Down With Neck Pain Every Morning? Your Pillow Might Be The Culprit


Are you tired of starting your day with a sore neck and stiff shoulders? You are not alone to experience this.

Neck pain affects anywhere from 0.4% to 86.8% of the general population. Neck discomfort tends to be more prevalent among individuals in their forties and fifties, though it can affect individuals of any age.

Many Americans suffer from neck pain, and its underlying causes aren’t always apparent. If you frequently wake up with aching neck muscles, it’s possible that your pillow may be contributing to the discomfort. The pillow you sleep on plays a significant role in alignment of neck muscles and ensures that your spine remains in a neutral position.

Thus, choosing a pillow which is ideal for alleviating neck sprain is crucial for spinal alignment and overall health. Read on to learn more about the impact of pillows and bedding on neck discomfort and sleep health.

How Do Pillows Help to Prevent Neck Discomfort?

The selection of your pillow can significantly impact the quality of your sleep, the support it provides to your neck, and, consequently, your overall daily well-being. Opting for the ideal pillow to alleviate neck discomfort entails a multitude of factors to consider, ranging from its thickness to the type of filling material it contains.

3 Tips for Choosing the Ideal Pillow

The ideal pillow for alleviating neck discomfort is characterized by the certain factors. These have been discussed in the form of useful tips for choosing the right pillow aligned to your needs.

  1. Tip 1: Appropriate loft (height)

Choosing the right pillow height is crucial because it directly affects how our spine is aligned. If you’re seeking exceptionally plush pillows that may not offer sufficient neck support or loft, a memory foam pillow could be an ideal choice. Although the inner foam should still ensure ample support and height, its contouring properties can create a “gentler” sensation, enhancing overall comfort for the user.

  1. Tip 2: Optimal firmness level

The pillow you sleep on and your neck pain are interconnected. Pillows should provide ample neck support without creating discomfort. It offers the required level of firmness varying according to your preferred sleeping position. Back and side sleepers typically require firmer pillows, whereas stomach sleepers may prefer a softer option.

  1. Tip 3: The suitable contour to accommodate your preferred sleeping position

Every individual has unique requirements and your pillow must align to your personal needs. For example, adjustable pillows can be advantageous for combination sleepers as they have changing firmness preferences suitable to their varied sleep positions.

Find Your Ultimate Sleeping Position!

Your discomfort could be partly due to your sleeping position and an inappropriate choice of pillow. Opting for a side or back sleeping position is generally more neck-friendly than sleeping on your stomach. This is because the stomach sleeping position may strain your neck and lead to increased pain on the right side of your neck or on the left-side.

Sleeping on your stomach involves twisting your neck to one side and causes an unnatural arch in your spine. Experts recommend switching over to a back sleeping or a side sleeping position and using a pillow to contour your neck’s natural curve to enhance relief. Sleeping on your back or side is generally gentler on your spine compared to stomach sleeping.

Pillow Types Best Suited for Different Sleeping Positions:

  • Back Sleepers

If you prefer sleeping on your back, opt for a pillow that molds to the contours of your head and neck for optimal neck support. Consider water pillows or memory foam pillows, as they excel in retaining their form while conforming to your body’s natural shape.

  • Side Sleepers

Opting for a firm pillow is an excellent decision for those who prefer sleeping on their side. It’s advisable to position the majority of the pillow under your neck rather than your head to help maintain proper spinal alignment.

Furthermore, a pillow with a gusset can be quite beneficial. Gusset pillows have seams on all four sides, creating rectangular panels that allow the stuffing to adapt as you move your head. In contrast, pillows without a gusset consist of only two sewn-together parts: a top and a bottom. Side sleepers might also find it helpful to use a specialized leg pillow to keep their spine properly aligned.

  • Stomach Sleepers

Sleeping on your stomach can exert pressure on your back, causing your spine to arch and your neck to twist to the side. If you choose to sleep in this position, consider using a minimal or no pillow to alleviate strain on your neck.

Top 10 Pillow Types Designed to Alleviate Neck Discomfort!

Discover our list of 10 best categories of pillows for neck pain relief

1. Memory Foam Pillows

These pillows have the remarkable ability to flex and conform to the contours of our bodies, effortlessly regaining their original shape afterward. Unlike regular pillows, memory foam pillows mold themselves to the natural curve of your spine. They are available in both solid pieces and variants with shredded foam filling.

Here are a few memory foam pillow choices that most customers tend to favor.

  • TEMPUR-Essential Support Pillow

TEMPUR-Essential Support Pillow by TEMPUR-PEDIC offers gentle support, making it an ideal choice for individuals who prefer a more flexible pillow, especially if they sleep on their back or stomach. The innovative memory foam core effortlessly conforms to the weight of the head, providing relief from pressure without feeling excessively firm.

This pillow boasts an extra-soft feel thanks to the lightweight nature of the TEMPUR material. Furthermore, it is thinner than numerous other pillows, making it a potential solution for stomach sleepers looking to prevent neck discomfort.

  • Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Individuals who prefer various sleeping positions may find great satisfaction with the Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow. This pillow features a fill composed of shredded memory foam, allowing you to customize the level of support according to your personal preferences.

The pillow’s ventilated bamboo cover ensures your head remains cool throughout the night. Furthermore, the fill strikes a perfect balance between strength and softness, providing remarkable comfort with just the right blend of firmness and pliability.

  • Sleep Is the Foundation Loft Pillow

Sleep is the Foundation Loft Pillow, a memory foam option, offers adjustability for various sleepers. It stands out for its affordability compared to similar pillows, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious shoppers.

The pillow has an initial thickness of 8 inches, but you can easily adjust its thickness by removing some of the filling. This is the best pillow for side sleepers, who typically prefer thicker pillows. This is also suitable for back sleepers, particularly when it is adjusted to achieve a medium loft.
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2. Latex Pillows

Latex pillows, sometimes referred to as rubber pillows, offer a comfortable cushioning experience along with sturdy neck support. Typically, the latex material creates these cushions, allowing for easy adjustment of the fill to cater to the intensity of your neck discomfort.

We have curated a list of top latex pillow options for proper neck support.

  • Purple Harmony

Purple Harmony Pillow provides exceptional neck support, maintains a comfortable temperature, and facilitates swift sleep onset. Its innovative design features a natural latex core, ensuring a cooler sleeping experience compared to conventional memory foam alternatives.

This makes it an ideal choice for individuals who tend to overheat with traditional memory foam pillows. What sets Purple Harmony Pillow apart is its incorporation of over 1,500 air passages, ensuring consistent airflow and effectively dissipating heat from the head region.

Purple Harmony Pillow is available in two sizes. The standard pillow is 6.5 inches thick. For back sleepers, some stomach sleepers, and petite persons who sleep on their sides, this could be a decent option. Side sleepers who want more support to keep their heads aligned with their spine may benefit from the taller version of the pillow. This will be the best pillow for side sleeper.

  • Saatva Latex Pillow

Saatva Pillow is a suitable option for individuals with neck pressure points. It features a core made from high-quality American-produced Talalay latex, encased in a smaller, detachable pillow filled with soft micro-denier fibers. These fibers offer a plushness similar to that of down or down alternatives, providing enhanced cushioning for added comfort.

If you prefer to sleep on your back, you can either leave the smaller pillow in place to maximize its thickness or remove it to make side sleeping more comfortable.

  • Avocado Molded-Latex Pillow

Crafted from sustainable organic latex, Avocado’s slab-style pillow boasts a uniformly flat surface akin to a sheet cake. This design ensures consistent support, regardless of your sleeping position, and it is available in three sizes: standard, queen, and king.

This pillow offers a sturdy, non-compressible feel due to its latex material, which provides a lively rebound but doesn’t allow your head to settle deeply. Its loft is notably substantial, measuring approximately five inches in height. It is for individuals who prefer sleeping on their back or side. However, individuals with petite frames or narrow shoulders and neck pain might find its loftiness somewhat excessive.

3. Ergonomic Pillows

These pillows provide sufficient cervical support while minimizing excessive elevation of the head. Medical experts emphasize that the pillow’s height plays a significant role in determining the pressure exerted on the neck and head.

A list of ergonomic pillows has been provided below for your reference.

  • Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow

The Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow is a versatile choice suitable for both back and side sleepers. Its design accommodates different sleeping preferences, ensuring a comfortable and supportive experience.

For back sleepers, the pillow features a robust cervical roll that effectively supports the neck while allowing the head to rest comfortably within the contoured center. This configuration promotes optimal spine alignment.

For those who prefer sleeping on their side, the pillow offers elevated side regions that help maintain the ideal neck position while sleeping. One side of the pillow boasts a larger neck roll, providing robust support, while the opposite side features a smaller neck roll for a gentler level of support.

Additionally, the pillow’s adaptability is a boon for individuals who tend to change their sleeping positions during the night. Its thoughtful design ensures that no matter how you sleep, you can count on Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow to provide the comfort and support your neck and spine need.

  • EPABO Memory Orthopedic Pillow

The EPABO Memory Orthopaedic Pillow boasts an ergonomic design that caters to the needs of both back and side sleepers. Its contoured shape gently cradles the head, ensuring proper alignment of the spine for a restful night’s sleep.

Notably, this memory foam pillow offers a potential advantage in terms of temperature regulation, as it may feel cooler compared to traditional memory foam pillows. What sets it apart is its customizable feature – the pillow suits each individual’s preferences.

Thanks to a removable foam insert at the back, those who find the pillow’s height excessive can effortlessly lower their head position to achieve optimal comfort.

  • TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

TEMPUR-Neck Pillow from TEMPUR-original PEDIC is a remarkably sturdy pillow designed to offer substantial support for individuals experiencing neck discomfort. To cater to various sleep preferences and body sizes, this pillow offers thickness options ranging from 3 to 4.5 inches.

Crafted from the exceptionally firm TEMPUR material, it effectively cradles the neck and ensures proper alignment of the head during both side and back sleeping positions. This remains the best pillow for neck pain.

  • Original Groove Pillow

Original Groove Pillow bucks this trend by offering affordability without compromising on quality or performance. Its ergonomic design proves especially advantageous if you tend to wake up with neck stiffness or soreness.

Featuring a generous loft of 4.5 inches, this pillow has garnered top ratings from both side and back sleepers. Its solid foam core offers adaptability, while its firm texture and ergonomic design work together to ensure that your head and neck remain well-supported without sinking too deeply.

4. Down and Poly-fill Pillows

These pillows are from animal-derived materials, specifically feathers from the backs, wings, and chests of geese and ducks. Unlike pillows made from synthetic fibers, down pillows can be refurbished and fitted with new covers.

Down pillows are available in various levels of density, catering to different preferences. Another popular choice is poly-fill pillows, a synthetic, non-allergenic alternative that mimics the luxurious feel of genuine down.

While neither of these options offers significant stiffness, they are renowned for their softness and flexibility. This helps make them an excellent choice for individuals dealing with left-side neck pain.

Here is a list of popular Down and Poly-fill pillows that you may choose from.

  • DOWNLITE Extra Soft Down Pillow

DOWNLITE Extra Soft Down Pillow offers an optimal solution for individuals seeking a plush and gentle sleeping experience. Crafted with duck down, this pillow caters to those who prefer a softer resting surface. Its unique flat-form design makes it an excellent choice for individuals who sleep on their stomachs and experience neck discomfort.

This pillow provides just the right amount of flattening to ensure comfortable stomach sleeping while maintaining a delightful fluffiness that cradles your neck. Moreover, it boasts excellent temperature regulation, ensuring a cool and comfortable night’s rest.

  • Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow

Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow boasts a distinctive design. It features an antibacterial and hypoallergenic blend of organic latex and down alternative poly-fill microfiber. Its unique shape takes the form of a slender rectangle with a graceful curvature on one side, and it is free from petroleum-based chemicals, emitting no noticeable odor.

5. Buckwheat Pillows

Buckwheat is a material which is gaining fast popularity in the bedding and mattress industry due to added health benefits such as relieving back pain. This is a classic Japanese pillow crafted from buckwheat seed husks. When compressed, it maintains its resilience, offering substantial and ergonomically designed support for the ideal head and neck alignment.

Check out our curated list of Buckwheat pillows for optimal sleep comfort.

  • Hullo Buckwheat Pillow

Many individuals find the Original Hullo Buckwheat pillow to be their preferred choice due to its all-natural and highly adaptable features. Instead of foam or fibers, these pillows are filled with thousands of buckwheat hulls. It not onlycradles the head but also conforms to its shape. This unique quality can lead to reduced compression for some sleepers, resulting in a more restful night’s sleep.

Thanks to the naturally permeable buckwheat hulls, these pillows remain cool throughout the night. Moreover, users have the flexibility to customize the pillow to suit their specific sleeping style or needs by adding or removing hulls.

Overall, these pillows offer an excellent ergonomic support solution due to their personalized design and natural materials.

  • Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow

The Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow reduces stiffness and alleviates neck pain and headaches by providing excellent support to the head and neck. Specifically, the buckwheat hulls in the neck area adapt and elevate, ensuring that your head rests in the optimal alignment. This feature contributes to the relief of chronic neck discomfort.

6. Water Pillows

As you transition from sleeping on your back to sleeping on your side, the Water Pillow effortlessly adjusts to provide optimal support for your head and neck, ensuring proper alignment.

Check our curated list of water pillow below.

  • Mediflow Water Pillow

Mediflow Water Pillow combines a blend of poly-cotton pillow fiber with a supportive water-based layer. It effectively reduces neck pain and stiff neck and elevates the overall quality of sleep. This innovative water-based technology allows users to customize the pillow to their specific preferences.

It allows them to customize whether they prefer sleeping on their back or side by simply adding or removing water from the inner membrane. Thanks to the pillow’s adaptive water-filled design, it responds dynamically to head movements, potentially eliminating the need for constant pillow adjustments during use.

7. Gusseted Pillows

A gusset is an additional piece of fabric that helps a pillow expand or give it stability. The pillow feels consistently pleasant no matter how you sleep on it because the filling has more room to move around. The area between the sleeper’s head and shoulders is better filled by a gusseted pillow.

We have provided a list of gusseted pillows for your reference.

  • Cool Sleep Gusseted Pillow

The Cool Sleep Gusseted Pillow comprises conforming memory foam and cooling gel. It has thick side panels to bridge the gap between your ear and shoulder and alleviate shoulder and neck pain. Whether you sleep on your back or side, this keeps your head at the appropriate height. All of these things can help you avoid left side neck pain.

  • Horseshoe Pillows

A horseshoe cushion provides excellent neck support when traveling by vehicle, airline, or train. If you suffer from neck aches, don’t sleep on the plane with your head drooping to the side. Ensure that your neck is properly supported.

8. Side Sleeper’s Pillow

A suitable pillow for individuals who prefer sleeping on their side is one that promotes the correct alignment of your neck with the rest of your spine.

For a detailed list of side sleeper pillows, read on.

  • Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

Eli & Elm Side-Sleeper Pillow boasts an innovative design featuring a sunken center specifically tailored to accommodate your shoulder while you sleep on your side. This unique shape contours to your body, ensuring optimal shoulder and neck pain and effectively reducing neck discomfort.

The filling comprises a combination of latex and polyester fiber, offering sufficient support to keep your head elevated.

  • Pillow Cube Classic

The hallmark feature of the Pillow Cube is its square design, meticulously crafted to ensure a constant 90-degree alignment between your head and shoulders while alleviating strain on your neck.

The pillow is made from structurally robust carbon-core memory foam. It is naturally resistant to microbes, and expertly engineered to gently support your head while maintaining its form. The Pillow Cube comes encased in a conveniently machine-washable cover. You have the option to select from three sizes – standard, slim, or plush – based on your height preferences.

9. Neck Support Pillows

Proper neck support is crucial for your well-being, and incorporating a neck pillow can enhance your comfort and improve your sleep quality. These pillows are often referred to as cervical pillows, as they provide optimal support for the cervical spine, the upper part of your backbone that includes your neck.

  • Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow

Ensuring the pillow best for neck pain and stiff neck is crucial for relieving discomfort and reducing aches. Latex, derived from the sap of rubber trees, stands out for its exceptional responsiveness and resilience against losing its shape. The Brooklyn Bedding Talalay Latex Pillow beautifully exemplifies these attributes.

Its solid latex core offers a gentle cushion for sensitive areas, yet you’ll experience a noticeable bounce as your head and neck find their comfortable position. Additionally, the pillow offers two loft options, catering to various sleep preferences and positions.

10. Combination Sleepers Pillow

A proper pillow offers neck, head, and shoulder support for attaining the ideal sleeping position, promoting relaxation of the muscles in the back and neck. Its universal size caters to the needs of both back and side sleepers.

  • Silk & Snow Pillow

If you find yourself grappling with nighttime neck discomfort, you can greatly enhance your comfort with a pillow designed to reduce pressure. The Silk & Snow Pillow has proven to be an excellent choice, offering ample cushioning to gently support and cradle your neck, effectively alleviating pressure buildup, all while maintaining a moderate level of support.

If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, you’ll typically find that low-loft pillows work best to maintain proper alignment of your head and spine. This particular pillow allows you to customize its loft by removing foam, ensuring it’s just the right height for your comfort.

Its combination of plush fill and memory foam provides superb contouring support for your head and neck, effectively helping to alleviate any discomfort or pain you may experience.

What’s New?

Plant-Based Pillow

The “Plant-Based Pillow” is a groundbreaking and eco-conscious addition to the bedding industry. With the increasing focus on sustainable living and environmentally friendly products, this innovative pillow type has gained significant attention for its unique approach to both comfort and eco-consciousness. A plant-based pillow is a type of pillow that is made from natural, renewable, and sustainable materials derived from plants. These pillows are environmentally friendly and often marketed as an eco-conscious alternative to traditional pillows that may be made from synthetic materials or animal products.

  • Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow

‘Sweet Zzz Plant-Based Pillow’ boasts a core composed of botanically-sourced down and alternative fibers that provide substantial support and comfort to the head and neck. This design, coupled with its medium firmness, garnered significant acclaim among those who often experience discomfort from pressure points.

Natural cotton makes up the pillow shell, which is breathable and moisture-wicking. This pillow best for neck pain and stiff neckfeatures two layers of plant-based fibers. The outer layer contains plush fibers that add great cushioning for the head and neck, while the inner layer has firmer, denser fibers for extra support.

Overall, plant-based pillows offer a promising solution to those seeking a more sustainable and comfortable night’s sleep.
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For more information about pillows suitable for your neck pain, read our FAQ section.

FAQs About Pillows for Neck Pain

Q1. Which pillow is most suitable for alleviating neck discomfort?

  • Although down, down-alternative, and feather pillows may provide initial comfort, they tend to compress and allow your head to sink further as you shift during the night. For individuals who experience neck pain and stiff neck, latex pillows – or memory foam pillows in case of latex allergies – represent a superior choice.
  • These materials maintain their loft throughout the night, offering consistent cushioning and neck support while you rest.

Q2. Can orthopedic pillows alleviate neck pain?

  • Pillow and neck pain are closely connected. Orthopedic pillows are known to provide significant relief for neck pain. They offer essential support to the head and neck, maintaining proper alignment and alleviating tension. Furthermore, these pillows contribute to spinal alignment, effectively reducing strain on muscles and nerves.

Q3. Which type of pillow, firm or soft, is more suitable for alleviating neck pain?

  • If you’re experiencing neck discomfort, opting for a soft and supportive pillow is advisable. Memory foam or latex pillows are superior options, as they adapt to the contours of your head and offer the necessary support.

Q4. Do memory foam pillows offer improved relief from neck discomfort?

  • Research indicates that contoured memory foam pillows can provide valuable support for maintaining proper chin alignment. If you frequently nap during plane or car rides, a horseshoe-shaped memory foam pillow can help prevent your neck from awkwardly tilting to one side.

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Please note that these sources are independent of SmartMattressBuy and are provided to help you gain a broader perspective on pillows, neck pain and sleep.