It can be hard enough to get a good sleep, when you throw in aches and pains it can make it that much more difficult to wake up well-rested. Investing in a pillow for shoulder pain can help you get a better night’s sleep and decrease discomfort.
Whether you’re recovering from an injury, or just tend to wake up achy, we’ve rounded up the five best pillows for shoulder pain to help you sleep better and more comfortably.
Best pillow for shoulder pain: a shortlist
- MedCline — overall best pillow for shoulder pain
- Derila — best pillow for snorers with shoulder pain
- Eli & Elm — best cooling pillow for those with shoulder pain
- Sweet ZZZ — best vegan-friendly pillow for shoulder pain
- Hush — best hypoallergenic pillow for shoulder pain
How to choose the best pillow for shoulder pain in 2023
|Design||Shape and engineering of the product|
|Reviews||Customers’ experience with the product|
- Price. We compared the value of the pillow with the price. Pillows for shoulder pain can be a big investments, so it's helpful to compare what you get for what you pay.
- Design. The right shape can affect how effective a pillow is in supporting shoulder pain. We looked at different designs compared to different individual needs.
- Materials. Different materials can impact how supportive a pillow is. We took this into account, as well as sensitivities and allergies people may have to certain materials.
- Reviews. User experience matters. We looked at each manufacturer's website to get an idea about different customers' experiences to give a more well-rounded review of the pillows in this roundup.
Best pillow for shoulder pain in 2023: an overview
We’ve researched products and compiled this list to help give people with shoulder pain pillow options that may help them get a better night's sleep.
These pillows use ergonomic designs to best meet the needs of people with shoulder pain or injuries, and those who need extra shoulder support while sleeping.
1. MedCline — best overall pillow for shoulder pain
MedCline has created a revolutionary shoulder relief pillow system for people with general shoulder pain and those with rotator cuff injuries, arthritis, nerve impingement, and tendonitis.
This three-component sleep system works by dropping your downside arm into an arm pocket that removes shoulder pressure while your other arm drapes over the body pillow to create a neutral arm position. The arm positions can be adjusted for optimal comfort and can be used for right or left-side sleeping.
When you purchase the MedCline shoulder relief system, you also get access to their sleep specialists. These are customer support advisors that are there to help you make the best purchasing decision for your needs.
This pillow comes in two sizes and is gel-infused for a cooling effect. It is made from hypoallergenic, medical-grade materials for longevity and effectiveness.
It is available for $249.99 and offers a one-year warranty.
2. Derila — best pillow for snorers with shoulder pain
One of the best side sleeper pillows for shoulder pain is the Derila. Made from memory foam, it's marketed as an “anti-snore” ergonomic neck support pillow.
The Derila shoulder pillow for pain is made from advanced memory foam to straighten and support your spine in its natural position. It molds to a unique shape like a custom pillow and can be used by back, side, or stomach sleepers thanks to its butterfly support wings. For hot sleepers, its cooling outer layer helps to regulate temperature.
It may also help relieve snoring by providing the right neck position to help open airways and reduce nasal congestion.
The Derila pillow runs for $39.95 with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
3. Eli & Elm — best cooling pillow for those with shoulder pain
The Eli & Elm side sleeper pillow is designed specifically so that side sleepers can get the neck support they need. The U-shaped design is made to promote spinal alignment and alleviate neck pain.
The removable latex and polyester filling allows you to adjust the pillow to your desired height and support. The cover is made from a blend of smooth cotton, ultra-fine polyester, and spandex.
Proprietary shredded latex filling with a breathable cotton cover allows for greater airflow and maximum cooling for people who run hot while sleeping.
You can get the Eli & Elm side sleeper pillow for $109.99 with a 45-day return policy and five-year warranty.
4. Sweet ZZZ — best vegan-friendly pillow for shoulder pain
Looking for the best pillow for shoulder pain designed for a side sleeper that’s also eco-friendly? This might be the one for you. Sweet ZZZ has created a 100% vegan, plant-based downfill with a 100% natural cotton cover. It is sustainable and certified as safe for those with sensitive skin.
Designed with a firm inner layer to support and contour for better spinal alignment, helping to support people with shoulder pain. They offer two different versions, the high profile is great for side sleepers, while the low profile is better for back and stomach sleepers.
You can get this pillow for $94.25 with a one-year warranty.
5. Hush — best hypoallergenic pillow for shoulder pain
The Hush hybrid cooling pillow is one of the best pillow for side sleepers with shoulder pain. It allows you to create your ideal pillow with removable filling to fit your needs.
The filling of this shoulder pillow for sleeping is made from a combination of shredded memory foam and vegan down. This unique blend allows the pillow to conform to your shape without losing its support, no matter what position you’re sleeping in. This allows people with shoulder pain to sleep comfortably without being limited to a certain sleeping position.
Another great pick for hot sleepers, the innovative Ice technology draws away heat and actively cools. It is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and made sustainably with ethical labor practices.
This pillow runs $119 with a one-year warranty.
Comparison of the top 5 pillows for shoulder pain
|Product||Price||OEKO-TEX® certified||Sizes||Cooling||Washing Machine||Hypoallergenic|
|Derila||$39.95*||No||Standard and king||Yes||No||Yes|
|Eli & Elm||$109.99||Yes||One size||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Sweet ZZZ||$94.25*||Yes||Standard and king||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hush||$119.00||Yes||One size||Yes||Cover only||Yes|
* — prices vary depending on the pillow size.
What is shoulder pain?
The shoulder is a combination of several joints, tendons, and muscles that allow the arm to have a wide range of motion. Because shoulders allow for so much mobility, they are also prone to injuries and pain.
Experts have divided most shoulder problems in four categories:
- Tendon inflammation or tendon tear
- Fracture (broken bone)
Shoulder pain can be temporary, but if it continues, it may require proper medical care. Diagnosis may involve tests to determine the cause of your pain like X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, or an arthroscopy.
Treatment for shoulder pain may include a combination of rest, surgery, medication, and lifestyle changes. Even something as seemingly small as your sleeping habits can affect your shoulders.
Are pillows for shoulder pain effective?
One area of your life that can be majorly affected by shoulder pain is sleep. It may be difficult to find a comfortable position, or you may wake up in the morning with more pain. One way to help combat that is by having the right tools, including pillows.
If your shoulder pain worsens at night it may be due to an injury to the rotator cuff, bursitis, or tendinopathy. A study published in the Journal of Chiropractice Medicine found that pillows that offer a combination of standard, cervical, and shoulder support were the most effective at minimizing shoulder pain while sleeping.
This study also found that pillows that offered a cooling effect may also help improve people’s quality of sleep.
How can a pillow alleviate shoulder pain?
Having the proper pillow that caters to your needs can help give your shoulder, head, and neck proper support so that your pain doesn’t worsen while you’re sleeping. Getting quality sleep is also helpful in your body’s healing process.
A good side sleeper pillow for shoulder pain can enhance the overall quality of sleep. Since many of these pillows offer more support than the average person is used to, they can take some getting used to. After regular use, many people find them comfortable and supportive for their shoulder pain.
Understanding the build of a good shoulder pain pillow
There are countless options out there when it comes to pillows for shoulder pain, so it’s important to know what to look for.
The main types of designs you’ll see when looking for a pillow are:
- Body pillow for shoulder pain
- Side sleeping pillow for shoulder pain
- Neck support pillows for back sleepers
- Lower height pillows for stomach sleepers
- Pillow for arm pain
These pillows are typically made from materials like:
- Memory foam
- Natural cotton
- Down or vegan down (shredded microfiber)
Pillow for shoulder pain vs regular pillows
People with shoulder pain or injuries may not get enough support from a regular pillow, which can exacerbate pain and discomfort. Still, it can be difficult to know if investing in a side pillow for shoulder pain is the right decision for you and your body.
Pillows for shoulder pain are often specifically designed for what type of sleeper you are, side, stomach, or back. These can be especially helpful for people who have difficulty getting comfortable at night or wake up with worsened shoulder pain. The biggest drawbacks of these pillows are that it can take a few tries to find the right one for you and they tend to be more expensive than regular pillows.
While regular pillows are typically more affordable and may work fine for the average person, people with shoulder pain likely won’t find them supportive enough to get quality sleep.
What else can help with shoulder pain?
Shoulder pain is a complex topic, and while pillows are a great starting point, you probably need a combination of tools to help alleviate or treat it. When it comes to sleep, you may also want to consider getting a new mattress if yours is not supportive enough.
Other tools that can help with shoulder pain include:
- Ice and heat packs
- Taking painkillers like ibuprofen for temporary relief
- Reduce the strain on your shoulder and rest when needed
It’s important to see a doctor if you experience chronic shoulder pain, a pinching or tingling sensation, numbness in your arm, or if you suspect you may have injured it. Please seek urgent medical care if you are also experiencing chest pain, jaw stiffness, or heartburn as it could be signs of a heart attack.
Best pillow for shoulder pain — conclusion
Shoulder pain can not only interefere with your daily activities but your sleep as well. Using a special pillow for shoulder pain can help decrease discomfort while also boosting your quality of sleep.
When deciding what pillow to buy be sure to take into consideration what position you normally sleep in, what material you prefer, your budget, and what size you need. If you’re still unsure, looking at reviews for individual products can help guide you in the right direction.
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What causes shoulder pain during sleep?
Shoulder pain during sleep can be caused by a number of factors. Medical professionals believe that shoulder pain that worsens at night is often due to a rotator cuff injury, tendinopathy, or bursitis. Not having the right sleeping setup can exactrabate shoulder pain.
What is the ideal pillow material for shoulder pain?
There isn’t one ideal pillow material for shoulder pain, instead you should look at what material is best for the position that you normally sleep in. Back and side sleepers may benefit from a firmer material like memory foam or latex while stomach sleepers may prefer a softer material like down or shredded microfiber.
Can a special pillow reduce shoulder pain for side sleepers?
Side sleepers with shoulder pain may have increased discomfort when sleeping, but have difficulty sleeping in other positions. Special pillows designed for side sleepers can help give your neck and shoulder the support it needs so that you can sleep comfortably.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Shoulder Pain and Common Shoulder Problems.
- Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Shape design of an optimal comfortable pillow based on the analytic hierarchy process method.
- National Library of Medicine. How does sleep help recovery from exercise-induced muscle injuries?
- Harvard Health Publishing. Shoulder pain and how to treat it.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Attack Symptoms, Risk, and Recovery.