For about one-third of our lives we are either asleep or trying to fall asleep. It is a crucial part of our health and existence, and when sleep does not come easy it can create a myriad of problems. Pillows are designed to aid our sleep, but if you are a side sleeper struggling to find the right pillow it can be frustrating at best and painful at worst, causing neck and back problems that can lead to chronic pain.
To help you ease some of these woes, below we have briefly reviewed some of the best-selling and top-rated pillows for side sleepers, including the pros and cons associated with each pillow. We have also included a Buyer’s Guide for these types of pillows, one that highlights the various characteristics you should look for before making a final purchase.
Best Pillows for Side Sleepers (2018)
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ComfySleep Buckwheat Pillow
The ComfySleep Buckwheat Pillow is one of the most ideal pillows for side sleepers. Made with an organic cotton casing and stuffed with U.S. grown buckwheat hulls that are breathable, malleable and very supportive, this pillow is sure to offer you a good night’s sleep. Measuring 15 inches by 23 inches, these buckwheat pillows allow for maximum airflow around your head, ensuring a cool and comfortable experience for the life of the pillow.
- Supportive. The contouring ability of buckwheat makes the ComfySleep Buckwheat Pillow very supportive.
- Great Air Flow. Buckwheat pillows are very breathable and do not retain heat throughout the night.
- Adjustable. Users can adjust the height of their pillow by simply adding additional buckwheat hulls via the hidden zipper compartment.
- Some noise. Users of the ComfySleep Buckwheat Pillow may experience some noise as they mold the pillow to their preferred shape.
- Firm. Some users of the ComfySleep Buckwheat Pillow will find it too firm or not “cuddly” enough for their preferences.
Organic Textiles All Natural Latex Pillow
Boasting an organic cotton outer covering, the Organic Textiles All Natural Latex Pillow is completely hypoallergenic and anti-microbial, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria that could potentially cause illness. Stuffed with 100 percent Latex, the pillow is much cooler and a great deal more breathable than other types of pillows, while also providing mid-level firmness to support the bones and muscles of the neck. Its free air flow design does not allow it to retain heat like memory foam pillows, and the various sizes offered makes it perfect for twin, full, Queen and King sized beds.
- Cool. Latex pillows like the Organic Textiles All Natural Latex Pillow are much cooler than other types of pillows.
- Soft. Those looking for a soft pillow that breathes will fall in love with this offering from Organic Textiles,
- Good Loft. Latex pillows are known for having good loft, which will help maintain proper spine alignment throughout the night.
- Not moldable. The Organic Textiles All Natural Latex Pillow is not very moldable.
- Dense. Although latex pillows can be quite soft, they are much too dense and heavy to be considered cuddly.
SleepBetter Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow
The SleepBetter Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow is perfect for side sleepers, as it is able to contour to the shape of the user’s body. The plush, gusseted visco-elastic memory foam that stuffs this pillow is great for people with back and neck issues, as its shape is designed to promote and maintain proper spine alignment throughout the night. Unlike other memory foam pillows, which tend to retain heat, this pillow boasts microscopic beads that help to absorb the heat and provide coolness that regulates the user’s body temperature.
- Supportive. The SleepBetter Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow is very supportive, making it perfect for people with a wide variety of physical conditions.
- Low Maintenance. Memory foam pillows require much less maintenance than buckwheat and latex pillows.
- Quiet. Memory foam pillows are soft and quiet throughout the night.
- Not very versatile. The loft and/or thickness of this pillow may not be suitable for all people, including those who sleep on their side.
- Not cuddly. Fairly stiff, pillows like the SleepBetter Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow are not cuddly whatsoever.
The Essential Side Sleeper Pillow Buyer’s Guide
When you are ready to shop for your next pillow (or pillows), especially if you are a side sleeper, there are a number of things you will want to keep in mind. Pillows are available in a myriad of shapes, styles and sizes; and pillows are made from a wide variety of materials, especially with regard to the inside or stuffing in different pillows. To help you make the most informed decision possible, below we have highlighted and defined some of these very important factors.
The inside or stuffing of a pillow can consist of many different materials—materials that are quite specific for a variety of purposes. Some of these stuffing materials are designed to provide the utmost in comfort; some are designed for support; and some are designed to help people with different conditions, medical or otherwise. Here are some of the materials used to stuff today’s side sleeping pillows.
- Memory Foam. Memory foam pillows are designed primarily for support (although they can also be comfy), but they can retain heat. Memory foam, as pillow stuffing, takes two primary forms: shredded foam and molded foam. Shredded foam pillows can be shaped to fit the comfort preferences of the user, while molded foam stays put and is usually used by people with back and neck conditions.
- Latex Pillows. One of the big selling points of latex pillows is their responsiveness—without the contouring you can expect with memory foam. Latex pillows are perfect for side sleepers who constantly yearn for the “cool side” of the pillow, as they have superior cooling capabilities. They are also ideal for those who tend to move around frequently at night. If you dislike pillows that retain heat, latex may be the material for you.
- Buckwheat. Used with great success by people who once suffered headaches, back pain and neck pain from an improperly aligned spine, buckwheat is a pillow stuffing that is used extensively throughout Asia—and more and more now in the western part of the world. Due to the hulls, buckwheat stuffing is quite firm and supportive, but it is also rather malleable and extremely breathable. As a side sleeper, buckwheat pillows will offer you the contoured, body-shaping support of a memory foam pillow without the dreaded heat retention that can make for a miserable night’s rest.
- Feather/Down. Feather or down pillows are very, very malleable, but not very supportive. If you are a side sleeper, these types of pillows offer a lot of comfort, but they regularly lose their shape at the most inopportune times, which could lead to a restless night.
- Cotton. The least supportive type of pillow is the cotton pillow. These pillows are completely unable to maintain their shape. For this reason, cotton pillows, which are usually more affordable than all other types, are typically used in conjunction with other materials.
Side sleepers may also require some knee support as they sleep, with one pillow under the head and the other between the knees—a technique that can help properly align the spine as you sleep. Thus, if you are buying pillows in a set of two, you will need pillows that feel comfortable in both areas. For side sleepers who do not use this between-the-knees technique, the risk of an improperly aligned spine could lead to poor posture, chronic pain, and back and neck stiffness. This is why many side sleepers opt for a full-body pillow.
Who are you purchasing the new pillow for? Does that person suffer from some type of condition that may require a special type of pillow? If you are trying to provide both comfort and support for a pregnant woman, for example, you may want to choose a full-body pillow. Other conditions may include:
- Snoring. There are many anti-snore pillows available that help to ease pressure in the neck to combat the condition.
- Night Sweats. Those suffering from night sweats may want to purchase a “cooling pillow,” perhaps stuffed with latex for the best in breathability.
- Neck Pain. If you suffer from neck pain, many doctors and chiropractors recommend a cervical pillow or water-based pillow. These pillows, which are designed to provide comfort and a great deal of support to the neck region, are available in many different sizes, including full-body.
There are also oxygen-promoting pillows that are great for people with shorter necks, where an improper pillow might obstruct the flow of air throughout the night. These types of pillows are promised to enhance the overall oxygen content in the body by as much as 25 percent.
Pillows are available in many different sizes. Standard-sized pillows are designed to fit side-by-side on a regular bed, but there are also smaller pillows that contour to the head and neck, as well as larger full-body pillows that are ideal for side sleepers. We recommend you try out various sizes until you find the one that matches your sleep preferences.
When you think of pillows, you probably envision the soft, standard, rectangular-shaped sleep aids that have been around for centuries. Today, however, there are many different shapes pillows can take, most notably the contoured, memory foam pillows that are designed to support the neck. Like with sizes, we recommend you test out variously-shaped pillows until you find a perfect match for you and your sleeping partner.
The price of your perfect pillow will depend on your preferences and the retail store at which you decide to shop. The most important thing to keep in mind is that an expensive pillow does not necessarily mean a better pillow. Once you decide on the shape, size and number of pillows you prefer, as well as the material that will best suit your preferences and/or conditions, be sure to shop around—at brick and mortar stores and online—until you find the best possible price based on your needs and preferences.
top image credit: AllaSerebrina(DepositPhotos)