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Side Sleeper’s Sanctuary: Choosing the Perfect Pillows for a Restful Night

Are you a side sleeper? You might need special pillows for sleeping on your side to prevent neck and shoulder pain. Side sleepers are more prone to pain, as their shoulders and neck require extra support in this position.

We created a guide to cater to your needs as a side snoozer. Join us to find the ultimate pillow for side sleeping slumber.

Why do you need special pillows for sleeping on your side?

Good quality sleep aids brain performance and stabilizes your mood. It may also reduce the risk of certain conditions, including cardiovascular disease and strokes. 

When you fall asleep, your body enters non-REM sleep. In this state, your blood pressure and pulse drops. It gives your heart a break, since it doesn’t need to work as hard due to your parasympathetic system taking control.

Most people know that quality sleep changes your energy levels and improves your daily life. However, falling asleep isn’t always easy, so what can you do to enter snooze-ville quickly? 

It may surprise you to learn that your pillow is the key to getting that life-changing sleep

Using a pillow meant for sleeping on your side is essential. An ineffective one keeps your neck in a position that’s too low or too high, which causes pain, discomfort, and headaches. 

Side sleepers are especially prone to pain and discomfort. This position puts pressure on your neck, hips, and shoulders. It can also cause lower back pain if your spine isn’t properly aligned. 

People who sleep on their side have a unique need for neck and spine alignment. We call this the side sleeper’s dilemma, because it’s such a comfy position, but it comes with many potential issues

The side sleeper’s dilemma

Side sleepers face unique challenges that impact overall sleep quality. The position itself isn’t problematic. In fact, many try to learn how to sleep sideways for the proposed health benefits. It’s the lack of support for the neck, spine, and hips that causes the dilemma

Let’s unpack the effects of sleeping sideways without proper pillows.

Neck and shoulder pain

The most common complaint from lateral loungers is neck and shoulder pain. That’s because sleeping on your side causes your head to tilt too high or low, which strains your neck

Sleeping without switching sides can also cause you to overuse the muscles in your neck. When prolonged, it may cause inflammation in the bursal tissues of your shoulder

This condition causes symptoms that side sleepers know all too well: pain, stiffness, and difficulty with shoulder movements.

People who curl up when they sleep may experience restricted breathing, which also puts pressure on the neck and spine. 

Pillows for sleeping on your side keep your head supported and help your neck and spine remain in a neutral position. It prevents neck pain and restricted breathing caused by pressure on the spine from side sleeping

Back pain 

Sleeping sideways without the correct pillow puts a strain on the spine, which offsets the alignment. It causes back pain because the spine isn’t in a neutral position. 

People who sleep on their side for prolonged amounts of time may experience more severe back pain. It causes the top leg to move downwards, which puts pressure on the lower spine. Some people may also experience knee pain from this position. 

There are specially made knee pillows for side sleepers that support the top leg and keep the spine in a neutral position. Simply place the pillow between your legs. The pressure on your knees and back decreases almost immediately with quality knee pillows

Wrinkles

While sleeping on your side won’t single-handedly cause wrinkles, it can intensify the wrinkles on your face, chest, and neck. Any activity that causes a continuous stretch of the skin promotes skin laxity, which is the loss of firmness and elasticity. 

Most side sleepers have a favorite side. It may cause loss of volume and more significant wrinkles on one side of the face

Investing in a pillow that reduces the pressure on your face may prevent the development of sleep wrinkles

Understanding pillow types

Side sleepers have a wide range of pillow types to choose from. Each pillow meant for sleeping on your side comes with different features that can help you pick your perfect one

Down pillow 

Down pillows typically consist of a mix of feathers and delicate fibers near the skin of a swan, goose, or duck

It’s important to find ethically sourced options, since the stuffing for these pillows comes from animals. Before purchasing a down pillow, check the feather ratio to ensure it’s worth it. 

Benefits

  • Lasts for several years.
  • Feels soft, fluffy, and cushiony.
  • Offers good head and neck support.
  • Lightweight.
  • Insulating. 
  • Moldable. 

Drawbacks

  • Can cause allergic reactions. 
  • Challenging to clean. 
  • Can easily overheat, which may affect sleep quality. 
  • Requires consistent fluffing. 

Gel pillow

This pillow type has one key purpose: keeping you cool while you sleep. The gel is typically combined with latex or foam to provide softness and cooling properties. 

Benefits 

  • Cooling features perfect for hot temperatures or people who overheat.
  • Easy cleaning. 
  • Hypoallergenic (depending on what it’s mixed with). 
  • Molds to support the neck. 

Drawbacks 

  • Usually super pricey. 
  • Might be too firm for some. 
  • Heavy. 

Microbead pillow

These firm pillows are stuffed with uniform polymer particles. The synthetic filling makes for a firm but moldable texture

Benefits

  • Malleable.
  • Firm texture.
  • Supports the neck. 
  • Breathable. 

Drawbacks 

  • Retains heat, which may be uncomfortable for some people. 
  • The beads don’t last long. 
  • Releases a chemical smell. 

Cotton pillow

Cotton pillows are suitable for side, back, and stomach sleepers. Cotton pillowcases and bedding are especially beneficial for people who are allergic to synthetic materials. It also makes an excellent knee pillow for back pain

Benefits

  • Hypoallergenic.
  • Odorless. 
  • Breathable.
  • Soft but firm texture. 
  • Lightweight. 

Drawbacks

  • Doesn’t mold to the neck easily. 
  • Requires consistent cleaning to prevent dust mites and mold. 
  • Becomes lumpy over time. 

Latex pillow

Latex pillows offer excellent support for your head and neck. They come in solid and shredded material for different firmness. 

These lofty pillows are also perfect for people with acid reflux who need to keep their head elevated. Always check the materials used, as some latex pillows are blended with polyurethane foam, which may be toxic. 

Benefits

  • Soft and cozy feel.
  • Breathable.
  • Durable.
  • Malleable. 
  • Cooling.
  • Biodegradable. 

Drawbacks

  • Potential for serious allergic reactions. 
  • Unappealing latex odor. 
  • Costly. 

Memory foam pillow

Memory foam provides the ultimate head and neck molding base. These pillows perfectly contour to your body, making them the ideal pick for all sleeping positions. 

Benefits

  • Prevents pain. 
  • Contours to your neck and head. 
  • Ultra comfortable. 

Drawbacks 

  • May not have the best breathability depending on foam density. 
  • Certain memory foams retain body heat, which could be uncomfortable for side sleepers. 

Polyester microfiber pillow 

This rare blend is found in Sleepgram pillows. The polyester keeps it firm and prevents tears and creases which helps it last longer. The microfiber blend creates the perfect pillow for sleeping on your side

Benefits

  • Durable. 
  • Breathable. 
  • Ultra-moldable, which prevents neck and back pain.
  • Soft and comfortable while offering excellent support. 
  • Absorbent. 
  • Easy to clean. 

Drawbacks 

  • Might cause you to miss your alarm because it’s too comfortable. 

Pillow loft and firmness

Side sleepers should carefully consider pillow characteristics like loft and firmness. Finding the right balance improves sleep quality and comfort

Pillow loft and firmness

Pillow loftness

Lateral loungers mainly struggle with spine alignment when it comes to pillow loftness. While lower pillows may be beneficial for back sleepers, they can cause the head to tilt downwards with side sleepers. 

Lower loft pillows may cause pain for side sleepers as they put a strain on the bursal tissues. They don’t support the neck and shoulders. Low pillows trigger pain in the pressure points along the nape from lying on one side all night. 

The pillow should be lofty enough to keep the spine in a neutral position and cradle the head. The best option for a side sleeper is an adjustable bed pillow that fills the gap between the head and shoulders.

Certain materials do a better job of cradling the head and reducing pain in the pressure points along the nape. For example, polyester microfiber provides a medium to high loft that perfectly molds to support the neck and head

Pillow firmness 

While it may be tempting to get a soft fluffy pillow, it’s not the best thing if you sleep on your side. 

A firm pillow supports the weight of your head and keeps your spine aligned. It prevents you from tucking in your chin or sinking into the pillow, which could cause breathing problems and neck pain. 

On the other hand, a pillow that’s too firm can be uncomfortable. It won’t cradle your head or support your nape well, which could cause pain and a sprained neck. 

Polyester microfiber provides the ideal level of firmness and softness, creating the ultimate pillow for sleeping on your side. This material contours and molds to support the neck and provide comfort and cuddliness

Ergonomic design features with pillows for sleeping on your side

A recent study found the following pillow parameters may improve sleep quality

  • A latex pillow material. 
  • A contoured design with high sides for side sleepers. 
  • At least three inches high in the center of the pillow.
  • A cool, breathable surface. 

A latex pillow material provides the firmness and support needed for adequate spine alignment. Many people are allergic to latex or may not enjoy the odor

A material like polyester microfiber provides an arguably better effect. It cradles the head and supports the neck. It’s also more comfortable than latex. 

Contoured designs with high sides keep the spine aligned when side sleepers toss and turn. An adjustable bed pillow could provide a similar effect. 

A loft of around three inches aids proper spine alignment. It also prevents the neck muscles from straining, which promotes smooth breathing. 

Pillows with a cool, breathable surface deliver more comfort. They keep side sleepers from overheating on one side and also prevent skin conditions like creasing and acne. 

Sleepgram’s 3-in-1 adjustable pillow 

Side sleepers need a pillow that:

  • Is comfortable.
  • Is the perfect blend of soft and firm.
  • Supports the neck and head.
  • Aligns the spine.
  • Is durable.
  • Is cool and breathable. 

The Sleepgram 3-in-1 adjustable pillow ticks all these boxes. 

Three layers of luxurious comfort 

When you buy the Sleepgram 3-in-1 adjustable pillow, you get three layers of pillow heaven

1. The outer layer

A high-quality pillow cover keeps you cool and doesn’t tug at your skin. The Sleepgram 3-in-1 adjustable pillow comes with an outer layer made from 100% long-staple cotton. It’s infused with special cooling fibers, ensuring any side you sleep on is the cool side. 

Why is this layer important for side sleepers? The soft cotton won’t stick to your skin and cause folds. It may prevent wrinkles caused by sleeping on one side consistently. Silk pillowcases may be better for people prone to facial folds. 

The cooling layer prevents you from tossing and turning to find the cool side of your pillow. It keeps your facial temperature regulated so you can sleep peacefully. 

2. Middle weight insert

Side sleepers need a pillow that’s firm but breathable. A firm pillow supports the neck and prevents pain. It helps keep the spine in a neutral position, which prevents back soreness. 

The Sleepgram 3-in-1 adjustable bed pillow comes with a middle pillow that provides medium firm support. It’s composed of super silky fibers that offer excellent support while being breathable. 

The silky fibers are 1/10th the size of a human hair. Their dainty nature creates a firm yet cushiony feel that’s a total game-changer for side sleepers. 

3. Small insert 

Have you ever wondered what sleeping on a cloud is like? Wonder no more. The Sleepgram 3-in-1 adjustable pillow comes with a small insert that emulates sleeping on a cloud

It perfectly complements the firmness of the middle-weight pillow. Low friction fibers create a supple, fluffy feel that’ll have you asleep before you can say “two sheep”. 

How does the small insert benefit side sleepers? It provides a softer feel for those who don’t enjoy firm pillows.

It cushions the firmness of the middle-weight insert, allowing side sleepers to get the best of both worlds. Enjoy effective neck and spine support and a soft and cushy pillow

100-night money-back guarantee 

We offer a 100-night money-back guarantee on our Sleepgram pillows, because we’re confident that you’ll have the best sleep of your life.

Don’t believe us? Check out this review from one of our valued Sleepgramers: 

I kept looking at this pillow online. Finally, I thought, with 100 nights it's plenty of time to decide. Well, within the first two days I knew there was no way I was returning this pillow!” – Mandie O

Cruelty-free 

Cruelty-free Pillow

The Sleepgram 3-in-1 adjustable bed pillow consists of 100% organic materials. It’s hypoallergenic and even safe for your furry friends

We use zero animal by-products to keep our stance against animal cruelty. You can enjoy our top-quality products with a good conscience. 

Pillow maintenance tips

Pillows are surprisingly one of the dirtiest things in your home. While it may not seem like it, they collect dust, skin cells, sweat, mold, and dust mites. Over time, this buildup can wreak havoc on your sinuses and trigger allergies. 

In fact, a two-year-old pillow gets 10% of its weight from dead dust mites and their droppings. These bugs prefer warm, moist environments, and what could be better than your pillow and mattress? 

It’s essential to keep your pillow clean and in good condition. Proper care enhances its longevity and grants you a dust-mite-free sleep. Below are some pillow maintenance tips.

Air out your pillows

Make it a habit to fluff your pillows every day. This simple step removes surface dust that could pile up and invite mites. It also maintains the shape and texture. 

Hang your adjustable bed pillows in sunlight at least once a month. The fresh air and sun prevent mites from settling and keep your pillow fluffy. Run it through the no-heat cycle on your dryer if you can't hang them outside. 

Wash your pillows 

Wash your pillows every 4–6 months, depending on your lifestyle. People who sweat a lot or have pets should wash their pillows more often. 

Washing your pillow is easy, but it may take some time to dry. Typically, pillows are machine washable, but knee pillows for side sleepers may not be. Check the care label before tossing it in the load.

Avoid washing more than one pillow in the machine. Overloading could damage the washer, and your pillows may not clean properly. 

Ensure you use the gentle cycle option, because pillows can become lumpy if tossed around. Use lukewarm water to prevent shrinkage while still getting a thorough clean. 

Opt for mild detergents or ones made especially for pillows. Strong washing powders can damage the delicate fibers on some pillows. 

Air dry or tumble dry your pillows on low heat. To add extra freshness, try a eucalyptus or lavender pillow spray. You can also clean your sheets using these steps. 

Spot clean your pillow 

Spot cleaning keeps your pillow fresh after washing it. This tip is especially beneficial for people who eat in their bed. Food spills stain and invite mold to your pillow. 

To spot clean, follow these steps:

  1. Dampen a cloth with a mix of water and mild detergent. 
  2. Gently rub over the stain.
  3. Use mild pressure to penetrate the strain. 
  4. Vacuum over the spot for fast drying (optional). 

Real-life experiences

Changing your pillow can change your life. Don’t believe us? Check out these Sleepgram reviews for our adjustable bed pillow. Our customers experienced less pain and improved sleep quality. 

A Must Buy For Neck Pain

I am a dental hygienist with constant neck pain. It's gotten much better with Sleepgram! I have tried many other reputable brands and they do not compare. Love and recommend!” – Caleb Myers

Like Sleeping On A Cloud!

I bought 2 pillows and I keep 1 set at firm & 1 set at medium. They provide perfect support for my head & neck. Not at all heavy, hard or hot. Love them!” – Celeste S.

The Best Pillow Ever!

My husband and I both have cervical degeneration of our spines, so it’s important, and difficult, to find a pillow that supports, relieves, and gives us rest without pain in the morning. We were each able to adjust to our comfort and are sleeping amazingly pain free now! I can’t say enough good about these pillows!” – Jodi T.

Pain Went Away

Love these pillows! My shoulder pain went away after a few days of sleeping on these pillows. I removed the smaller one and use it for sleeping on my back and left the other one in for sleeping on my side. No more waking up with numbness in my hands.” – Janet R.

Shopping guide

Are you ready to find your perfect pillow? We’ve compiled a guide to picking one that meets all your needs. Ask yourself these questions before committing to a purchase.

Will this pillow give you sufficient support?

Side sleepers need a pillow that’s lofty and firm to support the neck and keep the spine aligned. 

Look for a medium-firm pillow. Your head will sink too low if the pillow is too soft. A lofty pillow prevents shoulder pain from side sleeping because it relieves pressure from the bursal tissues. 

While firmness is important, an adjustable bed pillow is also beneficial. For example, the Sleepgram pillow can be modified for your comfort. This feature allows you to tuck one arm under the pillow, which is the comfiest position for most side sleepers. 

Is the material suitable? 

Side sleepers have different needs when it comes to pillow stuffing. The materials need to be firm, supportive, and malleable

The materials should also be durable so you don’t need to invest in a new pillow every few months. Here are some examples of durable pillow stuffings that offer sufficient support for side sleepers: 

  • Latex. 
  • Microbead.
  • Memory foam.
  • Down. 
  • Polyester microfiber.

Latex and polyester microfiber are the two best options. Some people may be allergic to latex or be put off by its odor. Polyester microfiber is firm, easy to clean, and hypoallergenic

What’s your budget?

When it comes to pillow budget, it’s more important to consider the value than the price. It’s better to buy a pricier pillow that’ll last longer and help you get better quality sleep. A cheaper pillow that causes pain or wears out after a couple of months is a waste.

Typically, around $40–50 is a good price range for a quality pillow. It’s also a green flag when a company offers a trial period. It shows confidence in the product and is a tell-tale sign it’s worth the price. 

Don’t just dream of a better night’s sleep; make it a reality

Side sleepers are prone to neck and shoulder pain because of low-support pillows.

Without anything filling the gap between the pillow and the shoulders, the bursal tissues become strained. Sleeping on your side with a poor-quality pillow also causes back pain and fatigue

A pillow meant for sleeping on your side cradles your neck and head, which prevents strain and pain the next day. It also aligns the spine and keeps you comfortable. 

Sleepgram’s 3-in-1 adjustable pillow is a dream come true

At Sleepgram, we created a special pillow for optimal comfort. It has three layers and emulates sleeping on a cloud.

You can wave goodbye to neck pain and sore shoulders. Our pillow has fibers that are 1/10th of the size of a human hair. They gently support your neck and cradle your head like soft, fluffy clouds

What are you waiting for? Buy Sleepgram’s 3-in-1 pillow and bid farewell to restless nights.