Among the billions of people on earth, an estimated seven out of ten are comfortable sleeping on their sides. Who can blame them? It is generally comfortable, easier to keep yourself warm, and may even save space if you sleep with multiple members on a family bed.
However, there are a few drawbacks of sleeping on your side and one of them is a somewhat poor quality of sleep. This below-par quality can mostly be attributed to the pillows that our dear side sleepers are commonly using.
When sleeping on your side, there is usually a greater distance between the neck and the bed. Therefore, you may need a thicker pillow in order to support the head in a way that allows the neck to stay aligned with the rest of the spine.
The ideal position and relation between your spine, bed and your neck would be when the head is directly perpendicular to the shoulders so your neck does not stray too far away. The pillow is responsible for filling the gap between the side of your head and the mattress in order to keep the neck aligned and supported.
A pillow that is too soft will not be supportive enough and will only cause your head to sink into a lowered tilt, while a pillow that is too thick will also crane your head upwards. This is commonly the cause of discomfort while sleeping and also upon awakening for many side sleepers. That is why products such as contoured side sleeper pillow were created to help this situation.
But what is a side sleeper pillow anyway?
There are many actual tangible definitions of a side sleepers pillow. They can range anywhere from memory foam squares to contoured dense foams that are made to fit your neck and cradle your head while you sleep.
The best answer to what is a side sleeper pillow is a pillow that is generally firmer than your usual cotton or down filled pillow. These pillows are typically made to improve the quality of sleep by maintaining correct spinal and cervical alignment throughout the night.
Pillows that are too soft or too thin may give you neck pain because your head would be positioned too low and your neck may be craned downwards towards the mattress so you may wake up with a stiff neck. Also, if you try to use multiple pillows and end up stacking them too high, your neck may crane upwards causing the same effect of stiffness, soreness, and a poor quality of sleep.
So, what is a side sleeper pillow that will give you the optimum results when it comes to sleep quality and comfort? Below are a few characteristics that you have to specifically look for in these pillows:
- The right height – Too high or too low and you are risking neck strain and a poor night’s sleep. Remember the perpendicular angle that your head should ideally be in when you are lying down.
- Firm – While the idea of a soft or cushy pillow may be romantic to you, it certainly won’t be good for your neck. Find a pillow with the right density so that it does not collapse on itself as the night progresses. You want to maintain your good posture throughout the night.
- Comfort – Some pillows might fit the description perfectly, but it is solely up to you whether you are completely comfortable with them. It is important to also follow your gut when buying a pillow to use night after night. Therefore, find the one that works best for you.
- Variety – The reason for the tip above is that there are a number of variations depending on manufacturers and who they are specifically catering. Many of these pillows are pre-contoured to fit the shape of the head and neck. However, these pillows work best for people who tend to maintain the same sleeping position throughout the night, only switching sides occasionally. Many people may have the tendency to move around in many positions such as lying on their backs or rolling over to their bellies in the middle of the night and these pillows may not help at all in such cases. Find the right variety that will not only fit your initial sleeping position, but also your overall sleeping style.
To let you determine the best pillow for yourself, some home stores actually allow you to test it out before buying it so that you can see exactly how comfortable it is for you. Some pillows can actually be adjusted by adding more foam fill into the pillow cover. Therefore, you can adjust the firmness as well as the height according to what you find most comfortable.