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What is an Ergonomic Pillow and How Does It Work?

What is an Ergonomic Pillow and How Does It Work?

Sandland Editorial Team
· 8 min read
ergonomic pillow for head and neck

Around one-third of the American population is sleep deprived. If you're one of them, then chances are you're already familiar with products promising to deliver a better night's sleep. But did you know that pillows are also in the running? Ergonomic pillows, to be exact. These cushions carry a lot of promises, which is why we're diving deep into the trend. Is it time to do away with those feather pillows? Read on to find out.

What is an Ergonomic Pillow?

An ergonomic pillow is a pillow designed to alleviate your sleeping and posture problems by complementing your natural sleeping position. Essentially, the pillow will cradle the contours your body creates by lying down. This helps it maintain the necessary position and alignment of your neck or your spine to alleviate any discomfort that may produce.

It also helps cut down any possible tension that your body suffers from by lying in one position for an extended period of time and helps support the neck so that no matter what position you choose to lie on, you don't put unnecessary tension on one of the most important parts of your body.

This way, you get maximum comfort as you lie down which naturally leads to better sleep.

The Best Ergonomic Pillows for Neck Pain

best ergonomic pillows for stomach sleepers

Taking care of your head and neck is important for a good night's sleep. Using the right ergonomic pillow may just be the answer you need. We rounded up ten of the best ergonomic pillows on the market to help you choose the right one for your needs.

  • 1. Sweet Night Original Pillow

    When Sweet Night promises you a great night, they deliver. Their products provide cooling, adjustable, gel-infused memory foam to support the contour of your neck while keeping you cool, neck pain-free, and comfortable. It also comes with a waterproof and washable cover that's hypoallergenic, so no need to worry about irritations.

  • 2. Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow

    If you're the type to move around at night, Nature's Guest Cervical Support Pillow may be the one for you. This is specifically created for back and side sleepers, and unlike other pillows on the market, it won't be obsolete if you change positions in your sleep. It has a contoured design where the sides are higher than the middle to fully support your neck, and it's also adjustable so you can add or remove filling until you find a comfortable height.

  • 3. Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow

    As the name suggests, Eli and Elm Side Sleeper Pillow is specially designed for side sleepers. Its U-shaped design conforms to your head and neck, while the adjustable latex and polyester filling will help you achieve your desired height, as well as firmness. You may find other pillows too firm, or too soft, but with Eli and Elm, you control the consistency. Simply take or add as much filling as you want until you get the firmness you deserve.

  • 4. Coop Home Goods Eden Adjustable Pillow

    Coop Home Goods Eden Adjustable Pillow is designed with comfort and luxury in mind. The softness comes from an adjustable blend of gel-infused memory foam and microfiber to give you the softness that does not compromise support. It also has a woven gusset around the side so you can have an even distribution of filling.

  • 5. Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow

    The official site claims this is the best pillow for side sleepers, and really, they're not far off. They're definitely one of the best in the market as of today, and not just because their unique curve supports your neck and shoulders whether you're on your side or on your back. They're also 100% latex and made with the environment (and you!) in mind, as well as handcrafted with the highest quality, natural materials.

  • 6. SleepEasy EasySleeper Pillow

    This EasySleeper Pillow makes sleep come as easy as magic but it's a product of hours upon hours of research and development. It's a unique design that sets it apart from competitors containing only a single piece of memory foam. This pillow keeps the neck elevated with a grooved midsection to cradle the head. It's great for your posture and works best for back and side sleepers.

  • 7. TEMPUR-Essential Support Pillow

    They say it's life-changing, and for you, it might just be. Not only is this pillow super soft, but it is also expertly engineered to relieve pressure and provide personalized support throughout the night, and return to shape in the morning. It comes with a washable and removable cover to help keep it fresh.

  • 8. Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

    This one is for folks who run warm. We all know how hard it can be to sleep through the night when it's hot outside. Nest Bedding Easy Sleeper will make sleep easy for you with its soft, cooling fabric that keeps your body temperature on the low side without fail. It's made out of shredded memory foam so you can adjust how much filling you want inside. It's also made of eco-friendly materials.

  • 9. Epabo Memory Orthopedic Pillow

    Epabo Memory Orthopedic Pillow is an Amazon bestseller that features an ergonomic contour designed for back and side sleepers. It has breathable foam, so while the contours cradle your head to keep your spine aligned, you don't need to worry about getting too hot. It also features a removable foam pice so you can adjust the pillow height.

  • 10. Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow

    If you're suffering from headaches, it may be time to try Tri-Core Cervical Pillow. This one is designed for both back and side sleepers, with a center that dips down to cradle the head. This helps promote the proper alignment of your spine. For back sleepers, this is a great tool because the sturdy cervical roll will help support your neck while the head rests in the contour. The side areas are higher to accommodate the neck alignment of side sleepers. This versatility makes it a great tool for people who like to switch positions through the night.

Benefits of Using Ergonomic Pillows

Ergonomic pillows are designed to give you comfort while you sleep, and make sure you don't overload your neck and spine while dozing off. Still, there's even more an ergonomic pillow can do. Check out the list of benefits below.

Improves Neck Pain

Studies suggest that ergonomic pillows can help significantly decrease neck pain related to general wear and tear affecting the spinal disks in your neck after just four weeks of use. So, if you're suffering from neck pain, think about upgrading your pillow. Remember, the less support your pillow provides, the more tension you'll put on your neck.

No More Headaches

While many ergonomic pillows target neck pain specifically, there are also pillows ergonomically designed to target headaches. Remember, putting unnecessary tension on your neck puts you at greater risk of developing a headache. The lack of sleep can also trigger migraines, meaning ergonomic pillows can help remedy more than just a poor night's sleep.

Decreased Muscle Cramps

Poor blood flow to your muscles can cause cramps. Bad posture can trigger this, even when you're sleeping. Fortunately, ergonomic pillows come with the added benefit of ensuring proper blood circulation.

Better Sleep

You're free of neck pain, you're done with headaches, and you've successfully evaded muscle cramps. What's next? A good night's sleep, that's what. Several studies have suggested that using ergonomic pillows is generally better for sleep than using conventional pillows. After all, they're designed with your comfort in mind, aligning your body in the ways it was intended.

Improved Good Posture

The best thing about ergonomic pillows is they're made to make sure your body aligns itself the way it should. This means your head, neck, shoulder, and back are coaxed back into their proper positions. The curvature or contour of the pillow will also ensure your head is cradled such that your spine can rest while the pillow supports the neck.

Sleep Apnea Who?

Sleep apnea is a condition where you repeatedly stop breathing during sleep, causing loud snoring and daytime tiredness. It's a serious disorder that can also lead to other health problems. Fortunately, there are some ergonomic pillows designed specifically for sleep apnea to alleviate some symptoms.

They usually slope down to incline the neck and open up their airways. There are also other ergonomic pillows designed to pair perfectly with CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine which is a device normally used to treat sleep apnea patients. Using ergonomic pillows in tandem with your CPAP will ensure maximum comfort throughout the night.

What are the Different Kinds of Ergonomic Pillows?

best ergonomic, cervical pillow for every sleeping position

Ergonomic pillows are designed for individual comfort, so it follows that there are many different kinds to fit different needs. Listed below are four of the most popular:

Contour Pillow

Contour pillows are shaped with contours that support the neck. Usually, they dip down in the middle to cradle your head and keep the neck parallel to the mattress. This shape is what helps it align the spine and the neck so that you can avoid neck pain and associated problems down the line. The idea is to keep your body as tension-free as possible so you can relax without overloading your spine and other bones.

Slim Pillows

These are shaped conventionally but made thinner in order to support stomach sleepers. They're also great for people with much smaller frames. While sleeping on your stomach isn't really recommended, you may be able to avoid some of the associated problems by keeping your body level.

CPAP Pillows

Just as the name suggests, these pillows are designed specifically for people who sleep while using a CPAP machine. Whether you're a back, side, or stomach sleeper, there's a pillow out there to help you stay comfortable throughout the night. CPAP pillows have cutaways to accommodate the CPAP mask, and also help maintain the optimal neck posture to reduce the effects of sleep apnea.

Wedge Pillows

Ergonomic Pillow vs. Memory Foam Pillow vs. Feather Pillow

Memory foam is usually made with polyurethane and is incredibly durable. It's high density so it provides good support while relieving tension built up in the body. It's also known to mold to the shape of your body, which means it will remember which parts need to dip and which parts don't.

Memory foam pillows with a distinct curve or contours fall under the umbrella of ergonomic pillows. The only downside is that memory foam also tends to retain body heat, so things can get a little uncomfortable throughout the night, particularly for people who run warm.

One study found that ergonomic pillows may help alleviate chronic neck pain as well as improve overall sleep quality. The researchers also found that ergonomic pillows seem to be more satisfying to people when compared to memory foam pillows or ordinary pillows.

Meanwhile, feather pillows tend to be super fluffy, which actually isn't great for sleeping. While they are able to conform to the shape of the neck, they don't provide the same kind of support as latex or memory foam.

That said, they are inexpensive and widely accessible, which is why they are still so popular. Still, users should know that if they're experiencing neck pain, headaches, or back pain, it could be because of the feather pillow.


Remember, it's important to think about how you sleep when selecting the right pillow for you. There are tons of ergonomic pillows available on the market to suit your specific needs. They'll correct your posture, and help you fall asleep. They've also been proven to help prevent neck and back pain.

That said, you may still have trouble sleeping. Stress, anxiety, and other issues unrelated to pillows or posture often keep us up at night. Unfortunately, no amount of memory foam can help correct that.

Sandland Sleep understands the need for sleep and exactly how hard it is to get. Many people find it difficult to fall asleep, or to sleep throughout the night without interruptions, which is why we put out specific products to help remedy problems related to sleep.

Fall Asleep is made for people who have a hard time dozing off. This under the tongue tablet is fast-acting and can help calm your mind and body so healthy sleep comes quickly, without any intoxicating effects. Stay Asleep is made for people who find it hard to sleep through the night. With these natural, vegan, and GMO-free tablets you can happily achieve a full eight hours of sleep without interruptions.

Because these products are made with natural ingredients, you don't have to worry about any side effects or morning-after grogginess. Our supplements simply tell your brain that it's time for sleep. They won't knock you out, and you don't have to worry about developing a tolerance.

How do I choose an ergonomic pillow?

To choose the right ergonomic pillow, pay attention to things like comfort, filling, and cost. You'll want to try out the pillow to see if it's comfortable for you. You should also be mindful of what it's made of. Remember, allergies can interrupt sleep and cause additional health problems. You also want to settle on something that meets your budget. See if it offers any additional features, and decide based on your specific needs.

Are ergonomic pillows better?

An ergonomic pillow is often considered the best pillow for sleeping because they are created to complement your sleeping posture, whether you're a back sleeper, side sleeper, or stomach sleeper. They cradle the contours created by the position you're in when you sleep and lessen the tension in your body. The most important thing is that it supports your neck so you can stop complaining about neck pain when you wake up.

What are ergonomic pillows good for?

Ergonomic pillows can improve a person's overall sleep quality by making sure you sleep with your spinal column aligned. This helps curb chronic neck and back pain and other medical issues. Usually, ergonomic pillows are used to curb neck pain and headaches associated with bad sleeping positions. However, they are also good to use if you're awake to help correct posture.

What pillow is best for posture?

The kind of pillow that's good for you will depend on your needs. For instance, if you like sleeping on your back you should find a pillow designed to support the curvature of your neck and spine, that is, a shorter height than one would use for side sleeping so you can keep your spine and neck aligned. For side sleepers, you want a pillow to support both your head and neck so your spine maintains its straightness. After all, no one wants a curved spine. If you sleep on your stomach (you really shouldn't) but maybe try a flatter pillow. The bottom line is, listen to your body and seek out what it needs.

Written by Sandland Editorial Team

Our internal editorial team has put together research on key topics including product formulation, efficacy studies, and sleep advice.

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