I Tried 12 Pillows for Side Sleepers—This Is the Best One

January 13, 2023

Is there even such a thing as a BEST pillow for side sleepers? Probably not, TBH. Like most things, a pillow is incredibly personal and it has to fit YOUR body. But, in the name of trying to find a better swap for my old memory foam pillow that caters to side sleepers, I’ve tested more pillows than I can count—and I’m breaking down alllll the details on what I loved, what I hated and what pillow has been keeping my neck comfy for almost 6 months.

A stack of pillows is held up in front of a person so that only their legs are visible.
Some of the pillows that I tested for this post.

By: Lisa Fennessy

IN THIS POST:

For years now, I’ve been on a mission to find a better swap for my memory foam pillow. I’ve put my neck through the ringer trying kapok pillows, shredded latex pillows, molded latex pillows, bamboo pillows, silk pillows, wool pillows, buckwheat pillows…a dragon chrysalis stuffed with 5 leaf clovers…jk, lol. But I’ve seriously tried it all.

I still don’t know if I’ve found THE ONE, but I got pretty close so I’m rounding up all the pillows I tried to give you a place to start if you’re looking for the best pillow for side sleepers. BUT FIRST, let’s talk about the issues I was struggling with when trying to land the perfect pillow. 

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a woman lays on a memory foam pillow in bed
Lisa sleeps on her side on a replacement memory foam pillow.

Problem 1: I’m a side sleeper so…

I’m a side sleeper so my ultimate goal is to perfectly fill that space between where my shoulder hits the mattress to where my head is—in a way that keeps my body aligned. Anything too soft won’t cut it. Anything too high is a recipe for a sore neck the next day. Anything too lumpy is a NO. Anything with not enough support is out. 

What I tend to look for first is a “low loft” pillow. The loft is the thickness of the pillow and my ideal is around 3.5 inches, which is basically impossible to find. Some brands don’t even list the loft at all while other brands will call a pillow “low loft” and it’s 6” thick. NO! Just no.

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Problem 2: Finding the right materials, aka more natural than memory foam pillows

And this turns into a bit of a Princess and the Pea saga because not only am I looking for a low loft, supportive side sleeper pillow, I also hate the way most natural materials feel when I sleep on them. 🤢

👉Molded latex tends to be way too bouncy. I rest my head down on it and my head is thrust forward like it’s been shot out of a cannon. 

👉Shredded latex can take a hike. It’s lump city.

👉And if shredded latex is lump city, kapok is lump nation

And while I’m at it, don’t sell me a pillow that I have to “take out material” to “adjust to my liking”—that’s not a pro! I also don’t want a pillow that weighs 900 pounds or have something flatten out over time so much that it becomes unusable. Skip, skip, SKIP.

Basically I just want my Tempurpedic memory foam pillow I bought from Bed Bath and Beyond 10 years ago…sub natural. Is that too much to ask???


Is there such a thing as “better for you” memory foam? 

Here’s a quick foam comparison take from Savvy Rest on how natural latex compares to conventional options: 

A foam comparison from Savvy Rest on how natural latex compares to conventional options.

Turns out there’s not a perfect memory foam swap—it all comes down to certifications (could we have guessed this? Probs, as we’ve seen it before).

Certifications to look for in a pillow

RELATED: How TNK uses beauty certifications.


“Natural” memory foam pillows I tried and liked…and the ones I hated


FAQ

What is the best pillow for side sleepers?

The TNK top pillow pick for side sleepers is Savvy Rest’s Organic Latex Soap-Shaped Pillow. Read more about why here.

What certifications should I look for in a pillow?

1. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): GOTS is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. 2. GREENGUARD – GREENGUARD-Certified products must meet stringent standards for low chemical emissions into indoor air. Tested to meet the world’s most rigorous emissions standards for chemical exposure and pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and phthalates. 3. eco-INSTITUT – Germany’s eco-INSTITUT is an independent materials testing laboratory, which tests for purity. Learn more here.

What are common problems in finding a pillow as a side sleeper?

The ultimate goal is to perfectly fill that space between where yours shoulders hit the mattress to where your head is—in a way that keeps my body aligned. Anything too soft won’t cut it. Anything too high is a recipe for a sore neck the next day. Anything too lumpy is a NO. Anything with not enough support is out. Find out my top pillow picks here.


Have you tried any of these pillows? What’s your go-to for your best sleep?

xo, lisa in cursive

TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.

By Lisa Fennessy

Lisa is the founder of The New Knew. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!

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