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

This article looks at nine of the best pillows for side sleepers, discusses the certifications some brands may carry, and answers some frequently asked questions.

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

Certifications

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.

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.

Medical News Today does not rank products in any order and does not recommend one product over another. A person should choose the product that best fits their needs.

MNT chooses mattresses, sheets, pillows, and other bedding that meet the following criteria:

  • Certifications: MNT will choose products that have CertiPUR-US or other certifications. This means that the products are low in pollutants and free from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
  • Size: MNT chooses products that are available in various sizes.
  • Materials and fill: MNT selects products made from different materials and fills, such as memory foam and latex, to suit a range of sleep and lifestyles.
  • Budget: MNT features products to suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Firmness: MNT selects pillows that are available in a range of firmness options to suit most people’s sleeping styles.
  • Sleep trials: MNT chooses companies that offer a sleep trial.
  • Shipping: Where possible, MNT will include shipping information, such as where the company delivers to and whether shipping is free.
  • Warranties and return policies: MNT will include products that carry warranties and clear returns policies.

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

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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

Best wool filling: Sleep and Beyond myDual Side Pillow

  • Price: $139
  • Dimensions (W x H): 30 x 20 inches (in)

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 manufacturer claims 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.

Best organic buckwheat hull filling: ComfyComfy Premium Buckwheat Pillow

  • Price: $75
  • Dimensions (H x W): 14 x 21 in for traditional size

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

The manufacturer includes 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.

Best customizable vegan filling: Avocado Green Pillow

  • Price: $99–119
  • Dimensions (H x W): 19 x 25 in for standard, 19 x 29 in for queen, and 19 x 35 in for king

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 manufacturer claims to make this pillow with nontoxic, chemical-free components. It is also machine washable.

Best charcoal-infused memory foam: Brentwood Home Crystal Cove Activated Charcoal Pillow

  • Price: $99–119
  • Dimensions (H x W): 19 x 25 in for standard, 19 x 29 in for queen, and 19 x 35 in for king

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

The pillow is GREENGUARD Gold certified and vegan. The manufacturer states 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, and spot-clean it with a damp white cloth instead.

Best natural latex pillow: Luma Sleep Talalay Classic Latex Pillow

  • Price: $109–129
  • Dimensions: information not provided

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 manufacturer lists 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.

Best combination of wool and latex: Birch Organic Pillow

  • Price: $99–119
  • Dimensions (L x W): 28 x 20 in for standard, 36 x 20 in for king

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 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 manufacturer makes its pillows by hand in the U.S. and offers no-contact delivery.

Best for a long sleep trial: Nolah AirFoam Pillow

  • Price: $99–198
  • Dimensions (L x W): 17 x 23 in

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

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

The manufacturer recommends 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.

Best U-shaped pillow: Eli & Elm Cotton Side Sleeper Pillow

  • Price: $129.99
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 17 x 29 x 6 in

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 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 manufacturer makes all of its pillows in the U.S. and ships the product from its warehouse in California.

Best for spinal alignment: Holy Lamb Organics Orthopedic Neck Pillow

  • Price: $179
  • Dimensions (L x W): 18 x 24 in

The company claims that a chiropractic physician helped to develop this pillow.

The design aims to provide optimal spinal alignment — side sleepers rest their head on the flat part of the pillow, and the higher section at the base of the pillow supports their neck. Additionally, one side of the pillow has more stuffing than the other, so a person can choose which suits them best.

The filling consists of eco-wool, and the cover is an organic cotton sateen material. The company’s production facilities are GOTS certified. It is machine washable and handmade in the USA.

The table below compares the prices, features, and sleep trials of each pillow included in this article.

PriceSizeFillingCover materialSleep trialWarranty
Sleep and Beyond$139one sizenatural woolnatural sateen and quiltedno trial5 years
ComfyComfy$75one sizebuckwheat hullscottonno trialno warranty
Avocado$99–119standard, queen, kinglatex and kapokcotton and quilted cotton100 nights1 year
Brentwood Home$99–119standard, queen, kingcharcoal-infused memory foampolyester30 days1 year
Luma Sleep$109–129queen, kingnatural latexvelour30 nights1 year
Birch$99–119standard, kingwool and natural latexcotton100 nights1 year
Nolah$99–198one sizefoamcotton120 nights2 years
Eli & Elm$129.99one sizelatex and polyestercotton45 days5 years
Holy Lamb Organics$179one sizeeco-woolcotton sateenno trialno warranty

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 United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) 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.

Below 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.