If you suffer with neck pain, especially after you wake up in the morning, you should consider using a special cervical or neck pillow.  Sleeping with a cervical pillow can improve your neck posture, thus supporting tight muscles in your neck and shoulders. It also reduces the mechanical stress on the neck joints by keeping your neck in proper alignment.

The pillow must be flexible and be able to accommodate your head and support your neck.  Looking from the side, your neck should be in alignment with your spine and parallel to the mattress. If you sleep on your back, you want your pillow to have enough give to let your head sink down and then support the neck. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach as this can lead to neck strain, misalignment of the spine and potential back pain causing discomfort and potential long-term issues.

Memory foam pillows offer comfort and are pliable to give support to the head and neck. Many memory foam pillows come with a ‘cut out‘ in them for the head to rest in. Some brands allow for personalization and can be customized based on individual body size. Water pillows surrounded by foam or cotton can offer the same benefits as memory foam.

If you’re grappling with persistent neck pain, particularly after waking up in the morning, the use of a specialized cervical or neck pillow could be a transformative solution by improving your neck posture and supporting tight neck and shoulder muscles.

David J. BenEliyahu, DC, FICC
Administrative Director, Back & Neck Pain Center at Mather Hospital