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Have you been waking up with back pain? The culprit could be your pillow.
“There are simple modifications you can do at home to help with back and neck pain, and using the right pillow can help,” Jessalynn Adam, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life. Making sure you have good neck and back alignment is crucial, Neel Anand, M.D., professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles, Yahoo Life. “If you sleep on your back with your head bent forward or on your side with your head significantly bent to the side, you may exacerbate your current neck pain,” he says.
In general, you want to look for a pillow that keeps your neck parallel to the mattress and that adapts to your specific sleep position, Anand says. If you’re a back sleeper, something flatter is probably better for your spinal alignment, Adam says. “A fluffy pillow will force your neck forward and isn’t ideal for alignment, she says. If you’re a side sleeper, you probably need a little more support so your head doesn’t drop. Ideally, side sleepers want to aim for a pillow that’s fluffy enough for your neck to be straight, Adam says.
Cervical contour pillows are “extremely effective” for most people because they allow your neck to be less elevated when you’re on your back and more elevated when you sleep on your side, Anand says. But foam contour pillows are also a good option, he adds.
Also, keep this in mind, per Anand: “If you have a firmer mattress, you will need a thicker pillow because there is less cushion for your shoulder to sink into and thus there is a greater space between your mattress and head.” Got a memory foam mattress? You’ll want to opt for something thinner to compensate for your shoulder sinking into the bed.
Here are some of the best pillows to look into if you’re concerned about back and neck pain.
This memory foam pillow is designed for both side and back sleepers. Its slope keeps your head from rolling out of a stable position while you snooze and convenient side cut-outs create space to comfortably rest your arm so you’re not hunched over in the night.
Shop it: Coisum Orthopedic Memory Foam Pillow, $55, amazon.com
This fully adjustable pillow allow you to find the right balance to keep your head and neck aligned while you sleep. It's also CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold certified to ensure safety and quality.
Shop it: Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow, $60, amazon.com
This pillow is made for side, back, and stomach sleepers and its cool gel-infused memory foam works to keep you from turning into a sweaty beast while you sleep. The memory foam also helps to create support for your head, neck, and shoulders during the night.
Shop it: Weekender Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Pillow with Reversible Cooling Cover, $60, amazon.com
You can choose whether you want light or “super” lumbar support with this pillow, which is designed to help improve the posture of your spine while you sleep. You can also adjust the height to what feels right for you by adding or subtracting foam pads.
Shop it: TruContour Super Lumbar Pillow, $35, amazon.com
With a medium firmness, the Sleep Innovations pillow gives you a gentle support of your neck and shoulders in the night. Its curved design also allows you choose between a higher or lower contour so you can find a support that feels right for you.
Shop it: Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour Pillow, $44, amazon.com
The concave center of this pillow cradles your head, while the cervical roll works to give you great neck support. It also promises to help restore the proper curvature of your spine while you sleep. The pillow comes in two options: gentle and firm.
Shop it: Core Products Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow, $37 (was $48), amazon.com
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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