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If you haven’t experienced neck pain in your lifetime, count yourself among a lucky minority. For most people, neck pain is a common experience. For some, its cause can be traced back to underlying conditions. For others, neck pain announces itself if you sleep in an uncomfortable position or if you’re under a lot of stress.
Overall, a pain in the neck is one of the most common forms of chronic pain. Not only is the experience itself uncomfortable, but it can also harm your ability to fall asleep or sleep comfortably. Luckily, there are specially designed neck pillows to help.
How Does a Neck Pillow Work?
Pillows come in many shapes, sizes, and degrees of fluffiness. However, not all pillows are actually designed to support your neck in a healthy way. A dedicated neck pillow, or cervical pillow (named after the upper part of your backbone in your neck), are designed to help your cervical spine keep its natural, slight curve. That way, you won’t end up sleeping with your neck bent or extended – which often causes the muscle strain that leads to neck pain.
The best neck pillows for sleep come in a variety of shapes: some are cylinders, others are horseshoe-shaped, while others are contoured with an indentation in the middle of the pillow for your head. One thing each shape has in common is that they create a natural resting position for your neck — you’ll no longer feel like your neck is sitting too high, or slumped too low, against the mattress. The best neck pillows cradle your neck so there’s firm support while staying providing a little “give.”
What Are the Best Neck Pillows?
The best neck pillow for you will depend on where you’re sleeping (in your bed or on the go, like on a plane or train) and the way you usually sleep. Neck pillows are not useful if you sleep on your stomach. If you sleep on your back, you want a contoured pillow that doesn’t leave your head tilted up or sunk down. If you sleep on your side, select a pillow that is higher under your neck than under your head.
With the right neck pillow, a good night’s sleep is no longer out of reach. Here are some of the best neck pillows to try right now.
1. ZAMAT Adjustable Neck Pillow
Neck pain may be universal, but how we sleep is not. This orthopedic cervical pillow is adjustable, which means that you can find the perfect sleeping position to mitigate your neck pain. It comes with a removable insert that lets you change the height of the pillow.
Its “butterfly” design, meantime, gives you a place to rest your arms, while the contours support your neck while you sleep. Plus, its central cavity supports your head and keeps it aligned with your spine. We also love this pillow for its comfortable, breathable memory foam.
2. Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow
Oftentimes, neck pain is also accompanied by shoulder pain. If that’s the case for you, you need a neck pillow that supports both areas of your body. This cervical memory foam pillow does just that. Its contour design keeps your neck, back, shoulders, and head in alignment. Its centralized slope prevents your head from moving out of a stable, aligned position (I.e. less tossing and turning), which makes sleeping more comfortable for your neck.
Cutouts on the side of the pillow give your arm a place to rest at an angle, keeping it from hunching forward. It also comes with a machine-washable pillowcase.
3. Healthex Cylinder Neck Roll Pillow
This tube-like neck bolster is made with memory foam and a hypoallergenic bamboo cover. Its roll design helps stimulate vital pressure points while also supporting your neck for proper alignment. It takes the pressure off your spinal disc and joints for a better night’s sleep.
While this pillow is designed specifically for your neck, it can also be used on the lower back as its design helps your spine stay relaxed while maintaining its natural curvature. The soft and grippy material helps the pillow stay put too — it won’t roll around or fall off the bed.
4. MLVOC Travel Pillow
When you’re sleeping on the go (say, while on a flight), it’s essential that you have neck support so that you don’t further aggravate any existing aches and pains. Sitting upright for long periods could also lead to strain on your neck, especially if you’re trying to rest.
In such situations, remember to pack a travel pillow like this one. Its horseshoe design prevents your neck from falling forward and helps relieve pain as you travel. Plus, it has a durable yet soft memory foam interior that won’t lose its shape even when packed into your bag. This pillow can even be used when you’re around the house, say, while sitting and watching TV.
This set comes with the neck pillow, storage bag and bonus sleeping eye mask and earplugs too.