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Best pillow for side sleepers: Sleep in comfort with our favourite memory foam and hollowfibre pillows

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Discover the best ergonomic pillows for sleeping on your side and waking up in comfort

The best pillows for side sleepers tend to offer more support and “loft” (pillow jargon for height) than pillows for people who sleep on their back or front. Why? Because when you sleep on your side, there's a whole shoulder to support too. Without enough height, your poor shoulder will crunch while you slumber – and neither it nor your neck or back will thank you for it. With more than half of us preferring to sleep on our side, according to Wikipedia’s summary of sleep position surveys, there's a good chance we're all crunching our necks at night by sleeping on flatter pillows than we need.

With that in mind, our buying guide will tell you how to choose a pillow that offers the correct support for sleeping on your side and snugly filling that gap between your ear and shoulder. We’ll also reveal our pick of the best side-sleeper pillows currently available.

Best pillow for side sleepers: At a glance


How to buy the best pillow for you

What type of pillow is best for side-sleepers?

“We'd normally recommend a higher pillow or even two pillows for side sleepers rather than one, for more support,” explains Gary Jones, physiotherapist at Physio 206. Don't just dig out an extra old pillow from the loft and chuck it on top, though. A healthy pillow is a new pillow. “Think about how many hours you sleep each week,” said Jones. “Your car has an annual MOT, but how often do you do an MOT of your pillow? It's literally: let's wait until it's gone threadbare!”

Sleeping on your side is popular for good reason: it’s comfortable. It naturally maintains healthy spinal alignment and reduces pressure points all over your body. However, if you don't choose a pillow with enough depth to fill the space beneath your head and neck, that comfy foetal position could still leave you waking up with a crick in your neck. Here are a few pointers to remember…

Moulded support pillows are ideal for side sleepers because their high raised section provides support for your neck and room for your shoulder without pushing your head up high too. “A moulded pillow with a high bit for your neck lets your body rest in a more natural and healthy position,” said Jones. “This is especially important if you're on the phone a lot during the day because you'll need to counteract that compression to your neck and open up your spine.”

Memory foam pillows may feel a little too soft at first, but they soon firm up as the foam moulds to fit your body, creating a cradle that supports your unique pressure points while you're in the land of nod. On the downside, it can feel too warm in summer, so some memory foam pillows come with special cooling layers.

Natural latex also feels buoyant and supportive, and is a more sustainable option than memory foam. However, its eco credentials can push the price up – especially if you go for organic and other certifications. However, given how many hours you spend sleeping on your pillow, a good one is worth investing in.

Feather and down pillows are soft and naturally cooling, but they quickly lose their “loft” and fail to give consistent support. Wool is a great natural (and cruelty-free) alternative that maintains its shape better, so we've included a wool pillow in our rundown.

Two pillows may be better than one if you sleep on your side. A too-flat pillow on its own can lead to the dreaded “shoulder crunch”, stressing and straining the muscles in your neck as you sleep. So you could go for a firm contoured pillow as a base and a relatively squishy pillow on top for softness.

How often should you replace your pillow?

A good memory foam or latex pillow will last a few years before it loses its firmness. Some sleep experts reckon you should replace soft fluffy pillows as often as once a year, but that’s excessive (not to mention wasteful). Instead, we'd recommend investing in a well-made pillow that you can put in the washing machine on at least 40˚C. Wash your pillow every month or two to remove dust mites, dead skin cells and other allergens you'd probably rather not know about, let alone sleep on!

The best pillows to buy if you sleep on your side

1. Kally Sleep Ultimate Side Sleeper Pillow: Best soft pillow for side sleepers

Price: £35 | Buy now from John Lewis

This new hollowfibre pillow from sleep specialists Kally manages to be soft and supportive at the same time, thanks to an innovative box design that'll have other pillow makers wishing they'd thought of it first.

The Kally Side Sleeper pillow has that wonderful hotel-quality softness, but its walled shape is more supportive for your shoulder and neck than a standard soft pillow, making it comfy to fall asleep on and great for preventing joint pain. It has a really luxurious feel, thanks to its bouncy hollowfibre filling – which is treated to protect against allergens and bacteria – and doesn't get clammy.

Despite being an unusual shape the pillow is a standard size, so you can adorn it with your favourite pillowcase. It also comes with a removable cover made from breathable poly-cotton. Like the cover, the pillow itself can be machine washed at 40˚C, so you can potentially use it for years longer than a cheap standard pillow and the structured design helps ensure it doesn't lose its supportive shape.

Key features - Filling: Hollowfibre; Cover: Cotton (machine washable 40˚C); Size: 70cm x 40cm (15cm height)

Buy now from John Lewis


2. Otty Adjustable Pillow: Best adjustable pillow for side sleepers

Price: £90 | Buy now from Otty

The benefit of having an adjustable pillow is an obvious one: ss no one person is built the same, it’s a real advantage to have a pillow that can be modified to suit your own personal preferences and sleeping style.

Straight out of the box, Otty’s adjustable pillow is soft, breathable and lofty – with a maximum height of 25cm when it is fully stuffed. However, this loftiness can be easily adjusted by removing the small memory foam pieces that fill the pillow. These resemble styrofoam packaging in shape and size (though, thankfully, not in comfort), and can be stored in the handy drawstring bag that comes with the pillow. We should point out, though, that this bag comes half filled with extra pieces, so you might want to have a backup container to hand.

The Otty adjustable pillow has, not one, but two covers: a polyester inner cover, and a plush cotton outer cover, with a fibre filling for extra comfort, which is hypoallergenic and can be machine washed at 40˚C.

Key features – Filling: Memory foam; Cover: Polyester inner cover, egyptian cotton outer cover with fibre filling; Size: 60 x 35cm (25cm full height)

Buy now from Otty


3. Silentnight Side Sleeper: Best value soft pillow for side sleepers

Price: £15 | Buy now from Argos

Silentnight's Side Sleeper pillow is advertised as medium/firm, but buyers report that it's actually quite soft and may not provide enough support for some. It does, however, deliver that lovely hotel-style puffy-pillow feeling for a great price. The hollowfibre filling is bouncy and comfy, the microfibre cover is breathable and hypoallergenic, and you can stick the whole thing in the washing machine and tumble dryer for top-notch hygiene.

Key features – Filling: Hollowfibre; Cover: Microfibre (machine washable); Size: 69 x 46cm

Buy now from Argos


4. Silentnight Eco Comfort Pillow: Best eco-friendly alternative to memory foam

Price: From £24 | Buy now from Amazon

An affordable and environmentally friendly choice, Silentnight’s Eco Comfort is made from 100% recyclable materials, including 17 plastic bottles to make up its spiral-shaped ‘Eco Comfort Fibres’. These give the pillow a lofty, supportive and buoyant feeling, making the Eco Comfort a sustainable alternative to foam that will still spring back into shape when you aren’t using it.

It’s available in two firmness options, soft and medium/firm (featured), so you can choose whichever you find most comfortable – although we’d recommend side sleepers opt for the firm variant. It’s also got a breathable, hypo-allergenic cover that can be machine washed at 40°C.

Key features – Filling: Recycled polyester ‘Eco Comfort Fibres’; Cover: 98% Polyester, 2% Elastine (machine washable); Size: 74 x 45cm

5. Tempur Original X Large Pillow: Best memory foam pillow for side sleepers

Price: £105 | Buy now from Tempur

The smaller Large version of this jewel in Tempur's crown was our top choice for best pillow for neck pain, but the X Large version may be a better choice if you're a side sleeper. The raised section is 13cm high, providing ample support while you sleep. But do note that the pillow, which is made from genuine memory foam, will compress to a firmer, flatter contour over your first few nights. So if you need a higher loft to bridge the gap between your shoulder and ear, you could use this pillow as your base layer and put a cooler, flatter pillow on top.

At £89, it’s pricey for a single pillow, but the huge number of cheap imitators is testament to the effectiveness of its design.

Key features – Filling: Memory foam; Cover: 100% cotton cover (machine washable 60˚C); Sizes: 61cm x 31cm (13cm max height); also available in Medium (10cm max height) and Large (11.5cm max height)

6. Woolroom Natural British Wool Pillow: Best eco-friendly cooling pillow for side sleepers

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

British bedding specialist Woolroom uses voluminous balls of ethically-sourced wool to fill its pillows, creating a luxurious alternative to goose down. These pillows aren’t vegan – wool is an animal product, after all – but they're a great cruelty-free, naturally hypoallergenic, and wonderfully cooling alternative to feathers and down.

This pillow is quite lofty (15cm) and it's packed tightly enough with wool to give medium/firm support, so despite its cosy feel it will keep your head, neck and shoulders well-supported. It's also extremely breathable, thanks to its 100% natural materials and quilted cotton percale cover, which helps to wick moisture away from your body and stop you getting clammy. The main downside is it needs to be dry cleaned, although the cover is machine-washable.

Key features – Filling: Wool (dry-clean only); Cover: Cotton (machine washable); Size: 74cm x 48cm (15cm max height)


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