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What’s the Best Pillow for Side Sleepers?

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Did you know that almost three-quarters of people are side sleepers? That means that three out of every four people adopt this sleeping position at night. Using the wrong type of pillow can make it hard to fall asleep, cause regular waking and lead to all-over aches and pains. 

Before you buy your next pillow, take a moment to ask yourself ‘what is my normal sleeping position?‘ It’s something that many people forget to do, but is extremely important. You should also think about whether you’re a hot or cold sleeper, prefer something firm or soft, and whether you have allergies.

Today, we’ll run through everything you need to know about choosing the best pillow for side sleepers. Once you know how to choose the best pillow for you, you will not only sleep better but will also benefit you in the long run. So, if you’re ready, let’s begin with what this position is.

How to tell if you’re a side sleeper?

Side sleepers do exactly as the name suggests – sleep on their side. When you think about it, we spend roughly a third of our lives asleep! Which means that having a poor quality pillow that lacks proper support can impact your quality of life. It sounds slightly dramatic, but it’s true.

While sleeping on your side can help alleviate snoring and be more comfortable during pregnancy, it can cause neck and shoulder pain, headaches and constant waking through the night. If you wake up every morning feeling sleepy and in pain, chances are that your pillow is not providing sufficient support to your upper body.

One of the most common positions people use is the fetal position. This is when you lie on your side with your knees brought up toward your stomach. This is super comfortable and great for the spine. Other side positions include the log – when the legs rest straight, and the pillow hugger with one arm under the pillow and one arm over. 

Here are 3 common sleeping positions:

  • Side sleepers – lie on one side, often switching throughout the night.
  • Back sleepers – lie on their back and tend to spread the arms and legs like a starfish.
  • Front sleepers – lie on their stomach, usually with arms above head.

Why side sleepers need additional support

Without a doubt, sleeping on your side is much better for the body, than say, sleeping on your stomach. However, before you celebrate your winning position, you should know that it comes with its own set of potential issues. 

When sleeping on one side, the portion of your body touching the mattress is compressed by the rest of your body weight. This can lead to joint stiffness, pain, and tension headaches. Gravity is not your friend. For this reason, choosing a pillow with medium firmness that keeps your neck level is a good idea.

Do you often wake with aches and pains at the base of your spine, around your hips and down your legs? If you do, try placing a pillow between your knees at night to see if this helps, or, invest in a body pillow. Quality of sleep relies on the whole body being supported.

The side you sleep on is also important. To give you an idea of what we mean, sleeping on your left can help to alleviate acid reflux and heartburn, improve circulation and aid with digestion. It’s all to do with anatomy and where your organs are all located. Suffering with acid reflux? Maybe you need to swap sides! 

What makes a good side sleeper pillow?

The answer to this question is the same across the board. Just like with back sleepers and front sleepers, it all boils down to finding that perfect balance between comfort and support. So, you need to choose the best pillow for your needs.

The difference here is that each sleeping position comes with its own support requirements. If you’re a back sleeper, then a soft, low loft pillow will be just fine. Front sleepers don’t actually need a pillow as this would force the neck up at a strange angle. (Front sleepers are also extremely rare!)

For those positions where you grab some z’s on your side, you’ll want something that keeps the balance nice and even between your shoulders and head. Naturally, one of your shoulders will be touching the bed, meaning there will be a gap of roughly 4 to 6 inches between the bed and your neck. This is usually the cause of pain, so finding something that keeps you aligned is your best bet.

Aim to elevate your head about an inch or two above this to allow for sinking. For many people, this will mean using two pillows. (Don’t forget a pillow for your legs too.)

Best materials to look for in a pillow

With so many different types of materials and fillings out there, it can be confusing to find just the right level of support. At the end of the day, it all boils down to your personal preference of softness, support and needs. 

Here are some of the best materials to look for:

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam is the perfect choice for those who suffer with latex allergies. It offers excellent support while being extremely comfortable. Much like latex, memory foam is able to repel heat for a cooler night’s sleep. if you’re a side sleeper, then memory foam should definitely be toward the top of your list.

Pros

  • Moulds to the shape of your head and neck
  • Doesn’t lose its shape easily, even after extended use
  • Provides the best support for side sleepers
  • Helps keep your head and neck cool

Cons

  • Not always easy to find 
  • Tends to cost more than other materials

Feather Pillows

When it comes to side sleepers, feather pillows are not the best choice. These are all about comfort and indulgence and lack support for the head neck. If you’ve ever used a down pillow before, you’ll know that the filling moves around alot. While good for back sleepers, these can actually make aches and pains worse. You can still enjoy the softness of down by adding a Quilted Duck Down Pillow Cover or opting for an Adjustable Feather Pillow.

Pros

  • Keeps the head nice and cool
  • Good for back sleepers
  • Reasonably affordable

Cons

  • Lacks any real support
  • Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans
  • Can cause allergies

Cotton Pillows

Cotton pillows are the most commonly purchased type on the market. Highly affordable, they can help add additional support beneath another pillow. Depending on the pillow loft, cotton may lack the required support for the neck and shoulders. Ultimately, it all depends on the manufacturer and quality. However, for a pillow to use between your legs, cotton is one of the best.

Pros

  • Perfect as an under pillow for higher loft
  • Very affordable and easy to find
  • Good quality pillow can provide great support 

Cons

  • Highly absorbent material that lacks airflow
  • Can get hot and damp through the night
  • Lower lofts lack any real support

Latex Pillows

Unlike memory foam, latex pillows have less of a contouring effect when being used. This means that the neck receives fantastic support throughout the night. If heat is something that bothers you, you’ll appreciate the cooling effect of latex. It offers soft yet firm support, perfect for keeping your face cool and your neck free from pain.

Pros

  • Slight cushioning to head and neck contours
  • Retains its shape easily
  • An easy to find option

Cons

  • Not suitable for latex allergy sufferers
  • May be too firm for comfort lovers

Our top side sleeper pillows

When it comes to your bed, we know you’re looking for the best pillows in Australia. Here are some of our most popular options for side sleepers, fetal position followers and log lovers. All of our pillows provide an eco-friendly alternative to standard manufacturers. 

 

Superior Memory Fibre Pillow

Made from memory microfibre, these pillows adapt to your head and neck to provide comfortable support. The perfect alternative to down pillows, they’re soft and supportive.

  • Asthma & Allergy Friendly
  • Medium to High Profile Pillow
  • Shape recovery filling
  • 5-year warranty

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Sensitiva Full Length Body Pillow


Made from high-performance polyester, encased in a 100% pure cotton cover, the Sensitiva Full Body Pillow provides support to the entire body for the most comfortable night’s sleep possible.

  • Asthma & Allergy Friendly
  • Medium Profile Pillow
  • Double pillow pack
  • 2-year warranty

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Encore Memory Foam Pillow

Enjoy superior support and maximum comfort with the Bambi Encore Memory Foam Pillow. As all year round winner. One side keeps you warm in the cooler months and the other cool in the warmer ones. 

    • Soft and supportive
    • Low and high profiles
  • Contact cooling
  • 5-year guarantee

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Belize Latex Pillow

The Bambi Belize Latex Pillow is made using natural latex for soft yet supportive sleep. Helps alleviate pain and is resistant to dust mites. A great option for those looking for something a little firmer.

  • Asthma & Allergy Friendly
  • Natural latex
  • Tencel cover fabric
  • 5-year guarantee

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Ecorenew Tencel Pillow

Made in Australia from eco-friendly eucalyptus fibres, the Ecorenew Tencel Pillow is able to absorb up to 50% more moisture than cotton, is antibacterial and provides amazing comfort and support.

  • Sustainable botanic fibre
  • Comes in two profiles
  • Eco-friendly & biodegradable
  • 2-year warranty

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Ovation Memory Foam 3-in-1 Adjustable Pillow

Discover maximum flexibility for all sleeping positions with a unique and foldable memory foam inner core. Easily switch between low, medium and contoured profiles to find your perfect match. Also includes a Tencel/CoolTouch flip cover that’s silky soft on one side and cooling on the other.

  • Memory foam inner core
  • Three adjustable profiles in one
  • Tencel & CoolTouch Flip cover
  • 2-year warranty

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Using renewable materials that are as good for the planet as they are for you and your family, Bambi supports Australian farmers and businesses by using Australian materials. At Bambi, our motto is ‘ Sleep better, Naturally.’ With our pillows, that’s exactly what you’ll do.

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