Side sleeper ear pain results from the sound sleeper keeping his or her head in one position throughout the night. I sleep like this, rarely moving from one side to the other.
When the outer cartilage (Helix and Antihelix, as shown in the image) of the ear is compressed for long periods – sleeping on the side, or wearing a headset or helmet, for example – it can result in a burning pain or even hard blisters. It is called chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis (CNH). It develops over time, meaning it is a predominately adult condition.
CNH is a dermatological condition, and is usually treated with nitrogen application, though occasionally surgery is required if the nodules are large and particularly dense.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so how can a side sleeper reduce ear pressure when sleeping and avoid this painful condition altogether?
Some dermatologists recommend a pillow with a hole cut into the middle, where your ear would sit. Basically, a donut to sleep on. I found a different way with the My Butterfly Pillow side sleeper pillow.
We put a softer sort of memory foam in the center of the My Butterfly Pillow, and cut it into small cubes. This allows movement with every breath and nudge throughout the night, meaning your ear doesn’t take a single point of pressure.
As a bonus, we embedded speakers under that ear pillow, allowing users to listen to white noise, soothing music, or audiobooks as they drift off to sleep.