How to Choose a Pillow for Neck Pain

Are you looking for the best pillow for neck pain?

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely woken up at some point with a crick in your neck, a knot in your back or shoulders, or you just haven’t slept as peacefully as you could have, and guess what was a likely culprit? Your pillow!

This is a very common problem and one that sends people to their doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist.

All of those visits could be spared with the right pillow to prevent neck pain. 

Keep on reading to learn how YOU can sleep better by choosing the right pillow for your body and sleep style.

 

The Right Pillow Can Prevent Neck Pain

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Neck pain isn’t anything to joke about - two out of three people experience it at some point in their life. 

Choosing the right pillow can prevent neck pain and all the health problems, doctor visits and poor sleep that comes with it.

Although some people just use pillows as a way to show off a bedroom accent color and nothing more, if you care about your sleep, and your health, you’ll want to be a bit more selective when shopping for a pillow in order to prevent neck pain. 

The type of pillows you purchase will have a huge effect on the quality of your sleep and will even have some chiropractic implications. Your pillows will determine whether you will have a good night’s sleep or persistent neck discomfort.

It is important to purchase a pillow based on a number of factors such as your health and whether you suffer from any allergies. Buying bedroom pillows should be a very deliberate decision. 

It’s nothing to sneeze at!

One of the most important factors in choosing the right pillow is based on your sleep position.

 

The Impact of Sleeping Position

 

Whether you sleep on your stomach (uh oh, cue the drool), back, side, or a combination of these, the pillow you should choose will vary. That’s because your spinal alignment and neck position changes based on your sleep position, and your neck requires more support in some positions compared to others. 

The experts at StartSleeping.org have this to say about sleep position and neck alignment: 

“When you sleep you should be trying to find a neutral spinal position where your pillow enables your spine to be straight vs overly supported (causing an upward bend in your spine) or under-supported(causing a downward bend in your spine). Keep in mind depending on your sleep position you may need a thicker or thinner pillow to find this neutral position. Use the following as a rule of thumb. Also, it may help to have a partner take a look at your position because some of these are difficult to observe yourself.

For Side Sleepers: Keep your spine as level with the surface of your mattress (side view)

Make sure your pillow provides support from the base of your neck to near the top of your head.

Position your pillow up against your shoulders

For Back Sleepers: Keep your spine straight (view from above your mattress) with minimal twists of flexion in your neck

Make sure your pillow allows your nose and chin to be level with one another - this check can ensure your head isn't too high or too low.

Make sure your pillow provides support from the base of your neck to near the top of your head.

Position your pillow up against your shoulders”

Ok, now that you know that sleep position matters, let’s start with the sleep position recommended by most experts...

 

Best Pillows for Neck Pain for Back-Sleepers

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From a back and spine health perspective, sleeping on your back is the most beneficial position to sleep in. Sleep experts at Harvard agree: 

“If you sleep on your back, choose a rounded pillow to support the natural curve of your neck, with a flatter pillow cushioning your head. This can be achieved by tucking a small neck roll into the pillowcase of a flatter, softer pillow, or by using a special pillow that has built-in neck support with an indentation for the head to rest in. 

Try using a feather pillow, which easily conforms to the shape of the neck. Feather pillows will collapse over time, however, and should be replaced every year or so.

Another option is a traditionally shaped pillow with "memory foam" that conforms to the contour of your head and neck. Some cervical pillows are also made with memory foam. Manufacturers of memory-foam pillows claim they help foster proper spinal alignment.

Avoid using too high or stiff a pillow, which keeps the neck flexed overnight and can result in morning pain and stiffness.”

Back sleeping is so beneficial that it is commonly recommended by sleep experts to those who are suffering from back and neck pain. 

Back-sleepers don’t need much support for their head but do need to support their neck and low-back.

Your neck has a natural curve and a rounded pillow placed under your neck or shoulders helps support this by removing the kind of strains on your neck that are likely to result in neck pain. 

Some people use a rounded pillow for neck support along with a flat pillow to support the head. The flatter pillow cushions your head and ensures that it does not “float” when you are using the rounded pillow. This might sound like some elaborate pillow mechanics but it isn’t difficult to set up. For example, you can tuck in a small neck roll into the pillowcase to create a flatter and softer pillow. 

Extra tips for back-sleepers:

 - Consider shopping for feather pillows as they can more easily conform to the shape of your neck. The flip side is that they collapse easily and will need to be replaced more frequently - you’ll likely want to swap out your feather pillows every year or so.

 - Memory foam pillows are also superb for neck support for back-sleepers. They are traditionally shaped and can easily conform to the contours on your neck and head to give you a comfortable and strain-free sleep.

 - There are cervical pillows that have also been made using memory foam and contribute to spinal alignment during sleep while minimizing instances of neck pain.

 - Avoid buying pillows that are either too stiff or too high as these flex your neck during sleep and might result in stiffness or morning pain.

 - Add a pillow under your knees to help support your low-back while you sleep

 

One of the best pillows to prevent neck pain for back sleepers is the Down Under Washable Wool Bed Pillow. This pillow contains removable wool so you can adjust its firmness level. It stays fresh for a long time thanks to the wool material which will wick away moisture and keep your sleeping environment fresh and dry at all times. 

Wool bedding and pillows prevent dust mites and harmful bacteria as well as the many allergens that might interfere with your sleep. The material is also excellent at regulating body temperatures so it is an excellent choice if you sleep hot. Plus, it is washable so this is a pillow that you can use for the long haul to help alleviate your neck pain problems.

Another great pillow to prevent neck pain in back sleepers is the MLILY Tundra Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow.

This is a comfortable memory foam pillow that features a cooling gel technology that absorbs and dissipates heat from the pillow to give you a cool sensation when you are sleeping. The memory foam is of premium quality and is designed to immerse you in cradling comfort and therapeutic support. It offers perfect support for both your head and neck. 

Like other MLILY products, these memory foam pillows have been engineered to the highest standards using the best of European design and innovation. 

The memory foam is CertiPUR-US certified. It is made without any of the other potentially harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, ozone depleters or flame retardants. It also has low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions so you won’t have to worry about the safety risks associated with VOCs.

If you are a back sleeper looking for a premium quality pillow for neck pain, you can grab the affordable MLILY TUNDRA Pillows and begin enjoying safe, blissful, and comfortable sleep. 

 

Best Pillows for Neck Pain for Side Sleepers

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People who sleep on their side will need a pillow that can keep their heads in line with their spine. 

Side sleepers generally need higher profile pillows that will align both the neck and the head. Here, too, you can use a roll-shaped pillow or a rolled towel under your neck with the pillow supporting the head. 

There are some special pillows that are designed with built-in neck support as well as an indentation where the head can rest. These ‘self-contained’ neck pillows are easier to use for side-sleepers as you don’t have to rely on a second flatter pillow to cushion your head. 

You may also want to add a pillow between your knees for additional spine support so you can rest peacefully and wake up feeling refreshed. 

The experts at Spine Health suggest extra support for side-sleepers: 

“When sleeping on the side. A higher pillow is advised in this case, so the neck and head are aligned straight over the shoulders as they would be when standing with good posture. A rolled towel or roll-shaped pillow should be put under the neck and supplemented with a pillow for the head.

Resting one arm on a pillow and adding a pillow between the knees offers additional support for the spine. Somebody pillows may provide support similar to this mix of pillows.”

A great pillow choice for side sleepers is the Natural Bamboo Pillow. Its outer shell is 100% from Bamboo so this is a safe and healthy organic pillow that you can sleep in with a complete peace of mind. The outer chamber of the Natural Bamboo Pillow consists of 100% natural long strand Bamboo fiber while the inner chamber is made up of a micro Gel. 

The Bamboo material that it has been crafted from is 100% natural and free from pesticides. 

The Bamboo fibers also have a natural microbial protection. They wick away the moisture to provide you with excellent comfort during your sleep. 

Texture-wise, Bamboo pillows tend to be silky soft. If you are into eco-friendly lifestyle trends, these are just the perfect pillows for you to help hit those sustainability goals for years to come. 

The pillows are breathable and can control not only the humidity but also the body temperature. They suit all seasons so whether it is winter or summer you are assured of a perfect night’s sleep. These bamboo pillows are also dust-mite resistant and have a natural hypoallergenic quality. They give you a warm and luxuriously soft pillow support, transforming your bed into a welcoming haven for freshness, comfort, and luxury.  

Side sleepers may also want to sleep with a pillow between their knees, which improves sleep position and can offer support for the low-back.

 

Best Pillows for Neck Pain for Stomach Sleepers

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Do you sleep on your stomach? 

Ruh roh! Along with leaving more drool spots on your sheets (thanks, gravity!), stomach sleepers also have back and neck pain to deal with, too. Stomach sleeping is the position experts agree is the worst way to sleep. 

The sleep crew at Healthline say it here: 

“Stomach sleepers, for example, may face the most neck pain. This position means your neck is turned to either side and your spine is arched. For relief, experts recommend trying to sleep either on your back or on your side, and choosing a pillow that helps to support the neck and its natural curve.” 

If you are most comfortable sleeping on your stomach, then you are better off doing so without a pillow in order to avoid straining your neck. You can simply sleep directly on the mattress and place a pillow under your forehead to keep your nose from the mattress. Doing this will also keep your head and neck in a neutral position which will not strain your neck.

For this sleeping position, you can also add a flat pillow under your stomach and hips that will keep the spine well aligned with your neck and head. Adding a flat pillow to your stomach while sleeping may help alleviate the strain on the neck. 

In general, sleeping on your stomach is not recommended, so ideally you can make the shift to sleeping on your back, or side, or a combination of both. Which brings us to our next sleep position...

 

Best Pillows for Neck Pain for “Combination” Sleepers

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Do you toss and turn during your sleep? Do you find yourself frequently shifting sleeping positions? Do you sleep in a particular way and wake up to find yourself in a different sleeping style?

If the answer is yes to any or all of these, chances are that you are a combination sleeper.

Combination sleepers need pillows that can support them in all their sleeping positions. The most suitable pillows for a combination sleeper should be one which provides them with fairly balanced support in all the sleeping positions, be it on their sides, stomach or backs.

When it comes to pillows for combination sleepers, there is a vast array to pick from such as the adjustable memory foam, goose down pillows, or down alternatives.  

For a great neck pillow for combination sleepers, look no further than the Down Under Hungarian Down Feather Chamber Pillow

This offers you the perfect combination that will assure you of a sound good night’s sleep. It is made of a dual-layer construction with white waterfowl feathers forming the bulk of the pillow and offering you excellent neck support. 

It also features a white down which entirely surrounds the inner chamber of the pillow. Together, these make for a very natural pillow that offers you the best of feather and down. 

It provides medium level support and has a very soft and comforting feel. All the softness inside is wrapped around a 260 Thread Count cover that is made from a 100% down-proof and combed cotton material. 

The Down Under Hungarian Down Feather Chamber Pillow is also hypoallergenic. You get the best of both value and quality. The down and feathers that make up the pillow have also undergone an antimicrobial treatment that assures you of healthy, organic, and comfortable pillows. 

These combination pillows also have excellent resistance to molds, mildew, bacteria as well as fungus. They have superb odor protection and also feature great freshness and hygiene. 

Although everybody sleeps differently, the best pillows for neck pain offer support to keep your spine aligned based on your sleep position. Back sleepers should use an adjustable pillow material like down or memory foam that can be flattened underneath your head and expanded under your neck. Side sleepers need more support from their pillow so should use materials like bamboo or memory foam. Stomach sleepers should consider changing sleep position, or use a pillow under their stomach, but not under their head. 

No matter how you sleep, make sure you invest the time and money to find the right pillow for you so you can sleep better, wake up more restfully, and avoid health issues. After all, nobody likes a pain in the neck!