The 7 Best Orthopedic Pillows for Side Sleepers [2021 Reviews]
Is your pillow really that important when you sleep on your side?
What kind of orthopedic pillow do side sleepers need?
You’ll find all the answers you need – right now.
This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.
Some people may feel a bit ridiculous paying an above-average price on a pillow.
Plus, your pillow impacts the quality of your sleep and how healthfully you’ll rest and recharge.
- 1 The 7 Best Orthopedic Side Sleeper Pillows
- 2 How to Sleep on Your Side Without Hurting Your Shoulder
- 3 What Is The Best Orthopedic Side Sleeper Pillow?
- 4 Side Sleeper Pillows FAQ
Why Should You Use an Orthopedic Pillow for Side Sleeping?
The goal of using an orthopedic side sleeper pillow is to keep your head in neutral alignment, meaning your head is sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back or reaching forward. Side sleepers suffering from neck and shoulder pain need a firmer and higher pillow to fill the gap between the ear and outside shoulder.
Sleeping with a too-soft or too-thin pillow will make your head lie too low, creating a downward bend in your neck. A too thick pillow will create an upward bend.
The ideal neck pain side sleeper pillow provides enough height to keep your spine aligned, but is not too thick to bend your neck upwards out of alignment.
The 7 Best Orthopedic Side Sleeper Pillows
Here are the best side sleeper pillows for neck pain, and our detailed reviews (with pros & cons) below:
|Bottom Line||Our Rating|
|✅$69 - $98 at HPFY|
|✅Check Price on Amazon|
|Sleep & Beyond|
MyDual Side Pillow
100% wool & sateen cover
|✅$119 - $129 at Sleep & Beyond|
|✅Check Price on Amazon|
|Iso-CoolContour||Best Memory Foam|
|✅Check Price on Amazon|
|Best Shredded Memory Foam|
|✅$59 at Coop Home Goodse|
1. Memory Foam Contour Pillows for Side Sleepers
Memory foam contour pillows are usually made with synthetic foam, which is firm and durable (though not a natural material). Memory foam consists of millions of spherical open cells made from polyurethane with additional chemicals added to increase density.
Contour pillows are “orthopedic” pillows, designed to keep your neck and spine aligned, made with heat-sensitive foam that acquires the shape of the head sleeping on it. They are also very helpful for sleep Apnea sufferers, people who tend to snore, and who suffer from lower back pain and insomnia.
RELATED: 6 Ways to Do Neck Traction at Home
👉 Memory Foam Pillows Pros
1. Supportive yet soft.
2. High neck pain-relieving potential.
3. Contoured support.
4. Quiet under all conditions.
5. Won’t clump or shift
6. Low maintenance.
7. Relatively lower price than Buckwheat and latex.
8. Resistance to allergens, anti-microbial
1. Loft/Thickness may not suit individual needs, not adjustable.
2. Initial off-gassing, synthetic ingredients.
3. Tend to heat through the night.
4. Average longevity/durability
5. Not “cuddly”
Through our research, we found that the Sleep Better Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow is one is the best contour pillows for side sleepers, and here’s why:
1. It has microscopic beads that absorb heat (a common problem with Memory Foam Pillows) and feels cool all through the night.
2. Reasonable price
3. 100% cotton cover, 300 thread-count, zippered
4. Available in two supportive fills: spiral-spun polyester and visco-elastic foam
5. Size – 23 x 17 x 2. The height is comfortable.
6. Great for back sleeping too
7. The perfect balance between support and softness.
8. 15-year warranty. You can contact the manufacturer and replace the pillow when needed.
BEST Memory Foam (Non-Contoured) Pillow for Side Sleepers
The Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Pillow is, through our research, the best memory foam (non-contoured) pillow:
1. Though this pillow is made with memory foam, it is shredded so you can fully adjust the height of your pillow, just like with a Buckwheat pillow. It feels like a lumpy flour bag but is not too firm. Nothing like any other pillow we’ve tried before.
2. Contoured memory foam pillows are not adjustable and tend to act as heat traps. This pillow allows for greater ventilation and can be custom shaped for all sleeping positions.
3. The highest-rated neck & cervical pillow on Amazon right now
4. Made with CertiPur-US Certified visco-elastic Memory Foam.
5. It does not tend to get heated.
6. Hypoallergenic, anti-microbial
7. Guaranteed to not flatten, 5 years warranty
8. Bamboo Polyester Blend Fabric is designed to help regulate temperature.
9. Machine washable.
10. Made in the US
Simply put, the shredded memory foam pillow provides the shapeability and breathability of a down pillow, with the support of Memory Foam.
And that’s not all:
You can try it for 100 nights, and if you’re not happy with it – you’ll get a full refund.
2. Latex Pillows – Best for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain
If you don’t like the beanbag feel of the Buckwheat pillow, then an all-natural Latex pillow is the perfect choice for a side sleeper.
Latex pillows tend to be soft yet supportive and can effectively relieve neck and shoulder pain at night. Latex does not clump, shift, or develop hollow spots. They maintain their shape and support for 5 years on average with normal use.
Latex Pillows Pros
1. Highly supportive yet soft.
2. Maintain shape, do not clump, lump, or develop hollow spots.
3. A high-quality latex pillow is made with 100% natural Latex and organic cotton cover – no off-gassing and odors.
4. Most have medium to high loft.
5. Hypoallergenic, anti-microbial.
6. They have small holes and interconnecting channels that create a natural ventilation system, allowing heat and moisture to disperse.
7. They are quiet under all conditions.
8. Low maintenance – no need to be shaken or fluffed.
1. Are too dense and heavy to be “cuddly”.
2. May feel like resting your head on a balloon or a big rubber ball.
3. They are not very moldable, maybe too high or firm for some people.
4. Lower quality pillows may have a rubbery/chemical smell, which goes away after a few days (Or faster if you let it air outside)
5. Height is not adjustable.
✅The BEST Latex Pillow
Our research has found Organic Textiles standard size natural Latex pillow (6″ deep in the center) deep to be the best one, and here’s why:
1. It is made with 100% natural (renewable and eco-friendly) Latex – it is made of Dunlop process to make sure it’s 100% natural (Talalay pillows usually have 20-50% synthetic latex).
2. Removable and washable zippered organic cotton cover.
3. Hypoallergenic and anti-microbial
4. Free airflow – No hot flashes, no moisture.
5. Comes in 3 sizes – Standard (25 x 16 x 5), queen (30 x 16 x 5) and king (34 x 16 x 5.5).
6. Made by Organic Textiles LLC in California
7. 5-year warranty.
** It’s a surprisingly comfortable latex pillow, which will last for years.
3. Buckwheat Pillows
The Buckwheat pillows’ most important benefit is adjustability. High-quality buckwheat pillows have a zipper, which allows adding or reducing the amount of fill in the pillow.
We all have different gaps between our neck and shoulders and this allows you to perfectly adjust the height of your pillow – whether you sleep on your side, your back, or your stomach.
A buckwheat pillow can be shaped to a range of shapes and sizes as you sleep to provide perfect support and comfort.
The Buckwheat pillow is made of all-natural ingredients, an important factor for natural living enthusiasts.
The curved shape of buckwheat hulls creates airspace within your pillow providing air circulation and breathability. This results in a cool, dry pillow – all night long.
Buckwheat Pillow Pros
1. Generally supportive and contouring
2. High potential for neck pain relief.
3. Adjustable height by adding/removing hulls
4. Good airflow
1. Some noise
2. Too small for some people
3. Too firm for some people, not very cuddly
4. A bit heavy
5. Need experimenting to determine fill quantity.
✅ The BEST Buckwheat Pillow
Through our research, we’ve found the ComfySleep Buckwheat Pillow (family-owned USA product) to be a great pillow and the best one in this category.
1. The Husks inside this pillow conform to your head and neck and give you just the right amount of support.
2. It has 4 different sizes (15″X21″ / 15″X23″ / 15″X26″ / 20″X26″) and comes with 1 lb extra buckwheat to customize.
3. It’s filled with clean (chemical-free and fumigants-free) buckwheat, grown in the USA, and is handmade.
4. Made with organic cotton twill, with an invisible zipper.
5. Good customer service.
6. First-rate quality. The craftsmanship and attention to detail are top-notch from this small, made-in-the-USA manufacturer.
7. The pillow stays cold all night
8. Great shoulder support
Though the pillow can make some noise while you toss and turn, the noise doesn’t wake you up and we find it quite soothing actually. Once your head is in position, you won’t move much around anyway.
👉 Cons – We would say that this pillow may feel too small for some people, and the price is not so low. But, if you check this page you may find a good sale price right now.
** Important note: Buckwheat is a type of grass, so if you’re allergic to grass, this may not be the right pillow for you.
Buckwheat Alternative – Wool Puffs
The Sleep & Beyond Dual Side Pillow is filled with the highly adjustable pearl-sized puffs of soft and springy 100% natural Shropshire wool, encased in 100% natural cotton sateen cover. This 100% natural side sleeper pillow is fully adjustable to any loft you’d like and is ergonomically contoured to align the spine while you sleep.
How to Sleep on Your Side Without Hurting Your Shoulder
The compression of your shoulder into a firm, unforgiving mattress, combined with a pillow that is not high enough to align your spine – can restrict blood flow to your arm, resulting in a pins-and-needles feeling and often – shoulder pain or soreness. To prevent shoulder pain from sleeping on your side you’ll need an orthopedic side sleeper pillow and a memory foam mattress (or a hybrid mattress) that will align your spine and relieve pressure off your shoulder – throughout the night.
RELATED: the best hybrid mattresses for back pain sufferers
What Is The Best Orthopedic Side Sleeper Pillow?
Through our research, the best pillows for side sleepers with neck and shoulder pain would be cervical traction pillows (also known as neck traction pillows), and especially the Therapeutica pillow, which combines standard, cervical, and shoulder pillow – in one full-supporting pillow.
- Cervical traction pillows gently stretch and relieve your neck and shoulder muscles
- They help you sleep through the night pain-free
- They can even reduce snoring (by keeping air passages optimal while you sleep)
If you suffer from a military neck, herniated cervical disc, neck arthritis, or any neck problem – a cervical support pillow can change your life.
👉 Want to start sleeping on your back? see the best back sleeping pillow for neck pain!
Side Sleeper Pillows FAQ
The incredible variety of side sleeping pillows can make your head spin, but now that you’ve seen the most important features of a high-quality side sleeper pillow, the choice is much easier.
Note: check out our post about the full body pillow, which is a great way to sleep on your side while keeping your spine aligned!)
We hope this side sleeper neck pillow guide and the reviews for the best-rated side sleeper pillows were helpful and wish you a calm and restful sleep every night.
What’s your experience with side sleeping pillows? do you have a pillow that you would recommend? we’d like to know! Share your thoughts in the comments below.
To your health and happiness,
The Back Pain Relief Products Team
Our team draws sources only from peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical journals and associations.
Gordon SJ, Grimmer-Somers KA, Trott PH. Pillow use: the behavior of cervical stiffness, headache and scapular/arm pain. J Pain Res. 2010;3:137-145. Published 2010 Aug 11. doi:10.2147/jpr.s10880
Lee WH, Ko MS. Effect of sleep posture on neck muscle activity. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(6):1021-1024. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1021