Pillows For Neck Pain & Headaches

Pillows For Neck Pain & Headaches

Do you wake up in the morning with neck pain and a headache? Are there really pillows for neck pain that can help?

This can be a sign that you have been sleeping with your neck in a harmful position. Since there are muscles that go from the head to the neck and blood vessels as well as nerves that go from the neck to the head, having slept with your neck in an unnatural posture can also lead to annoying headaches.

Top Cervical Pillow For Neck Pain & Headaches

If your pillow is old and worn out or you are using too many pillows at one time, spending hours in these awkward positions can lead to morning neck pain and headaches. Headaches directly related to the neck are called “cervicogenic headaches”, and this means headaches generated from the neck.

In order to help reduce waking symptoms in the head and neck, the use of special functional pillows that are orthopedically designed to maintain better sleeping posture may help alleviate the cause of these symptoms and improve sleep quality. These include pillows for sleeping and pillows used for reclining or relaxed sitting.

Why Use A Pillow?

pillows for neck pain and headaches

Pillows have been used throughout history to support the head when reclining and sleeping. Pillows have been made using many different materials over the ages. Having a pillow, regardless of the material it is made of is better than not using one at all. Even a hard, uncomfortable pillow will keep your head supported and neck in better alignment. I would rather use a rock than have my neck hanging. Maybe that’s where the term, “sleeping like a rock” comes from. If you try sleeping without a pillow, you can see how uncomfortable this is. It may not be too bad on your back, but on your side, when the shoulder is involved, it can lead to disaster for the neck. Unfortunately, side sleeping is the most popular position, so good cervical pillows can really help.

bad neck posture from pillow

If you are reclining, your head and neck are at the mercy of the chair you are sitting. Ever see someone falling asleep in a chair without a headrest? Looks like whiplash! So, even reclining and relaxing without good head support can lead to falling asleep with harmful head and neck posture. Sometimes, your head can turn all the way to one side, overstretching one side of the neck and contracting the other. So, for sleeping, napping or snoozing, you need proper support from a pillow.

Support Your Head & Neck

good pillow

Most people sleep on their sides, it’s the most common sleeping posture, followed by back sleeping, then side stomach sleeping. People who sleep on their stomachs can be more prone to waking with a stiff neck and headache. Whatever position you sleep, you can help avoid neck pain and headaches by using pillow that will support your head and neck in the safe zone or a neutral position.

pillowsA pillow needs to support the head above the sleeping surface. Lack of support allows the head to remain out of the safe zone. This is what bends the neck out of position and stresses sensitive muscles, nerves and blood flow. The head bending leads to straining of the muscles and this is the most common reason for waking with neck pain and headaches. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of pillows that are orthopedically designed to help.

When the head is properly supported the neck can relax in the safe zone, without being twisted out of shape. This can go a long way towards relieving neck pain and headaches, a better nights sleep, and feeling more refreshed in the morning. Lack of pillow support is typically seen in older, fiber based pillows that compress so much, not holding its shape, therefore, many people sleep with these pillows piled up.

pillows for neck pain at amazon

Pillows Should Support The Space Under Your Neck

u-shapeBesides keeping your head in position, the neck itself has a natural curve, where it keeps the muscles in the proper state of relaxation and optimizes function. This curve makes that little space in the back of your neck and a neck pillow will give it proper support. Most pillow that are designed well will give you proper head and neck support. Neck pillows consider this important aspect of supporting the neck as well as the head.

A simple approach is to just roll up a towel and place it behind your neck. Many doctors will recommend this, however, it is for short term use and fails to offer good side sleeping support. Nonetheless, you can feel the difference when your neck is supported. Pillows can be contoured to provide this or the pillows can have zoning that allows a flat style pillow to function like a contour pillow.

When reclining, a u-shape pillow is perfect to support the head and neck. Choosing one with proper support is important. The harder the pillow, the more your neck will have to conform to the pillow. Soft, yet supportive pillows allow a comforting benefit to the neck. Some, like the aromatherapy pillows are a wonderful combination of softness with support. This allows a comfortable, natural position without the muscles having to fight with a harder pillow. Some also have a built in cold pack to help with headaches. These make great pillows for traveling.

Pillow For Neck Pain & Headaches

Having a variety of pillow choices is important. One pillow does not work for everyone. We can help you choose a good neck support pillow and provide information for making an informed decision. They are all designed for neck support and many people will naturally gravitate towards ones that appeal to them. Whichever pillow you get, better neck support means better sleep and relief from headaches and neck pain due to sleeping with the wrong pillows.

Author Bio

Stephen Ornstein, D.C. has treated thousands of neck, shoulder and back conditions since graduating Sherman Chiropractic College in 1987 and during his involvement in Martial Arts. He holds certifications as a Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy from Dr. Hanne Albert, PT., MPH., Ph.D., Myofascial Release Techniques from Logan Chiropractic College, and learned Active Release Technique from the founder, P. Michael Leahy, DC, ART, CCSP.