How To Choose A Pillow If You Have Neck Pain
If neck pain keeps you up at night, you might want to consider swapping your pillow for one thats the right height. In the pillow world, height is usually described as loft.
The right amount of loft depends a lot on your preferred sleeping position. Stomach sleepers, for example, should opt for a pillow with a lower loft. Essentially, you want a pillow that will keep your spine in alignment without putting too much pressure on your neck.
You might also want to look for a pillow made of supportive foam or latex rather than down or down alternative.
Shape may also be a consideration. Cervical or ergonomic pillows are designed to provide support specifically for the neck and head, for instance.
Pillows can be made from a range of materials, including latex, polyester, cotton, and more. A
Best Cooling: Tuft & Needle Original Foam Pillow
If you have neck pain and are a fan of memory foam, Jordan Duncan, DC, a chiropractor at Silverdale Sport & Spine in Silverdale, Washington, recommends this pillow.
It’s made from T& N adaptive foam, which is a much higher-caliber material than what other memory foams are made of, such as latex, Duncan says. It also comes with a three-year manufacturer warranty and promises to maintain its adaptive shape and firmness throughout that period of time.
In addition to its soft and supportive feel, it has cooling technology, so it’s a good pick if you tend to sweat in your sleep. Duncan recommends this pillow for any sleeping position.
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The Neck Pillow Buying Guide
- Firmer neck pillows might be better for neck curves and posture problems, but they may not be as comfortable as soft ones.
- You can try starting with a softer neck pillow and then work your way up to medium, then firm one, for the most support.
- Neck pillows often come with washable covers. Check to see if such a cover is made from breathable, soft material and if it is machine-washable. Both are definite selling points.
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Best Sleeping Positions For Neck Pain
Generally, if youre experiencing neck pain, its best to sleep on your back or side.
Sleeping on your stomach, especially if youre sleeping with a pillow thats too thick, can put excess pressure on your cervical spine and cause neck pain.
Keep your neck aligned with your body. You may want to place a pillow under your knees to keep your spine in proper alignment.
What Pillows Will Reduce Neck Pain
Both of the physical therapists I talked to, Karena Wu, PT, DPT, owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy in New York City and Mumbai, and Colleen Louw, PT, a therapeutic pain specialist and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association, recommended cervical neck pillows.
These pillows take a variety of forms, but Wu and Louw recommended pillows that have a lower loft in the middle and larger bumps along each length. The Tempur-Pedic Neck was the only pillow of this style that I tested, and I found it didn’t fit the curvature of my neck right. Wu mentioned having a similar problem. “I had the Tempur-Pedic pillow, and it was too small for me,” she said.
For future updates to this guide, we hope to test more cervical pillows to find one we can recommend.
Wu and Louw also liked the MyPillow because you can adjust it to fit the contours of your head and neck region. However, in our testing, we found there were better options that are more easily moldable and adjustable.
The bottom line is you need to find a pillow no matter the style that fits the contours of your head, neck, and shoulders to provide comfortable support throughout the night. This is why adjustability and a good return policy are important.
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Best Sleeping Position For Neck Pain
Dr. Anis Rehman, Endocrinologist
Our team of writers, editors, and medical experts rigorously evaluates each article to ensure the information is accurate and exclusively cites reputable sources. Learn More
We regularly assess how the content in this article aligns with current scientific literature and expert recommendations in order to provide the most up-to-date research.
Best Memory Foam Pillow For Back Sleepers
Nectar Resident Pillow
This supportive, conforming, pressure-relieving pillow is made with a two-in-one, adjustable design. The outer shell comes overstuffed for loft and comfort, and you can remove some of the fill to find the right feel. The inner shell is made with two types of foam for support and durability.
Because of its adjustability, the Resident pillow works equally well for back and side sleepers.
There are close to 300 reviews, with an overall rating of 4.8 stars. People praise the soft support and customized feel.
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Best Adjustable Pillow For Back And Side Sleepers
Avocado Green Pillow
This adjustable pillow from Avocado is filled with Global Organic Latex Standard organic certified latex and Global Organic Textile Standard organic certified kapok fiber inside an organic jersey cotton liner. The whole thing is covered with a machine-washable organic quilted cotton cover.
The pillow comes with an extra bag of fill, so you can customize its volume to accommodate your preferred back or side sleeping position and extend its life span.
Avocado offers a 100-night trial, free shipping, and a 1-year warranty.
Finding The Right Loft & Firmness For Neck Pain
When it comes to relieving neck pain, neutral spine alignment is the name of the game. Youll hear me mention this a few times, but promoting neutral spine alignment is your pillows most important job .
Now, you might be wondering, How am I supposed to know if my spine is in neutral alignment? Well, heres a trick I like to use: If your spine is in neutral alignment, your ears should be in line with your shoulders, and your chin should be in line with your sternum. So when youre lying in bed, take some time to see if your chin is being craned upward, or if your ear is pressed into either shoulder. If so, its time to readjust and regain a healthy posture.
That said, its important to match your pillow to your preferred sleeping position in order to keep a healthy posture. To find the right fit, youll need to keep a close eye on the pillows loft and firmness rating. So lets take a closer look at the best loft and firmness for each position:
Before we move on to the next factor, remember that you can find a more in-depth explanation of how to keep a healthy sleeping posture in my complete guide to picking the right pillow!
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Popular Pillow Fill Types
Down fill is the softest option. It’s made from goose or duck down and is very fluffy airy and light. Although down doesn’t offer firm support and will fall flat, it’s easy to re-fluff and re-shape it after a run through the dryer. Down is also one of the most expensive fills.
Down alternative is plush and light, like down, but much cheaper and easier to care for. It’s made from cotton or polyester clusters and is often blended with other synthetic materials like gel or memory foam for additional loft and support. This is a good option for those with sensitivities to natural down.
Memory foam is available as either a solid form, for more structured support, or shredded pieces, for a fluffier feel. Shredded memory foam fill is often adjustable for a customized shape that’s tailored to your sleep style. A standout feature of memory foam is its ability to hold its shape while contouring to your body, however, some may find it too firm, clunky and not very cooling.
Latex is bouncier and holds its shape better than memory foam. It comes in two fill types, shredded or solid, and is one of the most natural, sustainable materials available. Latex pillows can be pricey, though, and may not be suitable for those with a latex allergy.
The Best Pillow For Neck Pain
If you experience neck pain especially when you sleep or first thing in the morning then changing your sleep position or finding the best pillow for neck pain might be something you need to look into.
Aside from finding the best mattress or pillow to sleep on, the best sleeping position to avoid neck pain is on your side or your back.
That said, sleep position isnt the only thing that will solve your crick in the neck.
In addition to sleep position, a high-quality pillow that supports your neck while you sleep can help.
As far as the best pillows for neck pain are concerned, I personally recommend one that is matched to your body size.
This means that there really isn’t the best pillow for everyone, but there’s certainly the best pillow for you!
Generally speaking, a more rounded pillow that supports the natural curvature of your neck is what we should be paying attention to.
But it’s more complicated than that.
Is the best pillow for neck pain one made of made of memory foam, latex or feathers?
Rather than basing this on opinion, what does the research say about it?
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Add Other Pillows As Needed
If you sleep on your stomach, for instance, a flat pillow under your stomach might help keep your spine in line with your head and neck.
If you sleep on your side or back with a flat pillow, a second roll or rolled up towel under your neck could provide additional support. For side sleepers, putting a thin pillow between your knees also helps keep your spine in line with your head and neck.
Why You Can Trust Us
Our team at Sleep Foundation includes experts and testers with years of experience in the sleep product industry. We have tested over 300 pillows in order to determine which ones are best suited to sleepers with different needs. Our team includes back, side, stomach, and combination sleepers, as well as sleepers of different body types. This allows us to represent as wide an array of sleep preferences as possible in our findings.
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Best Pillow For Back Sleepers With Neck Pain
Sleeping on your back has a lot of benefits for your body.
Sleeping on your back allows your spine to align naturally and evenly distributes your weight at night, allowing for optimal blood flow through the spine.
Sleep studies have found that sleeping on your back makes you less likely to toss and turn throughout the night, giving you higher quality sleep and allowing you to wake up better rested than your side-sleeping or stomach-sleeping counterparts.
However, back sleepers who are overweight are prone to sleep apnea and snoring, as their chins are often tilted upward and jaws pressed backward, closing off the airway .
So if you’re a back sleeper with neck and shoulder pain, consider purchasing a pillow designed specifically for back sleeping.
The most important quality of a good pillow for back sleepers is the thickness or height.
Stay away from pillows that are too fluffy or cause your head to be artificially raised.
A proper pillow for back sleeping will keep your head in a neutral position and the neck will be properly supported.
In this case, a feather pillow might be a good place to start since you can bunch the pillow underneath your neck and it won’t raise your head.
In Summary, back sleepers should find a pillow that:
- Is softer and thinner behind the head
- Thicker or properly supports the neck
How Should I Sleep To Avoid Neck Pain
Louw discourages people from sleeping on their stomach. “It puts you in a no-win situation,” she said. “You’re going to have to turn your head to the right or left, closing off one of those sides.” This leads to inflammation, stiffness, and pain of the synovial joints in the neck.
Louw says the key is to keep your spine aligned when you sleep, which is achievable when sleeping on your back or side with the right pillow.
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How Do You Pick The Right Neck Pillow Exactly
So you have your mind set on buying a neck pillow. Wondering what to do next before you click add to cart? The following is what you can keep in mind when picking out the best neck pillow for you, according to experts.
Okay, now that youre all caught up on the details of picking out the best neck pillow for you, its time to get into the nitty-gritty. The following are the 15 best pillows for neck pain, according to doctors and rave reviews.
If you have allergies, a good pillow that does wonders for your neck will only help so much. But what if I told you that you can sleep soundly knowing that both your neck and nose will be at peace?
Enter: Pacific Coast’s cushiony pillow-in-a-pillow is made specifically to block dust mites and allergens without using any chemicals. Plus, it boasts support for every kind of sleeperside, back, belly, you name itso neck pain is not even a possibility.
Which Pillow Is Best For Neck Pain
There isnt one single pillow out there thats perfect for everyone, but the best pillow for neck pain has two main characteristics: its firm enough to keep your head at a neutral angle so your spine stays aligned while you sleep, but yet somehow soft enough to allow some give to help alleviate pressure points. Thats why we like the Tempur-Pedic Tempur Neck Pillowit checks all the boxes.
Memory foam and feather pillows are excellent options because they provide support, but also cradle your head to keep your spine neutral. Cervical pillowsthe ones that have a depression in the center and raised edgesare also top picks. Keep in mind that the best pillow for neck pain may not feel totally comfortable at first. It can take some getting used to, so give it a little time.
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Lunvon Adjustable Cervical Pillow
- The pillow has several features to help with cooling: The memory foam is open-cell and infused with gel, and the mesh cover also helps with airflow.
- The pillows core is made up of three layers of memory foam, and the middle layer can be removed to customize the pillows feel and height to your sleep style. You can adjust the height by nearly an inch.
- The memory foam in the pillow is CertiPUR-US certified, meaning its free of certain harmful chemicals.
- The pillows cover is removable and machine-washable.
- The pillow arrives vacuum-packed and might take a day or two to fully expand and finish off-gassing.
- This pillow doesnt dip as much in the middle as some cervical pillows, so if youre looking for a big variance between the sides and the middle of the pillow you might be disappointed.
If youre prone to sleeping hot, consider the CertiPUR-US certified Lunvon Adjustable Cervical Pillow. It has several features to help with cooling, including open-cell foam, a gel infusion, and a mesh cover.
Appropriate For Your Sleeping Position
Whether you sleep on your back, side or stomach, your pillow should keep your head and neck in neutral alignment, Duncan says. “This is accomplished by a pillow that maintains your head and neck in a horizontal position without too much flexion or side bending.”
Many brands will market certain pillows for back or side sleepers, Duncan notes.
“It should be mentioned that sleeping on your stomach isn’t recommended because of the extreme rotation that it forces your neck into,” he adds. “This sleeping posture is a common reason why people wake up with neck pain and stiffness.”
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How We Evaluated These Pillows
During the testing process, our team members lie on each pillow for a period of time to evaluate firmness, support, pressure relief, and other performance features that are relevant to sleepers with neck pain. Testers shift around to evaluate the pillow in different positions. The picks above reflect the pillows that out-performed all other models.
Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow
This pillow does it all: Whether youre a side, back or stomach sleeper, this cervical pillow will cradle your neck and head while you sleep at night. Made entirely out of memory foam, this pillows ergonomic design ensures that your head, neck, shoulders and back will remain aligned. Theres even a slope that will keep your head from rolling out of a stabilized position should you move during the night, as well as cutouts on the side that gives your top arm a resting place so you dont hunch your shoulder.
Overall, this pillow has a proven track record of reducing stress and discomfort throughout your body, especially the neck and shoulders. It also prevents snoring, by supporting the natural curvature of your body, which in turn supports your air passages.
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Neck Pain And Its Relation To Sleep Quality
Neck pain can involve discomfort in the muscles, bones, nerves, joints, and the discs between the bones. It can cause difficulty in movement.
Sometimes, a chronic health condition, such as fibromyalgia, causes neck pain. In other cases, it can occur as a result of an accident.
While periodic discomfort in your neck isnt typically something to worry about, its important to seek medical care if your symptoms dont go away within a week or escalate to other areas of your body.
Its difficult to sleep when youre experiencing any kind of pain, including chronic neck pain. You might toss and turn all night to find a comfortable sleeping position.
Researchers in a that evaluated teens found that neck pain was linked to poor sleep quality in this age group.
for the neck and upper quadrant.