If you sleep on your side, you probably know the feeling of waking up with a creaky neck—and, consequently, blaming your pillow. The best pillow for side sleepers will spare you this experience and, in turn, leave you feeling refreshed and your neck ache-free in the mornings. Research shows that your choice of pillow can have a major impact on your sleep quality overall, and why you might be feeling tired all the time, so it's important that you choose the pillow that best suits your sleep position.
When shopping for a good pillow, “the goal is to ensure that your neck and head are aligned straight over your shoulders when sleeping,” Srikant Kondapaneni, MD, previously told SELF. For side sleepers specifically, he recommended a higher-loft pillow, which will give the sleeper more room to lay comfortably on their shoulder, without hunching forward or sleeping with their shoulder rising toward their ear. (Meanwhile, back sleepers should use a lower pillow to prevent their neck from cranking forward.) Finding a pillow that allows for this kind of alignment will help your whole body relax and drift off to sleep.
A 2021 review noted that while there isn't one optimal height for a pillow for side sleepers, one study found that 10 centimeters (or about four inches) was the most comfortable height for its side-sleeping participants. So, if you wanted a ballpark number to keep in mind while shopping, 10 centimeters could be a good place to start. That said, don't forget to think about your own body: If you have broader or larger shoulders, a taller pillow will probably feel better for you, but if you're on the smaller side, you might not need an incredibly high-loft model.
Of course, even with these general tips in mind, finding the best pillow for side sleepers can be an overwhelming process, given the sheer number of pillows on the market. That's why we've selected our top picks for side sleeper pillows, according to enthusiastic reviews and the criteria mentioned above, and listed them below. If it's time to upgrade to a new pillow, read on and enjoy the sweet dreams to come. And check out our list of best sleep products to help you wind down at night.
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