What role does pillow shape play in supporting side sleepers?

role does pillow shape play in supporting side sleepers

The right pillow supports the head and neck for a restful night of sleep. And for side sleepers, a supportive pillow is essential to keeping the spine in alignment and reducing stress on the shoulders, hips, and lower back. During our roundup of the best pillows for side sleepers, we found that the shape and construction of a pillow are just as important as its firmness rating. If a pillow is too soft, it won’t be able to hold the head and neck in proper alignment throughout the night. So, for the majority of side sleepers, we recommend a medium-firm to firm level of support.

For the most consistent support, look for a contoured or cervical pillow. These types of Best pillow for side sleeper have a center dip that cradles the head and encourages proper cervical alignment. A contoured pillow also helps to reduce pressure on the neck, hips, and shoulders. For additional spine support, consider adding a pillow between your legs as well. This levels out the hips and lumbar region and can help to alleviate pain in these areas, too.

A standard, square or rectangle pillow may work for some side sleepers, but those with wider shoulders will want to consider a larger pillow with more height to keep the spine in alignment and avoid shoulder pain. The thickness of a pillow is also important and can vary by person, so play around with options that are available at your local store or online. Many pillow brands offer generous return policies, so you can easily try a few different options until you find the one that feels just right to you.

What role does pillow shape play in supporting side sleepers?

As a general rule, we prefer to use pillow fills that are hypoallergenic and resistant to odors. However, we realize that not everyone is a fan of synthetic materials and some sleepers have sensitive skin, so choose what works for you. If you suffer from allergies, buckwheat pillows are an excellent choice as they’re both hypoallergenic and odor-resistant. They’re also breathable, making them cool and comfortable to sleep on during hot nights.

Loft is another important consideration for side sleepers, as you want a pillow that has enough height to support the head and neck without propping it up too high or tilting it out of alignment with the spine. We recommend a high-loft option, especially if you have an adjustable bed. The shape of a pillow significantly influences the alignment of the neck and spine. For side sleepers, maintaining a neutral spine position is essential to prevent neck and back pain. Contoured pillows, often designed with a higher side for neck support and a lower middle section for head cradling, help achieve this alignment. These pillows follow the natural curve of the neck, ensuring that the head is not tilted too high or too low, which is crucial for avoiding strain.

We found that a foam or latex pillow is best for most side sleepers because they’re resilient and have a less bouncy feel than other types of pillows. The material is also able to resist sinking, meaning your neck and spine will stay aligned all night. Additionally, a foam or latex pillow won’t compress over time, so you can count on a solid night of support.

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