Best Side Sleeper Pillow of 2020
The Honeydew Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow claimed the top spot for our favorite pillow for side sleepers. We absolutely loved the crescent shape, which gave room for our testers' shoulders, and pleasantly cradled our heads even when rolling around. We also really liked how adjustable the pillow is, and how the fill kept the pillow full and reasonably firm even when we removed a decent amount of the fill.
The only thing we don't love is that you have to remove all of the fill to wash the Scrumptious pillow. In other words, the fill isn't washable. We don't wash pillows all that often in our normal lives, but when we do, they usually really need it. There is also a band of stiffer fabric running around the side of the pillow that made a crinkly noise when we folded the pillow to read. Aside from that, there isn't a lot to complain about. All in all, we love the Scrumptious pillow. It has a nice balanced firmness, it's fully adjustable, and we absolutely love the shape. We recommend this for anyone who wants a position-specific pillow, but really, we'd recommend this for everyone. It's our favorite pillow we've ever slept on, and we think it's the best pillow for side sleepers out there.
The EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow is our favorite firm memory foam pillow. Although it isn't the least expensive on the list, we think it provides the best value. Unlike many of the adjustable pillows in this review, the EPABO pillow is filled with a block of polyurethane gel foam, rather than shredded foam chunks. This makes the pillow far firmer, and more similar to standard memory foam pillows. Although it's not completely adjustable, there is a ¾-inch thick removable panel in the middle of the pillow that, which when taken out, creates more of a cradle shape for your head.
While we like this as a firmer option, we think it could be improved with firmer edges. Other firm pillows did better at supporting our heads when we tried to read while lying on our side. Also, after repeated use, the cover fabric of the pillow began to pill. That said, this is a high-value product for those looking for a quality option on a limited budget.
The Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow was only lost to our favorite by a smidge; we love this pillow too. The long crescent shape rolled accommodatingly along with our lead tester, who tends to sleep with all the restfulness of a horizontal tornado. We really like the fill, which nicely fills the cover even when adjusted to be thinner. The sideband that helps keep its shape is also softer than the Honeydew pillow, which is a nice benefit.
Although the Sleep Artisan pillow is made from high-quality materials, these materials can only be spot washed, which is a bit of a disappointment. Some testers also wished this pillow was a touch firmer when thinned down, but even so, it is still one of our favorite pillows. We recommend this pillow if you tend to be restless, as this pillow will roll with you rather than rolling off the bed, and can be folded and tucked nicely if you want a firmer or thicker spot in the middle of the night.
The Tempurpedic Tempur-Ergo Cooling Neck Pillow is definitely the firmest pillow we tested, and for those that really like supportive pillows, it's the way to go. Tempurpedic has a history of making quality memory foam pillows and mattresses, and this pillow is no exception. Despite it being a solid block of memory foam, this pillow is plenty cool, whereas some memory foam pillows can be total heat sinks.
We do wish this pillow had a bit of adjustability, as again it is one solid piece. However, you can buy it at different sizes and thicknesses. There is also a bit of annoyingly stiff piping sewn onto the edges of each side, which you can feel through pillowcases and this seems unnecessary. Also, we wish the pillow could entirely be washed — only the removable cover is washable. Still, we recommend this to anyone who likes a very supportive pillow, or who has neck pain from pillows that aren't firm enough.
For what it is, we like the Coop Homegoods Original Pillow. At first glance, it's a standard rectangle pillow with a foam filling. The foam filling is actually a pleasant, shredded memory foam blended with microfiber that can be adjusted to the thickness you desire. It's one of the softer options we tried, but it still provides decent support even after removing some of the fill. We also like that it's fully washable — just chuck it into the washer and select a delicate cycle.
We wish this pillow was crescent shaped like some of the others in the review, which might have helped it scored higher. It also has a double cover design which is nice for washing but leaves the corners a bit unfilled. Otherwise, for those who want a more conventional-shaped pillow, we think that the Coop Original Pillow is a solid choice.
The Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow is a very soft, very adjustable rectangular pillow with a decent memory foam fill. Its adjustability is a nice touch, otherwise, it would be far too full and fluffy for a pillow for side sleepers. We were also impressed that it doesn't hold much heat — take note, anyone seeking the eternally cold pillow. Another nice touch is that it's easy to wash.
In some ways, this pillow is very similar to the Coop pillow, but we like the Coop pillow a bit more. The Xtreme Comforts pillow became lumpier as we adjusted the fill level, and it also left the corners empty. It seemed like the fill stuck to itself somewhat and wouldn't evenly fill the casing. Still, it's a well-made product, and if you're looking for a soft, adjustable pillow without spending too much, it might be a decent option.
Despite the name, we believe the Mkicesky Side Sleeper Ergonomic Memory Foam Pillow suits back sleepers better than side sleepers. It has a unique shape, essentially a hole cut in the middle, that cradles your head when on your back, which we really liked when wearing earbuds in bed. The pillow also has a raised mesh fabric that allows more airflow between your head and the foam to keep things cooler.
The Mkicesky really seems like a better back sleeper pillow, though. The scoop in the middle of the pillow fit our testers' neck much better when on their backs, whereas it tended to push our shoulders down awkwardly on our sides. It worked a bit better for side sleepers if we used the side of the pillow, but then we didn't get the benefits of the cradle in the middle, or the mesh. We think this is a decent product but it would much better if marketed towards back sleepers than side sleepers.
In most ways, the Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillow feels like a standard pillow. It has a nice feeling gel fiber fill, and a smooth cotton fabric, in a standard rectangular shape. We also like that it's fully machine washable and dryer safe, just be sure to use a delicate cycle.
That said, this product is way too fluffy to be a decent side sleeper pillow. Fully fluffed, it's around eight inches thick, which kinked our lead tester's neck. For side sleeping it only seemed useful if we slid our heads all the way to the edge. If you're reading this review, you've probably already tried standard pillows for sleeping on your side, and you weren't satisfied, so we wouldn't recommend this pillow as a solution.
Why You Should Trust Us
As someone who owns and operates a small B'n'B, Ethan Newman knows quality bedding. He is also an extremely light sleeper and sensitive to small changes in a sleeping environment so he took particular care in conducting this review. He has picked through dozens and dozens of pillows, sheets, and mattresses to find the highest quality and value in his bedding for both himself and his guests.
We tested these side sleeper pillows like we do other product on our site, with thorough personal use and carefully designed tests. After researching dozens of the top models on the market, we selected and purchased the most promising eight to evaluate. Our lead tester and his partner slept on each of these pillows for weeks, rotating them out to see how they performed. Our testing team also washed each model according to their instructions to see how it held up to washing and put every pillow through multiple dryer cycles to accelerate the wear process to see how each pillow fared.
Analysis and Test Results
To rate and review each of these products as objectively as we could, we used four different metrics to evaluate each side sleeper pillow. Each metric covers a key performance area for these pillows, such as Comfort, Quality, Washability, and Features.
First and foremost, a pillow must be comfortable, otherwise, why even buy it? Comfort is also especially important for a specialized pillow review like this because it's likely you've already tried conventional pillows and they just weren't comfy enough or didn't suit your preferred sleeping position. This review is specifically about finding a pillow for side sleepers, so we tested it in that arrangement.
Our testing team found the crescent-shaped products, the Sleep Artisan and Honeydew Scrumptious, to be the best models for side sleepers by far. The apex of the curve allowed room for our shoulders, while the wider part cradled our face nicely. The Sleep Artisan pillow fill is a touch softer than the Honeydew, but what is comfier is really a matter of preference. For similar textures with a more standard shape, we like the Coop pillow quite a bit. The EPABO and Tempurpedic Temper-Ergo were also quite comfy for firmer options.
We tested comfort by using it in our own bed, with both our lead tester and his partner using each one for multiple nights to evaluate them. We were specifically looking for comfort while sleeping on our sides. If we found them uncomfortable, or woke up with the pillows tossed off the bed, or had to do a lot of squishing and specific positioning for the pillow to be comfortable, they scored lower. If the pillow felt nice and fit us well after the initial adjustment, it scored higher. Because comfort is so important for a side sleeper pillow, we weighted the performance here heavily.
Durability and Craft
We think that if we're going to spend your cash on a single side sleeper pillow, they should be well made. We evaluated the durability and craft of each pillow by researching the materials as well as finely combing over each pillow before and after use to find spots that might break down over time. We also washed each model multiple times according to the manufacturers' instructions to see how well they recovered from it, and if they suffered any wear and tear.
Runs in stitching, easily caught zippers, pilling fabrics, and lesser quality fills all made certain products score lower in this category. For example, the Xtreme Comforts and Coop pillows are fairly similar in style, but we found the fill of the Coop pillow to be of higher quality, which kept the pillow fluffier. Some of the pillows also had fabrics that, although softer, tended to begin to pill up fairly quickly, such as the EPABO model. The highest scoring models impressed us from unboxing through the end of testing, and include the Sleep Artisan, Honeydew, and Tempur-pedic models.
Like anything that repeatedly contacts with your body, a pillow should occasionally be washed. Pillowcases take the brunt of skin contact but eventually sweat and skin oils can seep through to the pillow itself. A good washing can not only clean the pillow but also revive the fill to its previous levels of fluff and volume. The easier each product is to clean, the higher its score in the category of washability.
The only fully washable pillows were the Xtreme Comforts, the Coop, and Beckham, so they scored the highest. They can all just be thrown into the washing machine and set on a delicate cycle, whereas with the other pillows only the cover can be machine washed, or worst case, they can only be spot cleaned.
You might be asking, how many features can a side sleeper pillow really have? A surprising amount, we'd answer. The key feature for many of these is adjustability. Some of these pillows can be completely adjusted from overstuffed orbs of fluff to essentially empty bags with just a whiff of fill, and every level in between. We found the Sleep Artisan, the Honeydew Scrumptious, the Xtreme Comforts, and the Coop pillows all to be completely adjustable, which was really nice for fine tuning the fill level we wanted to fit our neck and shoulders. A few of the pillows, like the Xtreme Comforts and Coop pillows, actually had two casings so you could just wash the outer one or throw the whole pillow into the wash depending on what it needs.
Other features, mostly on the firmer pillows, were neck scoops to better support the curve of your neck from your shoulders. We liked this on the EPABO pillow but felt like it pushed our shoulders weirdly on the Mkicesky. The Mkicesky also had a hole cut through the middle to create a head cradle that seemed like a better fit for back sleepers than side sleepers, but we could kind of use it when trying to relax with earbud headphones in.
For the more discerning folks who need a specific pillow for side sleepers, we hope this review is helpful. Sleep is one of those things that is easy to ignore but can have a profound effect on your life, so we think it's worth striving for ensuring it's the highest quality. For something we spend a third of our lives doing, we hope we've helped you improve it by leading you towards the right pillow.
— Ethan Newman