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.
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.
But how exactly do you find this perfectly suited pillow?
There are a few things that you ought to consider. 🙇♀️
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. 🤔
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:
- Emma Original pillow
- Simba Hybrid pillow
- Kally Sleep adjustable pillow
- Brightr Eclipse adjustable pillow
Pillows with layers like the Brightr and Emma will give you slightly more support. 👍
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. 🌱
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 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.
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. 🤔
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.
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.
You'll also get the best deals straight in your inbox if you sign up for our newsletter.
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.
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.🧎♂️
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.