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Choosing a pillow to buy is an extremely difficult task, especially if you are experiencing discomfort and pain. A good supportive pillow can make the difference between a solid nights sleep and a miserable restless sleep. So what is the best pillow for neck pain relief?. The simple answer is ‘it depends’.
There are too many factors to consider when buying a pillow that supports your neck, whether you currently have a bad neck, or whether your sleeping behavior causes you a stiff neck in the morning. Both of these topics alone have many variables. However, buying the right supportive pillow for your neck can improve the way you sleep with a little bit of patience and persistence to force your body into a safer sleeping position.
I am a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to sleeping positions. So I know all to well how difficult it can be to maintain a good sleeping posture. Although it’s advised not to sleep on your stomach, recently I have found this position to be my go to position for actually getting to sleep. Then I end up on my side or my back. So I most likely need a different pillow to you.
However in saying this, if you know what type of pillow to buy for your needs, the decision can be much more simple. To help you buy the best pillow for your neck pain relief I have outlined the important features to consider before you waste another dime on an inferior pillow. I know how expensive pillows can be, so eliminating the features you don’t need will help you cut back on the failed purchases.
Quick Links To Info On This Page
- 1 Buying A Pillow For Neck Pain Starts Here
- 2 The Types Of Pillows Recommended For People With Sore Necks
- 3 The Best Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow For Side Sleepers
- 4 Best Down Pillow For Neck Pain When Sleeping On Your Back
- 5 Unique Microfiber & Memory Foam Pillow
- 6 Best Pillow For Therapeutic Neck Support
- 7 Buying A Pillow For Neck Pain Relief Is Hard
Buying A Pillow For Neck Pain Starts Here
The first step to buying the best neck pillow for your personal needs starts with your sleeping position. Don’t underestimate this step as it is crucial to buying a pillow that will actually improve your neck discomfort.
- Side Sleepers: The best pillow for a side sleep with neck stiffness or pain needs to support your neck and keep your spine aligned. Because side sleeping forces your head to tilt downwards towards the end, you need to compliment this with a pillow that raises your head in line with your spine, but also supporting the arch of your neck. The best type of pillow in this instance is either memory foam or a feather filled pillow as they conform to the shape of your neck. An orthopedic pillow works especially well for side sleepers with neck troubles.
- Back Sleepers: If you predominately sleep on your back, then a thinner flatter pillow is ideal. Under 4 inches in thickness will provide adequate support to keep your spine aligned. A little bump in the front of the pillow makes for superior neck support.
- Stomach sleepers: As much as this is not recommended, it’s still a position we find ourselves in from time to time. A thin pillow or no pillow at all while resting your head on your hands is how I find it comfortable on the neck. This is not the ideal sleeping position as most of the time your head is turned sideways and forces the spine and neck into bad positions that can cause cramping and stiffness if you sleep the entire night like this.
The Types Of Pillows Recommended For People With Sore Necks
More and more types of pillows and stuffings become available all the time, which can make finding the best pillow stuffing for neck pain remarkably hard to decide on. However, if you’re anything like me, you will want a time tested and proven type of pillow that has shown that it helps relieve neck pain. Below you can find the types of pillows I recommend for your neck issues.
- Latex Pillows are ideal for neck and shoulder pain as they hold shape retention very well and adapt well to the current weather. Meaning if it’s hot, you wont sweat as much as a memory foam pillow for example. A recent study has found that latex pillows actually encourage pain reduction when compared to various other pillows.
- Memory Foam are a very popular choice when it comes to dealing with neck pain. This is because the memory foam is a unique foam that contours to the shape of your neck offering unmatched support. The only disadvantage to memory foam is they don’t distribute heat well. So they can be quite hot to sleep on during the warmer months. The solution to this is gel infused memory foam which eliminates the heat issue as described below.
- Down and feather pillows are typically flatter pillows but as they shape to the neck, they are great choices for back sleepers. Downside is they need to be replaced every 12-18 months once the feathers become flat and no longer offer support.
- Bamboo filled pillows are a Eco friendly option that has grown massively in popularity over the years. Typically these pillows are great for preventing odor and moisture. They normally have a cotton cover to allow for breath-ability with a microfiber center to provide the support.
- Pillow Profile will be relevant to the style of sleeper you are. The basic understanding is this: Low profile is best suited to stomach sleepers or smaller sized people, the medium profile is best for back sleepers (up to 4″ thick) and the high profile is ideal for side sleepers and heavier people.
The Best Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow For Side Sleepers
After trying several more expensive pillows than the Malouf Z Side Sleeper, I have come to the conclusion that there is simply none better than this amazing high quality pillow. I do get that you get what you pay for when it comes to pillows. Pay dirt cheap prices and you may as well sleep on the dirt. Invest in a high quality pillow and the quality of life improves. This is certainly the case with the Malouf Z pillow. Being rather expensive at first, I know have no regrets deciding on this as the number one pillow. Just how expensive is it? As price often changes, you can see the current price on amazon here.
So what exactly is so special about the Malouf Z pillow?. Being a predominant side sleeper, I find this to be perfect for us people that need to face sideways. The center of the pillow has a chunk taken out of it to allow for you shoulder to comfortably slide in. Then you place your head on the gel infused memory foam. From there your neck aligns perfectly with your spine as the special ‘memory foam dough’ contours to your neck.
But Why Is This Pillow So Good For Neck Pain Sufferers
As mentioned above, the semi circle cut out allows your shoulder to position perfectly in the pillow. This allows your head to position itself in the ideal position. From there the dough memory foam provides the perfect balance in support and comfort. It’s not so soft your head sinks down, yet not too firm that you feel like you’re sleeping on a brick. Think of it like sleeping on a doughnut, hence the name dough memory foam. The interior is a similar aeration that gives this unique comfort.
With typical memory foam, you quickly overheat in the warmer months. But with this unique pillow from Malouf, you never have to worry about becoming too hot again. This is achieved from sleeping on the side that has a layer of Z Gel spread across it. This gel seriously works like nothing you have probably experienced before. If you sweat in your sleep like I do, you’re going to love this Gel layer feature. Further more, the memory foam itself is gel infused for an even cooler overall pillow. But if you don’t like the idea of the cooling technology, simply swap sides and you still benefit from pain relief without the cooling feature.
Completing the pillow is a Tencel Lyocell fibre zippered pillowcase. Tencel is a high end material used for its softness and ability to wick moisture. This case is removable and can be washed. Ordinary pillowcases can be used when the Tencel case is in the wash.
Is The Malouf Z Side Pillow Worth The Money?
If you’re a side sleeper and tried of getting sore squished shoulders and experiencing nightly neck pain, I couldn’t recommend a better pillow. While it is considered expensive, the shear relief you can get from one pillow is out of this world. The only concern I can imagine some users experiencing is the 6″ rise where the neck goes. For tiny bodies, this rise may be a tad too high and may feel less enjoyable.
While it’s tempting to use this pillow on your back, it’s 100% designed for side sleepers. Malouf have a better suited pillow for back sleepers which is a similar design but incorporates Bamboo in the mix. So choose the Bamboo for back sleeping and this Malouf Z for side sleepers.
Best Down Pillow For Neck Pain When Sleeping On Your Back
Made right here in the USA, this 100% White Goose down pillow is the best down pillow I have come across for back sleepers. Made by Luxuredown, this standard size white pillow is one of the reasons people rave on about down pillows for the last 20 odd years.
It’s a medium firmness pillow that is soft enough to rest the back of your head on while the down contours to your neck for perfect support. So while it’s perfect for back sleeping, it does a pretty darn good job for side sleeping as well. Had it been more of a low firmness and low profile, it would be useless for side sleepers. But it has just the right amount of White Goose Down to make it applicable to both types of sleepers.
What makes this Luxuredown pillow great is just how soft it is (while maintaining a firm feel) and how well it bounces back after a quick fluff. A pillow like this wont sag down overnight leaving you on a hard surface. It’s high quality and will survive the whole night without needing to be perked up again. Which can be done when you’re making the bed in the morning.
Just be mindful of what size pillow you buy. Some folks have complained about sinking too far into the pillow. This is often the case when the pillow bought was too big for their body. Fortunately, LuxureDown comes in three sizes to cater to this: Standard, Queen and King. So don’t be fooled into thinking bigger the body, as this is certainly not the case. If you buy the right size, even the most die hard down pillow users couldn’t flaw this pillow.
Unique Microfiber & Memory Foam Pillow
Another brilliant pillow by Malouf called the Z Convolution Gelled Microfiber and memory foam. Malouf are proving themselves to be innovators and leaders in the supportive pillow industry. The Convolution is one of their mid range priced pillows that has some amazing features. (Check Price On Amazon Here)
So the outer casing on this pillow is a gel infused microfiber material about 1″ thick all around the pillow. This adds a softness to the pillow while the gel infusion helps distribute heat better and keeping you cooler during the warmer months.
Inside the microfiber casing is a 4″ thick convoluted memory foam insert. This is a removable dual sided foam insert for providing maximum support. One side of the memory foam is flat which creates a more supportive and firm pillow to sleep on.
The other side is convoluted, meaning it is in the shape of zig zaps. These zig zags or little pyramids if you will make ideal cushioning for back sleepers. As you rest your head on the pillow, the back of the head pushes down on these little pyramids while the larger part (the base of the pyramid) keeps your head at the right angle for aligning your spine. Think of them like suspension for your head. When combined with the softness of the Microfibre you are left with one soft to medium firm pillow ideal for back sleepers. For side sleepers, just flip the pillow over for a more supportive surface that the neck needs.
Stomach Sleepers Are Even Catered To
The Z Convolution by Malouf has a third option available from the one pillow. This is for side sleepers or anyone that wants an alternative to a soft down pillow. This is achieved by taking the inner memory foam pillow out leaving you with the soft gel infused Microfiber pillow. Which is flatter and lower to the bed for sleeping on your stomach.
Why The Convolution Is Good For Neck Pain Relief
When tossing and turning at night, trying to find the comfortable position can be endless. I find myself laying on my back for 10 minutes but start feeling the neck being pushed too far forward from the pillow. So I’ll switch to my side and while good for a while, I feel my head drooping closer to the bed due to inferior support. This can go on all night.
The bottom line is that finding a pillow that is not only good for multiple sleeping positions, but also affordable is like winning the lottery when you suffer from neck stiffness and pain. I found the Convolution by Malouf to be a great middle ground between firm and soft that suits my sleeping style perfectly. As for price, it’s about mid range which is fine for me. Because how often do you really need to replace a good pillow?. $50 or even $100 for comfortable sleep over a couple of years is certainly well worth the investment.
Best Pillow For Therapeutic Neck Support
The first time I used a pillow like this, I really didn’t know what to expect. Which is what most people may expect form a therapeutic pillow like this from Sleep Innovations. It’s a molded pillow that doesn’t loose shape or flatten out and need fluffing up like a down pillow.
This pillow is specially designed to contour to the shape of your neck for maximum support. It’s not really like a pillow you may expect. It’s basically a curved shape designed to keep the neck straight and relieve pain. So don’t expect it to be like a traditional pillow at all.
But in saying that, if you have severe neck stiffness and pain, this pillow by Sleep Innovations may be the pillow you have long been waiting for. As I said, its curved, both ends are curved at different heights so that the pillow can be used by both side sleepers and back sleepers.
The smaller curved hump is for when you’re on your back, while the larger 5″ hump is to fill the gap in between your neck and the bed when sleeping on your side. As we are all not exactly the same size and shape, the outer material of this pillow (The blue area) is a cooled memory foam material. So when you lay your head and neck on this pillow, you will mold to it and get the full support from the white section of the pillow. Without feeling any pressure points. Quite a good idea for maximizing support that could suit many people troubled with bad necks.
The blue memory foam has a chilled element to it, but I don’t think it’s on the same level as the Malouf gel layer pillow mentioned above. If you are wanting a super cool pillow, I don’t think this is the best choice. While it does have a little cooler feeling, it doesn’t hold the coolness as well as other in my opinion.
Overall Thoughts On The Sleep Innovation
Overall it’s a great find really. Being made in the USA with a pretty decent 5 year warranty, it’s hard to pass up an opportunity like this. I was concerned about the pillow not coming with a cover, but it does and it is washable. However the foam is not washable.
But in terms of neck support for both side sleeping and back sleeping, the Sleep Innovations therapeutic pillow is certainly up there with the best of them. The pillow also comes in two sizes which I found to be quite nice.
Buying A Pillow For Neck Pain Relief Is Hard
Well there are my 4 best pillows for neck pain relief suitable to side sleepers, back sleepers and stomach sleepers. I know buying a pillow can seem like a easy task. But when you have suffered neck pain, or any pain for that matter. Choosing the right pillow to suit your individual needs can be extremely stressful.
Spending $100+ on a pillow may sound ludicrous to outsiders that don’t have the same issues you have. But at the end of the day, if that expensive pillow brings you relief so that you can get a deeper and healthier sleep. It’s been one of the best investments you have made into your body and well being.