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8 Top-Rated Pillows for Side Sleepers to Ensure a Restful Night’s Sleep

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

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It’s no clandestine that dozing on the incorrect pillow can have a very real (and very unpleasant) effect on your comfort. And selecting the incorrect pillow may have impacts that persist long after your morning coffee (think: tight neck, achy upper back), according to experts.

If you’re a side sleeper and aren’t keeping that in mind when pillow shopping, you should be. But your preferred sleeping position is only the start: There are a few more things you’ll want to look for when selecting your cushion.

“An ideal pillow for side sleepers should have a firm material and a mid to low height to provide spinal support, alignment, and stability for the area between the ear and shoulder,” says sleep expert Carleara Weiss, Ph.D., medical advisor for Aeroflow Sleep. In other words, the best side-sleeper pillows aren’t lofty or excessively soft and squishy.

Honeydew Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow

That being said, picking the best side-sleeper pillow can be tricky since there are so many options on the market. Based on these expert guidelines — and endorsements from real customers — here are eight of the top side-sleeper pillow choices.

A non-traditional curved shape isn’t the only thing that sets this side-sleeper pillow apart. This option is also customizable — you can remove filling achieve the height that feels most comfortable for you. That means you can find the right alignment for your body type, reducing pain, improving sleep quality, and alleviating snoring in the process, according to the brand.

Customers say: Self-identified individuals who sleep on their side have been absolutely loving this selection. “The single grievance I have regarding this cushion is that I ABSOLUTELY do not desire to leave the bed anymore!” wrote one enthusiast, adding that they “have been experiencing a terrific sleep and not awakening in discomfort,” ever since transitioning to the cushion.

Sleep Number True Temp Pillow

Side sleepers who tend to heat up, celebrate. This pillow with dual functions from Sleep Number employs special technology to allure and eliminate moisture vapor (which brings about heat and humidity buildup) throughout the night. The outcome? You never awaken with perspiration-soaked hair attached to your neck. We also adored the exceptional contours that elevate the neck slightly further away from the bed, granting our shoulders more area to unwind. Make certain you choose the Contour model for side sleeping.

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

“I slept on this pillow designed for side sleepers for over a month, and it considerably decreased the tingling sensations in the arms and shoulder discomfort we were encountering upon waking,” says Kristen Geil, Shape’s senior commerce editor. “The cooling technology (particularly when combined with a silk pillowcase) was successful in automatically regulating my temperature throughout the night. Whether in a chilly AC environment or on a warm spring night with the windows open, I slept soundly on this cushion.

Not a enthusiast of memory foam? No problem. “Instead, [this side-sleeper pillow has] highly responsive latex foam that functions similarly in terms of cervical support and flexibility,” states Weiss. In other words, you can rest peacefully knowing that your neck and head are aligned to avoid unnecessary pressure and are supported regardless of how often you change positions — all without feeling like you’re resting your head on a dense brick.

Sleep Foam Pillow

Customers say: Customers acclaim the neck support, softness, and “springiness” of this pillow. Many also mention that it helped alleviate their neck pain, and it also receives high ratings for remaining cool throughout the night.

This side-sleeper pillow has a “pillow in pillow” design, with a more supportive core and a fluffier outer layer. It features a 2-inch gusset (an additional piece of material in the center), which is intended to provide optimal neck support and spine alignment.

Customers say: This option receives approval from sleepers who tend to get hot, who state that this pillow remains cool overnight. “These pillows are incredible, [my husband and I] both sleep much better,” wrote one reviewer. “I cannot believe how it has relieved me from awakening with a crick in my neck. I sleep deeper and I love the way this cradles my head but supports my neck.

Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

We didn’t purchase earlier because of the price, but it is worth every cent!

While this pillow for side sleepers is equipped with ample memory foam filling, you have the option to remove some of it to achieve your preferred height and texture. However, the recommendation from the brand is to leave all the filling in place if you are a side sleeper, as it provides the most comfortable experience. Additionally, as of July 2021, the latest version of this product is fully machine-washable.

Panda Luxury Memory Foam Bamboo Pillow

Customers say: Reviewers highly appreciate the perfect balance between softness and support that this pillow offers, and they claim that it has helped alleviate their neck pain.

The covering of this pillow designed for side sleepers is crafted from breathable bamboo, yet it still retains the molded sensation due to the presence of memory foam. Moreover, this option also includes an integrated pillow protector to safeguard against dust and dirt.

Purple Cloud Pillow

Customers say: This product receives praise for its ability to maintain its shape. However, it’s worth noting that there might be an initial period during which the pillow feels firm. Nonetheless, it gradually softens over time and has effectively resolved neck pain for multiple individuals.

Customers rave: Users adore the cloud-like sensation of this option and its ability to maintain its form throughout the night. “This is, without a doubt, the finest pillow I have ever slept on,” stated one individual. “The moment I rested my head on it, I felt like I was in paradise.

Few things are as personal as a cushion and if anyone knows that, it’s the people at Pluto. The brand collects your personal information (e.g. age, height, and weight), some understanding into your preferences (by inquiring about the softness and height of your current cushion and your overall sentiments about it), and your sleeping position (both as you fall asleep and wake up). Respond to each question on Pluto’s website, and the brand will provide you with the best pillow for side sleepers for your requirements. (Related: Can Bad Posture Take a Toll On Your Sleep?)

Pluto Pluto Pillow

Customers say: Many declare that their Pluto cushion is the best they’ve tried — and one user even went as far as to say that Pluto has “hit the nail on the head” when it comes to identifying the right pillow for their specific needs.

How to Choose the Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

“A cushion with sufficient spinal support means that spinal areas [for side sleepers, the cervical spine, which is in the neck] will maintain a stable alignment with the natural body curvature during sleep,” says Weiss. “For instance, your neck curvature is slightly forward while you’re awake. Therefore, a good cushion should align the neck and head in a neutral position to evade pressure because the pressure will result in neck/shoulder pain and headaches.”

Choosing the incorrect cushion can affect side sleepers in other unpleasant ways. “Along with general pain and headache, some individuals report stiff neck, soreness, trouble moving the neck, and neck strain after sleeping without the proper spinal support,” says Weiss.

It’s important to consider the movements you make overnight as well. “It’s also crucial to select a stable but flexible cushion [that’s] able to adapt to your body as you switch sides during sleep,” says Weiss. And regardless of your sleeping position, it’s wise to choose a machine-washable cushion for sanitary reasons, she adds. (Cleaning your cushion regularly prevents the buildup of bacteria, dead skin cells, mites, mold, and fungus, and down-filled cushions need to be taken to a dry cleaner.)

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