Before we dive into the details of each pillow, let’s discuss the methodology behind my picks. Of course, a lot comes down to personal preference, but there are some key factors to consider when hunting for the perfect side-sleeper pillow:
When I’m shopping for a side-sleeper pillow, the very first thing I pay attention to is the loft, or height, of its profile. And the general rule of thumb is that side sleepers need a pillow with a higher loft (of at least 4-inches) in order to maintain neutral spine alignment and relieve pressure at the shoulders.
If you’re shopping online, scroll through the brand’s website to find the “dimensions” info in order to determine the exact loft of a pillow. Again, the loft should be at least 4-inches high. But if you’ve taken advantage of a brand’s trial period and are testing the pillow at home, ask yourself these questions:
Is this pillow lofty enough to keep my spine in neutral alignment?
Is this pillow so lofty that it cranes my neck upwards, out of alignment with my spine?
Is this pillow’s loft providing enough pressure relief for my shoulder?
Side sleeping is the most common sleep position, and is also generally considered the healthiest. Those who sleep in this position enjoy good spinal alignment, which can help alleviate aches and pains throughout the body. Additionally, side sleeping opens up airways and improves circulation in the sleeper’s breathing passages; as a result, it can be beneficial for sleepers with certain medical conditions triggered by back sleeping, such as acid reflux and sleep apnea.
However, comfortable side sleeping depends on a mattress and bedding system that provides adequate support to the sleeper’s body. In terms of pillow selection, many side sleepers prefer pillows that have a fuller shape and keep the neck and spine aligned. Soft, conforming materials like memory foam and buckwheat are also popular with side sleepers because they alleviate pressure points that develop in the neck and shoulders.