nechacheNeck pain affects approximately 45% of the U.S. population at some point in their lives. If you are like many people who are experiencing neck pain, you’re probably interested finding the right pillow to support your neck while you sleep and alleviate your associated symptoms. But before you select a pillow, it’s important that you’re sleeping in a position that is easy on your neck. Generally, sleeping on your side or your back is recommended if you are suffering from neck discomfort.

When looking for a pillow, it’s best to avoid those that are too high or too low—both of these pillow types can cause your neck to bend out of its natural position and become misaligned. If you sleep on your back, built-in neck support and an indentation for your head can help to support and cradle your neck. Side sleepers may benefit from a pillow that is just a little higher under your neck than under your head.

The type of pillow stuffing you select depends on your personal preference. Feather pillows will conform to the shape of your neck to ensure you receive the proper support; however, these pillows will need to be replaced on an annual basis. Memory foam pillows are also popular, and for good reason—they conform to head and neck contours.

If you are traveling—or even just relaxing at home—a horseshoe-shaped “travel” pillow can help to stabilize the neck. However, you should select a pillow that fits securely on the back of the neck, to keep your head from dropping forward.