Finding a comfortable sleep position can be difficult sometimes. It’s especially hard if you have wide or broad shoulders and prefer to sleep on your side. Most of the time you end up scrunching up your neck or shoulders and wake up with aches and pains. Luckily there are pillows you can use that will allow you to sleep on your side pain-free, even with broad shoulders.
Quick Picks: Our Top Recommendations
Where to Buy
How Do Broad Shoulders Cause Pain While Sleeping?
If you have broad shoulders, you already know that certain sleep positions cause you more pain than others, but why? There are a few factors that can contribute to pain if you sleep on your side and have broad shoulders.
Improper Neck Alignment
The way you position your neck while you’re sleeping is crucial to making sure you wake up pain-free. Sleeping on your side can present some issues with neck alignment, especially if you are not using the right kind of pillow.
Broad shoulders and side sleeping are a combination that will often cause bad neck alignment. Ideally your neck will stay in line with the rest of your spine, no matter what position you choose to sleep in. If you sleep on your side and have wider shoulders, this is difficult to achieve. Instead, your head is going to be at a sharp angle and that is going to cause pain over the long term.
Fortunately, a good pillow can help keep your neck at the right angle and allow you to sleep in a position that is comfortable for you.
Side sleepers have a tendency to scrunch their shoulders up to their ears while they are sleeping. Usually, this is because the pillow they are using isn’t properly supporting their head and neck. This is even more true for people with broad shoulders because most standard pillows won’t fit between their neck and shoulders.
If you sleep scrunched up over a long period of time you’re going to experience tightness in your neck and shoulder area. This makes it hard to do simple tasks that require you to lift your arms and shoulders.
Using a good pillow will help eliminate the need to scrunch your shoulders and allow you to sleep on your side without pain.
What Features Do I Need In A Pillow?
Side sleepers need to use different pillows than those who sleep on their backs or stomachs. If you have broad shoulders and sleep on your side then you will need even more from your pillow to allow you to sleep through the night.
Good Level Of Firmness
You need to find a pillow that can offer you a decent amount of firmness. A pillow that is too soft will give you no support and if you have wide shoulders will be almost useless.
You don’t have to find a pillow that is rock hard to be able to sleep well. You want to make sure that when you lay your head down on the pillow it doesn’t immediately go flat. A pillow that keeps a good level of firmness, even while your head is on it will be the best option for pain-free sleep.
Good Level Of Thickness
This is another important factor in choosing your pillow. A good thick pillow will be able to fit between your neck and shoulders while you are laying on your side and keep your neck supported.
With broad shoulders, you will probably have to find a pillow that is thicker than most pillow options. You could also choose to double up your pillows but sometimes that can also put your neck at a bad angle and cause pain.
Space For Your Shoulders
Most pillows come in a standard shape and size, rectangles. This poses a problem for broad-shouldered side-sleepers because often you will have to smash or squish the pillow to fit just right while you are on your side.
There are a few types of pillows that are made specifically for side sleepers that are shaped just a little differently. The most common shape of these pillows leaves a little curve in one side of the pillow. This allows your shoulder to fit into the pillow while your head and neck are still supported.
You can also find pillows that have a few different shapes meant to fit your shoulder comfortably under your neck while you sleep on your side. You will have to try a few out to see which works best for your shoulders and your comfort level.
What Should My Pillow Be Made Of?
You can find plenty of different materials when it comes to pillows and what you choose will largely depend on your personal preference.
For Comfort And Support: Memory Foam
This material is a very common choice for pillows, mattresses, and cushions available and with good reason too. Memory foam is high-density foam that is made with large open cells that will conform to your body.
This type of support is unique because not only does it provide the comfort of custom fitting your unique shape, it also gives a good amount of support. There are varying levels of firmness for memory foam, so you want to make sure you find one that is not too soft.
For Custom Comfort: Buckwheat Hulls
This sounds more like a meal than a pillow material, but buckwheat hulls are a unique pillow filler that can give someone with broad shoulders the ability to have multiple pillows in one.
Buckwheat hulls are a type of grain that are similar to rice or oats. Putting buckwheat hulls into a pillow allows you to change the shape of the pillow to whatever you need. If you need more support under your neck you can move the hulls to be higher there. If you need to elevate your head, you can change the position of the hulls.
Most pillows that use buckwheat hulls will also come with cotton or foam so you aren’t just sleeping on a pile of hulls. While it sounds odd, these kinds of pillows can be great for side sleepers with broad shoulders.
Top Pillows for Big-Shouldered Side Sleepers
Where to Buy
Inspired Capital L Memory Foam Pillow For Side and Back Sleepers
This pillow is made of high-density memory foam and comes in a medium level of firmness. It has a removable and washable cover that is made of cotton. This pillow is also a little thicker than most standard pillows, which is nice for side sleepers with wide shoulders.
Another nice feature of this pillow is that it is queen sized and longer than other standard pillows. This provides more space and can be nice if you have larger shoulders. The Inspired Capital L pillow comes with a 1-year warranty, so if you experience any problems it might be covered and you can receive a replacement pillow.
Aeris Contour Side Sleeper Pillow
This pillow is specifically made for sleeping on your side and is made with ventilated memory foam. The holes in the foam help move air through the pillow to keep you cool and comfortable all night. It has a cotton blend cover that is removable and machine washable.
The Aeris Contour Pillow has two different sides with two levels of contours. The contours help cradle your neck while you’re on your side. The thicker side is great for people with broad shoulders because it will still fit between your neck and shoulders.
You can also get this pillow in two different sizes, standard and queen. It also comes with a lifetime free replacement guarantee.
Cool & Natural Form-Fit Pillow
This pillow is an example of a buckwheat hull filled pillow. It uses a combination of buckwheat hulls and shredded memory foam as the filling to provide comfort and support that is completely customizable. The pillow also comes with extra buckwheat hulls that you can add to the pillow as needed.
The whole pillow is covered with quilted natural bamboo fiber to help keep you cool and move air through the pillow. The cover is machine washable as well. You can position this pillow any way that you need to make sure you are properly supported as you sleep.
This pillow also comes with a 10-year warranty and you can get extra buckwheat hulls if you ever need more filling.
The Womfy Anti Wrinkle-Side Sleeper Pillow
This pillow might have a different shape, but it is one that is ideal for side sleepers. It is made with high-quality memory foam and covered with a hypoallergenic bamboo fiber pillowcase. The Womfy pillow can help with many sleep problems, but the curved design and concave middle are ideal for side sleepers with bigger shoulders.
The other nice feature about this pillow is that each order comes with a 1-inch riser that you can insert into the pillow if it is not thick enough. So you can get an extra thick pillow without having to use two pillows.
If you don’t like this pillow you can send it back for a full refund, although you will have to pay shipping and handling.
The Pancake Pillow - Adjustable Layer Pillow
This pillow is great for people with broad shoulders because it allows you to adjust the height of your pillow to your own level of comfort. The Pancake Pillow comes with 6 layers of pillows that are filled with an alternative down microfiber fill. All the pillows fit inside the 300 thread count 100% cotton cover and you can remove or add pillows as you need.
You can get this pillow in two different sizes, queen and king, which is nice if you need a larger sleep surface. While each layer of the Pancake Pillow is very soft, stacked together they offer a supportive and comfortable sleep surface.
To read from other buyers of the Pancake Pillow, click here.