Making up approximately 74% of the population, side-sleepers are the clear majority when it comes to sleeping styles. With several benefits and few drawbacks, many individuals opt to snooze on one side or the other. But even if you prefer this position, it can be uncomfortable if you don’t have the right pillow.
In this post, we’ll explain what makes a good side-sleeper pillow, from fill and shape to positioning. Read on for an in-depth look at the best pillows for side-sleepers, or use the links below to skip ahead to the section you’re most interested in.
Generally, the best pillow for side-sleepers is a pillow with medium to medium-firm support. When you sleep on your side, you want your head and neck to be aligned with your spine. Proper alignment is key to preventing neck pain and soreness, and ultimately, promoting a healthy neck and back. When side-sleepers use a pillow with minimal support or a low loft (thickness), their head usually drops below the neck, causing discomfort and stiffness when they wake up.
It’s important to note that everybody is different, so what’s best for your sleeping style may not be best for someone else. Above all, comfort is key when it comes to finding the best pillow for side-sleepers. In the following section, we’ll take a closer look at the different materials and types of pillows that are most suitable for side-sleeping.
No matter what sleeping position you prefer, there are several factors you should consider when shopping for a new pillow. These factors include loft, support, firmness, material, and shape. Below, we’ll define what these considerations mean and what they look like in the context of side-sleeper pillows.
Loft refers to the thickness of a pillow, ranging from low-loft to high loft:
Side-sleepers typically need a medium to high loft in order to adequately support their head and neck, preventing it from dropping below the rest of the body.
The pillow's support refers to how well it keeps your head and neck on an even surface. For side-sleepers, spinal alignment is critical, so it’s a good idea to choose a pillow that doesn't sink too deeply or lift your head too much.
A pillow that is too soft can cause your head to sink lower than your neck, resulting in alignment problems and extra pressure. Alternatively, you may have soreness around the neck and shoulders if the cushion is overly firm. Pillows with medium firmness are ideal for side-sleepers because they give a good balance of contouring and support.
The materials used to make a pillow's cover and filling can have an impact on durability, temperature regulation, form preservation, and ultimately, comfort. While a pillow with higher-quality materials will likely cost more, you can expect longer life and better function from many of these premium options.
Side-sleepers typically sleep best with materials that offer a comfortable amount of support and contouring, including:
Over time, some fill materials compress and change shape, making the pillow flat and less pleasant to sleep on. These pillows will need to be fluffed on a regular basis to maintain their full shape. In general, solid foam and latex keep their shape with little effort, so they tend to be a good option for those that sleep on their side, and therefore, need unwavering support.
Because their mattress is not supportive enough, many side-sleepers have pressure in their shoulders and hips. Similarly, if the side-sleeper's pillow does not keep the neck and shoulders aligned with the spine, pressure points may form. As a result, side-sleepers require a pillow that is both supportive and conforms to the body.
As we mentioned, higher-quality pillows typically have a higher price point. However, they also tend to last longer and are more comfortable overall. As you shop for a side-sleeper pillow, keep in mind your budget as well as the considerations outlined above.
Using the information above, the best pillow for side-sleepers combines the following features:
In addition to traditional pillows, body pillows can also be a suitable option for side-sleepers. In fact, most body pillows naturally cater to the side-sleeping posture. MedCline offers several types of body pillows that can help side-sleepers rest more comfortably, whether they have shoulder pain, nighttime acid reflux, or just want to maintain their healthy spine. Our body pillow-style sleep systems include:
Alignment is key when it comes to sleeping on your side, and not doing so may result in a number of uncomfortable consequences, including neck pain. So, what type of side-sleeper pillow is the best option for those with neck pain? It’s really as simple as support.
Side-sleepers with neck pain should look for a pillow that doesn’t sink in too much and helps keep their head and neck in alignment with the rest of their body. A pillow that is too high will crane the neck upward, and one that’s too low will position the head and neck downward, both causing strain over time.
What is the best pillow for side sleepers? Ultimately, it depends on your body and unique preferences. Use the information above to help guide your search and don’t forget to check out our top-rated pillows for side-sleepers!