What is the coziest, most comfortable sleeping position? We know what you’re thinking, yes Side Sleeping! With over 74% people in the US sleeping on their sides we can’t help but think, is it really that good? Well we are not here to judge.

But who wants to go to bed dreading waking up? All the while knowing that the first thing you’ll be doing after waking up in the morning is roll your stiff neck and stretch open your hunched shoulders, listening to the pop and crackle of your joints and vertebrae like marbles in a dryer. Noone wants that! Side sleepers are not all blessed with the perfect dreamland.

Neck and shoulder pain are common after effects of side sleeping, that many of us can relate with. Today, we will be discussing these very issues and try to tell you ways using which you can fix it. Let’s dive right into it then!

Why Does the Neck and Shoulder Pain from Sleeping?

Soft tissue injuries account for the majority of neck and shoulder discomfort. This can cause discomfort, stiffness, muscular spasms, and even headaches. It also affects the tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Although it might hurt on both sides, neck discomfort often only affects one side.

Shoulder and neck aches and spasms can result from holding your neck in an uncomfortable posture for extended periods of time. The following are some of the most typical positions that might cause pain in the neck and shoulders:

  • Using a pillow that is too high or too low while sleeping
  • During the night, clench or grind your teeth.
  • sitting at an improperly configured desk
  • glancing down at a smartphone
Why Does the Neck and Shoulder Pain from Sleeping?

How Does Side Sleeping Cause Shoulder and Neck Pain?

Side sleeping can seem and feel like a very comfortable position but only when you have the right pillow that supports this posture accurately. Neck and shoulder pain while sleeping on your side majorly occurs when your pillow isn’t supportive enough to align your spine, shoulder, and neck effectively.

A wrong pillow and mattress will do two things to your body. The first it will sink your spine out of its neutral position and begin to bend, arch and curve. The second is that your shoulders, stacked one above the other, will misalign and slip, crumpling into each other.

Being in deep sleep you might not even feel it but this misalignment occurs subtly. Your muscles will be stretched all night and you won’t even know. You will realize all this in the morning with intense strain and pain.

Then what is the solution? If you are a side sleeper too then all you need is a pillow for cervical pain that will help with your spine, neck, and shoulder alignment so well that you wake up all refreshed in the morning and not feel a thing!

Is Changing Your Side Sleeping Position Good?

Sleeping on your side might be the reason for your sore mornings, your stiff neck, a stressed back, and a cranky mood. So is it time to switch it up? Do stomach sleepers know the secret to reduce shoulder aches or do back sleepers know how to avoid a sore neck?

But wait! It might not be what you think it is. The problem likely isn’t the position, so don’t give up sleeping on your side just yet. In fact side sleeping might have more benefits on your health than you think:

  • Side Sleeping reduces snoring and the risks of sleep apnea by keeping your airways clear
  • Sleeping on your sleep enhances your digestion and keeps your gut healthy by letting the food pass through your system easily.
  • It improves blood circulation to the heart which is highly healthy for pregnant women and the baby.
  • Side sleeping also soothes your pressure points on the spine which is uncommon in other sleeping positions

While it is not that difficult to train yourself into a new sleeping position, it is better to do what comes natural and if that means sleeping on your side then we’ll make that work too. Let’s start with getting a good and comfortable pillow for sore neck and shoulders!

The Best Pillow for Neck and Shoulder Pain

While starting to pick a good pillow for neck and shoulder pain from side sleeping, the most keen aspect is its firmness. A pillow too soft will be too plush to support the weight of your head and will let it sink too much into it.

On the other hand, a pillow too firm will be very hard to provide enough pressure relief for your muscles and joints. Look out for the following things before you rush out to get your dream pillow!

Go for a Comfortable Pillow

There is no such thing as a regular or standard pillow. Every pillow has its own unique properties which can be different depending upon its material, design, manufacturing process and multiple other factors. It might take a little research and a little more work to find the perfect pillow match for your sleeping needs but the ultimate goal is how comfortable it makes you.

An ideal sleep environment for side sleepers is one where you use a wide pillow and sleep flat on a surface that can support your head, neck, and shoulders properly. If you suffer from neck and then contour shape pillows for neck problems will be quite altering for you as they have a double-peak design that cradles your neck gently and prevents stiffness.

Make Sure You Have the Right Loft

If you want to wake up with a pain free body then you must see if you use a pillow the right size and shape. Such a pillow will make sure that the joints and muscles of your neck are well supported whereas a pillow with good loft will support your shoulders.

For instance, if you have narrow shoulders and sleep on a high loft pillow then you might stretch your muscles out in the morning and strain the shoulder blades. In case you have broad shoulders, a low-lift pillow, your unequally supported shoulders will slip and collapse.

Look for brands that offer a range of heights and lofts in their pillows so that you can test them out and have your pick. Eli & Elm pillows might just be the one for you. These pillows have contour design that will provide the extra nudge you need for a pain free life and the shredded latex filling for an aligned neck and shoulder support.


Breathability is just a matter of airflow which will determine if you sleep hot or cold at night. Breathability in the pillow material will really turn around your sleeping experience as some people are prone to perspiration at night. Pillows with cooling properties will maintain a neutral temperature around you while sleeping and let you have a sound long sleep.

A perfect choice for side sleepers with shoulder pain is a latex pillow. Latex pillows are medium to medium-firm in nature and contour the natural posture of your body. People susceptible to allergies and other kinds of health issues will be highly relieved by using an organic latex pillow that is hypoallergenic and antibacterial, making it great for asthmatics and those with eczema.

Organic or Natural

Choosing a natural material is more a personal choice than a necessity. But an organic pillow makes up for quite a comfortable and hygienic pillow that might change things around for you sleep wise. If we must list out a few of such pillows then we’d say latex, but cotton, bamboo and cellulosic fibers are the best ones to pick out. Each of these materials is hypoallergenic, breathable and extremely soft.

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Neck and Shoulder Pain

Down pillow is the best neck and shoulder pain pillows on our list today. It is made by certain brands using feathers that are ethically sourced and a five-chamber construction to provide fluffiness that keeps your head from falling flat when you lay it down. The outer chambers seem airy and light, while the inner chambers are strong and supporting. To maintain its shape, fluffing will be necessary once or twice a day.

One easy technique to ease strain around the shoulders while resting on your back and maintaining your head and neck in alignment is to place a down pillow between your shoulders and support your neck when you have shoulder ache. Down or feather pillow is by far the best pillow for shoulder pain.

Side sleepers require a tall, lofty pillow that supports their necks adequately without becoming too flat while choosing the best pillow for neck pain. Generally speaking, feather pillows are not your friend. The Eli & Elm Cooling Side Sleeper Pillow is 17x29 inches in size and stands about five inches tall. If you would like it even firmer, you can have extra fill in yours.

On the other hand, you can take fill out to customize the degree of stiffness to your preference. Additionally, it features the ideal loftiness to maintain your neck's alignment with your spine and is ergonomically contoured to fit around your shoulder.

Soft polyester fibers and springy latex shreds—Eli & Elm refer to them as noodles—make up the interior. It offers just the right amount of support and softness. A great feature for any neck pain pillow is that latex foam retains its shape and durability while providing bounce and pressure relief.

Role of Pillows in Treating Neck Pain

A lot of people nowadays complain about neck discomfort, which may rise due to a number of reasons such as bad posture, an uncomfortable mattress, and a bad pillow. For those who are suffering from neck stiffness and pain, using a supportive pillow is the best since it supports the head, neck, and spine in a natural alignment. One may lessen and avoid neck ache and stiffness by sleeping in a neutral position and using the proper pillow.

Benefits of Neck Pillow

Neck pillows offer several benefits, especially for those who experience discomfort or pain in the neck area. Here are some of the merits:

  • Neck pillows provide essential support to maintain proper neck alignment during sleep, reducing strain and discomfort.
  • They alleviate neck pain by promoting better spinal alignment and relieving pressure on sensitive areas.
  • Neck pillows enhance sleep quality by preventing discomfort and minimizing the chances of waking up due to neck stiffness or pain.
  • They are convenient travel companions, offering added comfort and support during long flights or car rides.
  • Versatile in design and materials, neck pillows cater to individual preferences and sleeping positions.
  • Some neck pillows can help prevent snoring and alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea by promoting clear airways.
  • Consistent use of neck pillows may contribute to improved posture and reduced risk of musculoskeletal issues over time.
Benefits of Neck Pillow

How Common is Neck and Shoulder Pain?

In the general adult population, neck and shoulder discomfort are often reported complaints, with lifetime incidences of 50.9% for females and 41.7% for males. While a patient's indications and symptoms are usually explained by a single diagnosis, there are times when two or more distinct factors are to blame.

When Should I Seek Medical Attention?

You should consider seeing a doctor for neck and shoulder pain if:

  • Self-care techniques such as rest, ice, or over-the-counter pain medicine don't help or make the pain worse.
  • The hands or arms are experiencing excruciating, intense pain that may be accompanied by tingling, weakness, or numbness.
  • Traumatic injuries, including those from falls or auto accidents, are the cause of the discomfort.
  • You have trouble moving your shoulders or neck, and the afflicted area may be swollen, red, or uncomfortable.
  • You have a medical history of neck or spine problems. If the discomfort is accompanied by other health disorders such as osteoporosis or arthritis, let us know.
  • Sleep, work, and everyday activities are all hampered by the discomfort.
  • You're worried about if the discomfort is having an impact on your general health or what the underlying reason is.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons for neck or shoulder pain – some are out of our control and others can be fixed with the change of a pillow or mattress. Improve your sleep by adjusting your sleep position, picking out the right mattress and pillow pillow, and adding in simple changes to your everyday routine.


National Library of Medicine: Neck and shoulder pains in relation to physical activity and sedentary activities in adolescence

Premier Spine Institute: Why Chronic Neck Pain Should Never Be Ignored

Omron: Home remedies and healthy habits for neck and shoulder pain