Transform Your Sleep with the Best Pillow for Headaches

Wake up with headaches? Your pillow might be to blame. How does that work? And how do you find the best pillow for headaches to alleviate this problem?

If you wake up with headaches, there are a few possible causes, including dehydration, stress, or even your pillow. Yes, really: your pillow can influence whether or not you wake up with a headache.

How does that work? And how do you find the best pillow for headaches to alleviate this problem?

How Pillows Can Cause Headaches (& What to Do About It)

It all has to do with your posture as you rest. Specifically, it’s crucial to properly align the neck, shoulders, and back when you sleep. Otherwise, your body can curve and twist in uncomfortable ways all night long. The result? You’ll spend several hours in positions that strain the body, creating tension.

When that tension is related to the head and neck, it can lead to tension headaches. In other words, if your pillow isn’t the right fit for you, your head, neck, and shoulders will be misaligned all night. So, when you wake up in the morning, you can not only feel sore and have cricks in the neck, but you may even have a headache.

How to Find the Right Pillow for You

Lovely girl consultant demonstrates orthopedic pillow to confident man in furniture store. Purchase of orthopedic pillow . Choosing pillow in store.

The solution? Find a pillow suited to your needs. What that pillow will look like can vary based on several factors, including:

Sleeping Position

How you sleep is perhaps the single most important factor to consider when shopping for new bedding. Why? Because different types of sleepers require different pillow firmness levels and heights to properly support their necks and heads.

For example, if you rest on a pillow that’s too high for you, your neck and shoulders will strain as your head is pushed up uncomfortably for hours on end. This posture can mean intense discomfort upon awakening. So, before you purchase anything, make note of whether you are a side, back, or stomach sleeper.

Once you’ve recognized your sleeping style, it’s time to search for a cushion that will work for you.

  • If you’re a stomach sleeper, you’ll want a pillow with a low loft, or a pillow that is thinner.
  • If you’re a side sleeper, you will conversely need thicker and firmer pillows. How thick? About the distance from the shoulder to the ear.
  • If you’re a back sleeper, your best bet will be a pillow that cradles your head while providing proper neck support. Curved pillows are therefore better for this sleeping style than traditional rectangular cushions.
  • If you’re a combination sleeper, you sleep in two or more of the styles above. In this case, you’ll want a versatile pillow. It might be of medium firmness and have a medium-high loft. You may also opt for a specialized pillow that has sections of various heights and firmness levels, so you can switch up where you lay your head at night.


Temperature plays a large role in our sleep quality. Typically, we sleep better when we’re in a cooler environment. This fact is due to our body temperature slightly lowering while we slumber. So, having a temperature-regulating cushion can help us fall (and stay) asleep easier than a heat-trapping one. Temperature is doubly important to consider if you suffer from migraines, as these intense headaches can heighten sensitivity to temperatures.

So, how do you know if a pillow will be cooling or temperature-neutral? There are a few signs you can be on the lookout for, including:

  • A cover made of cooling materials like Tencel™, bamboo, or eucalyptus
  • A cover made with a cooling weave, such as satin, sateen, or a quilted top pattern
  • Gel-infused foam (if opting for foam-based cushions)
  • Designs that allow greater airflow, such as a pillow with a hole

Potential Neck Pain

Waking up with neck pain is no fun. In some cases, this strain can even contribute to a headache or worsen an existing one. The solution is fortunately quite simple. Invest in a pillow specially designed to support the neck. Often called cervical pillows, these cushions are typically curved, with a dip for cradling the head and raised edges for stabilizing the neck.

5 Best Pillows for Headaches

Since the causes of neck pain and headaches vary by person, it only makes sense to find a pillow that supports your unique sleeping situation. Below are some of the five best options on the market. Best of all, you won’t have to shell out lots of cash, either. With the exception of The Purple Pillow, all of the options on this list are under $50.

Best Neck Pillow for Tension Headaches

The Purple Pillow, Cooling Cradling Neck Support

The Purple Pillow

When it comes to being truly optimized to meet the needs of most kinds of sleepers, it’s hard to beat The Purple Pillow. From the cover to the materials to the design, every inch of this cushion is engineered to provide a truly relaxing sleeping experience—aka, meaning less chances of waking up with aches and pains.

It all starts with the cover, a stretchy blend of polyester, spandex, and viscose from bamboo. Why the bamboo? Several reasons. For starters, it’s eco-friendlier to produce than many other materials. Bamboo is also naturally insect resistant and allergen resistant, making it a great material for those with sensitive skin. Throw in the fact that bamboo can easily wick away moisture, and you have an overall soft, cooling cover.

It only gets better from there. Inside the cover, you’ll find what makes The Purple Pillow (and mattress) so unique: The Purple Grid, made out of FDA-certified hyper-elastic polymer. Those terms mean that this material is 1) safe to use and 2) flexible. Now, The Purple Grid is composed of tiny triangles. This construction serves several purposes, from helping the pillow last longer to allowing greater airflow to providing proper edge support to even comfortably cradling the head. All in all, The Purple Pillow is the high-end option for those looking for a truly customized space to rest their head at night.

Key Features

  • Cover: Polyester, Viscose from Bamboo & Spandex
  • Pillow: FDA-certified Hyper-Elastic Polymer
  • Cooling, Cradling Neck Support via The Purple Grid
  • Antimicrobial


  • Made by Purple
  • Available on Amazon
  • 24″ x 16″ x 3″
  • 10.2 lbs
  • CertiPUR-US Certified
  • Made in the United States

Best Pillow for Neck Pain

Milemont Memory Foam Pillow, Cervical Pillow for Neck Pain, Orthopedic Contour Pillow Support for Back, Stomach, Side Sleepers, Pillow for Sleeping, CertiPUR-US, Standard Size

Milemont Memory Foam Pillow

If you have neck pain, it might be time to reach for a specially designed cervical pillow. In other words, a pillow with a cavity for cradling the head and raised sides to reach up and support the neck. This contoured cushion from Milemont fits the bill. With two raised sides of varying heights, this cushion can suit the needs of a wide range of sleepers.

What’s particularly great about this option is the specialized memory foam. Now, memory foam is well-known for being highly responsive, so it can easily curve to the unique shape of the human body. This body-hugging capability means that this type of foam is highly adaptive and supportive. Unfortunately, traditional memory foam traps heat easily.

Milemont remedies this issue in several ways. For starters, this foam is gel infused, meaning cooling beads are interspersed throughout. Secondly, this foam has “aircell tech,” a perforated design that allows for plenty of airflow. The result? All the good of memory foam with practically none of the bad.

The cover is just the icing on the cake. It’s a blend of polyester and Tencel. The polyester helps give this cover stretch and durability. The Tencel makes the cover moisture-wicking. Taken together, this cover offers a cooling, comfortable place to rest.

Key Features

  • Cover: Polyester + Tencel
  • Inner Foam: Aircell Tech Gel-infused Memory Foam
  • Washable Cover
  • Contoured for Optimal Support
  • Airflow-Permitting Design


  • Made by Milemont
  • Available on Amazon
  • 2 Colors
  • Available in 1 Standard Size
  • CertiPUR-US Certified
  • Made in China

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

WonderSleep Premium Adjustable Loft [Queen Size 2-Pack] - Shredded Hypoallergenic Memory Foam for Home & Hotel Collection + Washable Removable Cooling Bamboo Derived Rayon Cover - 2 Pack Queen

WonderSleep 2-Pack Premium Pillows

Two for the price of one? You’ve got it with this WonderSleep pack of premium cushions. What’s so premium about them, you ask?

For starters, these pillows have adjustable lofts. In other words, you can adjust how thick you want them to be. How can you do that? By simply unzipping the covers and removing or adding the included shredded memory foam. That’s right: you can personalize your pillow exactly the way you want it.

The removable foam isn’t just great for customization, though. It’s also great for temperature regulation. After all, shredded foam naturally allows greater airflow than a single block of foam does.

Of course, the exterior of these pillows is just as great as the interior. Each pillow is zipped up in a polyester + bamboo blend. The result is a cover that’s stretchy, soft, and cooling: the ideal place to lay your head when you snooze.

Key Features

  • Cover: Polyester + Bamboo
  • Adjustable Firmness
  • Extra Shredded Memory Foam Filling
  • Hypoallergenic & Dust-Mite Resistant


  • Made by WonderSleep
  • Available on Amazon
  • 2 Pack
  • Available in King, Queen or Standard
  • Made in China
  • 1-Year Warranty

Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers

NOVON BEDDING Thin Flat Pillow for Sleeping | Slim Microfiber Center with Adjustable Top Bottom Cervical Neck Support Rolls for Back and Stomach Sleepers, Petite Body Forms & Kids

NOVON BEDDING Multi-Purpose Thin Pillow

If you’re looking for something a little different, this thin pillow from NOVON BEDDING could be what you’ve been craving. Partitioned into three parts, each section of this cushion is optimized for various purposes. If you have a larger neck, you can rest your head on the bigger end section. If your neck is smaller? Rotate the cushion and rest your head on the smaller opposite end section. No matter where you place your neck, though, your head will be supported with the cozy middle section.

The three-way design of this cushion does even more, however. For example, the division between each section also provides a great place to hook your arm under your pillow without sacrificing neck support or comfort. This construction also makes it easy to fold the pillow, making it a great lumbar cushion to provide your lower back with support when you’re sitting up in bed.

If all of that wasn’t great enough, the loft is adjustable. Simply unzip the cover and add or remove filling to your preferred comfort levels. All in all, this pillow is truly adaptable, making it a great fit for many bedrooms.

Key Features

  • 233 Thread Count
  • 100% Cotton Cover
  • 3 Specialized Sections
  • Easily Foldable to Suit Various Positions
  • Great for Stomach & Back Sleepers
  • Adjustable Loft


  • Available on Amazon
  • OEKO-TEX Certified
  • NOMITE Accredited

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

Coisum Back Sleeper Cervical Pillow - Memory Foam Pillow for Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief - Orthopedic Contour Ergonomic Pillow for Neck Support with Breathable Cover

Cosium Back Sleeper Cervical Pillow

If a traditionally shaped pillow hasn’t worked for you, this specialized cushion from Cosium might be the solution: its unique design makes it great for both back and side sleepers.

Let’s break it down.

The central cavity is perfect for letting the head dip down no matter your sleeping position. Then, you have a few options for where you can place your neck. For starters, the cutout areas along the sides are perfect for easing shoulder pressure when side sleeping. The slightly indented wedge extension is likewise great for supporting the neck while back sleeping.

But that’s not all. One side of the pillow is nearly an inch taller than the other, so sleepers can choose which side is the perfect height for them. Overall? This pillow is incredibly functional and flexible, meaning it can suit the needs of a wide range of sleepers.

Key Features

  • Slow-rebound Memory Foam
  • Medium Firmness
  • 2 Contoured Loft Heights
  • Central Cavity for Optimal Head Support
  • Washable Cover
  • Great for Back & Side Sleepers


  • Made by Cosium
  • Available on Amazon
  • 1 Size Available

Medical Disclaimer

This article is for reference purposes only. It should not replace the advice of a licensed professional. Do not use this article to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Any and all health concerns should be directed to a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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Kristen Greif

Napper extraordinaire. Side/stomach sleeper. 25 solid years of experience with sleeping.