Best pillow for side sleepers – tried and tested for perfect spine alignment

We've tried and tested the best pillows for side sleepers from Simba, Panda, Woolroom, Tempur, and a whole host more brands, to help you find the right pillow for your sleep style

Three of the best pillows for side sleepers piled on top of each other
(Image credit: Future Studios / Philip Sowels )

If sourcing the best pillow for side sleepers is high on your agenda, then you're in the right place. 

Your sleep style – that's whether you're most likely to sleep on your side, front, or back – is one of the most important factors to take into consideration when shopping for a good night's sleep, whether you're searching for the best pillows or the best mattress for a comfortable night's kip.

The best pillow for side sleepers is one that will keep your head, neck, and spine in perfect alignment, without raising your head too high or allowing it to drop too low – both of which can put undue pressure on the neck whilst you rest. 

The good news is that we've tried and tested multiple pillows from multiple brands – including Simba, Panda, Woolroom, Tempur, and many more – to curate this shortlist of the best pillows for side sleepers. 

We've tracked down the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain, the best memory foam pillow for side sleepers, plus plenty more pillows that deliver great side sleeping support to make finding your ideal pillow – and therefore getting a better night's sleep – far quicker and easier.

The quick list

Short on time? This quick list is an overview of the very best pillows for side sleepers. You'll find more information on each pillow and why our testers recommend it if you keep on scrolling.

The best pillow for side sleepers

Why you can trust Ideal Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

amy lockwood
Amy Lockwood

I'm Amy the Ideal Home team's Sleep Editor. I put all manner of products through their paces to find the top recommendations for a good night's sleep, whether that's the best duvets or the best electric blankets. Along with the wider team, I've tested multiple pillows to find the best pillow for side sleepers – a mission close to my heart as I switch between side and front sleeping myself.

Best pillow for side sleepers overall

A cut-out image of a Simba Hybrid pillow with blue and grey edgingproduct badge

(Image credit: Simba)

1. Simba Hybrid Pillow

Best pillow for side sleepers overall

Reasons to buy

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Adjustable fill
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Incorporates recycled materials
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Also suits front and back sleepers
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Manufacturer sleep trial

Reasons to avoid

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An investment
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Can sleep a bit warm
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You may need to buy some extra fill if you prefer a high loft pillow

Thanks to its adjustable fill (a genius concept) multiple testers found this Simba option to be the best pillow for side sleepers overall. 

It's the pillow's versatility that meant it scored so highly, with it being one of the few pillows on the market that allows you to adjust the inner filling to make it just the right loft (height) for you. This is great for side sleepers as it means you can raise the height of the pillow to just the right loft for your spine to be in alignment. Just add or remove the foam 'nanocubes' to make the pillow the correct height for you. There's also a handy storage bag for storing any spare foam filling.

That adjustable fill also means this pillow can work just as well for back and front sleepers too, making it a great all-rounder, and especially useful for spare bedrooms where overnight guests can tailor the fill to exactly their liking. 

The only testers this pillow didn't impress were those who prefer a firmer sleep surface – it is quite soft – and those who prefer to opt for more breathable natural materials over synthetics.

This pillow is an investment, so take advantage of one of Ideal Home's Simba discount codes, or keep an eye on our Simba deals page to make the most of one of the brand's frequent sales when you shop. The brand also offers a sleep trial to help you make sure it's a good sleep for you before you commit.

Best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain

A cut-out image of the curved white Kally Sleep neck pain pillowproduct badge

(Image credit: Kally Sleep)

2. Kally Sleep Neck Pain Pillow

Best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain

Reasons to buy

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Brilliant for neck pain
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Good for both side and back sleepers
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Manufacturer sleep trial

Reasons to avoid

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Doesn't fit a pillowcase very well

We've tested multiple options, and we think this high-density memory foam pillow is the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain. 

Its firm structure means your neck is kept static during the night to decrease twinges and aches and although its firmer feel takes a little getting used to at first, it quickly became our reviewer's go-to sleep aid. 

Plus, our testers with no existing neck problems were just as impressed by its ergonomic shape that cradles the neck to offer optimum support during the night. 

It's also a great buy if you tend to switch positions during the night, with slightly higher headrests on either side of the pillow to cater for comfortable side sleeping and a shaped centre to support the cervical spine whilst sleeping on your back. Not just the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain, but the best pillow we've found for neck pain in general, and, there's a manufacturer sleep trial, so you can check it helps with your neck pain too before you commit.

The only downside is that its ergonomic shape doesn't fill out a pillowcase that well, so it's not going to help you achieve a well-styled bed. But if you're looking for pain relief and a good night's sleep then that's probably a sacrifice well worth making.

Best memory foam pillow for side sleepers

Image of the Panda Hybrid Bamboo white pillow with black Panda logoproduct badge

(Image credit: Panda)

3. Panda Hybrid Bamboo Pillow

Best memory foam pillow for side sleepers

Reasons to buy

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Feels much more luxurious than your usual memory foam pillow
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Cool to sleep on
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Removable washable cover
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Manufacturer sleep trial

Reasons to avoid

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An investment

Memory foam pillows can divide opinion, with some loving the adaptive sleep surface and others less keen on the firmer feel. 

However, the Panda Hybrid Bamboo pillow converted even our most memory foam-averse reviewers, with this pillow scoring highly amongst all testers, especially our side sleepers. That's why we voted it the best memory foam pillow for side sleepers.

Alongside a slightly more malleable memory foam core that is brilliant for creating good spinal alignment whilst you sleep, the Panda Hybrid Bamboo pillow is topped with a cool and silky bamboo rayon top layer that gives the pillow a really luxurious feel compared to your usual rather 'boxy' memory foam pillow.

Panda has also incorporated several ways of increasing airflow into this pillow to combat the usual downside of solid memory foam, which is overheating. The memory foam has ventilation holes throughout it, there's a breathable mesh panel on the side of the pillow, and that upper layer of bamboo rayon helps to cool down your sleep – it certainly impressed our hot sleepers who found it far more breathable than expected.

In fact, several of our reviewers now say they won't sleep without this pillow. Panda's sleep trial will help you to assess if the same is true for you. 

Best pillow for side sleepers who overheat

Cut-out of an unzipped Woolroom pillow with wool stuffing shown insideproduct badge

(Image credit: Woolroom)

4. Woolroom Chatsworth Collection Washable Wool Pillow

Best pillow for side sleepers who overheat

Reasons to buy

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Great for a cooler sleep
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A far more eco-friendly choice made from natural, sustainable materials
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Washable
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Only all-natural pillows to hold the Allergy UK Seal of Approval

Reasons to avoid

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You may need two, or to buy some extra fill if you prefer a high loft pillow

If you're a side sleeper who suffers from overheating during the night then natural materials – in particular wool, which is perfect for hot sleepers thanks to its breathable, thermo-regulating qualities – are the way forward. 

Our bodies – including our heads – naturally give off heat and moisture during the night, and with a synthetic pillow, this heat and humidity is often reflected back toward the sleeper. If you regularly wake up and turn your pillow over looking for the cool side, then your pillow likely lacks breathability and is making you too hot, which can cause sleep disturbance.

If your pillow is filled with polyester or memory foam then these are both forms of plastic derived from petroleum – and, if you think of their essence as being similar to a plastic bag, it's easy to see why a synthetic pillow can lack breathability and get hot and sweaty pretty quickly! 

A natural wool fill pillow eliminates this problem, as wool is adept at wicking heat and moisture away from the body and releasing it into the air. A wool-fill pillow, therefore, creates a breathable sleep surface that's ideal for hot sleepers. Plus, this washable wool-filled pillow is a far more sustainable option compared to synthetic pillows. 

Woolroom's Chatsworth Washable Wool Pillow is similar to the Simba Hybrid pillow with its adjustable foam 'nanocubes' in that you can unzip its quilted cover to adjust the amount of wool filling inside. The only downside is that you're not provided with that much fill as standard, so if you're a side sleeper with wider shoulders then you might find you need to invest in a little more filling – extra wool fill can be bought on Woolroom's website – or opt for two pillows. But again, there's a sleep trial on offer, so you can see what works best for you before you commit.

Best firm pillow for side sleepers

Cut-out image of a white memory foam pillow with a black embroidered panda logoproduct badge

(Image credit: Panda)

5. Panda Memory Foam Pillow

Best firm pillow for side sleepers

Reasons to buy

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A firmer feel and higher loft
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Removable washable cover
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Manufacturer sleep trial

Reasons to avoid

-
Can sleep a bit warm

Another entry from Panda, the brand's original memory foam pillow is a design that's amassed a host of positive reviews online. And little wonder, because in testing we found this the best firm pillow for side sleepers, as well as being a brilliantly affordably buy.

The Panda Memory Foam pillow is higher than the Panda Hybrid Bamboo pillow and a good degree firmer, but in our tests, it proved very popular with our side sleeping testers with wider shoulders who appreciated the extra loft.

Minus the quilted bamboo rayon upper layer that the Panda Hybrid Bamboo offers, the Panda Memory Foam pillow doesn't feel as luxurious, but it still offers good quality compared to most similar firm memory foam pillows we've tested. Its textured cover, which can be unzipped and washed at 40°c is a nice touch. As is the embroidered Panda logo – although unfortunately, we did find this showed through pale coloured pillowcases, so we tended to flip the pillow to the reverse to hide it.  

And the real plus point? Compared to the Panda Hybrid Bamboo, the Panda Memory Foam pillow is nearly half the price, and reasonable in relation to most memory foam pillows you price check it against. 

This makes it not only the best firm pillow for side sleepers but a good value side sleeping option all round. Plus, it comes with a handy sleep trial to help you assess whether it's the right fit for you before you commit.

Best pillow for side and back sleepers

A cut-out image of the Tempur Comfort Cloud white pillow with raised circle designproduct badge

(Image credit: Tempur)

6. Tempur Comfort Cloud Pillow

Best pillow for side AND back sleepers

Reasons to buy

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Memory foam with a more classic shape
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Softer feel that's perfect for side and back sleeping
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Manufacturer sleep trial

Reasons to avoid

-
An investment
-
Can sleep a bit warm

If you like the more solid feel of memory foam under your head for side sleeping, but also crave a softer sleep surface if you roll onto your back during the night, then Tempur's Comfort Cloud Pillow could be for you. 

Tempur is the brand widely accredited with creating the very first memory foam as-we-know-it after it adapted 'viscoelastic' – a material invented by NASA for use as cushioning in its spacecraft – for use in mattresses. It remains the only sleep brand to hold NASA's Certified Space Technology® license.

Unlike the usual rectangular shape that most memory foam pillows adopt, the Tempur Comfort Cloud Pillow echoes the shape of a 'traditional' pillow, and it's this slightly softer and lower loft that means we think it's the best pillow for side and back sleepers; perfect if you're someone who switches up their sleep position during the night.

If how your bed looks is also important to you, then that classic pillow shape also means it fills out a pillowcase better than most memory foam pillows, so this option still looks great on the bed. 

It may be an investment, but after sleeping on this pillow for a week several of our reviewers said they wouldn't return to another pillow, with one saying, 'this pillow has changed my mind about memory foam – I'm definitely a convert!'. Tempur's sleep trial allows you the option to find out if it can also convert you. 

How to choose

If you sleep on your side then you'll want a thicker pillow – or perhaps two thinner pillows – that lift your head enough to keep your spine and neck in alignment. 

Finding the best pillow if you're a side sleeper can be a challenge as everyone’s shoulders are different widths – wider shoulders mean you'll need more pillow height to keep your neck straight once you're laid on your side – so sometimes it can take a little trial and error to get the correct height.

A boxwall or memory foam pillow can be a good bet here as they both provide a more structured pillow that offers height but prevents your head from sinking too much. Or, a pillow with adjustable fill – like the two on our shortlist – can help you to create just the right height pillow for your body frame.

However, you'll also want to take the pros and cons of different pillow materials into account when you shop.

Overheating is one of the most common reasons for disrupted sleep or night-time waking. If you regularly flip your pillow over at night looking for the cooler side, it’s likely you need a ‘cooler’ more breathable option. 

Synthetic pillow casing and fill is usually the biggest culprit if you find your pillow gets too hot in the night. Made of plastic polymers, synthetics aren’t breathable – although manufacturers try to combat this by adding in ‘spaces’ between fibres to enable airflow – so the natural heat of your head is reflected back to you, leading to overheating or a sweaty head. 

Opting for natural materials for the pillow casing and fill is the best bet for staying cool at night. Look for cotton, wool, feather, or down which are all far more breathable and so make the best pillows for those prone to overheating at night, delivering a far cooler sleep. 

A pillow on a bed with a pink throw

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

FAQs

What is the best pillow for side sleepers?

The best pillow for a side sleeper is one that allows the neck and spine to rest in perfect alignment. 

As Kora Habinakova, sleep and bedding expert from bedding specialist Sleepseeker, clarifies, ‘The purpose of a pillow is to support your head and align your neck and spine while you lie down’. Misalignment between the neck and spine can create ‘discomfort, stiffness, and even pain in the neck, shoulders, and back. It can also exacerbate existing spinal conditions or lead to new ones over time.'

That means that finding the best pillow for a side sleeper requires finding a pillow that is the right height for your exact measurements, with those with wider shoulders requiring a higher pillow than those with a narrower frame. 

You also need to factor in body weight, and how soft your mattress is. As Kora explains, ’Lighter individuals are less likely to sink into the mattress and tend to prefer medium-thick pillows that will help to promote optimal spinal alignment. Those with heavier weight considerations are more likely to experience sinkage and may find a thinner pillow helps keep the head level with the spine.’

What kind of pillow should side sleepers use?

As well as getting a comfortable pillow (or two) for under your head, side sleepers might also want to consider an extra pillow – for between the knees.

‘Placing a pillow between your knees whilst side sleeping can help to keep your spine in proper alignment' says Emily Attwood, co-founder of bedding brand Scooms

Kora from Sleepseeeker agrees, 'When sleeping on your side, your spine can pull out of alignment and cause pain in your lower back and hips’. That's why adding a pillow between