Things to think about when you go buy a new pillow for neck pain

The idea of being able to find the best pillow for neck pain seem so simple at first, but when you start to ask questions among sleep experts, chiropractors, and pillow specialist the answer vary as much as the causes of our neck pain. No pillow can actually cure pain in the neck, but it can help lessen the pain.


The options available for pillows that purport to help with neck pain can be overwhelming. Some pillows have a particular shape that is said to help alleviate pain, while others are shaped like the usual pillows but have a certain type of filling that is said to support the neck better. Then there are the pillows that are touted to be designed specifically to cure neck pain.

You should be careful about such claims though, because we all sleep differently and we all come in different shapes and sizes. The wrong pillow can exacerbate already existing conditions you are dealing with such as headaches, neck pain, shoulder and arm numbness, and allergy symptoms like sneezing and wheezing. If you are prone to sleep apnea, the wrong pillow can exacerbate that too. So, how do you go about finding the right pillow if you are currently are sleeping on the wrong pillow?

First, consider your sleep style.

Although, many of us declare ourselves to be back, side or stomach sleepers that isn’t always true over the course of the night. We may fall to sleep in a certain position, but our bodies tend to change position several times a night. But, if you tend to sleep in one position more often there are certain types of pillows for three specific sleep positions you can use to help with neck pain:

  • Back: A thinner pillow that had more filling at the bottom, under you neck will help cradle the neck so it stays in proper alignment with the head and shoulders. You do not want your head to tilt back a lot or your chin to be pushed toward your chest.
  • Side: A firmer pillow that supports the neck to align it the ear with the outside shoulder is best. You want your head to be aligned with your spine as you lay on your side.
  • Stomach: A very, very thin or flat pillow or no pillow at all is best in order to avoid lifting the head in an awkward position.


 And then, think about the material inside

Many manufacturers in recent years have worked to redesign the pillow to help customers get better sleep at night. Some of the pillows are touted to end neck pain. The choices of fillings and the claims made about the fillings can be overwhelming to the buyer. Here are the basics to keep in mind as you select your pillow, which by the way doctors recommend you replace every 12 to 18 months:

  • Foam: The increased density will help maintain shape better and reduce material breakdown.
  • Memory foam: Changes its shape to suit your position, thus reduces pressure points. Some people tend to get very hot though due to its use of your body heat to mold itself to your form.
  • Latex: This is the firmest choice and it’s hypoallergenic. It is also mold and dust mite resistant.
  • Wool and cotton: Also hypoallergenic and mold and dust mite resistant. It is very, very firm.
  • Down and feathers: You can mold this pillow to fit your particular needs on a given night so it is actually more versatile than most pillow fillings. A 50/50 down and feather pillow is best.

As you can see there are a multitude of choices, but only a few are right for you. Test them out to see which one works best. You can even buy different kinds and switch them out according to your needs on a given night.


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