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If you sleep on your side, you probably know all about how hard it is to find a pillow that’s comfy and supportive — without requiring some vigorous nocturnal punching or fluffing sessions that can interfere with your valuable sleep time.

Somewhere in the intersection of tall as a marshmallow or flat as a pancake and soft as cotton or hard as a rock lies the perfect side sleeping pillow for you — but how exactly are you supposed to figure out which one to choose?

We asked a sleep expert exactly what to look for in a side sleeper pillow. Here are 12 of our favorite picks, so you can be comfy AF while you snooze.

We spoke to Dr. Laura DeCesaris, functional medicine practitioner and sleep wizard, about what side sleepers need to know about pillows. And really, who knew there was so much to know?

“Side sleepers typically face three alignment challenges: neck, shoulders, and hips,” she explains. So, you need to find a pillow that’s the right height. You should be able to lie on your shoulder without any neck pain or discomfort, and without having to tuck your hands or arm under your pillow.

So we focused on pillows that were designed specifically for side sleepers, along with pillows that ticked these boxes:

  • enough height to keep your neck aligned (usually about 4 inches)
  • adjustable firmness to keep you comfortable
  • structured enough to retain its shape throughout the night

And to make sure your hips don’t lie (incorrectly, that is), DeCesaris adds, “An extra pillow between the knees or thighs goes a long way… without one, the top hip tends to collapse on the bottom one and can lead to tension in the lower back as well as rotation of the hips.”

So keep scrolling to find your side sleeper match below, but don’t throw that old pillow away yet either — just migrate it south!

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $51–$100
  • $$$ = over $100
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Best overall pillow for side sleepers

Eli & Elm Cotton Side Sleeper Pillow

  • Price: $$$
  • Fill: latex and polyester
  • Firmness: medium-firm

This pillow has the height you need to make sure your neck is supported, with adjustable firmness by simply adding or removing the fill. It’s also got a subtle U-shape that fits around your neck and shoulders.

To accommodate its unconventional shape, you can buy custom-fitted pillowcases on the Eli & Elm website too.

Reviewers say it’s great for shoulder and neck pain, but that it does seem to go flat after a while.

Best high end pillow for side sleepers

TEMPUR-Cloud Cooling Pro Pillow

  • Price: $$$
  • Fill: TEMPUR material (memory foam) and gel inserts
  • Firmness: medium

Because side sleepers (and their necks and shoulders) come in all shapes and sizes, this pillow from Tempur-Pedic is available in two sizes: Hi or Lo. And not only will it support your neck, but the cooling gel on each side of the pillow will help you chill out (literally).

The core is made of TEMPUR’s secret recipe memory foam that the company swears will never lose its shape or flatten over time, and they back it up with a 5-year warranty.

And although most reviewers seem really pleased with their purchase, some dissatisfied buyers report that the pillow isn’t as firm as advertised.

Best cooling pillow for side sleepers

Purple Pillow

  • Price: $$$
  • Fill: polymer Purple Grid (Boosters made from polyurethane foam)
  • Firmness: medium

DeCesaris is a fan of this pillow for side sleepers because it allows for super easy adjustments of the firmness by simply adding the optional Boosters ($10 on the Purple website) to the top and/or bottom of the pillow. And despite not having gusseting, it’s tall enough to keep your neck in alignment with the rest of your spine.

The core is made of Purple’s Purple Grid, which is a soft-but-structured polymer matrix that allows for maximum airflow to keep your head cool.

The pillow has over 10,000 5-star reviews, but some reviewers say that it actually stays too cool and too firm thanks to the Purple Grid material.

Best adjustable pillow for side sleepers

Nectar Resident Pillow

  • Price: $$
  • Fill: memory foam
  • Firmness: medium-firm (adjustable)

The Resident Pillow from Nector features an adjustable pillow-in-pillow design that allows you to make it the right height and firmness for you, making it ideal for side sleepers.

The inner pillow is made of firmer memory foam, while the outer pillow contains soft foam fill that can be removed (or added back in) as needed.

Reviewers love that it stays supportive throughout the night, but some reviewers say that nightly fluffing is a must.

Best memory foam pillow for side sleepers

Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow

  • Price: $$
  • Fill: memory foam
  • Firmness: medium-firm

This foam pillow from Tuft & Needle retains its shape and has enough height to keep your neck from bending while you sleep — so you’re supported all night, every night. Just call it your spine’s new BFF.

In addition, it features an outer layer of cooling gel and graphite — both of which pull heat away from you to keep you cool as a cucumber.

Some reviewers say that it seems to lose support throughout the night, but on the whole people are really happy with this pillow.

Best down alternative pillow for side sleepers

Casper Sleep Pillow for Sleeping

  • Price: $$
  • Fill: microfiber
  • Firmness: soft

While the name makes us lol, this sleep pillow for sleeping is recommended by DeCesaris because of its extra wide gusset (the strip of fabric around the edge of the pillow that pumps up its height), which helps bridge the gap from your ear to your shoulder while side sleeping.

It’s made of microfiber down alternative, so it’s got a softer, more “sink into it” feel than molded memory foam pillows. However, if you appreciate the height, but still want something soft and snuggly — it’s a great fit.

Some reviewers, however, say that the softness exacerbates their neck pain.

Best latex pillow for side sleepers

Sleep Artisan Side Sleeper Pillow

  • Price: $$
  • Fill: latex
  • Firmness: soft

Like others that are made specifically for side sleepers, this queen-sized pillow features a wide gusset, adjustable firmness, and a U-shape to cradle your neck and shoulders. And if you happen to be rough on pillows (*wink wink*), this one comes with a 3-year warranty.

It’s not made of memory foam, so it’s softer than others on this list. However, the latex fill is still supportive enough to keep your neck right where it needs to be.

However, if you have a larger frame, this pillow may not be tall enough to bridge the gap between your ear and shoulder to keep you fully supported.

Best budget pillow for side sleepers

Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillow

  • Price: $
  • Fill: polyester down alternative
  • Firmness: medium-firm

With a whopping 166,000+ reviews on Amazon (and 4.4 stars), these supportive pillows have a serious side sleeper cult following — one reviewer even described them as “the crack of pillows.” And if that’s not a glowing review, we don’t know what is.

You can choose from queen or king size, so they’re larger than standard pillows. However, they very much have that comfy high-end-hotel vibe (and at home, there are no concerns about how well-washed they are). They’re also MAJORLY inexpensive.

Some customers have received dirty or damaged pillows, though, so be cautious. It looks like there may be some quality control issues.

Most breathable pillow for side sleepers

Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow

  • Price: $
  • Fill: shredded memory foam
  • Firmness: adjustable

This adjustable pillow is recommended by DeCesaris as a good fit for most side sleepers. If you need more neck support, she recommends pairing this cost-effective pillow with a rolled towel placed underneath your neck.

You can easily adjust the firmness by adding or removing the shredded memory foam fill. And, the shredded fill makes it super cool and breathable too.

However, some reviewers say that it goes flat overnight.

Best with shoulder cutouts

Honeydew Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow

  • Price: $$
  • Fill: copper-infused memory foam
  • Firmness: medium

This pillow — made specifically for side sleepers — is crafted from cooling, copper-infused memory foam, features a wide gusset and an adjustable fill level (so you can support your neck the way you like), and is shaped with shoulder cut-outs. It’s a sweet dream to a side sleeper.

The pillow also comes with a 60-night trial, which is a rarity for pillows — but gives you plenty of time to see if it’s your match made in dreamland.

However, some reviewers say that over time the fill can flatten out.

Best L-shaped pillow for side sleepers

Sleep Number L-Shaped Pillow

  • Price: $
  • Fill: down alternative
  • Firmness: soft

This large, aptly named pillow (hint: it’s L-shaped) is great for side sleepers who like to tuck their arms under the pillow (or hug another pillow across their chest). It allows you to tuck to your heart’s content, without interfering with your neck and spine alignment.

Some reviewers say it’s not quite firm enough to support their neck, but others rave about it. It’s super plush thanks to the down alternative fill, and Sleep Number offers a generous 100-night return policy. So go ahead — take the L.

Best organic pillow for side sleepers

EnVy Rx TENCEL Covered Organic Latex Anti-Aging Pillow

  • Price: $$$
  • Fill: latex foam
  • Firmness: firm

Recommended by DeCesaris, this high end pillow is all about neck support for side and back sleepers. It comes with an optional 1-inch insert for added height and a super breathable, super luxurious liner. The latex foam base is molded in a v-shape with built in neck supports. The company claims this pillow supports people with TMJ or people who use a CPAP machine.

And if you like to keep it green, this is def the pillow for you. It’s made from organic latex with an organic cotton liner, and EnVy plants 10 trees with every order.


  • Provides more support for side sleepers.
  • Added height keeps the neck and spine aligned.
  • May give side sleepers a better night’s sleep.


  • They can be expensive.
  • Some with shoulder cutouts may not fit regular pillowcases.
  • If you change positions a lot during your sleep, some of these pillows may not be ideal.
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Most people are side sleepers, according to a 2017 study. And this sleeping position offers some benefits over back-sleeping and stomach-sleeping, too.

Back sleeping, according to the same study, is more closely linked to poor sleep and sleep apnea. And stomach-sleeping is the least favored (and it can strain your neck because your spine is straight, while your head is turned).

Plus, side sleeping is just downright comfy for some peeps.

Here’s how to find the perfect side sleeper pillow for 🎵 your neck, your back, your shoulders, and your spine 🎵.


Price is a big one. You can get good side sleeping pillows for as little as $25 each, to well over $100 each. Know what you feel comfortable spending before you start shopping!


The fill material is arguably what makes or breaks your pillow (and potentially your neck — OW!), so it’s important to know what the pros and cons of certain fill materials are. Here are the ones commonly found in side sleeper pillows:

  • Down or down alternative. Down alternative is an animal-free alt to down (goose and duck feathers) usually made from shredded polyester or microfiber. They’re both pillowy soft, but they don’t offer the same level of support or firmness as other fill materials.
  • Foam. The most firm and supportive side sleeper pillows are made from foam, or at least contain a foam layer. The density of the foam dictates its firmness, so many pillows feature multiple layers of varying densities for the most comfort.
  • Latex. Latex is a preferred au natural option, and it offers a great alternative to memory foam. However, latex allergies are pretty common — so avoid it if you or your bedmate are allergic.

Shape, size, and height

Some side sleeper pillows are unconventionally shaped and may not fit in your beautiful linen pillowcases that match your bedroom aesthetic. Be mindful of this! Check the size too. Many side sleeper pillows are only offered in larger sizes.

Here’s a quick rundown of the common pillow sizes:

  • Standard: 20 by 26 in.
  • Queen: 20 x 30 in.
  • King: 20 x 36 in.
  • Body: 20 x 54 in.

Don’t forget, though: for side sleepers, you’re more worried about height than pillow size. No matter what size you purchase, it needs to be tall enough on the bed to keep your neck supported and straight with your spine. One small study from 2015 suggests that 4 inches is ideal for most side sleepin’ folks.


The biggie! Know before you shop if you prefer firmer or softer pillows. And if you’re feeling some trepidation about ordering a pillow online, choose from those brands that offer an in-home trial.

What kind of pillow should a side sleeper use?

DeCesaris says that the side sleeper pillow MUSTS are: tall enough to keep your neck aligned with your spine, adjustable fill for max comfiness, and plenty of structure (so it won’t collapse over the course of the night).

What size pillow is best for side sleepers?

The most important factor when it comes to the size of a pillow for side sleepers is the height. That’s why you’ll see many side sleeper pillows made from molded memory foam, or featuring added gusseting.

The height is what allows the pillow to support the neck and keep it straight while you’re lying on your side.

What kind of pillow is best for side sleepers with neck pain?

Pillows for side sleepers should address one of the major causes of neck pain from sleeping: the neck not being aligned with the spine. That’s why DeCesaris recs pillows that are tall enough to provide that critical support and keep your neck lifted.

How many pillows should a side sleeper have?

DeCesaris recommends two pillows for side sleepers: one under the neck and head, and one between the knees. Speaking from personal experience, we also like a small throw pillow to hug, or a body pillow that’s long enough to place between your legs AND hug.

Side sleeper? You need a pillow that supports your neck enough to keep it in alignment with your spine, but still comfy enough that you can easily drift off into dreamland. Be sure to consider price, materials, size, and firmness when choosing your pillow soul mate, too. Happy sleeping!