In this article I’ll be counting down 2021’s best pillows for side sleepers.
Side sleepers need lofty pillows with firm to medium firm feels to prevent neck and shoulder pain
As a side sleeper myself, I am super picky about the pillows I’ll use, because I wake up with a sore shoulder or a pain in my neck after sleeping on a pillow that’s too soft or too flat for me.
In this article I’ve picked out some great options for side sleepers. So keep reading to learn which might work best for your needs.
Table of Contents
I tend to recommend foam pillows for side sleepers because they do a nice job of maintaining their loft overnight, which ensures that your head and neck are staying properly supported.
This pillow is especially nice because it features a three layer design that incorporates high and low density foams. This means that this pillow is going to have a really balanced feel.
Instead of feeling way too firm, like many foam pillows, the Casper foam pillow has a nice squishy outer layer that is really going to offer some great pressure relief. It doesn’t feel too firm around your ear area.
But it has a firmer inner layer that will keep your neck supported all night.
This pillow is a versatile so it’s a nice pick for back and combination sleepers as well. Plus it’s got a machine washable cover, which makes bed care a breeze.
If you are a side sleeper looking for a balanced medium firm feel that will really cradle your head and neck, relieve shoulder pressure and promote a healthy spinal alignment, this is definitely the pillow for you.
Speaking of foam pillows, my favorite foam pillow for side sleepers is the original Bear pillow. In addition to being really comfortable, this pillow sleeps super cool.
A lot of people complain that foam pillows overheat at night and this pillow really solves this problem.
It’s made with a special phase change material cover that helps dissipate your body heat.
Every time I test a Bear pillow I’m really impressed by how genuinely cool to the touch the cover feels.
It’s also made with mesh panels and airflow promoting foams to really up the cooling power.
This pillow has a classic foam feel and conforms nicely to your head and neck when you’re on your side. It will also feel comfortable to back sleepers who are after some support.
If you’re someone who feels supported and comfortable on foam but generally finds it too hot, I really think the Bear pillow could be the solution to your problem. I would definitely check it out if you’re a side sleeper.
Next on my list is the Nolah AirFoam pillow.
If you like a foam feel but want to avoid too much deep sinkage, this pillow could be the one for you.
It’s actually my favorite memory foam alternative pillow of the year.
This pillow offers springy support and actually reminds me of a lightweight latex pillow.
If you’re a side sleeper who likes feeling like you’re resting more on top of your pillow instead of sinking into it, you’ll probably like the AirFfoam pillow.
It’s got a quick response to pressure and a four inch loft that will do a great job supporting your head and neck and keeping them aligned with your spine.
This pillow also uses a cooling phase change material cover and Nolah AirFoam is more breathable than most traditional polyfoam or memory foam pillows.
So all in all, this is a great memory foam alternative pillow for side sleepers.
Next on my list is my favorite pillow for side sleepers with shoulder pain, the Layla Kapok pillow.
I actually sleep on this pillow at home because I sometimes feel sore and stiff in the shoulder area and the Kayla Kapok pillow really helped me with that.
This pillow is super lofty, it’s seven inches tall, so it does a great job of keeping your head and neck in alignment, which in turn actually takes pressure off of your shoulders.
I’ll also note that the fill is adjustable, so if it feels too tall to you, you can just remove some of that stuffing.
I especially like this pillow for shoulder pain because you can rest the pillow right up against your shoulder and it’s really going to conform to that space and take the weight off the shoulder area.
It’s shredded memory foam and Kapok fill makes it really moldable so you can really adjust it to relieve pressure.
Just for reference, Kapok is a natural fiber from the Kapok tree and it feels a little bit like a down alternative.
Next on my list is my favorite memory foam pillow for side sleepers, the Tempur-Pedic TempurCloud pillow.
This pillow really has that classic contouring memory foam feel. It conforms really well to your head and neck and features a nice slow response to pressure and some deep sinkage.
But it also has a lofty six inch build, which means your head and neck will still be properly supported.
Another great perk of this pillow is that it has cooling gel pads on each side to keep the pillow from trapping body heat or warming up too much overnight.
So it’s a great way to get the benefits of memory foam without overheating the way you probably would on a more classic memory foam pillow.
If you’re a combination sleeper who spends part of the night on your side and part of the night on your stomach, it can be almost impossible to find a pillow that meets your needs.
Because side sleepers need firm lofty pillows, but stomach sleepers need soft flat pillows.
That is where the Saatva pillow comes in.
This is my favorite pillow for combination sleepers.
This pillow is made with a dual layer design that tucks an inner pillow made of springy latex into an outer pillow made with down alternative fill.
This pillow does a great job of supporting you in every sleeping position.
It has a nice medium firm feel and its latex inner pillow does a great job of maintaining its shape overnight to really keep your head and neck supported.
But if you’re tossing and turning and end up on your stomach, you can always slide that inner pillow right out and sleep on the ultra soft down alternative part of the pillow for part of the night.
Eli & Elm
Next on my list is my favorite pillow for side sleepers with neck pain, the Eli & Elm side sleeper pillow.
This pillow is ergonomically designed in a special U-shape that’s really designed to support your neck.
It has a higher loft on the sides to rest your head, but a lower loft in the center so your neck isn’t thrown out of alignment with your shoulders.
Its boomerang shape does an awesome job of really conforming to your head, neck and shoulders, especially when side sleeping.
But this pillow is also a nice option for back sleepers with neck pain.
This pillow is made with latex and down alternative blend fill so it has a plush yet supportive feel and I would highly recommend it to sleepers who have been struggling to relieve their neck pain on standard shaped pillows.
If you’re looking for an organic pillow to use while side sleeping, you might want to consider the Birch Living pillow.
This eco-friendly pillow is made from entirely organic materials.
It includes an organic cotton cover and is filled with ethically sourced wool and shredded natural talalay latex.
In addition to being all natural, this pillow has a fluffy medium firm feel and it does a good job maintaining its loft overnight, which means side sleepers should get a great amount of support.
Latex is also a super cooling material and is a great thermoregulator, which means it sleeps cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
So if you sleep hot you should really feel comfortably cool on this Birch pillow.
Next on my list is the faux down GhostPillow.
I normally don’t recommend down or faux down pillows to side sleepers because they tend to be a bit too soft and flat.
But tons of people really love the soft fluffy feel of down.
The GghostPillow is a great option for side sleepers because even though it is soft and fluffy, it has a nice high loft of 7 inches.
That means it’s going to keep side sleepers necks aligned with their shoulders, even as it compresses under their heads in that nice cuddly way down is known for.
Something else I like about this pillow is that its microfiber gel fill has the soft fluffy feel of down but it’s hypoallergenic and free of any animal products.
So if you’re a side sleeper who doesn’t want to sacrifice that nice soft fluffy feeling of down for proper neck support, you’re probably going to want to take a closer look at the faux down GhostPillow.
Rounding out my list is the Purple Harmony pillow, which is my favorite latex pillow of the year for side sleepers.
This pillow is bouncy and has a super quick response to pressure, so you’ll feel lifted up on top of its surface.
That springy support means this pillow does a great job of maintaining its loft over time, which is a key feature I look for in pillows I recommend to side sleepers.
In addition to doing a great job supporting you in the side sleeping position, this pillow’s latex core is surrounded by a ventilated purple grid, which is soft and pressure relieving. That grid is also incredibly cooling.
Hot side sleepers should really like this pillow because all of its materials are super breathable.
All in all it’s a great pick for any side sleepers looking for a cooling buoyant latex feel.
That is it for the best pillows for side sleepers of 2021.
Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.