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Neck pain might not seem like a mattress issue, but it is. Once you swap out a pillow and find out that you’re still experiencing discomfort when you wake up n the morning, it might be time to turn your attention to your mattress.

Neck pain is connected to other body issues, so it makes sense that changing your sleep environment might help. We’ve put together our recommendations for mattresses that might help relieve some of your neck pain. Plus we’ve answered a few questions you might have about what to look for. Let’s take a look.

Why Do I Need A Mattress For Neck Pain?

Neck pain is often connected to issues with the spine and back. When your spine overextends or twists into an unnatural place, it can cause pain that radiates up your back. It can also cause your body to overcompensate for back pain and strain muscles in your shoulders and neck.

If your mattress is old, there’s a good chance it’s a single layer of coils with not a lot to cushion your body. As a result, your body conforms to the mattress rather than the other way around. Your lower lumbar region compresses and forces your spine into a curve instead of staying straight.

If it’s older than ten years, there’s also a chance it sags. Bed components age, so beds frequently lose supportiveness with each year that goes by. If you aren’t the original owner, you aren’t eligible for repairs, and even if you are the original owner, you might not have warranty option at this point anyway.

A more supportive mattress that keeps your spine in alignment and prevents your back and lumbar regions from compressing alleviates the pain you feel in your neck and shoulders.

What Kind Of Mattress Do I Need?

General opinion is that a firmer mattress is more supportive of your back and spine. Firm mattresses don’t have as much sink, so your spine is less likely to curve into a strange, painful position.

It’s a little more complicated than that, however. Firm mattresses with little contouring will still cause your head to be at a strange angle to your body and possibly cause a lot of compression in the shoulder areas. Too firm and you’re going to lose contouring. Too soft and it isn’t supportive. Consider what position you sleep in most often.

  • Side sleepers should have a slightly softer mattress. The top layers have more give for wider parts of your body so that shoulders and hips sink further in without sacrificing support for the spine. The contouring materials fill in any gaps like that of the torso or lower lumbar, so the spine stays straight.
  • Back sleepers need a slightly firmer mattress. There’s less give and less chance your body will sink further into the bed than it needs to.
  • Stomach sleepers should have the firmest mattress of all because there can’t be any sagging or you risk overextending the spine and causing severe long-term pain.
  • Combination sleepers usually need a medium firm mattress with some kind of pillow top material. It’s supportive but gives you a bit of sink for your shoulders and hips if you turn to the side during the night.

Your neck should form a straight line with your spine and shoulders instead of an angle. Just like when your tilted head causes you pain during the day, a night of a strange neck angle is bound to cause pain.

What Do I Look For In My Mattress?

You should keep a few things in mind as you adjust your mattress for your neck pain. Neck pain is rarely a condition by itself; it often correlates with other types of pain. Your bed should address these issues holistically.

Spinal Alignment

The most significant factor in neck and back pain is spinal alignment. If your mattress causes unnatural curving of the spine, it puts pressure on the surrounding areas, and you wake up with pain. The top layers of your mattress should contour to your body. Your widest points should sink further, but your curves should be filled in by the materials, so your spine stays straight.

Support

It’s not just about the softness of the mattress either. You need a dense support layer underneath that pushes back against your body, so it doesn’t sink too far into the mattress. Without the dense support layer, your body will struggle to stay in a position that doesn’t overextend the spine.

The contouring layer and the support layer work together to put your body in the best position possible. You’ll know you have the right mattress when your pain subsides and when you don’t have to toss and turn looking for a comfortable position anymore.

Pressure Relief

Substantial pressure points for neck pain are the shoulders and upper back. Overcompensation from other areas of pain can cause neck discomfort, but the shoulders and upper back are critical to alleviating pain.

When you sleep on your side, there shouldn’t be any compression from your mattress across the shoulders. If your weight causes your shoulder to collapse inward, you’ll have a problem in the morning.

If you’re a back sleeper and your shoulders sink too far into the mattress, it can cause discomfort in your upper back. A medium firm mattress with the right contouring layers is critical here.

A Word About Your Pillow

You can’t just change out your mattress and not deal with your pillow situation. If your pillow is causing your neck to be at a weird angle, you need to address it as well. Side sleepers need a pillow that’s a little firmer and raises the head slightly to stay in line with the shoulders. Back sleepers need a somewhat softer pillow that cradles the head but doesn’t raise it. Side sleepers need a flat pillow that doesn’t overextend the neck.

Best Mattresses For Neck Pain

Let’s take a look at a few of our top picks if you’ve got neck pain that won’t go away.

DreamCloud – Best Overall

DreamCloud is a fantastic mattress. It uses eight layers of contouring and supporting materials to create a bed that’s firm but feels pillowy. It’s an exciting combination.

It uses a cashmere blend cover material that’s breathable and prevents heat buildup in the core of the mattress. The first two layers are foam contouring layers, one gel and one quilted. The gel helps regulate your temperature at night while the quilted layer provides some response. You don’t get the dead foam feeling of traditional memory foam.

The next layers are transitional layers that provide some cushioning but gently easy your body to the support layer. Individually pocketed coils support your back and spine but are highly responsive. The foam helps reduce motion transfer, but you never feel like you’re having to clamber out of bed.

It’s rated at about a seven on a ten point firmness scale, but it feels a little softer because of the layers of gel foam. The quilted layer gives it a Euro-top feel, so it’s appropriate for combination support.

DreamCloud offers an impressive 365-day sleep trial, so you’ll have a full year to figure out if it’s helping. It’s important to sleep on a bed for a little while to allow it to break in. We recommend sleeping on the DreamCloud for a few weeks to see if your neck pain subsides.

You’re covered by a lifelong warranty that protects you against mattress defects. The first ten years they’ll replace a mattress that’s defective. After ten years, they’ll decide if it’s more appropriate to replace or repair the bed.

They do have the option of white glove delivery if you need help getting your mattress set up. If your neck pain is severe, it might be nice to have someone help get things situated.

Solay – Runner-Up

Solay is an excellent hybrid option as well. It similarly uses six layers to the DreamCloud. The first two are contouring memory foam layers. The first is a gel layer that helps work with the cooling Tencel cover materials to move heat and moisture away from your body quickly.

The next layer is a motion reducing foam layer that helps keep the surface stable. The support layer is full sized coils that are individually pocketed. They’re sandwiched between layers of dense support foam to reduce motion and help ease your body to the support layers.

It’s rated as medium firm, about a seven on a ten point firmness scale. It provides excellent support for your spine but does allow for multiple sleep positions to find a comfortable spot. We like the edge support and motion isolation as well.

You get 101 nights to sleep on the mattress before deciding officially if it’s right for you. You’re also protected by a 15-year warranty for mattress defects. It doesn’t offer white glove delivery, so if your neck pain is particularly bad, you may want to find someone who can help you out.

Honorable Mentions

We have a few picks based on specific criteria. If you have neck pain and one of these other situations, you might find a better option here. Let’s go through these.

Puffy Mattress – Best For Combination Sleepers

If you frequently change positions throughout the night, Puffy might be a good choice. The layers of foam are adaptable, so they cradle the widest parts of your body to reduce pressure but fill in the gaps, so your spine stays straight. Even if you change positions frequently, the foam is able to conform precisely to your body to keep your spine straight.

It uses contouring layers with adaptive foams that wick heat away from your body quickly. The mattress returns to the ambient temperature of the room in record time, so you don’t toss and turn looking for a cool spot. The dense support layers prevent too much sinkage into the mattress, so you don’t stress your spine.

You have 101 nights to try the mattress out to decide if it’s really helping your neck pain. You should sleep on the bed for at least a few weeks to determine if it’s helping your pain and handling your combination support needs. You’re also covered by a lifetime warranty against mattress defects.

They don’t offer white glove delivery, so you’ll need to find someone who can help you get the mattress situated if your neck pain is too severe.

Winkbeds Plus – Best For Heavier People

If your neck pain is caused by stress on your back and shoulders, a regular mattress isn’t going to give you the support you need if you aren’t average weight. You’ll need something that fits your needs exactly.

Winkbeds Plus is a hybrid bed that uses contouring and supporting layer of foam to keep the spine correctly aligned. It’s rated for sleepers who are over 300 pounds so the foam won’t collapse under the extra weight.

It’s rated as about a 6.5 on a ten point firmness scale. If you’re lighter than the weight rating, the bed is going to feel way too firm. Heavier sleepers, however, will find the foam highly supportive and able to keep the spine straight and pressure points decompressed.

The Tencel cover material is highly cooling, so it discourages tossing and turning throughout the night. It uses two different layers of tempered support springs that push back against the body while memory foam prevents motion transfer.

They give you 101 nights to sleep on your new mattress. This gives you time to adjust to it and have it break in a little, so it’s the most supportive it can be. If you don’t like it, you can return it for a refund. They give you a ten-year limited warranty to protect against mattress defects.

They don’t offer white glove delivery, so be sure to have someone help you set things up if you aren’t able to handle the mattress by yourself.

Nectar – Best Budget Option

Nectar is an excellent choice if you need to upgrade your mattress from your 20-year-old hand me down. It’s an all foam mattress, but it’s firmly medium rated on the firmness scale. If you’re ok with the feeling of all memory foam, this one could save you some coin.

Nectar has a Tencel cooling layer that works with gel infused contouring layers to keep you more relaxed at night. One quilted gel layer does improve responsiveness, taking away some of the dead foam feeling.

The next layer is adaptive memory foam that transitions your body to the dense support layer. The dense foam underneath pushes back against your body to keep you from sinking too far into the mattress. It keeps your spine aligned but decompresses pressure points os your body relaxes.

Foam is good for discouraging tossing and turning. If you have pain, you can make it worse by changing positions too frequently. Nectar encourages you to stay in one position because the foam is very cradling.

You have a full year to try the mattress out to decide if it’s right for you. This gives you plenty of time to figure out the foam is helping your pain subside. You also have a lifetime warranty against defects. During the first the years, they’ll replace the mattress completely, but after ten years they may decide to repair it.

They don’t offer white glove delivery, so make sure someone can help you move the mattress if your neck pain is too severe to handle it on your own.

Our Final Thoughts

DreamCloud’s ability to create a firmly supportive mattress while retaining the softness of European pillow top style mattresses is excellent for sleepers that need combination support (whether for position changes for partners with different sleep preferences).

It’s still one of our most affordable picks at less than $1500 for all sizes. The twin sizes are often sold out, so you might want to try the Solay if you need that size, but everyone else should be thrilled with the investment. The addition of white glove delivery for those with more severe neck pain is a really lovely way to transition from your old mattress.

Remember to check on the quality of your pillow as well. It’s not going to do you much good to upgrade your mattress and still have a sore neck because of your pillow. Your neck and head should align with your spine instead of laying at an angle so check out a few pillow options for neck pain while you’re upgrading.

What’s the source of your neck pain? Is it a sleep issue or do you have some underlying conditions causing pain? Let us know in the comments below and some things you’re doing to alleviate the pain.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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