Science Says These Are the Best Pillows for Side-Sleepers

We all have that friend who sleeps in a fortress of pillows (think of a mountain of cushions of all shapes, sizes, and colors atop a cramped mattress). But pillow obsessions aren’t always a décor choice—because as any side sleeper knows, a good night’s sleep often involves a frustrating rotation of alternating and layering them until you’re finally comfortable.

But after combing through the internet, we’ve discovered that side sleepers don’t need a massive assortment of pillows, but rather they need a firm (read: supportive) cushion to properly cradle their necks. Think about it: Sleeping on your side means your shoulders and head are farther from your mattress than a back or stomach sleeper, which means soft, feather-light pillows won’t give your body the support it needs for a solid, painless sleep.

“The goal of using a pillow is to help keep your head in what is called a ‘neutral alignment,’ meaning your head is sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back too far or reaching too far forward,” explains physical therapist Kammi Bernard. For side sleepers, that means filling the gap and ensuring there’s a straight line between your spine and head. Adds Ken Shannon, “You need to fill the space above your shoulder so your head and neck are supported.”

Ahead we’ve rounded up the six best pillows for side sleepers, including full-body, memory foam, and extra-firm options.

Now that you’ve found your match made in pillow heaven, check out our favorite pillow cases for better hair days.