How To Find The Best Pillow For Side Sleepers

Nearly 65% of us consider ourselves a side sleeper, which means that finding the best side sleeper pillow is key for over half of us to make sure we’ve got proper neck, shoulder, and back alignment. You may find yourself folding and flipping and flopping your pillow all throughout the night to get the right fit, which can ruin anyone’s rest. Too high and you’re straining your neck and bound for pain in the morning, not enough height and the lack of support will have you tossing and turning all night to find comfort. Finding that perfect combination of supportive but soft will have you feeling great and refreshed when you wake up. This is where your mission to find the best pillow for side sleepers begins.

There are so many options on the market, and there’s no one side sleeper pillow to rule them all, so what’s one to do?

Shopping You get the best sleep when your spine is in a neutral position, which means filling the space created by your shoulders between your head and the mattress is the most important factor. You want something between 3-6 inches thick, with a fluffy but supportive filling. Too light and you’ll sink right to the bottom, too stiff and your neck pays the price. The best shoulder support pillow is going to marry both of these worlds perfectly.

When you start looking at pillows, the number of materials and options out there may overwhelm you. Know that you’re looking for something specifically created for a side sleeper, which may help by cutting out super soft or super firm pillows. There are some pillows that are even contoured to fit into the crook of your neck and leave a little extra room for your ear. Beware of molded pillows that aren’t made with open-cell foam—closed-cell foams have a tendency to retain heat and you don’t want to wake up sweating. Shredded foams can sometimes get lumpy after use, but the manufacturer should state how to keep your pillows fresh and evenly supportive, checking with the company should clear up any hesitations!

Down, down-alternative, and fiber-filled pillows are a popular choice, but do run the risk of being both pricey and lacking the proper support you need. Something a little more substantial will hold up to side-sleeping better over time.

Testing Testing is imperative. If you’re shopping online, this can be tricky, but relying on reviews and a good return policy can help you meet your perfect pillow match. If you’re shopping in-store, laying on the pillow in your usual sleep position is important to know if it works for you. Sometimes, you can tell right away that it isn’t the right fit, other pillows might take awhile to settle into.

When you bring home a new pillow, you want to make sure you’re listening to your body and adjusting when something isn’t quite right. It can take a few nights to be sure, but as you’re shopping be careful to look at the return policy and warranties on the pillows you’re investing in. If it isn’t right for you, you don’t want to be stuck with an expensive pillow that doesn’t meet your needs, and just ends up sitting off to the side of your bed.

If you feel any pain in your neck or shoulders when you wake up (That wasn’t present before!) your new pillow may be the cause. Ultimately, the only way to know for sure is to give it a shot and test pillows until you find the one that’s just right.

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Shelly Weaver-Cather
Shelly Weaver-Cather

Shelly Weaver is part of the Content Team at Tuft & Needle, leading the writing and editing of our blog. Not quite a Phoenix native, (They take that sort of thing super seriously.) Shelly has spent most of her life in the Phoenix Metro area and has no plans of leaving anytime soon. She made the unexpected jump out of wedding photography and onto T&N’s team in 2016, and found a passion for the people that keep the lights on. She still finds herself shooting in her free time, though these days there are less bridal portraits and more masterpieces of her first child, Duke, a lab-pit mix with an unparalleled love for both T&N mattress hogging and couch destroying.

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