This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which pillow for side sleepers is best?

Most people sleep on their side as opposed to their back or belly. However, traditional pillows don’t have the right design to promote proper, healthy spine alignment for side sleepers. If you suffer from a stiff neck, headaches or back pain in the morning, you may need a different pillow. And it’s crucial to find a pillow that accommodates your preferred sleeping position, so you can get some much needed rest and relief.

The Zoey Side Sleeper Pillow offers head and neck support in a simple, elegant design. Its scalloped shape accommodates your shoulder while still being able to fit into a traditional pillow case of your choosing. This unique design means you don’t have to sacrifice your bedroom decor to get a good night’s sleep.

What to know before you buy a pillow for side sleepers

Side sleeper spine alignment

Maintaining proper spinal alignment is a priority, especially when it comes to sleeping. Sleeping in positions that strain, cramp or extend your spine can lead to chronic pain, sleeplessness, headaches and more. When you lay on your side, you create more space between your head and the mattress. If you’re pillow shopping, side sleepers benefit most from thick and firm pillows, which help maintain proper spine alignment.

Sleep habits

Do you lie down on your side and stay in this position through the night? Or do you change positions as you sleep? Some brands design pillows for certain positions, which may actually cause you trouble if you move around in your sleep. If you find that you change your sleeping position throughout the night, invest in a pillow that maintains spinal alignment in various positions as opposed to just one.

Other sleeping factors

While you may only need a new pillow to help alleviate pain or stiffness in the morning, many people benefit from changing their mattresses as well. If changing your pillow does not lessen or eliminate your discomfort, you may need to consider other factors. A good mattress will help support proper spinal alignment and offer pressure point relief throughout the night. However, selecting a proper pillow is a great, inexpensive way to narrow down the root cause of any stiffness or pain.

What to look for in a quality pillow for side sleepers


Side sleepers should seek out thick pillows to fill the space between the mattress and their head. Pillows that are too thin will allow your head to tilt towards the mattress, which overextends the neck and spine. Thin pillows can result in pain even after one night. 


While foam pillows provide some of the best support available, this material can create excess heat and moisture. If you’re a side sleeper and you’re sensitive to temperature, you may want to look at another option. If you prefer foam pillows, select a pillow with holes through the foam to allow for more air circulation and use a breathable pillowcase.


You should clean your pillows on a regular basis. Some materials are washing-machine friendly if you follow the washing directions carefully. While foam pillows require special cleaning care, they don’t have as many issues with dust penetration as other stuffing options.


If you suffer from seasonal or chronic allergies, select a hypoallergenic pillow. These pillows often feature a case that prevents dust mites, allergens and other irritants from collecting inside your pillow. Pillows that harbor dust, dander and pollen can cause allergic reactions such as eye irritation and sinus inflammation.

Stuffing and firmness

Pillows come in a wide range of stuffing types. Firm fillings like foam usually provide the best additional support, which side sleepers require. Some pillows even have a more firm exterior while offering a softer center to cradle your head.

How much you can expect to spend on a pillow for side sleepers

You can purchase a high-quality pillow for side sleepers for $25-$100. Side-sleeper pillows made with high-quality foam will be more expensive.

Pillow for side sleepers FAQ

Is it bad to sleep on my side?

A. No, there is nothing harmful about sleeping on your side. However, many people do not realize it’s best to use a pillow designed for this position. Find a pillow for side sleeping to ensure you have proper spinal alignment.

Can I use my own pillowcase for a side-sleeper pillow?

A. In most cases, yes. Many side-sleeper pillows fit into standard pillowcases. Some models may have odd shapes, especially if they target specific areas for support. These may not work as well for a traditional, rectangular pillowcase. 

Should I try to change my sleep position?

A. Side sleepers generally don’t need to change their sleeping position unless instructed by a doctor. And it can be hard to train yourself to stop sleeping in a naturally comfortable position. In most cases, you can simply upgrade your pillow for a better night’s sleep. 

What’s the best pillow for side sleepers to buy?

Top pillow for side sleepers

Zoey Side Sleeper Pillow

Zoey Side Sleeper Pillow

What you need to know: Thanks to its scooped shape, this pillow can accommodate various sleeping positions.

What you’ll love: It features a special shape that works for almost any position. It fits easily into a traditional pillowcase, and you can adjust the thickness by removing or adding memory foam filling. 

What you should consider: This pillow is too firm for some sleepers, even when they remove some of the filling.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top pillow for side sleepers for the money

ZAMAT Contour Memory Foam Pillow for Neck Pain Relief

ZAMAT Contour Memory Foam Pillow for Neck Pain Relief

What you need to know: This pillow comes in multiple sizes and colors, and it provides ample neck support for side sleepers.

What you’ll love: It’s affordable, comfortable and provides additional neck support where side sleepers need it the most. The memory foam filling allows it to conform around the neck easily. It comes with a washable covering as well.

What you should consider: Because it has such a unique shape, it may not fit in traditional pillowcases.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

DMI Side Sleeper Pillow and Body Pillow

DMI Side Sleeper Pillow and Body Pillow

What you need to know: The unique side sleeper design provides side sleepers with head support and ample shoulder space.

What you’ll love: It features a machine washable cover, special shape, polyester filling and a hole designed for cooling airflow. 

What you should consider: This pillow isn’t very supportive in other sleeping positions, so it may not be a good choice for those who move around through the night.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.