What is the correct pillow to use for neck pain?

Written by amber canaan Google
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What is the correct pillow to use for neck pain?
(Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Betsy Fletcher)

Neck pain is a condition that negatively affects your daily life, and can be attributed to sleeping on the wrong pillow. Headaches, insomnia, snoring and fatigue are all linked to neck pain. Choosing the correct pillow can be challenging; they are personal and must conform to an individual's sleeping habits.


Alleviating neck pain is done when the spine is placed in natural alignment, also referred to as the neutral position. Whether you sleep on your back or side, your spine should be in a straight line from your neck to your tail bone. Pillows should provide ample support to keep your neck in a straight line. A pillow that is too thick will cause your head to rise; thin pillows cause your head to lower. Both create undue stress on your vertebrae and surrounding muscles causing neck pain. Ask someone to observe you as you lay on your bed with your pillow. It is much easier to determine if your spine is in correct alignment with the help of a friend. If they cannot draw a straight line down your neck and spine, your pillow isn't providing proper support.

Stomach Sleeping

Natural alignment cannot be achieved when a person sleeps on their stomach. The head remains turned to one side for extended periods of time, putting pressure and stress on the neck. Stomach sleeping can exacerbate headaches, migraines and increase the frequency of stiff necks. Try to sleep on your back or side, hugging a body pillow to replicate the feeling of stomach sleeping.

Where to Purchase a Pillow

Choosing your pillow can be an overwhelming experience. Department stores, speciality stores, doctor's offices and chiropractors all sell pillows. When shopping for a pillow, take a friend to help with determining proper alignment. Department stores are a good place to start because most have beds on display which allow you to lie down and test the pillow.

Sleep Position

Consider which position you sleep most frequently. Choosing a pillow to test in a department store will be a trial and error process. Back sleepers should choose a pillow that allows the weight of the head to absorb into the pillow, putting the neck and spine in natural alignment. Side sleepers require a pillow that supports the neck and fills the gap between the shoulder and the bed. For people who sleep in multiple positions, test the pillow in each position and make sure it's suitable for your situation.

What to Avoid

Avoid pillows with feathers; they provide inadequate support for natural alignment of the spine. Most importantly when shopping for a pillow, make certain that you are comfortable while creating adequate support and natural alignment. Achieve this goal and it becomes irrelevant what other materials your pillow may be made of. Consult with a doctor or chiropractor regarding your pain and spinal health.

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