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Chronic neck pain can quite literally be just that: a pain in the neck. While neck pain is a common ailment, it often creates pain elsewhere and increases with age. Neck pain can spread down to your shoulders and arms causing you to wake up with a stiff body, backaches, and headaches. That’s why choosing a pillow that properly supports your neck is essential.
There are seven neck bones that make up your cervical spine. These seven bones that are supported by tendons and muscles and cushioned by cervical disks that act as sponges. The gentle curve of your spine is known as the lordotic cervical curve, and when you sleep out of alignment and lose the natural neck curve, this can cause spinal stress and will result in a painful, stiff neck.
For those who suffer from chronic neck pain, a cervical pillow, also known as a neck pillow, may be your best solution. A cervical pillow is designed to support your head and neck and maintain the natural curve of your spine.
Choosing the Best Cervical Pillow for You
If you suffer from neck pain, it is even more vital to find a pillow that properly supports your neck and spine. Here are a few key things to consider when shopping for the best pillow for you.
With any pillow, it’s important to find one that properly supports the way you sleep. When you suffer from chronic neck pain, finding one that properly supports the natural curve of your spine is the ultimate goal. The right cervical pillow for you will have the right amount of loft and curve to keep your head and neck aligned properly throughout the night.
The best neck pillow is one that creates the most natural resting position for your head to maintain the proper lordotic curve for your spine. The best cervical pillows are often adjustable. Because you can remove or add filling to the pillow, you can adjust its height. This is key to finding the proper head height for you.
If your pillow is too high or too low, it will result in your neck tilting too far in one direction. This is where stiff necks often begin.
When your spine is properly supported during the night, your neck and shoulders will also be in the correct alignment. This should result in a much-needed pain-free morning.
Shape and Size
People come in all different shapes and sizes and pillows are no different. In order to use a cervical pillow correctly, you need to find the best shape and size for you. Cervical pillows are specifically designed for back and side sleepers.
For people who suffer from neck pain, sleeping on your stomach is never recommended. There’s no way to keep your head and neck in a natural position while sleeping on your stomach.
If you’re a back sleeper, you’ll want a cervical pillow that will keep your head from being tilted too far forward or backward. If you prefer to sleep on your side, your cervical pillow should always keep the center of your body in line with your nose.
Keeping the shape of the pillow in mind will help you determine which shape is best for the way you sleep. Most cervical pillows have slight curves to keep your head and neck aligned. They also tend to be smaller than a standard pillow and will have adjustable filling to make sure your pillow can maintain the proper height for the way you sleep.
The material found inside of your cervical pillow is just as important as its shape. The filling, after all, is what will help your pillow keep its shape and keep it from shifting on you during the night.
Cervical pillows are typically filled with memory foam, shredded foam, gel, down or natural fibers. Choosing the right filling for your needs is vital to a good night’s sleep with the proper support.
If you need to keep your head aligned higher to maintain a proper spinal curve, a foam filling may be the best option for you. Foam is a thicker material that offers a lot of support and it will nicely contour to the shape of your head and shoulders.
Down filling can be light and airy but also soft and cozy. Down tends to wear over time and often needs to be re-fluffed. Down is also not a very animal-friendly choice. It’s also not a great choice for allergy sufferers and those who suffer from feather allergies.
Shredded memory foam or combinations of shreds and all-natural fibers are often the most recommended pillows for neck pain sufferers. The shreds of foam are lighter and more pliable but also offer a sturdy support to keep you properly aligned. Because natural fibers are free of pesticides and chemicals, they are also eco-friendly and great for sleepers with allergies.
Most importantly, you’ll want to choose a pillow that has an adjustable filling. You’ll need to test out the amount of filling in your pillow and make adjustments.
If you have allergies in addition to neck pain, you’ll want to consider the materials used on the outside of your pillow as well. If you have a sleep environment that is prone to dust or pet hair, the type of material used on your pillow can make a big difference.
Hypo-allergenic pillows are made from natural fibers that reduce dust built up, pollen and other household bacteria that can find their way into the fabric of your pillow. For allergy sufferers, this can mean a bad night’s sleep filled with coughing and sneezing in addition to the problems you’re having from neck pain.
Pillows used with natural materials also tend to be free of harmful and unnatural chemicals. If you’re prone to skin allergies and irritation, all-natural pillow materials will be the best choice for you.
It might be beneficial for those with allergies to choose hypo-allergenic pillows with a removable case. Removable pillowcases can be unzipped easily and thrown in the wash. Regular washing of your pillowcase and the cover to your pillow can greatly reduce the number of allergens that can build up on your pillow.
Lighter or heavier materials may also contribute to the amount you sweat at night or affect your body temperature. A lighter material may help night sweaters, stay cool and comfortable.
Best Cervical Pillow
Nature’s Guest is our top pick for the best cervical pillow. The contoured design of the pillow helps provide the proper cervical support to reduce neck pain. If you tend to alternate between sleeping on your side and sleeping on your back, this pillow is well suited for shifting between positions because of the gusseted edging.
The Nature’s Guest pillow features two sleeping areas. There is the neck roll cushion in the back as well as the side sleeping areas. The neck roll cushion is specifically designed to properly support your neck while sleeping on your back.
There is a dual zipper on this pillow that will easily allow you to adjust the filling. With easy access, you can adjust the pillow to the firmness you desire in both of the sleeping areas. You can adjust the pillow to the height you need by adding or removing filling in one or both of the areas.
The Nature’s Guest cervical pillow is hypoallergenic and features a cotton fabric cover, with microfiber supportive filling.
The Nature’s Guest pillow features a 30-day trial period to make sure you’re completely satisfied. You can return it anytime within 30 days for a full refund if it isn’t the right pillow for you.
- Built-in neck roll
- Adjustable filling height
- Removable cover
- 30-day trial period
- Too thin for some users
- Higher price point
The UTTU Sandwich Pillow is our pick for the most adjustable cervical pillow. With four adjustable heights, this pillow is well suited for all types of sleepers. Even stomach sleepers can adjust this pillow to make it work for them.
The UTTU Sandwich Pillow is made like a sandwich in that it has removable layers of memory foam. In its original state, the pillow is 4.7 inches at the highest curve and 3.9 inches at the lowest curve. When you remove the middle layer of foam, you’ll have 3.5 inches at the highest curve and 2.8 inches at the low curve.
The dynamic memory foam inside conforms nicely to the curve of your body. The ergonomic design can help reduce neck and back pain while promoting proper spine alignment.
The UTTU Sandwich Pillow comes with a bamboo cover that is hypoallergenic and breathable. There is a fully removable cover for easy washing and cleaning. The UTTU Sandwich Pillow is also verified by the International Sleep Products Association.
The UTTU Sandwich Pillow comes backed with a 5-year warranty as well as a 96-night trial.
- Adjustable foam layers
- Ergonomic design
- Removeable cover
- 96-night trial period
- 5-year warranty
- May come with a foam smell after shipping
- Pillow needs to air out for 24-hours before use
The Cervical Neck Traction Pillow may be your best bet if you suffer from muscle spasms, and nerve or disc issues. This pillow is designed with cervical traction or stretching to help aid pinched nerves and discs. It’s made as a relaxer pillow to not only keep your neck and spine aligned but also relax your muscles and nerves.
The front of the pillow is known as the Traction V Side which will give your neck a gentle stretch while you sleep. The Support Side at the top provides neck support with a roll design. You can also sleep comfortably on your side with the wing-like design of the Traction V Side.
The Cervical Neck Traction Pillow is hypoallergenic but doesn’t come with a removable cover.
The Cervical Neck Traction Pillow isn’t adjustable, but it does come in three different sizes to help ensure a proper fit.
One tip is to use this pillow for only 10-15 minutes when you first buy it. It will take a few days to adjust to sleeping on this type of cervical pillow.
- Traction design to reduce pain from pinched nerves
- Designed with multiple heights to fit your sleep position
- Multiple sizes available
- No removable cover
- Takes a few days to adjust
- No adjustable layers
The Core Products D-Core Cervical Pillow is designed with back sleepers in mind. The D-shaped center of this pillow provides extra orthopedic support for back sleepers. The D-design will cradle your head while the built-in neck roll will firmly support your neck.
Although this is best for back sleepers, side sleepers may also find comfort in the raised sides of the pillow. Note that you cannot sleep in the center of the pillow if you are a side sleeper. The center is made to align those that sleep on their backs.
The center of the pillow is designed to help support your neck, relieve tension, reduce headaches, spasms in your neck, arthritis and even snoring.
The Core Products D-Core Cervical Pillow is filled with 100% polyester fiber and will fit in a standard size pillowcase.
The Core Products D-Core Cervical Pillow is available in two sizes.
- D-design specially made for back sleepers
- Low price point
- Available in two sizes
- The filling isn’t adjustable
- Not intended for stomach sleepers
The Cradle Me Cervical Pillow is not only supportive for people who suffer from neck pain, it is also one of the more breathable and cooling pillows on the market. If you suffer from night sweats, this pillow may be a good option for you. The Cradle Me Cervical Pillow is filled with a breathable memory foam. The hypoallergenic cover is quilted and designed to keep you cool.
This pillow also comes in a unique butterfly design. The butterfly shape features varying heights to provide support in different places. The design of the pillow is made to promote proper spine alignment by offering different heights at the back, front and side of the pillow.
The memory foam inside also conforms nicely to your head and shoulders giving you a snug feeling while you sleep. The memory foam inside is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. The cover is also fully removable for easy washing and care.
The Cradle Me Cervical Pillow is made in the United States. It comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a 100-night sleep trial.
- Cooling memory foam and cover for hot sleepers
- Removable cover
- Hypoallergenic and non-toxic
- 100-night trial period
- Filling isn’t adjustable
- May be too hard for some sleepers
If you’ve been a long-time sufferer of chronic neck pain, a cervical pillow may be the solution you’ve been looking for. Neck pain is primarily caused by your spinal curve being out of alignment while you sleep. When your neck is raised too high or too low during the night, it shifts the natural curve of your spine causing you neck pain.
Cervical pillows are specifically designed to keep your spine and head in their natural positions, helping you wake up free of pain. The five pillows discussed here offer unique solutions for the different ways you sleep.
If you spend a third of your life in bed, make sure you do it comfortably.