Although sleeping is something we all do, we all do it slightly differently. What we sleep on, the pillows we use, and the positions we sleep in vary from person to person. Yet these things not only contribute to the quality of our sleep but also affect us physically and mentally. Something as simple as not having the right neck pillows for sleeping on your side can vastly affect your sleep and over time, your mental and physical health.
According to the Sleep Foundation, over half of all Americans prefer sleeping on their side. ¹ With so many of us doing it, the market is awash with products aimed at helping us drift off on our sides in comfort. But do any of them actually work? Before we tackle that, let’s look at why sleep is vital to our overall sense of health and wellbeing.
Why Sleep Quality Is So Important?
A good night’s sleep is something we all need, but many take it for granted. For most adults, getting anywhere between seven and nine hours is recommended. ² But it’s not just about how long you spend in bed – the quality of that sleep is what makes all the difference. And with nearly half of all Americans saying they feel sleepy during the day several days a week, sleep quality evades many of us. ³
Getting enough good quality sleep has many well-known health benefits, like improving our concentration and productivity levels, increasing our performance physically and mentally, and improving heart health. There are also other benefits that are less well known and have only recently come to light. For example, getting enough sleep has been shown to decrease the risk of people developing obesity and weight gain.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase your appetite, which can lead to overeating, often craving foods that are high in fat and sugar, which could lead to weight gain and increase our risk of developing things like diabetes. Lack of sleep can also open the door to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. ⁴
Whose Side Are You On?
Good quality sleep is important, but what about the position? Sleeping on your side is considered one of the healthiest sleeping positions. Side sleeping takes the pressure off your spine and can relieve back pain. Sleeping on your side also helps keep your airway open while you sleep, keeping dreaded snoring and sleep apnea at bay. The best side to sleep on if you have issues like heartburn, constipation, bloating or other gastrointestinal issues is your left-hand side.
Sleeping on your side is also recommended for pregnant people because it makes it easier for the heart to pump blood around the body. This position also stops the baby from putting too much pressure on the vein that carries blood back from the mother’s legs to the heart. In short, it can lead to a healthy pregnancy for mother and baby. ⁵
And if you’re able to achieve this prime position at night, a wrap-around cooling body pillow can help you drift off to sleep in cool comfort! By almost cuddling the body, it adjusts to your natural contours to provide support and, most importantly, relieves neck and back strain throughout the night. By using this type of neck pillow, you’re far more likely to wake up refreshed and energized the next day!
Creating The Ideal Sleeping Environment
Whatever position you prefer, it’s important that your sleeping environment promotes good sleep. One of the major factors that impacts sleep is the amount of light in a room. Darkness triggers your brain to produce melatonin, otherwise known as a ‘sleep hormone’, that makes you feel sleepy. Consider installing blackout curtains in the bedroom and limit the amount of light you expose yourself to in the run-up to going to bed and as you sleep.
Try and avoid using smartphones or other digital devices before bed, as these produce lots of blue-wavelength light. This has been proven to interfere negatively with the production of melatonin which will stop you from feeling sleepy. There are apps out there that can lessen the amount of blue light your device produces, but if you’re serious about getting better sleep, it might be worth making a conscious effort to avoid smart devices to help your body and brain prepare for bed. ⁶
The next step to achieving a higher quality of sleep is to invest in high-quality bedding and pillows. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, consider investing in our Shoulder Zoned Dough pillow with activated charcoal. This design helps to regulate moisture, odor, and body temperature and can help minimize tension around the shoulders, neck, and back to improve sleep quality.
Choosing The Right Pillow For Side Sleepers
When deciding what pillows to purchase, it’s crucial to consider your own personal sleeping position. If you sleep on your side, you should aim to use a pillow that ensures good spinal alignment. If it’s too soft, you’ll likely sink into it, causing the pillow to cover your face and mouth, which will make it difficult to get comfortable. On the other hand, pillows that are too firm can cause tension and pain through the neck and shoulders. Therefore, a medium to medium-firm neck pillow is ideal for sleeping on your side.
When it comes down to the material that your pillow is made from, it really depends on what works best for you. Some people find that down and down alternative pillows are not firm enough to provide the neck support needed to maintain good spinal alignment. Foam pillows can be a good alternative as they are usually firmer. Foam pillows can either be cut from one piece of form or filled with shredded foam. It’s also possible to purchase foam pillows with cut-outs to support the shoulders when sleeping on your side. Some pillows have the added benefit of cooling technology, which actively pulls heat away from the body, ensuring the optimum temperature for restful sleep. ⁷
However, to really step up your slumber, we recommend an ergonomic design that cradles the head whilst simultaneously supporting the neck and back. Ideal for both side sleeping and as a nursing pillow, check out our Shoulder Cut Pillows for the best side sleeping pillow options.
Whatever you choose, your neck pillow should effectively lift your head enough to keep both your head and neck aligned with your spine, which relieves pressure on the neck and shoulders. You can further ease aches and pains by placing a pillow between your knees as you sleep - Check out our Cuddle Pillows this helps keep your hips square and spine aligned. A regular pillow will do, or you can find specific knee pillows created for the purpose. ⁸
At Linen Mart, we offer a range of high-quality neck pillows specially designed for side sleepers. So, if you’re looking for the best neck pillows for those who sleep on their side, visit our website now.