What’s The Best Pillow for Side Sleepers? – Special Gusset Design Review

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers Review
Standard pillow – top and bottom fabric are sewn together without a gusset panel, and will remain flatter around the edges after it’s been slept on

I’m a side sleeper, and about four years ago, I would wake up in the mornings with a headache and stiff neck, and I realized I needed a different kind of pillow, a pillow that would give me better neck and shoulder support. I asked myself, “What’s the best pillow for side sleepers?”

After exploring my many options, I bought a new pillow called a gusset pillow, and I haven’t looked back ever since. No more headaches or stiff neck!

Gusset Pillow Difference

A gusset is a term used for an extra piece of fabric, called a panel, usually one to two inches wide, sewn between the top and bottom layer of the pillow all the way around the four sides, like you see in the picture to the left.

Side Sleepers - Gusset Pillow Review
Gusset pillow – a 1.5 inch gusset panel is sewn between the top and bottom fabric, and offers a more uniform height around the edges, keeping the overall pillow more evenly

Wikipedia has an interesting description of gusset, associating it with clothing, metal used in construction, metal in bicycle frames, all to add strength and rigidity, and structural support.

Wikipedia also states that pillows are often gusseted generally an inch or two, wherein, the side panels thicken the pillow, allowing more stuffing without bulging.

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A standard pillow, as in the first picture above, is not made with a gusset panel sewn in. The top and bottom fabric are sewn together without a gusset in between.

Compare the edges of the two pillows, the gusset pillows and the standard pillows. Notice that the gusset gives height around the edges, and will keep the pillow a more uniform height after sleeping on it.

A standard pillow does not have a gusset panel around the edges, and will be much flatter after it has been slept on. Without the gusset, we don’t get the support needed for our neck and shoulder areas.

Benefits of a Gusset Pillow

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers
Gusset pillow is great for side sleepers

A gusset pillow is great for side sleepers because it supports the open area between the shoulder and the neck to keep the spine better aligned, while also providing a more comfortable sleep.

If you have insomnia, which is when you have difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep throughout the night, this is a great pillow to help you fall asleep faster. See my recent article, “Natural Cures For Insomnia – For Adults“.

A gusset pillow can also be very comfortable when placed between the knees for sleeping, again because of its consistent height, which keeps our spines more aligned with the rest of our bodies.

For maximum comfort and support for lower back pain, or neck pain, a gusset pillow can be placed in various areas. For example, back sleepers with back pain can add a gusset pillow behind the knees, and behind the lower back in addition to the pillow used for the head. Refer to the various sleeping positions and pillow support in my article, “Lower Back Pain And Sleeping – To the Rescue.”

My Choice

I’ve done a thorough product review that I’m going to share with you, for just the right gusset pillow that I recommend for you and me, as side sleepers.

This pillow is affordable, it’s extremely comfortable, and has some wonderful features to contribute to a great night’s ‘Happy Deep Sleep’.

Product Review:  Mastertex Down Alternative Bed Pillow

Main Benefits I Looked For

In general, side sleepers need a pillow with a lofty (filling height) fullness of at least four inches in order to maintain a healthy posture and to relieve pressure at the shoulders and neck throughout the night.

Additionally, side sleepers typically need a pillow with a firmness rating of medium-firm or firm in order to maintain a neutral spine alignment during sleep. A firmer feel can also prevent the pillow from losing its shape over time.

And, of course, lastly, I researched many gusset pillows. I like this pillow because it has a 1.5 inch gusset and a fullness which offers great comfort while offering support to the neck and shoulder. I also noticed that not all gusset pillows were labeled “gusset”. I had to physically look to see if the pillow had a gusset panel.

Why I Chose This Gusset Pillow

When researching for just the right pillow, I listed the unfavorable features about other gusset pillows, and why I would not recommend them. I also listed the favorable features of the pillow of my choice and why I recommend it.

Negatives about other gusset pillows:

  • Over priced
  • Limited choice of sizes
  • Memory foam, which may feel too warm or hot during sleep, especially in the summer
  • Goose down or feather pillow, which may cause allergies
  • The filling is too flat and not enough support
  • Lesser quality of the outer fabric, under 300 thread count
  • Warranty not listed or a short 30 day-warranty
  • Vacuum sealed and flattened when the pillow arrives
  • Recommended for dry clean only

Positives about my recommended gusset pillow – the Mastertex Down Alternative Bed Pillow:

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers
Mastertex Down Alternative Bed Pillow

My Rating: 9 / 10

  • Affordable
  • MANY choice of sizes
  • 1.5″ gusset for maximum loft (height)
  • Plush microfiber fill, a plush synthetic polyester
  • Microfiber filling created to mimic the qualities of premium goose down
  • Down alternative creates the balance between firm and squishy
  • Unlike real down, it is completely hypoallergenic
  • 100% cotton 300 thread-count outer fabric, meaning very soft, and the fabric will last longer
  • Cotton outer fabric is cooler and breathable
  • Dense pillow that will hold its shape for a long time
  • Attractive satin-like cover with classic satin piping, meaning attractive and added strength because of the piping
  • Machine washable and dryable (see my drying secret below)
  • I especially recommend this for side sleepers, but it’s also comfy for back and stomach sleepers as well
  • Comes in a clear plastic carrying case for storage and travel
  • Choice of whether pillow is vacuum sealed and flattened or not vacuum sealed when shipped
  • One-year warranty

My Drying Secret for This Pillow

After machine washing your pillow, place your pillow in the dryer on cool or air fluff with no heat. Place two tennis balls in a bag, or something like a pillow case, or a pillow protector that closes, and put that all in the dryer. Sometimes I’ll use a tennis shoe instead of tennis balls. Dry for about an hour, and your pillow comes out nice and fluffy like new!

Final Thoughts

My desire is that you’ve learned a lot about the gusset features. Just remember that the gusset pillow, with approximately a four-inch height, is the perfect pillow for side sleepers! And it’s all because of a special, simple, extra piece of fabric called a gusset that gives us the wonderful comfort and support we need for a good night’s sleep. ‘Happy Deep Sleep.’

Your Feedback

I would love to hear your comments or suggestions below, especially if you have tried the product. Also, feel free to leave any questions. Thank you for visiting!

Check Out The Mastertex Gusset Pillow Options Mastertex Down Alternative Bed Pillows Cotton Cover Super Plush Microfiber Fill, Hypoallergenic & Allergy Safe Soft and Breathable Sleeping Pillows (2 Pack) (Standard)

Check Out the Mastertex Pillow Protectors by the same merchant Mastertex Pillow Protectors Standard Zippered Cases 2-Pack | Poly Cotton Pillow Covers Hypoallergenic | Breathable and Quiet (Set of 2 – Standard Size)

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6 thoughts on “What’s The Best Pillow for Side Sleepers? – Special Gusset Design Review”

  1. Joanie,
    Thank you for the article. I wish that I have had read your article before I went to buy my pillow last week. I did ask the same question, why do I have to buy a gusset pillow rather than other traditional pillow. Well, I did not get a good answer from the seller though. I will go back there again and get the gusset pillow instead.

    I have question regarding the hardness of the pillow, like you sometimes I woke up with stiff neck and headache, does the hardness of the pillow effect the comfort (since they can provide consistent height. Does medium hardness will be better than soft (so your head will not sink to much)?

    Thank you once again for such great article.

    All the best

    • Thank you for your comment, Kalle. May you get the very best sleep with your new gusset pillow.

      The reason I recommend the Mastertex Down Alternative Bed Pillow, which is a gusset pillow, is because it has a 1.5 inch gusset panel, and offers great comfort while supporting the gap between the neck and shoulder. This gusset is especially comforting and supportive for back and side sleepers.

      A standard pillow does not have a gusset panel and remains flatter around the edges after sleeping on it, plus does not offer the support that a gusset panel gives to the neck and shoulder. Take a look at the pictures in my article again. One of standard pillows, and the other of gusset pillows. You can visually see the difference. The gusset pillow holds its shape while still offering great neck support.

      In answer to your question about the hardness of the pillow, I suggest a medium-firm gusset pillow, which gives more comfort and better support. The pillow also holds its shape better. With a soft pillow, your head gets buried in the pillow and without any support. The pillow that I’m recommending has a pillow fullness of about 4 inches.

      If you decide to purchase another pillow, I hope you come back and purchase from my site. I know you’ll love your pillow. Thank you for visiting.

  2. Thank you for a comprehensive review of a gusset pillow. I must admit that so far, I have not looked for one. I have a little trouble with my neck whilst sleeping but I’d usually resort to sleeping without any pillow. I think I’ll give your recommendations a try. It might be just what I need.

    • Hi Monika; Thank you for visiting my site.

      I’m sorry to hear you have a little trouble with your neck while sleeping. If you’re a side sleeper, I highly recommend this gusset pillow that I’m recommending here in my review because it’s the right height to support your neck between the shoulder and the ear. It’s also great for back sleepers to support that hollow area behind your neck.

      I’d love to hear your opinion of the pillow after you’ve tried it. I’m a side sleeper, and really like this pillow.

      Best regards, Joanie


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