When you suffer from muscle aches, a bone spur, or another neck injury, the pain makes sleeping difficult. And the wrong pillow might cause you to wake up more stiff and sore than you were the night before. But you can soothe a strained neck with the right kind of support.
When you shop for a cervical pillow, think about two things. First, do you tend to sleep on your back, side, or stomach? And second, do you prefer a cool or warm surface while sleeping? The answers to these two questions will lead you to the best neck pillow to get rid of your neck pain.
Characteristics of comfortable pillows that treat neck pain
The position you sleep in most determines how thick and firm a pillow you need. A back sleeper would benefit from a thinner, softer one while a side sleeper requires thicker support. And if you prefer a cool pillow, synthetic or down would suit you better than memory foam. But let’s move onto the reviews, and you’ll see what we mean.
Top pillows for relieving neck pain
We’ll begin with orthopedic pillows that cushion and cradle your cervical spine to relieve pressure and keep it aligned properly while you rest.
Cradle Me Orthopedic Contour Pillow with Memory Foam
The Cradle Me Contour Pillow has a memory foam core for solid support without too much firmness. It’s also a material that tends to maintain warmth, which can soothe sore muscles and joints. And the foam is guaranteed to be free of odors, so you don’t need to wait a couple of days before you enjoy it.
Its shape looks odd until you consider how many positions it lets you use. On your side or your back, it doesn’t matter what you prefer. Your only obstacle may be finding a pillowcase to put on it.
If the Cradle Me Orthopedic Pillow doesn’t meet your needs, you can return it for a refund.
Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow
Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow is adjustable because it has a microfiber stuffing that you can add or remove according to your needs. That means it’s also washable, unlike pillows made of memory foam. And it comes with a soft cotton cover that you can toss in the washing machine, too.
Another benefit of the Nature’s Guest pillow is that all the materials used in its construction come from natural sources. They not treated with chemicals like flame retardants or other allergens.
Core Products Tri-Core Orthopedic Neck Support Pillow
Just looking at this smart Tri-Core Orthopedic Neck Support Pillow makes us want to lie down on it. If you switch between being on your back and lying on your side, this is a great choice. It comes in two varieties (firm or gentle) and three sizes.
The pocket in the middle is perfect for a back sleeper because it has a low neck roll to keep your spine aligned. Then the taller sides are ideal for side sleepers. You can roll between the positions all night long and never have to fluff up your pillow.
Brookstone’s Biosense 2-in-1 Memory Foam Shoulder Pillow
Wouldn’t it be nice if your memory foam pillow smelled fresh even after months of use? Brookstone’s Biosense pillow stays smelling clean because it contains green tea and charcoal which diminish odors and resist microbes. And the plush microfiber cover is machine-washable, too.
In fact, the microfiber cover is plush with Better Than Down, a super-soft hypoallergenic material. And once you unzip it, you’ll discover that the memory foam core is ventilated with holes to help air circulate.
Finally, the BioSense Shoulder Pillow has a contoured shape with a curved cutout. This open space means you don’t need to put your shoulder on the foam to cozy up to the edge. And that’s very useful if you sleep on your side.
Coisum Ergonomic Cervical Contour Pillow for Neck Support and Pain Relief
The Ergonomic Cervical Contour Pillow from Coisum has cutouts that provide a place to rest your arm. That allows your shoulder to stay in a comfortable position. And it has plenty of support for your neck, too.
There are several positions you can enjoy depending on whether you lie on your side or your back. The high-density memory foam may feel a little hard at first, but owners say they’ve come to love it.
The pillowcase, which is unique to this pillow, is hypoallergenic, resistant to dust mites, and washable.
Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour Pillow with Cotton Cover
The Sleep Innovations Contour Pillow solves a problem right out of the box. It’s hard to know how tall a pillow you need when you can’t try it out before buying. Since this one has both a thicker and thinner side, you can place it, however, feels best on your neck. And please note that it’s more suitable for side sleepers.
Sleep Innovations offers a washable cotton pillowcase and a 5-year warranty on the Memory Foam Contour Pillow.
Conforma Cushion Firm Memory Foam Pillow
The Conforma Firm Memory Foam Pillow has a rectangular shape with a 5-inch loft. It’s not contoured, but it’s tall enough to support your neck if you sleep on your side. And the memory foam core molds to your form but won’t compress too much. Since it’s ventilated, it allows some air to flow through the pillow to keep you cool.
Of course, although you can’t wash it, memory foam is resistant to allergens like dust mites, mold, and bacteria. Plus, you can wash the velour knit pillow cover to keep odors at bay.
Arc4life Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillow
Arc4life’s Cervical Pillow is comfy for both back and side sleepers. The part in the center is thin to cradle your head and support the natural C-curve of your neck. Then the sides are thick to fit near your shoulder if you lie on your side.
The filling is non-allergenic polyester, which makes the pillow washable. It doesn’t come with a cover, but Arc4life says it fits inside most standard pillowcases.
Perform Pillow Medium Profile Memory Foam Neck Pillow
Bamboo is the secret material that sets the Perform Pillow apart from the competition. The cover is a blend of polyester and bamboo fiber, so it feels extra soft and cool. And it’s washable, too.
The pillow itself contains eco-friendly high-grade foam made in the USA without the use of formaldehyde or heavy metals. One side is thicker than the other so you can find the perfect position for sleeping.
Serta Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Serta’s Gel Memory Foam Pillow works for both back and side sleepers. Its primary benefit for people suffering neck pain is that it doesn’t create pressure points like ordinary memory foam might. It also stays cooler than regular foam pillows.
While it compresses under the weight of your head, it never goes completely flat. It molds to your body so that your shoulder and neck can relax. Do take note that it could take a couple of weeks to adjust to this type of pillow if you haven’t tried one before.
Although the gel foam isn’t washable, you can machine-wash the removable case. The cover’s fabric and weave wicks away sweat in the night, an essential feature for a memory foam pillow. Or you can put it inside a typical pillowcase.
MALOUF Z Shoulder ZONED DOUGH Memory Foam Pillow – Infused with Lavender Scent
The Utah-based company MALOUF goes beyond the ordinary with their collection of ZONED DOUGH foam pillows. The “zoned” in the name refers to the extensive ventilation holes that penetrate the scrumptious scented memory foam. And the aromatic flavor of this pillow is lavender, but you can also buy chamomile. Either one is designed to relax you to the maximum.
The other highlight of the Z Shoulder pillow is the cutout that lets you snuggle closer without straining your neck. It also comes with a 5-year warranty, a Tencel fabric cover, and additional lavender spritz.
Z Gel Infused Dough Memory Foam + Liquid Gel Pillow from MALOUF
MALOUF also makes double-gel infused memory foam pillows that are guaranteed to keep you cool and reduce pressure on your neck and head. You can choose from mid or high loft, according to your preference.
The pillow comes with a washable velour cover made of bamboo fiber. And it’s covered by a 5-year warranty.
Comfy Neck Side Sleeper Buckwheat Hull Pillow
Although buckwheat pillows have graced the homes of Japanese families for generations, Americans don’t always find them comfortable for sleeping in a bed. On the plus side, buckwheat is easy to mold into shape, and it retains that form. It’s also much cooler than foam pillows are.
On the minus side, buckwheat shells make crunchy, crinkly noises in your ear when you move. And it’s smart to buy only from reputable manufacturers since they clean the shells without harsh chemicals. At least this pillow comes with a removable Pima cotton cover that you can unzip to wash.
If you’re on the fence about the Comfy Neck Buckwheat Hull Pillow, it’s worth a try. And you can always tote it to a yoga class if it doesn’t pan out for your bed.
OXA Spring Bed Pillow
Are you a fan of mattresses with springs? Then why not a pillow with springs, too? The innovative design of the OXA Spring Bed Pillow suits back, side, and stomach sleepers.
The interior has forty individually-wrapped coils that give your head and neck independent suspension no matter the position. This system can also stand up to wear better than a conventional pillow. It’s been machine-tested to maintain over 90% of its volume and softness even after fifty thousand pounding cycles.
Those of you who notice how cool a pillow feels will be pleased that the percale cotton pillow cover is breathable and comfy all night long. And if you’re not satisfied with OXA’s Spring Bed Pillow, they offer a 90-day refund guarantee and a 20-year warranty.
OPTP Original McKenzie Cervical Roll
If you just can decide which neck pillow is best for you, try the OPTP Cervical Roll instead. It’s a foam roll that slips into your pillowcase to work with your pillow. All it does it convert an average flat pillow into a contoured one for proper support.
The roll measures twenty inches long by three and a half in diameter. At this size, you might even decide to use it by itself.
Travel Core Cervical Pillow
When you leave home, take the Travel Core Cervical Pillow with you.It will protect your neck from cricks and stiffness while you’re on your next trip. It has a soft but firm filling that cradles your head so you can sleep sitting up in a plane or car. Or you can enjoy it while lying down, too.
Apex Cervical Orthosis
While this isn’t a pillow, it is a convenient way to speed up your recovery from whiplash. The adjustable height of the orthosis helps you gradually get your spine back into alignment. And while you use it, it removes pressure on the soft tissues of your neck.
Foam Cervical Collar Universal
In movies, it’s always a joke when you see someone wearing a cervical collar. But those with experience know that this handy support brings great relief to over-extended muscles. It keeps your head in a neutral position while you heal from your injury or surgery.
Hammacher Schlemmer The Infrared Therapy Pillow
Infrared therapy has been proven to speed up recovery from injuries. That’s why you might be interested in Hammacher Schlemmer’s Infrared Therapy Pillow. Its filling is hypoallergenic polyester, but it has a secret weapon inside.
There are one hundred ten quarter-inch pads that transmit infrared energy to your neck while you lie on the pillow. The gentle heat is relaxing and soothing, just the thing for battling chronic pain. And this pillow doesn’t discriminate between side, back, or stomach sleepers.
Remedy Microbead Pillow
If you like the idea behind a buckwheat pillow, but fear you won’t enjoy the noise or texture, try the Remedy Microbead Pillow. It provides support similar to buckwheat, but without the side effects. But keep in mind that you’ll want to put it in a pillowcase as its cover isn’t removable.
Headache Ice Pillo by Core Products
Sometimes icy coolness is just what you need to recover from neck pain or a headache. This cervical pillow comes with a removable ice pack. It’s the type of tool used by physical therapists to relieve neck pain.
Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Pillow to Get Rid of Neck Pain
Now that you’ve seen our selection of comfortable cervical support pillows, it’s time to talk about which features matter when you’re choosing one.
Features to Consider Before Buying a Pillow to Relieve Neck Pain
There are several factors to consider when you’re shopping, especially when it’s time to buy a cervical support pillow.
Key materials on the inside
You can make certain generalizations about the materials used to construct a pillow. For example, down pillows tend to be more pliable, and they might be washable. On the other hand, memory foam provides firmer support, but it can’t go in the washing machine. Synthetic filling like polyester or shredded memory foam is usually washable and offers variable firmness. Some shredded foam pillows even allow you to adjust the amount of stuffing.
Memory foam tends to feel warmer under your head than the other materials do. Buckwheat is cooler but noisier and textured. If you love the firm support of memory foam but hate sleeping hot, get one that’s infused with gel.
To avoid the odor that’s typical of some less expensive foams, check to see that the manufacturer uses CertiPUR-verified material. That avoids chemicals like formaldehyde as well as mercury and lead.
Latex foam is softer and easier to compress than memory foam, but avoid it if you are allergic to it. The same goes for down feathers because they can incite an allergic reaction, too. If you suffer from allergies, you might be better off with a polyester stuffing or memory foam.
Finally, although you may find pillows with cotton stuffing, be aware that they won’t last as long as other types will. On the other hand, you should be able to wash them regularly for good hygiene. And they may be more eco-friendly.
Pillow cover on the outside
Not every pillow comes with a removable cover, but many in our review today do. That’s convenient since cervical neck pillows tend to come in odd shapes that aren’t easily compatible with standard cases.
For ultimate comfort when you have allergies, invest in a special case that protects against microbes and dust mites. Companies that allow you to sleep with your new pillow on a trial basis will often insist on a cover like that.
To sum up, read the washing instructions before you finalize your purchase. If a pillowcase is drip dry only, you’ll probably want a second one.
Contour and form
One piece of advice: you might need more than one neck pillow, especially if you’re recovering from an injury. As you get better, you might want a different type of support than you did in the beginning.
Each pillow’s shape has pros and cons. For example, one like the Cradle Me might be ideal for you if you change positions during the night. But it’s really not going to fit properly inside a standard pillowcase to match your décor.
A contoured pillow with a cutout for your shoulder is excellent if you sleep on your side. It won’t feel as good if you sleep on your back.
To resolve the dilemma, try buying from a manufacturer that has a satisfaction guarantee or a trial period. Then you can test your new cervical support pillow to see how you feel in the morning. And keep in mind that it may take up to two or three weeks to get used to a new style.
Why Does a Neck Support Pillow Relieve Pain?
Don’t take our word for it. Check with your chiropractor or doctor. Once they understand that you have neck pain and they determine its cause, they will recommend you change pillows, too. Besides a cervical pillow, you may also want to invest in a body pillow to help you rest better.
Many of us sleep on the wrong pillow anyway, but we can get away with minor stiffness now and then. But when the soreness is constant, your body is screaming for relief. That’s when it’s time to rest in a comfortable position, with your spine properly aligned from the base of your head to the bottom of your back.
It’s all about proper alignment
When you sleep on your side, it’s important to maintain your head supported so that it’s not tilted up or down. It may be helpful to imagine a line straight down the middle of your back. So it’s important to keep your head in line with the rest of your body.
To illustrate, a pillow may have a taller loft, or more filling, than you think you’ll need. But once you lay your head on it, it will compress. And when it’s pressed down with your weight resting on it, you’ll see that your spine is all lined up as it should be.
Next, if you sleep on your back, your alignment looks a little different. Again, you don’t want your head angled up or down. But your cervical spine has a natural curve to it. When you lay on your back, the back of your head should be about the level of the rest of your back. And a cervical pillow will comfortably fill the curve of your neck to keep it in position.
Finally, sleeping on your stomach is not recommended if you have neck pain. If you must lie face down, remove your pillow or sleep with one that’s nearly flat. You might also try placing another pillow under your hips to take pressure off of your lower back.
Self-care for neck pain
While you wait for your new pillow to arrive, here are some tips to get rid of neck pain.
Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers
Over-the-counter or prescriptions medications can help you keep your sanity while you recover from a neck injury or deal with chronic pain. But if you sleep comfortably, you might not need as much medicine to cope.
Massage, chiropractic adjustment, and physical therapy
Lots of pain sufferers find intense relief through massage, physical therapy, and chiropractic adjustments. All three treatments increase blood flow and may release pressure on nerves so your muscles can relax. But not everyone has the time or the money to pursue these options, which leads us to the next step.
Ice or heat packs
A general rule of thumb is that if your skin feels warm or looks red, put ice on it to numb the pain. Otherwise, use heat to relieve stiffness.
With either option, protect the delicate skin of your neck with a washcloth or towel. And remove the pack after ten minutes to see how you feel.
Essential oils and aromatherapy
You might have a sports cream to relax your sore muscles, or you can try rubbing peppermint oil onto your stiff neck. And try breathing in the aroma of lavender at bedtime since it’s very soothing. The calmer you feel, the better you can rest.
To sum up, although it may be hard now, start stretching in the morning and at night. Perform gentle stretches to move your neck (if the doctor allows it) to regain movement and strength. It takes time to see improvement, but one day you’ll be glad you started exercising.
Your mother was right to nag you about maintaining good posture. That principle applies to how you sleep, too. The best pillows for neck pain will take pressure off your sore muscles and aching joints so that you can rest well.
Although there are many styles and brands on the market, that’s a good thing. You have lots to choose from, and you’re likely to find the perfect cervical support pillow. In fact, you might end up with more than one. Soon you’ll be sleeping better than you have in ages.
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