You shouldn’t need to rest your shoulders on your pillow during sleep, as this can cause unwanted aches and pains, disrupting your sleep quality and comfort. However, even if you don’t fall asleep with your shoulders on the pillow, you might wake up in this position if you move around a lot in bed. Learn how to keep your shoulders in the right place for each sleeping position here.

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How should your pillows be when you sleep?

Your pillow should support your head and neck, keeping your spine in a neutral position while you sleep. Your shoulders should rest just below the bottom edge of your pillow, so your body remains flat, which should minimise neck and back pain.

How do I keep my shoulders down when I sleep?

If you toss and turn a lot at night, you might find that your shoulders move on top of your pillow, too. This can give you a sore neck or cause back pain. If that sounds like you, here’s our tips for keeping your shoulders down, depending on your preferred sleeping position.

Back sleepers

If your shoulders end up on the pillow while sleeping on your back, try a contour memory foam pillow. These uniquely-shaped pillows have two heights, with a broader and smaller side at each end. Try sleeping with the broader side facing the end of your bed, filling the gap underneath your neck, as this can prevent your shoulders from moving upwards.

Side sleepers

Side sleeping is very common because it’s so comfortable, but this position can misalign your spine and put pressure on your hips and shoulders. To alleviate any painful pressure points and keep your body neutral, consider a memory foam knee pillow. This type of pillow can be tucked between your knees, helping to keep your spine properly aligned and your shoulders in the right position.

Front sleepers

Front sleeping with your shoulders on the pillow can be less of a problem, as long as you have the right pillow. Sleeping on your front isn’t recommended because it can misalign your spine and cause back problems. However, if this is the only sleeping position you find comfortable, try a thin, flat pillow to keep your body flat, including your shoulders.

How do I stop my shoulder hurting when I sleep?

Shoulder pain can be caused by certain sleeping positions, particularly if you sleep on your side, as this position puts extra pressure on the area. You can try and relieve the pain by sleeping on your back or moving onto the other side. If your shoulder pain persists, consult your doctor.

Consider your pillow type, too. A memory foam pillow is a good choice, because the unique material responds to your body, giving you personalised support which helps to alleviate the pressure on your shoulder. If you need extra support, such as after an injury, you could try an orthopaedic pillow to target specific pain points.

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