It’s time for an update on our discussion of pillows for migraines. You may remember, this was the topic of a podcast six years ago – The Practical Pillow Podcast. Since then, there has been a lot more written on the topic.
Unfortunately, if you’re simply looking for the “best pillow for migraine” you’re going to be disappointed. Yes, there is a lot of advice out there. But a pillow is a very personal thing. And a pillow that works for your friend may not work for you. You don’t sleep the same way, your headache condition may be different, even simple things like room temperature, or your weight, could make a difference.
So here are some of the most popular pillows for migraines today, and some quick facts about them.
Memory Foam Pillows: Let’s start with the simple memory foam pillow. These have gained in popularity over the past few year, and have helped a lot of people. There are variations on the memory foam pillow, which we’ll see below.
If you haven’t looked at pillows for a few years, you’ll see that things have changed. The technology has improved quite a bit, and there is much more variety. One of the most popular today is the Z Zoned Memory Foam Pillow, which is supposed to be a lot softer than similar pillows from past years. They also make a travel pillow.
A common complaint of these pillows is that they tend to have a manufacture-chemical smell at first. The smell does fade, but migraine patients find they need to leave the pillow out for a while before using it.
Still, many migraine patients used them. One reviewer writes:
I suffer with regular migraines and I quickly learned that the pillow I slept with was a huge factor on whether or not I was going to wake up with a migraine or not so I am very picky, so lets say, used to suffer with regular migraines! Basically I need my head to feel it is floating on a cloud of nothing or I will be miserable when I wake up. I chose the high loft so my head doesn’t “bottom out” and kinda just suspends in this middle of cloudy softness… call me weird in the comments if you want but once you try an amazing high loft pillow you’ll understand what I mean 🙂 [source]
Countoured Neck Support Pillows: Many looking for pillows for migraines immediately think of contoured pillows. Many of these are memory foam as well (which is why I spent extra time talking about memory foam above). A typical example is the inexpensive MEJOY Memory Foam Pillow. If you’re looking to avoid memory foam, check out the Snuz Neck Support Pillow (there is an extra-firm option).
Buckwheat Pillows: Buckwheat pillows have a number of advantages. They provide premium support, being very firm. They have no chemical-smell. They adjust to the shape of your head. And they’re cool. You can even put them in the freezer for an hour before you use them to really cool your throbbing head.
I’ve often talked about buckwheat pillows for migraines. If there is a downside, it’s that they are very firm. It really depends on how you sleep. Also, if you move around a lot, you can hear the shifting of the buckwheat hulls.
“Cooling” Pillows: Because of the pulsing, hot headaches that many of us get, “cooling” pillows are a great option. Now, just a caveat here. Cooling does not necessarily mean that the pillow continually cools you all night. That may be the case if there is constant water flow. But generally it means it doesn’t hold heat in like many traditional pillows do.
One well-known brand is Chillow, but Chillow has changed. Generally what you get today is a “cooling pad” which you can use by itself or with a pillow underneath. You actually put water in the pad. Although some people swear by them, the hassle of adding water and possible leaks have hurt the popularity of Chillow (on the other hand, the price is right if you want to try it!).
A popular and inexpensive example of today’s cooling pillows is the Bluewave Bedding Gel-Infused Memory Foam Pillow. It’s ventilated, and gel-infused, to keep the temperature from rising while you sleep. You can also get very slim versions.
You can also get a pad to put on your favourite pillow, like the Penguin Cooling Pillow Mat. But before you just get a pad, remember you should be changing your pillow every year or two.
To avoid memory foam, gels, and leaks, try the Temperature Regulating Cooling Talalay Latex Pillow.
As you have probably guessed, there are also combinations of the above. Take for example the ViscoSoft ARCTIC GEL CONTOUR Pillow, which is a hypoallergenic, memory foam, contoured neck pillow!
Changing your pillow can make a huge difference in your health. Many people have found pillows for migraines – that is, pillows that fight migraine, as you’ll see in the reviews for the products above. But sleep remains very personal. You’ll have to try the pillow for yourself to see which one works best.
Final advice? Keep your head cool. If you buy memory foam, be prepared to leave it out of the box for a week or two before you use it. And make sure you make a good pillow a priority. You’ll be spending a lot of time on it!