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Why Your Sleep Position Matters to Your Pillow

by Reyna Thomas

Your sleeping position directly impacts your health; it can affect your breathing, spinal alignment, and even skin wrinkles. Your sleep position can even affect your pillow choice too! No more waking up with back or neck pain, when you use the right pillow and sleep in the right position you'll achieve a better night’s sleep.

The most important thing to remember about your sleeping position and pillow is that your neck and spine must be properly supported. A pillow that adapts to and supports the curve of your neck while also providing enough firmness to keep your head from collapsing is ideal. Whatever sleeping position you choose is fine as long as your spine remains neutral and is not bent out of alignment. If you want more details on your specific sleep style, read on!

Back Sleepers

Gravity will drag your head to your left or right shoulder when you sleep on your back. The ideal back sleeper pillow sufficiently fills the space between you and the mattress. It will also keep your head straight or upright, facing the ceiling, and only elevates your head as high as necessary to establish a neutral position.

A pillow too thick will raise your head too high. As a result, your neck is bent upwards, putting stress on your muscles, nerves, and discs. A pillow that is too thin, on the other hand, will cause a painful downward bend in your neck.

woman sleep on her back

While sleeping with the correct pillow is ideal, you can try adding another pillow or two under the knees for more relief on your back if you still suffer some pain. When shopping, just remember to avoid lateral neck twists and stresses; you need a supportive, pliable pillow that supports the natural curvature of the cervical spine. And one that also provides adequate support under the head, neck, and shoulders.

Side Sleepers

The most popular sleeping position is on one’s side, and it’s also one of the greatest for your back. Your pillow should be thick enough to maintain your spine straight while lying on your side, but not so thick that it bends your neck out of position.

For side sleepers, a common problem is that their pillow gradually collapses beneath the weight of their head during the night, causing it to become overly thin. Your head and neck will tilt downward as a result of the absence of support, causing unnecessary strains that can lead to neck or back pain. And no, folding a pillow in half will not compensate for lack of support; it can still lead to muscle soreness.

woman sleeping on her side

In this position, the spine is kept neutral by bending the knees and placing another pillow between the knees. Back pain can be further avoided by adding support between the knees, which allows the back to mend and relax better when sleeping. If you’re searching for a new pillow, keep in mind that the pillow should support the head and neck so that the spine maintains a straight and natural horizontal line when sleeping on your side. You’ll also find the best options are firm or extra-firm pillows.

Stomach Sleepers

The most strenuous posture for the back and neck is sleeping on the stomach. When you sleep on your stomach, your head and spine are forced into an unnatural upward angle. Staying in this position for long periods of time is bad for your back and neck, as it can cause considerable discomfort and disrupt your sleep.

If you like to sleep or rest on your stomach, the pillow should be somewhat flat, or your head should rest directly on the mattress to avoid straining your head and neck. Another somewhat flat pillow should be placed beneath the abdomen or pelvis in this position to help the lower back maintain its natural alignment.

While browsing for a new one, keep in mind that if you sleep on your stomach, you’ll need a pillow with less fill than someone who sleeps on their side or back. Stomach sleepers will benefit from a ventilated pillow that does not absorb heat.


woman sleep on her stomach

Combo sleepers

Because you aren’t entirely aware of your position while sleeping, controlling your sleeping position may seem impossible. So, if you know you like to switch up positions or don’t yet know all your sleep habits, it may be a better idea to tailor your pillow choice further.

A pillow with various fillings or a buckwheat hull pillow is more beneficial than using a single all-purpose pillow. As you’re likely to end up with a cushion that’s too high for back sleepers and too low for side sleepers.

Sleep Better

woman waking up happy with dog

If you’re new to the idea of getting a pillow for your sleep habits, that’s okay! It can take time to get used to a new pillow and new habits, but once you do, you won’t ever want to switch back. Regardless of the position, you sleep in, Sierra Mattress Company has the pillow you need for better sleep. We even come in handy when you want other sleep solutions like mattresses and foundations. So, if you’re ready to find your solution to better sleep, or you need more help, give us a call or stop by today!

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