Pillows to keep neck straight while sleeping

Updated February 21, 2017

Pillows, along with mattresses and sleeping positions, affect your sleeping posture. A pillow supports your neck, which in turn has to support the weight of your head. If your pillow doesn't sufficiently support your neck, the stress of the weight on your neck can lead to neck pain. Several types of pillow have been specifically designed to keep your neck straight during sleep.


The right pillow for you depends on various factors, such as your body, sleeping position and mattress. Generally, the pillow should completely fill the curve of your neck when you are lying down in your preferred sleeping position. If you sleep on your side, this means that you need a thicker pillow than someone who sleeps on his back or stomach. Also take your mattress firmness into consideration because you sink deeper into a soft mattress.

Feather Pillows

A pillow filled with feather is soft and changes its shape according to the shape of your neck curve. This allows it to provide a customised fit for you based on the way the weight of your head is distributed over the pillow. However, you can't use a feather pillow if you are allergic to down or other feathers. The filling material also collapses with use over time, so you need to replace it about once a year.

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows change shape according to the shape of your neck and head. They come in various shapes, including the traditional pillow shape and the roll shape, which is also known as the cervical shape. Memory foam pillows have been designed to provide enough support for the neck during sleep. According to Harvard Health Publications, the manufacturers claim that their pillows help the spine align correctly.

Water Pillows

Water-based pillows can also help keep your neck straight while you sleep. Such a pillow contains a bag of water inside, placed under polyester fibre. The water shifts when you change your sleeping position to redistribute the weight of your neck and head, so that the pillow continuously provides neck support even if you move a lot during sleep. In a John Hopkins University study, 22 out of 41 participants with neck pain chose water-based pillows over roll and standard pillows.

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About the Author

Edriaan Koening began writing professionally in 2005, while studying toward her Bachelor of Arts in media and communications at the University of Melbourne. She has since written for several magazines and websites. Koening also holds a Master of Commerce in funds management and accounting from the University of New South Wales.