Home / Blog December 22, 2022

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How To Properly Sleep On A Pillow

To get a good sleep on a pillow, you need to figure out what your preferred sleeping position is. Small head pillows are usually good for back sleepers, while side sleepers do well with thicker pillows and a supporting body pillow. A pillow under the stomach is best if you sleep on your stomach.

How To Properly Sleep On A Pillow


When it comes to pillows, the most important factor impacting your sleep is how well it supports your neck.

If you sleep on your back, you should have a thinner pillow with a thick edge that supports your neck. Side sleepers are better off with thicker pillows.

Different types of pillows also lead to different sleep results. 

Did you know?
Smart pillows may one day be able to adjust to your movements throughout the night. In the future, you may not need to worry about fluffing your pillow when you move from back to side because your pillow will do it for you.

Tired of midnight wrestling matches with your head pillow? Are you waking up in the morning with pain in the upper back and neck?

The way you sleep on a pillow can explain a lot about posture-related issues or dips in the quality of your sleep. And depending on the way you like to sleep and the type of pillow you’re using, there may be ways to turn your bed into a snoozing heaven.

What Is The Proper Way To Sleep On A Pillow?

Unfortunately, there’s no single proper way to sleep on a pillow. You can think of the fluffy cushions in a similar way to shoes. Each one is made for a different purpose. There are even different sizes for different sleeping types.

The most important factor that you want to look out for when flopping down at night is how well your pillow supports your neck.

Here are a few tips:

  1. If you’re sleeping on your back, don’t rest your shoulders on the pillow. This forces your neck to bend more as your head lays down.
  2. Depending on the type of pillow you have, you may want to bunch some of it up to cushion your neck and support its natural, gentle curve.
  3. Use a body pillow. There are many possible benefits to using them alongside a head pillow, from supporting your spine to improving your overall sleep.
  4. Consider changes based on your natural sleeping position. More details on that below.

The Advantages Of Sleeping On Different Types Of Pillows


How To Sleep On A Pillow If You’re A Side Sleeper

At more than 50% of the overall population’s average time snoozing, side sleeping is the most common bed position. The problem is that, while it may get you to dreamland, it can also throw your spine out of alignment.

To combat this, there are a couple of weapons you might want to add to your arsenal.

First, hugging a body pillow like our ergonomic body pillow can help by supporting the thighs and shoulders. This keeps your spine from getting all bent out of shape. It’s also a cozy bed partner that loves to be the little spoon.

Second, consider using a slightly larger pillow if you often find yourself on your side. Studies show that it can help keep your neck in proper alignment.

The important thing is to keep one eye on how your upper and lower back feel. If they’re sore in the morning, consider the above adjustments.

How To Sleep On A Pillow If You’re A Back Sleeper

Next up on the popularity scale is the back sleeping position at around 40% of time spent in bed.

It’s the best position for your spine overall, but there are ways to make it even cozier.

Once again, our Cuddler can help if you have lower back pain. Just try sliding it under your knees for a little bit of lift and less stress on your lumbar spine.

For neck issues, head pillows should be thinner than if you were sleeping on your side.

However, one part of the pillow that can be on the thicker side is the base that goes under the neck. This allows support for the slight curve from the base of the head to the shoulders. 

If you’re wondering how to sleep on a memory foam pillow with a larger neck area, simply place the bigger side under your neck and have your head resting in the center of the pillow.

You can also bunch up regular pillows for support.

How To Sleep On A Pillow If You’re A Stomach Sleeper

Apologies to any Dracula-types who sleep upside down, because the last sleeping position is stomach sleeping.

It makes up less than 10% of the sleeping population, and for good reason. Most chiropractors will tell you that spending too much time sleeping on your stomach is bad for your back.

However, some people can’t help but end up on their bellies.

In that case, a very thin pillow is the most you’ll want to rest your head on. You might even want to experiment with no pillow at all.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends a small pillow under the stomach for extra spine support. Our Cuddler may be a good option as it’s made of eco-friendly melofoam that can compress to fit snug under that tummy.

The Advantages Of Sleeping On Different Types Of Pillows

There are many different types of pillows on the market, many of which are great options for neck health and improved sleep.

In recent years, more studies are being released on the different varieties and they’re finding a few up-and-comers.

Orthopedic Pillows

These come in a few different materials, but one study from 2014 looked at orthopedic pillows made from polypropylene capsules and compared it to memory foam and feather pillows. The orthopedic head pillow had the most desirable effects on neck curvature and also regulated temperature the best.

Memory Foam Pillows

The same study found memory foam pillows with a curved edge to have slightly less neck support than orthopedic pillows, but more than feather pillows. The best way to sleep on one of these pillows is to have that curve right beneath the neck.

They were also a middle-of-the-road choice for temperature regulation, though some types of memory foam may perform better than others in this category.

Buckwheat Pillows

A popular choice in countries like Japan, buckwheat pillows are gaining in popularity around the world as an organic pillow solution. Some studies have shown that when they’re not too thick (around 7 cm), buckwheat pillows provide pressure relief on the neck.

However, one major drawback of sleeping on these pillows is that they can produce allergic reactions in some people

U-Shaped Pillows

A more unconventional pillow type that may one day trump all the rest is the u-shaped pillow. Consider it the all-terrain pillow that’s thick on the left and right side for side sleepers. In the middle, it dips into the bottom of the ‘U’ for when you feel like switching it up to the back position.

It’s still nowhere near mainstream, but a 2016 study suggested that it led to “significantly higher sleep quality.”


Every sleeping position is different, and each one means a different way to sleep on a pillow. Back sleepers should aim for placing their head on the shallow part of the pillow, while side sleepers should shoot for the thicker portion. In both cases, your spine may benefit from our Cuddler body pillow if used in the right position.

To get a good sleep on a pillow, you need to make sure it fits your sleeping style. Most importantly, look out for the natural curve in your neck and make sure that your pillow supports it.