The Best Pillows for Side Sleepers in 2024 – CNET

$149 at Casper

Casper Hybrid Pillow with Snow Technology on top of white sheets

Casper Hybrid Pillow with Snow

Best cooling pillow for side sleepers

$130 at Amazon

the Eli and Elm pillow

Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow

Best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain

$50 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)

It’s easy to assume that by picking out a highly-rated pillow, you’ll be guaranteed a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case. When it comes to picking out a new pillow, it’s vital to realize that not every pillow type will fit every sleeper. It’s essential that your pillow accommodates your sleeping position. 

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

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 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 Price Sizes Firmness Materials Machine washable? Trial
Purple Harmony $199 Standard King Medium Hyper Elastic Polymer + Talalay latex Cover is machine washable 100 nights
ComfortFit $140 Standard, King Adjustable Memory foam + polyester fiber Cover is machine washable 100 nights
Casper Hybrid $149 Standard, King Medium Poly foam Cover is machine washable 30 nights
Eli & Elm $105 Standard Adjustable Latex shreds + Polyester fiber Cover is machine washable 45 nights
Layla Kapok $109 Queen, King Adjustable Memory foam shreds + Kapok fiber Cover is machine washable 120 nights
Nectar Residence $50 Standard Adjustable Memory foam No – spot clean only 50 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. 


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