Neck pain can make it hard to get quality sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Some chronic neck pain exists from a preexisting condition. However, some neck pain is caused or worsened by using the wrong type of pillow.
What kind of pillow is good for neck pain? What causes neck pain, and how does your sleeping position affect neck pain? You can find all the answers to these questions and more in this article.
Hopefully, the information contained here can help you minimize any neck pain you are experiencing and achieve better sleep every night.
Finding the Best Pillow for Neck Pain
What Traits Are Most Important In a Pillow for Neck Pain?
When choosing a pillow to help relieve neck pain, a few essential traits help make the ideal pillow. Knowing what these traits are will help you assess whether or not your current pillow is suited to the job or help you pick out a new pillow in the future.
It is essential when it comes to preventing and reducing neck pain. The right neck pillows will relieve pressure on your head and neck, allowing it to relax without adding any additional strain entirely.
Firmness in a pillow can either keep your spine and shoulders aligned or force them into misalignment. The firmness level of your pillow will determine how far your head sinks into the materials.
So, is a soft or hard pillow better for your neck? It is often determined by the weight of your head, the type of mattress you have, your sleep position, and your body shape. Generally speaking, though, a too firm pillow may not offer enough pressure relief, and a pillow that is too soft may not provide your neck with enough support.
Providing support for your head and neck also plays a role in making a comfortable pillow for sleep. The right pillow will support your neck while maintaining its natural curve without pushing your head into an unnatural position. Cervical pillows with a cutout shape for neck support are often an excellent option for providing the level of comfort and support needed to prevent or exacerbate the spine, head, and neck pain.
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The height will also match your specific body shape and size in the right pillow. Paired with the trait above, the loft of your pillow can cause your head to tilt either up or down while you sleep. It can lead to discomfort and strain with consistent use.
Malleable pillows or pillows with an adjustable loft can make finding the right pillow height easier if you don’t already know what loft fits your body’s shape and sleep position.
The shape may be less significant for some who prefer a traditional rectangular pillow. However, there are many foam pillows on the market today that ergonomically contour to your specific body shape and position while you sleep.
An ergonomic cervical pillow can be great for maintaining proper spinal alignment, but only if it is the right shape and size. It makes finding the best cervical pillow a bit trickier, but for some, the search is more than worth it considering it results in a better night’s sleep and a reduction of neck pain.
What Are the Best Pillow Materials for Neck and Head Pain?
Now that we know what traits to prioritize in a pillow that is good for neck pain, it’s time to discuss what type of pillow materials achieve these traits best. Most people benefit significantly from using either memory foam, buckwheat, latex, or feather pillow materials. However, polyfoam and down may also be suitable for some sleepers.
A polyfoam or memory foam pillow does an excellent job providing contour and support for your aching neck. Some memory foam pillows even feature an adjustable loft so you can customize the shape to suit your specific body shape. While they feel great, unfortunately, some are known to retain unwanted heat.
Feather pillows can also provide the right amount of relief and support. They are highly malleable and adjust to various sleep positions with ease.
Buckwheat pillows are another great material for neck pain pillows. The stuffing retains its shape well and is highly breathable, being constructed from buckwheat hulls. However, they can be noisy, expensive, and don’t provide you with the same soft feel traditional pillows.
Sleeping Positions and Your Pillow
In combination with your pillow, the position you sleep in can also affect whether or not you experience neck pain. For the most part, sleeping on your back or side are thought to be the best sleeping positions for anyone experiencing discomfort or pain.
Sleeping on your stomach can quickly force your neck to bend to one side or at a strenuous angle which puts unnecessary strain on your spine while you sleep. Stomach sleepers who don’t want to try sleeping on their side or back may want to place a pillow under their stomach to help realign their spine.
Back sleepers should seek out a pillow with a minimal to medium loft. The pillow should be thick enough to raise your head into alignment with your neck without overextending. Many back sleepers find luck using two pillows or a thin, rounded pillow under their neck to support its natural curve.
Side sleepers should sleep with a pillow that elevates their head into alignment with their shoulders. Side sleeping can be very comfortable for your neck and provide it with plenty of support, as long as you get the correct loft and remain lying on your side throughout the night.
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— Crysta S (@crystas2020) September 7, 2018
Other Things to Consider
Can Your Pillow Cause Neck Pain?
Neck pain caused by the wrong pillow is not uncommon. Your pillow can easily lead to neck pain in the morning if it does not allow your neck to relax entirely and instead strains your neck positioning throughout the night. The wrong pillow may also cause improper spine alignment, which is a common precursor for discomfort.
Having the wrong pillow may not be the only source of your neck and shoulder pain. However, sleeping in a healthy position and using a pillow that will support your neck correctly can go a long way in reducing any possible discomfort in your head, neck, and spine.
What Else Causes Neck Pain?
Besides your pillow, several other factors could contribute to your neck, back, and shoulder pain. The most common include:
- A previous injury.
- Sleeping on the wrong mattress.
- Consistent poor posture.
- Sitting at a desk or driving for extended periods.
Acknowledging and addressing these issues could also help reduce any discomfort you are experiencing.
Neck Pain Symptoms Can Often Include:
- A restricted range of motion
- Muscle spasms
- Lower or poor quality sleep
The Best Pillows for Neck Pain Summarized
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While choosing the best pillow for your specific type of neck pain may rely mainly on personal preference, by now, you should know what kind of pillow is suitable for neck pain so that you can make an educated decision. Just remember to prioritize comfort, support, and loft based on your body shape and sleeping position, side sleeping is best, and you should be headed in the right direction. As long as your pillows keep your spine in alignment and you feel comfortable, you’ll be sleeping soundly in no time at all.
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