13 Pillows People With Cranky Necks Will Love

Falling asleep is hard, but waking up with a creaky neck adds insult to injury. If this sounds familiar, you need a new pillow. The best pillows for aching necks truly vary depending on the individual and their needs: Side sleepers are going to need a very different pillow from back sleepers, and taller people (or anyone with big, buff shoulders) won’t feel comfortable borrowing a pillow from their smaller friends. In other words, finding the right pillow for you might require some trial and error. But, luckily, there are a few rules of thumb you can follow to narrow the field.

“The goal is to ensure that your neck and head are aligned straight over your shoulders when sleeping,” Srikant Kondapaneni, M.D., chief of pulmonary medicine at Englewood Health, tells SELF. He explains that side sleeping calls for a higher-loft pillow, since the pillow’s added height allows for more space for the sleeper’s shoulder to rest comfortably without scrunching forward. Meanwhile, a lower profile pillow is the better pick for back sleepers, who are at risk of sleeping with their neck and head cranked forward if they have a too-tall pillow. Regardless of your sleeping position, your whole body, including your neck, should feel fully relaxed as you drift off, Dr. Kondapaneni says. That’s how you know you’ve found a pillow that stands a chance at keeping shoulder pain (and that dreaded crick in your neck) at bay.

So, with guidance from Dr. Kondapaneni as well as Michael Gallizzi, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.S., a spine surgeon with OrthoOne at Sky Ridge Medical Center, we’ve sought out the best pillows for aching necks available now. Whether you sleep like a pill bug or a starfish, or prefer a memory foam type of pillow over a down alternative, you don’t have to spend your mornings feeling stiff as a board. Read on to find the pillow of your (literal) dreams that will help prevent chronic neck pain.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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