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The Best Pillows For Neck Pain - The Sleepy People Guide

DO YOU SUFFER FROM NECK PAIN EACH NIGHT?

Nowadays, waking up with a stiff neck has just become one of those things that many of us just put up with. The reality is, however, that you shouldn't have to and that there's often an easy solution! 

Many people put their neck pain down to long hours working or sat in front of a computer screen, and just generally accept it and get on with their day to day activities.

But did you know that the main cause of your neck pain is probably the pillow you’re using? Yes, that's right, the wrong type of pillow could well be the cause of your neck pain. 

We strongly recommend changing your pillow as regularly as once every six months but you may be pleased to know that there really is such as a thing as the best pillow for neck pain.

We’ve picked out the things that you should be looking for in a pillow if you do suffer from neck pain, as well as giving some of our suggestions.

What To Consider When Looking For The Best Pillow For Neck Pain

In essence, your pillow is performing two functions. Firstly, it needs to be comfortable enough to ensure you get a good night’s sleep and don’t wake up tossing and turning. After all, it can be a vicious cycle of bad sleep causing your neck pain, which then causes you to get an ever worse night’s sleep!

Secondly, it needs to properly support your neck and spine, keeping them in a straight, natural line.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your head needs to be elevated too high though, as this can put it at an unnatural angle and add to the problems.

Of course on the other hand, a pillow that is too flat and doesn’t support your head enough will also lead to your neck and spine becoming misaligned.

Consider Your Sleep Position

Knowing your sleep position can be a great help when it comes to buying the best pillow for neck pain and it's another thing which many don't consider.

Generally speaking, you don’t want there to be gap between your neck and the pillow. For a side sleeper, you don’t want your head to tilt into an unnatural position, as shown in the diagram below.

To combat this, side sleepers are recommended to buy a relatively flat and soft pillow.

On the other hand, those who sleep on their back can often have their head pushed too far forward by their pillow or just the natural shape of the top of their back (as seen in the diagram below).

Getting the right height is key here, generally you want to be quite high, but not so much that it pushes your head forward, instead you roughly want to be at a 90-degree angle, looking straight at your ceiling.

However, we understand that throughout the night you toss and turn and your sleep position can change multiple times during the night!

For this reason, we recommend an adjustable pillow such as memory foam, which adjusts to your movements throughout the night.

Memory Foam

Perhaps the most popular type of pillow for those suffering from neck pain is the memory foam pillow.

Made from a dense-spongey material, memory foam softens in reaction to body heat, which allows it to mould to the contours of the body (or the neck in this situation).

This creates a comfortable and supportive cradle for your head and neck, and can also adapt as you move during the night.

Our favourite memory foam pillow is the Silentnight Memory Foam Impress Pillow.

This non allergenic pillow moulds perfectly to the contours of the body to reduce stress and pressure on the neck and back.

If purchasing a memory foam pillow, it’s important that you do your homework as the quality of these pillows can vary. You need to find one with a fairly high density so it provides ample support, and many come with a mixture of foam and sand rather than 100% foam.

Orthopaedic

Orthopaedic pillows are specifically designed to correct your body position. They can come in various shapes and designs, such as:

Cervical/Contour Pillow: A curved pillow to support the contours of your neck and shoulders, a cervical pillow is usually recommended for back and side sleepers. It also helps to reduce snoring by releasing breathing airways.

Neck pillow: Not strictly one for the bedroom but a neck or travel pillow can be a great help to align your neck while you’re sat up due to its horseshoe shape.

Body pillows: There are also a number of body pillows which are designed to be placed at various places such as the lower back and knees.


A cervical pillow is a great option as it has been designed with the sole purpose of supporting your head and neck.

An option we have here at Sleepy People is the Bedcrest Memory Foam Contour Pillow.

As you can see from the image above, contour pillows slope from being thicker at one end for your head, to thinner at the other for your neck.

We particularly like this pillow as it blends its orthopaedic qualities with memory foam, making it supportive as well as comfortable.

Extra Tips

Sometimes an additional pillow can make things more comfortable. Body and knee pillows are especially good for side sleepers as they stop your knees coming together, keeping the spine aligned and ultimately helping the neck.

On the the other hand, you shouldn’t need to use more than one pillow for your head. This can lead to the head being lifted too high and causing unnecessary strain.

As comfy as they may be, try to stay away from the super soft options such as feather or down if you suffer from pain. While they are comfy they don’t really give the required support for someone with neck pain.

While getting the right pillow is a good idea, dependent on the cause, neck pain may also require some sort of specialist treatment, so it’s best to go and see a doctor as well!

Picking the best pillow for neck pain sounds a difficult task, and it can feel a bit like trial and error, and there isn’t one catch all answer for everyone, however by following a few simple tips, you can at least reduce some of the pain you experience each and every night.

Don’t be put off by a slightly higher price tag for a specialist pillow, as it may end up being the thing that finally sorts out your neck pain!

Ultimately it largely comes down to personal preference, and we’re sure that you know your body better than anyone, so when you find the right pillow for your neck pain, you’ll know!

Feel free to browse our full range of pillows, and in particular our memory foam range.

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