Choosing the right pillow for a stiff neck

 If you're waking up with a stiff or sore neck every morning and you've tried lots of different types of pillows, or you're thinking about going out to get a new one, or wondering what type of pillow to look for, you've come to the right place. Keep reading or watch the video above.

As a chiropractor, I tell all my patients I'd like them to wake up with a perfect spinal alignment from head to toe. However, a lot of times, people end up in a bad position overnight. One reason is if you're a side sleeper and your pillow is too small, your head ends up sinking into the pillow overnight and you end up in a bad alignment, which is obviously not good for your neck. Some people try to correct that problem by adding a second pillow as a side sleeper. However, that can add a tilt the to the opposite side and that can be just as bad for your spine. So what you really want to look for is a good side sleeper pillow that's going to keep you in a neutral position all night. If someone looks at you from the side as you are asleep the should be able to draw a line from the middle of your head, neck and upper back and it should all line up just as if you were standing up straight (no bending side to side).

If you are a back sleeper and you buy a side sleeper pillow your head will likely end up in a very flexed forward position, which can be terrible for your head and neck. So as a back sleeper, a cervical pillow can be great. Then you can pick which side is going to be the best for you as far as what kind of height you want on your pillow. For larger people a larger wave in the pillow can be a good fit, while a smaller wave for people with shorter necks will be a better fit.

I have some patients who are back sleepers that don't like using a pillow at all, which is perfectly fine, we just recommend some kind of neck support. A rolled up towel or a cervical roll can both be good options for you in this case. Without a full pillow there's really not much support for your head, but if that's comfortable for you that's perfectly fine as long as you have good neck support.

Now, for all you stomach sleepers, it's a hard thing to change, but it is by far the worst for your spine. It's time to make a switch. See if you can at least fall asleep on your side, and if you roll on your belly over night at least you will have some time on your side.

If you wake up with neck stiffness and headaches try changing your pillow using the above recommendations. Also, our free guide is available below.


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  1. dr kauffman

    Dr. Kauffman is a licensed chiropractor in Loveland, OH. Patients travel from all over Cincinnati and the Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky regions to seek our uniquely effective care.