If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
The most common sleeping position is on your side, which is good news as it’s also generally thought to be the best position for your neck and spine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still mess up your body’s alignment by sleeping on an unsupportive pillow, awkwardly arranging your shoulders, or letting your knees knock together. But it does mean that there are a variety of ergonomic and high-quality pillows designed to address these very problems.
What Are the Best Pillows for Side Sleepers?
In general, any ergonomically designed pillow is ideal for side sleepers, as long as it’s not too thin and flat. However, there are also other pillows designed for sleeping on your side.
Body Pillows: Side sleeping may be the best position for back alignment according to some experts, but it can still leave your arms awkwardly clutching the air as you tuck yourself in, which can be uncomfortable and annoying. Cleverly shaped body pillows solve this problem, by providing support to both your neck and arms, which also helps reduce the amount of tossing and turning in the night.
Knee Pillows: Another common problem for side sleepers is your knees knock together, which is an often unavoidable and uncomfortable situation. A foam knee pillow or divider can help solve this issue. We like knee pillows that are small and travel easily, and with foam dense enough to hold up to the weight of your leg.
Ergonomic Pillows: These pillows are usually made of dense, firm memory foam, and molded to support your neck and and head. It can take a few nights to get used to sleeping on an ergonomic pillow, but people with chronic back problems often report more restful nights’ sleep and less pain in the morning. Most of these pillows have a similar shape — curved in the middle to create a kind of cradle for your skull, with cushioned support under your neck and at the crown of your head — while other, more creative designs might include space for the arms, or options for back and stomach sleeping as well.
Classic Pillows: There’s no rule saying you have to sleep with a specially designed pillow if you prefer the soft, fluffy feel of a classic. If you do go the old-fashioned route, pay attention to the fill material. Down pillows are popular, but they can be less supportive than other materials, and it’s important to make sure the down is ethically sourced. Shredded memory foam and cotton are other common pillow fill materials, and while memory foam offers the most support, cotton is more breathable.
1. EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow
This is a pretty classic ergonomic pillow, ideal for side and back sleepers alike, designed to comfortably cradle and support your neck, head and shoulders. Like other ergonomic foam pillows designed for support, it’s certainly stiffer and firmer than the plush down pillow you might be used to, but this is what you’re looking for if you want real neck support. Even with the firm shape, people who’ve slept with this pillow agree that it’s as easy to move from side to back sleeping as a traditional pillow, and some report they wake up with less neck pain.
2. Duro-Med DMI Side Sleeper Body Pillow
For side sleepers who need something to hold during the night, we love a body pillow like this one, which is almost shaped like a candy cane and helps provide cushionioning for your head, arms and shoulders all at the same time. We like this pillow’s ear pocket design — basically a little hole that keeps you from crushing your ear during the night.
3. Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers
We love this knee pillow for a few reasons, the main one being that unlike similar products, this one is soft yet firm enough not to depress between your knees during the night. It’s also 100 percent memory foam, which is a sign of superior quality, and small and light enough to travel easily wherever you go.
4. Beckham Hotel Collection Luxury Plush Gel Pillow
If you don’t necessarily want a fully ergonomic pillow, the great thing about being a side sleeper is that as long as it’s firm enough, you can still sleep comfortably with a classic, fluffy pillow. Some reviewers like these hotel grade luxury gel pillows for their magic firm-yet-soft feel. Soft enough to feel luxurious, and firm enough to keep your neck supported.