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Best Pillows For Side Sleepers

Best Pillows For Side Sleepers UK (2024)

Last updated: 31.10.2023 Reading time: 9 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 Hybrid Bamboo Pillow

The Panda Hybrid pillow is a Sleep Hero favourite made from orthopaedic grade, adaptive CharcoCell foam.
  • CharcoCell foam & 100% bamboo cover
  • Medium-firm
  • Machine-washable cover 

Tell me more about the Panda Hybrid Bamboo pillow

The Panda Hybrid Bamboo pillow is one of the best pillows we've ever tested. 

The foam is blended with activated bamboo charcoal, which regulates temperature, wicks away moisture, and neutralises odours.

We found the pillow particularly comfortable for side sleeping.

The foam gently cradles the head and supports the neck at the correct height, aligning it with the spine. 

The BambooCloud quilted cover is kind and gentle to the skin, indulgently soft and also fully washable. 

We're also very pleased to know that Panda London makes these pillows using sustainable materials and practices. 

Reasons to buy

30-night trial period 

Unmatched 10-year guarantee

One of the most comfortable pillows we've tested 

Reasons to avoid

Not adjustable 

Unsuitable for stomach sleepers 

12% OFF with:
MAYBEST12Click to copy code

BUY PANDA HYBRID PILLOW

Customisable Comfort

Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow

The Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow provides customisable comfort and cooling technology.
  • Simba Renew cluster fill, Simba Pure foam & titanium Aerocoil springs
  • Adjustable to all sleep positions 
  • Machine-washable cover at 40°C

Tell me more about the Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow

The Simba Hybrid Firm pillow has three layers, which can be adjusted to your perfect height and firmness. 

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

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

Made with a 100% Better Cotton cover, this eco-friendly pillow choice supports the Better Cotton Initiative [1].

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

Reasons to buy

Excellent adjustability 

Great temperature regulation

1-year guarantee

Reasons to avoid

The zipper broke during testing

No trial period 

Luxury Option

Emma Premium Pillow

The Emma Premium Pillow offers unrivalled adjustability to suit all sleeping positions.
  • ThermoSync foam, supportive foam & soft foam
  • UltraDry machine-washable cover
  • Adjustable layers

Tell me more about the Emma Premium Pillow

The Emma Premium Pillow offers a unique experience thanks to its multi-layered, adjustable design.

The pillow as a whole has a firm feel and high loft, making it an excellent choice for side sleepers.

However, the pillow's adaptability allows it to suit all sleeping positions by simply removing or reordering the foam layers.

The Emma Premium pillow supported the neck and cushioned the head for a comfortable sleep that alleviated any pressure. 

Another unique aspect is the thermoregulating layer and UltraDry cover, which ensure temperature regulation throughout the night.

Reasons to buy

30-night trial period 

2-year guarantee

Adjustable to all sleeping positions 

Reasons to avoid

It's difficult to remove the inner layers 

Quite pricey 

Very Firm

Brightr Eclipse Firm Memory Foam Pillow

The Brightr Eclipse is a firm memory foam pillow designed for orthopaedic support.
  • Graphene memory foam & copper-infused polyester cover
  • Medium firm to firm 
  • Adjustable layers 

Tell me more about the Brightr Eclipse Firm Memory Foam Pillow

The Brightr Eclipse Firm Memory Foam Pillow features a unique 4-layer adjustable design.

It is an ergonomic memory foam pillow that cradles your neck and head, promoting proper alignment and reducing tension and discomfort. 

This makes it an ideal choice for side sleepers who require extra support.

Brightr uses cooling graphene memory foam, which helps regulate temperature and wicks away moisture. 

Instead of one solid chunk of memory foam, Brightr has split it into four layers that slot together like Tetris pieces to design your perfect pillow height and firmness level.

The Eclipse pillow's signature copper-infused cover provides protection against allergens and bacteria that can cause breakouts.

Reasons to buy

30-night trial period 

Ergonomic support for back & neck pain

Antimicrobial copper cover 

Reasons to avoid

Won't be suitable for people who want a soft, mouldable pillow

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.

BUY SIMBA PILLOW£ 87.20

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. 🌱

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BUY PANDA PILLOW

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.

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.

Price

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. 😲

BUY KALLY ADJUSTABLE PILLOW£ 49.99

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!

types of pillows
There are pros and cons to each type of pillow.

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.

BUY SIMBA PILLOW£ 87.20

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.

BUY HYPNOS FEATHER PILLOW£ 69.95

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.

BUY EMMA MICROFIBRE PILLOW£ 49

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.

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.

BUY KALLY BODY PILLOW£ 59.99

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 [2] or the thick Hypnia Ultimate 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 [2].
  • References

Nicky

Nicky

Editor & Certified Sleep Therapist

Nicky is an experienced writer and editor with numerous qualifications. As a certified sleep coach, her interests lie in understanding how sleep problems arise from hormonal and environmental issues, particularly as part of stress and anxiety management.

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