Best Neck Support Pillows For Seniors (That Aren’t a Pain in the Neck!)

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

One way to prevent you or your elderly loved one from getting neck pain when sleeping is to sleep with the right type of pillow. Read on to see the best pillows for supporting your neck, to understand how the right pillow can prevent neck pain, and, to get tips on how to choose the right pillow.

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors. I may earn a commission on items purchased from links in this guide. Learn More.

For most seniors, most neck pain problems can be traced back to the bedroom. Some of the ways your elderly loved one may get a neck sprain which leads to a stiff neck and eventual neck pain when in bed include:

  • Sleeping in an awkward angle that causes stress to the neck joints, muscles and ligaments
  • Making sudden movements such as rolling in bed or jerking the head in reaction to a dream
  • Injuries gotten during the day such as neck whiplash which may not exhibit immediately but show up later
  • Being confined to bed due to short term or long term medical issues or mobility difficulties

Minor pains such as acute and sub-acute may be caused by lifestyle habits such as consistently sleeping in the wrong position which causes the spine to become misaligned, use of improper beddings and the wrong bedroom hygiene.

So, to help with the minor aches and neck pains related to using the wrong bedding and pillows, here are some of the best pillows for seniors that offer neck support to reduce these aches. You’ll also learn more about choosing the right type of pillow made from the right materials for you age-related neck pain.

A Review of the Best Neck Support Pillows for the Elderly

Here’s a quick overview of some of my recommended neck support pillows for older adults. Keep reading to learn more about the important features of neck support pillows and how to buy the best one for you.

Memory Foam GhostPillow from GhostBed

ghost bed memory foam pillows

If you are tired of pillows that collapse in the middle of the night leaving you with a kink in your neck, I’d start with the GhostBed Memory Foam GhostPillow. This pillow supports your neck all night long by using a gel memory foam core that keeps the pillow from going flat overnight leaving your spine in a contorted position.

Because the GhostPillow stays fluffed up all night long, it is more comfortable to sleep on especially if you have neck pain. It also has a washable, cooling cover and the pillow is designed to promote good air flow which keeps you cool while you sleep.

We all know that trying out pillows can be a real pain, so (affiliate link)GhostBed does offer a 101-night sleep trial. If it doesn’t do what they promise, simply fill out a quick form on their site to contact them for a refund.


The Layla Kapok Pillow by Layla Sleep

layla kapok pillow

Considered one of the best neck support pillows for people experiencing or looking to avoid neck pain issues, this luxurious pillow is designed to be both fluffy and supportive. Inside it is filled with a mix of memory foam and kapok fiber that mold to the shape of your upper back providing just the right type of support and alignment your neck and spine needs.

This pillow is height-adjustable allowing you to choose the most ideal pillow height. Further it is breathable meaning that your upper body won’t overheat at night. The best part, it comes with a pillow cover that allows for easier cleaning and you get a 5-year warranty with every purchase.


Saatva Latex Pillow

saatva pillow

This pillow is made from 100% natural latex. It is plush, soft and has been designed to adjust to the shape of your upper back as you sleep. It is also height-adjustable, hypoallergenic, breathable, and resistant to dust mites and mildew. This pillow comes with a removable organic cotton pillow case cover that has moisture-wicking capability if you sweat at night. The pillow case also makes keeping your pillow clean easier.


Organic Shredded Latex Pillow by Plush Beds

organic-shredded-latex-pillow

This neck support pillow is filled with natural organic latex and comes fitted with a cover made of organic cotton. It offers moderate-firm on the upper back helping to relieve tension in the neck and shoulder muscles. It is breathable, hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites. This neck support pillow tends to conform to the body’s shape making it ideal for any sleeping position.


EPABO Orthopedic Memory Foam Pillow

This luxury neck support pillow is designed to provide therapeutic relief to the neck and entire upper back. Its contour shape helps provide the support and pressure relief that your head, neck and shoulders need when sleeping. The pillow is made from hypoallergenic polyester meaning it is highly breathable to help you cool at night. It also comes encased with an outer jacket for easier cleaning.


Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow

This pillow is made from high quality memory foam that provides a soft sleeping surface and firm support for your head, neck and shoulders. It has a contoured shape that is designed to perfectly align your head, neck, shoulders and back as you sleep hence reducing the stress on the spine and vertebra. This pillow comes encased in a breathable pillow case that will help keep you cool throughout the night. It can be used by both side and back sleepers.

How Can The Right Pillow Help Prevent Neck Pain?

Apart from making the bed more comfortable, the right pillow also offers support to the neck, shoulders and spine thus helping your elderly loved one to get a restful good night’s sleep.

When properly used, the right pillow will help keep the upper part of the body and spine aligned thus helping to relieve pressure on muscles while counterbalancing all the points in the body. This will have the effect of preventing neck pains from occurring and helping heal any pre-existing conditions which may be causing your elderly loved one to experience chronic neck pains.

Before you even think about shopping for a neck support pillow for your loved one, it is important that you know about the different types of pillow you may find in the market…

Common Types of Pillows

There are sooooo many pillows out there, right? Here’s a quick rundown of the various types.

1. Orthopedic Pillows

Also called cervical pillows, these pillow have a contoured shape designed to snugly hold the neck and head in place when one is sleeping. They usually have a depression where the head is supposed to lie as well as extra support in the neck area.

2. Body Pillows

These pillows tend to be as long as the human body and are designed to serve several functions while ensuring that the entire spine remains correctly aligned as one is sleeping. The top part of these pillows is usually designed to support the head and neck while the bottom portion is designed to support the knees and legs.

You can see my recommended body pillows for seniors and the elderly here.

3. Wedge Pillows

These pillows usually have a two-piece wedge cushion that provides a raised position similar to a recliner. One cushion part usually offers support to the upper body while the other cushion part offers support to the lower body. I wrote about bed wedge pillows in my guide to positioning pillows for seniors and the elderly.

4. Coccyx Pillows

Coccyx pillows are usually designed for the seating position. They usually have a hole or depression in the back that allows the user to sit without putting pressure on the tail bone.

5. Travel Pillows

These pillows are designed to be used during travel. They are usually U-shaped and are designed to support the head and neck muscles by preventing the head from bending too far on either side when somebody is seated in a car or plane.

6. Lumbar Support Pillows

These pillows are designed to fill the natural gap that is left between the seat and spine when one is seated. They are often used to keep the spine in alignment when seated or sitting in the car for long drives.

Pillow Materials

Today, most pillow manufacturers and retailers tend to further classify their products based on the materials that they are made from. Below is a quick rundown of these materials and how they can help you sleep better.

Memory Foam Pillows

These pillows contain memory foam (polyurethane) on the inside. They come in different densities (thickness) and are designed to conform to the pressure put on them. They usually adjust and conform to the body’s shape making them ideal for people suffering from neck, shoulder and back issues

Down Pillows

These pillows are typically filled with the undercoat of a waterfowl. They are extremely lightweight, soft and cushy but they do not offer a lot of support to the head and neck. People with allergies often use down-alternative materials.

Feather Pillows

These pillows contain small and highly-curled feathers from birds such as geese. They are extremely lightweight, soft and flexible. They provide great support and tend to be highly durable.

Latex Pillows

These pillows are made using organic latex. They are resistant to mold and mildew, repel mites and bugs and tend to be highly durable. They are ideal for people who suffer from neck and back pain.

Micro-bead Pillows

These pillows are usually filled with small polystyrene beads on the inside while the exterior in many cases is made of a soft elastic material. They are highly breathable and provide a firm support to the head and neck while conforming to the shape of the body making them ideal for people who suffer from neck pains.

Polyester Pillows

These pillows have an inner fiber filling that looks like cotton. These pillows are highly breathable and they also tend to come at the cheapest prices.

A Simplified Guide on How to Choose the Best Neck Support Pillow for Seniors

The neck usually curves slightly forwards in order to sustain the weight of the head when a person is standing upright. To avoid straining the joints, ligaments and muscles in the neck, it is important to maintain this position when resting or sleeping.

In order for a pillow to offer the best support to the neck it should be right height. A pillow that is approximately 4-inches high may offer great spinal alignment, comfort and support to the head, neck and shoulders when in a sleeping position.

If your elderly loved one uses a pillow that is too high while sleeping on the back or side (the best sleeping positions for people who are suffering from neck pains), the neck will bend abnormally which will cause the neck muscles to strain. If they use a pillow that is too low, the neck will also bend abnormally which will lead to stiffness.

With that in mind, we can now move ahead and discuss the top considerations you should keep in mind when selecting a neck support pillow for your elderly loved one.

Top Factors to Consider When Choosing a Neck Support Pillow for the Elderly

Here are some important factors you should know before choosing a pillow for reducing neck pains.

1. Consider Your Elderly Loved One’s Sleeping Position

As we mentioned earlier, if your elderly loved one suffers from neck pains, it is best sleeping position that they either sleep on the side on the side or back.

If your elderly loved one loves sleeping on the side, you should select a dense pillow with more filling. The extra filling will make up for the space left between the bed, upper back and shoulders thus helping keep the neck and spine aligned.

If your elderly loved one prefers sleeping on their back, you should select a pillow with less filling since the gap between the bed and upper body is relatively smaller.

To gauge the density/firmness of a pillow, check the manufacturer’s rating and also perform a manual check by pressing down on the pillow.

Consider The Type Of Mattress Being Used

The mattress and pillow must work hand-in-hand for your loved one to experience maximum comfort at night.

If your loved one uses a soft mattress, consider selecting a slightly dense, fluffy, cushy pillow that easily conforms to the shape of the body. A soft mattress usually conforms to the shape of the body and thus does not leave a lot of space between the bed and upper body hence the need for a fluffy pillow.

If your loved one uses a firm mattress, consider selecting a dense pillow with a lot of filling. A firm mattress does not usually sink when a person lies on it which means that there will be a lot of space between the bed and upper body hence the need for a dense pillow.

Consider The Breathability Of The Pillow

If your loved one heats up a lot at night, it is important to get a highly breathable pillow. A breathable pillow usually allows the circulation of air thus dissipating the heat from the heat from the upper body. This can help older adults achieve their optimal sleeping temperature.

Note that pillow that are contain more filling tend to be less breathable than those with less filling. If you are looking for a breathable pillow, consider purchasing one made fusing polyester or a micro-bead pillow.

Consider Your Loved One’s Allergies

Pillows are made of different materials, and, your loved one may be allergic to certain materials. Before purchasing a pillow, ensure that you understand the materials that your loved one may be allergic to.

Consider The Ease Of Cleaning The Pillow

For a great night’s sleep, you should ensure that your elderly loved one sleeps on a clean pillow each night. It is therefore important that you purchase a neck support pillow that can be easily cleaned several times each month.

Other top tips for buying a neck support pillow for your elderly loved one include:

  • Select a durable pillow but remember that experts recommend that you replace pillows at least once every 2 years.
  • Check the reviews left by people suffering from neck pains who have used the particular type of pillow you are thinking of purchasing.
  • Check to see if your loved one can test out your preferred pillow for some time so that you can gauge its efficacy in helping prevent/alleviate neck pain.

Final Word

The right type of pillow can help prevent and alleviate neck pain for your elderly loved one. By following the tips discussed in this post, you will easily be able to identify a high-quality neck support pillow for your own use and for your elderly loved one.

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