The Ideal Pillow For a Petite Side Sleeper

Last Updated on March 30, 2023

Finding the right pillow can be frustrating. Even more so if you’re a petite person. The average pillow is just not made for you! 

If you’re a petite side-sleeper, searching for the perfect pillow often leaves you with pillows that are either too big or too soft. It’s a frustrating struggle, right?

It doesn’t have to be, especially if you figure out what exactly you need from a pillow, and then look for a pillow that has those exact specs!

If you want the answer now, this is the ideal pillow for a petite side sleeper. For an explanation, keep reading…


a woman laying on a pillow


The general assumption is that a side sleeper needs a firm pillow – which is generally true – but not always. And even then, firm pillows come in all shapes and sizes. different fill materials, and various construction types.

Which is best? Let’s start by defining some pillow terminology, to make more sense of this puzzle.


Firm vs Loft

To find the ideal pillow, let’s first define and differentiate two commonly used terms that you’ll see in pillow descriptions: Firm and Loft:

Firm describes how much a pillow will compress down when you place your head (or some form of weight) on top of it. A firm pillow will compress down less than a soft of medium density pillow.

Loft refers to how tall a pillow is. It’s a description of a pillow’s height from top to bottom, when laid down on your bed. A lofty pillow will look rounder, and fuller.

It’s important to note that these two terms are not interchangeable. They are two very different attributes. You can have a lofty pillow that isn’t firm at all, and you can have a firm pillow that has a very low loft.


Do you need a firm pillow or a lofty pillow?

So…if you’re a petite side sleeper, which term is more important for you? Let’s tackle loft first.


Ideally, you’ll want a pillow that keeps your spine aligned. If you’re sleeping on your side, that means a pillow will need to fill up the space between the side of your head, down to where your shoulders meet the mattress.


an infographic indicating the correct pillow for a side sleeper


For a rough measurement, place your thumb on your neck, while placing your middle finger on the edge of your shoulder. For most petite people, the distance between the two finger is about 3-5″.

If we stop there, then the natural assumption would be that the ideal pillow would provide about 3-5″ of loft. And that would be correct, if we slept on the floor – but we don’t.

When you lay down on a mattress – even a firm one – you sink into it. If you measure the distance between the side of your head, directly down to the mattress, you’ll find that the distance is probably somewhere between 1.5 – 2″ (or at least very close to that range).

So an ideal pillow for a petite person who sleeps on his/her side only needs to have about 1.5 – 2″ of loft.

The firmness of your mattress will affect the final measurement of course. You will sink more into a soft mattress vs a firm one.


a woman shown in different sleep positions


Whatever kind of mattress that you sleep on, it’s clear that a petite side sleeper definitely does not need a lofty pillow.

Does that mean you necessarily need a firm pillow?

The case for firm pillows

As we already discussed, you’ll need a pillow that fills the gap from the side of your head, down to the mattress to keep your spine in alignment. If your head tilts up, or down, you’ll wake up with a stiff neck.

Given your small frame, you’ll want a corresponding “small-framed” pillow.

If it’s too lofty, you’ll be fighting it to get it to compress down. On the other hand, if it’s too soft, you’ll sink too deep into it. Both cases are equally frustrating.

What we need is a pillow that is both firm, and compact. Firm, to support your neck and head, and not sink while you sleep – in other words; a “consistent” pillow.

And compact so that it fits your petite frame naturally. We don’t want a pillow that we have to negotiate with. Or a pillow that is adjustable. We don’t want a pillow that “fits all sizes”.

We want a pillow that is relatively thin – or “low” loft.

So, the ideal pillow, for a petite person, is a firm pillow that isn’t very lofty.

Great! So which pillow is that???

In our experience, using the criteria defined above, the down and feather Tria pillow from Pacific Coast checks off all of the boxes that you would want from an ideal pillow. 


A Tria pillow from Pacific Coast Feather


Most pillows are basically just a big bag filled with either down or polyester batting. The Tria pillow on the other hand, has three built-in chambers.

These chambers not only keep the feather and down fill in place, but they also provide a balance of consistent firmness, with a plush and soft sleeping surface. This results in consistently fluffy support!


What makes these Tria pillows so great?

The Tria pillow has three key features which make it stand out from other competitor pillows on the market.

  • Design
  • Fabric
  • The fill

Let’s take a closer look:


The design and the fill

Tria pillows feature a 3 chamber design. 

Traditional pillows don’t have chambers. They’re just a pillowcase filled with down, feathers, polyester, or other synthetic fill. Regular chamber pillows have 2 chambers, one surrounding the other, kind of like a balloon inside of another balloon.

You’ll often see them referred to as “down surround” or chamber pillows.

A cutaway of a down surround chamber pillow

This design does offer more support than a traditional pillow, but a traditional chamber pillow will still compress, and eventually deflate in the middle – where you need the most support. The fill inside is not constricted, and is free to move and shift – which it does. 

The Tria pillow contains three connected, and gusseted chambers, which are filled with Resilia feathers.

These chambers hold their integrity, and offer consistent support, all night long. Trapping the feathers within 3 smaller chambers forces the fill to stay put. The pillow stays compact, and firm.


The 3 chambers of a Tria pillow


The outer layer is filled with goose down fill, to provide that plush outer layer for comfort. When it comes to pillow filling materials, nothing can match goose down in terms of softness.

The only drawback to down is that the material is super fluffy, and tends to compress more than you’d like. A traditional firm goose down pillow starts off great, but is deflated by morning. 

Not so with a Tria pillow. The 3 chambers inside keep the shape of the pillow intact.


The Barrier Weave fabric

Inferior pillows containing feather fill tend to leak as time goes on. Being poked by the quill end of a feather is one surefire way of interrupting your sleep.

Tria pillows are manufactured with Pacific Coast’s patented Barrier Weave outer fabric.



The outer cover of the Pacific Coast “Barrier Weave” fabric keeps quills from poking out. And it keeps the entire feather and down fill from leaking out.

Pillow specs

As mentioned above, Tria pillows are available in: 

  • Standard – 20″ x 26″
  • Jumbo – 20″ x 28″
  • Queen – 20″ x 30″
  • King – 20″ x 36″

They feature an 83% to 17% ratio of feather/down. The inner chamber is all feather, the outer is all down. Cheaper chamber pillows will usually contain 10-15% of goose-down fill. The Tria contains 17%.


Some more specs:

  • 500 fill power down
  • Medium/Firm support
  • Navy edge to edge cording

While these pillows are generally good for back sleepers as well, they excel at offering petite side sleepers a comfortable, yet firm pillow.

Why these are superior to other pillows

Tria pillows offer a superior design, and fill that other pillows for petite side sleepers just can’t match.

Most firm pillows will be entirely too big. Smaller pillows will tend to be too soft. The Tria pillow offers just the right amount of loft, with consistent firm support. And the construction keeps the pillow compact, and intact – all night!


The Best Feature of Tria Pillows

By far, the most important feature that any pillow can offer is its return policy.

The only surefire way to tell if a pillow will work for you is to try it out. You need to sleep on a pillow for a few nights to truly distinguish if it’s right for you.

To that end, Pacific Coast pillows come with a 5-year limited warranty, as well as a 30-night “Comfort Guarantee”. If you aren’t fully satisfied after 30 nights, just send them back for a full refund!

5 thoughts on “The Ideal Pillow For a Petite Side Sleeper

  1. I bought these pillows with the link you provided and was so excited to try them. After a week, I woke up with a crick in my neck again and should pain again. The pillow would be flattened and all the fill would be at the top of the pillow. Back to waking up every couple of hours to flip the pillow and adjust it or else it’s just the same as any other pillow. Still on the hunt for a pillow unfortunately.

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