The 11 Best Pillows for Side Sleepers, All Tested by Editors (Who Swear These Help Them Wake Up Without Neck Pain)

Because science says side sleeping can cause pain

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best pillows for side sleepers, like ostrichpillow, marlow and eli and elm
Ostrichpillow/Marlow/Eli & Elm

As much as we all know getting at least eight hours of sleep can have a serious impact on our metabolism, immune system and overall mental health, actually getting to sleep is easier said than done. You ditch your phone an hour before bed, you've tried the sleepy girl mocktails—but maybe the biggest thing standing between you and a great night's rest is what you're resting your head on. (Science is with us on this one.)

Side sleepers, in particular, need a pillow that will properly sustain the upper body. In fact, according to Dr. Venkata Buddharaju, sleep specialist and author of Better Sleep, Happier Life, side sleepers are “likely to experience misalignment and soreness” without a supportive pillow to cradle your neck and shoulders. But with a plethora of pillows from all kinds of brands out on the market, finding the perfect thickness, support and comfort is an uphill battle.

That’s why we took it upon ourselves to test out some of the most popular pillows for side sleepers. From ultra-fluffy down material to luxurious memory foam, we’ve managed to narrow down 10 of the greatest pillows to get your best shut-eye yet.

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The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers at a Glance


Best Overall

Brooklinen Mid-Plush Down Pillow

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Best Splurge Pillow for Side Sleepers

Purple Harmony Pillow

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Best Curved Pillow

Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow

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Runner-Up: Best Curved Pillow

Sleep Number ComfortFit Curved Pillow

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Best Latex Pillow

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

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Meet the Expert

Dr. Venkata Buddharaju is a fellowship-trained physician at the Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine from the American Board of Internal Medicine. PureWow consulted with him previously on sleep stories regarding the best pillows to use, and we used those insights to inform our testing criteria in this feature.

How We Chose the Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

While researching doctors' and sleep experts' recommendations for the type of pillow a side sleeper should have, we came up with the following criteria, which we used as a rubric while testing pillows. We took in side sleepers' personal recommendations, and called in and tested several top-rated pillows, sleeping on them for several nights. Each pillow that made the cut had to earn rave reviews from editors while checking off these boxes:

  • Firmness level: Side sleepers will want a tall, medium-firm pillow that can keep your neck, head and spine aligned all night long. Anything too soft can press up to your nose, making it hard to breathe, and pillows that were too firm left ears feeling squished and achy.
  • Customization: Some of the pillows we tested allowed for users to increase or decrease the amount of stuffing inside. This allows you to amp up the support or softness, depending on your sleeping style.
  • Height (AKA loft): Like Dr. Buddharaju said, side sleepers tend to prefer a loftier pillow of about 5 to 6 inches tall, so we preferred picks within that range.
  • Overall comfort: While we longed how our neck and shoulders felt the next day, as well as our overall quality of sleep, we tried to appeal to a range of needs—for example, those who toss and turn may prefer a squishy down pillow, whereas those who like to a more contoured, cradling experience would appreciate memory foam, so we noted the best of each.

Best Overall

1. Brooklinen Mid-Plush Down Pillow

What We Like:

  • medium firmness is supportive yet not too stiff
  • plush look

What We Don't Like:

  • may be too soft for some


The true test of a great pillow is the one you reach for after testing has completed, when you're surrounded by options. This humble pillow became PureWow freelancer Melissa Lee's go-to: "At a glance, it seems pretty ordinary, but it’s the perfect mesh between support and comfort thanks to the down clusters and feather filling," adding that it's offered in three firmnesses, and she tested the mid-plush option.

It’s been dubbed by Brooklinen as their best-selling pillow, since the mid-plush is its most versatile option. It contains a dual-core structure with an extra-supportive inner layer of feathers, surrounded by an additional layer of down clusters. This gives it support without feeling too stiff, so your ear isn't aching halfway through the night.

Best Splurge Pillow for Side Sleepers

2. Purple Harmony Pillow

What We Like:

  • hex grid is cooling and breathable
  • squishy without being too soft
  • doesn't flatten out after years of use
  • high-quality construction

What We Don't Like:

  • pricey
  • somewhat heavy


Purple's Harmony pillow will ruin you. As in, you thought $10 pillows from Target were fine...until you spent one night on this, and now, you're convinced you cannot sleep as well on anything else. That's what happened to our VP of editorial's husband, Nate, who promptly stole this pillow after a test nearly three years ago and has been sleeping on it ever since.

"We travel everywhere with it—even if it means checking a bag," Candace Davison, VP of editorial, says. "He's that obsessed." Why, exactly? The pillow is constructed with temperature-neutral ventilated latex and a moisture-wicking mesh cover, both of which work together to provide a super-breathable exterior. It’s available in three heights (5.5-inches, 6.5-inches and 7.5-inches), and Purple recommends the latter two for side sleepers.

The price makes it hard to justify as our overall pick, but it's a close second, especially since the hex grid provides squishy softness for your skull while the latex core keeps the pillow from flattening out overnight—or after years of use.

Best Curved Pillow

3. Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow

What We Like:

  • curves around shoulder
  • adjustable fill
  • breathable cover

What We Don't Like:

  • somewhat pricey
  • heavy

eli & elm

In the realm of side sleeper pillows, there's a whole category of curved ones, designed to fit around your shoulder while keeping your head and neck aligned. (Anyone who's woken up with an achy neck or realized their arm has fallen asleep from their shoulder down knows how it feels when you accidentally sleep too far up on the pillow.) But are they actually better?

This style tends to be best for hardcore side sleepers who don't shift to their stomachs or backs often throughout the night. And, out of the four we've tested, Eli & Elm tied with Sleep Number for top marks. Eli & Elm, in particular, earned rave reviews from hot sleepers, who felt its cotton-polyester-spandex exterior helped keep them cool throughout the night.

In terms of comfort, the latex and polyester filling is removable, so you can adjust the height and firmness to your liking—another major bonus.

Runner-Up: Best Curved Pillow

4. Sleep Number ComfortFit Curved Pillow

What We Like:

  • hotel quality
  • firm

What We Don't Like:

  • may require occasional fluffing, as filling shifts

sleep number

If you prefer the cradling feeling of a firm pillow—as opposed to the sink-into-it feeling of something very soft—check out the Sleep Number ComfortFit. Its blend of memory foam and down alternative fibers make this a hearty pillow that doesn't flatten a bit over time, and overall, it felt a bit firmer than the other curved pillows we tested (but not hard or stiff, thankfully). Our tester felt it had just the right height for her neck and head, helping her resist the urge to sleep with her arm under the pillow, as she used to.

Best Latex Pillow

5. Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

What We Like:

  • hypoallergenic latex foam construction
  • breathable
  • not too high of a loft for petite frames

What We Don't Like:

  • some say it lacks support/isn't dense enough

Brooklyn Bedding

The awesome thing about this pillow is that you can choose which loft you’d like (low or high), making it a great option for side sleepers. The taller height allows for side sleepers to enjoy a comfortable cradling sensation around the neck and head, while the shoulders are elevated.

The Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow is also made from natural materials, like hypoallergenic latex foam that conforms to the shape of your head. The exterior cotton is even organic, meanwhile, that latex interior promotes greater airflow.

Best Down Pillow for Side Sleepers

6. Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow

What We Like:

  • cushy but not too soft
  • not too tall

What We Don't Like:

  • somewhat pricey


While more expensive than some of the others on the list (the standard size is $160), the Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow is medium-density. Its 3.5-inch gusset was created to take the strain off of the neck and shoulders, making it a good option for side sleepers.

"When I tested this pillow out, I found it to be super soft. It contains 750-fill power European down, providing a cushy level of comfort," Lee says. "Side sleepers who like to prioritize plushiness over support will definitely enjoy catching zzz’s on this pillow."

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers Who Toss and Turn

7. Marlow Pillow

What We Like:

  • easily adjustable
  • great for all sleeping positions
  • reasonably priced

What We Don't Like:

  • needs to be fluffed occasionally


Several editors swear by Brooklinen's Marlow pillow—and they all confess they're semi-side sleepers. Their love of it makes sense: The pillow features two zippers along the side, allowing you to easily adjust its firmness levels to your taste. If you flip onto your back, you can unzip one side. If you switch to your stomach, unzip both, for the lowest loft and the softest feel. It's as easy as flipping your pillow to the cool side.

"I can’t do heavy memory foam or thin feathery numbers; I need a comfortable in-between. Marlow is just that, a solid middle ground between strength and comfort," says PureWow Assistant Editor Delia Curtis. "Cushiony enough to lull me to sleep and hard enough where I don’t wake up with aches in my neck. It’s also super easy to re-fluff so I’m never fully parallel to the bed."

Best Budget Buy

8. Serta Perfect Sleeper Pillow

What We Like:

  • affordable
  • allergen protector cover
  • plush without sinking into it

What We Don't Like:

  • can flatten over time/not as durable


Priced at just $50 for a two-pack, the Serta Perfect Sleeper is, in the words of Davison, the “best value I’ve found.” After stocking more than half a dozen types of pillows—from down alternative to memory foam—at the Airbnb she manages, she finds that time and time again, her guests prefer these pillows over anything else. That's largely due to the cushy, supportive feel. They have a decent height, but they're not so plush that if you tend to sleep with your arm under your head, you won't wake up with a crick in your neck.

If you have allergies or asthma, this is the ideal pillow for you, too. It contains an allergen protector that will keep you feeling comfortable through naps and lengthy sleeps.

Best Soft Pillow for Side Sleepers

9. Fluffco Down Alternative Pillow

What We Like:

  • soft feel
  • works for all sleeping positions

What We Don't Like:

  • pillow tends to flatten overnight


When fashion editor Abby Hepworth tested out FluffCo pillows, she was absolutely obsessed with their quality and value. She particularly loved the FluffCo Down Alternative Pillow in the soft option (you can nab it in ‘firm’ or ‘soft,’ but after trying both, she felt that the latter comfortably fit under her head). Described as containing a “little less fluff material to give the pillow more squish,” our tester also noted that it stayed cool and supportive from the moment she got into bed.

Best Memory Foam Pillow

10. OstrichPillow Memory Foam Bed Pillow

What We Like:

  • ergonomic design
  • can easily adjust if you switch to back or stomach sleeping
  • pillow features holes to maximize air flow, preventing overheating

What We Don't Like:

  • memory foam may be too firm for some


Ah, Ostrichpillow: You excel at making atypically shaped pillows...that earn a cult following for their ergonomic design. Memory foam pillows can often be too stiff, but this bean-like design feels contoured to your head and neck. Plus, you can rotate it 90 degrees if you suddenly shift to your back or stomach, and boom! It's now optimized to align your neck and spine once again.

"It has enough support that I don't feel like my neck is straining at all, but is still comfy if I flop onto my back," says PureWow Assistant Editor Natalie LaBarbera, who admits that previously, she'd used much cheaper pillows that'd cause her neck to ache. "The ergonomic design is a huge plus, and I love that it comes with a cover you can wash or you can easily put another pillowcase on top of it."

Best Pillow for Travel

11. Sobel Westex Home Antithesis Pillow

What We Like:

  • plush feel
  • carrying case included

What We Don't Like:

  • may be too soft for some

Oh, so you want the feel of a resort pillow, even though you're headed to your in-laws for the weekend? Or going camping? This is the pillow for you. And for Star Wars side sleepers, since it's part of the brand's Star Wars Home series (something you wouldn't notice unless you looked closely at the Imperial and Republic logos imprinted on the pillow itself).

This medium-firm pillow is plush, thanks to its 100 percent polyester fiber fill, putting it on the softer, cuddlier end of the cushy-to-cradling spectrum. As a result, you'll sink into it a bit, but not too much. It comes with a small, cylindrical bag that you can roll the pillow in, making it easy to transport (hence our pick for best to travel with). Don't leave home without it.

Melissa Lee Headshot 1

Freelance Writer

Melissa has been writing, editing, and producing product roundups and brand reviews for the past four years. She graduated with a degree in journalism from SUNY Oswego in 2019 and...

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...

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