On average, people spend about one third of their lives sleeping.  A good night’s sleep is not only imperative for daily happenings, but is equally important for successful weight lossThe type of pillow you sleep on has a direct correlation to how refreshed and recharged you feel when you wake up, and whether you have any neck pain.  If you’re waking up with chronic neck pain and fatigue, it’s time to look at your pillow.

What causes neck pain

Feeling neck pain when you wake up is caused by your neck not being kept in a neutral position while you’re sleeping.  This means that your neck is bent or twisted too far in one direction for an extended period of time.  This is your pillow’s fault.  The pillow you use should keep your neck in a neutral position so you avoid that unwanted, annoying stiff neck.  A neutral position is defined as one where your neck is kept square on your shoulders – it’s not bent in one direction or another.   The wrong pillow can not only affect the neutral position of your head and neck, but can exacerbate already existing conditions such as headaches, shoulder and arm numbness, discomfort, sneezing and wheezing.


How to choose a pillow

Pillows are not one-size-fits-all.  The type of pillow you choose depends on the position in which you sleep.  The best sleeping positions to avoid neck pain are on your side or on your back.  People, who sleep on their backs will look for a different pillow than those who sleep on their sides.

Back sleepershould look for thinner pillows with a slight roll in the bottom third of the pillow.  The thinner pillow will keep your head from being pushed too far forward, and the roll will keep your neck supported in its natural curvature.

Side sleepers will benefit from a firmer pillow that fills in the space between the ear and mattress, and the distance between the ear and outside shoulder without the head being tilted to the side.

Stomach sleepers don’t really even need a pillow!  This sleeping position already puts the head and neck in an unnatural position and a pillow will add to the tension.  This position, quite frankly, is the worst position for neck pain.  If you must sleep in this position, placing a pillow under your stomach will help avoid lower back pain.

best pillow for neck pain

Different types of pillows

There are several options when it comes to what your pillow is made of.  Once you find the shape of the pillow you need for your specific sleeping position, you must choose the type of material it’s made out of.

Orthopedic pillows have become increasingly popular in recent years.  The memory foam-type pillows are already formed and contoured to maintain the natural curve in your neck.  There are different levels of rigidity and size, so make sure you pick the one that fits you the best as there is no re-shaping this type of pillow.

Feather pillows are great since they can be molded to fit the shape of your head, but they come in different amounts of filling which affects the support, so make sure you’re getting one that fits specifically to your sleeping position.  Additionally, if you have allergies to feathers/down, be sure you find one that is hypoallergenic.

Cervical pillows are the roll-shaped pillows that simply focus on keeping the natural curve of your neck.  This pillow does not support your head, so you may need to also find a smaller, flatter pillow to support your head, if you look to the cervical pillow for neck support.  Both pillows can be pushed into a pillow case to keep them positioned correctly throughout the night.

Water pillows are something you don’t see often, but may be better for some in reducing neck pain.  They absorb and redistribute the weight of your head evenly, and can be customized to support your head and neck by altering the amount of water added to the pillow.  More water will give firmer support, while less water will give softer support.

As you can see, finding the right pillow may take some time.  But, if you spend time finding the perfect mattress, it will do you good to find an equally perfect pillow.  The right pillow will give you the best night’s sleep, and leave you waking up refreshed and rested, without neck pain.


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