While you sleep at night, the muscles and ligaments in your neck and back need to relax and recover from the daily stressors. Pillows can have a huge impact on spinal health. It is important to choose a pillow with the right height and firmness to support and maintain the natural curvature of your neck to ensure sufficient overnight rest and recovery.
About 70% of people sleep on their sides. Side sleepers rest on their hips and shoulders which requires them to elevate their necks and place a pillow between their knees for the best possible alignment. This may require a thick or thin pillow (depending on your size) which can help prevent straining spinal muscles, nerves, and tendons. According to a 2015 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, the ideal height for a side sleeper’s head pillow is 4 inches. Pillow support between the knees helps keep your spine in a natural position to avoid waking up with aches and pains.
A firmer pillow material is ideal because of the way you are positioned when you sleep on your side. The filler should be thick enough to keep your head and whole back fully supported and aligned. The following are a few effective fillers: foam, latex, gel bead inserts, shredded memory foam, buckwheat inserts, and water.
Along with height and filler firmness, shape is also key. Based on the sleeper’s personal preference, it can be U-shaped, or long and rectangular. The type you choose depends on your movement throughout the night.
Without the proper pillow support, you may not only feel tired in the morning, but may also notice headaches, back pain, and tingling in your arms and legs due to misalignment. With the right pillows, you’ll wake up feeling fully supported and refreshed. It’s important to take the time to try out several pillows to find the right fit for you.
Ten Top Side-Sleeper Pillows
Here are some highly rated pillows that can help improve the quality of your sleep:
Classic Brands Conforma Memory Foam Pillow—weds high-tech memory foam and an inner cooling system with ergonomic support.
Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Pillow—has a viscose rayon cover that is derived from bamboo and that won’t absorb moisture as cotton covers do.
Core Products Tri-Core Orthopedic Neck Support Pillow—has a center divot that cradles the head and neck.
Good Life Essentials Hypoallergenic Shredded Memory Foam Pillow—made of eco-friendly materials, including a bamboo cover.
Leachco Back ‘N Belly Contoured Body Pillow—is U-shaped to support the head, neck, hips, and entire back all at once.
Natures Pillows Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow—contains buckwheat hulls that don’t retain heat, keeping you cool in warmer weather.
SleepBetter Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow—has standard and contoured versions, both detecting your body’s temperature and adjusting your pillow’s heat absorption accordingly.
Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow—offers easy, firm shaping plus cool air flow technology.
Utopia Bedding Ultra Soft Body Pillow—boasts a four-and-a-half-foot length.
Z 100% Natural Talalay Latex Zoned Pillow—contains thin precision tubes that run through its structure, helping to maintain the optimum temperature for you.