Is Your Pillow Causing Your Neck Pain?

Waking up with a sore neck, headache or tightness in your shoulders or back can be common. Luckily, it’s a problem that is often very easily rectified. Here’s what you need to do: In addition to chiropractic care, you should check your pillow. Whether you have neck pain or lower back pain, the problem may be that you neck was not in a neutral position while you were sleeping.

If you sleep on your back, you want to put a small amount of pillow under your neck, but very little pillow under your head. Sleeping with a large pillow under your head will push your head and neck forward. This can lead to the same kind of pain people experience from spending too much time looking down at their phone.

If you sleep on your side, you want a large pillow supporting your head. To keep your head in a neutral, or straight, position, you will need to stack pillows up until they are the height of your shoulder.


The easiest way to assure your neck is in the correct position is to use the Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow. I recommend this pillow more than any other product.  (I do not get any commission from recommending it.) I like it because it works for people who sleep on their sides or their backs, and also for people who switch back and forth between the two. You can buy it on a few different websites. I’ve never seen it in stores. If you need help figuring out what size to order, let me know next time you are in the office and we can measure you.

6 Responses to “Is Your Pillow Causing Your Neck Pain?”

  1. Jenn Sutherland February 22, 2018 at 3:48 am #

    What if you’re a stomach sleeper? Is there a specific configuration you’d recommend?

    • Meggie Smith February 22, 2018 at 3:10 pm #

      Stomach sleeping is a whole blog post in itself! The standard chiropractic response is to tell people not to sleep on their stomachs. It’s so rough on your neck to sleep with your head rotated. But that is not terribly helpful or useful advice.

      The main thing I recommend is to get in a position you can so that your neck is as close to straight as possible… which is not easy if you are sleeping on your stomach! But if you play around with it, you may be able to find a position that involves less rotation of your neck.

      • Jenn Sutherland February 27, 2018 at 5:23 pm #

        How have I never known that I shouldn’t sleep on my belly! I will try to start working on this. I’ve been using a buckwheat pillow forever, but have been looking for something new. I’ll keep you posted!

  2. Michael Treloar April 11, 2019 at 3:32 am #

    Very informative article. Thanks a lot for sharing.


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