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Best Pillows for Neck Pain and Headaches in Australia: Top 6 Picks to Help You Enjoy Pain-Free Sleep

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When you wake up with a headache (and you didn’t even party last night) and with a stiff neck, chances are your pillow is working against you.

Don’t worry though:

You can quickly swap it for a new one and start enjoying your restful, pain-free slumber. Luckily, there are multiple options among the best pillows for neck pain and headaches in Australia, and we are going to guide you through them today. Let’s get started!

A Quick Preview

John Cotton Classic High Profile Memory Foam Pillow
Best Overall - Editor’s Choice

John Cotton Classic High Profile Memory Foam Pillow
Type: Memory Foam Pillow
Cover: yes
Dimensions: 50cm x 75 cm
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Sonar Thermal Balancing Pillow
Best For Optimal Thermal Comfort

Sonar Thermal Balancing Pillow
Type: Polyester with Outlast® Fibre
Cover: yes
Dimensions: 45cm L x 70cm W x 20cm D
Warranty and returns: 1 year
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Emma Foam Pillow
Best for Customizability

Emma Foam Pillow
Type: Memory foam
Cover: yes
Dimensions: 70 cm x 40 cm
Warranty and returns: 100-night sleep trial
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Peacelily Latex Pillow
Best Organic Pillow for Neck Pain and Headaches

Peacelily Latex Pillow
Type: Natural Latex Foam
Cover: yes
Dimensions: 74 cm x 43 cm x 12.5 cm
Warranty and returns: 100-night sleep trial
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Ergoflex
Best for Combination Sleepers

Ergoflex
Type: Memory foam
Cover: Tencel
Dimensions: 45 x 65 x 12 cm
Warranty and returns: 2-year guarantee
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Our Reviews of the Best Pillows for Neck Pain in Australia

Best Overall — Editor’s Choice — John Cotton Classic High Profile Memory Foam Pillow

John Cotton Classic High Profile Memory Foam Pillow-min

Click the button below to check price Check current price Read our detailed review Shop Now on Tontine.com.au

Highlights

  • Memory foam helps support your head, neck and shoulders.
  • Very comfortable, antifungal and anti-microbial, so it won't smell or spread bacteria.
  • Made with a soft, warm, fluffy and luxurious memory foam.

The John Cotton Classic High Profile Memory Foam Pillow is right on top of the list.

So what makes this one so good? It relieves pressure on your neck, shoulders, and head, making it one of the best pillows for neck pain and headaches.

We recommend this pillow if you have breathing issues or congested sinus. It’s unique design aids spinal alignment and  improves circulation.

It can help reduce pressure on your upper back and shoulders, undoubtedly alleviating the pain you're experiencing in most cases. The memory foam is also excellent at keeping your neck cool at night to help you sleep better.

You'll love this pillow because it doesn't hold heat in, so you won't wake up feeling hot in the morning or get stiff back pain later on when you wake up.

Best For Optimal Thermal Comfort — Sonar Thermal Balancing Pillow


Sonar Thermal Balancing Pillow

Click the button below to check price Check Current Price Read our detailed review Shop Now on Bambury.com.au

Highlights

  • Comes with 70% polyester, 30% OUTLAST® viscose
  • Thermal compatibility between couples
  • Luxuriously comfortable

Do you crave a good night's sleep coupled with optimal thermal comfort? If yes, The Sonar® Thermal Balancing pillow is what you are looking for. 

This cutting-edge and technologically advanced pillow will do the following

  • help you fall asleep faster 
  • stay in the deep stages of sleep better
  • balances the skin's microclimate to ensure thermal equilibrium throughout the night. 

The Sonar® Thermal Balancing pillow is a new sleep innovation that helps promote comfort and supports a healthy breakdown of day-to-day rest.

Expertly crafted using the OUTLAST® technology—originally created for NASA—can help maintain thermal compatibility between couples.

 If you are looking for a high-quality and molecularly engineered pillow, The Sonar® is the ideal pillow for you.

The Sonar® Thermal Balancing pillow has been designed with special attention to individuals who sleep in different locations or circumstances. 

Whether you are a frequent traveller, on the road at work or home in different locations, The Sonar® will be the perfect partner for your needs. 

Specially designed to operate independently from your environment, this pillow will maintain thermal balance while you sleep and awaken refreshed.

Best for Customizability — Emma Foam Pillow

Emma Foam Pillow

Click the button below to check price Check current price Read our detailed review Shop Now on Emma-sleep.com.au

Highlights

  • 100-night trial to ensure every customer’s satisfaction;
  • adjustable layers to offer ergonomic support for every sleeping position;
  • different density layers that allow users to find the perfect support configuration.

The next pillow on our list is an absolute champion in terms of customizability (in my humble opinion). The Emma foam pillow comes with three comfort layers, each of which you can remove easily to achieve the most comfortable loft. However, what makes this model one of the best pillows for neck pain and headaches in Australia is the fact that you can also adjust the firmness. Each Emma layer uses a different filling type that delivers soft, medium, and firm support. You can swap them to find your perfect firmness level. For example, as a back sleeper, I removed the firmest layer and enjoyed medium loft and support.

Now, you might also like the fact that Emma comes with a sleep trial. This is relatively rare for the pillow market (only the Sleeping Duck and the Peacelily pillows from this list can compete with that). With a sleep trial, you can test the Emma pillow and send it back in case it doesn’t work. Sounds convenient, right?

Emma Original Pillow
Emma Original Pillow - 2

Best Organic Pillow for Neck Pain and Headaches — Peacelily Latex Pillow

Peacelily Latex Pillow (Firm)

Click the button below to check price Check current price Read our detailed review Shop Now on Peacelily.com.au

Highlights

  • organic cover for improved skin comfort and breathability;
  • 100% natural latex filling to ensure a safe sleeping environment;
  • 1-year warranty for your peace of mind.

For all the sensitive users out there or those sleepers who want to feel 100% safe, allow me to share the Peacelily latex pillow. Using only natural and organic components, this model is gentle on the skin and does not contain any harmful chemicals. Additionally, because latex is super adaptive and excels at relieving pressure, the Paceliuly deserves to be among the best pillows for neck pain and headaches in Australia. I especially appreciate how it cradles the neck without hugging it too much. As someone who often shifts in bed, I find it very helpful when the pillow is not restricting.

More great news for sensitive sleepers: the cover in this pillow is removable. You can unzip and wash it regularly to get rid of any potential allergens. The cover is made of organic cotton, so it’s soft and breathable. Thanks to the improved air circulation, this pillow did not make me sleep hot even when my AC was broken.

Peacelily Latex Pillow-2
Peacelily Latex Pillow-4

Best for Combination Sleepers — Ergoflex

Ergoflex HD Memory Foam Pillow

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Check current price Read our detailed review Shop Now on Ergoflex.com.au

Highlights

  • high-density visco-elastic memory foam for ergonomic support;
  • Tencel cover for increased breathability;
  • 2-year guarantee to ensure the best performance;
  • firm feel for reliable support and to prevent premature sagging;
  • proprietary hypoallergenic materials, safe for the skin and sensitive sleepers.

Moving on to the next item on our list of Australia’s best pillows for neck pain and headaches, the Ergoflex memory foam pillow. What makes this model stand out from the crowd is its smart filling that would work for pretty much any user or sleeping position. The thing is, the Ergoflex high-density foam is a very adaptive material. It molds to the neck and head curves and responds to the applied pressure according to its intensity. As a result, the pillow can support sleepers in different positions equally well. It will compress more when needed (for instance, when you are lying on your back) or fill in the curves for proper support (which would come in handy for side sleepers). This may also help achieve pressure relief that can lead to pain alleviation. 

The Ergoflex has a bit more to offer than just adaptability. This memory foam pillow uses a smooth, natural Tencel cover. It has a cellular fiber construction that allows for high breathability levels and helps sleepers remain sweat-free during the night. There is also an extra inner cover to protect the pillow and to increase its lifespan. You can remove the Tencel cover and wash it to keep your Ergoflex pillow fresh

Ergoflex Pillow
Ergoflex Pillow

How Can a Pillow Cause Neck Pain and Headaches?


The reason behind your morning headaches and neck stiffness can be simple.

You see, your neck and head spend hours in pretty much the same position when you sleep (if we don’t account for a few occasional movements and turns). Naturally, if that position isn’t healthy, it may cause a significant strain on your neck and head, which can lead to painful symptoms.

And, naturally, if your pillow doesn’t work for your sleeping position, you can end up with an awkward, unhealthy sleeping posture. But how do you know that your trusty old pillow isn’t a good match? Well, here’s what you should look out for;

  • It’s not supportive. Your pillow might feel like a cloud, but if it doesn’t support your head and allows it to kind of fall down into the filling material, you may end up with neck pain and a headache. Your head needs to be supported during the night so that it would align properly with your neck and spine, maintaining a healthy sleeping posture (1). 

  • It is overly thick. An extra lofty pillow would raise your head too much and tilt it forward. As a result, there’s too much tension in the neck muscles that can later cause neck stiffness and headaches. Again, your head should be aligned with the neck and spine rather than be elevated when lying on the pillow.

  • It’s too thin. If your pillow is too flat for your sleeping position and doesn’t support the natural curve of the neck (2), it can allow the head to fall down and create an unwanted curve in the neck. This curve can put too much strain on the muscles and may lead to unpleasant symptoms.

  • It is lumpy. A lumpy pillow cannot guarantee uniform support and hence, won’t allow for proper alignment. Plus, lumpy pillows are very uncomfortable and can easily ruin one’s sleep.

How Can a Pillow Cause Neck Pain and Headaches

Source:
https://www.avogel.co.uk/health/muscles-joints/neck-pain/neck-pain-after-sleeping/


Clearly, ditching your pillow and getting a new one, suitable for your body type and preferred sleeping position is a good solution.

However, you might also want to combine it with other methods that can potentially help you deal with pain and improve your sleep quality. For instance, gentle stretching or trying other positions during the night might be beneficial.

How Can a Pillow Cause Neck Pain and Headaches?

Source:
https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/how-treat-stiff-neck-after-sleeping

What Is the Best Type of Pillows for Neck Pain and Headaches?

There are many top-rated pillows for headaches and neck stiffness in Australia, but to find the best one, you need to understand which filling type would meet your expectations and requirements.

So, here are the most common pillow types that are typically used to soothe neck pain and headaches:

  • Memory foam. Being among the best pillows in Australia (and the most popular ones), memory foam pillows can deliver both proper support and gentle pressure relief thanks to the adaptive properties of this material. Memory foam reacts to body heat and molds to its curves. Such pillows are rather affordable and widely available, so they can cater to different types of sleepers. However, you need to remember that memory foam can trap body heat, so if you are a hot sleeper, choose models with air chambers or the ones infused with cooling gel particles. 
  • Polyfoam. Polyfoam is a bit more resilient than memory foam, which means it bounces back faster after the pressure is applied. Additionally, polyfoam pillows are slightly less cradling than memory foam and don’t result in that notorious quicksand feeling. However, polyfoam also tends to trap heat. Moreover, this material is less durable than memory foam.
  • Latex. Natural latex is cooling, hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, and durable. Latex pillows offer bouncy support and decent pressure relief without enveloping too much around your head and neck. Latex is a pricey material, but many users choose it for its natural origin and sustainability. However, synthetic latex is quite widespread too and possesses pretty much the same qualities (except for the natural background, of course). 
  • Feathers or down. Both feathers and down are extremely soft and offer close conforming. Such pillows are lightweight and often allow for customization (meaning you can either change their shape or adjust the amount of filling). Many users choose down or feather pillows because they are natural and free of chemicals. However, you need to remember that such models are quite expensive. Also, they tend to get compressed and lose their loft over time. Such pillows require regular fluffing up, which might seem finicky to some users. And let’s not forget that some sleepers are allergic to this type of pillow filling (although there are synthetic options available that use polyester fibers instead).
  • Buckwheat. Another eco-friendly filling type, buckwheat shells are known for their ability to deliver reliable, firm support for the head and heck. The shells interlock on their own, which means buckwheat pillows can hold their shape pretty well and support you properly all through the night. Nevertheless, buckwheat pillows can take time to get used to, as this filling type is firmer than others. They are also pricier. At the same time, you get a safe, natural, and breathable pillow for the money, so many sleepers note it’s worth every penny.

How to Shop Like a Pro: Factors to Bear in Mind When Searching for the Best Pillow for Neck Pain and Headaches

So, are you ready to start shopping for a great pillow for neck pain and headaches in Australia?

Well, you will be ready after you’ve read our buyer’s guide.

The thing is, preparing beforehand and doing a little research can help you make the wisest choice. And since we have done the research for you, all you need to do is consider the following factors when browsing through pillow options:

  • Filling type. There are always advantages (and downsides, of course) of each pillow type. You just need to decide which one would make you the happiest. For instance, if you want a naturally cooling pillow that would deliver excellent support, go with latex. If you don’t mind the firmer feel (and a slightly noisy pillow), you can also try buckwheat. If you require something cushioning and more cradling, memory foam or even polyfoam should work perfectly. And for cloud-like sensation, feathers and down suit the best.
  • Loft (thickness). This one should be determined by your sleeping position. For instance, pillows for side sleepers (the most popular option, by the way) should be lofty enough to fill in the space between the head and the shoulder while supporting the neck and its natural curve. Back sleepers are advised to pick thinner pillows, as the gap between the heck and the mattress surface isn’t that big when you are lying on your back. As for stomach sleepers, they can sleep even without one. But if you still require some cushioning for your head, give your preference to softer, flat pillows that wouldn’t raise your head too far when sleeping (3). As for combination sleepers, a medium pillow (in terms of both loft and firmness level) should suffice.
  • Cover. Your pillow cover matters because it can affect your sleep. For example, natural fabrics like cotton, Tencel, or bamboo are breathable and great at wicking moisture away, meaning they can help you sleep cooler. Synthetic polyester covers are cheaper and easier to care for but aren’t that good for proper air circulation. You can also consider a blend (natural + synthetic). It can be a good compromise between quality and affordability, but make sure there’s more of the natural component. Also, some pillows come with removable covers. Such models are easier to wash and to keep fresh. If the pillow has loose filling, you can also unzip the cover and adjust the loft for improved comfort.
  • Support. A supportive pillow has to conform to and fill in the curves to support the neck properly. It shouldn’t be overly soft either. I know it might be challenging to find a model that would support you perfectly, as this factor depends on your body type. Therefore, you might want to opt for a pillow that comes with a sleep trial (just to be on the safe side).
  • Firmness. Going hand in hand with support, the firmness level of the pillow will determine how good (or bad) your head and neck are going to feel. An overly firm pillow can create pressure points, especially for side sleepers (in the ear area). And an extra plushy model will not deliver enough support (unless you’re a stomach sleeper). 
  • Shape. You can get a regular pillow or you can consider a cervical one. The latter has a curved design with a special roll in the neck section for ergonomic support. Often labeled “orthopedic”, such pillows provide an extra loft for the neck to fill in its natural curve. They usually work great for back and side sleepers (although you need a loftier option for the latter).
  • Budget. Often, the price can affect the durability, so try to avoid overly cheap pillows. Remember that latex and natural down/feather models are usually among the priciest ones. Buckwheat pillows can be pricey as well. Memory foam and polyfoam are more affordable, although they tend to last less than latex. 

F.A.Q.

Can a bad pillow make my headaches and neck pain worse?

Yes. If your pillow makes your neck and head rest in an unhealthy position all night long, chances are it can exacerbate the symptoms.

What is the best pillow for tension headaches?

The best pillow type for tension headaches is the one able to deliver instant pressure relief. Memory foam and latex pillows could be an excellent solution in this case.

Is a firm or a soft pillow better for neck pain?

The best pillow firmness is the one that suits your body. For instance, the heavier your head is, the firmer your pillow should be. Finding the ideal firmness level might require a little experimentation, so pillows that come with a sleep trial would be perfect in this scenario.

Is it better to sleep without a pillow for neck pain and headaches?

Generally, no. If you are a strict stomach sleeper, you should be fine without a pillow. For everyone else, a pillow is required to maintain healthy alignment of the head, neck, and spine (which often leads to pain relief, especially if the symptoms were caused by a bad pillow).

When should I replace my pillow?

Pillows should be replaced every 1-2 years. However, you can also ditch your old pillow as soon as it develops lumps and sags or starts feeling unsupportive.

Wrapping up

A good pillow for neck pain and headaches isn't that easy to come by; that's true.

But you still have plenty of options.

And when trying to pick the best one, don't forget to pay extra attention to the thickness and firmness (while keeping your favourite sleeping position in mind). Check what the manufacturer uses as a filling and make sure you will be okay with that type of material. And, of course, factor in the cover fabric.

If you're still unsure which pillow to choose, you can try our recommendation, the John Cotton Classic High Profile Memory Foam Pillow. This pillow is super adaptable to your neck shape and doesn't put any pressure on your head to stay in a proper shape. You can also say goodbye to being hot at night because this pillow does not trap the body heat.

So, do you want to try it yourself? And how long have you been dealing with neck pain and headaches? Let us know in the comments below!

 

References:

    1. Health Engine (April 12, 2019). Sleeping Positions: How to sleep (and how not to). Retrieved from https://healthengine.com.au/info/sleeping-positions-sleep-not
    2. Scott Curtis (August 15, 2019). Sleeping with Neck Pain: What You Need to Know. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/blog/sleeping-neck-pain-what-you-need-know 
    3. Chris Barnes (n.d.). How to buy the best pillow. Retrieved from https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/bedroom/pillows/buying-guide/pillows

Our research

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Pillows Considered

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Hours of Research

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