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Best Pillows For Side Sleepers

Best Pillows For Side Sleepers UK (2023)

Last updated: 31.10.2023 Reading time: 7 Min.

About 74% of the world’s population sleeps on its side. 🌏

And probably about half of those people wake up with neck and shoulder tension because their pillow doesn’t adequately support them.

Finding the right pillow for side sleepers is vital to ensure optimal upper spinal alignment - and prevent pains. 😲

In this guide, we’ll take you through some of the best pillows for side sleepers in the UK - and tell you what to look out for!

So let’s get started. 🚀

Best pillows for side sleepers

The UK's best pillows for side sleepers

Sleep Hero Favourite

Panda London Memory Foam Bamboo Pillow

The Panda bamboo memory foam pillow combines supportive memory foam with a soft and sustainably sourced bamboo cover.

Third-generation memory foam conforms to the shape of your head, providing improved support and spinal alignment.

All about the Panda Memory Foam Bamboo Pillow

The Panda Memory Foam Bamboo Pillow combines supportive memory foam with a breathable bamboo cover. 🐼

Third-generation memory foam technology provides improved neck, shoulder, and spine support.

panda bamboo pillow
The Panda pillow bamboo cover is soft and comfortable.

Plus, the bamboo cover is eco-friendly and promotes airflow to keep you cool and comfortable even if you are a warm sleeper. ❄️

Bamboo is antimicrobial by nature, which helps to keep dust mites and germs at bay.

A mesh fabric protector is also included and helps extend the life of your pillow. 📆

Panda pillows come with a 10-year warranty and a 30-night trial period, so you have time to make sure it’s the perfect fit for you.

The Panda bamboo memory foam pillow offers amazing value for money!


  Panda Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow
Composition: Memory foam with bamboo pillow case
Firmness level: Medium
Trial period: 30 nights
Guarantee: 10 years
What we love: 3rd generation memory foam and a sustainable, breathable, and antibacterial bamboo cover.
What could be improved: The pillow cannot currently be adjusted.
Best Trial Period

Emma Original Pillow

The Emma Original pillow is a height-adjustable pillow with customisable layers for the best individually-tailored support possible.

The Emma Original pillow contains three high-quality foam layers for exquisite comfort and support.

All about the Emma Original Pillow

The Emma Original pillow consists of three different foam layers, including cold foam, Airgocell foam, and memory foam.

Conveniently, you can add or remove these layers as you wish. 💪

This means you can adjust both the height and the firmness of the pillow.

  • If you need firmer support, sleep on the cold foam layer.
  • If you want orthopaedic pressure relief, sleep on the memory foam layer.

We recommend using one layer for stomach sleepers, two layers for back sleepers and three layers for side sleepers. 

It has a firm feel, ideal for those that like to sleep atop their pillow without too much sinking. 

emma original pillow
The Emma pillow comes with three individual foam layers.

The Emma Original pillow also comes with a removable, machine-washable cover. 🛀

However, the cover only opens partially, which made it difficult to remove the cover for washing or adjusting the layers.

It's also fairly warmer compared to other pillows we've tested. 🔥

In fact, our thermal camera showed it was 5.1.°C warmer than the Emma Premium Microfibre pillow

The Emma pillow is delivered within 3 working days and comes with a 200-night trial period.


  Emma Original Pillow
Composition: Memory foam, Airgocell foam, and cold foam
Firmness level: Adjustable
Trial period: 200 nights 
Guarantee: 2 years
What we love: Highly supportive, suitable for all sleeping positions, washable cover, excellent trial & guarantee
What could be improved: Too firm for some sleepers, difficult to remove the cover and adjust the layers, not the coolest pillow option
Customisable Comfort

Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow

The Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow provides customisable comfort and cooling technology for a supportive and refreshing sleep experience.

The Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow features customisable layers and patented titanium Aerocoil springs for personalised comfort. 

The Simba Hybrid Firm pillow perfectly combines comfort, support, and breathability. 🌬️

The pillow's hybrid layer of Simba Pure foam and titanium Aerocoil springs offers exceptional support for the head and neck.

The Aerocoil layer is encased in soft, cushioning Simba pure foam, relieving pressure from the head and shoulders.

We were impressed with the quality of this hybrid layer, with springs that provide advanced support and minimise motion

simba hybrid firm pillow aerocoil layer inside

The super-soft Simba renew fibres cushion your head gently, maintain their shape, and stay fluffy for longer.

Customise the three inner pillows to suit your sleeping style and preferred firmness. 

We recommend:

  • 3 layers for side sleepers
  • 2 layers for back sleepers
  • 1 layer for stomach sleepers 

However, our tester found 3 layers slightly too high, and sleeping on just the Aerocoil and a fibre layer was more comfortable in the side and back sleeping position. 

man sleeping on side on simba hybrid firm pillow

Made with a 100% Better Cotton cover, this eco-friendly pillow choice supports the Better Cotton Initiative.

Unfortunately, the zipper broke off when we unzipped the cover. 

The Stratos technology and the breathable mesh border keep you cool throughout the night.

The pillow is free from TCPP, parabens, and biocides for easy recycling.♻️

You can machine-wash the cover and filled pads at 40°C and tumble dry on low heat but do not wash the spring pad layer. 

The Simba Hybrid Firm pillow can be delivered within 3 days!


  Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow
Composition: Better Cotton, Simba Renew cluster fill, Simba Pure foam, titanium Aerocoil®springs
Firmness level Customisable
Trial period None
Guarantee 1 year
What we love Customisable comfort, eco-friendly materials, highly breathable, excellent head and neck support
What could be improved Using all layers felt slightly too firm, the zip broke when undoing the cover, no trial period
Luxury Option

Tempur Comfort Original Pillow

Tempur Comfort Original pillows have a medium-firm feel and are a fantastic choice for individuals who want a mix of support and comfort.

The Tempur Comfort Original pillow has thousands of micro cushions to provide excellent head, neck, and shoulder support.

Tempur Comfort pillow review

The Tempur Comfort Original pillow is one of the best choices in the UK for side sleepers. 

tempur original pillow

It has a few remarkable qualities:

  • Firm yet adaptive Tempur material
  • Deeper loft for side sleepers
  • Machine-washable cover

The Tempur Comfort Original pillow is designed with Tempur material micro cushions that provide superior comfort whilst maintaining complete pressure relief. 💆‍♀️

The medium-feel firmness of these Tempur side sleeper pillows cushions your head and shoulders to alleviate pain and discomfort.

It's slightly firmer than the Cloud pillow, ideal for those who don't want to completely collapse into their pillow. 

The Original is the perfect choice for side sleepers because it helps to keep the head lifted and aligned with the spine while gently cocooning the head and shoulders. 

The Tempur Pillow Comfort Original also includes a washable soft cotton cover that can be cleaned at 60 degrees. 🧼

A 30-day trial period and a 3-year guarantee mean you can purchase without worry. 


  Tempur Comfort Pillow Original
Composition: Tempur material and cotton cover
Firmness level: Medium
Trial period: 30 days
Guarantee: 3 years

Space-engineered technology

Supportive and pressure-relieving

Perfect loft and firmness for side sleepers

High-quality feel

Washable cover included

Excellent trial and guarantee


Very expensive

Too warm for hot sleepers

Unsuitable for stomach and back sleepers

Ergonomic Design

Groove Original Pillow

The Groove memory foam pillow (formerly EasySleeper pillow) has an ergonomic design to combat neck and shoulder pain.

This pillow enables upper spinal alignment and has been designed for back and side sleepers.

The Groove pillow (formerly known as the EasySleeper pillow) features a unique ergonomic design to combat back, neck, and shoulder pain.

Made from soft and comfortable memory foam, this pillow adapts to the shape of your neck, while the unique design gives you the support you need to wake up pain-free. 😁

groove pillow from side
The side mesh increases airflow.

While not suited to stomach sleepers, the Groove pillow is well-designed for back and neck sleepers.

The memory foam used in this pillow is charcoal-infused, which helps to enhance breathability. 💨

The pillow also features a quilted diamond-patterned cover that's soft and luxurious to sleep on.

Conveniently, this cover is machine-washable at 30℃. 🛀

The Groove pillow comes with a 100-night trial period, an unusual - but very welcome - feature for pillows.


  Groove pillow
Composition: Bamboo-charcoal-infused memory foam
Firmness level: Medium-firm
Trial period: 100 nights
Guarantee: /
What we love:  Snuggly and comfortable to sleep on.
What could be improved? A more natural cover would be fantastic.

How we test products

Our mission is to take the guesswork out of finding the perfect sleep products.

We've dedicated hundreds of hours to testing mattresses and sleep accessories, and rely on a team of testers of differing weights, temperature preferences, and sleeping positions to evaluate each product. 

Tested products are granted the Sleep Hero tested stamp of approval, a mark of our review's reliability.

To learn more about our testing process, check out our methodology page.

If we haven't personally tested a product, please be assured that we invest significant time and energy into scouring the UK market and researching the best recommendations, and we work with a team of sleep experts who review our articles, ensuring that the insights we provide are not only relatable but also reliable.

What to consider when purchasing the best pillow for side sleepers

Side sleepers frequently feel neck, shoulder, and back pain upon waking, a tell-tale sign that their pillow isn't matched to the side sleeping position.

In contrast to other types of sleepers, side sleepers need a very supportive pillow that aligns the neck and spine, keeping everything in a neutral position.

Upper spinal alignment
The ideal pillow will provide for upper spinal alignment.

But how exactly do you find this perfectly suited pillow?

There are a few things that you ought to consider. 🙇‍♀️

Pillow loft

The height of the pillow is vital.

Generally, your sleeping position affects the pillow loft as follows:

  • Side sleepers need a high-loft pillow.
  • Back sleepers need a medium-loft pillow.
  • Stomach sleepers need a low-loft pillow.

But your build and body size also affect this. 🤔

Upper spinal alignment
The perfect loft will keep your spine in a healthy alignment.

If you're of a more petite build, with a shorter neck-to-shoulder distance, you would need a lower loft pillow than someone of a larger build with a longer neck-to-shoulder distance.

We’re big fans of adjustable loft pillows, as these would allow you to choose the loft that’s perfect for you.

Customisable pillows allow you to add or remove filling to find your perfect match.

Some of our favourites include:

Pillows with layers like the Brightr and Emma will give you slightly more support. 👍

Shredded foam pillows
Shredded foam pillows are often height-adjustable.

In contrast, shredded foam pillows like the Simba will give you more of that traditional pillow feel, largely because the foam filling is more likely to give way than a solid piece of foam.


Pillow firmness and support

While pillow loft influences whether or not your neck bends up, down, or stays in a neutral position, the pillow support will also influence how much this will change during the night.

Memory foam pillows like the Panda Bamboo pillow will give you even support all night long. 🌱


panda london pillow
The Panda pillow is spongy and supportive.

If you choose a softer pillow - like a hollowfibre or microfibre pillow - your support may dwindle.

Cheaper shredded foam pillows also generally offer decreased support as the filling is likely to move during the night. 🤦‍♀️

But you could do fine on a softer pillow that's bunched up to fill the space between head and mattress.

Generally, though, we’d recommend that the best side sleeper pillow is slightly firmer.

A firmer pillow for side sleepers will keep your head and neck in optimal alignment all night long and not sink in too much as you exert pressure on the pillow.

But you still need to sink in slightly, so don't go for an extra-firm side sleeper pillow unless you're of a larger build.

Pressure relief

Pressure relief is largely related to pillow loft and pillow support.

If your pillow doesn't have the correct height and doesn't offer a good amount of support, you're likely to experience a build-up of tension and pressure points.

Back pain
An unsuitable pillow is likely to cause you pain.

This will cause you to wake up with aches and pains. 😳

Your ideal pillow will relieve tension and pressure points so you can wake up ready to jump into your day.

Side sleepers will often notice that there's more tension in their neck and shoulders - simply from sleeping in this position - so finding the perfect support pillow is vital.

Pillows with ergonomic designs, like the Groove pillow, can also help support you in the right places and relieve unnecessary pain and tension.


Pillow shape and size

Pillows come in a range of different shapes and sizes.

The standard UK pillow sizes include:

  • Standard pillow size: 50 x 75 cm (19.6 inches x 29.5 inches)
  • Super king-size: 50 x 90 cm (19.6 inches x 35.4 inches)

A standard size is a good option for most sleepers, though this is also down to personal preference. 🤔

Standard pillow sizes

Some neck pillows also have unusual designs, offering enhanced ergonomic support.

While these can be great for a good night’s sleep, remember that you’ll have a greater difficulty finding a suitable pillowcase. 🤷

These pillows may also not be comfortable for some people.


While we agree that the above points are the most important, it would be unrealistic not to consider your budget. 💰

The price of a pillow is largely dependent on the materials it is made of - and the quality of those materials.

This is why the Kally adjustable pillow is much cheaper than the Emma adjustable pillow. 😲


Both have different foam layers you can add and remove to suit your preferences, but the Kally is made out of hollow fibre, while the Emma is made from more expensive memory foam.

That said, you don't necessarily have to purchase an expensive pillow to get a good-quality pillow.

Man sitting on coins
You should always opt for the best quality you can afford.

As long as the pillow gives you enough support, you could choose budget or premium options.

Keep in mind, though, that premium pillows are likely to last longer.

Most hollow fibre pillows will need to be replaced after 2 years, but latex, memory foam, or down pillows can last up to 10 years. 🗓

Side sleeper pillow discount codes

You can also buy your pillow when it's on special. 🤑

Our favourite pillow brands have frequent sales and coupon codes.

We share all of them on our discounts page.

piggy bank
It's always worth buying a product on sale.

You'll also get the best deals straight in your inbox if you sign up for our newsletter.

What material is best for side sleeper pillows?

While pillow material may influence the firmness level, you also need to consider what type of pillow you enjoy.

  • Do you like your pillow to be firm and stable?
  • Or are you the type of person who likes to cuddle with the pillow?

You won’t be able to do the latter with a memory foam pillow like the Emma!

Different pillow materials
There are dozens of different pillow materials.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common pillow materials. 👇

Best memory foam pillows for side sleepers

Memory foam is an excellent pillow material for side sleepers.

This is because memory foam pillows tend to be firmer and offer more neck support. 🤗

They’re also very contouring, so your head will sink in just enough to be “hugged” by the pillow, but not enough to decrease support.

Pros and cons of memory foam pillows

Memory foam is also a hypoallergenic material that's resistant to dust mites and allergens, making these pillows an excellent choice for people prone to allergies. 🤧

It also retains more heat, so it's not a good choice for hot sleepers - though you may find some great gel-infused memory foam cooling pillows that can help counteract this problem.

Latex pillows offer a similar feel to memory foam pillows but with enhanced airflow and breathability. Unfortunately, pure latex pillows are very rare and exceedingly expensive.

In addition, some people simply don’t like the feel of memory foam pillows.

Memory foam pillows versus traditional pillows
Memory foam pillows often feel very different to traditional pillows.

If you prefer to snuggle with your pillow and want memory foam, then your best bet is a shredded memory foam pillow like the Simba Hybrid pillow.


A shredded foam pillow may offer slightly decreased support (depending on how much filling you keep), but you’ll still get the feel of a traditional pillow and not the firm support typical of memory foam pillows.

Best feather and down pillows for side sleepers

Premium down and feather pillows can be very comfortable. 🦆

But they tend to flatten out over time and are likely to offer decreasing support during the night.

This means that they’re not necessarily the best choice for side sleepers.

If you’re a fan of down pillows, though, and like the enhanced breathability and mouldability, you should opt for a luxury pillow with lots of stuffing. ❄️

Pros and cons of feather and down pillows

This will better support you.

Keep in mind, though, that you may need to fluff up your pillow frequently to keep its shape.

The Hypnos Feather and Down pillow is our favourite feather pillow for side sleepers.


Best hollowfibre and microfibre pillows for side sleepers

These are synthetic anti-allergy pillows with a polyester base, and are often recommended as down-alternative pillows.

But, we’d err on the side of caution with hollow fibre and microfibre pillows.

Pros and cons of memory foam pillows

While these are affordable, lightweight options generally available in a wide range of lofts and firmness levels, they don’t usually last as long.

Many polyester pillows will need to be replaced after as little as two years.

Support with these types of pillows also decreases rapidly.

Pros and cons of hollow fibre and microfibre pillows

So even though you may sleep well at first, you could start experiencing neck and shoulder pains after a few months. 😔

If your budget only allows for one of these, then we’d stick to microfibre, which is slightly better quality.

Alternatively, you could opt for a premium microfibre or hollowfibre pillow with more stuffing, like the Emma Premium Microfibre pillow.


A good trick to determining pillow quality is to look at the warranty period. The longer the warranty, the better the pillow and the longer it should last.

How to make side sleeping more comfortable

We wouldn't be sleeping on the side if it weren't comfortable.

But, there are ways to make side sleeping even more comfortable - and better for your body!

Here are a few key tips. 🔑

Use the right mattress

It's important to remember that even the best pillow can't get rid of aches and pains if your mattress is shoddy.

You need a mattress that provides enough cushioning for the hips and shoulders.

This will enhance spinal alignment, reduce pressure points, and allow you to snooze pain-free.

emma original spinal alignment
A softer mattress like the Emma Original will perfectly align your spine.

Many side sleepers prefer soft or medium-firm mattresses.

Choosing the right mattress is so important that we'll look at it in more detail in the FAQ section of this article. 👇

Keep a pillow between your knees

Side sleepers sometimes struggle with pelvic rotation.

This is a painful condition resulting from the displacement of the back muscles and the lumbar spine.

It occurs frequently when the upper body is turned in the opposite direction of the lower body - something that’s quite likely in the side sleeping position!

The best treatment (and avoidance) plan is to place a pillow between the knees while sleeping.🧎‍♂️

Pillow between the knees

This greatly reduces pressure in the lower hips and back and improves spinal alignment.

For this, we’d recommend a fluffier pillow like a shredded memory foam pillow, down pillow, or even a microfibre or polyester pillow. ☁️

Since this pillow's prime purpose is comfort and not support, you don't need to invest in a quality option.

Even a budget pillow will suffice.

You could also try something like the Kally Body Pillow for full-body comfort and support.


Invest in a mattress topper

Unless you have a soft mattress or one with a pillow top, your mattress may be too firm for the side sleeping position.

But this doesn't mean you need to buy a new mattress. 🛌

A mattress topper is an extra layer of material placed on top of your mattress.

Mattress toppers add both cushioning and comfort.

Memory foam mattress topper
Mattress toppers can significantly increase comfort.

For side sleepers, a good memory foam topper, like the Panda mattress topper or the Tempur mattress topper, can aid pressure relief and allow for better spinal alignment. 🐼

Excellent memory foam toppers:

What is the best pillow for side sleepers?

The best pillow for side sleepers will meet these criteria:

  • High enough to fill the space between your neck and the mattress.
  • Supportive enough to keep your neck and spine aligned.
  • Comfortable enough, so you feel good sleeping.

As long as you’re opting for a quality pillow with enough height and firmness, you’ll be good to go. 🙌

We also really like customisable pillows, which will suit a greater variety of builds.

Below is a recap of some of our favourite pillows for side sleepers. 👇

Don’t forget to read our full pillow reviews for more info if needed.

Best side sleeper pillow UK:

Frequently asked questions

  • How firm should a side sleeper’s pillow be?

    Side sleepers generally do best on medium-firm pillows or slightly firmer pillows.

    With soft pillows, your head will sink in too much.

    This decreases support and causes tension. 😣

    But if the pillow is too firm, your neck may feel strained, also causing tension.

    Ideally, you’d need the perfect match between firmness, support, and pillow loft.

  • What’s the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain?

    Side sleepers with neck pain will do well on a body pillow, u-shaped pillow, or v-shaped pillows that can support your head, neck, and shoulders at the same time.

    Look at our full article on pillows for neck pain for more information.

  • Should you wash your pillow?

    Well, that largely depends on the pillow you have. 

    Some materials, like memory foam, are not washable, so memory foam pillows can generally not be washed.

    Others, like the MyPillow or the Kally pillow, are fully machine-washable and can be popped into the wash whenever needed. 🧼

    To protect your pillow, we recommend choosing a good pillowcase - like a traditional cotton cover, a soft bamboo cover, or a luxurious silk pillowcase - and a pillow protector.

  • What are the benefits to side sleeping?

    While we often recommend back sleeping as the optimal position that causes the least amount of pain and tension, side sleeping has some benefits. 

    These include:

    • Side sleeping minimises snoring as it keeps the airways open.
    • Side sleeping reduces acid reflux and sleep apnoea.
    • Sleeping on your left side can improve digestion.
    • Side sleeping is the most comfortable for pregnant women.
    • With the right mattress, side sleeping allows for optimal spinal alignment.

    The only sleep position we’d advise against is sleeping on your stomach.

    Even if it’s comfortable, stomach sleepers frequently struggle with severe neck and back pain.

    Unfortunately, no pillow or mattress exists that can help relieve that pain. 

  • What's the best mattress for side sleepers?

    We’ve mentioned that the mattress you choose is vital to your comfort as a side sleeper. 

    Even the best pillow can’t help you if your mattress is causing tension.

    Like with pillows, you need to focus on optimal spinal alignment. 🦴

    Your mattress needs to be soft enough to allow your hips and shoulders to sink in and firm enough to keep the rest of your body firmly supported.

    This balance will result in optimal spinal alignment, which decreases pressure points and prevents a build-up of tension.

    And that allows you to wake up pain-free (with the right pillow, of course). 🥳

    We go into a ton of detail on this in our guide on the best mattresses for side sleepers.
  • References



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My mum calls me "bear" because I like to sleep so much. I never thought that, one day, I'd be a certified sleep coach and apply my skills more widely. Can you tell that I've found my calling? 

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