Do you find yourself asking “why does the back of my neck always hurt?” Do you wake up every morning with neck pain and stiffness? If so, you aren’t alone — approximately two-thirds of all people suffer from neck pain.
Neck pain can happen to anyone, though it’s particularly prevalent in one’s middle age. Pain caused by injury or impact generally heals in a few days. But if you’re suffering from chronic neck pain, that may not heal and may only get worse with time.
If you’re looking for the cause of neck pain after sleeping, the fault may lie in your sleeping position or choice of bedding. Stomach sleepers, for example, are at the highest risk of suffering from neck pain because this position turns your neck on its side and throws your spine out of alignment.
In this article, we discuss what is the proper way to sleep to avoid neck pain and what is the best pillow for stiff neck in 2021, according to a physician’s recommendation.
What is the Proper Way to Sleep to Avoid Neck Pain?
The following is a quick overview of the best sleeping position for upper back and neck pain.
- Side Sleepers: If you’re a side sleeper, you should sleep in the fetal position with your knees tucked in close to your chest with a high loft pillow under your head. The high loft covers the distance between the mattress and your head, thereby supporting your neck. And the fetal position extends your spine and prevents disc herniation.
- Back Sleepers: If you’re a back sleeper, you should use a medium or high loft pillow depending on which one aligns your spine and keeps your head in line with your spine and hips. You can also find the best pillow to stuff under your back as lumbar support.
- Stomach Sleepers: This is the worst position for neck pain. However, if you can’t help but fall into this sleep position, you should rest a pillow under your abdomen to support your neck and back.
Best Pillow for Neck Pain — Top Picks 2021
Now that you understand what is the correct sleep position to avoid or alleviate neck pain, it’s time to focus on the best pillow for neck pain. The following is an overview of some of the best neck support pillows on the market.
Contour Memory Foam Pillow By Elite Rest — Best Pillow for Side Sleepers
Contour Memory Foam Pillow By Elite Rest is the best pillow for neck if you’re also looking for a side sleeper pillow. When you sleep on your side, you need a pillow with a high loft so it can support your neck and cover the distance between the mattress and your head. This is a contour pillow with a high loft of 4 inches around the sides and a low loft of 2.75 inches in the middle. As such, it’s perfect for neck pain because you can rest your neck on the rounded contours. It also conforms to the shape of your neck because it’s a memory foam pillow, thus offering optimal neck support.
Elite Rest Slim Sleeper — Best Neck Pillow for Stomach Sleepers
As we mentioned previously, stomach sleeping is the worst sleep position because it throws your spine off balance. But you can minimize the damage by using a low loft firm pillow under your head and your abdomen. Elite Rest Slim Sleeper is a natural latex foam pillow with a loft height of only 2.75 inches. As such, you can rest your head on it with the assurance that it won’t sink lower. Furthermore, by stuffing it under your stomach, you can also avoid neck and back pain.
Coop Home Goods Premium — Best Adjustable Neck Pillow
Coop Home Goods Premium is an adjustable shredded memory foam pillow, which makes it the best pillow for side sleepers, stomach sleepers, and back sleepers. As a shredded memory foam pillow, you can add or remove the memory foam filling to adjust the loft height according to your needs. This makes it extremely versatile so you can alleviate neck pain with it regardless of your preferred sleep position. The memory foam also conforms to the shape of your neck so it supports your neck perfectly.
Mediflow Fiber is one of the world’s first water pillows and it’s widely hailed as one of the best neck pain pillows on the market. An independent Johns Hopkins study has shown that waterbase technology can help alleviate neck pain and generally improve your sleep quality. Furthermore, you can add or remove the water easily so you can change the loft height, making it ideal for combination sleepers. Depending on the amount of water, you can also make it soft, medium-firm, or completely firm.
TEMPUR-All Purpose Pillow is the best neck pain pillow for those who often travel or those who have to sit on uncomfortable chairs for long periods. This pillow is a peanut-shaped pillow made of a NASA-formulated material that’s extremely comfortable and supports your neck. This pillow is also extremely versatile. You can place it under your back while sleeping as lumbar support. While sitting in uncomfortable chairs, you can also place this pillow around your neck for neck support. As such, this pillow serves as lumbar support and a neck support pillow. Furthermore, it also comes with an extremely breathable cotton cover that’s soft and keeps you cool even in hot conditions.