Best Pillows for Side Sleepers who have Neck and Back Pain

Every night, we go to sleep on the same old pillow in the same old bed. Many of us don’t give our sleep habits a second thought… but we should! Sometimes, we’re so set in our sleep routines that we never stop to think if there’s anything we can do to get a better night’s sleep. Take pillows, for example. When is the last time you got a new one? We should replace our standard pillows every one to two years but most people wait until they’re sleeping on an old pillow that’s flat as a pancake. 

By not replacing our pillows as often as we should, we sleep on all the things our body leaves behind, like oil, skin, and hair, just to name a few. Not only can your pillow harbor smell and dirt but it can hold on to allergens as well. As gross as this is, your old pillow makes a perfect home for dust mites

Your old pillow also can go very flat. The pressure from your head and neck and as you push and pull the pillow to get comfortable continually mushes the pillow down until there is very little support left.

We know what you’re thinking. You should get a new pillow, immediately.

Picking a new pillow is not as simple as it seems – or at least, it shouldn’t be. Don’t just walk into your nearest department store and pick the cheapest one on the shelf. You deserve better, especially if you are suffering from neck and back pain. Do some research so you buy the best one that suits your physical needs as well as your overall sleep requirements instead of picking one because it’s cheap or the only one on the shelf. You want your new pillow to make yourself feel better, not the same or worse.

If you have back or neck pain, there are some things to consider when choosing a pillow. Specifically, you need to know whether you are a back, front, or side sleeper. There are so many options out there, you want to narrow down your choices depending on your sleep habits.

Targeting Neck and Back Pain

Targeting Neck And Back Pain

When you decide to get new pillows to alleviate neck and back pain, look at the types that help address the reasons you are feeling the way you do. If your neck and back pain is not chronic, it can often come from stress and poor spinal alignment. The way your body is positioned at rest can cause big issues both in your sleeping and waking hours. If you get a pillow that aligns your head, neck, back, and shoulders, chances are you can reduce if not eliminate the neck and back pain you are experiencing.

Spinal alignment is crucial to good health as a whole but particularly in your torso. Your central nervous system sends messages telling your brain to have a pain response so this pathway needs to be taken care of both day and night. By caring for your spine, you can get rid of some of the pain that is bothering you. To put it simply, better sleep means less pain and faster healing.

Sleep Position and Pillows

While knowing about spinal alignment is important, choose the best overall pillow for yourself and your normal sleep position. Everyone has their go-to sleeping position that affects the spine and any comfort or pain you might feel. Knowing your body position and how it affects your spine are important factors in choosing a new pillow.

  • Back sleepers– People who prefer to sleep on their back need pillows with a lower profile to make sure their shoulders stay in line with their heads. The pillow fill is not crucial as long as it doesn’t sink too much and holds the neck in an easy, relaxed position. Keeping the upper body aligned is important to reduce any neck and back issues they may already have.
  • Tummy sleepers – Sleeping on your stomach completely throws your neck and back out of alignment. There is no natural way to make everything fall into place. The best way to approach this sleeping position is to go without a pillow, though not many people are willing to go this route. If you insist on using a pillow, you need something with a low profile to make sure the pillow is not putting extra pressure on the neck and back.
  • Side sleepers – Most people sleep on their side for at least part of the night. We all toss and turn while we sleep, it’s inevitable. If you are primarily a side sleeper, you need a pillow with head, neck, and back support that is firm with a higher profile.

This pillow is a great choice for a side sleeper with neck or back pain. It’s contoured to cradle the neck properly while you sleep, supporting your whole spinal column from the top of your head to your back. It might take some time to get used to this pillow if you’ve always slept on a regular one. The breathable memory foam keeps you cool with better airflow and wicks away moisture if you are a warm sleeper.

The pillowcase is hypoallergenic and made of a soft, comfortable rayon polyester blend. It protects against dust mites and other allergens so it’s not only great for side sleepers with back and neck issues but also those with allergies. This is a king-size pillow that is about four inches high and offers firm support. There is a 30-day guarantee so you can make sure you like it and it does what it should for your neck and back.

Back in the 70s and 80s, it seemed everyone had a waterbed. While there aren’t many waterbeds around these days, we do have the waterbase pillow. They have been proven to help reduce pain thus making your sleep time better. Because the water moves as you do, it is perfect for side sleepers. You do not fluff or mold this pillow because it does everything itself. It comes with a 200 TC cover that can be machine washed and dried. While you do not need to fluff this pillow, you can adjust it to what works for you by adjusting the water level so your pillow is soft, medium, firm, or ultra-firm. You don’t need to worry about water spilling at all as it is fully sealed with a fiber layer cover. It comes with a 30-day guarantee and a three-year warranty. It is one of the best pillows for side sleepers with neck pain and those who need proper spinal alignment.

While the name says snuggle, this pillow has more of a luxury feel. It’s stuffed with a combination of shredded Biogreen and Certipur-US memory foam and will never get flat like a pancake. This pillow is toxin-free and completely eco-friendly. The zip-up cover is micro-vented and keeps you cool while you sleep. It is also easy to remove and throw in the machine for a quick wash and dry. It ergonomically conforms to your unique shape to support your neck and back. This one is also hypoallergenic and keeps out dust mites, keeping sneeze-free. You have 120 nights to try it at home or send it back for free. And get this, it’s also covered by a 10-year warranty. This bamboo pillow is great for anyone trying to reduce the neck and back stress. It allows you to be rest well and wake up with less pain and stiffness.

While this pillow sounds a little gimmicky when compared to a foam pillow, it’s used quite often in Asia to help with headaches, back, and neck pain. They support your whole spinal column, including your head and shoulders. Buckwheat hulls are left from buckwheat seeds so these pillows are a great way to eliminate waste. They are supple and good at supporting your body which makes them the perfect pillow for side sleepers but they can work for others, too. Because they conform to each individual sleeper, they can help anyone get a great night’s sleep. The pillow encourages blood flow and can help improve snoring and other sleep disturbances. The zippered cover lets you add or subtract hulls as needed to change the firmness of the pillow so you can figure out what’s best for your back and neck. The hulls allow for great airflow to keep you cool as you sleep and there’s a 60-day guarantee so you can see if this pillow works for you.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best pillows for neck and back pain is important for your short and long term health. If you are a side sleeper, there are even more factors to consider when it comes to finding the right one. Whichever pillow you choose, make sure it addresses spinal alignment or you risk waking up with back and neck pain every morning.

Your body cannot compensate for hours of discomfort during sleep so choose well. Do your research, consider your sleep position, and look at what works with your budget. Moving away from a cheap standard pillow is important when choosing what is best for your long term health but that doesn’t mean you have to choose the most expensive option. You want something that meets all your needs without breaking your budget. Once you find the pillow that helps you sleep better, you can start waking up refreshed and pain-free. 

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