Dear Jack: Can You Stop This Pillow Fight?

Chapel Hill, NC – Once again, it’s time for Dear Jack, answers to your questions about sleep. This month’s question is from “Pain in the Neck”. Will a new pillow make everything better?

Dear Jack,

Can you recommend an appropriate pillow for neck pain? A few months ago I lost my balance while on a ladder. I didn’t fall, but I jerked my neck with a whiplash action. I wake up every morning with a painful neck.

The pillow I sleep on now is old and kinda flat. I seem to wake up off and on during the night to readjust the pillow, or fold in half  just to get comfortable. Is it possible that the right type of pillow would alleviate my pain and help me sleep?

Thanks, Pain in the Neck

Dear Pain in the Neck,

The right pillow can make a difference in your sleeping position and thus can affect how your neck feels the next day, particularly if you are getting over a sprain or strain, which is what whiplash is.

In selecting a pillow for neck pain, you will need to carefully choose one that fits you. First, look for a pillow that supports your neck but does not tilt your head forward when you are lying on your back. If you sleep on your side, the pillow you choose should support your head in line with your neck, not tilt your head up or down.

There are many pillow options to choose from. The goal is a pillow that gives you good support as well as a good night’s sleep. The basic rule is to find a pillow that keeps your neck in that neutral position. Here are some choices worth a test drive:

Orthopedic pillows – These are pillows that are designed to maintain the natural curve of your neck.

Feather pillows – The old-fashioned feather pillow may be the right choice for you, as long as you aren’t allergic to down or other feathers. These pillows can be molded to fit the shape of your head and offer less resistance than foam.

Cervical pillows – These are roll-shaped pillows designed to relieve neck stress and neck pain by maintaining the natural shape of your head and neck while you sleep.

Since you are waking up with neck pain and it’s been a long time since you bought new pillows, you might want to stop by and try a few options out. Since you spend a good chunk of your life sleeping, one of the best ways to ensure restful, pain-free sleep is to get the most comfortable pillow you can find.

Pleasant dreams,


Jack Moody
The Better Sleep Store
Chapel Hill, NC


Photo by Nuno Dantas.

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