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Best Pillows For Side Sleepers: Lofty Head and Neck Support

Danielle Mcleod

Getting just the right pillow picked out may not seem like such a difficult task, but if you have every purchased the perfect pillow, only to wake with aches and pains, then you know it is not as simple as it sounds. Your pillow choices are almost as important as your mattress choices, and should include not only personal preference, but the acknowledgement of cervical alignment for a truly healthy rest.

Waking feeling more tired than when you went to sleep is a common problem for those who struggle with poor support and comfort. Pillows are critical for proper head and neck alignment, muscle relaxation, and open airways, and side sleepers need a pillow with the specific loft and fill to fit these needs.

The following pillows have been personally reviewed by The Sleep Judge Review Team. Although we have many pillows we can recommend, these are some of the best we’ve used for side sleeping across a wide variety of body types and sleep needs.

RankProductHighlightsWarranty
#1

Milemont Memory Foam Pillow

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  • Stays cool
  • Helps with neck pain
  • Ergonomic contour design offers superior support
10 years
#2

Layla Copper Infused Pillow

  • Sleeps cool
  • Copper infusion may promote health
  • Very soft and contouring
5 year prorated,
120 night trial
#3 

Classic Brands Reversible Pillow

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Read The Review

  • Comfortably cool
  • Great neck support
  • Dual sided for varying ambient temperatures
3 year warranty
#4

Beautyrest Extra Firm Pillow

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Read The Review

  • High, contouring loft
  • Firm support
  • Excellent neck support
30 day returns
#5

Serta Innocor Comfort Pillow

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Read The Review

  • Very cooling
  • Pillow keeps its shape and provides good contouring
  • Very helpful for sore and stiff neck
5 years
#6

Bear Pillow

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  • Cooling sleep sensation
  • Highly responsive and supportive
  • Naturally hypoallergenic and anti-microbial
2 year
#7

GhostBed Pillow

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Read The Review

  • Absorbs and dissipates heat
  • Quick foam response time
  • Smells like lavender when opened
100 night sleep trial,
5 year warranty
#8If you have been asking yourself what kind of pillow do I need, then this article can help you find that answer.

Coop Home Goods Adjustable Pillow

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Read The Review

  • Fully adjustable to all sleep positions
  • Washable
  • Great for heavier bodies
30 day trial period
#9

Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

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  • Fully adjustable
  • Excellent body support and contouring
  • Sleeps cool
100 night trial period
#10

Duro-Med DMI Side Sleeper Body Pillow

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  • Huggable design
  • Relieves pressure on shoulders, neck, head, and body
  • Cooling ear cup divot
  • Doesn’t put pressure on your arm
  • Hypoallergenic
N/A

You may want to read: Best Latex Pillow for Side Sleepers

Our Picks for the Top Pillows For Side Sleepers

1. Milemont Memory Foam Pillow

SPECS

  • Available sizes: Standard, Queen, King
  • Available colors/patterns: 2 (Off-white, White)
  • Outer Shell Material: Eco-friendly Bamboo
  • Fill: Memory Foam (Three layers)

Does your neck ache something fierce in the mornings and you just tried but can’t sleep in any other position besides on your side? Then you are in the market for a side sleeping pillow. These pillows are designed to support the head and neck in a side sleeping position (they will support back and front sleepers as well).

Adjustable to your preferred height by removing the top or bottom or both layers of memory foam, you can enjoy your sleeping experience with ease. It features a layer of gel-infused memory foam to promote airflow and leaves sleeping surface cool, even on the warmest of nights.

This ergonomically shaped pillow offers the ultimate support and comfort during your nap while the memory foam cradles both the head and neck with ease. Designed to give support, this orthopedic cervical pillow is one that you will look forward to laying your head on.

Pros

  • Gel-infused memory foam provides airflow for coolness.
  • No-risk purchase with 10-year warranty.
  • Adjustable height.
  • Pressure relief during slumber.
  • Bamboo covering.

Cons

  • Firm pillow that keeps neck in an upright position.
  • Some customers reported that it lost shape quicker than expected.

Who Should Purchase This Pillow

The Milemont Memory Foam Pillow is designed for ultimately side sleepers but can be used by anyone. The design is marketed toward those that wake up in the morning with a kink or crick in their neck after sleeping.

2. Layla Copper Infused Down Alternative Pillow

SPECS

  • Filling: kapok and shredded memory foam
  • Loft: ~5.5 inches
  • Comfort Positions: Back and side sleepers
  • Warranty: 5 year prorated, 120 night trial

The Layla Pillow is quite the innovative pillow. Filled with shredded memory foam and a soft, natural Kapok fiber, it is supportive, yet plush and malleable. It feels very much like a highly stuffed feather and down pillow wrapped in a thick, poly blend cover. Made for back and side sleepers, it has a hefty list of comfort claims, the foremost being how well it supports the head and neck in proper cervical alignment. Secondary is the copper infusion found within the casing. This copper may be able to support increased blood flow, creating quicker recovery and body healing.

Pros

  • Sleeps cool
  • Copper infusion may promote health
  • Very soft and contouring

Cons

  • Slight offgassing
  • May be too firm for stomach sleepers

Who Should Purchase This Pillow

This is a truly comfortable pillow that is an excellent choice for back and side sleepers. Our own reviewers were impressed with the quality of the pillow, as well as the quality of sleep it supported.

3. Classic Brands Reversible Cool Gel and Memory Foam Pillow

SPECS

  • Filling: Dual sided memory foam
  • Loft: ~ 5 inches
  • Comfort Positions: Side and Back
  • Warranty: 3 year warranty

This dual designed pillow was created to meet the needs of a wide variety of comfort preferences. One side boasts a textured gel layer for a cooling, slightly more firm surface. The reverse side is a medium-soft surface and slightly more responsive. The pillow was made to address temperature regulation, with a 5 inch profile that supports more side and back sleepers. The pillow does provide a gradual memory foam sink to help cradle your head and conform to your body shape and neck. Plus, being able to reverse it allows you to choose your desired comfort.

Pros

  • Comfortably cool
  • Great neck support
  • Dual sided for varying ambient temperatures

Cons

  • Some offgassing
  • Cooling somewhat dependent on ambient temps
  • Might be too thin for some sleepers

Who Should Purchase This Pillow

This pillow is an excellent value for a gel layered memory foam, and the unique dual siding allows for a wider variety of people to take advantage of it. Our own trials found it comforting and supportive. 

Read our full review here.

4. Beautyrest Extra Firm Pillow

SPECS

  • Filling: Poly fiberfill
  • Loft: ~7 inches
  • Comfort Positions: Side and Back
  • Warranty: 30 day returns

The overstuffed feel of the Beautyrest Extra Firm Pillows creates a soft, responsive plush surface that helps conform to your head and neck. A 2 inch gussets reinforce the shaping, and help keep the polyester fiberfill filling well distributed under compression, and keeps it from going flat. A 400 thread count, pima cotton casing is smooth, cooling, and provides decent air flow. This is a pillow made for side sleepers and larger back sleepers. It is an excellent side sleeping comfort, and allows for true neck support.

Pros

  • High, contouring loft
  • Firm support
  • Excellent neck support

Cons

  • May be too ‘springy’
  • May be too firm for back sleepers

Who Should Purchase This Pillow

Although considered fairly firm, the polyfill does allow for a great pressure free surface, and is considered very comforting. Our own reviews found it to be a favorite of side sleepers.

Read our full review here.

5. Innocor Comfort by Serta Gel Memory Foam Side Sleeper Pillow

SPECS

  • Filling: Gel infused memory foam
  • Loft: 2-inch gusset
  • Comfort Positions: Side and Back
  • Warranty: 5 years

Serta has a long standing, dependable name in the sleep industry, and their subsidiary companies have gained a quality reputation as well. Innocor Comfort is one such business that was taken up by Serta, and offers innovative technologies to their products. This gusseted pillow has a gel infused memory foam core to help create even compression, and excellent head and neck contouring. The foam has a slow sink rather than instant response (despite being a softer foam), which allows it to provide the height needed for side sleepers. A micro vented cover also influences air flow for a cooler night’s sleep.

Pros

  • Very cooling
  • Pillow keeps its shape and provides good contouring
  • Very helpful for sore and stiff neck

Cons

  • May be a bit too thick
  • May begin to break down with heavy use
  • Slight off-gassing

Who Should Purchase This Pillow

Made for side sleepers, some back sleepers may also be able to take advantage of this pillow. It is a quality item with excellent workmanship and use of materials. 

Read our full review here.

6. Bear Pillow

SPECS

  • Filling: LOFT-X hybrid memory foam
  • Loft: ~6 inches
  • Comfort Positions: All
  • Warranty: 2 year

The Bear Pillows uses the same hybrid foam in their pillows that they use in their mattresses to create a cooling, comfortable sleep surface. The patent foam is of such that it instantly springs back to shape after being compressed, and feels a little like your head and neck is floating. With a 6 inch loft it is made specifically for side sleepers, although some back sleepers may find it comforting as well. It also has such excellent pressure point reduction you may find it to be a great solution for other areas in which you need support.

Pros

  • Cooling sleep sensation
  • Highly responsive and supportive
  • Naturally hypoallergenic and anti-microbial

Cons

  • Slight offgassing for a few days
  • May be too high for stomach sleepers
  • May be too narrow for broad shouldered side sleepers

Who Should Purchase This Pillow

The amazing quality and comfort of this pillow really does make it worth checking out. Like most pillows, it may not be for everyone, but our detailed reviews can provide you with the details you need to make a decision.

Read our full review here.

7. GhostPillow Real-Time Cooling Aerated Gel Memory Foam Pillow

SPECS

  • Filling: Gel infused memory foam
  • Loft: ~5.5 inches
  • Comfort Positions: All
  • Warranty: 100 night sleep trial, 5 year warranty

Ghostpillow is made by the highly popular GhostBed mattress company, and uses a real time cooling aeration technology to create a cooling, conforming, and supportive surface for your head and neck. The solid memory foam core is infused with gel to absorb and dissipate body heat. It also helps draw moisture from your skin surface. Created for side and back sleepers, it has a softer, more plush surface that provides the underlying, firmer support popular for anyone who needs the lift and structure for proper spinal alignment.

Pros

  • Absorbs and dissipates heat
  • Quick foam response time
  • Smells like lavender when opened

Cons

  • May compress slightly overtime
  • Fairly flat
  • May need a second pillow for  side sleepers

Who Should Purchase This Pillow

The pillow is made for side sleepers, although it may have a bit of a lower profile that does not work well for broad shouldered body types. Because of this is may also be comfortable for some back, and even some stomach sleepers. 

Read our full review here.

8. Coop Home Goods Adjustable Loft Bamboo Cooling Pillow

SPECS

  • Filling: Shredded memory foam
  • Loft: Adjustable
  • Comfort Positions: All
  • Warranty: 30 day trial period

Adjustable pillows are an excellent choice for all sleep positions, especially side sleepers as they are excellent for providing a more personalized sleep experience and can be customized to height and support. The Coop Home Goods shredded memory foam pillow has a thick, plush, breathable cover, and is wholly adjustable to both firmness and pillow loft. You can add, or subtract, filling to make a support specific to your needs, all without sacrificing the pliable give of a memory foam. Shredded memory foam has become a popular filling pick due to how well it allows air flow through the pillow, as well as the allowance it lends to a more shapeable sleep experience.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable to all sleep positions
  • Washable
  • Great for heavier bodies

Cons

  • Slight offgassing
  • May become lumpy overtime
  • Firm feel with higher loft

Who Should Purchase This Pillow

This is an excellent pick for all sleeper positions, particularly side sleepers due to how much control you have over the loft and firmness. 

Read our full review here.

9. The Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

SPECS

  • Filling: Shredded Memory Foam/ polyfill blend
  • Loft: Adjustable
  • Comfort Positions: All
  • Warranty: 100 night trial period

The Nest Bedding Easy Breather is another adjustable choice that provides personalization for both comfort and posture support. With a slight gusset, the pillow keeps it shape well under compression, and the soft Tencel cover is excellent for added surface softness- plus it unzips to help adjust the memory foam and polyfil blend that provides soft, malleable shaping. It may take a bit to find the perfect loft adjustment for your own needs, but the removal, or addition of filling is well worth the time it may take to find the perfect sleep.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable
  • Excellent body support and contouring
  • Sleeps cool

Cons

  • Not washable
  • Slight offgassing

Who Should Purchase This Pillow

This pillow was a great choice for side sleepers according to our trials. The thicker profile when fully filled gives excellently under your head and neck to provide pressure point reduction and support open airways.

Read our full review here.

10. Duro-Med DMI Side Sleeper Body Pillow

SPECS

  • Loft: 4”
  • Material: Polyester

For those that are struggling with arm numbness as a result of their preferred sleeping position, look no more: this unusual pillow is made particularly for side sleepers that want to reduce pressure on their arm. The asymmetrical U-shaped pillow will support your head, neck, shoulders, and body, all the while giving you space to place your arm comfortably while laying on your side. The huggable design allows you to place the hand under or around the pillow without discomfort or pressure.

Another unique feature of this pillow is its cooling ear cup divot which eliminates the friction and reduces the pressure of your sleeping position on the ear- which is, believe it or not, a common issue for many side sleepers.

Pros

  • Huggable design
  • Relieves pressure on shoulders, neck, head, and body
  • Cooling ear cup divot
  • Doesn’t put pressure on your arm
  • Hypoallergenic

Cons

  • Runs small

Who Should Buy This Pillow?

Sleeping comfortably can be a challenge when you sleep on your side, but this huggable body pillow ensures that you always feel like you’re on cloud nine. Supportive, cleverly shaped, and meant to relieve pressure, this is the one to go for when you need some extra help to stay comfy during the night.

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Pillows For Side Sleepers: A Buyers Guide

Head and Neck Alignment

When your body is misaligned through the night you wake with aches and pains, or may feel restless and tired due to the interruptions to your sleep as you struggle to get comfortable. Your cervical spine is the gateway of your central nervous system, and the connection between your brainstem and the rest of your body. In short, it controls everything you do, and protection and influence of proper spinal alignment is crucial to your overall health.

While you search for the perfect side sleeping pillow, you will want to pay particular attention to the height it lens to your head, and the support provided to fill the gap created by your neck. You want the soft tissues of your back and neck to be able to relax, which allows you to sleep more comfortably and uninterrupted. This also helps support airways and increases blood flow; all things that lead to a healthier you.

Sleep Position and Pillow Comfort

Side sleeping is actually the most popular position, and a very healthy one overall when correctly supported. It helps keep airways open for anyone suffering from sleep apnea or other airway issues. The goal when side sleeping is to provide a stable, firm, and conforming surface for your head to rest in that allows it to stay level with your spine. The fill of the pillow should be able to fill in the gap between the head and shoulders to allow the neck to rest comfortably.

Gusseted pillows, those with higher profiles and responsive fills, contoured pillows for air way support, and various malleable type fills are all popular choices for side sleepers. Thinner, pliable pillows are also a popular choice to place between the knees to help alleviate any joint pressure, and to also help lift the hip and support overall body alignment as well.

Other Helpful Uses for Side Sleepers

Some side sleepers can benefit from various other pillow support. As mentioned above, placing a pillow between the knees can be helpful, but so can pillow wedges placed at the small of the back, or even body pillows to help stabilize and support the whole body. When side sleeping you may feel that you want to lay back, or even forward, making you a combination sleeper. Unfortunately, back and stomach sleepers require a different type of pillow, although some pillows are able to accommodate both for certain body types.

Thick Pillow Types

Since side sleepers comprise more of the population than back and side sleepers, they have a pretty massive choice of pillow types to choose from. Although a higher profile, thicker, and firmer pillow is suggested, you should always read the reviews of pillows to find what might work best for you.

Gusseted pillows are always a popular pick as they have a side gusset that helps provide the height for your head and neck, support to your shoulders, and allows the filling to evenly distribute and provide better neck support. Contoured pillows that have rolls for the neck are also made to help keep airways open and provide a stable sleep surface. Other fills such as shredded memory foam and buckwheat create a pliable surface that you can shape to provide the perfect place to lay your head.

What to Consider When Choosing a Pillow for Side Sleeping

While there are some general guidelines as to what pillows work for side sleepers, there is a certain degree of variety in design, so not every pillow labeled as a side sleeper pillow will be a good fit for your unique needs. To make sure that your new pillow will be both supportive and comfy to sleep on, it’s important to see if it checks all the boxes on your list.

Firmness

The firmness of a pillow is directly related to the comfort factor: no one wants to sleep on a pillow that’s hard as a rock, but you don’t want it so soft it flattens like a pancake a few minutes after you’ve put your head on it. The goal is to find that sweet spot somewhere in the middle and to find a pillow that will give your great support when you sleep on the side but still feel plush and pleasant to sleep on. For side sleepers, pillows that are ranked as a medium-firm to a firm are the ideal choice. They will retain their shape throughout the night to keep your head and neck from sinking in, but not without any give: they should contour to your body while supporting it.

Loft

The loft refers to the height of the pillow and it is closely related to the firmness, which will ensure that the height remains uniform throughout the night. Those that sleep on their side need pillows with a high loft, which is anything above 4”- the exact measure will depend on your body type as the height is what allows your spine to be properly aligned. For some, this will mean a slightly higher pillow than 4” but for most, it’s the goldilocks zone. Low loft pillows and medium loft pillows are not suited for a side sleeping position as they will have your head “drooping” and disrupt the natural curvature of the spine, leading to tension, strain, and pain in the neck and shoulder region.

Arm space

While the common factor for all side sleepers is that they sleep on their side, not all of them position their arm the same. Some prefer placing it under a pillow (which is good because it increases the loft but can put pressure on the arm), others place it overhead and some simply let their arms fall naturally to their side. While there’s some debate on which of these is the best in terms of comfort and pain relief, regardless of the arm position you favor, you should make sure to take it into account when you pick between different pillows for side sleepers. For instance, if you are used to placing your arm under the pillow, a solid foam side sleeper pillow won’t work- shredded foam is more adaptable and will be comfier to sleep on.

Material

The choice of materials is important- some materials hold up better than others when it comes to the requirements of side sleepers. Memory foam is the most common type of material used for pillows for side sleepers due to its contouring properties, slow response rate, and varying densities that can help you find the perfect firmness level for your needs. Also, it will help relieve pressure from your neck and shoulders and as it comes in different shapes- molded, shredded, single piece, layered- there are options for all sleepers. The biggest downside to memory foam, though, is that it traps heat, so if this is an issue, latex, buckwheat, and down are a good alternative for side sleepers.

Are you considered a combination sleeper?

As I touched upon above, combo sleepers are faced with a unique challenge as side sleepers need a thicker pillow than any other sleep position. Look for pillows that offer multi comforts, and read reviews of people who sleep like you do. Also, look for other pillow-like support to provide whole body support to keep you from moving.

Do you tuck your arms up or under you or the pillow?

If you like to tuck your arm up under your head at night, you can can end up misaligning your spine. This is due to the added lift you create under your head. Look for highly responsive fills that will embrace your arm, rather than rest upon it. This is more comfortable, and supportive of your head and neck.

Do you sleep warm?

If you sleep warm, then you know how disruptive a heat sink can be to your sleep quality. Look for natural material construction, and fiber fills, or shredded foams that have many air pockets for improved breathability. Many foams are also gel infused, or have a cooling layer. These will help circulate air and draw heat from your body to dissipate it away.

Conclusion

Of course your own choices need to be particular to both what body support you need, and what you personally prefer for comfort. Our top best pillows for side sleepers come from our own personal experiences and detailed reviews. There are, of course, many other pillows out there for you to choose from, but these help highlight the many types of materials available, as well as a true guide to the features of each pillow. In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with one of these picks in your search for proper support and comfort.

Recent Updates

October 25, 2021: The Duro-Med DMI Side Sleeper Body Pillow has been added to this roundup due to consumer popularity.