How to Achieve the Best Sleep of Your Life With Pillow Side Sleeping

September 18, 2023

Getting a good night's sleep is essential for our health and well-being. However, many people struggle to get quality sleep regularly. One of the best ways to improve your sleep is to sleep on your side with the right pillow setup. Side sleeping aligns your spine naturally and opens up your airways, allowing you to breathe deeply as you sleep. With the right pillow arrangement, side sleeping can help relieve pressure points, reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and result in a deeper, more restorative night's sleep.

Why Sleeping on Your Side is Beneficial

Sleeping on your side has a number of advantages over back or stomach sleeping. Side sleeping keeps your spine in a neutral position, avoiding the unnatural twisting or arching of your back that can happen in other positions. The neutral alignment creates less stress and strain on your back and minimizes aches and pains.

Side sleeping also opens up your airway and allows you to breathe freely and deeply as you sleep. Back and stomach sleeping can cause your tongue and soft tissues to collapse into your throat, obstructing breathing and leading to snoring and sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side helps keep your airway open.

Additionally, side sleeping improves the circulation of blood and other fluids. In back and stomach positions, the weight of your body can restrict circulation to your heart, lungs, and other areas. Sleeping on your side reduces pressure on your internal organs.

Research shows that side sleeping is the healthiest sleep position for overall rest and recovery. One study found that people who changed from back or stomach sleeping to side sleeping experienced less back pain and woke up feeling more refreshed. Using a pillow made for pillow side sleeping can help maintain proper spine alignment and provide comfort.

How to Set Up Your Pillows for Optimal Side Sleeping

Arranging your pillows properly is key for maximizing the benefits of side sleeping. The right pillow setup will keep your spine, head, and neck comfortably aligned and cushion pressure points. Here are some tips for pillow placement:

Use a Firm Pillow for Your Head

Choose a relatively firm, supportive pillow for your head. The pillow should keep your head level with the mattress. Avoid pillows that are too soft or too tall, as they can let your head droop down or tilt up, misaligning your neck. Memory foam or latex pillows often provide the right balance of softness and support.

Put a Pillow Between Your Legs

Placing a pillow between your legs helps align your hips, alleviate lower back pain, and reduce pressure on your hips and knees. Choose a comfortable pillow that is moderately soft and fits between your legs without forcing your knees apart.

Use a Long Body Pillow for Extra Support

Long body pillows are ideal for supporting your back, shoulders, and hips while side sleeping. They allow you to hug the pillow, keeping your body in the proper side alignment all night long. Look for a body pillow that fills the space between your knees and shoulders.

Consider a Specialty Side Sleeping Pillow

There are pillows designed specifically for side sleepers that provide optimal spine support. Look for cylindrical-shaped pillows made from memory foam or other materials that cushion your head while filling the space between your shoulder and neck.

Adjust Pillow Height to Keep Neck Aligned

Make sure your pillow is the right thickness to keep your head level with your mattress. If your pillow causes your head to tilt down or up, it will put a strain on your neck. You may need to experiment with different pillow heights to find the most comfortable fit.

How to Achieve the Best Sleep of Your Life

Simply sleeping on your side isn't enough for restful sleep. Maintaining proper posture is crucial. Use these tips for good side sleeping posture:

Keep Your Spine Neutrally Aligned

No matter what position you sleep in, it's vital to keep your spine aligned as close as possible to its natural shape. Avoid arching your back or bending your neck forward or backward. Your pillows should help you maintain neutral spine alignment.

Draw Your Knees Up Slightly

Pull your knees up a little toward your chest as you sleep on your side. Bending your knees relieves pressure on your lower back. Just don't pull your knees up so tightly that you curl into a fetal position, over-rounding your spine.

Keep Your Arms Relaxed

Let your arms relax in front of your body, avoiding reaching them overhead or pulling them tight against your chest. This reduces tension in your shoulders and arms. You can place a pillow under your top arm for extra support.

Avoid Twisting Your Neck

Turn your head only as far as is comfortable to keep your neck aligned with your spine. Rotating your head to face down into the mattress or up toward the ceiling can put damaging stress on your neck.

Sleep on Your Less-Dominant Side

It's best to sleep on the side that is opposite your dominant hand. If you're right-handed, sleep on your left side, and vice versa. This helps avoid compressing your internal organs on your dominant side as you sleep.

Choose the Right Mattress Firmness for Side Sleeping

Your mattress also plays a crucial role in side sleeping comfort. Look for a mattress that:

Cushions Comfortable for Your Shoulders and Hips

As a side sleeper, your shoulders and hips bear more of your body weight. Choose a mattress that contours gently to relieve pressure on these areas while supporting the curve of your waist.

Provides Support for Back and Neck

Your mattress should hold your body in proper alignment, without sagging too much. Soft mattresses allow sinking that can misalign your spine and strain your back.

Has Good Edge Support

A mattress with solid edge support keeps you from feeling like you'll roll off if you get close to the edge. Strong edges allow you to utilize the full surface of the bed.

Accommodates Joint Pain or Injuries

If you have injuries or arthritis, pick a mattress that cushions painful joints in the shoulders, hips, and knees. Many sleepers with joint issues find memory foam mattresses most comfortable.

Matches Your Preferred Mattress Firmness

The ideal mattress firmness is largely based on personal preference. Side sleepers often prefer medium soft to medium mattresses. But you may want a firmer or plusher mattress based on the feel you find most comfortable.

Adopt Positions to Alleviate Specific Issues

Tweaking your side sleeping posture can provide targeted relief for certain conditions. Try these positions:

Place a Pillow Under Your Top Knee for Back Pain

Drawing your top knee forward and placing a pillow beneath it minimizes the lumbar curve to ease pressure on your lower back.

Use a Body Pillow for Pregnancy Support

Sleeping with a body pillow between your legs can take the strain off your hips and lower back when sleeping on your side during pregnancy.

Cradle Your Arm on a Pillow for Shoulder Pain

Allow your sore shoulder to hang freely down the side of the mattress, and rest your arm on a pillow to avoid shoulder rotation or elevation.

Bend Both Knees to Open the Airway for Sleep Apnea

Pulling both knees up while using a body pillow to support your back keeps your airway open if you have sleep apnea.

Place Pillows to Cradle Injured Hip or Knee

Use pillows to support and cushion a hurt hip or knee while keeping it aligned with the rest of your side sleeping body position.

Give Yourself Time to Adjust to Side Sleeping

It takes time to form a new sleep habit, so be patient with yourself. If you're accustomed to back or stomach sleeping, your body will resist the change at first. Stick with side sleeping, and you'll adjust.

Here are some tips for making the transition easier:

Slowly Increase the Time Spent Sleeping on Your Side

Don't expect to automatically spend your whole night in a different position. Start by aiming to sleep on your side for a portion of the night and gradually increase this.

Do Side Stretches and Strengthening Exercises During the Day

Gently stretching and building strength in your shoulders, hips, knees, and back helps your body get used to the side sleeping posture.

Make Sure Your Pillow Arrangement is Optimized

Having pillows positioned correctly ensures your new sleeping position will be as comfortable as possible while your body adjusts.


Specialty pillows, wedges, body straps, and other items restrict movement and reinforce side sleeping until it becomes a habit.

With a little time and consistency, side sleeping with proper pillow placement will start to feel natural. You'll begin sleeping more soundly through the night and waking up refreshed and free of pain. By taking steps to sleep on your side with the right pillow setup, you're sure to find the best sleep of your life.


Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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