Have you noticed that you have been waking up with a lot of neck pain as of late? You aren’t alone, and a lot of people deal with neck pain issues the older they get. This is one of the big reasons why neck pillows have started to become so popular these days.
If you haven’t used a neck pillow before, then you might not know a lot about them. They definitely aren’t anything new, and people have been using neck pillows for decades.
If you travel by airplane often, then you’ve probably seen hundreds of people using little travel neck pillows so that they can get comfortable during their trips.
Do neck pillows actually work well, though? Is it worthwhile to use one of these neck pillows or is it not really going to make that much of a difference?
The answers to these questions might depend on the situation as well as how you like to sleep.
Do Researchers Recommend Neck Pillows for Neck Pain?
The topic of neck pillows is actually more controversial than you might imagine. Some people feel that neck pillows can help to provide clear relief for those who are experiencing chronic neck pain.
Other researchers contend that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that neck pillows make much a difference at all.
Most of the suggestions to use neck pillows are based on anecdotal evidence and people saying that it has helped them. It’s also true that different people have different preferences for comfort and pain tolerance levels. It’s hard to say whether a neck pillow is going to make a substantial difference in your life or not.
You’ll find that some researchers will agree that using neck pillows will be a good idea for certain types of sleepers. It also makes sense to use neck pillows during situations where your neck needs support in a cramped environment.
This is why it has become so popular to use small neck pillows during travel because it’s just convenient.
It’s just not so easy as pointing to some research to definitively say that “neck pillows work” or “neck pillows don’t really work.” Your experience might differ quite a bit from someone else who is using a similar neck pillow.
That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth a shot, though, and neck pillows generally aren’t all that expensive anyway.
There Are Different Neck Pillow Styles
Another thing to pay attention to is the fact that there are different neck pillow styles out there that you need to pay attention to. Some neck pillows are going to be more or less suitable depending on how you’re planning on using them.
To better understand the practicality of each neck pillow style, you should keep reading to learn a bit about them.
Horseshoe Neck Pillows
Horseshoe neck pillows are designed in a horseshoe shape, and you can place them around your neck to give yourself extra support. These pillows are some of the most common neck pillows that you will find on the market.
People often use these small neck pillows for travel purposes because they’re easy to carry around and you can even just wear them around your neck instead of shoving them into your bag if you don’t have time.
Neck rolls are simply designed to be placed around your neck, and they most often have a cylindrical design. These are simple pillows that are just meant to give you a bit of support right where you need it when you suffer from neck pain.
Neck rolls might not be as easy to tote around as some travel pillow, but they are still ubiquitous in airports.
Contoured Neck Pillows
Contoured neck pillows are interesting because they’re designed with an indentation of your head. This is meant to give you the perfect type of support that a human head needs.
People often use these types of neck pillows when they’re laying down on their backs.
Flexible Neck Pillows
Flexible neck pillows are made out of material that can twist around to form into different shapes. You can twist it so that it wraps around your neck to give it support while you’re laying down or sitting in an airplane seat.
These pillows are more versatile than just neck pillows because they can be twisted around other limbs and positioned in various ways.
These are neat little pillows to have around, and you’ll find that a lot more companies are making these types of pillows. Being able to contort a pillow to suit various purposes is great, and you’ll find that they’re quite comfortable, too.
You can get these pillows made out of different types of materials as well.
Neck Pillows Are Made Using Various Materials
Not all neck pillows are created equally. You’ll find that many neck pillows are made using the same stuff that your standard bed pillows are made out of. Pillows can be made of materials such as cotton, down, memory foam, and even synthetic materials.
Generally, you’re just going to want to choose whatever pillow type is going to feel the most comfortable to you. For example, some people swear by memory foam pillows and say that they’re the best for neck support.
Others don’t like them at all and prefer something such as a soft down or cotton neck pillow.
Your Sleep Style Plays a Role
Another factor that you have to keep in mind when discussing neck pillow efficacy is that not everyone sleeps the same. You might sleep a lot differently than your spouse does, and the way that you sleep will impact how well a neck pillow is able to work for you.
This means that the type of neck pillow that you need might differ from your partner due to differences in sleeping styles.
Stomach sleepers are probably going to be the least likely to enjoy benefits from using neck pillows.
What you want to do is try to keep your spine as straight as you can. To do this, you should try to use a pillow that is thin enough to help keep your spine straight while you’re sleeping.
If you try to use a very thick neck pillow while you’re sleeping on your stomach, then you’re going to have a bad experience. This is going to elevate your spine at an unnatural angle, and it’ll more than likely make your neck pain worse.
For the most part, stomach sleepers aren’t going to get a lot out of neck pillows.
Side sleepers are definitely going to be able to use neck pillows to help get more neck support.
If you want the best neck pillow as a side sleeper, then finding one that is slightly higher under your neck than it will be under your head should be ideal. Contoured pillows should work out quite nicely for this, but you can also find latex neck pillows that will do the trick.
Lots of neck pillows can work pretty well for you while you’re sleeping on your side. You just need to pay attention to the position of your spine so that it doesn’t get thrown off.
If you elevate your head too much, then you could throw off that spinal angle and wind up making things worse.
Back sleepers can benefit from using neck pillows that will give them support without propping the neck up too much.
One of the best types of pillows for this is going to be a contoured pillow because of how easily it will meet your support needs. Using a neck roll or horseshoe neck pillow on top of a standard flat pillow could also work just fine.
As a back sleeper, you’ll be able to have the easiest time taking advantage of various neck pillows. Pretty much any type of neck pillow can help you out so long as you’re sleeping on your back at a normal angle.
If you’ve been having a tough time with neck pain, then you should definitely consider trying out a neck pillow.
What about those who are trying to get some shut-eye while they’re flying? Well, most people would say that horseshoe neck pillows or flexible neck pillows will be the best ones to utilize. They are easy to position and you won’t have any problems carrying them around while you’re walking around the airport or train station.
It’s likely going to be hard to get any type of quality sleep if you don’t have a neck pillow while you are traveling. Most of the common types of neck pillows that you can buy for travel will work fantastically.
You will even be able to buy travel neck pillows at many airport stores if you forgot yours when you were packing.
Other Solutions for Neck Pain Problems
When you’re trying to solve neck pain problems, it’s important not to think that neck pillows are suddenly going to alleviate all of your issues.
Neck pain is a topic that is more complicated than many others because it can be caused by so many things. If you really want to start feeling better, then it’s going to be crucial to go talk to your doctor about what you’re experiencing.
You might need to get some x-rays done to see if you have anything wrong that needs to be fixed. It’s possible that your neck could be damaged in some way or you might have a muscle issue that is causing you pain.
Either way, your doctor will be the one who needs to recommend what you should do moving forward.
It’s never appropriate to diagnose yourself with a condition, and you need to talk to a professional about your symptoms. Yes, neck pain could just be from sleeping wrong or posture issues. But it’s also possible that you could have real issues that need to be taken care of by a medical professional.
Arthritic neck pain isn’t too uncommon, and sometimes people have to learn to live with it. You can manage pain like this using topical creams as well as certain types of medication. Talking to your doctor about options makes sense because they can give you the best advice.
If you’re recovering from some type of neck surgery or neck injury, then a simple neck pillow might not help. You can discuss your options with your doctor, and your neck pain might be alleviated by going to rehab.
There are lots of ways that you can help to manage neck pain symptoms, but you need to get the facts first.
So Are Neck Pillows Worth it?
Are neck pillows worthwhile or should you just avoid using them? They are definitely worthwhile for some people, and they definitely make sense to use while you’re traveling. Whether or not you’ll get a lot of use out of them while you’re at home is up in the air.
You might benefit from having extra neck support if you deal with chronic neck pain, but it’s also possible that your neck pain could be related to something else entirely.
Even so, there is nothing wrong with trying out a neck pillow if you feel that it might help. They aren’t very costly, and you can try to find a neck pillow option that makes sense based on how you like to sleep at night.
So long as you aren’t avoiding going to see your doctor, there isn’t going to be anything dangerous about entertaining the idea of using a neck pillow.
They do work to give some people more comfort when they’re sleeping and relaxing. You might even like using one if you’re an office worker who spends a lot of time typing, but that’s a personal choice for you to make.
There isn’t a definitive answer about neck pillows and whether they “really work to eliminate neck pain.” Some people say that they help a lot while others find them to be ineffective.
Try one out for yourself so that you can make your own conclusions.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.