Best Pillow for Neck Pain and Arm Numbness

Words by Leslie Lidot
August 10, 2021
11 Minute Read
11 Minute Read
Words by Leslie Lidot
August 10, 2021

Having a good night’s sleep is a fundamental to keep you going throughout the day, but getting a good night of rest may feel exhausting. From noise disturbances to uncomfortable mattresses and buzzing bedtime visions, there are a number of common culprits that can come between you and getting a quality sleep; without proper resolution can cause a negative impact on your overall well-being.  

Neck pain and arm numbness can range from an occasional issue to a daily complication. The pain might evolve from a mere annoyance to a problem that involves your sleep quality and daily activities. The advantage is that your frustrations with pain should improve by thoughtfully using neck pain designed products. One effective method is investing a supportive pillow for neck that are intended to help curb neck pain, and in the process, should better the quality of your sleep and well-being.

As much as you need the right and suitable pillow, it’s also necessary to choose the appropriate brand that caters your needs completely. Read our top-rated neck pillows on today's market to learn more about each one’s materials and unique qualities. Although your sleep setup might not be the main cause of your neck pain, it can still play an important role in making it better or worse.

1. ComfyCentre Memory Foam Pillow (Editor’s Pick 2021)

The memory foam pillow by ComfyCentre delivers a sleek, aesthetic design, so it fits perfectly in modern homes. It features an ergonomic design that follows your cervical vertebra, relieving the pressure on your neck. 

It offers better alignment while you sleep as it follows the natural curve of your neck. It does not block your breathing, meaning it reduces snoring. 

After testing multiple memory foam pillows, the ComfyCentre memory foam pillow does not lose its shape. It gives you a higher density and higher quality in comparison to other brands.

It features a breathable memory foam cover, meaning you don’t have to fluff the pillow in the middle of the night to get the right feel. In addition, it gives you an air permeable pillow cover as well. 

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2. Layla Kapok Pillow for Neck Pain

The Layla Kapok Pillow performs a two-work task in reducing neck pain and sleeping cool in most situation. Its shredded memory foam is mixed with fibers from the kapok tree that offers the same plushness and consistency as natural down. Since neither of these materials retain excessive heat, the Kapok Pillow maintains a comfortable temperature. The cover is also permeated with copper which contains natural cooling properties to help keep the pillow’s surface comfortable.

This pillow also features an adjustable loft where you can unzip the cover and add or remove as much fillings as you want to achieve the ideal loft that suits your sleep position and level of neck pain. Side sleepers find the initial design perfect because of its higher profile, while back and stomach sleepers may need to pull out some fill to feel comfortable. You can easily wash and dry the cover in any household machine and only spot clean the fill as needed.

3. Mediflow Waterbase Pillow for Neck Pain

This next pillow from Mediflow is one of the leaders in the neck pain pillow market. Based on the product's name, this pillow uses water to sustain head support as you sleep, very practical for neck support. The water adjusts to your head and neck, which works well for all sleeping positions. You can also adjust the water levels to your liking. According to Mediflow, their product was clinically proven in an independent Johns Hopkins study to reduce neck pain and improve overall sleep.

Along with the water filling, the pillow also features a hypoallergenic fiber filling and a 100% cotton cover to complete your experience.

4. Contour Memory Foam from Sleep Innovations

This contour memory foam from Sleep Innovations is one of the least expensive on our list, but despite the discreet price, this neck pillow has plenty of positive factors.

It's made with 100% USA cotton that uses a firm piece of foam to contour to your head. The design should help alleviate pressure, keep your head in an optimal sleeping position and your spine in proper alignment throughout the night.

This pillow offers sleepers two different support levels where you can adjust it to a higher or lower contour level based on your personal comfort needs. This side sleeper pillow comes not just comes in different sizes for your bed, but also in a convenient travel size to allow for proper neck support while on the road.

5. Saatva Latex Pillow

The Saatva Latex Pillow is perfect for many sleepers due to adjustable design. The core contains shredded Talalay latex that feels soft and cushiony, while the inner pillow is cushioned with down alternative microdenier fibers to elevate the plushness without compromising support. The inner pillow can be removed and adjusted to reduce the loft and give the surface a firmer feel.

A thick insert along the side helps the pillow retain its full shape, eliminating the need to fluff it very often. The outer cover is made of breathable organic cotton while the internal components won’t hold too much body heat. As a result, the pillow rests fairly cool. Additionally, both the cover and microdenier pillow is machine washable, allowing you to avoid inconvenient hand washing or dry-cleaning expenses.

6. Amerisleep Comfort Classic Pillow

People with neck pain are often vulnerable to pressure points, not only in the neck area but as well as the shoulders and upper back. The Amerisleep Comfort Classic Pillow contains solid memory foam that conforms to these areas to help align the spine and alleviate pressure points. A medium feel guarantees close contouring without collapsing, while the 6-inch profile should provide support for side sleepers.

This adjustable pillow’s high loft can be beneficial for back sleepers, especially, those who snore. Many people who prefer this position are prone to snoring because their heads aren’t elevated enough. A thick pillow like the Comfort Classic can help sustain steady airflow through the breathing passages to reduce snoring.

The core contains solid Bio-Pur memory foam that has an open-cell composition which prevents excessive heat buildup. As a result, this pillow may be a good option for anyone who typically finds memory foam pillows too hot. The mesh cover is also machine washable and well-ventilated for added breathability.

7. Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow is a cervical pillow that focuses on aches and pains by conforming evenly to the head and neck. The pillow contains a firm piece of dense TEMPUR memory foam, a material known for its durability and conforming ability. The TEMPUR-Neck feels extra firm that offers excellent neck support for side and back sleepers.

This pillow comes in four sizes and corresponding lofts. The small size (3 inches thick) is ideal for sleepers with lesser gaps between their neck and shoulders. The large size (4.5-inch loft) is best suited for sleepers with a gap of at least 6 inches. The medium size (4 inches thick) should be the ideal option for anyone who falls in the middle of these measurements. The portable size TEMPUR-Neck also measures 4 inches thick.

The pillow's hypoallergenic polyester cover can be washed and dried in any household machine. Although Tempur-Pedic does not allow returns for the TEMPUR-Neck, it is accompanied by a five-year warranty against physical defects. Shipping is free within the contiguous U.S., and delivery charges are reasonable for customers in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

8. Chiroflow Premium Water

The Chiroflow is another water pillow on our list of top pillows for neck support. This pillow has a reasonable price tag, that is fairly accessible for consumers with a limited budget. This product’s convenient adjustability is one of the top factors to consider using a water pillow, allowing you to achieve the best sleep position to help alleviate pressure on your neck.

You can put how much water you fill inside to adjust the firmness and thickness of the pillow to suit your needs and preferences. Add your preferred amount of water to the pillow and you’re ready to go.

It also features a hypoallergenic fiber filling, excellent choice for any sleeper who have allergies.

What Causes Neck Pain?

The neck is responsible for bearing the entire weight of your head, and it’s no surprise that this delicate part of the body is highly susceptible to damage.

Neck pain can be the result of a variety of causes, but is commonly derived from injuries. Neck strains and sprains can be caused by sports, repetitive movements, poor posture (particularly spending too much time in front of the computer or looking down at a phone), whiplash or sleeping in the wrong position.

Age is also a factor that can contribute to neck pain, as joints weaken over time. Certain diseases that are prone on elder years are arthritis or cancer - which also are contributing factors.

Other causes such as stress and anxiety, being overweight or obese and, unfortunately, lack of sleep also contributes to neck pain.

Your preferred sleep position also plays an important role that you may not know. Out of the three common sleep positions — back, side and stomach — back or side sleeping are the most advisable positions to avoid neck pain.

Back sleepers are usually better off with thinner pillows while side sleepers with something thicker — but the right thickness of the pillow also depends on the width of your shoulders, size of your head and firmness of your mattress.

Stomach sleeping is not recommended as it requires the head and neck to twist to the side, which puts pressure on delicate nerves. Shifting your sleep position to either your back or side may help resolve chronic neck pain issues; although may be challenging for habitual stomach sleepers.

Spine Health advises that choosing the right type of pillow for your sleeping position can ease your neck pain. Sleep experts recommend choosing one that conforms to the shape of your head and neck. Pillows that are moldable or adjustable can be useful to achieve the desired contour. Harvard Health suggests to avoid pillows which are too high or too stiff.

What causes arm numbness?

A temporary lack of blood flow to your hand and arms causes arm numbness. Few other factors that contribute to this pain are:

  • Putting too much pressure on nerve endings, such as sleeping with your arms pinned under your own body or your partner’s body for an extended period of time; also known as nerve impingement.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption may lead to alcoholic neuropathy, which may cause arm numbness.
    • Existing peripheral neuropathy nerve issues such as:
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Tennis or golfer’s elbow
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Diabetes
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency can upset the functionality of your nervous system and contribute to arm numbness while active or while at rest.

How to Choose a Pillow for Neck Pain & Arm Numbness

Choosing the right pillow is the key step toward living pain free. The best pillow for neck pain will depend on your individual needs. We’ll walk you through the most essential considerations, including how to choose the best material, shape, and thickness for your personal sleeping style.

Most people neglect the importance of their pillow.  Some may just opt for a nice and squishy pillow for immediate comfort. As we realize our pillow may be contributing to our neck pain, we may not know how to go about choosing a suitable one. Shoppers could be vulnerable in misleading marketing and end up choosing a pillow that’s inappropriate for their needs.

To get you started, we’ve made a list of the most important factors and understanding the basics on how pillows work to help find the perfect neck pillow for you!

  • Loft: The loft determines the angle of your head in connection to your spine. A pillow that’s too high or too low forces your neck to bend at an unusual angle, causing strain and discomfort over time. That’s why sleep experts recommend choosing a pillow loft that allows your head and neck to be aligned with your spine. When choosing your neck pillow, always consider the width of your shoulders and size of your head. If you’re not sure of your ideal loft, opt for a pillow with an adjustable loft.
  • Firmness Level: The firmness of the pillow will influence where your head comes to rest. That's why it's important to give careful consideration on this aspect. The right pillow firmness will depend on how heavy and high the pillow is, the firmness of your mattress and what position you tend to sleep in. Pillows that are too firm may cause pressure points, such as in the ears when side sleeping. In contrast, pillows that are too soft may sink under your head and fail to provide proper support.
  • Support: A pillow should provide adequate support to your neck. This is most often present in cervical pillows, which conform to the neck instead of leaving a space where the neck is unsupported.
  • Pressure Relief: A good pillow offers pressure relief by easing the strain and contouring to reduce pressure points. To get the best pressure relief, choose a pillow that has the appropriate shape and size for your sleeping position, as well as the appropriate firmness to alleviate pressure at contact points.
  • Shape: Manufacturers nowadays offer a diverse assortment of ergonomic pillows that deliver enhanced support by adapting to the shape of your head and neck. Some people also prefer to add another pillow to their setup, one popular option being a small roll under the neck, together with the main pillow. Pillow shape is a matter of personal preference, but if you still can’t find relief from your neck pain, you may have to go for a cervical pillow.
  • Quality Materials: The quality of each pillow plays a significant role in determining its durability and comfort. Some pillows can be washed and dried occasionally to fluff them up and increase their lifespan.
  • Price: Investing in a good neck pillow is crucial to your overall health, neck health in particular. Prices vary widely depending on their materials and style. When looking for a neck pillow, remember that certain types of pillows will last you for years, while others may wear out easily and should be replaced after a year or two as their materials deteriorate and lose their loft or conforming abilities.

How to minimize neck pain & arm numbness at night?

If the pain is coming between you and your good night’s sleep, it’s probably time to take a look at your treatment options. Depending on the severity and causes of the pain, appropriate treatment options may fall into one of the following categories:

  • Medication: Anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure medicine, and antidepressants can help address nerve issues and reduce both daytime and nighttime neck pain and arm numbness.
  • Surgery: Though it's typically a last-resort option, surgery may help more severe cases of nerve damage that often may be an underlying cause of your issues.
  • Physical therapy: Strengthening your neck and wrists with basic stretches can reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel and other conditions that may be causing your neck and arm numbness.
  • Adjusting your sleep position or using a pillow: One of the most common causes of nighttime neck pain and arm numbness is due to the excess pressure placed to the nerve endings in your arm and neck while you sleep. Adjusting your sleep posture or using a pillow for neck pain can alleviate the pressure from your neck, and as a result, reduce or potentially eliminate symptoms while you sleep.

Takeaway

With the assistance of the ways mentioned above, you should be well on your way to finding the perfect pillow for neck pain that suits your needs. When purchasing a new pillow, give it time to adjust to your body before you expect significant results. You may experience more neck pain as you start using but this is just how body adjusts to the tool. Give the new pillow enough time to become comfortable, and you will be surprised with the results in the long run.

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