Neck pain and postural issues are the most common muscular problems faced by individuals today. Because we are used to living with a stiff neck and back, the symptoms can be subtle and hard to identify. Commonly, sufferers experience headaches, tingling in the arms, muscle pain, tenderness, and a weakness in the arms.
During sleep, this can result in tossing and turning, waking up still groggy, and having a hard time initially falling asleep. Experiencing even one of these symptoms can indicate that you have neck problems. Fortunately, there are many pillows designed specifically for those of us who suffer from these issues.
Remember that often these are problems we have forced our bodies to become adapted to over many years. Adjusting to a proper sleeping posture can take a few days to get used to. Often, during this brief transitional period, we may experience some “rebound pain”- the feeling that our symptoms are getting worse.
This is simply the effect of our bodies adjusting to proper posture, and for the first time in years becoming aware of all the torment we have put it through.
Top Pillows for Neck Pain
#1 ZG-Home Queen Memory Foam Cervical Neck Support Orthopedic Contour Pillow
This style of memory foam pillows is one of my favorites. The shredded memory foam design allows air to pass through the pillow, providing superior cooling in hot climates. Due to the dynamic way that memory foam softens with the application of heat and pressure, this pillow will adapt to the sleeping style of even the most awkward sleepers. Although this pillow is marketed specifically to individuals who suffer from neck pain, the design is simply not ideal.
Because we have spent years forcing our bodies to adapt to a less-than- ideal sleeping posture, we require a firmer pillow that forces our heads into the correct position. Using a highly adaptive pillow such as this will just allow us to subconsciously change our position in our sleep, continuing the pain cycle we have become accustomed too.
#2 Sleep Innovations Contour Memory Foam Pillow
Here is another pillow I have recommended to clients before. Those of us looking for an inexpensive way to get in on the memory foam craze are in luck! Priced at only $25, this is a very affordable option. The shape of the pillow is designed to match the contours of our head and neck.
This unique design is suitable for both back and side sleepers, and gently holds our head in the correct position for a more restful and adaptive sleep. But for those of us with postural issues, we need a pillow that can adapt to the specific needs of our body.
Being a solid block of foam means that this is not really a “one size fits all” product, even though it is marketed that way. While this is a great pillow to move on to once you have adjusted your posture, for immediate relief of neck pain we will have to look elsewhere.
#3 Medium Profile Memory Foam Neck Pillow by Perform Pillow
This pillow, although very similar to the last, has a couple of subtle changes that appear to address all of the issues with our previous product. For starters, the pillow is supposedly adaptable by changing the orientation. Simply flip it over if you have broader shoulders, or use it upside down to reduce the rigidity.
On top of this, the cover is made of a bamboo based material to improve airflow and cooling. I can’t say enough positive things about bamboo, but their claims regarding pillow orientation are simply unfounded.
Memory foam pillows require a firm base in order to adapt correctly. Using it upside down will just cause a springy effect that is not ideal for this pillow type.
Sadly, false claims are a problem you will encounter frequently when pillow shopping. While this is an excellent choice for individuals who have excellent posture, I cannot recommend it for this specific purpose.
#4 TAMPOR Hypoallergenic Contour Memory Foam Neck Pillow
The memory foam in this pillow is non temperature, high-tech memory foam. Which mean it will not warp or change shape if it gets too hot or cold. It also means it can withstand a ton of pressure and still perform great.
The orthopedic contour of this pillow complies with the natural curvature of your head and neck so that it doesn’t put any stress on your head, neck, or back. The pillow cover is a breathable polyester cover that will help regulate your temperature so you don’t get too hot or too cold.
It is also hypoallergenic and dust mites resistant. The best part about this pillow is that it is great for all types of sleepers. Whether you sleep on your back, stomach, or side, this pillow contours to your body, giving you a better night’s sleep.
There really are no downsides of this pillow, except maybe your friends stealing it from you! Honestly, I haven’t had a single problem with this pillow. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is tired of buying pillows, only to have them mess with your neck and back and then having to be replaced.
#5 Remedy Side Sleeper Contour Pillow for Neck, Shoulder, and Back Pain Relief
The Side Sleeper Pillow is an excellent product for those of us who suffer from back, neck and ear pain. Individuals who have back and neck problems often need a firmer pillow to hold their head in a central position all night. One of the largest drawbacks of a firmer pillow is the additional pressure put on your ears.
This can be a very frustrating night time experience, and leads to the desire to flip over onto your other side or back. The Side Sleeper Pillow is the only one I’ve found that addresses this issue. By creating a small divot in the center of the pillow, pressure on your ear is reduced. Because of it’s unique “U” shaped design, the pillow gently cradles your head.
By providing additional support to the back of the head and side of the face, the temptation to roll over in your sleep is reduced. Due to the unique design promoting a more restful, less turbulent sleep, the Side Sleeper Pillow is my #1 recommendation for individuals who suffer from neck and back pain.
The Adjustment Period
When making pillow recommendations to family and friends, I often get asked about this “adjustment period” and what it feels like to address neck pain. When you first wake up after sleeping in the correct position you will feel fantastic!
But as you return to your desk job and once-again expose your body to the effects of poor posture, you will feel the pain start to return. In some cases, it can feel even worse than before! When you experience neck pain every single day, your body becomes used to it and the pain tends to fade over time. After you finally give your body a break from this, it can react very strongly to being put in an uncomfortable position later in the day.
Remember to listen to what your body is telling you. Take a couple minutes to stand up and perform some simple stretches. Make a conscious effort to hold your head up and sit correctly in your chair. It can only take a few minutes to adjust your posture, and the positive effects will last a lifetime.