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Why does the back of my neck always hurt? What’s the cause of neck pain after sleeping? Do you ask yourself these questions? If so, you probably suffer from neck pain because of improper sleeping position or wrong choice of neck pillow or both.

According to research, some sleeping positions — like sleeping on your stomach — lead to neck pain. When you sleep on your stomach with a pillow, your head cranes upwards and to the sides, which places enormous pressure on your neck muscles.

In addition to fixing your sleep position, you should also find a neck support pillow that supports your position. A cervical pillow or contour pillow is widely considered to be the best type of neck support pillow on the market. Instead of having a single rectangular shape, a cervical pillow has a contoured shape with elevated and ergonomically rounded sides that act like neck rolls.

You can rest your neck on the elevated contour, thus ensuring spinal alignment. But finding the right cervical pillow is a lot more difficult than that. If you don’t choose the correct contour pillow, you may just do more harm than good.

In this article, we discuss remedies for neck pain while sleeping, qualities of the best cervical neck pillow, and we review the best neck support pillow.

What’s the Proper Way to Sleep to Avoid Neck Pain?

The following is a brief overview of the best sleeping position for upper back and neck pain:

  • If you’re a side sleeper, you can sleep in the fetal position by pulling your knees closer to your chest. This opens up the spaces between your vertebrae, thus minimizing the risk of herniated discs.
  • Side sleepers can also sleep with their legs straight, but you should place an orthopedic contour pillow between your knees. The pillow helps align the knees, hips, and spine.
  • If you’re a back sleeper, you should sleep with a medium-loft pillow under your head and lumbar support under your lower back or knees.
  • Back sleepers can also use a wedge-like pillow so that their upper body is in a reclined position with a neck roll under your head.
  • You must avoid sleeping on your stomach as it offers no support and your neck cranes sidewards. This places immense pressure on your neck and leads to neck pain. However, if you must sleep on your stomach, then use a low-loft neck support pillow.

Qualities of the Best Cervical Pillow

The following are some of the qualities of the best cervical pillow:

  • The best contour pillow comes with ergonomically rounded sides that can double as a neck roll.
  • A good cervical support pillow is made of materials like memory foam or natural latex foam. Memory foam conforms to the shape of your body and offers optimal support. Natural latex foam also offers support and is fairly firm so it’s perfect for stomach sleepers.
  • The best contour pillow is one that can cover the distance between the mattress and your head without your neck either craning up or down. The loft height should be perfect for spinal alignment.

Reviews of the Best Neck Support Pillow

Elite Rest Contour Sleeper — Best Contour Pillow

Elite Rest Contour Sleeper is the best contour pillow for side sleepers and back sleepers. This is a memory foam pillow with an ergonomically contoured design. The higher contour has a loft height of 4 inches while the lower contour has a loft height of only 2.75 inches. This memory foam pillow conforms to the shape of your neck and shoulder so you have optimal support around your cervical muscles. The contoured sides act like an in-built neck roll that supports your neck and relieves neck pain.

Perform Pillow — Best Neck Support Pillow

Perform Pillow is the best neck support pillow for back sleepers and stomach sleepers. This is a memory foam pillow with a low loft height ranging from 2.25 inches to 3.5 inches. If you sleep on your stomach, you can rest your head on the lower contour and if you sleep on your back, you can rest your head on the higher contour. The neck pillow is also covered in a soft bamboo cover that’s eco-friendly and extremely breathable.

UTTU Sandwich Pillow — Best Adjustable Neck Pillow

UTTU Sandwich Pillow is an adjustable neck pillow made of premium memory foam. This memory foam neck pillow consists of two layers. In its original form, it measures 4.7 inches at the high contour and 3.9 inches at the lower contour, making it perfect for side sleepers. However, once you remove the middle memory foam layer, the loft height becomes 3.5 inches at the higher contour and 2.8 inches at the lower contour, making it perfect for stomach sleepers and back sleepers. As such, this pillow is perfect for all types of sleeping positions and it has a therapeutic design that provides relief from neck and back pain.

Desk Jockey Neck Pillow Headrest — Best Neck Roll

Desk Jockey Neck Pillow Headrest is the best neck roll for office chairs, cars, or sleeping. This is a bone-shaped neck roll that you can place under your neck while sleeping. If your existing pillow doesn’t offer enough support, this pillow can offer the neck support you need. You can also fasten it to your car seat or office chair for neck support.

Core Products Tri-Core — Best Cervical Pillow

Core Products Tri-Core is the best cervical pillow for therapeutic purposes. This cervical pillow has elevated contoured neck rolls on all sides. You can rest your neck on the contoured sides while nestling your head in the middle. This cervical pillow, however, is only suitable for side sleepers and back sleepers — not for stomach sleepers. It’s also covered in a highly-breathable and machine washable cover made of 50% polyester and 50% cotton.