Most children and adults suffer from headache pain from time to time. Some headaches may be minor and fleeting, while other may be more debilitating and last for days. No matter whether yours are occasional or chronic, they’re never a pleasant experience. Although there are many reasons why you may be experiencing headaches, you can help alleviate the pain, or even reduce how often you experience pain through some of your own efforts.
While chronic, recurrent head pain or migraines should always be addressed by your healthcare provider, your choice of sleep products can help you get a better night’s sleep, and provide long lasting comfort. This may not initially seem important, but the best pillows for headaches will help provide the support you need to influence healing, blood flow, and spinal alignment – all which have the potential to promote a reduction in your discomfort.
We’ve personally reviewed many pillows, and since proper head and neck positioning is a priority of quality pillow companies, you want to seriously keep this in mind. Once you have optimal spinal alignment, you can better address any further discomforts as this will help keep your airways open, support and allow your body to cope with your pain in a much more productive way.
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Dr. Loth’s Spine Align Pillow
Original Casper Pillow
Hullo Buckwheat Pillow
I Love My Pillow Classic Traditional Pillow
Mediflow Fiber Original Water Pillow
The Best Pillows for Headaches
1. Editor’s Choice – TEMPUR-Neck Pillow
- Filling: Solid memory foam core
- Loft: Dependent on size choice
- Comfort Positions: Back/Side
- Warranty: 5 year
The Tempur-Neck Pillow is a Tempur-Pedic brand solution to head and neck support for proper cervical alignment. It’s a made of a soft solid memory foam construction to cradle your head and contour to the shape of your neck. With three different sizes, it was created to meet a wide range of needs, and can be fitted to you based on gender, weight, height and sleep position.
Back and side sleepers can take advantage of this design, and each pillow has variations in the pillow edges to personal comfort preferences. The softer depression is specific to cradling the head and relieving pressure points. This support helps keep airways open, and allow the spine to settle and relax into a natural state to increase circulation and healing.
- Long lasting
- Sizing chart very accurate
- Helps alleviate neck pain
- May have slight off-gassing
- May be too firm for some people
- Contouring will be affected by room temperature
2. Runner Up – Dr. Loth’s Spine Align Pillow
- Filling: Shredded latex foam and polyfill blend
- Loft: Adjustable
- Comfort Positions: Side and back
- Warranty: 60 day trial period, 5 year warranty
The chiropractor Dr. Loth is the mastermind behind this spine align pillow, an idea that came to fruition as he searched for a solution to help alleviate stressors and strain on his client’s spine and soft tissues. Made to be adjustable and fit a wide variety of side and back sleepers, this pillow contains three separate chambers to both add and remove the soft filling for support and personalization.
The soft shredded memory foam and fiberfill is contouring, supportive and pressure-reductive. The unique shaping allows for perfect neck and head alignment with the spine, relieves tension through the back, and is made to allow for a truly relaxing experience. A thick, breathable cover is also included, not only to hold the fill but to provide a plush surface to lay upon.
- Reduces neck pain
- May aid in headache and migraine relief
- Fully adjustable
- May take some time to adjust correctly
- Is not for stomach sleepers
3. Best Cooling – Original Casper Pillow
- Filling: Polyester microfiber fill
- Loft: Mid or low
- Comfort Positions: All
- Warranty: 30 day trial period, 1 year warranty
This unique pillow is an excellent choice for any sleep position as it’s a pillow within a pillow, which provides you many options for comfort. It gives you a thin, soft feel for stomach and back sleepers, and a pliable plush combo for side sleepers. Filled with a soft polyfill, it has a feather and down-alternative feel for consumers who prefer the feel of a more natural filling, but don’t want an actual feather pillow.
The sandwich design of the pillow is constructed with a thicker, slightly more firm outer casing that encompasses a thin, soft pillow. The more traditional feel and shaping is a preferred pillow choice for many to help with head and neck support. Since it’s also adjustable, it will fit a wider variety of buyer needs and comfort.
- Can be adjusted for thickness and support
- Very cooling
- Provides excellent neck support
- May be too soft for some body types
- Requires regular fluffing and care
4. Best Buckwheat – Hullo Buckwheat Pillow
- Filling: Buckwheat
- Loft: Adjustable
- Comfort Positions: All
- Warranty: 60 day money back guarantee
Buckwheat pillows are a long standing tradition in Asia as they’re not only a way to properly support your head and body, but also considered to be long-lasting and bring your body into balance. Buckwheat hulls are the byproduct of the the buckwheat seed, and instead of going to waste, are used as a springy, yet firm support in a variety of body comfort products.
The Hullo Buckwheat pillow is wholly adjustable, which is excellent for not only comfort adjustability, but also for refreshing the pillow to make it last longer. This type of pillow provides comforting pressure to points in your head and neck, opening areas for blood flow and healing. It’s also considered to alleviate snoring, head, neck and back pain.
- May work for some stomach sleepers
- Helps with migraines
- Shapes extremely well
- Heavy weight
- Noise and feel takes time to get used to
5. Best Classic – I Love My Pillow Classic Traditional Pillow
- Filling: Memory foam
- Loft: ~7.5
- Comfort Positions: All
- Warranty: 100 night sleep trial, 3 year warranty
Created by foam engineers, the ‘I Love My Pillow’ was made specifically to address the needs of its designers to provide a better all-round pillow for a variety of sleep issues. Although there are many memory foam and other foam pillow products that are considered an excellent pick, this one stands out among the rest.
The highly-responsive memory foam provides instant contouring to your unique shape, and allows for immediate bounce-back for pliable shaping. This type of solid foam fill helps hold your head and neck in alignment, and provide relief to airway concerns, as well as tension and stress to soft tissues. It also has a breathable micro mink casing for added breathability, and is considered to keep you cool as you sleep.
- Sleeps cool
- Holds head and neck in a proper spinal alignment
- Good customer service
- May take a little bit to adapt to
- May be too firm for some positions
6. Best Water Pillow – Mediflow Fiber Original Water Pillow
- Filling: Polyester and cotton
- Loft: Adjustable
- Comfort Positions: All
- Warranty: 3 year warranty
For the best possible support for your neck and head when you rest, a good water pillow is a great solution – and this design proves it. Mediflow offers a tried-and-true water-base design that offers exceptional ergonomic support to the sleeper. As is the case with water pillows, this one also allows you to perfectly adapt it to your needs by adjusting the water level. You can opt for a soft, firm or medium-firm feeling. Too soft? Just add more water! Too firm? Empty a little out! The water bag is fully sealed, insulated and surrounded by a hypoallergenic, 100 percent cotton shell, adding to the softness and the comfort. There’s also an outer layer made from polyester fabric for added durability.
Keep in mind that this Mediflow Waterbase technology was clinically tested and proven to reduce headaches, neck pain and improve your quality of sleep. It’s one of the few pillows on the market that can boast such extensive research. When you add a 3-year warranty and 30-day user satisfaction guarantee, all of these speak volumes about the pillow’s quality.
- Easily adjustable firmness level
- 100 percent cotton shell
- Conforms to your neck and head
- Prone to developing mold if the water is not replaced frequently
What Causes Headaches?
Headaches can occur at any part of your head, and at multiple places at once. They can be caused by a wide variety of issues, and are categorized based on their underlying cause. Primary headaches aren’t caused by an underlying issue, but secondary ones have another reason as to why they’re occurring. When searching for relief, your body posture and support can be crucial part of recovery.
Primary headaches are a stand alone pain issue, can be caused by the stress or strain to the soft tissues of the head, neck, and upper back. These include the muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves found within these areas of your body. Chemical activity in the brain can create these issues, as can over stimulation of pain-sensitive areas. Cluster headaches, migraines, and tension headaches are the most common primary headache causes.
Secondary headaches include an underlying cause of the pain. This is when another condition creates the pain felt and includes a wide range of issues. These can range from drug and alcohol use, to dehydration, blood clots, and even stroke. Waking in the morning after drinking with a migraine is considered a secondary cause, for example.
Head and Neck Alignment
Along with snoring, headaches are often a symptom of – or are worsened by – poor blood flow, a restriction of oxygen during the night, and other issues that create stress to your body through poor spinal alignment. Your choice of mattress and pillow should improve your sleep posture and support your cervical alignment for a more restful night.
The head and neck relationship is incredibly important and supports the gateway between your brain and cervical spine. Your central nervous system carries your response to pain, and its care and attention is crucial to your body’s healing when pain is present. As you go to sleep, you should pay particular attention to how your head and neck lay in your preferred choice of sleep position. When held in a healthy, restful manner, it allows your brain to properly cycle through the sleep stages which promotes blood flow and healing.
Sleep Position and Pillow Comfort
As mentioned above, spinal alignment has much to do with how you respond to pain, heal from it, and support an alleviation of the effects of it. Your sleep position must be supported through the night allow for overall spinal alignment, in particular where your head and neck lay in relation to the rest of your body. Although there are more healthy, supportive positions over others, you can choose the best pillows and other bedding options to aid in your particular needs.
Blood flow promotes healing, and airway support promotes blood flow. Keeping your head and neck in alignment allows for both of these to help alleviate your head pain, and provide you the energy to better deal with the discomfort when it occurs.
Back Sleep Position Needs
Back sleepers require a low profile pillow that allows the head to lay level with the height of the shoulders. It should also have enough fill to keep the neck in a rested position. This means that a person’s height and size will help determine the best pillow for them.
Stomach Sleep Position Needs
Stomach sleepers almost always place some sort of strain on the body, and ideally should sleep without a pillow. Most people are unable to do this due to personal preferences, and so a soft, low profile pillow is the best choice.
Side Sleep Position Needs
Side sleepers should pay attention to both head and neck height and support. A firmer, higher profile pillow is needed for side sleepers, and like back sleepers, particular attention to body shape and height can influence the pillow choice.
What to Consider When Choosing a Pillow for Headaches
When choosing a pillow for headaches, you should always take into account your preferred sleep position. But, you may also want to consider pillows that specifically address pain issues, using both fill and design construction to help alleviate them.
What is your sleep position?
Obviously this is an important consideration, and when narrowing down your choices you should look specifically for pillows that work with your position. Follow the guide above that provides some basic information about this, or look more closely at the details for each position you may want to consider.
What types of headaches do you suffer from?
Are you suffering from a regular occurrence of primary or secondary headaches? Although a doctor may be able provide pain relief for the worst of your discomfort, you can also address your own comfort opportunities at home. Both types require oxygen and blood flow for healing, something you can help with while your body rests.
Do you wake with aches and pains in other parts of your body?
If you do wake up sore or stiff, it’s an excellent indication of poor posture and possibly poor sleep product support. This could be an underlying cause of migraines, or exasperate them further. If this is happening to you, you should reconsider more than just your pillows – especially if you feel that you’ve been searching for the best pillow for ages.
Focusing on spinal alignment and personal comfort should be a priority when addressing headache pain and the issues that may cause underlying discomfort. Many are difficult to deal with or heal from when the body is unable to properly relax, creating further stress and strain. Our recommendations above provide many design and fill choices you may want to consider surrounding the best pillow choices for headache pain.
August 31, 2021: The Mediflow Fiber Original Water Pillow has been added to our roundup due to popularity. An Additional Resources section and more FAQs have also been included to address common customer queries.
- The Link Between Pain and Sleep
- Sleeping with Pain
- Working with Work Burnout
- Tips to Improve Your Sleep
- Benefits and Side Effects of Buckwheat Pillows You Need to Know
- Do Buckwheat Pillows Attract Bugs?
Frequently Asked Questions
Are memory foam pillows good for headaches?
Yes, they can. Memory foam pillows help ease the discomfort of headaches because they provide ideal support of your neck which in turn promotes better spinal alignment. Together, this can help improve blood flow.
Are firmer pillows good for headaches?
What you’re looking for is cradling support of the head and neck, and a good quality memory foam with firm support makes an ideal choice. Consider Tempur-Neck Pillow which uses a solid memory foam core for proper cervical alignment that contours to the shape of your neck.
Are more expensive pillows better for headaches?
Pillows that use a quality fill capable of providing effective support to your neck and head, will typically be found at a higher price point.
Which type of pillow is the best for headaches?
Our pick for the best pillow for headache relief is the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow. Its solid memory foam construction cradles your head and allows your body to rest in ideal spinal alignment.
What is the best position to sleep in when you have a headache? How should you sleep to avoid migraines?
If you're struggle with persistent headaches or migraines, sleeping on your back or side is the most ideal position. Many of our pillow recommendations above are best suited for all sleeping positions, however many suggest that back or side sleeping will give you optimal support and promote blood flow throughout your whole body.