How can I sleep sideways without neck discomfort?

Sleeping on your side is often touted as the healthiest sleep position. However, many committed side sleepers still wake up with neck stiffness, aches, and Discomfort.

The angle of your neck and lack of cushioning support for your head and neck area as you sleep on your side can put a strain on your cervical spine, resulting in discomfort.

Thankfully, by choosing the right ergonomic pillows and learning how to use them properly, you can prevent and reduce neck Discomfort when sleeping on your side.

Why Cervical Pillows Are Essential for Side Sleepers

Proper spinal alignment is crucial for side sleepers. Cervical pillows are vital for side sleepers to maintain proper spinal alignment. They are contoured to cradle the head and neck, filling the space beneath to prevent sharp neck bending.

This supports the natural curvature of the spine, relieving pressure on muscles and vertebrae to prevent Discomfort and discomfort, which standard rectangular pillows fail to provide. Standard rectangular pillows often fail to keep the neck properly propped and support side sleeping positions.

Factors for Choosing the Right Density Cervical Pillow

  1. Cervical pillows come in different densities and materials, usually memory foam or latex foam. The density and firmness level that works best depends on your body type and weight, as well as personal preference for soft or firm feel.

  2. Those with a heavier head or wider frame may prefer a very firm, high-density cervical pillow, as the thicker foam maintains its shape better under more weight and pressure. Lighter people and those who prefer a softer pillow tend to like lower-density cervical pillows.

  3. You also need to consider your sleeping habits. If you change positions often from side to back or stomach sleeping, look for an adjustable cervical pillow. This allows you to remove or add foam inserts to customize the thickness and shape as needed based on your current sleep position.

Tips For Preventing Neck Discomfort on Your Side

It’s not enough to simply buy therapeutic pillows without learning how to adjust and use them properly as you sleep on your side. Follow these top tips:

  1. Ensure your cervical pillow is thick enough to adequately fill the space beneath your head and neck when lying on your side. There shouldn’t be a gap between the mattress and pillow forcing your neck to bend up or down.
  2. Focus on keeping your neck and spine neutrally aligned without overarching or slumping your upper back as you sleep on your side.
  3. Pay attention to shoulder alignment as well. Your shoulders should sit flat on the mattress when you're on your side.
  4. If you experience neck or shoulder discomfort when side sleeping, make small adjustments to your pillow placement or use additional cushioning pads.

By fine-tuning your sleep set-up with pillows tailored to your body type and sleeping habits, you can prevent neck discomfort and wake rested instead of in Discomfort.

These are the different types of cervical pillows for your neck discomfort.

Accommodating Different Pressure Points

While cervical pillows are ideal for keeping your neck in proper alignment on your side, other specialty pillows can also help alleviate discomfort in different areas:

  1. Neck pillows: These thin pillows are more compact to specifically target and support the neck area. Using a dedicated neck pillow along with a cervical pillow can provide complete alignment.

  2. Body pillows: Extra-long full body pillows mimic the stabilizing comfort of sleeping curled around a partner. They support your entire frame and can be hugged to maintain good posture.

  3. Wedge pillows: Gentle incline pillow wedges made of foam can be placed under your midsection, knees or ankles to cradle areas that need propping and cushioning.

Many side sleepers find the best results by combining cervical pillows for the neck and head with other ergonomic pillows to support pressure points in the lower body as needed.


If you frequently deal with neck Discomfort as a side sleeper, investing in quality cervical and body pillows can really improve spinal alignment and comfort during the night by cradling your frame properly. Adjustable pillows that allow you to modify the height and density as needed are ideal for accommodating changing sleep positions. Focus on supporting the natural curves of your neck, shoulders and alignment of your whole body for Discomfort-free rest.


  1. Why do I wake up with neck Discomfort after sleeping on my side?

The unnatural angle of your neck during side sleeping overextends cervical muscles and puts pressure on joints, nerves and tissues. Lack of cushioning support beneath the head and neck on your pillow also strains the area, leading to discomfort.

  1. How thick should a good cervical pillow be for side sleeping?

The exact optimal height is individual depending on your body type and sleeping habits. But generally cervical pillows between 3 to 5 inches thick work best to adequately fill the space beneath your neck without being over-lofted.

  1. Can I use a cervical pillow even if I switch sleeping positions during the night?

Yes, adjustable cervical pillows allow you to easily modify the thickness and support levels using removable inserts. This customizes the loft and shape as needed whether sleeping on your back, side or stomach during the night.

  1. When is it time to replace a cervical pillow?

Replace cervical pillows at least every 2 years when they start to permanently flatten and can no longer provide adequate lift beneath your neck. Increased neck soreness and lack of proper spinal support when lying on your side signals it's time for replacement.

  1. Why choose a contoured cervical pillow over a standard pillow for side sleeping?

Standard rectangular solid pillows lack the precise sculpted contours and densities needed to properly cradle the head and neck when sleeping on your side. The special ergonomic designs in quality cervical pillows reduce pressure and discomfort by supporting the natural spinal curves.