Home / Blog October 05, 2023

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Ear Pain When Sleeping on Your Side

Tossing and turning through sleepless nights due to sore ears from sleeping? The quest for answers begins here. In this blog, we'll delve into the mysteries behind this nighttime discomfort, exploring potential causes and, most importantly, solutions to help you sleep peacefully through the night

Ear Pain When Sleeping on Your Side


There are multiple factors that can cause ear pain when sleeping on your side, such as ear infections, pressure points, barotrauma, and tinnitus.

If you are suffering from pillow ears, it is best to stop sleeping on your side and try sleeping on your back. If you can’t fall asleep on your back, try changing your side sleeping positions throughout the night.

A soft, ergonomic pillow that molds to the back of your head and neck is the best pillow to help you recover from pillow ear. 

Did you know?
The cartilage in our ears alters in structure as we age, causing them to appear larger over time!

Sleep is essential for our well-being, but when ear pain rears its uncomfortable head, it can turn a peaceful night's rest into a restless ordeal. If you've ever experienced outer ear pain when sleeping on your side, you're not alone. This common issue can be surprisingly bothersome, leading to sleepless nights and groggy mornings. In this guide, we'll explore the various culprits behind ear pain while sleeping on your side and discover effective solutions to help you get the peaceful sleep you deserve.

What can cause pain in the ear when sleeping on your side?

Ear Infections: One of the most prevalent causes of inner ear pain after sleeping on the side is ear infections. These infections can lead to inflammation and discomfort, especially when pressure is applied to the affected ear. If the pain is often accompanied by other symptoms like fever, ear discharge, or hearing problems, you should consult a medical professional.

Pressure Points: The ear consists of various delicate structures, and when you lay your head on a pillow, it can create pressure points that cause discomfort. Research has shown that the auricle, or outer part of the ear, can get compressed, leading to pain over time. People who are born with naturally soft ears (more flexible fibrocartilage, which makes up the outer portion of the ear) are more prone to feeling ear cartilage pain after sleeping.

Barotrauma: If you've recently taken a flight or traveled to a high-altitude location, changes in air pressure can cause barotrauma, which affects the middle ear. Sleeping on your side can exacerbate this condition, leading to ear pain and discomfort.

Tinnitus: Tinnitus, characterized by ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears, can become more pronounced when you're in a quiet environment, such as when you're trying to sleep. Side sleeping might inadvertently exacerbate this condition, drawing your attention to the discomfort.

which pillow is right for you

Which pillow is right for you?

If you have noticed that your ear hurts when sleeping on your pillow, worry not – choosing the right pillow can make a significant difference in alleviating ear pain when sleeping. The harder or firmer the pillow, the more pressure it puts on your ear; if you are suffering from pillow ear, we recommend you use a pillow with a less firm fill.

A pillow that can conform to the shape of your head and neck will help alleviate the pressure on your ears while you are sleeping. We recommend the Cuddling, our bolster pillow that can mold to the back of your neck with ergonomic support. Don’t forget to keep your pillow hygienic and cozy with soft pillow covers! Rough pillow case fabric means friction, which can irritate your pillow ear even more.


Ergonomically designed

Made from natural Melofoam™

Additional cover styles available

Cuddle up

How to prevent pillow ear

If you notice having an earache from your pillow, you should try to treat your pillow ear, as it is caused by pressure on certain parts of your ear from sleeping on your side for an extended period of time. While it is important to select the right pillow, there are additional strategies that you should consider, such as:

Sleep Position: Try sleeping on your back instead. If you cannot fall asleep on your back, experiment with different side-sleeping positions to find the one that puts the least pressure on your ear. Also, you should try switching sides in your sleep if you tend to wake up and adjust. Slightly elevating the upper body with a bolster pillow can help with the ear pain when lying on your pillow.

Ear Protection: If you're prone to ear infections or have recently undergone ear surgery, consider using a soft earplug or earmuff designed for sleeping. These accessories can provide cushioning and reduce direct pressure on the ear.

What can cause pain in the ear when sleeping on your side?

When should you see a doctor?

Generally, ear pain from sleeping on your side is not a major issue cause for concern. If you try our advice above, you should see relief without needing to take any drastic measures.

However, if the pain persists or gets worse after you have tried to change your sleeping habits, it is worth contacting a doctor to get your ears checked – there could be an underlying health issue that’s causing the pain


Ear pain while sleeping on your side can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, but it's often manageable with the right strategies. Choosing a suitable pillow and adjusting your sleep position can make a world of difference. However, if your ear pain persists or is accompanied by concerning symptoms, it's crucial to seek medical advice to address the underlying issue. With the right approach, you can enjoy peaceful nights and wake up refreshed, free from ear discomfort.