Did you know that only 8% of adults sleep on their backs? While it is the most healthy sleep position, it doesn’t work for most of us. Despite this, most mass market pillows seem to be designed for a minority of use cases. Along with side and stomach sleepers, the typical pillow is especially uncomfortable for those of us relying on earplugs or headphones to get to sleep. The good news is alternative options abound. We’ve researched scores of pillows for every type of side and tummy sleeper to help you find the best option.
For stomach sleepers
The stomach sleeping position is especially susceptible to neck pain. Unlike side sleeping, the head is not elevated off the surface of the bed by the shoulder. As a result, most pillows will uncomfortably bend the spinal cord up resulting in stiffness in the morning — and potential long term effects on the posture. For the typical stomach sleeper, comfort can be achieved with a super thin memory foam pillow. We recommend this model from Bluewave which is just over 2.5 inches thick and includes a cooling gel.
For side sleepers
The challenge for side sleepers is maintaining a proper posture as shifting occurs during the night, sometimes putting extra strain on the neck and spine as the pillow position moves. To help keep your body in the right position, we suggest a L-shaped side sleeper pillow. It will position your spine in the right place all night long. We recommend the “Z” model for its cooling GEL DOUGH memory foam. Users praise its “perfect” height and size.
For side sleepers with acid reflux
For people with acid reflux, side sleeping can be especially frustrating. To keep the body at an incline, many simply prop up the bed or spend a lot of money on a special mattress. Thankfully there is a pillow designed specifically for side sleepers with acid reflux. While it is on the expensive, side it gets high praise from users. The key is a ergonomically designed hole your arm fits though, making side sleeping at an incline much more comfortable and natural feeling.
For side sleepers’ knees
If you’re a side sleeper who finds his or her knees uncomfortably knocking/rubbing together during the night, consider a pillow specifically designed for this problem: a knee pillow. Especially helpful for folks with sciatic nerve pain resulting from undue pressure, it offers comfort and relief for all side sleepers with leg and knee discomfort.
For fetal position sleepers
The fetal position is the most popular sleeping position. These curled up sleepers would do well with a side sleeping pillow recommended above. But to get the total fetal experience, as if you’re being cradled in the mother’s womb, we would be remiss not to recommend a fantastic full body pillow by Leachco called “Snoogle.” Winning rave reviews from sleepers, this pillow is curved to offer maximum comfort to fetal position sleepers across key pressure point areas. This pillow gets especially high praise from pregnant women, for whom proper support is absolutely critical.
For sleep position switchers
If, like many people, you shift around at night between sleeping positions, you’ll need a more versatile option. For these folks, we recommend checking out the Cervical Contour pillow. This “butteryfly” shaped pillow contains a dip in the middle, allowing you to take advantage of two different elevations should you choose. It has a slight incline to help the neck stay comfortable. Unlike the memory foam products recommended above, this pillow is a bit firmer offering greater support.
For sleepers with earplugs or earbuds
For side or tummy sleepers who rely on ear plugs, earbuds or who simply have sensitive ears, most pillows are extremely uncomfortable. The good news is there are pillows with indentation in the middle that free up your ears. For fun, we suggest testing out doughnut-designed pillow – guaranteed to give your ears the freedom they deserve.