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Best pillow for side sleepers 2024: Sleep in comfort with our favourite memory foam and hollowfibre pillows

A lineup of the best pillows for side sleepers

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. And considering just how many of us prefer to sleep on our sides, 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 will also reveal our pick of the best side-sleeper pillows currently available.

How to choose the best pillow for you

What type of pillow is best for side-sleepers?

“We would 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 will need to counteract that compression to your neck and open up your spine.”

Memory foam pillows might feel unfamiliar to those who are used to pillows with microfibre or down fillings. But once you get used to the sensation, they can be a very supportive option. This is because memory foam moulds to the contours of the body, cradling your head and neck to help keep your spine aligned. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that memory foam retains heat, so it might not be the best choice for those who get uncomfortably hot at night.

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 another great natural material that maintains its shape better than down, and we’ve included a wool pillow in our roundup below. Bear in mind, however, that neither down feather or wool is vegan-friendly.

Two pillows may be better than one if you sleep on your side. A pillow that’s too flat 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 would 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 would probably rather not know about, let alone sleep on!

How we test pillows

While the hallmark of a good pillow might be a good night’s sleep, there are a number of other factors we take into account in our testing, such as firmness, loft (another word for height), value for money and temperature control.

How lofty a pillow is becomes particularly important when recommending a mattress for side sleepers. As we’ve mentioned above, side sleepers might want a pillow with a bit more loft to support their head and shoulder. How hot a pillow can feel during the night will vary depending on what it’s made from. Some pillows, all-foam ones for instance, will feel warmer than others, making them less suitable for those prone to overheating at night.

We also pay close attention to other details including removable covers, trial periods and extra features such as adjustable and ergonomic designs – all of which help to build a clear overview of the product.

READ NEXT: Best mattresses for side sleepers

The best pillows for side sleepers you can buy in 2024

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

Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Kally SleepThis 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 would 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 it 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 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. Kally also offers a 14-night “sleep trial” on selected products, to customers ordering direct from its online store. During this time, you can return your pillow if you’re not happy with it.

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

Check price at Kally Sleep

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

Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at HabitatSilentnight’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

Check price at Habitat

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

Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at 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 would 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

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

Price when reviewed: £109 | Check price at TempurThe “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 £109, it’s the most expensive pillow on our roundup, 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: 61 x 31cm (13cm max height); also available in Medium (10cm max height) and Large (11.5cm max height)

Check price at Tempur

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

Price when reviewed: £57 | Check price at WoolroomBritish 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: 74 x 48cm (15cm max height)

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