How To Choose The Best Pillow For Neck Pain
Suffering from neck pain every morning is frustrating — to say the least.
An estimated 80% of us will experience neck pain at some point in life, and the chances of pain increase as we age (Harvard Health, 2016). If you suffer from this issue, you will likely be recommended a neck pain pillow. But can pillows actually help to reduce neck pain? Or is the science behind them half-baked?
Today, we’re delving into the work of pillows for neck pain and the science behind them. From how they work to peer-reviewed studies, you’ll be an expert on the topic area and know exactly how to choose the right pillow for you. Scroll down to get started.
What causes neck pain after sleeping?
If you’re experiencing neck pain after sleeping, it could be caused by poor sleep posture (Cary, D., Jacques, A. and Briffa, K 2021). This issue is often exacerbated by sleeping in the wrong position, having a bad posture while awake, or simply sleeping with the wrong type of pillow.
When neck pain stems from a sleeping position, a high-quality memory foam neck pillow can make a world of difference, and the science backs this up (Ferchak, D. 2021). Keep reading to understand the stats and studies that explain and prove how specialised pillows can alleviate neck pain from sleeping.
How Neck Pain Pillows Work: The Scientific Facts
In this day and age, it’s easy to make “data-driven” claims. But without the hard facts, knowing what’s true and what’s marketing jargon is tough.
Memory Foam Reduces Spine Misalignment
Memory foam is a popular material, and concrete evidence shows that it helps with posture and pain. Dr Allen Conrad from the Montgomery County Chiropractic Center found that memory pillows mould to the contour of your spine, which will help you from becoming misaligned (Ferchak, D. 2021).
Did you know? Memory foam is made from a viscoelastic form or polyurethane. But there’s more than one type of it. Today, you can buy gel, open-cell, and egg crate variations.
Cervical Pillows Are Effective Neck Pain Treatment
If you’re looking for help with neck pain after sleeping, you’ve likely come across “cervical pillows.” These distinctively shaped pillows support your head and neck with unique contours, and science shows they effectively treat neck pains (Persson L, Moritz U. 1998).
During her Master’s Degree in Technology, Tracey Elaine Allwood found that cervical pillows are effective in treating mechanical neck pain (Allwood, T.E. 2023). Allwood also concluded that using the pillow “as an adjunct to manipulation should attain superior results to manipulation alone.” In other words, adding a pillow with other neck treatments is extra beneficial (Allwood, T.E. 2023). This data was taken from a study of 40 patients where the average age was 34 years old.
So, if you’re looking for an additional way to soothe your neck ailment, a cervical pillow could be your solution.
Neck Pain Pillows Reduce Pain In The Morning
Neck pain is usually most noticeable in the AM after a restless night of sleep. Luckily, this can be a thing of the past — and science agrees.
Researchers at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College have studied cervical pillows and their effects on adults with chronic neck pain against conventional options. Results show the specialised cervical pillows were effective in reducing low-level neck pain intensity — especially in the morning following use. (Efanian, P., Tenzif, S. and Guerriero, R.C. 2004).
Help with headaches, shoulder and upper back pain
Neck pain is pesky. But headaches, shoulder pain and upper back pain can also be caused by similar issues. Good news!
Studies by Liselott Persson at Lund University have found that a pillow with good shape, comfort and support to the neck lordosis can reduce neck pain and headache and give a better sleep quality (Persson, L 2006). Comfortable sleep and less pain, all from a specialised neck and upper back pain pillow.
How should I sleep to relieve neck pain?
To relieve neck discomfort during sleep, adopting a sleeping position on your back or side is best for relieving neck pain, as these positions place less stress on your spine. You can also add a cervical memory foam pillow for more effective pain relief.
Researchers have found that pillows with cervical lordosis support, good shape, and consistency positively affect sleep and can be recommended as a treatment for neck pain (Persson L, Moritz U. 1998). So, a specialised pillow could help you catch extra ZZZs and reduce neck pain at the same time.
What type of pillow is best for neck pain?
When you combine all the scientific research, you’re left with a reliable formula for choosing pillows. There are two key features you should be looking for while shopping for the right pillow to alleviate neck pain.
- Pillows made from memory foam
- Pillows with a cervical shape
But there are some other factors you should also consider. For example, does the ergonomic shape allow for back and side sleepers? Is the memory foam material odour-eliminating and germ-resistant? Does the pillow have thermogenic technology?
With such a variety on the market, checking all these bases before hitting checkout is best to find the best option for you personally.
What Is The Best Pillow For Neck Pain?
The Groove (also known as the EasySleeper) pillow has consistently been voted as the best pillow for neck and lower back pain troubles.
After trying other neck pain pillows, we realised they didn’t entirely relieve neck pain. In fact, some even made the issue worse. So, with a passion for science-backed results, we designed a prototype that utilises the latest research. And the Groove Pillow was born.
What makes this pillow for neck pain different?
- Promotes head and neck support, reducing tension, stiffness, and discomfort while you sleep
- Assists neutral spine alignment and improved posture
- It works for back and side sleepers thanks to the ergonomic dip design
- Created from three expert layers — bamboo charcoal memory foam, a thermogenic protective inner, and a scuba pillow protector
- Also helps with snoring and easy breathing at night
Plus, it’s received awards from The Telegraph, Good Housekeeping Institute, Women’s Health, and more.
Take a look for yourself. Jump to the Groove Pillow now.
Should I sleep without a pillow if my neck hurts?
Generally, sleeping without a pillow isn’t recommended for those experiencing neck or back pain. This is because sleeping without a pillow can worsen specific spinal conditions, such as scoliosis. Pillows help to provide spinal alignment, which eases aches and pains, so in most cases, specially selected pillows are advantageous to neck pain and sleep quality (Persson L, 2006).
However, comfort should always be the goal for your sleep. Therefore, if you find sleeping without a pillow pain-free and more comfortable, there’s no reason for you to suffer with a pillow. Foregoing a pillow can offer you a better night of sleep if your standard pillow is creating a bad sleeping posture.
Countless studies have shown that well-designed neck pillows actively reduce pain and stiffness. If you’re looking to alleviate your pain, consider choosing an optimised pillow for the issue. Always research before buying, and when in doubt, read the reviews.
Want to get to know the Groove Pillow better? See the product page now.
- Allwood, T.E. (2023). The effectiveness of manipulation combined with a cervical pillow compared to manipulation alone in the management of mechanical neck pain. Dut.ac.za. [online] doi:https://doi.org/DIT93220.
- Cary, D., Jacques, A. and Briffa, K. (2021). Examining relationships between sleep posture, waking spinal symptoms and quality of sleep: A cross sectional study. PLOS ONE, 16(11), p.e0260582. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0260582.
- Erfanian, P., Tenzif, S. and Guerriero, R.C. (2004). Assessing effects of a semi-customized experimental cervical pillow on symptomatic adults with chronic neck pain with and without headache. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, [online] 48(1), pp.20–8. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1840039/.
- Ferchak, D. (2021). Choosing the Best Pillow for Neck Pain and Back Pain. [online] Health Central. Available at: https://www.healthcentral.com/condition/back-pain/choosing-best-pillow-neck-pain-back-pain.
- Harvard Health. (2016). Turn away from neck pain. [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/turn-away-from-neck-pain.
- Persson, L. (2006). Neck pain and pillows – A blinded study of the effect of pillows on non-specific neck pain, headache and sleep. Advances in Physiotherapy, 8(3), pp.122–127. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/14038190600780239.
- Persson L, Moritz U. Neck support pillows: a comparative study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 1998 May;21(4):237-240. PMID: 9608378. Contact Information: Liselott Persson, Lund University, firstname.lastname@example.org, +46462229555 Ulrich Moritz - Unable to locate
www.ninds.nih.gov. (n.d.). Pinched Nerve | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. [online] Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/pinched-nerve.
Frequently Asked Questions
What pillows are best for neck pain?
Pillows made from memory foam in a cervical or “ergonomic dip” shape.
How should I sleep to relieve neck pain?
To relieve neck discomfort, sleeping on your back or side is best, as these positions place less stress on your spice. You can also add a cervical memory foam pillow for more effective pain relief.
Can certain pillows cause neck pain?
Yes, some pillows can cause neck pain, shoulder pain, and headaches. Typically, pillows that are too firm or too soft cause neck pain.
What is the best UK pillow for neck pain?
According to the Good Housekeeping Institute, The Telegraph, and Women’s Health, it’s The Groove Pillow— thanks to the pillow’s bamboo charcoal memory foam, thermogenic protective inner, cervical shape, and maximum support.