Best Pillow for Sleeping

Clear Lake Chiropractor Comments: A common question that I get from patients with neck pain is “What is the best pillow for sleeping?”. This question usually comes from a person who has had neck pain for a period of time or wakes up regularly with a sore neck.

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This is actually a very important factor in getting relief from your neck pain. One of the main factors in getting well, is getting adequate, deep, restorative sleep. The wrong pillow or sleep position prevents that from happening, delaying recovery.

First, I would like to talk about the best position for sleeping. The best position, if possible, is flat on your back. This takes any neck rotation out and allows the muscles to relax in a natural position. If this position is impossible due to acid reflux, breathing issues, or just a snoring partner 😊, then the next best position is on your side.

When I say on your side, I mean literally on your side. Not twisting around with your head turned more than 90 degrees. Usually this will involve a pillow between your knees to prevent your hips from twisting and a body pillow to keep you from rolling towards your chest.

The worse position is on your stomach. Now I know that many of you like this because it “feels comfortable”, but it causes neck problems. When you lay on your stomach you will notice that it feels better turning your head in one direction instead of the other. This causes the neck muscles to stretch more on one side and tighten more on the other. This leads to your neck not being able to properly rest and recover. This also prevents you from having the best night sleep that you can. 

Regarding the best pillow, the thickness should be about the width of YOUR palm. For me that is about 4 inches and for my wife it is about 3 ½ inches. This will elevate your head up enough so that it isn’t leaning backwards while sleeping while not pushing your head too far forward, stretching your neck muscles and ligaments. This position will also work well if you need to sleep on your side.

Be careful with pillows with built in “cervical curves or support”. These work great as long as you don’t move and the pillow stays perpendicular to your neck, but if you or the pillow move… you now have your head and neck going off in a slight angle. This will irritate the joint which will produce pain and discomfort when you wake up. Make sure that the pillow is firm enough that it gives you support while soft enough to allow you to properly rest.

Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!