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A pillow can make or break a good night’s sleep. Without the right support while you snooze, you’re at risk of myriad aches and pains in your head, neck, shoulders, and back. But the right pillow will depend on your preferred sleeping position.

If you’re a side sleeper, you may need a thicker, firmer pillow to ensure proper alignment while you sleep. But if you’re a back sleeper, you’ll likely do well with a medium-loft pillow to keep your neck and shoulders from tilting up or down.

And if you find yourself moving from one sleeping position to another in the night, you’ll need a pillow that accommodates both. Luckily, these pillows are up for the job.

In researching our recommendations, we specifically looked for pillows that offer the right level of support for back and side sleepers. Here’s what else we considered:

  • material and construction quality
  • firmness
  • height
  • trials and warranties
  • ease of cleaning
  • customer reviews

Pricing guide

Pillows are often available in standard, queen, and king sizes, with a range of fill options. The pillows on our list are priced for a standard size pillow unless otherwise noted.

  • $ = under $90
  • $$ = $90–$130
  • $$$ = over $130

Best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain

The Saatva Pillow

Price: $$$ (queen)

Plush and weighty, The Saatva Pillow is made of a down-like microdenier fiber and a shredded Talalay latex core. The combination means responsive spine and neck support to eliminate pain and pressure.

Saatva offers a 45-day trial, with free shipping and returns, and its pillows come in queen and king sizes only.

Shop The Saatva Pillow online.

Best pillow for back sleepers with neck pain

The Purple Harmony Pillow

Price: $$$

With its combination of Purple Grid Hex technology and a Talalay latex core, this pillow instantly adapts to your head and shoulders to eliminate pressure and pain. It comes in two sizes to accommodate back and side sleepers.

Over 4,000 reviewers give it a 5-star rating, and the Harmony comes with a 1-year warranty and has a 100-night trial window.

While the pillow cover can be tossed in the washing machine, the core is spot clean only.

Buy The Purple Harmony Pillow online.

Watch our video review of the Purple Harmony Pillow

Best memory foam pillow for back sleepers

Nectar Lush Pillow

Price: $$

Made of molded memory foam, this is a supportive, conforming, pressure-relieving pillow available in standard and king sizes. It’s a heavyweight, plush pillow with loft and cooling technology, and it works equally well for back and side sleepers. Plus, the whole thing can be thrown in the washing machine.

The Nectar Lush Pillow is new, so there are only a handful of reviews. But they all praise the pillow for easing neck pain.

Buy the Nectar Lush Pillow online.

Best memory foam pillow for side sleepers

Casper Foam Pillow

Price: $

Three layers of low and high-density foam in Casper’s foam pillow are both supportive and cooling, with a signature “huggable” feel. The foam is designed to align the head and neck for proper support and spinal alignment, whether you’re on your side or your back.

Try it at home for 30 days. Casper offers free shipping and returns.

Buy the Casper Foam Pillow online.

Best cooling pillow for side sleepers

Leesa Hybrid Pillow

Price: $$

The Leesa Hybrid Pillow is made with a cooling, ventilated gel layer and polyester microfiber to keep you cool all night. It’s both adjustable and reversible for double-sided comfort. A removable insert between the quilted outer layer and cooling gel layer lets you customize support so you sleep comfortably on your side and back.

Leesa offers a 30-day trial and a 3-year limited warranty.

Buy the Leesa Hybrid Pillow online.

Best down alternative pillow for side sleepers

Tuft & Needle Down Alternative Pillow Set

Price: $

Sensitive to down, but still prefer its light support over the weightiness of foam? Tuft & Needle’s down alternative pillow a hypoallergenic synthetic that works well for both side and back sleepers. These pillows are sold in sets of two and can be machine washed.

The company offers a 2-year warranty and a 100-night sleep trial.

Shop the Tuft & Needle Down Alternative Pillow Set online.

Best adjustable pillow for back and side sleepers

Avocado Green Pillow

Price: $

This adjustable pillow from Avocado is filled with Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) organic certified latex and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) organic certified kapok fiber inside an organic jersey cotton liner. The whole thing is covered with a machine-washable organic quilted cotton cover.

The pillow comes with an extra bag of fill, so you can customize its volume to accommodate your preferred back or side sleeping position and extend its life span.

Avocado offers a 100-night trial, free shipping, and a 1-year warranty.

Buy the Avocado Green Pillow online.

Best overall pillow for back sleepers

Parachute Down Pillow

Price: $$

The Parachute Down Pillow is made with European down for luxurious support.

With three densities — including soft, medium, and firm — you can pick the perfect pillow for your preferred sleeping style. For back sleepers, the medium-density pillow offers softness with a moderate amount of fluff to keep your spine properly aligned.

Hundreds of self-proclaimed back and side sleepers praise the pillow’s comfort and support in both positions.

This pillow comes with a 3-year warranty but no trial period. It can be dry cleaned or machine washed.

Buy the Parachute Down Pillow online.

Best overall pillow for side sleepers

Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow

Price: $$

Parachute made our list again with a pillow specifically designed for side sleepers. It’s another medium-density option, which means it’ll still be comfortable if you move from your side to your back.

The pillow is designed with a 3.5-inch gusset (the panel that gives the pillow height) to relieve pressure on the neck and shoulders, while European down makes it soft and luxurious.

Reviewers credit the pillow with eliminating neck pain from both back and side sleeping positions. It comes with a 3-year warranty and can be dry cleaned or machine washed. Again, there’s no option for a trial.

Buy the Parachute Down Side Sleeper Pillow online.

Best down alternative pillow for back sleepers

Boll and Branch Down Alternative Pillow

Price: $

Made with a premium synthetic fiber that mimics the lightweight loft of down, this pillow is available in two sizes and three densities. The medium-density option is supportive for both back and side sleepers. Reviewers praise the pillow’s perfect blend of support and squishable comfort.

Boll and Branch offers a 30-night, risk-free trial, with free shipping and free returns.

Buy the Boll and Branch Down Alternative Pillow online.

Best cooling pillow for back sleepers

Coop Home Goods Eden

Price: $

With its blend of cross-cut, gel-infused memory foam and microfiber, the Eden is a breathable, cooling, hypoallergenic option for back and side sleepers.

The case is derived from sustainable bamboo, while a wide gusset adds airflow and structure. And because it’s adjustable, you can find the right level of support for your preferred sleeping positions. Every pillow comes with a half-pound bag of filler and has a 5-year warranty.

Shop Coop Home Goods Eden online.

As you research options for the best pillows for back and side sleepers, here’s what to consider.

Loft

Loft is a description of a pillow’s height and is directly related to the type of fill. Back and side sleepers should look for medium to high loft to ensure they have enough cushioning. If you sleep on your side, a 2015 study suggests that a pillow height of 10 centimeters, or around 4 inches, may be comfiest for you.

Keep in mind that fill material plays a role in loft. If you tend to move between back and side sleeping, a pillow with adjustable loft can be a good option.

Firmness

This is largely a personal preference, but back and side sleepers should look for medium firmness to ensure the right amount of contouring and support.

Shape

Some kinds of pillow fill naturally compress, and you’ll need to fluff them routinely to maintain their shape. If you’re not interested in that kind of maintenance, pillows made with solid foam or latex are a good option.

Materials

Look for high-quality materials in the pillow’s cover and type of fill. While you’ll end up paying more for better materials, it’s often a sign of more durability and longevity.

Customer reviews

While a company’s pillow description will likely sound great, take time to browse reviews for a sense of what customers have to say about a particular pillow’s performance.

Pillows come in a surprising range of sizes, but the most common are standard and king. A standard pillow measures 20 inches by 26 inches, while a king is 20 inches by 36 inches. Other pillow sizes include queen, travel, and child pillows.

While many people choose pillows for aesthetics in the bedroom, they have an important job. A standard-sized pillow that offers the right density tends to be sufficient for most people, regardless of sleeping position.

If you’re a combination sleeper, moving from your back to side during the night, a king pillow can offer more room to accommodate you. Just remember to pick a pillow with the right firmness and support if you’ll actually be using it to sleep and not just as a decoration.

A pillow is just one part of the equation when it comes to sleeping soundly.

The right mattress will go a long way in maintaining a comfortable sleep environment if you switch from your back to your side during the night. And if you’re not in the market for a new mattress, a mattress topper can be a good alternative.

Additionally, consider adding a small pillow behind your knees while you’re on your back, and between your knees when on your side. This will help maintain the natural curvature of your spine and keep your hip joints from collapsing.

Remember to keep your arms and hands below your face and neck when on your side, and try to avoid ducking your chin.

People who tend to sleep on their back or side, or a combination of both sleeping positions, need a pillow that can offer proper support to the neck and shoulders. While comfort is a personal preference, start by looking for a medium-density pillow.

If you’re shopping online, it’s good to opt for a pillow with an in-home trial so you can find what works well for you.


Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.