Pillow Placement for Side Sleepers

Do you wake up with neck and shoulder pain from sleeping on your side? The problem could be your pillow placement. With side sleeping, the proper support for your head and neck can be tricky.

Side sleepers need pillows that support their neck and keep their spine aligned. But how do you know which pillow placement will work best for you?

In this article, I’ll share tips and tricks for finding the perfect support for side sleepers.

Pros and Cons of Sleeping on Your Side

Sleeping on your side can reduce snoring and sleep apnea, improve digestion, and reduce the risk of acid reflux.

Cons of sleeping on your side include:

  • Increased risk of wrinkles and facial aging.
  • The potential for shoulder and hip pain.
  • The potential for numbness or tingling in the arms and hands.

Side sleeping is a common sleep position. Proper pillow placement and support can help alleviate some of these cons. 

Tips on Pillow Placement for Side Sleepers

Traditional Method With Two Cushions

Have a pillow that is thick enough to support your head and neck but not so thick that it tilts your head forward or puts strain on your neck. Keep your cushion so that your neck is neither bent too far forward nor tilted too far back.

Ideally, your cushion should be about the width of your shoulder.

Placing a small pillow between your knees can help keep your hips aligned and reduce pressure on your lower back.

More Support With Three Cushions

You may benefit from sleeping with three cushions if you’re a side sleeper. Additional cushions provide more support to your body.

Here are some tips to consider:

1. Use one pillow for your head: This should support your neck and keep your spine aligned.

2. Use a second pillow between your knees: This can help reduce pressure on your hips and lower back, keeping your spine in a neutral position. This can be a small regular cushion or a long bolster pillow.

3. Use a third pillow to hug: This can help support your upper arm and shoulder, reducing strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.

The Types of Cushions

The first pillow should fill the space between your shoulder, neck, head, and the mattresses. Softer cushions made of down or down-like materials may not provide enough support. Ideally, this cushion should fit your curves and fill all the needed space while also being flexible.

The second pillow is placed between your legs to support your upper leg, reducing strain on your hips and lower back. It can be wide and soft.

The third cushion is there to support your upper shoulder and arm. Without support, you may experience pain in your upper shoulder and back.

Hugging a cushion between your arms can alleviate this discomfort by elevating your upper elbow and reducing stress on your shoulder.

Any type of cushion, including a regular bed pillow or a bolster-shaped pillow, can serve this purpose.

For those who are shorter, using a single long bolster for hugging and placing between the legs can be comfortable.

Experiment with different cushion sizes and firmness levels. Everyone’s body is different, so find cushions that work best for you and provide the right amount of support.

Make sure your cushions are properly positioned. Adjust them as needed throughout the night to ensure they continue to provide the support you need.

Is There Enough Room for All the Cushions?

Having a lot of cushions may seem excessive. If you and your partner share a bed, you might wonder whether there is enough room for these all.

But, you don’t take up much space when you settle in for sleep.

We typically change our sleeping position because we are uncomfortable. You might not need to change your position if you sleep well-supported.

Occasionally, you may wake up surrounded by discarded cushions.

Pillows in the Hotel Rooms

These techniques can help in various sleep situations. For example, hotel beds often have many cushions for this reason. You can even use a folded towel as additional support.

Tips For Side Sleeper For Good Night Sleep

Should I Sleep on the Left or the Right Side?

This question has no right or wrong answer, as it ultimately depends on personal preference.

However, sleeping on the left side has been found to have potential health benefits such as improved digestion and reduced acid reflux.

It is also recommended for pregnant women to sleep on their left side to improve blood flow to the fetus.

Why is it important to have the right headrest as a side sleeper?

Having the right headrest as a side sleeper is important because it helps maintain proper spinal alignment and reduces pressure on your neck, shoulders, and hips.

A too-high or too-low headrest can cause discomfort and pain, leading to a restless night’s sleep.

A firm pillow designed for side sleepers will provide support and cushioning to ensure a comfortable and restful sleep.

What Is the Best Pillow Material for a Side Sleeper?

The best pillow material for a side sleeper offers adequate support and alignment for the head, neck, and spine.

Look for firm, thick cushions to elevate your head and align with your body.

Memory foam, contour, and buckwheat pillows are all popular options for side sleepers.

The Botton Line

To recap, try using three pillows if you’re having trouble sleeping on your side: a supportive headrest, a soft cushion between your legs, and a hugging cushion between your arms.

Adjust the cushions as needed to find the most comfortable and supportive position for your body.