Since the side sleeping position is by far the most popular among adults, it’s only natural that we’ve been investigating what the best pillow for side sleepers looks and feels like. And though there are many reported benefits to sleeping on your side—like reduced sleep apnea—when done improperly, it can cause neck and shoulder strain, potentially leading to nerve pain and soft tissue issues in the spine.
Pittsburgh-based Premier Chiropractic Clinic owner and chiropractor Dr. Brian Meenan regularly advises his over 1.6 million followers on TikTok and treats patients for sleep-related pain everyday. According to him, your ideal pillow should put the least amount of stress on your spine and neck. “You want your neck mostly in neutral, not bending too far to the right or left when lying on your side,” he says. So to help you achieve the most restful night’s sleep, we’ve rounded up the 16 best side sleeper pillows we could find—including recommendations from Dr. Meenan, top-reviewed online picks, and cushions my colleagues at AD and I have tried ourselves.
Dr. Meenan’s ideal pick for a side sleeper is Tempur-Pedic’s Tempur-Neck pillow, whose curved shape also makes it ideal for back sleepers. “I always recommend a hybrid of back and side sleeping,” he says. “What this means is that the individual would lie more on the back of the shoulder instead of directly on the side of it.” Tempur-Pedic’s pillow has a dual-curve construction, with the larger curved surface being the best option for most side sleepers, per Dr. Meenan’s recommendation.
“I like pillows that have some sort of contour to them,” Dr. Meenan admits. Sleep Number’s PlushComfort curved bed pillow is another pick from the chiropractic practitioner, filled with hypoallergenic microfiber and contoured for enhanced comfort and support. “Because we’re all shaped in such different ways, people just have to use trial and error to find which pillows are most comfortable to them.”
Over 500 Amazon reviewers gave Honeydew’s medium-firm, crescent-shaped side sleeper specialty pillow five stars, describing it as the kind of pillow that’ll keep you in bed all day. In addition to breathable, CertiPUR-US-certified, copper-infused memory foam filling that make this one of the best cooling pillow options to try out, its adjustable loft level also promotes proper alignment to help you sleep comfortably through the whole night.
Dr. Meenan also suggests it’s best to find a taller, firmer pillow—like the memory foam Pillow Cube Pro—to support the head and neck. The brand itself has some lofty claims, namely that its sleepers will “fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up happier”—and who wouldn’t be intrigued by that? After sleeping on the mattress material-like pillow myself, I can happily report that this “tiny bed,” did wonders for my achey shoulder and neck pain. And though I’m not quite sure about the faster, longer, and happier sleep promises, I do know that I’ll have time to fully test out these claims because the pillow cube feels like it will last me years to come.
If a firm pillow really isn’t your cup of tea, or you’re not ready to let go of feather pillows just yet, I’d recommend Parachute’s Side Sleeper pillow, which comes in both down and down alternative pillow options. Designed with a 3.5-inch gusset to take the strain off your neck and shoulders, this is a great hotel-style pillow option that feels luxuriously lightweight but still densely-filled. Though I usually layer it with another pillow underneath to reach my desired height, the quality is superb, and I reach for it quite a bit when I want a fluffier cushion at night.
Latex pillows that hold their shape are another good choice for side sleepers or those with back pain. Although Brooklyn Bedding’s very bouncy Talalay latex pillow is a great firm support option for the neck and shoulders, I personally think it’s ideal for extra back support. “If you prefer sleeping on your side, it helps to place a pillow behind the upper back to kind of prop you up so that you do not roll onto your back,” Dr. Meenan says. “This takes less pressure off of the shoulder joint.”
For any hot sleepers who prefer firm pillows, our audience development manager Kelsey Borovinsky (a side and stomach sleeper) was impressed by how well Purple’s Harmony pillow holds its shape. And even though she found that the cool gel and Talalay latex pillow didn’t exactly suit her stomach sleeping needs, she told us it’s a great fit for anyone looking for firm support. “If you like a Tempur-Pedic–type pillow that’s really solid and supportive, or are in the market for one to support other parts of your body, this would be a great option.”
Layla’s Kapok Pillow exceeded the expectations of former editor and side sleeper Nora Taylor, who described the semi-firm, copper infused pillow as a “supportive cake” and “not soft enough to be a cloud, but deliciously dense.” Made with fibers from the tropical kapok tree that Layla claims are softer and airier than cotton or wool, the pillow delivered some relief to Nora’s knotty back, and she ultimately found it helped her sleep comfortably through the night. When we asked if it’s worth the price, she told us, “I would buy myself one in a heartbeat knowing what I know now.”
Brooklinen’s down pillow is another great not-too-firm option that got a raving “15 out of 10—would recommend” from Jacqueline Wladis, our associate director of commerce partnerships. “They’re not so firm that you feel like you’re sleeping on a brick, but they cradle your head and provide nice back support,” she told us. Available in plush, mid-plush, and firm options, this down pillow is ideal if you’re trying to work your way up to something extra firm like latex, or even Brooklinen’s Marlow memory foam pillow.
Another medium-firm option that will deliver crucial neck support is Casper’s original pillow, which is great for all types of sleepers like our design editor Madeleine Luckel, who snoozes on both of her sides, her back, and stomach. And though she actually prefers soft pillows with some fluff, Madeleine liked Casper’s firm-ish alternative down pillow so much that she stole it from her boyfriend. She described the pillow as reaching “some indescribable sweet spot in terms of its firmness” and “thick enough to work perfectly as a stand-alone sleep piece.”
Associate editor Mel Studach called Nest’s (machine washable!) adjustable shredded memory foam pillow, “the Goldilocks of pillows,” because its removable fill can be customized to fit anyone’s preferred firmness level—perfect for picky side sleepers who like a particular height and feel. “In comparison to other pillows I’ve had in the past, this one stands out,” Mel says. “Not only for its customization, but also because of the fact that I have yet to have an uncomfortable night’s sleep or to wake up to soreness in my neck thanks to the firm support.”
Saatva’s latex pillow gets a stamp of approval from side sleeper and digital design editor Sydney Gore, who called the 100% organic and shredded latex pillow “even more comfortable IRL.” Prone to an achey back, Sydney was impressed to find out the pillow’s claims of essential back and neck support were actually true when she woke up feeling exceptionally well-rested thanks to the comforting material. Her only complaint: “I wish I had a pair!”
Coop also makes an adjustable pillow that can be customized to your personal preference—especially if you’re a side sleeper who needs a super supportive pillow. Filled with a combination of foam and microfiber stored in a washable cover, over 36,000 Amazon reviewers have given this pillow five stars. One top reviewer even called it the “best pillow ever,” adding that the pillow helped her sleep “like a brick”—something she never thought possible.
It’s easy to see why one reviewer called Eli & Elm’s side sleeper pillow “the best money I have ever spent.” Made with the ability to conform to your head and neck, the brand promises its unique U-shape design will help alleviate neck pain and promote spinal alignment while you get your eight hours of beauty rest. And for anyone who doesn’t like a high loft, the pillow is easily adjustable—just unzip the cover and remove some of the latex and polyester fill to your liking.
Side sleepers looking for a new pillow might want to check out Elviros’ Cervical Memory Foam Pillow. Awarded over 12,000 five-star reviews from Amazon shoppers, this firm and ergonomic pillow cradles and aligns your head while also supporting the rest of your upper body to relieve neck and shoulder pain. Other features include two built-in heights for those who prefer a more lofty cushion, while the high-density memory foam construction keeps the pillow’s shape and firmness in the long run.
Those suffering from nighttime acid reflux or die-hard sleep aficionados might be interested in trying out MedCline’s pillow relief system which includes a Reflux Relief Wedge, insert pillow, therapeutic body pillow, and a set of pillowcases. Backed by a 60-day return policy and a one-year warranty, MedCline uses your height to build a personalized, three-component sleep system that’s designed to naturally relieve sleepers of painful acid reflux so you can sleep soundly at night and ultimately feel better during the day.