Doctor, What Pillow Should I Use?

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, "Doctor, what kind of a pillow should I use?"

Why Does Your Pillow Matter?

A proper pillow will facilitate a good night’s sleep without waking up at night or waking up with pain or a stiff neck. Having the wrong pillow over time can exacerbate unnecessary neck pain.  There are a few factors that go into making a self-guide to determine the proper pillow for you.

While there are many choices on the market, I have found the best results with a few different pillows after interviewing my patients, so I thought I’d share some general guidelines when making a decision on what type of pillow may be best for you. 

The first thing to determine is what type of sleeper are you. Meaning, do you sleep on your back or on your side? This will help determine which type of pillow may be best for you. If people tell me they sleep on their stomach, I try to help them slowly change their sleeping posture because sleeping on the stomach is very hard on the neck and back and often leads to long term aches and pains when getting up in the morning.

Here are some guidelines:

Determining Type of Pillow:

What if someone told you that your sleeping style would determine the type of pillow you need? Let’s roll into our sleep style section.

 Back Sleeper:

Sleeping on your back might appear to be comfy, but will highlight the underlying issue of snoring if you have a pillow that allows your head to sink. As you lay your head back, gravity will push the tongue back and block your throat. A better alternative will be a pillow that offers height, neck support, and throat at a comfortable level.

 Stomach Sleeper:

Sleeping on your stomach might be comfortable for a few nights, but after a while can become taxing on your back and neck. However, having the right pillow can negate some of these issues. A firm/plump pillow will force your neck into an odd angle that might lead to some discomfort. A better alternative would be a softer option.

 Side Sleeper:

One of the most common positions to sleep in is on the side. You will need more support to keep the neck at a neutral angle.

After practicing for 10 years now, I have found the Tempur Pedic Neck Pillow to yield the best results for my patients with neck pain. While it does not work for everybody, it has been the pillow most patients tell me works best for them. Here is some info about the Tempur Pedic Neck Pillow.

Tempur Pedic Neck Pillow:

This is one of my favorite pillows because I have found over the years that my patients get the best results with this pillow. The Tempur Pedic pillow has an ergonomic shape developed by doctors to promote proper alignment and support for the neck. This pillow is designed to allow neck and shoulder muscles to relax completely, for shoulder, neck and back pain. The pillow allows for back and side sleepers with its design.

Here’s another option:


The therapeutic pillow was created for back and side sleepers. The wedge extension helps to support the upper back in a neutral position, and the center cavity will cradle your head comfortably. However, if you are a side sleeper the "side cavity" is flexible enough that it will keep your head aligned with the shoulder.

If you have neck pain and have been trying to get better sleep, I hope this article was helpful for you in determining your next step to buying the right pillow. 


At East Sacramento Chiropractic we take our time to do a thorough examination to identify all of the postural strains you may have in your muscles and joints. Our doctors are experts at identifying treatments, stretches and exercises to make sure you have all the tools necessary to live a pain free, active lifestyle. An appointment with East Sacramento Chiropractic will ensure you are sitting, standing and performing your activities in the best position possible. 

Give us a call at 916-469-9235  or request an appointment here.



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