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Best Pillow for Side Sleepers (Top 5 Brands)

Woman sleeping on a pillow on her side

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If you’re a side sleeper who is currently looking for a new pillow, then you know how hard it can be to find one that meets your needs. Our team of sleep experts spent hundreds of hours researching and testing models from all of the leading brands so you don’t have to. This list contains the 5 best pillows for side sleepers available on the market today. Our Editor’s Choice is the Layla Kapok pillow.


Our Top Picks for Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

  1. Layla Kapok pillow – editor’s choice
  2. Saatva Latex pillow – best organic pillow
  3. Purple Harmony pillow – most cooling pillow
  4. Tuft & Needle Down Alternative pillow – best down alternative pillow
  5. Nest Bedding Easy Breather – best memory foam pillow

#1. Layla Kapok Pillow

Check Current Price | Editor’s Choice

layla kapok pillow with tag
Layla Kapok Pillow

Pros

  • Light and breathable
  • Cooling
  • Adjustable pillow
  • Pressure-relieving

Cons

  • May be a bit too soft for some
  • Slight off-gassing

Our experience with Layla

Containing a blend of shredded memory foam and kapok fibers, the Layla Kapok pillow is both pressure-relieving and cooling, making it a good choice for hot sleepers who prefer the contouring support of a memory foam pillow.

Softer and airier than regular cotton or wool, the Layla Kapok pillow not only feels extremely soft to lay on but is moisture-wicking as well, helping you sleep cooler and drier. This is crucial, especially if you suffer from night sweats. Kapok has long been used as a cotton alternative in Asia, where hot, humid temperatures run the gamut from hot to even hotter.

Combined with premium shredded memory foam fill, the Layla Kapok pillow is a good choice for side sleepers because of its body hugging, conforming feel that only true memory foam can give. It could definitely be used as both a regular pillow and a body pillow, should you need one.

Side sleepers need a soft yet supportive pillow as opposed to stomach sleepers and back sleepers who need a firm pillow. Side sleeping usually causes strain on the shoulders and hips. Side sleepers who sleep on a firmer pillow or a firm mattress can result in either hip or shoulder pain – or even both.

The Layla Kapok pillow is a fairly high loft pillow but you adjust its thickness since it is an adjustable pillow. Adjustable pillows are great for those who wish to have the option to adjust their pillow’s thickness according to their preferences. With the Layla Kapok pillow, all you have to do is add or remove the stuffing to get your desired loft.

Encased in the same breathable cotton cover that features Layla’s very own hexagonal design as their mattresses, the cover is removable and machine washable which is convenient especially if you have kids or are just accident prone like I am.

We did experience a small amount of off-gassing with the Layla Kapok pillow, but this is normal especially with memory foam products. This dissipated within a few days, and if you prefer, you can air out your new pillow in a well-ventilated room for a day or two prior to using.

Sizes

  • Queen
  • King

Warranty

Layla does not offer a sleep trial for their pillows but they do have a pretty lenient return policy, which goes up to 4 weeks. The Layla Kapok pillow comes backed by a substantial 5 year warranty.

Buy: Layla Kapok Pillow


#2. Saatva Latex Pillow

Check Current Price | Best Organic Pillow

saatva latex pillow
Saatva Latex Pillow

Pros

  • Hotel quality pillow
  • Cooling
  • Responsive

Cons

  • Not body conforming
  • Can be a bit pricey

Our experience with Saatva

Saatva is best known for their premium quality, organic mattresses but they also offer an organic pillow with their Latex Pillow. Differing slightly in construction from a regular pillow, the Saatva Latex pillow features a removable inner pillow that’s filled with down-like micro denier fiber.

Pretty much most of us are familiar with how a down or down alternative pillow feels like – soft, squishy and quite pliable – perfect for those who sleep exclusively on their sides. The core of the pillow is made up of shredded 100% natural latex. Natural latex is very responsive, which we found offsets the pillow’s down-like squishiness. We also found that the combination of latex and microdenier fiber helps alleviate any neck and shoulder pain that we might have from sleeping in one position for too long.

Latex is also naturally cooling and does not trap heat like memory foam does. Although not the most cooling pillow we have tried, the Saatva Latex pillow still did a pretty good job of helping us sleep cool and dry. Aside from that, natural latex is also hypoallergenic, making the Saatva Latex pillow a good choice for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.

We consider Saatva’s Latex pillow a mid plush pillow when it comes to firmness and while it’s amazing for those who prefer side sleeping, it’s also great for combination sleepers.

A really high loft pillow can skew your spinal alignment and sleeping on the wrong pillow for your preferred sleep position can wreak havoc on the neck and shoulders. If you suffer from neck pain, we suggest opting for an adjustable pillow, with which you can customize your pillow’s loft to what best suits you. The Saatva Latex pillow is adjustable and you can add or lessen the amount of fill within it, or you can simply remove the latex core.

The Saatva Latex pillow comes encased in an organic cotton cover that is soft, breathable and helps wick away heat and moisture. And of course being Saatva, their latex pillow features gusseted sides with contrast welting that helps keep the shape of the pillow intact for longer. The pillow cover is also a machine-washable cover – simply unzip and throw in the wash. We experienced no instances of off-gassing with the Saatva pillow.

Whether used as regular bed pillows or body pillows, we can safely say that the Saatva Latex pillow is comparable to any down pillow you might find in any 5-star hotels around the world.

Sizes

  • Queen
  • King

Warranty

Saatva does not offer a sleep trial but they do offer a 45-day money back guarantee on returns for their Latex pillow. It also comes backed by a 1 year limited warranty. Saatva pillows also come with free shipping within the United States.

Buy: Saatva Latex Pillow


#3. Purple Harmony Pillow

Check Current Price | Most Cooling Pillow

purple harmony pillow
Purple Harmony Pillow

Pros

  • Cooling
  • Ultra responsive
  • Comes in 3 heights

Cons

  • Not body conforming
  • Purple’s GelFlex Grid can take some getting used to

Our experience with Purple

A lot of mattress brands these days offer their own proprietary tech when it comes to mattresses and bedding but Purple is the only brand (so far) that offers the GelFlex Grid – a solid but stretchable material that’s made from hyper-elastic polymer. This is what makes Purple mattresses so unique in both design and feel and we here at Sleepline are definitely big fans of the Purple Grid.

In their Harmony pillow, Purple combines their GelFlex Grid with 100% Talalay latex, creating a pillow that’s both cooling, very responsive as well as hypoallergenic.

Out of all the latex types, Talalay latex has been proven to be more breathable and is less dense, which when used in bedding products such as pillows and mattresses, helps sleepers sleep a little bit cooler. Combined with the Purple Grid – which by itself is already cooling as it allows air to flow through freely, the Talalay latex in the Purple Harmony pillow makes for one of the coolest pillows we’ve ever tried. This makes it a good pillow for side sleepers who sleep extremely hot and need a more breathable pillow.

Both the Grid and latex are also very responsive in design, making the Harmony pillow a great side sleeper pillow for those who suffer from neck pain and need ample neck support. Side sleepers often need a thicker pillow as this helps keep their spinal alignment in check – especially for those who are heavier in build.

But Purple took their Harmony pillow a notch higher by providing loft options for those who need them. Coming in both Low, Medium and High lofts, the Purple Harmony pillow can be suitable not only for side sleepers but for stomach sleepers and back sleepers as well. Contrary to popular belief, sleeping position does play a big part in pillow preferences.

Those who prefer a more body conforming (or neck conforming) pillow might not like the Purple Harmony however and they might be more comfortable with a memory foam pillow, which we have also included in this list.

The Purple Harmony pillow comes encased in a removable and washable cotton cover but please bear in mind that you cannot wash the pillow’s core. We recommend spot cleaning immediately should any accidents or stains happen.

We did not experience any off-gassing with the Purple Harmony and we found that it kept its shape extremely well, even months down the line of regular use. If you are on the hunt for a good Talalay latex pillow, then you definitely can’t go wrong with the Purple Harmony.

Sizes

  • Standard
  • King

Warranty

One of the few brands to offer sleep trials for their pillows, the Purple Harmony pillow comes with a 100 night risk-free sleep trial. It also comes backed by a 1 year warranty. Purple also offers free shipping for their bedding products and that includes the Purple Harmony.

Buy: Purple Harmony Pillow


#4. Tuft & Needle Down Alternative Pillow

Check Current Price | Best Down Alternative Pillow | Review

tuft & needle down alternative pillows stacked on top of each other
Tuft & Needle Down Alternative

Pros

  • Super soft
  • Luxurious
  • No ducks and geese were harmed meaning it’s completely cruelty-free

Cons

  • Might be too soft for some
  • Could be too thin for some

Our experience with Tuft & Needle

A down or feather pillow spells the ultimate in luxury when it comes to pillows. Filled with eiderdown from either ducks or geese, down pillows are soft, malleable and offer luxurious comfort. But feather pillows can also be a little smelly – not in a particularly bad way – but those who are sensitive to scents might find them a little offensive. What’s more, those who are allergic to pet dander might also be allergic to down pillows.

But down pillows are still popular for a reason and a few mattress and bedding brands have begun offering a down alternative pillow. Down alternative pillows feel exactly like real down pillows but are filled with pillow materials that contain no animal by-products.

Tuft & Needle’s Down Alternative pillow contain a polyester filling that is designed to resist mites and other microbes, making it a good option for those who are sensitive to various allergens.

Soft and malleable like true down pillows, the Tuft & Needle pillow is great for side sleepers as it offers almost the same body-contouring support as memory foam pillows. Those who suffer from chronic neck pain might find more comfort with a pillow thats more pliable than regular foam, be it memory foam or latex.

With a Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX certification, the Tuft & Needle Down Alternative pillow is free from any chemicals that could be detrimental to the health or the environment. Since it contains no animal by-products, the pillow is also a good option for those who follow a vegan lifestyle and those who want organic mattresses.

We found the Tuft & Needle Down Alternative pillow to be extremely lightweight but this could be an issue for some people, especially those that prefer a side sleeper pillow with more loft. We also found it to be a good option for those that sleep predominantly on their backs.

The pillow comes with a casing that’s soft and breathable that features a classic gray piping on the sides. Although the casing is not removable, the entire pillow can be machine-washed and tumble dried. We also found that the pillow retained its shape after washing and drying, although a little fluffing about may be needed.

We did not experience any off-gassing with the Tuft & Needle pillow and or course, no barnyard smell as well.

Sizes

  • Standard
  • King

Warranty

Tuft & Needle offers a 100 night risk-free sleep trial for all of their products and this includes their Down Alternative pillows. The pillow also comes with a 2 year warranty and free returns.

Buy: Tuft & Needle Down Alternative Pillow


#5. Nest Bedding Easy Breather

Check Current Price | Best Memory Foam Pillow | Review

nest bedding easy breather side sleeper pillow
Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

Pros

  • Fully adjustable
  • Machine washable
  • Comes with complimentary fill bag

Cons

  • Slight off-gassing
  • Not too responsive

Our experience with Nest Bedding

The words ‘memory foam’ have been on everyone’s lips since NASA first released its design for public use in the 1980s. Now, decades later, it’s still one of the most sought after material when it comes to mattresses, pillows, cushions and even shoes.

A memory foam pillow or shredded memory foam pillows, offer body-contouring comfort and support that no other material can. When used in pillows, memory foam cradles and neck and shoulders, allowing optimum pressure relief especially to those that suffer from neck pain and/or shoulder pain.

The Nest Bedding Easy Breather pillow is filled with CertiPUR-US certified memory foam that’s been shredded for better adjustability. While some pillows come as a thick slab of memory foam, shredded memory foam does not retain heat like a solid piece can. This also means you can adjust the firmness level and loft to your needs and preferences, simply by taking out or adding in.

For added convenience, Nest Bedding has included a complimentary fill bag, so you won’t lose or misplace any of the stuffing. Having a designated fill bag also helps keep your pillow fill clean and hygienic.

It does, however, come overstuffed. But this is only because Nest Bedding ships their Easy Breather pillows to full capacity just so you won’t lose any filling during shipping and handling. It is now up to you to either leave the pillow as it is (which they recommend for side sleepers who prefer a higher loft pillow) or take out some of the filling to suit your sleeping position.

While the Nest Bedding Easy Breather’s cotton cover is removable and washable, Nest Bedding recommends the use of a pillow protector to increase the life span of your new pillow. The filling, however, must be kept dry at all times.

Nest Bedding also recommends fluffing the contents of the Easy Breather pillow once a week to let the shredded memory foam open up.

We did experience a tiny bit of off-gassing with the Nest Bedding Easy Breather pillow but we found that this is a normal occurrence when it comes to memory foam products. We also found that it did take a few days for the smell to completely disappear. Airing out your new pillow for a few days prior to first use can help move the process along faster.

The shredded memory foam used in the Easy Breather pillow is derived from gel-infused memory foam. This, coupled with the fact that the memory foam is shredded, helped keep this memory foam cool and breathable, making it a good option for hot sleepers.

We also found that the Easy Breather pillow helped ease the discomfort of those who constantly get a stiff neck. Due to its adjustable and body coforming nature, it was easy to keep our spinal alignment in check when sleeping on the Nest Bedding Easy Breather pillow. They are also one of the few brands to offer a side sleeper pillow size.

Sizes

  • Standard
  • Side Sleeper
  • Queen
  • King

Warranty

Nest Bedding offers a 30 day risk-free sleep trial for their Easy Breather pillow. It also comes backed by a 2 year warranty.

Buy: Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow


What should side sleepers look for in pillows?

Just like with mattresses, side sleepers should always opt for a softer pillow that is either high or medium loft. This helps keep the pressure off the main pressure points of side sleepers (which are the shoulders and neck) while ensuring proper spinal alignment.

Pillow materials can also come into play when choosing a side sleeper pillow. Again, just like mattresses, pillow types can help any other issues side sleepers may have such as sleeping hot, chronic pain, body weight and lifestyle requirements. A side sleeper pillow can come in either memory foam, latex foam, poly-fill, buckwheat hulls or in the case of Purple, even a hyper-elastic polymer gel.

There are also a number of side sleepers who may prefer a firm pillow. While this may not be the best pillow for side sleepers, a firm, contouring and yet supportive pillow could still be used as a side sleeper pillow. Just make sure that the firmness must not exceed medium firm. We recommend adjustable pillows for those who like to play around with firmness.

Side sleeping requires extra care as it does put pressure on a larger number of pressure points in the body. This includes the shoulders, neck, hips and legs. We also recommends the use of a body pillow for extra comfort.


FAQs

What type of pillow is best for side sleepers?

A soft yet supportive pillow is the best pillow for side sleepers.

How firm should a pillow be for side sleepers?

Firmness levels can vary due to a person’s body weight and the head can vary in weight as well. Soft pillows are recommended for side sleepers but someone who is heavier set can get away with sleeping on a medium to medium firm pillow, provided it is body conforming such as a memory foam pillow.

How high should a pillow be for side sleepers?

A side sleeper pillow can be high loft, as long as it allows the head and neck to align with the spine.


How We Rate Pillows

There are many different types of pillows. We rate pillows by 6 standards:

  1. Firmness and Support
  2. Loft & Adjustability
  3. Hypoallergenic
  4. Hygiene
  5. Comfort
  6. Structural integrity & Durability

View our full rating process for pillows.


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