Already have an account?
Get back to the
Us Weekly aims to feature only the best products and services. We update when possible, but deals expire and prices can change.
If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more!

22 Best Pillows for Side Sleepers: Ease Neck and Shoulder Pain

Author photo
Written by Jenna Cartusciello

From memory foam, to polyester, to down and feather, what’s the best pillow for a side sleeper? The short answer: You won’t know until you try a few options. The long answer: It depends on your sleep habits, weight and pain points. If you’re a true side sleeper, you may do well with a firm pillow that has plenty of loft. But using two stacked soft pillows may work better if it’s what you know and you tend to shift onto your back.

In addition, shoulder and neck pain will largely dictate what materials and designs work for you. “Your pillow is so important when you have neck problems,” says Dr. David Kulla, a chiropractor at the Synergy Wellness Chiropractic & Physical Therapy in New York City. “A lot of people have neck problems … they’re working on computers all day long.” And since an estimated 74 percent of us sleep on our side, it’s no wonder that the market is saturated with options. Fortunately, we’ve got a comprehensive guide that will point you in the direction of the best pillow for your needs.

Finding the Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

When it comes to pillows, why do we all feel a bit like Goldilocks? Nothing feels just right, and that could be for a few reasons. Firstly, most of us are side sleepers, and experts recommend that side sleepers use pillows with medium-firmness and high loft. (High loft is five inches thick or more.) However, you may not be used to sleeping on a firmer, loftier pillow, so trying out a true side-sleeper pillow for the first time can give you quite the headache. That’s why experts suggest trying out a pillow for at least two or three days to give your body time to adjust.

Of course, that expert-recommended pillow may still be wrong for you. This is especially true if you shift positions at night, or if you have a small frame and simply can’t conform to a firm, state-of-the-art pillow. For this reason, we chose to recommend several traditional pillows with lower loft and soft interiors — even if they’re not what the doctor ordered. (There’s nothing wrong with soft pillows if they help you get a good night’s sleep!)

If you want to be truly satisfied after just one purchase, make sure you consider the following factors so you know exactly what you want out of your pillow.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

Before buying a side-sleeper pillow, make sure you consider the following.

Firmness

Pillows come in three levels of firmness: soft, medium, and firm. Generally, experts recommend that side sleepers choose medium to firm pillows because they provide more support for the neck. If you choose a pillow that contains shredded memory foam, shredded latex, polyester, or down alternative, you can likely customize the firmness by adding or removing filling.

Loft

A pillow’s loft refers to its height. Low-loft is three inches thick or less, medium loft is three to five inches thick, and high loft is five inches thick or more. As a side sleeper, you will likely need a medium to high loft to fill the space between your shoulder and neck. If your neck tilts down at an angle, you need more loft, and if it tilts up, you need less. If you aren’t sure what loft level to get, try getting a high loft that is customizable so you can remove some of the fill.

Ingredients

The best pillows are filled with memory foam, latex, down, down alternative, or polyester. Each material has a different feel and a different kind of support, so you may need to try a few materials before you find one you like. Many pillows also contain a combination of inner materials, such as latex and down alternative or shredded memory foam and down alternative. If you want the best of both worlds (firmness and comfort), consider a pillow with a blend of materials.

In addition, pay attention to your allergies and sensitivities. Certain memory foams may give off a chemical smell which could give you headaches, and down-filled pillows could make you itchy. If you have sensitive skin, make sure you get a pillow that has hypoallergenic certifications.

Pain Points

Do you suffer from neck, shoulder, or hip pain? If so, a very soft, traditional, and rectangular pillow may not be the best choice. Your neck likely needs plenty of support to help it stay in line with your spine. (Bonus tip: You may also need to sleep with a pillow between your legs and under your top arm to reduce pressure on your joints.)

Pay attention to pillows that are designed for neck or shoulder pain, because the contoured support could help relieve your sleeping issues. You will also benefit from a pillow that has a customizable loft, so you can adjust as needed.

Price

Gone are the days when you could spend $10 on a pillow and get a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, the least expensive pillows on our list cost $20, and the most expensive ones cost $130. Expect to pay at least $40 per pillow, and more if you want the ability to customize the firmness and loft.

What Are the Different Types of Pillows for Side Sleepers?

Memory Foam

Memory foam is the firmest material you can have in a pillow. It is traditionally made of polyurethane or low-resistance polyurethane, depending on the level of firmness, and molds to the body so the head naturally rests in a neutral position. Traditional memory foam pillows come in one solid piece, but many modern pillows contain shredded memory foam, which allows you to adjust the firmness and loft.

Latex

Latex pillows are usually springy with moderate firmness, which works well for side sleepers. However, one-piece latex pillows aren’t customizable and may frustrate you if you want to adjust the loft. If you prefer latex because it’s a natural material, consider shredded latex instead. Note that many latex pillows also contain down alternative or polyester filling to increase softness.

Down and Down Alternative

Down (goose feathers) and down alternative (which mimics goose feathers) are the softest fill available. If you love a few soft, squishy pillows that you can push and mold as you like, these are your best bet. Note that down pillows can get itchy if they aren’t hypoallergenic, and the feathers tend to poke out of the cover. Down alternative has come a long way in recent years and mimics down feathers without the itchiness.

1

Best Overall: Nest Easy Breather Pillow

Pros

  • Washable
  • Customizable
  • No chemical smell

Cons

  • Washing may cause filling to expand
  • Expensive
  • Not organic

What does it take for a pillow to reach the “best overall” spot? For us, it has to be washable, the inside has to be removable (so you can adjust the firmness and loft), and it has to provide good neck support for side sleepers. The Nest Easy Breather ticks all of those boxes and then some. Unlike other pillows filled with shredded foam, the texture doesn’t become lumpy after washing. And the pillow doesn’t have a chemical smell.

When you wash this pillow, expect for the fill to expand once it dries. You may need to remove even more fill to get the right level of loft again, which some users find annoying. Though the inner shredded foam is CertiPUR-US certified, it isn’t organic.

2

Best Budget Pillow, Soft: Hotel Grand Feather & Down Pillow, 2-pack

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Machine washable
  • Real down and feather fill

Cons

  • Partial polyester blend
  • Not adjustable
  • Feathers may come out of pillow

For side sleepers who prefer to stack two soft pillows, we recommend Hotel Grand. These pillows are well cushioned and soft, and the inner down-and-feather blend is cleaned using a FreshLOFT process that removes potential allergens. The cotton outer fabric is silky smooth, thanks to its 500 thread count.

Note that each pillow contains an outer wrap of alternative down (made of polyester), which may be a downside for buyers who want a 100-percent down fill. In addition, feathers may come out of the pillow over time.

3

Best Budget Pillow, Firm: Cozyplayer Ultra Pain Relief Cooling Pillow for Neck Support

Pros

  • Ear hole
  • Adjustable
  • Maintains shape during sleep

Cons

  • Can’t adjust ear hole location
  • May trap heat
  • May have chemical smell

Need more neck support without emptying your wallet? The Cozyplayer Cooling Pillow is an excellent choice. Best for side sleepers that stay put, this pillow cradles the neck and has a deep indentation for your head and ear to eliminate strain. The memory foam build is soft but firm, so you don’t have to worry about it losing its shape during the night. Best of all, the height is adjustable — rotate the pillow 180 degrees for the side with greater contouring, or remove the bottom insert to reduce the loft.

However, many buyers wish there were some way to adjust the ear hole. If your ear doesn’t rest directly over the hole, you could wake up with ear pain. The material may also trap heat even though the cover is meant to be cooling. This pillow is not organic and may have a chemical smell before washing.

4

Best Splurge: Honeydew Scrumptious Side Pillow

Pros

  • Customizable
  • Copper-infused filling
  • Machine washable cover

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not organic
  • Fill is not machine washable

If you love a contoured, U-shaped pillow, we highly recommend the Honeydew Side Pillow. The interior contains CertiPUR-US-certified foam infused with copper, which gives it antibacterial and cooling properties. The foam is removable so you can customize the loft to your liking, and the soft outer cover is machine washable. This pillow has no chemical smell.

As our splurge pick, the Honeydew is expensive. The company argues that the design and materials make it worth it, but some buyers still balk at the price. In addition, the inner material is not organic and not machine washable.

5

Best Runner-Up for Splurge: Eli & Elm Cotton Side Sleeper Pillow

Pros

  • Cooling
  • Great for neck pain
  • Customizable

Cons

  • Not organic
  • Too big for standard pillow cases
  • May flatten out after frequent use

The Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow is similar in shape and feel to the Honeydew but differs in the filling. The interior is a blend of 75 percent latex and 25 percent polyester, which gives it more spring or bounce. Side sleepers who prefer a softer feel may therefore prefer this fill. Like the Honeydew, the Eli & Elm can be customized to your liking by adding or removing filling, and the cover is machine washable.

At $125, this pillow is one of our most expensive recommendations. Plus, some buyers complain that the pillow is too long for regular pillow cases and doesn’t fluff up as well after a few months of use.

6

Best Firm: Anvo Contour Cervical Memory Foam Pillow

Pros

  • Great for neck pain
  • Stabilizing
  • 2 different loft levels

Cons

  • Interior is not machine washable
  • Not ideal for sleepers who shift position
  • Pillow is spot-clean only

If you need your pillow to hold its shape overnight, consider the Anvo Cervical Memory Foam pillow. This affordable pick offers two different loft levels depending on your shoulder width so that your neck rests at a neutral angle. Plus, the outer cover is machine washable.

Unfortunately, the pillow itself must be spot-cleaned, so it may become dirty and accumulate dust. The memory foam also has a slight chemical smell, though buyers note that it fades after a few days. This pillow shape may not be ideal if you shift positions during the night.

7

Best Soft: MoonRest Organic Natural Fabric Bed Sleeping Pillow, Pack of 2

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Machine washable
  • Organic cotton exterior

Cons

  • Interior is not organic
  • May have chemical smell
  • Filling catches on zipper

We get it — sometimes, those firm side-sleeper pillows leave you with a crick in your neck. Double stacking soft pillows is always an option, and the MoonRest Organic Pillows are perfect for the job. These pillows contain a “down alternative” made of polyester, which helps increase durability in the washing machine and dryer. Also, the shell is made of organic cotton.

Unfortunately, some buyers notice a synthetic smell on the MoonRest pillows even after washing and leaving them outside to air. Others say a few days in the fresh air eliminates the smell completely. Be careful if you open the zipper to reduce the filling inside — the filling may catch on the zipper when you close it again.

8

Best for Neck Pain: Groye Adjustable Neck Pillow for Pain Relief

Pros

  • Cooling
  • Contoured shape
  • Holds its firmness overnight

Cons

  • Only one insert can be removed
  • Spot-clean only
  • May flatten over time

If you wake up in the morning with neck pain, chances are your pillow has too much or not enough loft. The Groye Adustable Neck Pillow is an excellent solution because you can add or remove an insert to customize the loft level. It also has a contoured neck hold to reduce any strain on your neck or upper spine.

Some buyers wish that the pillow contained more than one removable insert to lower the loft even further. Others wish it had an ear hole to reduce pressure on the ear. Note that this pillow is made of one memory foam piece and is spot-clean only.

9

Best for Shoulder Pain: Nappler Side and Back Sleeper Pillow for Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief

Pros

  • Eases pressure on shoulder
  • Customizable
  • Machine washable cover

Cons

  • Spot clean only
  • Zipper gets caught on filling
  • Cover holds heat

Waking up with shoulder pain is often an indication that your shoulder bears too much of your weight while you sleep. To ease the pressure off your shoulder, use a pillow like the Nappler Side and Back Sleeper Pillow. The shredded memory foam interior provides an impressive loft so your head can rest at a neutral angle, and the pillow comes with extra filling if you need even more loft.

Since the interior is made of memory foam, this pillow is hand wash or spot-clean only. Buyers complain that the inner zipper gets caught easily on the fill, so be careful when adding or removing filling. In addition, the cover tends to hold heat.

10

Best for Spinal Alignment: OVODRY Adjustable Cervical Pillow

Pros

  • Ear hole
  • Contoured to support head and neck
  • Customizable

Cons

  • Spot clean only
  • May hold heat
  • Synthetic materials

When your head isn’t in line with your spine, all sorts of painful problems can occur — from a crick in your neck to an ache in your low back. The OVODRY Adjustable Cervical Pillow aims to prevent that from happening by keeping your head in a neutral position and offering gentle, firm support while you sleep. This adjustable foam pillow features an ear hole and a contoured middle that helps distribute the weight of your head across the whole surface.

Though OVODRY claims the mesh material is breathable and cooling, a few customers wish that it had even more cooling properties. In addition, the material is not organic and the pillow itself must be spot cleaned or hand washed.

11

Best for Heartburn: Luxe Casa Orthopedic Bed Wedge Pillow Set (4 Pieces)

Pros

  • Machine washable covers
  • Includes 4 pillows
  • Non-slip and cooling

Cons

  • May need to stack your own pillows on top
  • Pillows are hand wash only
  • Expensive

When you have heartburn, it isn’t easy finding a comfortable sleeping position. The Luxe Casa Orthopedic Pillow Set addresses the whole body to help ease pressure points as you sleep. It features a teardrop-shaped back pillow, a curved back pillow, a detachable head pillow, and a triangular pillow for your legs. The memory foam material holds its shape as you sleep, and the machine washable covers keep you cool.

With four pillows at your disposal, you can try different positions on your side until you find the best support. However, you may still need to add in some regular pillows to get things just right. Since the material is memory foam, these pillows are spot-clean only.

12

Best Adjustable: Sleep Number Comfortfit Pillow in Ultimate Shape

Pros

  • Easily removable inserts
  • Blend of memory foam and down alternative
  • Machine washable cover

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not machine washable
  • Only available at main retailer

Looking for an easily-customizable experience? We recommend the Sleep Number Comfortfit Pillow. You won’t have to go pulling out clumps of stuffing — instead, the pillow includes three removable inserts to lower the loft. Each insert contains memory foam pieces and down alternative fibers to create a blend of firm support and soft comfort. In addition, the memory foam is CertiPUR-US certified, so it won’t release harmful chemicals.

As with most pillows that contain memory foam, the Sleep Number is not machine washable, so it has the potential to accumulate lint and allergens over time. The covers are fortunately machine washable. In addition, a few buyers think that the inserts aren’t customizable enough because there is too big a difference between each loft level.

13

Best Cooling: Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Memory Foam Pillow

Pros

  • Copper infused
  • 2 loft sizes
  • 100% machine washable

Cons

  • Pillowcase may reduce cooling
  • Can’t adjust loft after buying
  • Only available at main retailer

Are you a hot sleeper? A cooling pillow like the Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Cooling Pillow can help regulate your body temperature with the help of cooling gel. We like this pillow in particular because the responsive memory foam doesn’t sink into one shape and stay there — rather, it adapts to your body’s movements. Plus, the memory foam naturally contains copper which gives it antimicrobial properties.

Some reviewers find the responsive nature of the pillow uncomfortable because it doesn’t sink down enough. You can choose between a low and high loft before buying, but you can’t customize the loft beyond that. In addition, adding a pillowcase may reduce the cooling properties.

14

Best Runner Up Cooling: Plush Beds Shredded Latex Pillow

Pros

  • Organic
  • Customizable
  • Moldable

Cons

  • Spot clean only
  • Not as cooling as synthetic cooling pillows
  • Loft may be too high

If you’re looking for a natural alternative to memory foam that doesn’t leave you hot and sweaty, consider the Plush Beds Shredded Latex Pillow. The organic latex is springy and airy, so it doesn’t hold onto heat as well as down and polyester. The organic cotton cover also helps release heat. And since the latex is shredded, you can remove some of it or push it around inside the pillow to create a contoured shape.

This pillow is spot-clean only, so it may accumulate dust and allergens as you use it. It is also not as cooling as pillows with synthetic cooling gels, and the loft may be too high for people with a smaller body frame.

15

Best Budget Cooling: Uniqwarmer Cooling Shredded Memory Foam Pillows, 2 Pack

Pros

  • Adjustable
  • Two different cooling sides
  • CertiPUR-US certified

Cons

  • May have chemical smell
  • Zipper may break
  • Could be more cooling

If you run hot, you’ll love the Uniqwarmer Cooling Pillows. They contain shredded memory foam to create firm support, and the cover has two sides: a “cool side” made of silk fabric, and a “soft side” made of bamboo and polyester. The loft is also adjustable — simply remove handfuls of filling until you reach your desired loft level.

As with all memory foam, this pillow may have a chemical smell during the first few days. In addition, some buyers complain that the zipper breaks easily and the pillow itself could be more cooling.

16

Best Hypoallergenic: NEIPOTA Cooling Side Sleeper Pillows, 2 Pack

Pros

  • Cooling
  • OEKO-TEX certified
  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Not adjustable
  • May be too firm
  • Not 100% organic

Dreaming of a cooling pillow that won’t empty your pockets? We like the NEIPOTA Cooling Side Sleeper Pillows because the middle layer contains gel fibers that reduce heat. The top and lower layers contain elastic fibers which add support while cradling your head. The smooth exterior fabric is made of organic tencel and Egyptian polyester. Plus, the pillow is completely machine washable.

Reviewers note that these pillows feel too soft at first but firm up in two days after removing them from the packaging. To speed things along, let them spin in the dryer on low heat. In addition, the fill is not adjustable and some reviewers note that the loft is too high.

17

Best Organic Pillow: Saatva Latex Pillow

Pros

  • Customizable
  • Machine washable fill and cover
  • 2 loft levels

Cons

  • May be too soft
  • Not 100% machine washable
  • Only available at main retailer

Most “organic” pillows only have a few organic components, which is why the Saatva Latex Pillow stands above the rest. This 100 percent organic pillow features a shredded natural latex core for support and removable fill. The fill is machine washable and made of organic cotton and microdenier fibers to give the feel of natural down. Also, this pillow comes in two loft levels: high and standard.

This pillow isn’t completely machine washable — you must first remove the latex core. However, being able to wash the main fill is a huge plus. Some buyers may find this pillow too soft.

18

Best Organic Runner-Up: Turmerry Egg Crate Latex Side Sleeper Pillow

Pros

  • 100% organic
  • Machine washable
  • 3 firmness levels

Cons

  • One loft level
  • Not customizable
  • May hold heat

The Turmerry Egg Crate Pillow is unique: It has a textured, egg-crate design to help evenly distribute weight across the whole pillow. This might sound lumpy and unpleasant, but buyers love the soft feel and the fact that their shoulder and neck pain disappears. This pillow comes in three firmness levels: soft, medium, and firm.

Since the Turmerry Egg Crate Pillow is one piece of latex, it isn’t customizable or moldable like shredded latex. So, you’ll be stuck with just one loft size unless you cut the latex with scissors, as one reviewer did. In addition, this pillow isn’t as cooling as those with gel interiors.

19

Best Down Alternative: Boll & Branch Down Alternative Pillow

Pros

  • Organic
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Comes in three densities (soft, medium, firm)

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Takes a few dry cycles to get completely dry
  • Not as supportive as memory foam

There are so many down alternative pillows out there, but the Boll & Branch is the best (in our opinion) because it is sustainably made. It features an OEKO-TEX certified, hypoallergenic fill that comes in three density levels: soft, medium, or firm. The outer shell is 100 percent organic cotton, and the pillow is machine washable on a gentle cycle.

With an impressive amount of loft, these pillows need multiple cycles in the dryer to get dry. They also don’t have any contouring or the extra-firm support of memory foam, so they may not be ideal for some side sleepers.

20

Best Washable: LOFE Standard-Size Organic Cotton Pillow

Pros

  • Durable
  • Adjustable
  • Includes pillowcase

Cons

  • Not 100% organic
  • Zipper may catch on filling
  • Need 2 pillows to create loft

Looking for a truly washable pillow that will stay intact in the washer? Try the LOFE Organic Cotton Pillow, which is made with a 100-percent organic cotton shell and durable, hypoallergenic, poly-cluster filling. The pillow is a slightly tan color because it isn’t bleached white, and the fill is removable so you can achieve the right loft.

Bear in mind that these pillows aren’t made specifically for side sleepers, so you may need to stack two of them to get the right height and loft. In addition, the zipper may get caught on the filling.

People Also Ask

  • Q: What kind of pillow should side sleepers use?

    A:Experts recommend that side sleepers use a pillow with medium to firm firmness and a high loft (at least five inches). However, you may prefer to use a softer pillow or to stack two soft pillows to increase your comfort level.

  • Q: What kind of pillow is best for side and back sleepers?

    A:If you sleep on both your side and your back during the night, you likely need a pillow with medium firmness and medium loft (between three and five inches in height). Consider buying a pillow with an adjustable loft so you can get the right height.

  • Q: What’s the best pillow for side sleepers with neck and shoulder pain?

    A:Most chiropractors and sleep experts recommend a pillow that has structure and contouring, which will help support your neck and take pressure off your shoulder. Consider a cervical memory foam pillow, which will keep your head in one position all night long.

  • Q: What’s the best pillow material?

    A:Memory foam is best if you need extra support while you sleep, and down alternative is ideal if you love a plush, comfortable feel. Latex or shredded latex is a good option if you want an all-natural filling.

  • Q: How much should I expect to spend on a pillow for side sleepers?

    A:Expect to spend anywhere between $30 to $200 for a pillow. In general, you shouldn’t have to spend more than $130 to get a high-quality product.

Why trust Us

At Us Weekly, we aim to inform readers to make smart purchasing decisions, saving you both time and money. Our editors are obsessed with finding products in a variety of categories from fashion and beauty, to home and fitness.

We try various products, so we can recommend our favorites, and we also summarize feedback and data from other customers. Data, like product reviews and ratings, helps us recommend the best product choices for individual price points and needs.

On top of that, we highlight unique product features for special use cases, ingredients preferences, and more. We strive to make sure you are discovering new products that can make your life easier, while keeping you up to date with the best product choices for types of items you already know and love.

Author photo

By Jenna Cartusciello

Affiliate Commerce Writer Jenna loves recommending great products to her friends and family, so helping the rest of the internet on their quest to find the best stuff makes tremendous sense! Though she mainly writes in-depth buyer’s guides these days, Jenna still enjoys crafting the occasional health article. In her spare time, she loves immersing herself in creative writing. Her favorite authors (for anyone who is willing to geek out with her) include Neil Gaiman, Cheryl Strayed, and Jennifer Egan.

Got a Tip form close button
Got a tip for US?
We're All Ears for Celebrity Buzz!