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Pillows play an essential role in allowing the body to rest and recover. By supporting the head, a pillow can keep the neck in line with the spine, helping relieve neck pain and allowing the muscles to relax.
The best pillow for neck pain will vary according to a person’s sleep style, and the firmness and support of the pillow. Try out a few before purchasing to find out what works best.
Many people experience neck pain. It may result from everyday stressors, such as work, or stem from a poor sitting posture. Sitting for long hours in front of a computer or mobile device may also add additional strain to the neck.
One function of a pillow is to keep the neck in correct alignment with the rest of the spine to ensure the muscles relax properly and do not overextend.
A person’s sleep posture is important. Most people sleep on their sides. Some people prefer to sleep on their back, while others sleep on their stomach.
- Side sleepers should aim for a thicker pillow to keep their neck aligned with the spine.
- Back sleepers should start with a medium pillow that supports the neck and lets the head rest.
- Stomach sleepers should have a very thin pillow to prevent extension in their neck.
Each sleeper will need a different kind of pillow to promote the correct neck posture while sleeping. This is essential, as incorrect neck posture can cause or worsen existing pain and prevent the neck from resting during the night.
Please note that the author of this article has not tested these products.
1. Epabo Memory Orthopedic Pillow
The Epabo Memory Orthopedic Pillow features an ergonomic contour that may suit back and side sleepers. The contoured design cradles the head, helping to keep the spine aligned and at rest.
This breathable memory foam pillow may be cooler than some other memory foam options. Importantly, a person can also adjust the pillow to suit them. It features a removable piece of foam at the back, which can help lower the resting position of the head for people who find the pillow too high.
However, people with severe neck pain may find that the pillow is too stiff to relax properly.
2. Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow
The Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow is a great pillow for both back and side sleepers. The center dips down to cradle the head while sleeping and promotes proper alignment in the spine for different types of sleepers.
For back sleepers, the sturdy cervical roll supports the neck itself, while the head rests in the contour. One side of the pillow has a larger neck roll for more support, while the other side has a smaller neck roll for less support.
For side sleepers, the side areas are higher, allowing for proper neck alignment.
The versatility of the pillow also makes it a great option for people who switch positions throughout the night.
Adjusting to pillows such as these can take time as they require changes in sleep posture. While breaking in a new pillow, the Core Products company recommend that people alternate between using this pillow and a standard pillow. This will help get the body used to the new sleeping posture.
3. Purple Harmony Pillow
The Purple Harmony pillow might suit people who find memory foam options too hot. The Purple company note that the pillow contains over 1,500 air channels that keep air circulating through the pillow, keeping heat away from the head. It has a latex core that is naturally cooler than other memory foam options.
The Purple Harmony Pillow comes in two heights. The regular pillow is 6.5 inches (in) thick. This might be a good option for back sleepers, some stomach sleepers, and smaller people who sleep on their sides.
The taller version of the pillow might suit side sleepers who need more support to keep the head aligned with the spine.
4. TEMPUR-Neck Pillow
The original contoured TEMPUR-Neck Pillow from TEMPUR-PEDIC is an extra firm pillow offering strong support for back or side sleepers with neck pain.
The pillow comes in thicknesses ranging from 3–4.5 in to accommodate the needs of different sleepers and body sizes.
The pillow itself is made from extra firm TEMPUR material, which helps support the neck and keep the head aligned while sleeping on the side or back.
The pillow may not suit people who need plush pillows with extra comfort, as its function is to alleviate pressure in the neck.
5. TEMPUR-Essential Support Pillow
The TEMPUR-Essential Support Pillow from TEMPUR-PEDIC is a light support pillow, best suited for back and stomach sleepers who do not enjoy too much stiffness in a pillow. The memory foam core adjusts to the head’s weight to relieve pressure without pushing back too much.
This pillow is not a good option for people who need height or stronger support.
6. Mediflow Water Pillow
The Water Pillow by Mediflow combines pillow fiber with a supportive layer of water. The Mediflowwebsite states that this Waterbased technology improves a person’s quality of sleep by reducing neck pain.
Back and side sleepers can adjust The Water Pillow to suit their needs by adding or removing water from the membrane. This technology may also help reduce the need to readjust the pillow during use, as the water inside the pillow adjusts to the head’s movements as needed.
The original Water Pillow uses hypoallergenic fibers. The company also offers pillows using either down or memory foam layers for different levels of comfort.
7. Hullo Buckwheat Pillow
For an all natural, adjustable option, many people choose buckwheat pillows such as the Original Hullo Buckwheat pillow.
These pillows contain thousands of buckwheat hulls rather than other materials, such as foam or fibers. These hulls offer support, while also adjusting to the head. This may reduce compression in some sleepers and lead to more restful sleep.
The naturally breathable hulls keep the pillow from getting hot.
People can also adjust buckwheat pillows to suit virtually any sleeping style and need by adding or removing hulls from the pillow.
The individualized nature of these pillows makes them a great all-around option for ergonomic support.
However, people who need more targeted support may want to look to contoured options.
While there are some general pillow trends for all types of sleepers, the ideal pillow can vary for each person.
Changes in support levels, body positioning, and even material may make some people lean towards one type of pillow over another.
It may be best to look for companies that offer trial periods or find a way to try the pillow or pillow types before purchasing.
Understanding their sleep needs can help a person make the correct purchase the first time and find lasting relief from neck pain.