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Side sleepers should look for lofty, adaptive pillows, experts say

Side sleepers need more support from their pillows than back or stomach sleepers.
We recommended highly rated pillows that should suit side sleepers’ needs.
We recommended highly rated pillows that should suit side sleepers’ needs. Eli & Elm ; Brooklyn Bedding

Mattresses may be the most expensive sleep purchase you’ll make, but pillows shouldn’t be an afterthought — experts have told us the right pillow is important for a good night’s sleep. But figuring out the best pillow for you can get complicated: The right pillow for side sleepers may not be the right pillow for back or stomach sleepers.

If you’re a side sleeper, you’re in good company — more than half of adults in the U.S. sleep on their side, according to the NIH National Library of Medicine. To help you find the right pillow for your side sleeping, we tapped into what experts previously told us about finding the best pillows, relying on their guidance to surface the best side sleeper pillows.

SKIP AHEAD Highly rated pillows for side sleepers

How to pick a pillow for side sleepers

Generally speaking, side sleepers should look for fluffier and loftier pillows — you need the extra thickness to keep your spine in alignment when you sleep on your side. And when experts told us how to shop for pillows, they said that since some side sleepers need to sink into a comfortable position, a more spongy material like memory foam may work best — memory foam pillows can better adapt to your sleep position than other materials. Latex is another foam material found in pillows — generally speaking, it’s springier and less pliant than memory foam, so it can also provide good support.

Customizable pillows can also be useful for side sleepers, since you can manually adjust the thickness and firmness of your pillow until you achieve spinal alignment in bed. The crucial factor for side sleepers is proper thickness to keep a neutral neck.

Down pillows and down alternative pillows generally are best for back and stomach sleepers, according to experts, with down alternative being a better option for people with allergies.

  • Down pillows are made of feathers, usually from ducks or geese
  • Down alternative pillows are made of synthetic stuffing that imitates down
  • Memory foam pillows are made of polyurethane foam that molds to your body

Highly rated pillows for side sleepers

Based on guidance we got from experts about how to shop for pillows, we compiled the pillows below. The following highly rated pillows contain foam filling and are malleable and/or customizable, which should help you find your ideal spinal alignment while sleeping.

Coop Home Goods Original Loft Pillow

We recommended this pillow for side sleepers in our general guide to pillows for its adaptive qualities: You can add or remove the memory foam fill to adjust the thickness and firmness. All you have to do is unzip the outer case and liner to access the fill. The pillow has an average rating of 4.5 stars from over 49,000 reviews on Amazon. The company also offers a 30-day return policy.

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

This pillow has a unique U-shape design, which the company says should “help alleviate neck pain and promote spinal alignment.” It also has removable foam fill made of latex foam and polyester, so you can adjust the loft and firmness to your preferred levels. The pillow has an average rating of 4.3 stars from over 1,100 reviews on Eli & Elm. The company also provides a 45-day return policy.

Sleep Number ComfortFit Pillow

Sleep Number’s ComfortFit pillow comes in several shapes and styles, so side sleepers can choose whichever fits them best. The pillows have a fill made of memory foam and down alternative.

  • The Classic style, which looks like a conventional rectangular pillow, is a better fit for back or stomach sleepers, according to the company
  • The Curved style has a similar shape to the Eli & Elm pillow, and Sleep Number says it’s a better for for side or back sleepers
  • The Ultimate style is customizable — it comes with three inserts that each contain fill, which you can add or remove to achieve your desired thickness. The company recommends two or three of the inserts for side sleepers.

It has an average rating of 4.6 stars from over 20,000 reviews on Sleep Number. Sleep Number provides a 100-night free trial.

Brooklyn Bedding Premium Shredded Foam Pillow

We recommended this pillow for side sleepers for its materials. The fill is made from a mix of latex and memory foam, which should provide the adaptive qualities side sleepers look for in a pillow. The foam also has cooling gel infused, which should help hot sleepers feel more comfortable at night. The pillow is also hypoallergenic and has a removable, machine-washable cover. The pillow has an average rating of 4.6 stars from over 2,000 reviews on Brooklyn Bedding. The company also provides a 30-day return policy.

Saatva Latex Pillow

This pillow from Saatva has a shredded latex foam and microfiber fill, which the company says provides support and breathability. It has a machine washable cotton sateen cover and measures 28 inches by 18 inches for the queen-size pillow. The company describes the pillow as “plush,” so in addition to the support from the latex, it should be malleable enough for side sleepers that sleep with an arm under their pillow. It has an average rating of 4.8 stars from over 80 reviews on Saatva. It comes with a 45-day return policy.

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