The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers: The Definitive Guide (2018)
Is your pillow really that important when you sleep on your side?
Is it worth spending more than a few dollars on side sleeper pillows?
Can it really prevent neck and shoulder pain?
Some people may feel a bit ridiculous paying an above average price on a pillow. If you’re one of them – don’t.
Plus, your pillow impacts the quality of your sleep and how healthfully you’ll rest and recharge.
- 1 How Side Sleeping Pillows Prevent PAIN
- 2 The 3 Best Side Sleeper Pillow Types
- 3 1. Buckwheat Pillows
- 4 2. Latex Pillows for Side Sleepers
- 5 3. Memory Foam/Contour Pillows for Side Sleepers
- 6 #1 Orthopedic Neck Pain Pillow for Side Sleepers
- 7 The Best Side Sleeper Pillow for Neck & Shoulder Pain
- 8 The 4 WORST Types of Pillows for Side Sleepers
- 9 ➡️ A Quick Side Sleeper Pillow Quiz
How Side Sleeping Pillows Prevent PAIN
The goal of using a high-quality 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 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.
A big ouch in the morning.
The 3 Best Side Sleeper Pillow Types
The ideal side sleeper pillows provide enough height to keep your spine aligned, but are not too thick to bend your neck upwards out of alignment.
The best pillow for side sleepers will stay firm all through the night – The fill will not collapse on itself, bending your neck downward.
And let’s not forget comfort – your pillow has to feel comfortable. Generally, if a specific pillow works for you – Stick with it.
And here’s an answer to a common question:
What’s the best pillow height for side sleepers?
Well, since everybody’s neck size is different, the best height would be the one that makes you feel completely comfortable and ache-free.
Some pillows height is adjustable, like the Buckwheat pillow below, and some are firm and maintain the same height.
Here are the best side sleeper pillow options, and our side sleeper pillows reviews:
1. Buckwheat Pillows
The Buckwheat pillow most important benefit is adjustability.
High-quality buckwheat pillows have a zipper, which allows adding or reducing the amount of fill in the pillow.
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 air flow
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 WINNER
Through our research, we’ve found the ComfySleep Buckwheat Pillow (family owned USA product) to be the best one.
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
** 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.
** A regular size pillow case will not fit this pillow very well. ComfySleep has a custom-made pillowcase for the 15″ X 23″ size HERE.
2. Latex Pillows for Side Sleepers
If you don’t like the beanbag feel of the Buckwheat pillow, and 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 above average loft.
5. Hypoallergenic, anti-microbial.
6. They have small holes and interconnecting channels that create a natural ventilation system, allowing heat and moisture 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. Are not very moldable, may be 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 WINNER
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 all 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. 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.
Through our research, these are the best side sleeper pillows for neck pain.
They are also very helpful for sleep Apnea sufferers, people who tend to snore and who suffer from lower back pain and insomnia.
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”
#1 Orthopedic Neck Pain Pillow for Side Sleepers
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. 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. 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 USA
Simply put, the shredded memory foam pillow provides the shapeability and breathability of down pillows, 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.
** Cons – this pillow, like all Memory Foam pillows, will have some off-gassing when opened. Air it out for a few days before you use it.
The Best Side Sleeper Pillow for Neck & Shoulder Pain
The best pillows for side sleepers with neck and shoulder pain would be cervical traction pillows (also known as neck traction pillows).
- 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 military neck, herniated cervical disc, neck arthritis or any neck problem – a cervical support pillow can change your life.
The 4 WORST Types of Pillows for Side Sleepers
If you mostly sleep on your side, we would advise you to stay away from these 4 types of pillows:
1. Feather Pillows – they are soft, moldable and cuddly, but lack adequate height and support and will not be the best pillows for side sleepers.
2. Polyester – polyester pillows contents tend to shift and create hollow spots and known to be fair longevity at best.
3. Down pillows – while soft and cuddly, down pillows lack adequate loft and support for side sleepers, plus down tends to escape the case.
4. Down Alternative/Gel Pillows – generally soft and may lack adequate support and firmness, plus they tend to clump/lump with age.
➡️ A Quick Side Sleeper Pillow Quiz
Answer 5 questions, and we’ll tell you what’s the best pillow for your needs:
The incredible variety of side sleeping pillows can literally 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 U-shaped 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