If you’re a side-sleeper, you’re in good company: A 2012 poll from Anna’s Linens showed that 74 percent of Americans snooze on their sides, with stomach sleepers and back sleepers coming in at a close second and thirds. As comfortable as side-sleeping can be, however, it can also cause issues in the neck and shoulder departments. Luckily, they can sometimes be resolved by investing in one of the best pillows for side-sleepers.
Side-sleeping has its pros and cons. On the plus side, there are many health benefits to reposing in this position. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, it can help those suffering from reflux, heartburn, GERD, and sleep apnea. Due to the positioning of certain organs, like the stomach, however, this is only true when sleeping on your left side.
Alternately, given that sleeping on your side may require resting on one arm, this position can also result in hand numbness and neck pain, especially if your chin is pulled down in the fetal position. You’re also placing a good amount of your weight on one of your shoulders in this state, which can lead to additional aching and straining over time.
As such, it’s very important to be conscious of the alignment of your head, neck, and spine, as well as the overall straightness of your legs and back (think log position) when you sleep on your side. For added support with alignment, fit can help to place a pillow between your knees to alleviate pressure on your hips and lower back.
What is the best pillow for side sleepers?
Grab a sleep mask and your favorite mattress topper, and get ready to drift off into Dreamland with the best headrests money can buy. Keep scrolling below to learn more about FIRST for Women’s picks for the best-rated pillows for side sleepers with neck and shoulder pain.
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Best Memory Foam Pillow for Side Sleepers
Where to buy: $29.99, Amazon
To help keep your spine properly aligned as you sleep on your side, it's important to find a pillow with good support. Those seeking a memory foam option can try this one from TRANZZQUIL. Designed specifically to alleviate neck and shoulder pain, this pillow is filled with US-certified CertiPUR-US memory foam and is covered in a breathable case that features a stylish weave pattern. With removable and alternative stuffing, it's also great for people looking to customize their sleeping experience.
Best Pillow for Sleep Apnea
Where to buy: $29.99 (Originally $59.99), Amazon
For those suffering from sleep apnea, getting a good night's rest can be a real challenge. But it doesn't have to be that way, thanks to this ergonomic cervical neck pillow from UTTU.
Designed to cradle the neck in its proper alignment — a practice the American Sleep Apnea Association calls "positional therapy" — this pillow ensures airways stay open (a chief issue with regard to sleep apnea) to helps those living with the condition get through the night.
"With this pillow I'm able to sleep on my sides without a problem," one happy customer gushed. "It gives me the correct [alignment] height to avoid pain in my shoulders."
Best Latex Pillow For Side Sleepers
Reverie Sweet Slumber
Where to buy: $115, Reverie
Reverie's Sweet Slumber adjustable pillow is a super-soft option that's made with special DreamCell filling — a natural latex that feels almost identical to goose down. Prior to using this pillow, my nose would often be stuffy upon waking, but not with the Sweet Slumber. Its latex is hypoallergenic and dust-mite-resistant, which means I can finally breathe easily. It has an insert for an extra layer of fluff, plus, it's moisture-wicking, which means I won't overheat, no matter how many blankets are piled on top of me.
Disclaimer: The author was sent this pillow to review, but all opinions and statements are unbiased, honest, and come directly from her. At FIRST for Women, we care deeply about our readers and only endorse products that we personally love and use.
Best Pregnancy Pillow For Side Sleepers
Where to buy: $40.59, Amazon
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the best sleep position during pregnancy is on your side. Not only is it more comfortable for the mother's inevitable aches and pains, it's also healthier for the baby. The ASA also notes that side-sleeping, particularly left side-sleeping, can help boost the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and the baby.
This premium pregnancy pillow from Queen Rose's unique "U" shape hugs the body for comfort while also encouraging proper side alignment for a long-lasting, impactful sleep. Best of all, this pillow is multi-functional, with the ability to work as a nursing pillow after birth.
Best Contour Pillow For Side Sleepers
Where to buy: $38.99 (Originally $44.99), Amazon
Don't be put off by the odd shape of this headrest— there's a method to its madness. Featuring a patented "butterfly" design, this Cradle Me pillow from Lofty is designed to do just it says — cradle you as you sleep. Made from premium high-density memory foam, this pillow's contours simulate natural body curvature. With a support system that aligns the neck and shoulders, it boasts relaxed muscles and deep, pain-free sleep.
Best Pillow For Side Sleepers With Headaches
Where to buy: $36.99 (Originally $39.99), Amazon
Since side-sleeping can cause neck and shoulder pain, it's common for side sleepers to have frequent bouts of headaches. Proper neck support from a good pillow, like this one from Sable, can do wonders to help cure what ails you. Made from 100 percent hypoallergenic cotton, this soft and supportable goose down-alternative pillow features removable stuffing, so you can choose the perfect fill level support for you.
With reviews like, "I finally woke up without a headache," this pillow might just be the key to your golden slumber.
Best Pillow For Side Sleepers Cool
Where to buy: $49.99, Amazon
Looking for a pillow to help keep you cool and comfortable as you sleep? Snuggle-Pedic's ultra-luxury cooling pillow is a great bet. Made from a luscious bamboo blend, this memory foam design features a "Kool-Flow" micro-vented cover designed to help circulate air and lower your temp as you sleep. With shredded memory foam filling, this pillow will also contour to the shape of your spine, giving you orthopedic support for proper alignment throughout the night. Did we mention its also machine washable, hypoallergenic, and made in the US?
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers With Neck and Shoulder Pain
MedCline Bed Wedge
Where to buy: $279.99, Amazon
One of the biggest issues side-sleepers face is arm pain due that can come from placing arms beneath pillows, from which issues such as numbness, soreness, and aches can arise. MedCline's bed wedge is a full-length memory foam body pillow with a convenient arm pocket that works to relieve pressure from your arm and shoulder. What's more, this pillow's incline is not only for comfort, it helps with other health issues — especially digestive ones. Clinically shown to aid in proper overnight digestion, this is one of the best pillows for side sleepers with acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD looking to get their beauty zzzs.
Best Pillow For Side Stomach Sleepers
Scrumptious Side Sleeper
Where to buy: $99.95, Amazon
If you find that you sleep in a hybrid position — not quite on your stomach, but not quite on your side — this crescent-shaped pillow may be your new secret weapon against fatigue. Dubbed the Scrumptious Side Sleeper, this headrest features a unique curve, which supports your neck differently than a traditional pillow. By getting up under your shoulders, it essentially acts as an extension of the body, properly aligning your neck to stop aches and pains in their tracks. It's made with Certipur-US certified cooling gel foam, so you'll stay plenty cool at night, too.
But don't take it from us: With one customer calling it a "great pillow for active side or stomach-sleepers" and another claiming, "Yes, this pillow IS that good," the reviews speak for yourself.