We’ve all suffered from head or neck pain at some point. While it’s not certainly not a modern phenomenon – neanderthals used medicinal plants to soothe migraines – technology’s prominence within our lives has led to more craning, slouching and screen staring.
Whether you’re scrolling through Instagram or composing emails at the office, it’s important to acknowledge the pressures modern living puts on our bodies.
This article investigates the best pillows for headache sufferers to help you find high quality products that offer comfort and pain free sleep. It’s time to treat your head and neck to some serious relaxation by investing in a proper pillow.
Table of Contents
What Causes Headaches?
The clinical definition of a headache is ‘pain in any region of the head.’ Headaches are one of the most common ailments and, though they are normally harmless, they range from mild discomfort to acute pain that also causes dizziness and nausea.
There are many different types of headache, but three of the most common include:
- Tension headaches
- Cluster headaches
- Migraine headaches
- Tension Headaches
This type of headache is characterised by a dull, aching sensation and an accompanying tenderness around the neck and shoulders. The most common cause is stress or anxiety.
Cluster headaches can be extremely painful as they involve burning or piercing sensations within one side of the face. Though severe, they are usually benign and rarely indicate poor health without accompanying symptoms.
The problem is cluster headaches are repetitive and each can last up to three hours. Doctors are still not sure what causes these unpleasant episodes.
Migraine headaches are commonly associated with lifestyle triggers such as disrupted sleep, dehydration, skipped meals and excessive screen time.
Pursuing a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, spending time outdoors and allocating less time to phones and personal computers can help to prevent migraines.
How Can Pillows Help for Headache Sufferers
If you regularly suffer from headaches (particularly after waking), investing in a high quality pillow can help.
According to sleep experts, pressure on the nerves of the neck caused by lack of support during sleep is a common cause of pain in the face, temples and forehead. This is the type of pain that often leads to migraine headaches.
Using the right type of pillow prevents the neck joints from being compressed and overly pressured by the weight of the head.
Well shaped pillows made from responsive, breathable materials are a great way to ensure the head is lifted to an optimum angle (between 30 and 45°).
This angle opens up the neck joints and provides the best position, physiologically, for a comfortable night’s sleep.
For decades, we’ve recognised the importance of a high quality mattress for good sleep and health. Now, the role of properly contoured pillows is becoming equally apparent.
How to Choose Good Pillows for Headache Sufferers?
When shopping for headache alleviating pillows, try to remember every sleeper is different.
There are some common characteristics to look out for – breathability, softness, even fill, etc – but a perfect pillow for you may not be the same as a perfect pillow for your best friend or colleague.
Consider your personal sleep habits, positions and pressure points when shopping
- Side Sleepers
Side sleepers benefit most from a moderate to firm pillow with sufficient thickness. Ideally, they need a thick pillow that’s (approximately) the same width of the gap between the bottom of the ear and shoulder.
- Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleepers suit softer pillows best and not always where you’d expect. If you sleep on your stomach and sometimes wake up with headaches, try placing the pillow directly underneath your stomach or groin. It’s also a good way to prevent back pain.
- Back Sleepers
Back sleepers are especially sensitive to a pillow’s firmness. They may benefit from thinner pillows with slightly less filling, but they shouldn’t be overly soft. To avoid head and neck pain, the pillow must be yielding but not lack support for the neck.
Choosing the Right Pillow Filling
- Woollen Fillings
Woollen fillings are naturally hypoallergenic making them an excellent choice for sleepers with sensitive skin. They are surprisingly good at wicking away moisture, perform well in warm climates and can help to regulate body temperature. Wool is recommended for those in need of a firmer pillow.
- Cotton Fillings
Cotton fillings are hypoallergenic just like wool but noticeably thinner. They offer a moderate firmness and come highly recommended for sleepers who get headaches caused by chemical sensitivities and other allergies.
- Memory Foam Fillings
Memory foam fillings are probably the most popular type of pillow because they provide contouring. It actively moulds to the shape of the user creating a highly personalised and bespoke sleeping surface.
As their filling shifts and changes according to the needs of the sleeper, these pillows are very effective at reducing pressure points and preventing headaches.
Choosing the Right Pillow Cover
If you’re buying a pillow to prevent or soothe headaches, look for a product with a thick, breathable outer cover. While it may seem like a trivial detail, a high quality cover ensures a pillow’s filling remains evenly distributed.
Micro-vented covers contain microscopic holes that wick moisture and keep a sleeper cool and dry all night.
Sleep experts advise the use of secondary covers underneath decorative pillow cases to safeguard the pillows from sweat and stains.
Choosing the Right Loft Factor
The term ‘loft’ describes the height of a pillow as it rests on the bed. Pillows with low loft are fairly thin and have less filling. Pillows with high loft are thicker and look much plumper to the eye.
The optimum degree of loft is a matter of preference, but a headache reducing pillow shouldn’t be too flat or soft.
- Medium Loft
Medium loft pillows are great for minimising the pressure placed on the neck and shoulders. Too lofty, however, and the neck will be craned during sleep. This is likely to induce headaches in those who are prone to them.
- Moderate Thickness
Moderate thickness is required for most sleepers as it ensures the head stays comfortably aligned with the spine. If a pillow is too soft, it will get progressively flatter and start to offer less support. It may lose shape and need to be adjusted on a regular basis.
The Importance of YOUR Comfort
Where possible, spend time touching and squeezing a pillow before you buy it. That way, you can get a feel for its loftiness and firmness. Pillows are a very personal purchase, so you shouldn’t buy one based solely on somebody else’s recommendation.
To ensure constant comfort and peaceful sleep – both of which are necessary for avoiding headaches – you need to enjoy the way your pillow feels.
No amount of firmness or hypoallergenic filling is going to fix a product you simply don’t like. Remember, comfort is as much about preference and catering to your own habits as it is taking advice from experts.
Top 7 Pillows for Headaches and Migraines Review
Top Rated – EPABO Contour Pillow for Side, Back, and Stomach sleepers
- The pad is suitable for people with a neck injury since it helps to relieve pain and discomfort
- It has breathable materials
- This pillow is a bit thin
This orthopedic pillow allows you to sleep in all sleeping positions while still relieve headaches, thanks to the excellent head neck support it offers
- Memory filling
The memory fillings on this neck pillow help align the muscles around the neck and the head and provide cushioning to the muscles to relieve migraines.
- Has an ergonomic style
This pillow has an ergonomic design that contours to one’s neck and the head so you can get the right cushioning and support for your head.
- Breathable material
The memory foam materials fillings on this pillow have vents that allow free airflow to keep you fresh by preventing heat built up around the head area
Migraine Relief – Beegod Comfortable Pillows for Headache Sufferers
- This pillow supports both side and back sleepers to relieve tension on the head and neck muscles
- The pillow helps to relief migraine
- Too soft for not enough support
Improve your sleeping patterns by relieving headaches with this amazing and comfortable pillow.
- Supports back and side sleepers
This pillow has quality materials design, and it contours to the neck muscles to support the head and relieve pains when you sleep on the side and the back.
- Perfects size
The pillow measures 16 x 24 inches to fit all adults
For quality assurance, the pillow comes with 30 days money refund warranty
For Neck Pain and Headache – Mediflow Therapeutic Water Pillow
- It has adjustable water level so you can customize it to your liking
- The pillow helps to reduce pressure around the neck and head for a comfortable sleeping position
- The pillow requires one to fill it with water
This pillow is clinically approved to aid in eliminating both neck and head pain. It has soft medi-flow fibers that provide exceptional and comfortable support to the neck and head muscles when sleeping.
- Supports all sleeping positions
The pillow supports the neck and the head so you can comfortably sleep in all positions while relieving tensions and straining which results in headache.
- Customizable for good fit
This pillow has the water base design to customize it to your preferred size and the type of head support you need.
- Long term warranty
The pillow comes with a 3-year warranty plus 30 days money refund for against any manufacturing defects.
For Side Sleepers – UTTU Orthopedic Pillow to Prevent Headaches
- This pillow is adjustable in size
- It has a cooling effect for comfort in hot seasons
- It retains the same firmness for a long time
- A little bit hard
The UTTU support pillow is good for relieving pressure and strain around the neck muscle to prevent tension and straining on the neck-head muscles. It is also adjustable so you can get the right sleeping position.
- The pillow helps relieve pressure
The UTTU dynamic memory foam material construction on this pillow offers excellent cushioning to relieve pressure around the neck and head muscles for comfort.
- Cooling materials
It has polyester and an infusion of bamboo material that adds a cooling effect to the pillow so you can have a comfortable night and prevent too much heat on the head area.
Highly Comfortable – WonderSleep Pillows for Headache Sufferers
- The pad is resistant to the growth of allergens
- The materials prevent heat build-up
- It is a durable and quality pillow
- A little pricey
This pillow has the quality and unique collected materials that provide perfect support to your head and neck while ensuring you are comfortable when sleeping at night. This, in return, creates a comfortable sleeping position to eliminate neck and migraine pains.
- Hypoallergic memory
This pillow has quality hypoallergenic shredded materials that prevent mold, mildew, and other allergy-causing substances for a good sleep.
- Cooling materials
This pillow also has an infusion of bamboo materials that provide a cooling effect and reduce heat build-up around the head if you sleep on one side for too long.
- Total comfort
This pillow has memory foam technology that provides excellent support and comfort so one can sleep well at night.
Cooling – Weekender Gel Memory Foam Headache Pillow
- The pillow is easy to maintain by cleaning the cover
- The pillow ensures to keep you fresh at night by eliminating heat
- This pillow produces some smell when new
Apart from providing the right head support so you can have an interrupted sleep night, this pillow is also easy to maintain in cleaning for convenience and comfort when using it.
- Soft material
This pillow is perfect for people with a head injury since it contours to the head for a good sleep and support of the neck and head.
- Temperature regulating gels
This pillow has superior and reliable temperature-regulating cells that help to eliminate heat accumulation, especially if you sleep for too long on one side.
- Long term warranty
For quality and reliability assurance of this pillow, it comes with a 3-year warranty for support
Memory Foam – Snuggle-Pedic Breathable Cooling Pillow
- This pillow is resistant to allergens
- It contours to the head for ample support
- The cushion has a cooling effect for comfort
- This pillow produces some smell when new
This head support pillow features the self-adapting technology to conform to one’s head to provide comprehensive support to relieve pain.
- Hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant
This pillow has safety materials resistant to mold, mildew, and mite attack. This also ensures total comfort and support in all- weather climates.
- Provides great support
This pillow has excellent material that contours to the head for ample support for convenience when sleeping.
- All sleep position support
This pillow is perfect for people who sleep in all positions since it provides the right head support
Are Firmer Pillows Good for Headaches?
It’s a common misconception to believe softer is always better for sleep. It’s true that an overly firm pillow can cause head and neck pain by providing insufficient tolerance for the body’s natural twists and shifts.
Comfort depends on the ability to move and have your pillow’s filling adapt to your new position.
However, a pillow that’s overly soft and fails to provide any support can be just as uncomfortable. When prone, your head and neck should be in a neutral position that’s as close as possible to your upright, awake stance.
You can tell if an old pillow needs replacing by balancing it horizontally on an outstretched arm. It should remain firm and even across its highest surface. If it sinks in the middle, it is failing to provide your body with the support it needs and headaches may develop as a result.
Can Your Pillow Give You Headaches?
If you’re already prone to headaches, a poor quality pillow can definitely trigger painful episodes. In fact, the prolonged use of very flat, limp pillows (with low loftiness) can have damaging effects on the neck joints, shoulders and arms.
Headaches are a common issue for sleepers with overly soft feather pillows as they allow the neck joints to sag into unsupported, unnatural positions.
If you often wake up with headaches or neck pains, it’s worth considering your current pillow situation.
There may be other triggers such as stress, prolonged screen time or short sightedness – and these would need to be addressed as well – but a high quality pillow is a logical place to make a change.
Even if there are external factors, investing in a properly contoured pillow will help to alleviate the symptoms by making sure your sleep is healthy.
The importance of sleep cannot be underestimated. Sleeping should never cause strain or headaches and, if it does, there’s something about your routine that isn’t working.
Start by switching to a newer, firmer pillow that’s better suited to your habits and body type. In a few weeks, you should notice the headaches begin to subside and become less frequent.
If your headaches persist, consult a doctor to rule out other causes.