Discover the best pillow for side sleepers with shoulder pain and improve your sleep quality. Get expert insights, FAQs, and more in this informative article.

Are you tired of waking up with a sore shoulder every morning? If you’re a side sleeper dealing with shoulder pain, you’re not alone. Choosing the right pillow can make a world of difference in alleviating discomfort and improving your sleep quality. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best pillows for side sleepers with shoulder pain. From memory foam to adjustable options, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in and find the perfect pillow for a peaceful night’s rest.

Side Sleeping: Benefits and Advantages

Side sleeping is the preferred sleeping position for a significant number of adults in the United States. This position offers several benefits compared to sleeping on your back or stomach. Let’s explore why side sleeping is favored and how it can positively impact your sleep quality and overall well-being.

  1. Reduced Snoring: Side sleeping can help minimize snoring. When you sleep on your side, it helps keep your airway open, reducing the likelihood of snoring. This is because back sleepers are more prone to snoring as their tongue tends to fall backward into the throat, creating an obstruction in the airway.
  2. Relief for Sleep Apnea: Side sleeping can be particularly beneficial for individuals with sleep apnea. By maintaining an open airway, it can reduce the severity of apnea episodes, improving breathing during sleep.
  3. Alleviation of Acid Reflux: People who suffer from acid reflux often find relief in side sleeping. This position helps prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus, reducing discomfort and potential reflux symptoms.
  4. Comfort for Pregnant Women: Pregnant women often experience discomfort when sleeping on their backs or stomachs. Side sleeping is a comfortable alternative during pregnancy. Using a bolster pillow to support the legs or knees can provide additional comfort for pregnant individuals.
  5. Spinal Alignment: Side sleeping can promote proper spinal alignment. It helps reduce discomfort in areas prone to pressure points, such as the shoulders and hips. However, achieving optimal alignment depends on the quality of your mattress and pillow.

To maximize the benefits of side sleeping, it’s essential to choose a suitable mattress and pillow:

  • Pillow Selection: Side sleepers often require a high-loft pillow to provide adequate support. The pillow should fill the space beneath the head and neck, ensuring proper spinal alignment. Maintaining the head and neck at approximately a 30-degree angle with the help of a quality pillow ensures that the airway remains open throughout the night, allowing unobstructed airflow from the nose to the lungs.

In summary, side sleeping offers several advantages, including reduced snoring, relief for sleep apnea and acid reflux, comfort during pregnancy, and improved spinal alignment. To fully enjoy these benefits, it’s crucial to invest in a supportive mattress and a suitable pillow that caters to the needs of side sleepers. By doing so, you can enhance your sleep quality and overall sleep experience.

What Pillow Materials Are Best for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain?

When it comes to selecting the best pillow for side sleepers with shoulder pain, it’s essential to consider your unique needs and preferences. Here, we’ve compiled a list of top-rated options that cater to different sleepers:

1. Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows are renowned for their ability to contour to your body’s shape, providing excellent support for side sleepers. They conform to the curves of your neck and shoulders, alleviating pressure points and reducing pain.

2. Adjustable Loft Pillows

Adjustable loft pillows allow you to customize the pillow’s height according to your comfort level. This adaptability ensures that your head and neck are properly aligned, reducing strain on your shoulder.

3. Cervical Pillows

Cervical pillows are designed to support the natural curve of your neck. By maintaining proper spinal alignment, they can help alleviate shoulder pain and ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.

4. Cooling Gel Pillows

If you tend to sleep hot, consider a cooling gel pillow. These pillows regulate your body temperature, preventing discomfort caused by overheating.

5. Body Pillows

Body pillows provide comprehensive support, allowing you to hug the pillow while you sleep. This can help prevent your shoulder from bearing the weight of your upper body.

6. Latex Pillows

Latex pillows are known for their durability and hypoallergenic properties. They offer consistent support and can be an excellent choice for side sleepers with shoulder pain.

7. Feather Pillows

Feather pillows are soft and comfortable, making them a suitable option for those who prefer a plush pillow. However, they may require frequent fluffing to maintain their shape.

8. Buckwheat Pillows

Buckwheat pillows are filled with natural buckwheat hulls, offering excellent support and breathability. They conform to your body, providing relief for shoulder pain.

How to Choose the Perfect Pillow for Side Sleepers

Choosing the right pillow for side sleepers is crucial to ensure a comfortable and pain-free night’s sleep. The ideal pillow should provide adequate cushioning for the head and neck while maintaining proper spinal alignment. Here are key considerations to help you select the best pillow for your side sleeping needs:

1. Loft (Thickness):

  • Loft, or thickness, is a critical factor for side sleepers. Most side sleepers require medium to high loft pillows that offer sufficient cushioning for the head and neck without sinking too low. If your loft preference varies, consider a pillow with adjustable loft levels for versatility.

2. Support:

  • Opt for a pillow that provides excellent support to maintain an even surface for your head and neck. Proper spinal alignment is essential for side sleepers, so choose a pillow that doesn’t sink too much or raise your head excessively. Solid foam or latex core pillows often offer superior support.

3. Firmness Level:

  • The right firmness level is key. A pillow that is too soft can lead to sinking and misalignment, while one that is too firm may cause discomfort in the neck and shoulders. Aim for a mid-level firmness pillow as it strikes a balance between contouring and support.

4. Pressure Relief:

  • Side sleepers often experience pressure in the shoulders and hips due to inadequate mattress support. To prevent pressure points in the neck and shoulders, choose a pillow that provides adequate support while contouring to your body’s shape.

5. Shape Retention:

  • Consider the longevity of the pillow’s shape. Some fill materials tend to compress over time, requiring frequent fluffing to maintain their shape. Solid foam and latex pillows, on the other hand, typically retain their shape with minimal effort.

6. Price:

  • Pillow prices vary based on their materials. Pillows made of polyfoam, down alternative, and feathers are generally more budget-friendly, while memory foam, latex, down, and buckwheat hull pillows tend to be pricier. You can find a high-quality pillow for side sleeping for $150 or less in a queen size.

7. Quality Materials:

  • Pay attention to the materials used in both the pillow’s cover and inner components. The quality of these materials can impact durability, temperature regulation, and shape retention. While higher-quality pillows may come with a higher price tag, they often offer greater longevity and performance.

When choosing a pillow for side sleepers, prioritize loft, support, and firmness level to ensure proper spinal alignment and pressure relief. Consider the shape retention of the pillow and invest in quality materials for enhanced durability and comfort. By selecting the right pillow, you can significantly improve your sleep quality and overall well-being as a side sleeper.

4 Best Pillows for Side Sleepers with Shoulder Pain

1. Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow

Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow
Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow

The Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow is designed to cater specifically to side sleepers with shoulder pain. Its unique U-shaped design provides exceptional support to your head, neck, and shoulder, ensuring a comfortable and pain-free night’s sleep. The pillow is also adjustable, allowing you to customize the loft to meet your specific needs.

Key Features:

  • U-shaped design for optimal head, neck, and shoulder support.
  • Adjustable loft for personalized comfort.
  • Helps maintain neutral alignment, reducing pressure and tension.
  • Ideal for side sleepers with shoulder pain.


  • Customizable loft for individual preferences.
  • Unique design tailored to side sleepers.
  • Promotes proper spinal alignment.
  • Effective in reducing shoulder pain.


  • May take some time to adjust to the U-shaped design.
  • Pricier compared to standard pillows.

2. MedCline Shoulder Relief System

MedCline Shoulder Relief System
MedCline Shoulder Relief System

The MedCline Shoulder Relief System is a specialized pillow designed to alleviate shoulder pain in side sleepers. It maintains a neutral alignment for your head and neck while providing dedicated support for your shoulder and arm. The pillow features a clever cutout design that allows your shoulder to rest comfortably within it.

Key Features:

  • Designed for side sleepers with shoulder pain.
  • Maintains neutral alignment of head, neck, and shoulder.
  • Innovative cutout design for shoulder support.
  • Promotes pain relief and comfortable sleep.


  • Targeted shoulder support.
  • Neutral alignment to reduce pain.
  • High-quality materials for durability.
  • Unique design for shoulder comfort.


  • Specialized design may not suit all sleeping positions.
  • Higher price point.

3. Coop Adjustable Loft Pillow

Coop Adjustable Loft Pillow
Coop Adjustable Loft Pillow

The Coop Adjustable Loft Pillow is a versatile choice for side sleepers with shoulder pain. It is filled with shredded memory foam, allowing you to customize the loft to your liking. Additionally, the pillow features a cutout design to accommodate your shoulder, enhancing comfort and support.

Key Features:

  • Shredded memory foam fill for adjustable loft.
  • Cutout design to support the shoulder.
  • Suitable for side sleepers with shoulder pain.
  • Personalized comfort for a restful sleep.


  • Adjustable loft for individualized comfort.
  • Shoulder cutout for pain relief.
  • Breathable and hypoallergenic materials.
  • Versatile for various sleeping positions.


  • May require occasional fluffing.
  • Initial off-gassing odor from memory foam.

4. Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow
Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

The Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow is an excellent choice for side sleepers seeking relief from shoulder pain. Made from natural latex, it offers exceptional support and durability. The pillow’s cooling properties make it ideal for those who tend to get hot during the night.

Key Features:

  • Crafted from natural latex for support and longevity.
  • Cooling properties for temperature regulation.
  • Designed to alleviate shoulder pain in side sleepers.
  • High-quality materials for lasting comfort.


  • Natural latex for superior support.
  • Cooling feature for a more comfortable sleep.
  • Durable and long-lasting.
  • Suitable for those with shoulder discomfort.


  • Firmer feel may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Slightly higher price point due to premium materials.

The best pillow for side sleepers with shoulder pain should prioritize proper alignment and support. Each of these pillows offers unique features to cater to the specific needs of side sleepers, so consider your preferences and comfort when making your selection. Ultimately, finding the right pillow can lead to better sleep and reduced shoulder pain.


How do I choose the right pillow for my shoulder pain?

Choosing the right pillow depends on your personal preferences and the severity of your shoulder pain. Memory foam and cervical pillows are popular choices for side sleepers with shoulder pain due to their excellent support.

How often should I replace my pillow?

On average, pillows should be replaced every 1-2 years, as they tend to lose their shape and support over time. If you notice your shoulder pain returning, it may be time for a new pillow.

Can a pillow help with shoulder pain caused by injury?

While a pillow can provide some relief, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment of shoulder injuries.

Is it necessary to invest in an expensive pillow?

Not necessarily. There are affordable pillows on the market that offer excellent support. However, consider it an investment in your comfort and sleep quality.

Can sleeping position affect shoulder pain?

Yes, your sleeping position can impact shoulder pain. Side sleepers are more prone to shoulder discomfort, so choosing the right pillow is crucial for alleviating it.

How should I care for my pillow?

Follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. In general, using a pillowcase and regular fluffing can extend the life of your pillow.


In conclusion, finding the best pillow for side sleepers with shoulder pain is essential for a restful night’s sleep. Your choice of pillow can significantly impact your comfort and overall well-being. Whether you opt for memory foam, an adjustable loft, or a cooling gel pillow, prioritize proper support and alignment. Remember to replace your pillow regularly and consult a healthcare professional if your shoulder pain persists. With the right pillow, you can wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free.

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