Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

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Did you know that sleeping on your side is the most popular position for most people? Contrary to what you may think, side sleeping can bring incredible benefits to your sleep quality too. The key lies in finding the perfect pillow that offers optimal support and cushioning. 

️‍Best Pillows for Side Sleeping

Now, there’s a few key things to know before you start:

Most importantly, for side sleepers in particular, a thicker pillow is recommended to fill the space between the head and neck.

This is because it ensures proper cushioning and support for these sensitive areas – in other words, if the pillow is too thin, it won’t provide adequate cushioning, while a pillow that is too thick can disrupt spinal alignment and lead to uncomfortable pressure points.

Striking the right balance is crucial for a restful sleep experience; by ensuring proper spinal alignment, you can bid farewell to those nagging pressure points that disrupt your life.

Overview

In this article, I will explore a selection of pillows specifically designed to cater to the needs of side sleepers: from pillows with optimal depth and support to those offering cooling properties and hypoallergenic materials,  I’ll help you find the perfect pillow to enhance your side sleeping comfort.

So say hello to waking up refreshed and revitalised after a truly restorative night’s sleep.

1. Nectar A Whole Night’s Sleep Pillow – Best Overall

Let’s dive into why the Nectar A Whole Night’s Sleep Pillow is the WhatMattress top pick for all you side-sleepers out there. When it comes to finding the perfect pillow, side-sleepers know the struggle is real. But fear not, because Nectar has got your back, or should I say, your side.

One of the best features of this pillow is its exceptional adjustability, providing you with the flexibility to tailor it precisely to your personal preferences.

Looking inside, there’s a clever arrangement of three foam layers that can be easily removed or added to attain the desired height you need. Thus, regardless of whether you want a deeper, ‘voluminous’ pillow or prefer a more understated and flat one, this pillow is adept at accommodating your individual needs.

Now, let’s talk about the nitty-gritty. The Nectar A Whole Night’s Sleep Pillow offers fantastic support, which is key for side-sleepers – say goodbye to waking up with a stiff neck or achy shoulders. In testing this pillow kept my spine aligned all night long, providing a solid foundation for a restful sleep. And let’s not forget about the cover—it’s not only practical but also surprisingly  comfortable. Made from breathable tencel material with a slightly microfibre filling, it adds that extra cushioned comfort we all crave.

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it too much, there are some downsides. The Nectar A Whole Night’s Sleep Pillow leans towards the firmer side, so if you prefer something softer, it might not be the best fit for you. And it’s worth mentioning that Nectar doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee like some of its competitors. But don’t let that put you off.

In a nutshell:

Overall, this pillow delivers excellent support and customisation options, making it a top choice for side-sleepers. It’s a great all-rounder, so think of it as the Ford Focus of the pillow world.

2. Emma Original Pillow – Best Value

First things first, this pillow offers firm support that caters to different sleeping positions – not just side-sleepers. Whether you’re a side sleeper like me or prefer to snooze on your back or stomach, the combination of viscoelastic and HRX foams in the Emma Original Pillow provides decent pressure relief and keeps your spine aligned. It’s definitely firmer than those microfibre pillows you might be used to, but it still has a touch of softness to it.

One feature that caught my attention is the customisable design. The Emma Original Pillow comes with removable layers, allowing you to adjust the comfort level according to your preference. If you’re a stomach sleeper, you can stick with just one layer. Back sleepers might find two or three layers more to their liking. For side-sleeping, I recommend keeping all three layers for maximum support and comfort.

Now, let’s talk about breathability. The open cell foam used in this pillow enhances airflow, which is a big plus if you tend to overheat during the night. The moisture-resistant cover is also a practical feature, albeit slightly less plush feeling than others, making it easier to keep your pillow clean and fresh.

Layers

When it comes to the actual construction, the Emma Original Pillow consists of different foam layers:

  1. the Gel Memory Foam layer provides a lightweight and supportive feel, particularly for your neck area;
  2. the Visco Memory Foam layer helps distribute pressure more evenly across your head and shoulders,
  3. and the HRX Foam layer offers a softer touch and some pressure relief.

In terms of service, Emma offers a 30-night trial period for you to test the pillow in the comfort of your own home. Honestly, it’s a nice touch to have that peace of mind, knowing you can return it if it doesn’t meet your expectations. Emma Sleep also provide a money-back guarantee within the trial period, which adds an extra layer of reassurance – while this is commonplace with mattresses, many brands do not offer this for pillows.

In a nutshell:

To sum it up, the Emma Original Pillow is a decent option for side sleepers on a budget. It offers firm support, customisable comfort, and decent breathability. While it may not be the ultimate pillow for everyone, it’s worth giving it a try if you’re in need of a new pillow without breaking the bank… Give it a shot and see if it’s the right fit for your sleep needs.

3. Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow – Best Luxury

The Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow is a luxurious choice that combines firmness with adjustability, offering a touch of softness that you might not expect, given it it clearly marketed as a ‘Firm’ pillow.

One of the key features of the Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow is the adjustability. It consists of two Simba Renew layers and one Aerocoil layer, which can all be rearranged to customise the pillow’s height and firmness as you please; for side sleepers seeking a firmer pillow, this option proves to be remarkably supportive and comfortable.

In my opinion, the overall design and filling of the pillow also deserve praise. The pillow cover, shared with Simba’s regular Hybrid pillow, boasts a mesh front that enhances airflow. It offers two distinct surfaces, with the turquoise strip facing up providing the Stratos cotton cover, which effectively dissipates heat, ensuring a cool sleeping experience. Alternatively, you can flip the cover for the standard cotton side.

Comfort

In terms of comfort, Simba recommends using all three layers for side sleepers, with the Renew layers on top providing a medium feel, and the Aerocoil layer on top lending a firmer sensation. For back sleepers, the recommended combination is one Renew layer and the Aerocoil layer, allowing for customization between a medium or firmer feel.

In my experience, I found the three layers to be a bit too deep, even as a side sleeper. Therefore, I opted for two layers, placing the Renew layer on top for added softness. It’s worth noting that the spare Renew layer is best in storage; don’t chuck it out!  Additionally, on a related note, while the Renew layers are machine-washable, the Aerocoil srping layer should not be washed in a machine.

In a nutshell:

Comfort-wise, the Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow impresses with its firm yet comfortable support. In testing, while the pillow remained firm, the Renew layer contributed a welcomed touch of softness, making it feel more like a traditional pillow. In comparison to the Emma Original, which I found overly firm, this pillow was much more up my street.

4. Nectar Premium Foam Pillows – Best Pair

Nectar PillowFor those of you who have been keeping up to date with this website, you will notice that the Nectar pillow is also mentioned as a recommendation for those who suffer from neck pain. This is because the Nectar pillows are a great all-rounder – you actually get two for the price of one. It’s one of the few budget pillows out there that is customisable and it can be used to serve a number of different sleeping positions as well as provide relief for some of the most common sleeping ailments.

If you’ve been in the market for a new memory foam mattress over the past few years, then you will likely have heard of the Nectar pillow. Nectar are one of the original ‘Bed in a box’ mattress companies, and are probably one of the best sellers too.

Layers

The Nectar pillow has been designed to compliment the Nectar Memory Foam mattress. It’s made from memory foam too, just like the mattress. The thing that sets the Nectar pillow apart from other memory foam pillows is the fact that it is fully customisable. You can add or remove filling as necessary to provide the correct amount of support to suit your needs.

As a side sleeper you will probably find it more comfortable to use the Nectar pillow with the majority – if not all – of it’s filling.

At £70 for the pair, the Nectar pillow is considerably cheaper than the Tempur one. And when you consider that for this price you actually get a pair of pillows, it makes them even better value for money. If your budget doesn’t stretch to the price of a Tempur pillow, then you won’t go far wrong with Nectar.

5. Tempur Original Pillow – Best Memory Foam

Tempur Ergonomic Pillow for Side SleepersThe Tempur Ergonomic pillow has been specially shaped in order to provide optimum comfort for both of these positions. It has been designed for those who require the best possible support to relieve discomfort from the head, neck and shoulders. Available in three different sizes, it boasts the following features:

  • Uncompromising support for the neck
  • Made from the contoured, patented Tempur material
  • Machine washable
  • 30-day trial period
  • Comes with a 3-year guarantee

If you’re not already aware, the materials used in Tempur products were originally developed by NASA. They have been specifically designed for pressure relief and – more importantly – comfort.

Composition

The first thing you will notice about the Tempur Ergonomic Pillow is it’s shape. This is because it’s not like the majority of other pillows available. The unique shape is designed to follow the natural curve of your body when you sleep on your side. The materials used in the Tempur pillow are the same ones used in their mattresses. This mean that they feature visco-elastic cells that are able to mould and adapt to the shape of your head, neck and shoulders.

If you opt for the Tempur pillow, then we would recommend the large size for both men and women. Take advantage for the 30-night free trial and then adjust to a smaller or larger pillow as necessary.

At £99, its not the cheapest pillow available by any means. But the fact that it is adapated specifically for those who sleep on their side means that you will get much better support than from a conventional pillow. For that reason alone it’s well worth the money. Don’t forget that you can always return the Tempur Ergonomic Pillow if it’s not for you. And be sure to check our Tempur discount codes page to see if you can save a bit of money off of the RRP.

More from WhatMattress...

Why is side sleeping so popular?

Side sleeping is a real hit among many people. It’s the go-to sleeping position for about half of us, and it actually comes with some pretty interesting advantages compared to snoozing on your back or belly. Here’s why:

First off, side sleeping can work wonders in reducing snoring. You see, when you lie on your back, the old tongue can sometimes do a backflip and block your airway, resulting in a snore symphony. But when you’re on your side, the airway stays nice and open, and snoring takes a back seat. It’s a win-win for you and anyone sharing a bed with you!

And that’s not all. Side sleeping can be a game-changer if you have sleep apnoea, fibromyalgia or even acid reflux. It helps keep that airway open, providing relief and preventing any unwanted discomfort during the night.

Plus, if you’re pregnant, chances are side sleeping will be your best thing since sliced bread as it’s more comfortable for those baby bumps, and you can even add a nifty bolster pillow for some extra support to your legs or knees.

But hold on, lets not forget about the spine alignment… Side sleeping can do wonders for aligning your spine and giving those pesky pressure points a break.

So in short, you should be able to say goodbye to shoulder, hip, and other body aches that tend to pop up. But here’s the thing: to truly experience the benefits, you need a mattress and pillow combo that knows what’s up. They need to provide proper support for your head and neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips – in other words, it’s all about that alignment.

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How do I choose the right pillow for side sleeping?

First things first, cushioning is crucial. You want a pillow that strikes the perfect balance between sinking too deep and feeling overly thick. Trust me, I’ve experienced those neck and shoulder aches first-hand, and they’re not pleasant…

So, what should you consider when on the hunt for the best pillow for side sleepers? Let’s break it down:

  1. Depth: The depth, or loft, or height, of the pillow matters a lot. Too low, and your head and neck won’t get the support they need. Too high, and you’ll feel like you’re sleeping on a mountain. Aim for a pillow with medium to high thickness/loft that keeps your spine aligned and your precious head in a comfortable position.
  2. Firmness Level: Not all side sleepers are created equal. Some prefer a plush and huggable pillow, while others need a bit more firmness for added support. It all comes down to personal preference. Just make sure the pillow you choose offers enough firmness to cradle your head and keep your neck aligned.
  3. Material Composition: Ah, the materials. There are plenty of options out there, from memory foam to down alternative and everything in between. Memory foam provides contouring and pressure relief, while down alternative offers a soft and fluffy feel. It’s all about finding what works for you and your sleepy head.
  4. Shape and Contour: Some pillows are specifically designed with side sleepers in mind, so look for pillows with contouring or ergonomic shapes that provide extra support for your neck and shoulders. These pillows are often contoured to accommodate the curves of your head, neck, and shoulders, ensuring optimal alignment throughout the night.
  5. Cooling Features: Side sleepers can sometimes experience heat build up, especially if the pillow doesn’t allow for proper airflow. Consider pillows with cooling features, such as gel-infused memory foam or breathable covers, to help regulate temperature and keep you cool and comfortable.
  6. Adjustable Fill: If you want the flexibility to customise your pillow’s loft and firmness, opt for pillows with adjustable fill. These pillows often come with inserts or removable layers that allow you to add or remove filling to achieve your desired level of support.
  7. Allergen Resistance: If you’re prone to allergies or have sensitivities, look for pillows that are hypo-allergenic and resistant to dust mites and other common allergens; this is bnecause it’ll help ensure a clean and healthy sleeping environment.

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What else do I need to know?

In addition to finding the perfect pillow, side sleepers can take other steps to enhance their sleeping experience. Check out these tips for a comfortable and  a restful night:

  1. Choose the Right Mattress: Don’t forget about the importance of a supportive mattress! Side sleepers generally prefer mattresses with a softer feel that provide adequate cushioning to relieve pressure on the shoulders and hips. Look for a mattress that contours to your body’s curves and promotes proper spinal alignment.
  2. Now, here’s a nifty tip: get yourself a pillow between the knees. This little trick works wonders for your lower back and hips. Grab a pillow filled with down/feathers, shredded foam, or any mouldable material that tickles your fancy. It’s all about finding that perfect support and pressure relief. And hey, you can even experiment with placing the pillow beneath your legs for extra comfort.
  3. Consider a Mattress Topper: If your current mattress doesn’t quite hit the mark for side sleeping, a mattress topper can come to the rescue. These cushioning layers, ranging from 5cm to 12cm thick, can transform the feel of your mattress. Side sleepers usually do benefit from a topper that provides closer conforming, better spinal alignment, and targeted pressure relief.

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Conclusion

 

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Which pillow is the best for side sleepers?

It's hard to pick one specific pillow, so I've picked three. These three pillows should suit every need and want, giving you the reader the power to decide which one works for you and your partner. Remember that when it comes to bedding, you are purchasing for your partner as well as you.

What is the best firmness rating of pillows?

Side sleepers will want a pillow that is firm, but not too firm. If you opt for a pillow that is too soft, you will sink too far into it and not be able to breath, or get neck ache. Make sure you opt for the right firmness to suit your own needs, not what the manufacturer tells you that you need!

What is the ideal depth or thickness for a pillow for side sleepers?

The ideal depth or thickness of a pillow for side sleepers depends on individual preferences and body size. As a general guideline, side sleepers usually benefit from a medium to high loft pillow. This ensures proper spinal alignment and support for the head, neck, and shoulders. A pillow with a thickness of around 10cm - 15cm typically works well for most side sleepers.

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How we reviewed this article:

Edit History:

Our experts continually monitor the mattress & sleep tech space, and we update our reviews & articles when new information becomes available.

  • 17th May 2023
    Current Article - By Carrie Taylor
  • 27th January 2024
    Checked & Reviewed - By Morag Park, Ph.D.
  • 19th January 2021
    Copy Edited - By Carrie Taylor
  • 4th May 2024
    Reviewed - By Anthony Maxwell

One comment on “Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

  1. what is and how to buy the pillow like mattress at begining of this site the one for side sleepers also price please

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