Which pillow is best for me? A chiropractor’s guide


One of the most frequently asked questions we get in the office is in regards to our recommendation for pillows to reduce neck pain. The answer to this question can be complicated, but to make it as simple as possible – There is not one single pillow that cures neck pain, and the pillow that is best for you may not be the best for someone else. Let me explain…


Patients often equate the cost of a pillow with its neck pain reducing properties, ie. The more expensive a pillow is, the better it will be for your neck. My advice is to not get caught up in marketing ploys that use phrasing such as “chiropractor recommended” or pillows that promise guarantees of reducing neck aches. The best way to evaluate which pillow is right for you, is to have a look at your own particular sleeping habits.

The best piece of advice I give to patients as a guideline when choosing a pillow – the pillow should be a size that allows you to keep your neck in a neutral position (ie. Inline with your spine).

Side sleepers


When sleeping on your side you should choose a pillow that is thick enough to lift your head up, but not too thick or thin that it causes your head to bend. The greater amount of time your neck spends in a neutral position throughout the night, the less likely it is that you will wake up with neck discomfort.











Back Sleepers


If you sleep on your back, you should have a thinner pillow than if you were to sleep on your side. Having a pillow that is too thick, or too thin will cause your neck to either sink into the pillow or have your head too elevated – compromising spine alignment.










Stomach Sleepers


Universally recognized as the worst position to sleep in, stomach sleepers should consider sleeping without a pillow in an attempt to keep the neck as neutral as possible. At the very least, this position would call for use of the thinnest pillow you can find.


  • Body habitus will also influence the size of the pillow. Side sleepers with broad shoulders may require a thicker pillow. Stomach sleepers who have a larger chest, or stomach may also require thicker pillows to keep the spine neutral.



Final Thought:

** Remember – pillows do age and become matted over time. It is important to re-evaluate your pillow every 6 months to ensure that it is still providing you with the best comfort and support. A pillow that kept your neck in alignment when first purchased will not do the same job 6 months or 1 year down the road.


In summary:


  • There is no one magic pillow that will reduce neck pain
  • The more money you spend does not make the pillow more effective at reducing neck pain
  • The #1 goal is to keep the neck in a neutral position throughout the night, evaluate the size of the pillow based on your sleeping patterns and body size.
  • Check your pillow regularly to ensure it continues to provide you with the best support every night.