What Side Sleepers Need to Know to Sleep Sound and Pain-Free

What Side Sleepers Need to Know to Sleep Sound and Pain-Free

Going to sleep at night is meant to be restorative, yet many people wake up with aches and pains, plus a foggy mind from a restless night. There are numerous causes of insomnia, but one consideration that’s easy to overlook is how you’re sleeping. Not how well, but how you sleep can have a major impact on pain, your overall health, and how rested you feel in the morning.

For people who mostly sleep on their side, you can optimize your sleep by becoming aware of how certain factors affect you and the changes you can make.

Maximize Comfort & Minimize Pain

Your Mattress

Your mattress is there to provide support and comfort, so it should be no surprise to hear that your mattress can be the ultimate deal-breaker when it comes to whether you get a good night’s sleep. If your mattress is too old, the materials have likely broken down so that it’s no longer supportive enough, which can cause all kinds of pain. Even if you have a newer mattress, one that has too little or too much firmness can also be a problem. For example, a mattress that is too firm can cause joint pain and inflammation, and this can be especially problematic for side sleepers.

If any of these issues sound like what you’re experiencing, it may be time to swap out your old mattress for a new one that has the right amount of support for side sleepers. Mattress shopping can be overwhelming, which is probably one reason why “bed in a box” mattresses you can order online have become so popular. One of our favorites that has excellent reviews is the Purple brand, which is ideal for side sleepers. Purple mattresses are designed to provide the support you need while eliminating pressure points, plus it’s perfect for anyone who sleeps hot because it maximizes airflow. Of course, even if Purple isn’t the brand for you, keep your sleep style top of mind when shopping around for a new mattress.

Your Pillows

In addition to having the right mattress, you also need the right support from pillows. Some side sleepers prefer contoured pillows, but there are also adjustable pillows on the market that allow you to get the exact support you need to keep your neck in proper alignment. In addition to using the right pillow under your head, Real Simple recommends placing a pillow between your knees and another one between your ankles. Doing this keeps your spine in alignment and helps keep you from rolling to one side or the other (and getting everything OUT of alignment).

Your Position

Side sleeping is a perfect position for most people, but one thing you want to avoid is curling up in a ball. Sleeping this way is the worst for spine alignment, putting a strain on your back and joints.

Health Concerns

In addition to making sure you get the comfort and support you need, you can also rest easier knowing how sleeping on your side affects your overall health.


Sleeping on your left side can improve a number of digestive functions, including easing constipation and gastric reflux, along with healthy pancreatic functioning. Some supplements are felt to assist with nighttime digestive issues, and you might add them to your routine as well.


Due to several potential health risks, doctors recommend that pregnant women avoid sleeping on their backs. In addition to avoiding these risks, you may also want to sleep on your left side during pregnancy because doing so keeps the weight of the baby off your liver, plus it increases blood flow throughout your body.

Brain Health

According to Today, researchers have found that side sleeping may be the best position for brain health because it keeps your airways more open than back sleeping. Side sleeping also helps your brain eliminate a peptide called amyloid beta, and previous research indicates these peptides might play a role in developing brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

For most people, sleeping on your side has multiple health benefits with minimum cause for concern. This doesn’t mean, though, that you can just plop into bed and expect to get the best rest. It’s up to you to tailor your sleep style and get the right support to make the most of the time you spend snoozing.

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