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Which Pillows are Best for Side, Back or Stomach Sleepers?

Like people, pillows come in all shapes and sizes. It's not surprising that a pillow that works for one sleeper may not be right for another - pillows are personal. If you're waking up with aches and pains, and you're not quite sure why, it could be down to having the wrong pillow. 

Most of the time, finding the best pillow will depend on your primary sleeping position, your height and shoulder width - on top of general preferences.

The best pillow for side and stomach sleepers may not work for back sleepers, or a highly supportive pillow might not make a good pillow for some people. Finding the right type of pillow for you can help get you a great night’s sleep every night. Better rest should never be just a dream. 


What's Your Primary Sleeping Position?

side sleeper pillow

Figuring out your primary sleeping position can set you up for much better rest. Although many people are habitual side sleepers, some adults naturally gravitate toward sleeping on their backs or stomachs, too. 

Your sleeping position can often shift as you age. If you find yourself snoring more while on your back, you may shift to side sleeping. You might find a temporary new favourite position if you're pregnant. You might also swap out positions at some point because of back, neck, or shoulder pain, or just from simply finding a more comfortable position as you age. 

Assessing your current favourite sleeping position can help you when choosing a pillow. It's likely that you'll move positions throughout the night, so go off the position you usually go to sleep in.


How to Determine the Right Level of Support

best pillow for side sleepers

What makes pillows different? When on the search for your perfect pillow, here are some things to consider:

  • The pillow loft: This simply describes the height of the pillow, based on how much it's stuffed. A tall, side-sleeper might opt for a taller, higher loft pillow, but a back-sleeper with a slighter neck might prefer a lower loft pillow. 

  • Firmness and shape: The great debate - firm or fluffy? The firmness depends on the material. Feathers, for example, might feel luxurious and nice for those who like sink-in softness, but without constant plumping, they often lose their shape and support. 

  • Adaptability: Because most people do move around in their sleep, you should consider finding a pillow that can adapt to multiple positions. Our Dual Pillow, with its innovative 2-in-1 design, was created to adapt to movement.


The Best Pillows for Every Sleep Position

best pillow for neck pain stomach sleeper

For Side Sleepers

If your dominant sleeping position is on your side, this generally means more weight will be on your shoulders. For this reason, a firm pillow might be ideal, as it can help offer further support for your neck and spine.

The loft of the pillow will depend on how broad your shoulders are - the more space between your shoulder and neck, the thicker the pillow should be. If you have tried the best down pillows for side sleepers, or memory foam pillows in the past with little luck, it might be the case you need a firmer fill. While memory foam pillows can contour to the natural alignment of your head and neck, you might want to try a heavy-duty down alternative, such as our Dual Pillow, for further support.


For Stomach Sleepers

The best pillow for neck pain, a stomach sleeper might find, is a soft one. That lets your head rest in comfort while creating less strain on your neck, shoulders, and back. A good choice of pillows for stomach sleepers might be goose-down pillows your head can sink right into.

If you are a stomach sleeper, you might want to opt for a low loft pillow, as
sleeping on your stomach with a pillow that is too high can aggravate or cause back or neck issues. 


For Back Sleepers

For back sleepers, a pillow made with a down-alternative fill or stuffing is a great choice. This type of pillow can help with your spinal alignment and prevent you from having your head fall too far back, which could trigger neck problems. Many people do best with a firmer pillow when sleeping on their back. Ideally, you’ll find that Goldilocks zone -- a pillow that won’t elevate your head so much it creates neck pain, but not so flat that you wake up with a stiff neck. 


Other Factors to Consider

Finding the right pillow for your sleep position is a great way to get a good night’s sleep, but supplementing that with these other tips will also help. 

  • Stay cool: No matter what kind of sleep position you like, you should keep in mind that you’ll sleep better if you have bedding that will keep you cool. While memory foam may feel comfortable, it can tend to get super hot, trapping your body heat against your skin as you rest. To combat this, look for cooling bed sheets, such as eucalyptus silk. Trying the Air duvet can help you avoid the dreaded night sweats, too. 

  • The mattress matters too: It’s not all about the pillows. If you are looking at replacing your mattress, it helps to figure out if you prefer soft or firm, traditional or memory foam. Finding the right one can help you avoid unnecessary aches and pains. Before buying a mattress, try to spend a minimum of 15 minutes on one, or better yet, look for one that allows sleep trials.

  • The right elevation for your height: While some people love firm, fluffy pillows, they usually aren’t great for side sleepers. To stay pain-free, it’s best to keep your head in a neutral position in alignment with your spine. Those firm, fluffy pillows can push your head too high.

  • Watch out for sleep apnea: If your partner tells you they often hear you snoring or gasping for breath while sleeping on your back, it’s time to find a new position. Sleep apnea is dangerous, and it’s often aggravated by sleeping on your back. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, try sleeping on your side instead and consider seeking medical help.  

  • The best position for sleeping when you’re sick: If you’re struggling with a cold, sleeping on your back while propped up may help ease the impact of a stuffy nose. 

  • Watch out for allergens: All types of sleepers should work to ease the symptoms of allergies as they rest. Allergies result in a lot of lost sleep for Brits. If you are sensitive to dust mites, add plastic covers over top of your pillow and mattress. Then wash the sheets and pillowcases at least weekly. You should also keep your windows closed during the appropriate months if you have seasonal allergies.

Assume the Position

Knowing what position you prefer, avoiding pain, and learning to change your position as necessary can all help you get better rest every night. Waking up without as many aches and pains is a real possibility, especially when you find pillows that work with your sleep position instead of against it. A little bit of knowledge and planning can result in major benefits for you.