General | May 12, 2023

How To Pick The Right Pillow For You- Side Sleeper

Dr Phillip Audley-OSTEOPATH-Bachelor of Health Science/Bachelor of Applied Science (Osteopathy) – RMIT

If you’re a side sleeper who frequently wakes up with neck pain or headaches, it may be time to consider investing in a pillow that’s specifically designed for your sleeping position. The team at Western Region Health see significant results from addressing the pillow you use every day in the management and reduction of both neck pain and headaches. Here are some key factors to look for when choosing a pillow as a side sleeper: 

  1. Height: The height of the pillow is important for side sleepers. You want a pillow that’s thick enough to support your head and neck, but not so thick that it causes your neck to be flexed. A good rule of thumb is to look for a pillow that’s about 4-6 inches thick. 
  1. Material: The material of the pillow is also important. Memory foam and latex pillows are great options for side sleepers, as they can conform to the shape of your head and neck, providing support where you need it most. Alternatively, down and feather pillows can also be good options if you prefer a softer, fluffier feel. 
  1. Firmness: The firmness of the pillow is also important. You want a pillow that’s firm enough to provide support, but not so firm that it causes discomfort. If you’re unsure, look for a pillow that’s labelled as “medium” firmness, as this should be a good compromise. 
  1. Shape: The shape of the pillow can also play a role in reducing neck pain and headaches. Look for pillows that are contoured to fit the curves of your neck and head, as this can help to reduce pressure points and improve alignment. 
  1. Breathability: Finally, you want to look for a pillow that’s breathable. This is especially important if you tend to sleep hot, as a pillow that traps heat can be uncomfortable and disrupt your sleep. Look for pillows made from breathable materials like cotton or bamboo, or that have features like ventilation holes or mesh covers. 

In summary, as a side sleeper who wakes up with neck pain or headaches, you should look for a pillow that’s the right height, made from the right materials, is firm enough to provide support, has a shape that fits your curves, and is breathable. By choosing a pillow that addresses these factors, you can improve your sleep quality and reduce the risk of developing long-term pain and discomfort. 


  1. National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Choosing the Right Pillow.
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2019, March 26). Best pillow for neck pain.
  3. Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers. (2021, January 19). The Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Neck Pain.
  4. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). The Best Pillow for a Good Night’s Sleep.
  5. (n.d.). How to Choose the Best Pillow for You.