Lying on your side is one of the best positions to assume while sleeping as well as being one of the most natural sleeping positions. However, it can easily cause neck pain and issues with your back as well as other problems if you don’t have the right pillow.
I’ve known a lot of people who thought sleeping on their side was the problem when the problem actually lies in what they were sleeping on. To help you reclaim control over your sleep quality and get the most out of every night, I’ve gone and reviewed the best of the best pillows for side sleepers! Take a look and see if there’s something you like.
- What Makes Side Sleeping so Good?
- The Most Important Benefits of Pillows for Side Sleepers
- Where to Buy a Pillow for Side Sleepers Near Me?
- A Comparison of 2021’s Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
- Top 11 Pillows for Side Sleepers in 2021
- How to Find the Best Pillow as a Side Sleeper – A Buying Guide
- Learning to Sleep on Your Side – A Short Tutorial
- Pillows for Side Sleepers – a FAQ
What Makes Side Sleeping so Good?
You’ve probably already heard that sleeping on your side is a good sleep position, but you might still be wondering why that is. Well, I’ll try to sum it all up for you here in a few short points.
For starters, sleeping on your side is great for your digestive system, especially if you’re sleeping on your left side since that’s where your stomach is located.
This position keeps your stomach acid inside of it, thus reducing acid reflux, improving digestion, and helping you have more regular bowel movements. Sleeping on your side is also helpful for respiratory problems like sleep apnea. It will stop your airways from being blocked and reduce snoring.
Side sleeping also stimulates your lymphatic system allowing your body to clear toxins out of your system faster, making you feel more refreshed after getting up.
It also promotes better spinal alignment if you sleep on a good pillow and mattress for side sleepers. Your neck won’t be too bent in either direction and will perfectly align with your spine, reducing the tension and pain you might feel in your back and neck.
This is different to back sleeping, which keeps the spine in a good position most of the time but often makes you bend your neck too much, especially if you want to stop acid reflux and snoring. Side sleeping avoids that trap and gives you the best of both worlds.
Despite some numbness you might feel in one arm while you’re still unpracticed, it turns out that sleeping on the side reduces numbness and tingling after sleep as well.
It’s highly beneficial for pregnant women too, as it relieves the pressure their stomach places on their internal organs and bones, and improves the blood flow to their uterus.
There’s more, but that’s the short version
This article is about the best pillows for side sleepers after all, and that’s what I’ll talk about next!
The Most Important Benefits of Pillows for Side Sleepers
Pillows designed specifically for side sleepers offer a lot of unique benefits that you can’t get with other pillows – especially if you sleep on your side. I’ll list and explain some of the most important ones right here.
This is one of the most important points. Sleeping on your side can be hell for your neck if you have a bad pillow that’s not suited for side sleepers.
If your neck is not in alignment with your spine and is bent too much during sleep, you’ll probably experience chronic tension and pain during your waking hours.
When you get at least a decent pillow for side sleepers, you will see the difference quite quickly. It will keep your neck in a more natural and relaxed position, relieving you of the pain you feel before you fall asleep, and while you’re awake.
Moreover, fixing the position of your neck could have a positive knock-on effect and help you with pain in your back as well.
2Better Sleep Quality
This almost goes without saying, but having the right pillow will definitely do wonders for your sleep quality and your sleep position matters as well.
Having your head and neck in an awkward position can make it difficult to fall asleep, let alone stay asleep. Even if you do, you’ll probably wake up sore and more tired than you should be.
If you have the right pillow that offers that right type of support, you’ll be able to sleep better without all that tension and pain.
Snoring usually occurs due to blocked airways, which can occur for a wide variety of reasons, including sleep apnea, obesity, physical deformities, and so on.
However, most of these symptoms are greatly relieved when you’re sleeping on your side instead of your back or your stomach. There’s simply less chance for your airways to be blocked by your tongue, spit or anything else.
The symptoms can still occur if your head is not properly aligned, which is where having the right pillow helps a lot.
If you’re sleeping with someone in the same bed, they’ll definitely thank you.
Where to Buy a Pillow for Side Sleepers Near Me?
If you’re in a hurry to get your hands on a pillow for neck pain, and finally get some decent, pain-free sleep, consider finding a store near you that sells them.
While buying pillows online is all well and good, you might want to see and touch the pillow in the flesh before you buy it instead of afterward. In that case, what can you do?
Well, you can look for a shop that sells pillow near your home! In days past that used to be a bit difficult; you would have to ask around the neighborhood and walk around, but today it’s simple.
You don’t need to do much more than run a search that goes something like ‘buy a pillow near me’ or ‘pillow shops near me,’ and you’ll get what you want.
Or, even better, you can just take a look at this neat map!
Here you can easily see all the pillow shops near your place of living, and you can click on each one to find out a bit more about it – their contact info, business hours, exact address and so on.
Still, you still have to pick one – but how to know which shop is good? Well, stay tuned, because that’s what comes next.
How to Find a Good Pillow Shop
Shops that sell pillows are a dime a dozen these days. In the past, they were mostly specialized shops or mattress shops primarily, but these days even some grocery stores sell pillows. That’s what makes it so difficult to decide on the right shop and here are a few tips on how to find the best one.
The first thing you need to check out is whether the store has a website at all. If they don’t and they’re not a small mom-and-pop shop, it’s already a black mark against them.
Just having a website is not good enough, though –it has to be a decent, useful website at the very least. You should be able to find all the relevant info about their services, products and contact info on there.
Of course, the info needs to match up with reality as well. If you see one price on the website and it’s different when you get to the shop in person, you should probably get out of there.
As far as I’m concerned, a good pillow should always have a test model for most of their pillows and allow you to test it out. Mattress shops that sell pillows are usually good in this aspect.
The best shops will allow you to return your pillow, no questions asked, within 30 to 90 days (depending on the shop), thus essentially giving you a free trial, which is always great.
Every decent shop should offer at least a short warranty and a money-back guarantee for a short while, though that depends on your country and the laws concerning that.
Still, shops that sell quality products will most likely allow you to return them, no questions asked, within a certain time window.
Some of the best shops might even offer a free replacement in case something goes wrong or other benefits, like an additional discount.
Check out everything that a shop offers before you go and shop there to make sure that you’re getting the best possible service and not someone who will try to swindle you.
One of the best ways to determine if a shop is even worth visiting is to take a look at what previous customers had to say.
These days you can find reviews for most shops right there on Google maps, though there are also specific websites dedicated to collecting customer feedback.
A star rating of at least 4 out of 5 usually means the shop is fine and worth at least a cursory visit.
However, don’t just look at the ratings – read some individual reviews as well. Something that most people consider to be a minor annoyance worth deducting only 1 star might just be a deal breaker for you.
If there’s anything good or bad about the shop, it’s best to find out exactly what those things are and proceed according to that.
A Comparison of 2021’s Best Pillows for Side Sleepers
I understand that not everyone has the time to read through all of the detailed reviews in this article – and that’s why I made this handy chart comparing the best pillows for side sleepers. Take a look!
|AERIS Contour Pillow (The Most Breathable Memory Foam Pillow)||23.7 x 15.5 x 5 inches||Memory foam, plush velour||2.75 lbs|
|The Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow by Drift||29 x 16 x 6 inches||Gel foam||4.55 lbs|
|Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-To-Side Pillow||24.5 x 17 x 4.8 inches||Gel foam, quilted cotton||5 lbs|
|Pancake Pillow The Adjustable Layer Pillow (Editor’s Pick)||18 x 26 x 8 inches||Microfiber, cotton||4.75 lbs|
|Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour Pillow||20.8 x 14.2 x 4.8 inches||Memory foam, cotton||1.4 lbs|
|Xtreme Comforts Kool-Flow Pillow(The Coolest Pillow for Side Sleepers)||17 x 5 x 5 inches||Memory foam||3.4 lbs|
|Brookstone BioSense 2-in-1 Shoulder Pillow (The Best Shoulder Pillow for Side Sleepers)||28 x 20 x 6 inches||Memory foam, microfiber||4.55 lbs|
|Classic Brands Conforma Ventilated Memory Foam Cushion Firm Pillow||25 x 16 x 6 inches||Polyester, memory foam||4.9 lbs|
|Mediflow Fiber: The First & Original Water Pillow (The Most Unique Pillow for Side Sleepers)||28 x 20 x 4.5 inches||Cotton, microfiber||1.1 lbs|
|Nature's Guest Support Pillow||24 x 16 x 5 inches||Cotton, microfiber||4.9 lbs|
|Gel Memory Foam L-Shape Pillow (The Best Body Pillow for Side Sleepers)||26 x 26 x 5 inches||Polyurethane gel foam, Tencel||4.55 lbs|
Top 11 Pillows for Side Sleepers in 2021
Here you’ll find my detailed reviews for the top 11 models of pillows for side sleepers. Let’s begin!
AERIS Contour PillowThe Coolest Memory Foam Pillow
Okay, ladies first!
For all its good qualities, memory foam has always had a problem with breathability, and it always tends to get a bit too hot for comfort, especially during the summer months.
This pillow aims to solve that with a unique design relying on ventilation holes, and it’s quite successful at that. It remains pleasantly cool most of the time, more so than other memory foam pillows.
All of the holes also make it exceptionally light. However, it still remains firm and supportive enough for a person who sleeps on their side.
The shape is also right, being tailor-made for cradling your head and neck while you sleep on your side, allowing your neck to assume a natural position.
The only possible major problem with it is the loft – it’s only 5 inches thick which might not be enough for most people. Combining it with a smaller pillow helps, but that’s not what you want.
Overall, it’s a great pillow for the money, but if you need something thicker, it might not be the right choice for you. You should try it out anyway though – if you don’t like it, you can return it for free.
- Remains relatively cool compared to similar pillows
- Exceptionally lightweight
- You get a lifetime free replacement guarantee
- It’s firm enough to support your head properly
- Great shape for side sleepers
- Doesn’t come with any nasty smells
- Not thick enough for a lot of people
- It doesn’t come with a pillowcase
Aerating a memory foam pillow before shipping it is a great idea, and it’s awesome to get a pillow that you can use straight away without worrying about getting that nasty smell on your body.
The Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow by Drift Highly Adjustable and Made in the USA
This is a pillow designed specifically with side sleepers in mind, and Drift definitely had the right idea when making it.
It’s both amazingly supportive and soft at the same time and filled with chunks of shredded gel foam, meaning that it also remains relatively breathable as well.
The shredded gel foam filling can be easily removed through a hidden zipper on the back of the pillow, allowing you to adjust its loft to your liking. It’s 6 inches thick once you get it, but you can definitely make it thicker or thinner with just a little adjustment.
The casing is also breathable, and the whole thing is made right here in the USA, meaning that you can be sure it’s well-made and will last for quite a long time.
However, you will need to keep it clean and use a good pillow casing with it – you can’t wash it at all since that will ruin it.
The price is definitely high as well, just on the edge of being unacceptable, but you do get a 60-day free trial when you buy it which makes up for it a bit. It’s definitely a pillow worth looking at.
- Surprisingly support while still being soft
- More breathable than you might expect
- You can easily adjust the thickness
- You get a 60-day risk-free trial
- Durable and doesn’t degrade quickly
- Not washable
- The price is too high
Be careful when buying adjustable pillows since some of them can have filling of lower quality than pillows which are made to specifications.
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-To-Side PillowFits Your Head Perfectly
Tempur-Pedic has long been known for making high-quality products for all kinds of people and making them right here in the USA. This product is one of their best if I dare say so.
It’s a highly durable pillow made out of gel foam and designed to be as breathable as possible, which is a goal it definitely achieves.
The construction is also top-notch, and I can easily see it lasting for years to come. Even the cover that comes with it is great, and it’s removable for machine washing which it can easily withstand.
The shape of the pillow is also definitely made with side sleepers in mind with a depression in the middle made to cradle your head while the rest of the pillow supports your neck perfectly.
However, this is one pillow that can definitely be a bit too firm for some people – this is offset a bit by it being less than 5 inches thick, but that’s a problem in and unto itself.
I’d still say it’s a pillow that’s worth buying, especially at this price, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
- Definitely made with durability in mind
- Highly breathable and cool
- Has a washable, removable cover
- Great, ergonomic shape
- Comes with a 5-year warranty
- Can be a bit too firm
- The loft is rather low
Be careful with warranties – they might cover only extremely specific situations, even if they’re long-lasting. Always read the small print!
Pancake Pillow – The Adjustable Layer PillowEasy to Adjust to Perfect Thickness
When you hear the name “pancake pillow,” you’re probably already interested. Despite that gimmicky-sounding name, though, this is no novelty product – it’s a high-quality pillow that’s more versatile than the competition.
The core idea is this – a stretchable outer case that can be filled with multiple pillow layers, allowing you to take some out at will and adjust the thickness and firmness to your liking by doing so.
Does it work in practice, though? Well, I’m glad to say that it does. You get six layers with this pillow, and the thickness can go up to 8 inches.
The fill is microfiber, and it provides more than adequate support while keeping the pillow rather breathable in combination with the cotton casing.
Both the casing and the pillow layers that go into it are washable too, which is a great plus. They even fluff up a bit more after being washed. If you want, you can even place the inserts in separate pillowcases and make two pillows out of this one, if 3 inserts are enough for you.
However, I admit that not everyone will be able to adjust this pillow to their perfect firmness and thickness. It has only 6 inserts – for example, 3 might be too soft and thin for you and 4 might be too thick and hard. It all depends.
It’s also definitely not the most durable thing around, but for this price, I think it’s worth it simply due to the amazing design.
- Easily adjustable with a great design
- More breathable than you would expect
- Remains rather firm but decently soft
- Everything is easy to wash
- The price is decent for what you get
- Might not be adjustable enough for some
- Not as durable as I expected
I used to be put off by designs that make products seem like useless novelties or gimmicks, but in recent years, I’ve found that more and more of them turn out to be actually useful. Give them a shot!
Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour PillowA Great Budget Pillow
If you want to get a great side sleeper pillow on a tight budget, this one is definitely in contention for one of the best ones around. It’s definitely durable and it ought to be since it was made in the USA – no cheap Chinese handiwork here!
The shape is great, and it is easily able to support your head and neck properly. It’s not too firm but not soft either, and while it’s not too thick, it’s still decent enough.
It comes with a great washable cover that will stop dust and sweat from building up on the pillow too much, and it’s fairly breathable. Which is good, because this pillow sleeps quite hot – it’s one of the common downsides of memory foam.
However, it’s also an extremely lightweight pillow, and it’s even easy to compress to a smaller size and take on a trip with you.
It also has a nasty smell when you get it, something that’s also typical for memory foam, though I never quite got used to it. Air it out for a few days, and it should be fine.
Overall, if you can deal with some common memory foam problems, this is a great pillow to get, and the price is definitely amazing for the quality on display.
- Made with durability in mind
- Good shape that conforms well to your head
- Comes with a great washable cover
- Extremely lightweight
- The price is extremely affordable
- Definitely not breathable enough
- Smells a lot when you get it
While memory foam has a lot of great qualities, the lack of breathability has always been an issue. Nothing ever seemed to make this issue completely disappear and keep that in mind when buying one.
Xtreme Comforts Kool-Flow PillowBreathability, Adjustability and a Delightfully Soft Cover
Yeah, the name of this pillow is definitely cheesy, and it reeks of the ’90s, but the product itself is good so don’t be fooled by the initial impression.
It’s made in the USA and definitely designed to be durable and able to last for a long time with a great casing and a quality cover. The cover is made out of bamboo, so it’s breathable as well.
The filling is shredded memory foam, which deals nicely with the breathability problem that memory foam pillows usually have, but that brings up some issues – is it too soft?
Well, no – in fact, it might even be too firm for some of you out there if you can believe it.
However, what easily makes up for that is the adjustability – using a discreet zipper you can easily remove or add more foam. It comes overstuffed with foam, so you got plenty to start with. This allows you to easily control the loft and firmness of the pillow.
This can result in some nasty lumps in the pillow, though, and you can find yourself trying to deal with them for a long time. It’s not a huge thing, but it can be irritating.
Overall, I’d say this is a great pillow and far more breathable than most using shredded memory foam. If it seems appealing to you at first glance – get it, and you won’t be disappointed.
- Highly breathable
- Made with quality in mind
- It’s highly adjustable due to the shredded foam filling
- Doesn’t have the nasty memory foam smell
- Has a great, soft and washable bamboo cover
- It is a bit too firm for some
- Can be a bit lumpy at times
While bamboo covers have been all the rage in recent times, they’re not much more breathable than regular covers. However, they’re still worth getting due to how soft and comfortable they are.
Brookstone BioSense 2-in-1 Shoulder PillowA Pillow for Your Neck and Shoulders
This pillow from Brookstone has a rather unique shape, but it’s not just for show – it has a specific function.
They call it a shoulder pillow because it’s designed to be able to support your head, neck, and shoulders properly, all at the same time – and it does so marvelously.
While it is made out of memory foam, it manages to side-step a lot of the common problems with that material. The holes make it far more breathable than it has any right to be, and that’s also what makes it lightweight.
In addition to that, the green tea, charcoal, and seed oil infusion gets rid of all the usual nasty smells associated with memory foam and stop the pillow from absorbing nasty smells.
The microfiber cover is also designed to protect it and to protect you, and it’s easy to wash it in the washing machine.
What more could you want at this price?
Well, more durability for one thing – it’s definitely not that durable, and the company seems to have been cutting corners in recent years and cutting down on the quality. It also doesn’t offer as much support as I hoped.
Overall, it’s good, but you might want to test it out a bit before committing to it.
- Great, machine-washable cover
- Has a unique and functional shape
- More breathable than you would expect
- Doesn’t come with any nasty smells
- Comes at a decent price
- Lacks durability
- Doesn’t offer enough support
Even if you bought the same pillow model years ago, it’s not guaranteed that the same model performs as well now, years later. Always be wary when buying a pillow, even if you’ve owned the same model before.
Classic Brands Conforma Ventilated Memory Foam Cushion Firm PillowBudget-friendly and Effective
This amazing pillow from Classic Brands comes at a price that seems like a complete steal, and yet it performs incredibly well despite what you might think since it seems so ordinary.
The memory foam used to make it is quite responsive, and it conforms well to your head and shoulders. It offers more than enough support despite having a relatively plain shape.
The ventilated design also makes it surprisingly breathable for a memory foam pillow. It does still have some problems with overheating but not as much as you might expect at first.
However, it does still have one common memory foam problem, and that’s the smell – it does take around a week for it to go away, even if you air it out for a few days.
It’s sturdier than you might expect and both the machine-washable cotton cover and the pillow itself can definitely last for a good few years.
That’s probably the reason why it’s so heavy – much heavier than most other memory foam pillows out there. This is definitely not one you can take on a trip with you.
Overall, it’s a good budget option and performs surprisingly well, but it’s not the best option around.
- Offers a lot of support
- The cover is good and machine-washable
- Surprisingly breathable
- Sturdier than you might expect
- Too heavy
- Stinks when you first get it
Airing out a pillow in the sun usually gets rid of that nasty ‘new foam’ smell but not always. There are a few other tricks you can try, like sprinkling baking soda on it but I wouldn’t recommend trying those on these pillows.
Mediflow Fiber: The First & Original Water PillowThe Most Unique Pillow Design
Here’s an incredibly interesting concept – a water pillow. Yes, you read that right. It really did make me wonder – is it just a curious gimmick, or is there something substantial to it? Let’s take a closer look.
The pillow is mostly made out of a cotton shell, an upper layer made out of microfiber and an isolated and fully sealed water pouch on the bottom. You can fill or empty the water pouch at your convenience, thus controlling the firmness and loft of the pillow.
This is probably the most adjustable pillow out there I have to say, but it can be a little tricky to get it just right since you are dealing with water here and not easy-to-remove inserts or shredded foam.
You can easily carry this pillow around with you while it’s empty, but it can be quite heavy when it’s filled with water, so be careful. It’s not made for pillow fights.
It also does have some problems with durability and it seems to degrade faster if it’s constantly filled with a lot of water to make it firmer and thicker.
Overall, it’s an interesting concept and it might fit you well – but you won’t know until you try it out. Luckily you get a 30 day free trial with it and the initial cost is not too high either, so it’s relatively risk free. I’d say – give it a shot.
- The firmness and lift are highly adjustable
- You get a free 30-day trial to try it out
- The cost is good
- Easily portable
- Doesn’t change firmness through the night
- Has some major durability problems
- Can be difficult to adjust
- Can be heavy when full
These days I love trying out interesting concepts like this – especially if they come with a free trial. You literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Nature’s Guest Support PillowThe Best Pillow for Combination Sleepers
This pillow from Nature’s Guest has an incredibly unique design, and it’s made to fit many different kinds of sleepers with specific areas on it designed to fit side sleepers and back sleepers.
The middle of the pillow has a large depression that’s supposed to fit your head into it when you’re sleeping on your back, while the sides of the pillow are meant for side sleepers. However, I’d say that the middle is also great if you’re a side sleeper.
It’s adjustable too, with a discreet zipper that allows you to take out or add filling – which is mostly microfiber, making this pillow incredibly breathable. You can order extra filling as well if you need it.
The construction is durable too, which is often not the case with pillows that have adjustable filling. However, in this case, it’s quite good.
While the price is a bit high, you do get a 30-day free trial when you buy it. If you’re interested in it, you can try it basically risk-free and see if this unique design fits you well.
These days, I’d always suggest that you give a shot to products like this if you can afford it.
- Unique and practical design
- Adjustable firmness due to removable filling
- Breathable due to the materials used
- You get a 30-day free trial when you buy it
- Made to be durable
- The weight is a bit too high
- Smells a tad when you first get it
Don’t let the manufacturer tell you how to sleep on a pillow – even pillows labeled as being designed for side sleepers might fit you amazingly if you sleep on your back. If you think it might, disregard the description and try it out.
Gel Memory Foam L-Shape PillowThe Best Body Pillow for Side Sleepers
Finally, we come to an L-shaped pillow – a shape that’s well-known as one of the better ones for side sleepers, easily able to support your head, neck and shoulder at the same time.
This means you won’t need to use additional pillows for supporting certain parts of your body, and you can just use this pillow and feel comfortable. It’s large enough to allow you to stuff one part of it between your knees or under your hip if you want.
It’s made out of gel foam which makes it more breathable than you might expect at first since it doesn’t have holes or anything, but it doesn’t’ sleep too hot.
The case is also great and breathable, and it can easily be washed in the washing machine if you want to do that.
Overall it’s a good, supportive pillow with a shape that’s functional and extremely helpful for side sleepers.
However, it does have some issues. For starters, it’s not the most durable thing around, and it definitely won’t last for years to come. It’s especially fragile around the part where its L-shape bends. For the price it comes at, that’s not a great look.
- It has a great, functional and versatile shape
- Made out of highly breathable foam
- Comes with a great cover that can be washed
- Supportive yet still quite soft
- Not as durable as you might expect
- The price is not quite right
If you need that extra support on other parts of your body, getting one pillow instead of multiple ones is a good deal – as long as the pillow is good.
How to Find the Best Pillow as a Side Sleeper – A Buying Guide
Finding the right pillow as a side sleeper can be a grueling process. It’s difficult to know how a pillow will perform unless you sleep on it for a few nights. However, if you know the right tips and tricks, it can be easier than you’d expect – and that’s exactly what you’ll find here.
1Pick the Right Size (and Thickness)
When you’re picking a pillow, one of the first things you should look at is the size of the things – it needs to be able to fit on your bed and support your whole head adequately.
The taller and larger you are, the larger the pillow size you need. However, most people will find the standard (20 x 26) or queen size (20 x 30) more than adequate.
Some people might even want to get a full body pillow, especially pregnant women who sleep on their side since this will give their belly the additional support it needs.
What’s especially important when it comes to pillows for side sleepers, though, is the thickness or the loft of the pillow.
For side sleepers, pillows with a higher loft are definitely better – something at least 3 to 5 inches thick and preferably more than 5 inches.
Why are they better? Well, if you have a thin pillow, your head will drop down lower than your neck and your neck will bend, putting a strain on it.
If you have a pillow that’s thick enough, it will stay in alignment with your spine, allowing you to sleep pain-free. In case you’re not sure how thick your pillow needs to be, there are pillows with adjustable loft out there, and I suggest that you get one of them to start with.
2The Materials Matter
Pillows can be made out of many different materials these days – and, just like with mattresses, both the cover and the filling affect how it will perform while you’re sleeping.
Memory foam pillows are good because they can conform to your neck and head and offer that great mix of soft and firm, but they can be too hot to sleep on. Gel foam pillows remedy this issue a bit, but not completely.
Down/feather pillows with cotton covers are also good, they’re extremely breathable, but they might not offer enough support. Latex and polyfoam pillows are probably the best when it comes to their supportiveness but, again, they are hot, and they can be quite expensive. They also don’t come in adjustable varieties.
Polyester pillows are probably the cheapest, and they offer decent support, but they start losing their supportiveness incredibly quickly.
Buckwheat pillows are among the most expensive ones around, but they offer a lot of great benefits
amazing support, great airflow, and supreme durability. However, they can be too firm, and they make a lot of noise for sure.
As far as covers go, cotton and microfiber are probably the best. They’re flexible, breathable and don’t absorb too much moisture. There’s something to be said about bamboo covers as well, which are cool and soft but way too expensive for what they offer.
Polyester covers might not be too breathable, but they’re durable and relatively cheap as well. Gauge all the options, their benefits and downsides, and choose what you think will fit you the best.
3Check How Firm It Is
I’ve often heard people claim that you need an extremely firm pillow if you’re a side sleeper, but that’s only partially true. You need a pillow that will be firm enough to support your head so your neck doesn’t get bent, but the pillow also needs to be soft enough to cradle your neck.
That’s why I would suggest that you go for a pillow that has a medium-firm feeling. Pillows that are too hard won’t be helpful – they’ll just strain your neck in a different way than a soft pillow will.
Of course, a good pillow alone does not guarantee a good night’s sleep. You also need to combine this with a mattress of similar firmness if you want the optimum results. If a medium firm pillow isn’t working for you while you’re sleeping on your side, the problem might be the mattress being too firm or soft.
4Is the Price Right?
Finally, there’s the matter of the price and your budget.
Can you get a good pillow for side sleepers on a limited budget? Sure, but you’ll have to be careful when you’re buying one. Try getting one from a trusted manufacturer with a good track record – there’s a good chance it will be good even if it’s cheap.
Even if you have an almost unlimited budget, be wary of getting tricked. I think that there’s no real justification for paying more than 100 dollars for a pillow, no matter how good it is and even that’s a stretch.
Of course, it’s always good if you find a pillow with a money-back-guarantee since you can buy it mostly risk-free, but that’s not too common, and you shouldn’t rely on that.
5Choose a Shape that Fits You
Pillows come in many different shapes, and some are especially well-suited for side sleepers. Curved pillows, pillows with elevated parts for supporting the neck and recesses for the head and even full-body pillows all have their benefits.
The first two types can help support your neck and keep it in proper alignment through the whole night, something that normal pillows might not be able to do for the whole night, especially if they’re not too firm.
Full body pillows are a good option because they’re one pillow which can support your head, neck and be placed between your knees for additional stability during sleep. Of course, you might prefer a more traditional shape, but I suggest you try some less orthodox options – they might surprise you.
Learning to Sleep on Your Side – A Short Tutorial
Sleeping on your side is one of the best sleeping positions, period. While sleeping on your back is arguably better (but the jury is still out on that one) sleeping on your side is definitely the best when you have a limited amount of space to work with. Here, I’ll give you a short tutorial on how to train yourself to sleep on your side instead of your stomach or your back.
1Pillows are Your Best Friends
One of the first things you need to remember about learning how to sleep on your side is that you should use pillows to help yourself out.
Using a body pillow is a good idea as it will support your whole body and make you feel as comfortable as you can be while also stopping you from turning over onto your back.
There are even special pillows designed for helping you sleep on your back, shaped so they stop you from changing positions while you’re asleep.
However, if you don’t want to buy one, you can also use regular pillows for support. Placing one beneath your body and one between your knees will provide you with more support and comfort and reduce the chance of you turning over in your sleep.
2Make Yourself Comfortable
If you have hip or shoulder problems, sleeping on your side might be a bit difficult, especially at first. However, it’s still possible as long as you make yourself comfortable.
Placing pillows under your hip or under your shoulder is an easy fix for the problem, but it might not always be enough.
Using an arm sling to keep your shoulder in a good position is also something you can do, and it will ensure that your arm stays in a comfortable position for the entire night. You can stop using it once you get used to sleeping on your side.
You can also use a mattress topper to make yourself more comfortable if the mattress you have isn’t quite doing the job.
3Limit Your Space
This is something you can do with pillows, but it’s still possible to change position even when using a specialized pillow.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to learn how to sleep on your side is to sleep in a place where you have no other option. For example – a sofa/couch that hasn’t been unfolded. Even something like a bunk bed will do.
This is only something you should do if you have extreme difficulty with staying on your side since it can be uncomfortable. However, a few nights of sleep on a small bed will force you to learn how to sleep on your side no matter what.
Again, you can use strategically placed pillows to help you out and make you feel more comfortable even in this situation.
Pillows for Side Sleepers – a FAQ
Okay, before I wrap things up, I’d like to take a moment to answer any other questions you might have about the best shoes for back pain – from proper shoe care to a visit to a podiatrist, you’ll find it all below:
The Final Touch
So, what is there left to say? Well, there’s just one thing left as far as I can see – for me to tell you what I think is the best pillow for side sleepers that you can get right now!
Bear in mind that this is just my opinion and I’m just one man, but I do believe that the Pancake Pillow The Adjustable Layer Pillow is the best pillow a side sleeper can get these days.
It’s perfect for a wide variety of people, and almost everyone will be able to adjust it to their liking. I loved it a lot since my thickness and firmness preferences change from night to night, and this meant I didn’t have to change pillows when that happened.
If that’s not quite to your liking, my second choice would definitely be the Mediflow Fiber: The First & Original Water Pillow. It’s also highly adjustable, and I just love the idea of a water pillow!
For the more budget-minded among you – don’t worry, I got you covered as well. I think the best budget pick would be the Classic Brands Conforma Ventilated Memory Foam Cushion Firm Pillow since it delivers on good quality while not breaking the bank.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Tell me all about it in the comments and ask me anything you like – I’ll respond as soon as I can.
Until next time, sleep well!
- Michael T (2000) Instinctive sleeping and resting postures: an anthropological and zoological approach to treatment of low back and joint pain [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1119282/ (Accessed May 13, 2021)
- Bader GG, Engdal S (2000) The influence of bed firmness on sleep quality [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11059462 (Accessed May 12, 2021)
- Fan-Zhe L, Matthew CHC, Pan-Yin L, Chen-Hua Y (2017) Effects of Mattress Material on Body Pressure Profiles in Different Sleeping Postures [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5310954/ (Accessed May 10, 2021)
- Buse K, Meryem K (2017) The association between pain and sleep in fibromyalgia [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5447206/ (Accessed May 15, 2021)
- Bettlach CR, Yu J, Hasak J, Bodway G, Mackinnon S (2016) Abstract: Side Sleeping Position is Associated with Less Frequent Nighttime Numbness and Tingling [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5147211/ (Accessed May 13, 2021)
- Skarpsno ES, Mork PJ, Nilsen TIL, Holtermann A (2017) Sleep positions and nocturnal body movements based on free-living accelerometer recordings: association with demographics, lifestyle, and insomnia symptoms [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5677378/ (Accessed May 12, 2021)
- Ravesloot MJ, van Maanen JP, Dun L, de Vries N (2013) The undervalued potential of positional therapy in position-dependent snoring and obstructive sleep apnea—a review of the literature [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575552/ (Accessed May 14, 2021)
- Akshay M, Manoj K (2013) Influence of Body Position on Severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3817704/ (Accessed May 10, 2021)
- Person E, Rife C, Freeman J, Clark A, Castell DO (2015) A Novel Sleep Positioning Device Reduces Gastroesophageal Reflux: A Randomized Controlled Trial [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26053170(Accessed May 14, 2021)
- Cronin RS, Chelimo C, Mitchell EA, Okesene-Gafa K, Thompson JMD, Taylor RS, Hutchison BL, McCowan LME (2017) Survey of maternal sleep practices in late pregnancy in a multi-ethnic sample in South Auckland, New Zealand [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5474014/ (Accessed May 15, 2021)
- Susan JG, Karen GS (2011) Your Pillow May Not Guarantee a Good Night’s Sleep or Symptom-Free Waking [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3076923/ (Accessed, 2021)