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The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers in 2024

After testing over 30 pillows for side sleepers, these are the top picks from our sleep experts.

McKenzie Dillon Writer
McKenzie, a Certified Sleep Science Coach and proclaimed mattress expert, has been writing sleep content in the wellness space for over four years. After earning her certification from the Spencer Institute and dedicating hundreds of hours to sleep research, she has extensive knowledge on the topic and how to improve your quality of rest. Having more experience with lying on mattresses than most, McKenzie has reviewed over 150 beds and a variety of different sleep products including pillows, mattress toppers and sheets. McKenzie has also been a guest on multiple radio shows including WGN Chicago as a sleep expert and contributed sleep advice to over 50 different websites.
Expertise Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach, Bachelor of English.
McKenzie Dillon
6 min read
$179 at Amazon
Purple Harmony on a white bed
Purple Harmony
Best overall pillow for side sleepers
$100 at Sleep Number
A cross section of the Sleep Number Comfortfit Pillow unzipped and showing three removable inserts.
Sleep Number Comfort Fit
Best adjustable pillow for side sleepers (Update Currently out of Stock)
$134 at Casper
Casper Hybrid Pillow with Snow Technology on top of white sheets
Casper Hybrid Pillow with Snow
Best cooling pillow for side sleepers
$110 at Amazon
the Eli and Elm pillow
Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow
Best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain
$109 at Layla Sleep
Layla Kapok pillow on a white bed
Layla Kapok Pillow
Best memory foam pillow for side sleepers
$75 at Nectar Sleep
The white Nectar Residence pillow against a white background
Nectar Residence pillow
Best affordable pillow for side sleepers (currently out of stock)

When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, your pillows play a bigger role than you may think. Since everyone has different sleep needs and styles, you’ll need to find the best pillow that matches your requirements. If you’re looking for a new pillow, it's vital to know what type of sleeper you are. Your pillow should be able to accommodate and support your sleeping position. You’ll also want to consider whether you need a firm pillow or a softer pillow.

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For side sleepers, the best pillow type is one that is tall and lofty (another word for height, in pillow terms). Picture yourself sleeping on your side without a pillow; your head and neck sag into the empty space between your head and mattress, promoting misalignment along the spine. This is what happens if your pillow is thin or unsupportive. 

After testing out a lot of different pillows, from budget buys to pricier picks, this roundup showcases six of what I think are the best pillows for side sleepers.

What's the best pillow for side sleepers?

The best pillow for side sleepers is the Purple Harmony. If you've never tried a Purple product or even latex foam before, prepare for a comfy, unique experience. It's made with Purple's GelFlex Grid and Talalay latex, making the pillow soft, airy and light without compromising support. It's also great at regulating temperature. Side sleepers should feel supported as this pillow is tall and lofty, and their necks should be aligned.

Best pillow for side sleepers 2024

Caroline Igo/CNET

The Purple Harmony pillow is one of my favorites. It's not fluffy like a down pillow, but lying on it feels like a light and airy cloud. Purple's GelFlex Grid spans across the top layer, providing soft and squishy comfort, while the Talalay latex in the pillow's core provides ample head support and keeps the pillow from falling flat. 

The cover is a soft and stretchy mesh material. Paired with the ventilated latex and GelFlex Grid, the pillow allows air to easily pass through, making it a good option for hot side sleepers. With three loft heights to choose from (low, medium, tall) the Purple Harmony pillow suits side sleepers of all sizes. I recommend the tall option for most side sleepers, and the medium for those under 150 pounds. 

Pros

  • Three height options
  • Promotes airflow for a cooler sleep
  • The cover is machine washable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Might feel too unique for people who want a standard foam pillow
Sleep Number

Not a down pillow but not a true foam pillow either, the ComfortFit pillow from Sleep Number offers the best of both worlds. The Ultimate ComfortFit model comes with three inserts inside, each stuffed with a memory foam and down-alternative fibers. The filling makes the pillow feel soft and fluffy without ever going flat. It's also one of the two pillows I sleep with every night; I've had mine for months and love it.

Most side sleepers will want to keep all three inserts in, but if it's too tall for you, you can always make it lower by unzipping the cover and removing an insert. The cover is machine washable. 

Pros

  • Removable inserts allow side sleepers to adjust height
  • Comes with a removable and machine washable cover

Cons

  • Might be too pricey for some shoppers
Caroline Igo/CNET

We had high expectations for a pillow with the name snow in it, and it didn't disappoint. The Casper Hybrid pillow actually tops our list for the best cooling pillow because of how well its phase-change and other cooling technology works. It's physically cool to the touch and promotes airflow so you stay more comfortable throughout the night.

The inside of the Casper Hybrid pillow consists of layers of polyfoam and soft fibers, giving it a blended feel that's more responsive than memory foam and more supportive than down. Not only is the cover cooling, but it's also removable and machine washable. 

Pros

  • Has a removable and machine washable cover
  • Effectively regulates temperature and feels cool to the touch

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Might be too cool for side sleepers who don't sleep hot

The ergonomically designed Eli & Elm Side Sleeper pillow has a U-like shape that keeps your head and neck supported while nestling around the curves of your shoulder. It's stuffed with latex shreds that look like little noodles and fluffy polyester fiber, making the pillow soft, fluffy, bouncy and supportive at the same time. And while it's not cool to the touch, it regulates temperature well. 

Side sleepers can adjust the height and firmness of the Eli & Elm side sleeper pillow by removing the stuffing. The more stuffing that's inside, the more firm and tall it will be. You can even order a pillow with additional fill if you're a larger side sleeper or like your pillow extra firm. 

Pros

  • Removable filling so you can adjust the height
  • Designed specifically for side sleepers
  • You can buy the pillow with extra stuffing
  • Machine washable cover

Cons

  • It'll cost you over $100
  • No king size pillow available
Caroline Igo/CNET

Another adjustable pick on our best pillow for side sleepers list, the Layla Kapok pillow is extra lofty, stuffed with memory foam shreds and soft, eco-friendly kapok fibers. Layla is known for its light and airy memory foam mattresses, and that's exactly what the foam inside the Kapok pillow feels like. Your head is gently nestled by the foam without sinking too far into the material, and it's perfectly supportive for side sleepers. 

If you want to make the pillow lower and softer, all you have to do is remove the stuffing. In the case you spill or drool a little too much on the soft cover, no problem -- it's removable and machine-washable. 

Pros

  • You can remove filling to adjust the height
  • Machine washable cover

Cons

  • Expensive
Nectar

I've tested the Nectar memory foam pillow that has been perpetually out of stock. While it doesn't look like that pillow is coming back, Nectar introduced the Residence pillow. It has the same construction, is made with the same materials and costs the same as the original Nectar pillow. It just got a little redesign. As such, I think it's the best pillow for side sleepers who want a more budget-friendly pick. 

Its filling is made with different types of memory foam. With a pillow-in-pillow design, the outside is more fluffy and soft, while the inside is firmer for proper head and neck support. It comes stuffed with filling, so a lot of side sleepers will probably want to remove some to make it more accommodating. 

Pros

  • The most affordable option on this list
  • You can adjust the height by removing fill

Cons

  • The cover has to be spot cleaned
  • Only comes in one standard size

How we picked the best pillow for side sleepers

I have tested around 30 or more pillows and used my experience with the products to roundup the ones that were best suited for side sleepers. I considered:

  • Height
  • Firmness 
  • Materials 
  • Price 
  • Additional features, like cooling abilities 

Each pillow was tested for at least two days. Since this list focuses on side sleepers, the goal was to sleep through each night on my side without feeling a kink or discomfort in my neck. If I couldn't sleep through the night on my side with a certain pillow, it wasn't considered for this list.  

Factors to consider when choosing the best pillow for side sleepers

Height is one of the most important metrics to look at when choosing the best pillow for side sleepers. If a pillow is too flat, it won't properly support the head and neck, which can lead to pain. I especially favored pillows that offer multiple height options or come with removable filling because they accommodate a wider range of side sleepers.

Firmness was another factor to consider when picking the best pillows for side sleepers. Pillows that are too soft can fall flat and not provide proper support. Adjustable pillows are great because you get to customize its firmness level to your liking. 

Materials should also be taken into account when putting together our best side sleeper pillow roundup. The best materials for a lofty side sleeper pillow are foams like memory, poly and latex foam because they keep their shape all night.  

Pricing on pillows range from under $20 all the way up to $200 or more. This means almost anyone can find an accommodating pillow within their budget. Many pillows also come with a sleep trial, so you can get your money back if you don't think your purchase was worth it. 

Best pillows for side sleepers compared

Pillow PriceSizesFirmnessMaterialsMachine washable?Trial
Purple Harmony $179Standard KingMediumHyper Elastic Polymer + Talalay latexCover is machine washable100 nights
ComfortFit $100Standard, KingAdjustableMemory foam + polyester fiberCover is machine washable100 nights
Casper Hybrid $134Standard, KingMediumPoly foamCover is machine washable30 nights
Eli & Elm $110StandardAdjustableLatex shreds + Polyester fiberCover is machine washable45 nights
Layla Kapok $109Queen, KingAdjustableMemory foam shreds + Kapok fiberCover is machine washable120 nights
Nectar Residence $75StandardAdjustableMemory foamNo - spot clean only50 nights

Best pillow for side sleepers FAQs

What kind of pillow should side sleepers use?

Side sleepers should use a tall, firm pillow that properly supports the head and keeps the neck in proper alignment with the spine.

What is the best filling for a side sleeper?

Foam filling, whether it be shredded or a whole slab of foam. Pillows made solely of down or down alternative materials tend to fall flat, which can throw off the alignment of a side sleeper's spine and neck. 

Should side sleepers use a firm or soft pillow?

Side sleepers should use a firm pillow to keep the head and neck propped up and in a straight alignment with the spine. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.