I’m a Hardcore Side Sleeper, and This Is the Only Pillow I’ll Ever Use Again

published May 28, 2021
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My sleep issues don’t happen while I’m trying to fall asleep — they pop up after I clock out for the night. I’m a hardcore side sleeper, and more than once, I’ve woken up feeling like my body went through a strenuous workout. Whether it’s a sore neck or a shoulder that felt oddly out of place, I’ve found a way to injure myself while sleeping, and for a long time, I suspected it was my pillow’s doing.

My suspicions were confirmed only after I solved the problem: On the hunt for a new memory foam pillow, I stumbled across one with grooves and indents in place of the standard rectangular pillow shape. The product description for the pillow promised that sleepers could position it in a variety of directions to find the most comfortable sleeping position for them: The curves on one end of the foam block could serve as a place to nestle your shoulders or to wrap your arms around, while the indent in the middle of the pillow could cradle either your neck or face, depending on how you slept.

While it seems like a small thing, finding the right pillow for your sleeping position can be crucial to a good night’s rest. “If your neck is bent in any way for an extended period of time, you’ll get uncomfortable,” Matthew O’Rourke, a physical therapist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, told Harvard Health. “If you’re on your stomach with your head to the side, you’re sleeping in a full rotation position, and that can become painful.” So too can sleeping on your side if your pillow is too thin — your neck has to bend to meet its intended surface, which can lead to serious pain the next morning.

This pillow, however, meets my head without causing any strain on my neck or shoulder, an important feature given my propensity to strain that joint. While different sleeping positions provide different benefits, knowing that I can toss and turn in my sleep and my pillow is there to meet me is reassuring — to the point where I recently packed the pillow away in my suitcase before a trip back home. Because it’s made of memory foam, it deflates easily with the help of a plastic bag and a vacuum, and doesn’t lose its shape even through a cross-country flight.

As for me, I can sleep soundly knowing I’m less likely to wake up to yet another mysterious body ache. That’s something to dream about.