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The bad news is that you may be sleeping wrong. The good news is that there are ways to correct this, like an ergonomic pillow that properly aligns your neck and spine, minimizing that creaky-neck feeling in the morning. While they do take some getting used to at first, especially if you’re most accustomed to extremely fluffy down or cotton pillows, a good ergonomic pillow can encourage better and more comfortable sleep in the long run.
The best ergonomic pillows are nearly always made from memory foam rather than more traditional down or cotton, as memory foam holds its shape and is firmer, therefore providing more consistent support throughout the night. Research indicates they can help alleviate neck and back pain, headaches, and chronic issues like sleep apnea. The question becomes how to choose.
What Makes a Good Ergonomic Pillow?
The only way to get the most benefit from an ergonomic pillow is to choose the right shape for your style of sleeping, as well as your particular issue. While most pillows are designed to suit back or side sleepers, certain shapes may help address particular issues.
Stomach Sleepers: Sleeping on your stomach can cause severe back or neck pain in some cases, so choose a pillow that is very thin, which will be more comfortable. Other good ergonomic pillows are contoured with arm rests and cushions to cradle as you sleep, which can also help properly align your spine while you sleep.
Back and Side Sleepers: While sleeping on your side is generally thought to be the healthiest, and most common sleep position, improper alignment in both positions can lead to pain. Luckily, most ergonomic pillows are also designed to accommodate this sleeping style as well, and is contoured or curved to support your neck and head’s most natural position, usually forming a sort of wave shape, or else creating a supportive cradle for the head.
Sleep Apnea and Acid Reflux: Sleepers who have trouble breathing at night, heavy snorers, or anyone with acid reflux problems often benefit from keeping the upper half of the body elevated during the night. To solve this, some of the best ergonomic pillows come in a wedge shape.
1. Royal Therapy Queen Memory Foam Pillow
Of all the things to love about this ergonomic pillow (and there are a few) perhaps the best feature is that it is adjustable, meaning it can suit a variety of frames and sleeping positions. You can choose the best fit between the two slopes, which are of different sizes, and remove the memory foam middle layer to further adjust the size. The memory foam contours are designed to provide even, uniform support for the neck and head, with firmer resistance under the heaviest parts of the head and softer support under the lighter and more sensitive neck.
2. Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow
Don’t be alarmed by the odd shape of this pillow, which was designed with your arms and shoulders in mind as well as your head and neck. The concave center of the pillow creates a gentle cradle for your skull, while the contoured slope on the edge is designed to follow the curve of your neck and spine. This keeps your head from rolling out of its stable position and reduces stress on your body. You may also notice this pillow’s cutouts on the side, which gives your arm a place to rest without disturbing the position of your shoulder.
3. Cushy Form Bed Wedge Pillow
Doctors often recommend a wedge pillow to folks with respiratory illnesses or conditions, as sleeping at an elevated 45 degree angle could help promote better breathing. A wedge pillow can also be helpful for acid reflux. We like this wedge pillow in particular because, as the manufacturer notes, it was medically-designed to reach 12 inches in height, and includes a layer of high-density foam which contours to your shoulders, neck, and head. You can even use this pillow in addition to your normal pillows.
4. Bluewave Bedding Super Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Stomach sleepers may have a particularly hard time finding pillows that suit them, and at first glance this pillow may just look like a regular old pillow. But experts recommend stomach sleepers find a pillow that’s as thin as possible in order to keep the spine in good alignment. This pillow is actually ergonomically-designed for just this purpose. We especially like it for the quality of the three-pound, gel-infused memory foam, which is firm, cooling, and contours to your body.