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Side sleepers may benefit from using pillows that provide extra support for the neck and shoulders.

List of some of the best pillows for side sleepers

The construction and materials of pillows can affect a person’s sleep and health and the environment.

Certifications

Several companies make pillows using different materials. If a person is considering buying sustainable, organic, or hypoallergenic products, they should look for certifications such as:

These third-party organizations analyze each pillow, and if it meets their standards, they will provide certification for the product.

Pillow construction and health

How a person sleeps can directly affect the pressure points that need support.

Side sleepers often put the most stress on their hips and shoulders. They may also find that their neck is out of alignment if they do not use a supportive pillow.

Side sleepers typically benefit from a sturdy pillow that is high enough for the neck to maintain a neutral position.

Additionally, according to a 2019 review, side sleeping may help with specific health conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

Conversely, an older 2011 study links side sleeping with carpal tunnel syndrome.

How we choose products

Medical News Today chooses products that fit the following criteria where possible:

  • Price: Products that suit a range of budgets.
  • Materials: Products that feature a range of materials, such as buckwheat, latex, and memory foam.
  • Features: Products with a range of features, such as hypoallergenic materials and adjustable fills.

People may wish to consider several factors when purchasing a pillow, such as:

  • Size: A pillow should be large enough for a person to comfortably sleep on. Some people may prefer purchasing a larger pillow if they have a bigger mattress, such as a Californian King.
  • Fill: People may wish to consider whether they want a pillow with a standard fill such as polyester or a fill such as memory foam that can contour to the body and provide extra support.
  • Loft: People who sleep on their sides may require a higher pillow to keep their heads in a neutral alignment with their spine.

Below is a selection of pillows available online that may be suitable for side sleepers.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Sleep and Beyond myDual Side Pillow

This pillow contains 100% natural Shropshire wool and comes with two pillowcases: A 100% natural sateen, 300-thread count pillowcase, and a washable, wool-filled quilted pillowcase.

The company says this pillow is naturally hypoallergenic, and people can use either side of it for a restful sleep.

The manufacturers claim this pillow’s shape provides extra support and pressure relief for the neck, shoulders, and spine by contouring the body. People can also manipulate the wool inside the pillow to form the best shape for them.

The company says that this pillow helps prevent wrinkles around the eyes and cheekbones by elevating the face and suspending it over the pillow, thereby preventing damage to delicate skin.

ComfyComfy Premium Buckwheat Pillow

This pillow contains organic buckwheat hulls from sustainable farms in the United States. The manufacturers also source the organic cotton pillowcase from U.S. organic cotton farms and the pillows ship in plastic-free packages.

The manufacturers include 5 pounds (lb) of buckwheat hulls in each pillow, with an additional 1 lb of buckwheat hulls if a person needs to add any to make the pillow firmer.

To customize the firmness and shape, people can add or remove some of the buckwheat hulls from inside the pillow. The buckwheat allows the pillow to contour to a person’s body shape, which may benefit side sleepers.

Avocado Green Pillow

This pillow has a GOLS organic certified latex and GOTS organic certified kapok fill. It is also GREENGUARD Gold certified, vegan, and handmade in Los Angeles.

The pillow has a customizable amount of latex rubber foam ribbon and kapok tree fiber so that a person can adjust the amount for a comfortable, restful sleep. People can also buy more filling from the company if they need to.

The manufacturers claim to make this pillow with nontoxic, chemical-free components. It is also machine washable.

Brentwood Home Crystal Cove Activated Charcoal Pillow

This pillow contains activated charcoal-infused memory foam that helps keep people cool while sleeping.

The pillow is GREENGUARD Gold certified and vegan. The manufacturers state it does not contain any volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, or phthalates. The memory foam also has CertiPUR-US certification.

The company makes this pillow in the U.S. It recommends people do not machine wash this product but spot-clean it with a damp white cloth instead.

Luma Sleep Talalay Classic Latex Pillow

This pillow, which has eco-INSTITUT certification, contains natural latex instead of memory foam. The company says the latex in the pillow contours the head and neck, providing gentle support and potentially reducing the risk of neck and back pain.

The manufacturers list this pillow as hypoallergenic and antimicrobial with breathable materials to help people remain cool and dry during sleep. The pillow also comes with a removable, washable cover.

The company recommends side sleepers use medium-firm pillows. It makes this pillow in the U.S. and includes free shipping with each purchase.

Birch Organic Pillow

This GREENGUARD Gold- and GOTS-certified pillow uses eco-friendly, organic, and sustainable materials. The wool comes from New Zealand, and the organic cotton and latex come from Southeast Asia.

The pillow combines wool and latex, providing ample support for people who sleep on their side, back, or stomach. The company says the breathable materials also wick moisture and ensure good airflow, keeping people cool and dry during sleep.

The manufacturers make their pillows by hand in the U.S. and offer no-contact delivery.

Nolah AirFoam Pillow

This pillow claims to include temperature-neutral foam with a cotton cover that contains a cooling material.

The pillow is softer than some foam pillows, potentially making it more comfortable while providing the same support levels as other pillows on the market.

The manufacturers recommend this pillow for side, back, and combination sleepers, as it aligns the neck and removes pressure from the shoulders. The company also offers a 120-night trial.

Eli & Elm Cotton Side Sleeper Pillow

This U-shaped pillow contains organic cotton, which the company sources from farmers who do not grow or process cotton with chemicals. People can adjust the firmness by unzipping the cover and removing some latex noodle filling.

This company says this pillow is antimicrobial, mildew-proof, and dust mite-resistant, which may help people with allergies have a restful sleep. The pillow stuffing contains 75% natural latex and 25% polyester fiber.

The manufacturers make all of their pillows in the U.S. and ship the product from their warehouse in California.

There are several different types of pillow materials. Some options that companies may offer include:

  • Memory foam: This type of pillow fill may provide extra support and comfort. The memory foam can contour to the shape of a person’s head and may promote a neutral spine alignment.
  • Latex: This type of pillow fill provides similar benefits to memory foam. However, latex tends to retain less heat than memory foam and may be a suitable option for people looking for added support and a cooler sleep.
  • Wool: A benefit of this pillow fill is that people can manipulate the stuffing to form a pillow shape that is most comfortable for their sleeping style.
  • Buckwheat: This type of pillow fill conforms to a person’s shape as the material is less dense than some other materials. Additionally, a person can add or reduce the amount of buckwheat in the pillow to make it softer or firmer.

There is some evidence that side sleeping may reduce snoring. Research suggests that people who sleep on their stomachs — prone — are more likely to snore than people who sleep on their side. Additionally, people with overweight are more likely to snore while sleeping on their back than on their side.

Those who are pregnant may also prefer to sleep on their side. The National Health Service states that sleeping on the side is the safest position during pregnancy, as sleeping prone after 28 weeks can double the risk of stillbirth.

When people get an adequate amount of sleep, they tend to feel rested and energetic and are more able to learn new information and form new memories.

Sleep may also benefit metabolism and the immune system.

If people do not get sufficient sleep, however, they are more at risk of experiencing problems with learning and processing information.

Some long-term side effects include being more at risk of developing diabetes and other long lasting health issues.

A good quality mattress is as important as a good quality pillow.

Learn about some of the best mattresses for side sleepers here.

Learn more about the science of sleep here.

Here are some common questions about pillows for side sleepers.

How thick should a pillow be for a side sleeper?

People who sleep on their side should consider a thicker, fuller pillow. The extra support will benefit the neck and help maintain good posture while sleeping.

What is a double contour pillow?

A double contour pillow can be hourglass-shaped, and it supports the neck.

It can also have a flat bottom with a larger and smaller horizontal hump on top. The smaller hump supports the neck, and the larger touches the top of the head, creating a cradling effect and providing support.

What is a pillow loft?

A pillow loft refers to the height of a pillow. The amount of material inside a pillow determines a sleeper’s head position. Side sleepers will typically benefit from a higher pillow loft.

Side sleepers may need a pillow that supports their neck and shoulders to reduce the risk of back, shoulder, or arm pain while sleeping.

Restful sleep is an essential part of a person’s overall well-being, and it is important to find a pillow that offers adequate support.