When it comes to sleep position, what matters most is that you can get to sleep and stay asleep. But, if you prefer to sleep on your side, you’re doing your body a lot of good. You’re keeping your spine in proper alignment, unlike stomach sleepers, who turn their head to the side and can injure their spine and shoulders. Back sleepers, on the other hand, sometimes allow their heads to fall backward, letting their jaw fall backward and increasing the risk of snoring and sleep apnea.
But side sleepers who ignore the benefits of a high-quality pillow made specifically for them are throwing away all the good spine alignment that can come with side sleeping. Side sleepers need to fill the large space between their head and the mattress, which is created by the shoulder. If you’re sleeping on a pillow that you feel the need to fold in half to get a high enough loft, you’re throwing your spine out of alignment, potentially hurting your neck and shoulders. Plus, you’re most likely going to start waking up with a stiff neck and headaches. If you let the bad habit of sleeping on a subpar pillow go on, you can permanently damage your neck.
However, tons of companies have created pillows specifically for side sleepers so you don’t have to keep folding your pillow in half or stuffing two or three pillows under your head as your pillow deflates at night. Let’s talk about some of the best pillows for side sleepers out there.
The best pillows for side sleepers
- Tuft and Needle pillow review)
- Layla Pillow — $99 (Layla pillow review)
- Leesa reversible hybrid pillow — $109
The Tuft and Needle pillow might be more expensive than some other choices on this list, but this pillow is a great choice if you need all the support you can get. T&N’s Original Foam Pillow has a high loft and is comfortable yet firm, so that $75 price tag is well worth it. You might be able to find some less expensive memory foam pillows out there, but if you’re new to the side sleeper pillow world, it’s always best to aim higher than you think. After all, if you treat it well, your pillow is going to last you a few years, and you don’t want to be sleeping on something that keeps you up every night. And if you’re unsure of what you really want, Tuft and Needle offers an 100-night trial on top of its three-year limited warranty, so get comfortable.
Want to know more about Tuft and Needle’s Original Foam Pillow? Check out our Tuft and Needle pillow review; it’ll give you a clearer image of what sleeping on this model is really like.
Layla Pillow — $99
The Layla pillow is great for the needier sleeper out there. If you sleep hot, you’re wide-framed or you need a pillow that is soft to the touch yet firm and high-lofted, it’s likely hard to find the right pillow. If you’re not getting a pillow with enough loft, you’re going to wear it down much quicker than you would another, lower-quality pillow. But if you feel like you’re sleeping on a rock, you’re probably not going to be able to fall asleep. The Layla pillow is soft, squishy and comfortable, and if you overestimate how firm you really like your pillows, just unzip the side and remove the shredded memory foam inside.
If you’re wondering what it means for a pillow to be reversible, consider this: it’s quilted, made for every type of sleeper and keeps you cool throughout the night. Pillows filled with cooling gel, like this pillow is, won’t retain heat as much as other pillows might. Plus, if you don’t exclusively sleep on your side, you can remove the insert with ease to stomach or back sleep to your heart’s content. Sure, it’s a costly pillow, but buying this pillow is really like getting two in one.
Do you need a pillow that curves around your face to cradle your shoulders and back, too? Some of us need some extra support, and this pillow was designed specifically so side sleepers can get the right amount of it. It may sound odd, but this pillow was made with foam infused with copper, so you’ll stay cool throughout the night. Many of us really like to cozy into our pillow, and the rectangular shape of most pillows prevents side sleepers from getting the pillow around their shoulder and close to their neck. This isn’t a great pillow for stomach sleepers, but if you switch between your side and back, this is a good choice. Try it out for 60 days; Honeydew Sleep Company wants to ensure you’re 100% certain you love this uniquely shaped pillow.
You can tell just by looking at this pillow’s picture that this pillow has some weight to it. Rather than coming to points at each side like a typical pillow might, this pillow was made in 3D for that broad-shouldered sleeper who has tons of space between their head and mattress. No more folding, fluffing and squishing your pillow, because this pillow will stay firm and supportive throughout the night. It’s a great choice if you’re on a budget, too, though with 100% polyester fill, this pillow isn’t likely to last quite as long as your average down or memory foam pillow. Still, if you’re searching for a short-term way to keep your head from tilting diagonally or if you’re just a part-time side sleeper, this is an easy choice.
OK, hear us out. No, most down pillows shouldn’t be used by side sleepers. They’re far too squishy, not supportive enough and you’re going to wake up with a blasting headache from allowing your head to sink too far into the pillow and toward your mattress. However, if you find the right down pillow — the down pillow that’s lofty, firm and filled enough — then you’ve hit the jackpot. Down is a luxury filling material, and you’ll be paying luxury prices, but there’s nothing quite like the softness of a down pillow. So, if you’re not very broad-shouldered or if you need a pillow that feels five-star hotel soft, Downlite has your answer.
Plenty of people are too nervous to test drive a contoured pillow. It looks weird, you’re worried it’s going to dig into your neck, and you’re simply not in the mood to try out a pillow and risk a good night’s sleep. Well, Sleep Innovations’ memory foam pillow is both inexpensive and a great way to test the contoured pillow waters. Memory foam cradles your head without allowing you to sink into the pillow, which means you feel like your pillow is light and airy without the headache. Contoured pillows, once you adjust to them, are great for side sleepers because they truly are the best way to cradle and support your neck in addition to your head. It’s a great way to show your neck some love, too, and at a great price.
If the DOWNLITE pillow sparked your interest and renewed your confidence in down pillows again, you’re probably already trying to figure out other down pillows that might work for your side-sleeping ways. However, if most down pillows simply aren’t in the budget, National Sleep Products has designed something that feels luxurious but doesn’t cost a ton of money. These pillows are advertised as “down-like,” which means they’re made with either a combination of feathers and down or made entirely of feathers, which are the less soft, top layer of a bird. They’re still quite soft compared to other pillow filling materials, but the main concern with feather pillows is getting prodded at night by the prickly feather quills. Still, you’re getting a soft pillow at a great price, and a pillow that’s still a good option for side sleepers.
If you’re a regular reader of our sleep content, either here on Digital Trends or over at The Manual, you’re likely familiar with Xtreme Comforts’ bamboo memory foam pillow. There’s a clear reason why: this pillow is inexpensive but feels like a luxury choice, keeps side sleepers’ heads from hitting the mattress but still feels soft, and is both cool and made with sustainability in mind. The Kool-Flow technology, combined with the bamboo pillow cover, keeps you from overheating all night, and sleeping on your side can get hot, what with your neck and the side of your face pressed against the pillow all night. Bamboo is fast-growing and easily harvested, so it’s environmentally friendly. Plus, it’s filled with memory foam, so you know it’s going to be a long-lasting and good choice as a side sleeper.
Memory foam and the brand Tempur-Pedic have become analogous. If you love your Tempur-Pedic mattress but need a pillow to top it off, you really can’t go wrong with this pillow. Sure, it looks sleek, but it’s supportive and designed just for side sleepers. It’s contoured to keep your neck supported and your head comfortable, and it’s always a good feeling to choose a trusted brand with name recognition like Tempur-Pedic. It’s one of the pricier choices on this list, but with a gel top to keep you cool, a contour to keep you supported and a design that keeps you asleep no matter how much you move in your sleep, it’s worth it.
Are you sick of waking up in the middle of the night, and staring at the ceiling wishing you were asleep? Check out our guides to the best mattress toppers, pillows to keep you cool and curtains that will keep out the light so you can wake up feeling your best.
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