The short video below will show exactly how to know what type of pillow is right for you. To skip directly to the video now (click here).
The two main factors to consider when choosing a pillow are:
1. Your Body Position when sleeping
2. Your Body Type
Side Sleeper Pillows For Neck Pain:
Your main concern as a side sleeper is that your cervical spine stay parallel with the floor. That means that you could lay a carpenters level on your spine and from your lower back all the way to the base of your skull would be parallel with the floor.
This means your spine is in it's most relaxed comfortable position without your neck being bent either up or down.
Side sleepers will tend to need a slightly thicker than average pillow to avoid neck pain, but not too thick.
If you are sleeping on your side with a pillow that is too thick, it will bend your neck upward and cause neck problems if done for a long period of time. If you are sleeping on your side with a pillow that is too thin, your neck will be allowed to tilt downward. This also will cause neck problems if done for a long period of time.
Back Sleeper Pillows For Neck Pain:
Your main concern as a side sleeper is too support the natural curve of your neck. This means you'll generally need a pillow on the thinner side, so as not raise the head too much, which will reduce the natural curve and your neck and strain the muscles in the back of your neck.
By supporting the natural curve of your neck, your pillow should position your head so that your eyes, nose, and mouth are all in a line that is parallel with the floor.
*The exception to "the thin pillow rule" is those people with very thick upper backs who may actually require a very thick pillow to achieve this head position that will allow their neck to remain relaxed, since their back raises them high off of the mattress.
Stomach Sleeper Pillows For Neck Pain:
In general, stomach sleepers should use no pillow at all or a very thin pillow. Lying face down with your head turned to one side nearly maximizes the lateral turning radius of the neck, so there is very little slack left in the neck to raise the head up if one were to use a thick pillow.
I sleep on my stomach quite often. When I do, I push the pillow I use for side sleeping out of the way and use no pillow at all.
Find pillows in the right thickness for your individual body positions and your body type that will allow your neck to be in a relaxed and comfortable position throughout the night:
Generally speaking, larger people will need thicker pillows when sleeping on their side or back because they will have thicker shoulders and thicker backs.
If you are a smaller person, the odds are that your pillow is too thick.
If you are a larger person, the odds are that your pillow is too thin.
So, when choosing the best pillow for neck pain:
1. Notice what positions you sleep in:
Are you a side sleeper, back sleeper, or stomach sleeper???
2. Notice what body type you are:
Experiment with thicker and thinner pillows and notice what feels the most comfortable. If you are a larger person you may find that stacking two pillows finally will give your neck the support it needs.
Then go out and buy the perfect pillow for you!