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  • Writer's pictureSara Mendonça

"Neck pain? Discover the best pillow for you."

Hello, I'm Sara, physiotherapist at FisioAjuda Clinic, located in Funchal. Today, I want to talk to you about a topic I'm often asked about, "Sara, what is the best pillow for sleeping?" This question is frequently posed by people who suffer from a quite common issue - neck pain or cervical discomfort. So, let's explore this topic!

The Importance of a Good Pillow

A crucial aspect to consider when it comes to preventing and alleviating neck pain is choosing the right pillow. Using an improper pillow that doesn't provide adequate support for the neck and shoulders can negatively impact the correct position of the cervical spine, resulting in neck pain, discomfort upon waking, neck mobility problems, and compromised sleep quality.

In Search of the Perfect Pillow

There are many types of pillows available in the market, and they all promise to be the best option for aligning the cervical spine correctly, reducing neck pain, and improving sleep quality. However, it's important to understand that each person is unique and may have different needs. Therefore, it's essential to consider some factors when choosing the best pillow for you:

  • Material: According to a 2021 study, if you have neck pain, the best pillows for sleeping are those that contain latex. Conversely, feather pillows showed worse results in the study. People who slept on these pillows were more likely to wake up with symptoms. The study suggests that feather pillows provide less support to the neck during sleep, thus affecting sleep quality and increasing symptoms upon waking [1];

  • Shape: There is a wide variety of pillow shapes to choose from in the market. Commonly called "orthopedic pillows" with shapes that adapt to the spine, despite being more expensive, have not yet proven to be more effective than "regular" pillows in relieving symptoms and improving sleep quality. More studies should be conducted in this area [1];

  • Heigth: Recommendations indicate that the ideal pillow height is between 10 and 12 cm [1];

  • Firmness: A softer pillow may be more comfortable and well-tolerated, especially in the initial period of use. However, a firmer pillow is more effective in maintaining spinal alignment. This is a parameter that greatly depends on your personal preference [1].

I Know Which Pillow to Use, Now What?

It's important to emphasize that the choice of the right pillow is not the sole cause of neck pain, nor is it the only treatment. There are several causes of neck pain, including prolonged work postures, injuries, stress, among others. On the other hand, treating neck pain is not limited to choosing the right pillow. To effectively prevent and alleviate neck pain, a comprehensive approach is necessary. This includes proper sleep and nutrition, reducing stress levels, taking breaks during work to relieve neck tension, regular physical exercise (especially exercises that strengthen neck muscles like pilates) and seeking the assistance of a qualified physiotherapist. These combined measures can significantly contribute to the prevention and treatment of neck pain, promoting a better quality of life. At FisioAjuda Clinic, in addition to physiotherapy, you can also access osteopathy, pilates, and massage services.


In summary, choosing the right pillow is crucial for preventing and helping to relieve neck pain. Considering factors such as material, shape, height, and firmness is essential. However, it's important to remember that the correct pillow is not the sole solution for a pain-free neck. A comprehensive approach, including healthy habits, exercise, and guidance from a specialized professional, is necessary to achieve lasting results in relieving pain and improving neck pain treatment.

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Thank you for reading,

Sara Mendonça

Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor


FisioAjuda – Especialistas na Coluna

+351 964 422 523 | +351 291 782 327

Rua Vale da Ajuda 96, 9000-116 Funchal


[1]. Chun-Yiu JP, Man-Ha ST, Chak-Lun AF. The effects of pillow designs on neck pain, waking symptoms, neck disability, sleep quality and spinal alignment in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2021 May;85:105353. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2021.105353. Epub 2021 Apr 19. PMID: 33895703.

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