Pillow
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

The Results Are In: These Are the 8 Best Pillows for Side Sleepers, According to Our Tests

We tested over 30 pillows in our lab, but our favorite was Marlow The Pillow because of its adjustable firmness and cozy support.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

If you find yourself sleeping in the same position most nights, it's probably a good idea to find a pillow that provides enough support to keep you comfortable and pain-free as you snooze. And if you're a side sleeper, it's especially important to find a pillow that relieves pressure and keeps you from waking up feeling achy. 

"Pain is a big concern for many side sleepers," says Dr. Lulu Guo, sleep medicine specialist with Valley Sleep Center. "You are placing increased pressure on [your] hips and shoulders overnight."

The best pillows for side sleepers will relieve pressure on these common pain points, allowing you to fall asleep comfortably without tossing and turning or waking up feeling achy. You're also going to want a pillow with the right thickness (otherwise known as the pillow's loft) to keep your head, neck, and spine in a neutral position. 

However, the pillow's fill material and texture are up to personal preference. During our tests, we used down pillows, memory foam pillows, shredded memory foam, and more to find the most comfortable options.  

Marlow The Pillow is our top choice for the best overall pillow for side sleepers because of its adjustable firmness, chopped memory foam interior, and plush design that cradled our testers' heads. 

Here are the best pillows for side sleepers.

What We Recommend

Pillow
Credit: Courtesy of Marlow

Best Overall: Marlow The Pillow

View at Marlow ($65)

Why You Should Get It: The zippers on both ends of the pillow allow you to adjust the firmness without adding or removing any filling. 

Keep in Mind: While the manufacturer claims this is a cooling pillow, our testers didn't find that it repelled heat any better than non-cooling pillows we tested.

After wowing our team of experts in our testing lab, this shredded memory foam pillow took the top spot as the best overall pillow for side sleepers.

The Marlow pillow offers an interesting feature: It has zippers on both sides of the pillow that open and close, allowing you to adjust its firmness. When closed, the pillow is a bit more firm and supportive under your head since the pillow has no room to expand. 

When unzipped, the pillow offers a little more softness and airflow through the cooling foam inside. Our tester noted it felt firm both open and closed, and as a side and back sleeper, they liked the added support beneath their head and neck in both positions.  

While we loved how cozy and supportive the Marlow pillow was, we noticed that this pillow promised to be cooling, but the surface temperature remained quite similar to the non-cooling pillows we tested. It seemed to get slightly warmer over time as our testers laid on it, but not enough to impact the comfort of the pillow. 

Product Details:

  • Cleaning: Spot clean only. Regularly fluff your pillow to restore loftiness.
  • Fill Material: Polyurethane foam and polyester fiber
  • Firmness: Adjustable
Pillow
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Budget: Rest Haven Shredded Memory Foam Bed Pillow (Pack of Two)

View at Walmart ($25)

Why You Should Get It: The shredded memory foam inside this pillow contours to your head, no matter what position you fall asleep in. 

Keep in Mind: This pillow is smaller than typical standard-size pillows.

Filled with shredded memory foam meant to mold around your head, the Rest Haven pillow supports your head, neck, and shoulders, keeping your spine aligned and your neck comfortable. The pillow's fill is a hypoallergenic alternative to similar down pillows and has a soft polyester cover encasing the pillow.

Our testers emphasized that the Rest Haven felt like a much more expensive pillow than the price tag, and it performed better than many higher-priced pillows we tested. Testers said that the patterned cover felt high quality, though the seams weren't as even as some of the other pillows we tested. But once the pillow was in the pillowcase, the seams were hidden and didn't impact the feel of the pillow.

Despite not being a cooling pillow, the Rest Haven pillow was surprisingly cool to the touch when our testers laid on it. It remained quite comfortable without getting too hot throughout the time our experts used it, and they found that the shredded memory foam contoured to their heads, no matter their sleep position. 

If you purchase this pillow, it will arrive compressed, so you will need to fluff it vigorously to obtain the foam's full loft. A 20-minute run through the dryer can help fluff it as well. You'll also want to occasionally fluff the pillow as you use it to keep the high loft.

We found that the Rest Haven pillows were a little smaller than standard, at approximately 16 inches wide by 25 inches long. While this didn't stop them from being extremely comfortable and supportive, they may look loose inside your pillowcases. 

Product Details:

  • Cleaning: Spot cleaning only
  • Fill Material: Shredded synthetic memory foam
  • Firmness: Not listed
Pillow
Credit: Courtesy of Saatva

Best Splurge: Saatva Latex Pillow

View at Saatva ($165)

Why You Should Get It: The responsive fill inside this pillow bounces back quickly when you press into it, allowing it to keep its shape over time. 

Keep in Mind: This pillow isn't adjustable, so you can't add or remove filling. 

This was the highest-quality, most luxurious pillow we tested, and if you're looking for a pillow that has five-star hotel quality comfort and loads of breathability, we recommend the Saatva Latex pillow. 

The center of this pillow is filled with shredded natural latex for responsive head and neck support, and it has a removable inner pillow filled with down-like microdenier fiber. The cover is made of super-soft, breathable organic cotton that feels luxe.

Our tests found this pillow to be plump and heavy, almost like a weighted pillow. It's quick to rise back when pressed upon, signaling its responsive support, and it slides into pillowcases with ease. You can see the piping around the edges a little through some pillowcases. 

What we love about this pillow is that it's comfortable the minute you rest your head on it. The Saatva stayed cool to the touch and felt super breathable, and there's not really any need to adjust the pillow or push it into shape under your neck. 

This pillow has a one-year limited warranty and a 45-day return guarantee, meaning you have over a month to try it out before committing to this pillow. This is helpful since the pillow is not adjustable like others on our list, so you have time to test out the loft before determining if it's the right fit for you.

Product Details:

  • Cleaning: Machine washable cover
  • Fill Material: Shredded latex
  • Firmness Options: Medium-firm

Related: We Put 31 of the Best Pillows to the Test, and These 11 Were the Most Comfortable

Pillow
Credit: Courtesy of Casper

Best Memory Foam: Casper Foam Pillow with Snow Technology

View at Amazon ($139) 

Also available at Casper

Why You Should Get It: This memory foam pillow has cooling features that kept our testers comfortable even when lying on it for a long time. 

Keep in Mind: It's a little smaller than the average pillow, so it won't fit perfectly in a pillowcase. 

The Casper Foam Pillow with Snow Technology is our pick for the best memory foam pillow because of its high-quality texture and plush firmness that's optimal for side sleepers. 

When holding this pillow, you'll notice that it has a substantial amount of heft, which allows it to provide excellent head and neck support as you snooze. However, that doesn't prevent this pillow from being both supportive and nicely squishy. 

Our testers raved about this pillow's combination of firmness and structure that holds its shape all night, and with perforated foam designed to push heat away, this pillow stays cooler than most, making it a great choice for hot sleepers. The pillow has Casper's patented Heat Delete bands and cooling perforated foam inside, which is designed to wick away heat for a cooler nights sleep. 

Our testers found that, even when lying on the pillow for extended amounts of time, they couldn't feel the pillow heat up at all. It remained cool to the touch. 

This pillow comes packed into a small box, and you'll need to remove it from the box and allow it to fully expand before using. Like all Casper products, it has a one-year limited warranty and a 30-day risk-free trial.

Product Details:

  • Cleaning: Machine wash cover only
  • Fill Material: Polyurethane foam
  • Firmness: Firm

Related: The 10 Best Organic Sheets for a Dreamy Bedroom

Pillow
Credit: Courtesy of Boll & Branch

Best Down: Boll & Branch Down Pillow

View at Boll and Branch ($158)

Why You Should Get It: It has the look and feel of a luxury down pillow while also providing adequate neck and shoulder support for side sleepers. 

Keep in Mind: This pillow can't be washed or dry cleaned.

If you enjoy the plush feeling of sinking into a down pillow, you'll likely love this one from Boll & Branch, which is supportive enough for side sleepers but still has the delightful squishiness of down. Our testers loved that this pillow was very firm for a down pillow, providing the extra neck support that side sleepers need without feeling too dense beneath your head.  

Unlike some down pillows, the Boll & Branch pillow didn't have any feathers poking through the shell. That's because the insert is wrapped in 100% organic cotton that prevents feathers from escaping. We also found that this pillow was completely odorless, without the feather smell some down pillows have. 

All of the down in this pillow is triple washed before construction to create a high, long-lasting loft that supports your head and neck all night long, even when snoozing on your side. 

Our testers found the Boll & Branch pillow stayed surprisingly cool for a down pillow, which tends to retain heat more than other fill types. It also has some nice luxury details, with piping trim and a three-chamber construction that promises to hold shape and firmness over time. 

Just keep in mind that the pillow can't be washed or dry cleaned, as that can ruin the feathers inside, so you'll have to be extra careful not to stain it.

Product Details:

  • Cleaning: Spot cleaning only
  • Fill Material: Down 
  • Firmness: Soft, medium, and firm

Related: 6 Best Bamboo Sheets for Luxurious Sleep

Pillow
Credit: Courtesy of Slumber Cloud

Best Down Alternative: Slumber Cloud Core Down Alternative Pillow

View at Slumber Cloud ($59)

Why You Should Get It: This pillow offers plush, cooling support no matter what position you fall asleep in. 

Keep in Mind: Though advertised as machine-washable, it shrank slightly after our testers washed and dried it.

If you love a plush, hotel-quality pillow but don't love actual feathers, you may have tried different down alternatives—some of which can be too soft and pliable for side sleepers. The Slumber Cloud pillow offers the kind of support a side sleeper needs to keep their spine aligned without sacrificing the comfy, fluffy feeling of a down alternative fill. 

This cotton pillow is also infused with a special lining that's designed to reduce heat on the pillow's surface as you sleep. During testing, our experts said they did not feel any heat coming from the pillow, even when resting on it for extended periods of time, and the surface remained at a comfortable temperature. 

Our testers loved how squishy this pillow was, and noted that while it was soft and fluffy, they were comfortable even when resting on their side. The plush fill was able to effectively cradle the weight of their head while remaining quite cuddly. 

We also found that the Slumber Cloud pillow's cost is significantly lower than many other pillows we tested, but its quality remained equally high. However, we'd recommend limiting the number of times you wash it, as this pillow seemed to shrink and fray slightly after we put it in the dryer. 

Product Details:

  • Cleaning: Machine washable
  • Fill Material: Cotton and latex 
  • Firmness Options: Soft/medium or medium/firm
Pillow
Credit: Courtesy of Avocado

Best Organic: Avocado Green Pillow

View at Avocado ($99)

Why You Should Get It: This pillow is made from non-toxic, organic ingredients, but it feels just as comfortable as a synthetic-filled pillow

Keep in Mind: Fill can get stuck in the zipper when adding or removing stuffing.

During our tests, the Avocado Green Pillow stood out to our experts for its plushness that rivaled synthetic pillows while being made from vegan, organic materials. This pillow is non-toxic and comes with additional fill so you can add or remove stuffing for a more tailored pillow thickness. 

It's made from certified organic latex and kapok (a cotton fiber), but our testers reported that it felt just as cozy as a down alternative or shredded memory foam pillow. 

While this isn't technically a cooling pillow, according to our tests, there was no temperature change on the pillow's surface before and after our experts laid on it, which was an unexpected surprise. It stayed cool to the touch even after resting on it for more than 15 minutes at a time. 

Our testers also noted that the pillow was both incredibly soft and supportive. The pillow felt like it molded to the shape of the head, while also keeping the head and neck supported. However, the pillow isn't so firm that you cannot move your head, and it's quite forgiving as you turn from one side to the other.

Each pillow includes one extra fill bag for simple, customized comfort; however, our tester noted when they tried to adjust the fill by adding more, the stretchy material of the fill had a tendency to get stuck in the zipper. This was more of an annoying problem than a major flaw, though. 

Product Details:

  • Cleaning: Machine-washable cover
  • Fill Material: Organic jersey cotton
  • Firmness Options: Only one option, add more fill for more firmness
Pillow
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Cooling: Snuggle-Pedic Original Memory Foam Pillow

View at Amazon ($69)

Why You Should Get It: This pillow's bamboo cover is well-ventilated to keep you cool overnight.

Keep in Mind: You'll have to adjust the firmness yourself, which can be a little messy.

If you're tired of flipping your pillow to find the cool side on hot and sticky nights, you'll likely sleep best on a pillow with extra breathability and heat-repelling properties. Our pick for best cooling pillow, the Snuggle-Pedic stayed almost the exact same temperature during our testers' time lying on it, only gaining two degrees during the test. 

Our experts couldn't stop raving about how refreshing and cool the pillow felt against their scalp, even after lying on it for long stretches of time. This is partially due to the textured bamboo cover, which is a naturally wicking fabric that adds breathability to vent away stuffy air. 

This pillow comes with an extra bag of fill that you can "feed" the pillow for additional support. Whether you prefer firmness or softness, the adjustable shredded memory foam that lets you choose the way you snooze.

There's a zipper on the seam to allow you to add or remove stuffing, but according to our testers, it's sewn in well and doesn't poke through the pillowcase or show at all. You can see the pattern of the cover slightly through the pillowcase, but our tester noted it was barely noticeable.

This pillow would be perfect for hot sleepers or anyone dealing with neck pain from a less supportive pillow, as this pillow provides ample support without compromising plushness or softness.

Product Details:

  • Cleaning: Machine washable cover
  • Fill Material: Shredded memory foam
  • Firmness Options: Memory foam with additional fill

The Bottom Line

After testing dozens of the best pillows for side sleepers, we selected Marlow The Pillow as our top pick. This breathable pillow holds its shape, doesn't get overly warm, and is a great value for the price. 

Our Testing Process

Over the course of two days, our testers poked, prodded, and reclined on 31 pillows to see which would be the best pillows for side sleepers. We tested each for quality, looking at the construction, texture, and softness of the pillow. We also examined how well they fit into standard pillowcases, added and removed stuffing from pillows with adjustable fill, and considered how comfortable each was in different sleeping positions. 

We also tested for cooling capabilities, taking each pillow's temperature before and after testers rested their heads on it for 15 minutes.

Our testing team took a hard look at durability as well, taking measurements before and after washing pillows that were labeled as washable by the manufacturer. The team examined the washed pillows to see if they held their shape, maintained softness, and stayed the same size or shrank.

Lastly, we factored the overall value of each pillow based on the individual insights gathered and the price before creating our overall list of the best pillows for side sleepers. 

What to Know About Pillows for Side Sleepers Before Shopping

Fill Material

When considering the best pillows for side sleepers, you'll want to figure out what type of filling contains the right combination of structure and plushness for a restful night of sleep

Typically, memory foam and shredded memory foam pillows provide the most support for side sleepers. However, pillows with alternative fill types—like the Boll & Branch Down Pillow we tested—are dense enough that they provide excellent cushioning for people who tend to sleep on their side. 

"Firm fill material can be anything from foam to a heavy-duty down alternative," says Melissa Danielson, a product developer for Casper. "This material will give you the support that you need to get a good night's sleep."

Firmness

Side sleepers will want to shop for a medium-firm to firm pillow in order to relieve pressure and avoid waking up feeling achy. 

"The most important thing to look for in a mattress fill for side sleepers is support," Danielson says. "Side sleepers should avoid a pillow with soft fill, since it will make your head sink in and put pressure on your shoulder, resulting in a stiff neck when you wake up." 

Other Pillows for Side Sleepers We Tested

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow

When testing the Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Cooling Pillow, we found that while it had the supportiveness that many side sleepers need, it wasn't very comfortable to sleep on. Our testers reported that it was quite difficult to turn their head from side to side when lying on this pillow, and they felt the need to constantly readjust it underneath their heads. However, someone who prefers a particularly firm pillow may appreciate this one. 

Parachute Down Pillow

The Parachute Down Pillow was another popular model that we expected to perform really well in our tests, yet it fell flat compared to other pillows we tested. While we liked the loft of this pillow, its cover was extremely thin, allowing you to see the down filling inside. During our temperature tests, our experts reported that it was quite hot to sleep on, and they found the fill to be too firm for comfort. Given the price, we didn't feel that this down pillow was the best choice for side sleepers. 

UTTU Sandwich Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow

The UTTU Sandwich Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow is designed to provide neck support, especially for people who sleep on their sides, but during testing, our experts weren't particularly blown away by it. While it was reasonably comfortable and contoured to our heads when we laid on it, other memory foam pillows proved to be more comfortable and supportive than this one. We also found the foam material to be a little cheap, which is why it didn't make our list.

Your Questions, Answered

What kind of pillow is best for side sleeping?

When shopping for the best pillows for side sleepers, you'll want to find a pillow that balances support with cushioning, especially across your upper body, to avoid neck or back discomfort.  

"If you sleep on your side, your shoulder bears much of the support, so a firmer pillow is usually most comfortable and supportive to sleep well," Danielson says. 

How thick should a pillow be for side sleepers?

A key rule for avoiding neck pain in the morning is to make sure the full spine is aligned in a neutral position. 

"Side sleepers should look for a pillow loft that will align your head, neck, and spine, and take some pressure off the shoulder," Danielson says. "Any range of pillow loft can be a good fit, depending on the width of your shoulders and how heavy you are. The wider your shoulders, the taller your pillow should be. Likewise, the heavier you weigh, the lower the pillow should be."

How many pillows should a side sleeper have?

Be careful with stacking pillows for sleep, our experts caution. While it's important to get enough support, you don't want your head to be so high that it causes neck pain. 

"Side sleepers may sleep best when using a firmer pillow for their head and one between their knees," Guo says. "This provides enough support to align the head, neck, and spine." 

Who We Are

Tanya Edwards is an award-winning writer and editor with bylines at Better Homes & Gardens and other publications. She was the editorial director of Aol Health and has been writing about health and wellness, with a focus on sleep, for over a decade. 

For this story, Tanya researched the most important features in the best pillow for side sleepers, spoke with industry experts, and used insights from our expert testers from our lab in Des Moines, Iowa. She talked with Melissa Danielson, a product developer for Casper, and Dr. Lulu Guo, sleep medicine specialist with Valley Sleep Center. Tanya has been covering sleep and sleep products for CNN.com for several years and has never met a set of cooling sheets she didn't want to test.