Waking up with a crick in the neck is a surefire bad way to start the day. I’ve had my share of awful mornings caused by poor sleep posture. The right pillow makes all the difference between feeling rested and feeling dead tired. Up ahead, my list of the 5 best ortho pillows to soothe neck and back pain.
A Buying Guide to Orthopedic Pillows
Orthopedic Pillows, What are They Exactly?
Orthopedic pillows are pillows that correct the alignment of the body as you sleep or lie down. These pillows help keep proper sleeping posture, which is the recommended alignment of the musculoskeletal system for the most beneficial, healthy sleep.
Orthopedic pillows are considered as therapeutic pillows because they’re used to alleviate symptoms of conditions such as snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia, acid reflux, lower back pain, sciatica, neck pain, rotator cuff injuries and many others. Orthopedic pillows can also be used for sleeping disorders.
Orthopedic pillows aren’t just bed pillows or head rests. There are orthopedic pillows for different parts of the body. Really, the possibilities are endless for these pillows and they come in different shapes and sizes too.
The most common orthopedic pillow is the cervical or contour pillow, with two slopes on its surface. There are also wedge pillows, lumbar pillows, neck pillows, knee pillows, body pillows, buckwheat pillows, and spinal support pillows.
Are orthopedic pillows any good?
Orthopedic pillows have been proven to work. In fact, they’re even recommended by sleep doctors when treating sleep disorders and other nocturnal conditions.
For example, anti-snore pillows have a head cavity and side channels that encourage the person to lay on their side, a sleep position which tones down the loudness of their breathing and improves airflow.
Cervical pillows for neck pain have also been shown to work when the pillow fits the sleeper snugly. That means, it’s not too low and not too high for the person’s body, which is the correct spinal posture.
What are the benefits of an orthopedic pillow?
- Ergonomic support
Orthopedic pillows provide an even surface for you to sleep on. It supports the head and neck, filling in the spaces which are elevated. People plagued with neck and back pain will find that they sleep better and without the usual kinks in the neck and spine.
- Restful and uninterrupted sleep
By correcting the posture, orthopedic pillows can help you get a better night’s sleep. If you sleep on a pillow that doesn’t keep your body properly aligned, you’re more likely to shift and switch positions when you sleep, therefore reducing sleep quality and even interrupting your doze. When you get enough restful sleep, it has a ricochet effect on your health.
- Good for body pain and physical ailments
Orthopedic pillows relieve sleep problems. Whether you have an achy back, tender knees or a stiff neck, there’s an orthopedic pillow to solve your ailment.
How do I choose the best orthopedic pillow?
- Sleeping Positions
Find an orthopedic pillow that will accommodate your sleep position comfortably and give proper support, especially in the head, neck and shoulders. Side sleepers can benefit from body pillows while back sleepers can use a wedge pillow for snoring and acid reflux. Stomach sleepers need a softer and flatter pillow than the latter two sleepers.
This refers to how soft or hard the pillow is. Firmness is up to personal taste, but in some cases, getting something too soft or too firm will hamper sleep quality so choose wisely.
The most common fill for orthopedic pillows is memory foam and microfiber. Memory foam has slow responsiveness and closely contours to the body. Fiberfill responds quickly and feels softer. It can be useful to buy a pillow with a sleep trial or free return policy if you’re unsure about the material you’re choosing.
Look for an orthopedic pillow with a shape that will address your problem. The most common orthopedic pillow has a curved design made of two mounds and a dip in the middle meant for cradling the head. Make sure the form of the orthopedic pillow complements your sleep position.
The best covers are made of airy, soft fabric. It helps if it’s removable and machine-washable. CostOrthopedic pillows are more expensive than regular ones. You can find affordable orthopedic pillows and wildly expensive ones. Go for one that offers the most value and falls inside your price range.
What’s the best way to use an orthopedic pillow?
There are so many orthopedic pillow shapes on the market that it’s hard to recommend one best way to use them. Wedge pillows can be used when lying down or sitting upright. They can also support the legs. Knee pillows are meant to be placed between your knees for side sleeping positions. Cervical pillows can be used by back and side sleepers. Body pillows are like bolsters that sleepers can hug or tuck under pressure points for added support.
The 5 Best Orthopedic Pillows for Pain-Free Sleep
EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow
We’ll start off the list strong with this bestselling contour memory foam pillow from Epabo. This is one of the best orthopedic pillows if you’re looking for something that’s adjustable and easy to care for.
The EPABO memory foam pillow has a typical cervical pillow design but with a wedge-like contour in the middle that helps support the neck. The fill is made of memory foam, which is high quality and breathable. A lot of people with neck pain prefer memory foam for that hug it gives to sore pressure points.
The shape of the memory foam pillow promotes a neutral spinal alignment, meaning it keeps the head, neck, shoulders, and back in a straight line so they bear weight evenly. It may feel odd to sleep like this if you’re not used to it but give it at least two weeks for your body to adjust.
If you find that the memory foam pillow is too high, you can take out a piece of foam inside the cover and it won’t affect the loft of the sides.
With this orthopedic memory foam pillow pillow, you get a breathable and hypoallergenic cover made from a rayon and polyester blend. It will feel stretchy and won’t sleep hot. You can remove the cover and machine wash it when it gets grimy.
The memory foam pillow is made from chemical-free materials so if you’re prone to allergies, you don’t have to miss out. It is available in 3 sizes and comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
- A contour memory foam pillow for cervical support and easing neck pain
- Designed to support the head, neck and shoulders
- Promotes proper sleeping posture for most sleeping positions
- The height can be adjusted in case you strain your head and neck
- The orthopedic pillow comes with a breathable cover that’s machine washable
- Chemical-free and hypoallergenic, with a money-back guarantee
- Takes some time to get used to the memory foam pillow
- Zipper doesn’t feel durable
Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
This is one of the best orthopedic pillows for people who have tried almost everything but haven’t found one with the perfect height and firmness for them.
The Snuggle-Pedic Pillow is a completely adjustable shredded memory foam pillow so you can custom fit this to your body and sleeping position. Whether you like side sleeping or prefer the stomach sleeping position, you will get the support you need with this memory foam pillow. It was created by a doctor to adapt to any position and keep the spine in its natural curvature.
The fill is made of CertiPUR-US certified shredded foam coated with microfiber so you get the best orthopedic support and fluffiness. The pillow can be machine washed and dried–yes, including the fill. The foam mix is hypoallergenic and dust mite-resistant so it won’t trigger any allergies and keeps clean for longer.
The polyester-bamboo cover is also hypoallergenic. It has a vented structure that allows air to pass through so you sleep cool night after night.
This comes in standard, king, and queen sizes and has a 120-night sleep trial with free customization.
This orthopedic pillow is not for people who want the best support right out of the box as it needs some trial and error before you get the perfect fit for your head, neck and shoulders. Some users have also complained that the pillow feels too firm and has an initial scent due to off-gassing.
- An adjustable orthopedic pillow for back, side and stomach sleepers
- Made of CertiPUR-US certified memory foam fill with microfiber coating
- The entire pillow is machine washable and dryable
- Hypoallergenic and dust mite-resistant
- The orthopedic pillow comes with a cooling polyester-bamboo cover
- Comes with a 120-night sleep trial
- Not for people who don’t want to adjust their pillow
- The pillow may feel firm
- Offgassing is to be expected due to the memory foam shreds
UTTU Sandwich Pillow, Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow
The contour memory foam pillow by UTTU is one of the best orthopedic pillows for back and side sleepers who want an adjustable loft but don’t like the feel of shredded foam.
The sandwich pillow is aptly called because it has three foam layers. The middle layer sandwiched in between is removable if you want to adjust the height of the pillow. With the middle layer inside, the loft is 4.7 inches at the highest contour. Without this layer, it stands at 3.5 inches tall at the highest contour.
The fill is made of high-densityCertiPUR-US certified memory foam but unlike other memory foam, it retains its firmness throughout the year and won’t harden when it gets cold. This ensures you get the same level of support and comfort over time.
The design relieves pressure off the neck and head and promotes proper sleep posture, which can help reduce back pain. The foam closely contours to the body for zero pressure sleep.
The bamboo-polyester cover feels very breathable so this pillow is a good pick for hot sleepers, too. It’s also removable and machine washable for easy care.
When you open the pillow’s package, you’ll notice a chemical scent. That’s because of the natural off-gassing that the memory foam emits. You just need to air it out for one day on a ventilated surface and it should be ready to use right away.
- An adjustable orthopedic pillow best for back and side sleepers
- Has a high-density CertiPUR-US certified memory foam fill
- Pressure-relieving and soothes neck and back pain
- Molds to the body closely
- Has a polyester-bamboo cover for cool sleep
- Has off-gassing characteristic of memory foam
Nature’s Guest Cervical Pillow
If you’re someone who wants a more breathable option than a contour memory foam pillow, this is one of the best orthopedic pillows for you.
This is a gusseted rectangular pillow with a microfiber fill that’s completely adjustable. You can unzip the pillow and add or reduce the fill to change the firmness. You can also adjust the loft or softness in a certain area.
This orthopedic pillow is best for back and side sleeping. It has a center cavity to cradle the head whether you’re a back or side sleeper. You also have side channels to ease neck and shoulder pain when sleeping on the side. The back sleeping area is right in the middle and you can choose a side that best fits your neck.
The pure cotton cover has a 233 thread count so it’s bound to have superior airflow and comfort. This pillow is the standard firm version but it’s also available in a medium firmness and a queen size.
The pillow is recommended by chiropractors so it will keep your spinal alignment in check as you sleep, as well as support the cervical spine. It’s one of the best pillows for relieving neck pain.
This comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, in case you’re unsatisfied with your purchase.
Some users have found that the fill shifts inside the pillow, so this isn’t for sleepers who toss and turn through the night. Be aware that this is an orthopedic pillow so it won’t feel as fluffy as your regular pillow.
- A completely adjustable cervical support pillow with a gusseted design
- Recommended by chiropractors for spinal alignment
- Best for back and side sleepers
- Has a premium microfiber fill and 100 percent cotton cover
- Alleviates neck pain and supports the cervical spine
- The fill tends to move around so it’s not for combination sleepers
- Firmer than a regular pillow
Misiki Memory Foam Pillow Orthopedic Pillow
This cervical support pillow is one of the best orthopedic pillows for addressing pain and tension in the cervical vertebra, or the upper part of your spine, an area which tends to be squashed when side sleeping or back sleeping.
The pillow has a butterfly-shaped ergonomic design with an indentation in the middle for the head and areas for neck support, which keeps your head, neck and spine in its proper alignment. It also has an arm support area which is very handy for those who favor a side sleeping position.
The orthopedic pillow has a CertiPUR-US certified memory foam fill and a staple rayon and polyester blend pillow cover. The pillow cover is hypoallergenic and it lays on top of an anti-mite inner sleeve so the bed bugs don’t bite. The pillow is easy to clean and feels good on the skin.
The pillow feels moderately firm which ensures proper spinal support and alignment. It eases shoulder stiffness and neck pain. The head cavity helps reduce pressure on the skull, making for a more restful slumber. Side sleepers will also love this because it will pad their shoulder and eliminate arm numbness.
The pillow is only available in one size. It’s better for average to small sized people. People taller than 5’10” or are heavier might want more support in a pillow.
This also has a chemical smell that dissipates after airing it out for a day or so. It’s due to the offgassing from the memory foam which is natural.
- A butterfly-shaped orthopedic pillow for optimum spinal support
- Best for back and side sleepers
- Has a memory foam fill that’s firm and responsive
- Has a rayon and polyester pillow cover with an anti-mite sleeve
- Soothes shoulder and neck pain
- The cervical support pillow comes in only one size and firmness
- Not for larger or taller sleepers
- Memory foam emits a scent when inflating due to offgassing
Neck pain can be, well, a pain in the neck. Having your sleep interrupted by kinks and soreness in the neck really interferes with the quality of your snooze. With the right pillow for neck pain, you can feel rested because it lets the tension evaporate from pressure points and it supports you in the right areas.
I think the best pillow out of this bunch is the Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow because it has everything you need in a pillow addressing neck pain. The design is relatively simple, no butterfly shapes here, but it works. The curves mold to the cervical spine, there’s a tiny dent for cradling the neck, and there’s a removable piece in the middle in case you find the loft is too high for you.
Next, the fill is high quality memory foam which is the stuff the best orthopedic pillows are made of. It’s close conforming so it fills in all those gaps where you need extra lift and it also keeps its shape better over time, making it a more durable option.
Lastly, you get a stretchy rayon-polyester blend for the pillow cover, which allows for better airflow and feels soft on the skin. Sometimes, it’s really the little things that matter.
When battling neck pain, you need both comfort and support, and that’s what the Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow gives you at a very reasonable price.
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