhile, with softer materials, they might have a four-inch loft when you fluff them, but what happens when you lay on them all night? They’ll flatten out, and this will place pressure on your neck and shoulders. Therefore, we suggest you aim for a firmer material that also offers comfort.
Pillows with adjustable filling or inserts that you can remove and add as you please can help make a pillow more versatile and more accommodating for your specific needs. For those who sleep on your side and are more petite, you might want a pillow with less fill than someone who is a 250 lbs side sleeper.
Alternatively, if you’re a side sleeper who sometimes switches positions during the night, you can remove fill until you find a nice balance in loft and firmness.
Is Your Pillow Accommodating For You?
We have a method side sleepers can use to determine if their pillow is lofty and firm enough for them. Essentially, you should be able to draw a straight line from your nose down to your belly button. If not, it may be time for a more accommodating pillow.
For those who sometimes sleep on their back, they should test their pillow by the curvature of their neck. Your neck should make a proper “C” curve. If you’re looking more forward than you are up towards your ceiling, the pillow might be too lofty.
If you switch positions and sometimes sleep on your stomach, we don’t necessarily have a test for that. Unlike side sleepers, stomach sleepers need a pillow with little loft and should feel out how well their pillow is working for them. If there is a kink in the neck, there’s a chance the pillow is too lofty.
Pillows Get Softer Over Time
Another thing worth mentioning is that almost all pillows will soften and compress over time. Regardless of whether you get a foam pillow or down pillow, or something in between, it will become softer and less lofty as you use it. The only exception to this rule might be latex pillows or some of the pillows that use a unique gel-like material. As such, you should consider replacing your pillows every 18-24 months.
Caring For Your Pillow
You’ll want to wash your pillow at least once a year and wash your pillowcases weekly. How you wash your pillow depends on its material. With memory foam pillows, you’ll want to hand wash them, while with feather and down pillows, you can wash them in your washing machine. Read our helpful guide to find the cleaning instructions for your pillow.
Best Pillow For Side Sleepers Overview
|Pillow||Best of Title||Material|
|Leesa Pillow||Editor’s Choice||Feathers, down|
|Purple Harmony||Best Cooling Pillow||Latex foam|
|Layla Pillow||Best Shredded Foam Pillow||Shredded foam|
|Casper Pillow||Best Down Alternative Pillow||Down alternatives|
|Tuft & Needle||Best Foam Pillow||Foam slab|
|Pillow Cube||Best Pillow for Neck Pain||Foam cube|