August 06, 2020 6 min read

When you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep, it feels like there are about a million things that could come in between you and those high-quality zzz’s. Noisy neighbors, beautiful-but-boisterous bird songs, feeling too hot or too cold, you get the picture. But one of the biggest disruptors of sleep is physical discomfort. 

If you’ve tossed and turned your way into becoming a side-sleeper, your next step toward better sleep may involve a pillow with an arm hole. Side-sleeper pillows with arm holes are specially engineered to help side-sleepers find their optimal resting position. By including an arm hole, these pillows prevent nighttime shoulder pain and keep your arms from falling asleep at night, among other important benefits.

In this post, we’ll discuss how pillows with arm holes can improve your sleep, how to choose the best pillow for your sleeping posture, and more. Use the links below to jump ahead to the section that best answers your query, or read through for a comprehensive overview.

What is a Pillow With Arm Hole?

Pillows with arm holes are just what they sound like — a pillow with an arm pocket that allows your arm to rest comfortably and naturally beneath you while you sleep. Why the carved out arm section? By creating a space for your arm to rest, the pressure is taken off of your shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand, helping to eliminate the physical discomforts, like numbness and shoulder pain, that are typically associated with side-sleeping.

Is Sleeping on Your Arm Good for You?

Finding your ideal sleep posture1 can feel like a life-long Goldilocks challenge. Back-sleepers tend to experience intensified snoring, stomach-sleepers generally deal with less snoring but in turn, stomach and side-sleepers alike exert more pressure onto their limbs and muscles, resulting in aches, pains, and tingling. But side-sleeping offers plenty of benefits that can outweigh the drawbacks, especially if you invest in a side-sleeper pillow with an arm hole to minimize some of these pain points.

infograph of sleeping positions

Benefits of side-sleeping

According to the National Sleep Foundation1, there are several benefits that side-sleeping can offer:
  • Sleeping on your left side at an incline can help to alleviate acid reflux symptoms.
  • Because your spine is elongated on your side, you may experience a decrease in neck and back pain.
  • Side-sleeping keeps your airways open and in turn, curtails snoring and can help minimize symptoms of sleep apnea.

However, without the proper setup, sleeping on your side can put too much pressure on your upper body and ultimately result in uncomfortable aches and pains. That’s where the pillow with an arm hole comes into play. By taking the pressure off of your arm and positioning you at a naturally supportive incline, these ergonomically designed pillows achieve optimal comfort for side-sleepers.

woman waking up refreshed

Buyer’s Guide: Best Pillows With Arm Holes

It’s estimated that we spend about one-third of our lifetime sleeping2, so finding the perfect pillow for your sleeping posture is a worthwhile investment! With hundreds of specialized pillows to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the right one for you. We’ve created a buyer’s guide and compiled some of our most frequently asked questions to help our side-sleepers find the best arm hole pillow for their needs.

sleeping time infographic

What to look for in a side-sleeper pillow

As you search for your ideal arm hole pillow, keep these product features high on your wish list:
  • Arm pocket or side panel that offers arm support
  • Contoured construction that provides support for neck and shoulder
  • Symmetrical horseshoe-shaped pillow design that offers flexibility for left and right side-sleeping
  • Thicker pillow density that creates space between your head and arm
  • Adjustable height for customizable comfort
In addition to these features, you may also want to consider the following aspects to find the pillow that’s best suited for not only your sleeping posture, but also your body and bed size, lifestyle, and general preferences.
  • Size: To find the best arm hole pillow for your preferences, you’ll want to consider your body and bed size. The last thing you’d want disrupting your sleep is a pillow that’s too small or too big for your comfort. Some arm hole pillows come in several different sizes, but our shoulder relief pillow is a one-size-fits-all model.
  • Ergonomic design:You’ll want your pillow to offer up just the right amount of support for your head — too much or too little can strain your neck and cause other uncomfortable problems. As you shop for your perfect pillow, consider the density and angle of the design to make sure it’s conducive to your sleeping posture. If the manufactured version doesn’t quite hit the mark, check to see if the pillow density can be adjusted and customized to best suit your needs.
  • Materials: On top of pillow size and ergonomics, you’ll also need to consider the materials used — memory foam tends to be a great option because it’s ventilating and rebounds when pressure is applied.
  • User experience:Finding the best side sleeper pillow with an arm hole is an important investment, so it’s always a good idea to evaluate your options for ease of use. Your new pillow should feel both comfortable and natural, not be complex to use! You should also check with the manufacturer and reviewers to see how long it takes to “break-in” their pillow.

buying a side sleeping pillow guide infographic

Pillows With Arm Holes — FAQs

To further refine your search, check out these side-sleeper pillow FAQs

What kind of pillow should a side-sleeper use?

Because side-sleepers put so much pressure on their side — specifically their shoulders, arms, and wrists, they often experience aches, pain, and numbness in these areas. By taking the pressure of body weight out of the equation, pillows with arm holes create the best environment for side-sleepers. What’s more, the wedge construction keeps your head, neck, and chest supported while you reap the benefits of the side-sleeping posture.

What pillow is best for shoulder pain?

A wedge pillow with an arm hole is best for those who deal with shoulder pain. By eliminating pressure from your shoulders, you’ll still feel supported where you need to, just without irritation or pressure on your existing pain points.

What is the ideal firmness for a pillow with an arm hole?

The ideal pillow should offer up plenty of support and foster comfort for your whole body. Memory foam pillows typically provide optimal firmness because they mold to the individual’s body while maintaining their ergonomic shape, creating lasting cloud-like comfort. 

Are all pillows with arm holes designed for side-sleepers?

No, some pillows with arm holes are designed for stomach-sleepers. Make sure that the pillow you’re looking at is suitable for multi-use, or engineered for your preferred sleeping posture.

How do you clean and maintain a pillow with arm holes?

To properly care for your pillow with an arm hole, it’s a good idea to reshape the structure back to its original form each morning. This step will help preserve its form and ensure lasting comfort. Additionally, make sure to keep your pillow dry and safe from elements that might impact its shape. Stains can be removed with a diluted mixture of baking soda, water, and a few drops of vinegar. Note: Our Shoulder Relief system includes removable, washable cases; additional cases can be purchased as an accessory.

medcline relief systems

MedCline Relief Systems 

Our simple yet effective wedge pillow with arm hole designs offer unparalleled shoulder and acid reflux relief while keeping pressure off of your side.

 

MedCline Reflux Relief Pillow

Our acid reflux pillow is the only product on the market constructed to follow the doctor-recommended posture for GER and GERD. By combining a J-shaped therapeutic body pillow with an advanced positioning wedge, our Reflux Relief Pillow achieves the ideal left-side, inclined position to minimize acid reflux symptoms.

MedCline Shoulder Relief Pillow

Our three-piece Shoulder Relief System is designed to restore side-sleeping comfort for those who deal with chronic shoulder pain, rotator cuff injuries, are in post-surgical recovery, have arthritis/bursitis, or nerve impingement. The MedCline system includes Shoulder Relief Bed Wedge, full length memory foam Therapeutic Body Pillow, and smaller Insert Pillow; all with removable, washable covers. The System takes up ½ of a queen-sized bed and measures 30” W x 45” L x 6” H. Head to our MedCline FAQs, or reach out to our team of MedCline Sleep Specialists who can be reached at 800-610-1607 or via email at support@medcline.com (M-F 8:00-4:00 PST) for more information. References:
  1. “Which Sleep Position is the Best for Your Body?,” National Sleep Foundation,https://www.sleep.org/articles/best-sleep-position/, 1 Jul. 2020
  2. Michael J Aminoff, François Boller, Dick F Swaab, “We Spend About One-Third of Our Life Either Sleeping or Attempting to Do So,” National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21056174/, 1 Jul. 2020