6 Top Tips for Side Sleepers Who Want Restful Sleep

by Mary Lou | Last Updated: August 26, 2017 When you buy something using the links on our posts, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

What Are Side Sleepers?

As the name suggests, side sleepers are people who sleep on their side, as opposed to back sleepers and the super strange breed of people known as stomach sleepers.

Side sleeping seems to dominate the bedroom as the most common way to sleep. Over 74% of people say that they sleep on their side.

What Are the Problems with Side Sleeping?

Sleeping on your back is how scientists recommend we sleep for health reasons. Despite this, only around 8% of the population sleep on their back. By sleeping on your back, you can avoid a whole bunch of common issues that side sleepers face:

The most common issue side sleepers regularly experience is acute neck and back pain. This pain occurs because lying on your side means your spine and neck are usually bent. This causes stress and tension resulting in a sore neck or back.

side sleeper neck pain

Something all side sleepers can relate to is occasionally waking up with pins and needles in their arm or their hand. During the night, we toss and turn and occasionally cut off blood flow to our limbs. This usually results in an uncomfortable wake-up call from our body.

And though we’re told that sleeping on the back is the best sleeping position, it’s simply not that easy to change one’s sleeping habits. Instead, let’s talk about 6 effective tips for side sleepers which should help us get a better, healthier night’s sleep.

Let’s get started.

Tips For Side Sleepers

1. Get A Firm Pillow

If you’ve ever wondered why you need to use pillows for a good night’s sleep, it’s because they allow you to keep a good spinal position. Ideally, when sleeping, your neck and back should be as straight as possible to avoid any pain or injury. If your pillow is too soft, it can position your head lower than your body which will leave you with a sore neck in the morning.

2. Get A Thick Pillow

Side sleepers also need thicker pillows. Again, the aim of the game here is to keep your spine and neck straight. If you sleep on your side, there’s going to be more space between your head and the mattress (compared to if you were sleeping on your back). A thicker pillow resolves this issue by keeping everything where it should be.

3. Straddle A Pillow

Putting a pillow in-between your knees while sleeping helps you keep the all-important straight spinal line. It additionally relieves some of the pressure you are exerting on your hips and lower back during the night.

4. Stretch!


Morning stretches used to be something that everyone did. Watch any old black-and-white movie and you’ll see whenever someone jumps out of bed, they immediately proceed to start doing a few stretches.

Because side sleepers generally end up in the fetal position by the time they wake up, it means their body could really use a good stretch. Arm stretches are the most important due to the way our weight is distributed. As an added bonus, a good stretch in the morning helps enhance your mood, too!

5. Get A New Mattress

Getting a new mattress is probably the best thing you can do to change the quality of your sleep. When it comes to mattresses, it’s all about back support.

Your mattress needs to be able to support your weight without sinking down too much (which would cause your spine to curve). This means too-soft mattresses are out the question. Look out for mattresses that are on the firmer side of normal (but don’t get something too firm).

6. Don’t Sleep On Your Arm

side sleeper

Bending your arm and using it as a pillow is a common technique many side sleepers use. However, this causes a whole host of issues and should be avoided like the plague. Primarily, it’s almost certainly going to bend your neck out of alignment with your spine (which can cause neck/back pain issues).

Additionally, sleeping on your arm greatly increases your chances of waking up with a “dead arm” or a “dead hand” from lack of blood flow causing pins and needles. In this position, your shoulders are taking a huge amount of your body weight (which is probably what is causing your stiff shoulders in the morning).


Despite what doctors tell us, changing our sleeping position is never going to happen. We love side sleeping!

However, with the few handy tips we have outlined in this article, side sleepers can avoid most of the unpleasant consequences of our preferred position.

Sweet dreams!

Author: Mary Lou
In the Before Times, Maru spent vacations traveling and making stops at showrooms to test the latest massage chair models. Nowadays, she’s hunkered down in her small sunlit home dotted with her ever-growing collection of fiddle fig trees, indoor plants, and Himalayan salt lamps. Find her at LinkedIn.