Starting your day with a spring in your step begins with a restful sleep. If you find yourself restless, unable to get comfortable or waking up periodically throughout the night, maybe it’s time to take a look at your pillow.
When sleeping on a pillow that isn’t suitable for you, your body will send subtle hints to tell you that something isn’t right. This could be the dreaded neck pain in the morning or waking up throughout the night for no apparent reason. Most times we ignore these little hints and chalk it up to sleeping in an odd position, when in fact it’s likely your pillow, mattress or bedding.
Finding the perfect pillow can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. With so many options available, how do you know what is right for you? Below is a little guide on what to look for based on your preferred sleeping position. In this article we outline the best pillows for side sleepers, back sleepers, stomach sleepers and combination position sleepers.
Pillows for Back Sleepers
Sleeping on your back is a great sleep position… Good for you! By sleeping on your back you’re allowing your body rest in its proper alignment; given you are using the right pillow and a good mattress. The position also allows your weight to be evenly distributed with no added pressure on the spine. However, this position is also notorious for causing snoring.
When choosing a pillow, you have a lot of options; making this one a little trickier to figure out. The loft and profile you need will depend on characteristics of your shoulders and neck. If you have a smaller frame, a medium profile and medium loft will be perfect. If your frame requires more support, try a medium profile with firm loft. When considering what pillow to choose, look at the benefits that relate to you. If you’re a hot sleeper, opt for bamboo or wool fillings. If you have existing neck and back pain, try a latex or memory foam pillow for extra support.
Pillows for Side Sleepers
Side sleepers are usually those who experience less pain through the back or neck, depending on leg position and body angle. Those who sleep with legs straight or one leg up keep the back in a natural curve that supports alignment. However, this position can cause tension in the shoulders and numbness in the arms.
To remedy this, opt for a pillow that has a medium or higher profile and medium to firm loft. By finding a side sleeper pillow with a profile that is alike the length of your shoulder, you can stop the shoulders from folding in on themselves; which will ease the strain while sleeping. If you experience arm numbness, the best thing is to use another pillow to cuddle or place your arms on top of a pillow.
Pillows for Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleepers… I have bad news for you. This position is the least ideal in terms of body alignment. By sleeping on your stomach, you risk increasing the chances of neck and back pain by stretching muscles around the neck and crunching muscles in the back throughout the night. This position can also cause airway blockage that will make it harder to breathe as you sleep. Limited oxygen while sleeping disrupts deep sleep and can cause dizziness, chest pain and lack of coordination during the day.
If this is the position that works for you (and changing to a better one isn’t going to happen), opt for lower profile pillows with a soft to medium loft. A lower profile pillow will help ease the strain on your neck and back and help with proper alignment of the spine. Try a feather/down pillow where the filling can be manipulated to increase or decrease the loft. If you experience allergy issues, try a down alternative filling. The synthetic fibres are great for allergies and are machine washable!
Pillows for Combination Sleepers
If you toss and turn throughout the night, you need a pillow that moves with you. Considering the above-mentioned positions and their perfect pillow companions, you may require a supportive pillow that has the ability to mould around your head, neck and shoulders. Memory foam and latex are a pressure relieving material that helps your spine align to your body’s natural curves. Making them an ideal pillow for those who like to change up their sleeping position.
Pillow tips and tricks
- Pregnant women should sleep with the aid of extra pillows or specialty pillows around the stomach for better support and less straining. A ‘V’ or ‘U’ shaped pillow is great for this.
- For side sleepers, place a pillow between or under the knee of a raised leg for better support and alignment.
- If you tend to snore while sleeping on your back, try to turn your head to the side rather than sleeping with it straight up.
- Cuddling a body pillow can be ideal for stomach sleepers. It will adjust the angle your body is laying on and help straighten out the alignment.
- Cuddling couple? Make sure each person is comfortable and sleeping well. If not, try placing a pillow between you or each using a pillow to cuddle.
- Confused about pillow materials? Check out our guide to pillow types, which includes a checklist of things to consider when buying a new pillow.
It’s a great idea to try before you buy. Go to a store that allows customers to test out pillows on their tester beds before committing to their purchase. If purchasing online, make sure you read the description; it should have all the features and benefits written out clearly to help you choose the perfect pillow.
Please note: This article is not to be used as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional before using any sleep treatments. This post may contain affiliate links.