The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Pillow for Neck Pain (2023)
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Is sleeping a literal pain in the neck for you?
That is, do you often wake up with a sore neck — and then suffer throughout the day?
It’s likely your pillow is at least partly to blame. But there is good news: many supportive pillows exist today to provide relief from neck pain!
That said, everybody — and every body — is different. Therefore, the pillow that’s best for you will depend on a variety of factors. We explore each of them in this guide.
Our Top Picks: Best Pillows for Neck Pain (2022)
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How neck pain affects your sleep quality and overall health
A bit of neck pain never really hurt anybody … right?
Well, not necessarily. Discomfort in your neck from time to time typically isn’t something to worry about.
That said, consider the impact of constant neck pain on your daily life. It’s almost impossible to drive or work at a computer when you’re struggling to turn your head or hold it upright.
Moreover, the quality of your sleep is negatively affected when you experience any kind of pain. You may move around for hours unable to find a comfortable sleeping position. According to experts, this leads to a lack of concentration and alertness in daily life. Even worse, chronic poor sleep over many years may result in more serious problems including:
- A shorter lifespan
So what can be done to ease or eliminate neck pain — and counter the dangers of constantly interrupted sleep? Much of it comes down to the composition of the pillow you choose and your preferred sleeping position.
First up — a primer about fill, firmness, and loft!
Consideration #1: Pillow Fill
Stuffing. Filling. Filler. Also known as “fill,” the type and amount used defines the overall firmness of your pillow. While there are many types, we’ll look at three of the most popular: memory foam, down, and down alternative.
Firm but also flexible, memory foam is made from polyurethane and it easily molds to your shape. As a cushion for your head, memory foam can help greatly relieve strain on your neck, providing the support you need regardless of your sleep position. Even better — memory foam doesn’t tend to clump, so you always get an even, smooth surface for your weary head.
A down pillow is all about gentle, plushy comfort. Ultra-fluffy and soft, down filling originates from beneath a goose’s or duck’s protective feather covering.
Down alternative and microfibre
Meanwhile, down alternative fill is a synthetic, polyester alternative providing the same maximum softness as down. As a bonus for down alternative, it’s hypoallergenic.
One such down alternative material — microfibre — mimics the luxurious fluffiness of down to provide a hotel-like pillow feel. That said, don’t mistake softness for lack of neck support!
For example, the GoodMorning.com Microfibre Pillow provides an ideal balance of ultra-cozy comfort and just-right firmness. Here’s how:
- Multi-layered design: Providing a firm inner pillow for support, surrounded by a padded plush outer shell for softness.
- Anti-clumping technology: Ensuring a smooth, consistent surface at every use — without the lumps and bumps you often get with down.
- 3-year warranty: Guaranteeing proper neck support for more than 1,000 nights of great sleep.
Consideration #2: Pillow Loft
“Loft” is the industry term for the height of the pillow. A low loft is generally less than three inches, while a higher loft is over six inches.
It’s important to remember that loft is not about the actual height of the pillow. It’s the height when you are resting on it. So even though a pillow may be advertised with a height dimension of 6.5 inches, it’s not necessarily high loft. The loft is all dependent on you!
So which loft is right for you? A lot of it comes down to your preferred sleeping position.
Consideration #3: Your Sleep Style
You may think you already know which type of fill, firmness, and loft is best for you. But are you sure?
Your “best pillow” is highly dependent on how you sleep at night. Remember, we can hold the same position a very long time when we’re in bed! Lying in an awkward position for hours can result in prolonged pain for your neck — plus other parts of your body.
Experts say your pillow’s fill, firmness, and loft should help promote “neutral spine alignment” as you sleep. In other words, your pillow should help your spine retain its natural position as you’re lying down. All three curves — the cervical (neck), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) — should be in good alignment. Your pillow should not stretch your head from its neutral position. Otherwise, you won’t achieve the alignment you need for a neck-pain-free sleep.
As a general rule, your neck should never be elevated higher than the rest of your spine. As well, your pillow should keep your neck parallel to the mattress. More specifically, experts recommend the following:
- If you sleep on your back: Choose a pillow with a low-to-medium level of loft and medium firmness. This will ensure your neck and head are properly supported as you sleep.
- If you sleep on your stomach: Use a soft pillow with a low loft. This will reduce the need to arch your spine and crane your head and neck as you sleep.
- If you sleep on your side: Select a pillow with some level of firmness that will retain its shape. A pillow that is too soft will make your head sink in, putting additional pressure on your shoulder and neck. As for ideal loft for side sleepers? It’s often dependent on additional factors like your weight and the width of your shoulders. (However, it’s not necessary to do these calculations thanks to the emergence of adjustable pillows. Keep reading to learn more!)
Must-have pillow features: customization + cooling technology
As you seek the perfect pillow to treat neck pain, here are two other qualities to look for: adjustability and cooling!
As mentioned above, especially if you’re a side sleeper, your ideal loft will depend on several physical factors. But there’s no need to spend hours test-driving pillows to find the perfect one for your neck pain. Not with an adjustable pillow like the Douglas Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow. Not only is it made of easily-moldable memory foam for neck support—this pillow’s premium features also include:
- Customization: Enabling you to easily add or remove foam filling inside the pillow until it’s a perfect match for your neck and body.
- Precise matching to your needs: Providing cushioned comfort that’s always aligned with your preferred comfort level and support.
- Padded plush comfort lining: Neutralizing pressure points so you sleep more comfortably.
With Douglas, you can try it at home risk-free for 120 nights.
Cooling qualities and breathability
“Sleeping hot” can lead to endless tossing and turning, increasing the potential for neck pain and other adverse health outcomes. Conversely, by sleeping cooler, you sleep deeper and healthier.
At the very least, the pillow you choose should be temperature regulating. That is, it should be made of breathable materials and cool-to-the-touch fabrics while providing continual air circulation.
Looking for an extra boost of cool? Invest in a pillow with advanced cooling gel technology, like the GoodMorning.com Cooling Gel Memory Foam Pillow. You’ll enjoy:
- Instant, next-level cooling: Providing immediate relief the moment your head and neck touch the pillow and its refreshing gel pad. Not in the mood for cool? Its double-sided design allows you to flip over the pillow to enjoy room-temperature comfort.
- Supreme memory foam for neck support: Enabling slow-response contouring that adapts to your shape, minimizing pain caused by pressure points.
- High-performance cover: Enhancing the pillow’s cooling effects combined with softness.
A new kind of pillow fight — against neck pain
There are so many pillow options out there to offer you comfort and support. Moreover, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the right pillow for neck pain. But finding the perfect one doesn’t have to be complicated! All you need is a bit knowledge to get you started.
Say goodbye to neck pain starting tonight! It’s easy—simply click on the links above to purchase any of GoodMorning.com’s top-quality pillows for neck support. It won’t be long before you start experiencing physical relief and better quality sleep. Sweet dreams!