Stomach Sleepers: How to Choose a Pillow if You're a Stomach Sleeper

We all sleep -- but not all of us sleep the same way. Nearly three-quarters of people sleep on their sides. But if you're among the 16 percent of stomach sleepers, you might feel like it's hard to get comfortable. 

Because so many people identify as side sleepers, most of the sleep industry caters to their needs. If you pick up a pillow at the store, chances are good it was designed with side sleepers in mind. If you sleep on your front instead, this can lead to lots of restless nights.

Not sure how to pick the right pillow for a stomach sleeper? We're here to help. Keep reading to learn how stomach sleepers can get a full night's sleep!

How to Choose the Best Pillow for a Stomach Sleeper

Stomach sleepers have unique needs thanks to their particular sleeping position. You'll need a pillow that's constructed with those needs in mind if you want to sleep comfortably through the night. Here are the factors to look for in the best pillows for stomach sleepers.

Breathability

First, since you're sleeping with much of your face in the pillow, you'll want a breathable material that keeps your skin healthy.

Historically, most pillows haven't been very breathable. That's why flipping a pillow over to the "cool side" is so appealing. The materials used in most pillows trap and keep the heat from your body, creating a sweaty, hot surface.

Stomach sleepers suffer from this problem even more than most. When most of your face is pressed against a sweaty pillow, it's a recipe for clogged pores and bad skin. You'll also sleep through the night better if you aren't getting woken up by your own body heat regularly.

Thickness

Next, stomach sleepers need to look for a pillow that's the right thickness.

The key is getting your whole spine aligned, from the neck down. For side sleepers, pillows need to be thick enough to align the neck with the rest of the spine. But stomach sleepers usually need pillows of a different size to stay aligned.

If the pillow is too thick, that will put your neck at an uncomfortable angle that can lead to stiffness or soreness in the morning. However, if your pillow is super-thin, you'll compensate by using your arms. This can lead to even more awkward positions, and waking up in the middle of the night to find your arms have "fallen asleep."

The right pillow for a stomach sleeper should be thinner than a pillow for a side sleeper, but not too thin. If you're cranking your neck or using your arms to position your head, find a pillow of a different thickness. 

Fill Material

A number of materials can help keep a stomach sleeper comfortable throughout the night. Let's take a closer look at some of the materials you can choose from, and their pros and cons. 

1. Microbead

Microbead pillows use tiny beads like you might find in a beanbag chair to provide a firm pillow surface. The materials inside might be natural, like buckwheat shells, or artificial, like microfoam.

Many times, these pillows come with an accessible compartment so you can add or remove the "beads" inside to get the best thickness for you. These pillows also maximize breathability, since the material inside isn't solid. Air flows nicely through the beads inside so the surface won't overheat. 

2. Memory Foam

Memory foam pillows are among the most popular pillows for stomach sleepers. You can choose from a few different types of memory foam. Many people love it because it holds its shape nicely over time and provides the right balance of softness and support.

Some stomach sleepers might prefer a memory foam pillow with a shredded core, rather than the more popular solid core. Shredded core pillows are easy to adjust around the contours of your face. Solid core pillows have a slightly stiffer shape.

3. Fiber

Traditionally, the most popular pillow fillings were fiber, such as down or cotton. But these pillow materials often don't work so well for stomach sleepers.

Fiber molds itself around your head, which can create a suffocating feeling for someone with their face pressed into the pillow. You might be able to fluff your fiber pillow into the right shape, but it won't hold that shape all night. If you decide to buy a fiber pillow, make sure it was specifically designed with stomach sleepers in mind. 

4. Liquid-Filled

Finally, many stomach sleepers do well with pillows that have a liquid core made of water or gel.

As with microbead pillows, most liquid-filled pillows allow you to adjust how much liquid is inside the pillow. They also hold their shape well so you can put the pillow in the right position and not wake up to adjust it in the middle of the night.

Temperature

Breathability and temperature go hand in hand, but it's worthwhile to consider both.

Stomach sleepers are more likely to get hot, because of which body parts they have in contact with the bed. You might need to shop for a cooling pillow if you often get overheated at night. 

The fill of the pillow can help regulate its temperature, but the material on the outside plays a role, too. Some fabrics stay cooler and trap less heat than others. For example, bamboo is a great choice if you want a pillow that feels cool.

Looking for the Perfect Pillow?

Choosing the right pillow for a stomach sleeper can make you feel like Goldilocks: nothing ever seems quite right. But the key is to buy your pillow from a company that understands the unique things stomach sleepers need.

We're here to help. Check out our pillows here.

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