6 of the best pillows to relieve migraines and headaches

April 13th, 2021

Morning headaches can occur for a variety of reasons. According to healthline, 1 in 13 people experience morning headaches. Here are some of the primary factors that cause morning headaches:

  • Changes in body physiology – in the early morning hours, your body’s level of internal pain reduction may be lowered. Furthermore, your body cold also be making more adrenaline at this time which can trigger migraines
  • Poor sleep quality – this is a huge potential cause of morning headaches. While it isn’t always the direct cause, improving sleep quality can definitely result in a reduction of waking up with morning headaches
  • Depression or anxiety – in one study by the American Medical Association, the most significant factors for chronic morning headaches were depression and anxiety. Other mental health conditions can also lead to insomnia which can increase your risk for morning headaches.
  • Snoring or sleep apnea – disrupted sleep by snoring or sleep apnea may also cause morning headaches because it impacts your ability to breath, which can potentially lead to headaches
  • Grinding your teeth – if you grind your teeth (known as bruxism) it can cause a sleep disorder known as sleep bruxism. This can cause a headache when you wake up felt near the temples.
  • Strained muscles – early morning headaches could also be the result of strained neck muscles . You may need to evaluate your sleep position and the pillows you use to ease this form of early morning headache.
  • Medication or alcohol use – early morning headaches may be the result of medications or alcohol. Medications may interfere with your sleep patterns, resulting in disrupted sleep and early morning headaches. Drinking heavily can result in uneven sleep and an early morning headache, such as a hangover.

If you were wondering why you wake up with a morning headache, hopefully that list helped shed some light.

Insomnia impacts your sleep patterns and causes sleep deprivation – as a result, it is a prevalent cause of morning headaches. The lack of sleep due to insomnia can cause migraines headaches as well. If you have insomnia, be sure to talk to your doctor – it can be treated in a variety of ways, including medications, therapy, or a combination.

If you want to sleep better in general, try the following:

  • Limit caffeine intake (especially after 12 pm)
  • Try the 4-7-8 breathing method – breathe for four seconds, hold your breathe for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds
  • Reduce blue light exposure in the evening
  • Reduce irregular or long daytime naps
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Set a cooler bedroom temperature – the sweet spot is ~65 degrees Fahrenheit

These tactics might seem small, but they can make a huge difference in improving your overall sleep quality, and hopefully, reducing your morning headaches.

However, it these tactics don’t work it could be time to try a different solution. We’ve found that a relatively simple (but often extremely effective) approach is to switch the pillow you are using – if you have neck pain, sleep apnea, and/or poor sleep posture, it can severely impact your sleep quality and cause morning headaches.

If you have headaches or migraines, it’s critical that you use a pillow that offers proper head and neck support every night.

That’s not just a bold statement, but a fact. Studies have shown that managing sleep problems can prevent migraines from happening in the first place!

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Pixabay/Jay Mantri Source: Pixabay/Jay Mantri

The quality of your pillow can make a huge difference in whether or not you wake up feeling like you’ve been at a headbangers ball all night, versus having a relatively headache-free day.

How we chose the best pillows for migraines and headaches:

Pillows come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they’re also made from materials like the ones listed below (which we’ll dive into shortly):

  • memory foam
  • buckwheat
  • water (yes, just like waterbeds, it’s a thing!)
  • acupressure

Ultimately though, there were five factors we took into consideration when choosing the best pillows for relieving headaches:

  • price (getting the most bang for your buck)
  • materials (see list above)
  • durability (how long will it last?)
  • support (would Goldilocks say it’s “just right?”)
  • honest reviews (from people who actually have migraines)
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Pexels/Castorly Stock Source: Pexels/Castorly Stock

Here’s a list of the top 6 best pillows that can help alleviate migraines, ranked according to the type of pillow. They’ve been vetted by both experts and consumers alike for promoting restful sleep and reducing migraine pain.

1. Best Overall Pillow For Relieving Headaches: Dosaze – Contoured Orthopedic Pillow, $99

Why we love it: An orthopedic neck pillow like this one from Dosaze is the gold standard when it comes to providing optimal neck and head support. It doesn’t matter if you sleep on your back, side, or stomach – the pillow is designed to cradle the natural curve of your neck so that your spine is kept perfectly aligned while you rest.

Did you know that poor sleep quality, insomnia, and sleep apnea can be a major cause of waking up with tension headaches (and for some people, even migraines). By aligning your neck and back, this pillow relieves neck pain, alleviates sleep apnea, and improves overall sleep quality – the result, numerous customers report a significant reduction in the number of times (for some of them, a total elimination) they wake up with headaches. The best part, you can give it a try for 60 days, risk free.

Numerous reviewers report that the pillow has helped relieved their tension headaches and migraines – for many of them, it is life-changing:

What you should know: Memory foam can sometimes have a slight odor due to off-gassing, so keep that in mind if you’re sensitive to fragrances. Over time the scent will dissipate. But just in case, the company does offer a 60-day sleep trial to check it out.

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Dosaze Source: Dosaze

2. Best Cooling Pillow – The Hullo Buckwheat Pillow, $159

Why we love it: If you’re “hot-headed” then the buckwheat hulls in this Hullo Buckwheat pillow will definitely help cool you off. Unlike synthetic, fiber-filled pillows, the airflow and “breathability” of this pillow are pretty phenomenal!

Tip: Make your night extra cool by popping your pillow (with a clean pillowcase, of course) into the fridge or freezer. It’s like an ice pack for your head.

What you should know: Because buckwheat has a crispy outer hull, it may make a rustling noise when you move your head. The first few nights you’ll just have to remind yourself that your bedroom hasn’t actually been overrun with rats.

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Hullo Pillow Source: Hullo Pillow

3. Best Acupressure Pillow – Kanjō Acupressure Cervical Traction Wedge Pillow, $40

Why we love it: The Kanjo Acupressure pillow is an unusual 3-in-1 combo that takes the best qualities of acupressure + wedge shape + cervical traction and puts it into a contraption that will make you think twice about your pain threshold.

Although using a pillow with mini spikes and a guillotine-like neck rest may not sound very pleasing, fans say the little plastic nubs are perfect for relieving stress-induced headaches.

What you should know: This Traditional Chinese Medicine-inspired acupressure pillow certainly isn’t for the faint of heart! Although it’s perfectly safe when pressed against a greater surface area (like your neck), it can still hurt if you poke your finger at each spike individually.

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Kanjo Source: Kanjo

4. Best Hypoallergenic Pillow –
Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam, Pillow, $55

Why we love it: The shredded material certainly makes this pillow different from other memory foam pillows out there. But, what really makes the Xtreme Comforts pillow a holy grail for asthma and allergy sufferers is the bamboo cover. The material is naturally hypoallergenic, which means the only watery tears you’ll be shedding are tears of joy!

What you should know: Due to its use of shredded memory foam, this pillow isn’t molded to a definitive shape, which may make it too soft for some people.

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Xtreme Comforts Source: Xtreme Comforts

5. Best Adjustable Pillow – Mediflow Water Pillow, $69

Why we love it: This “water” pillow is by far the most unique of the bunch. If you’re old enough to remember waterbeds from the 1980s, then this will bring a bit of nostalgia back into your life.

But don’t worry, you won’t wake up feeling like you’ve been swimming with your head in a fish tank all night. In fact, an independent John Hopkins study has shown that the Mediflow Water Pillow can help reduce neck pain and improve sleep quality.

What you should know: You can customize this pillow for soft, medium, or firm support by adjusting the water levels. But be forewarned, it can weigh a whopping 8 pounds when filled to capacity!

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Mediflow Source: Mediflow

6. Best “Value” Pillow – OCESOPH Memory Foam Pillow, $26

Why we love it: No pillow roundup would be complete without offering an inexpensive option for those who can’t or don’t want to shell out the big bucks. The Ocesoph orthopedic memory foam contour pillow is shaped exactly like its more expensive cousins, but you’ll pay less out of pocket for the same comfort and support.

What you should know: Like many things that are made in China, some users report a strong scent when you first unwrap it. Just pretend it’s like your Uncle Joe after he’s sampled too much food at the local chili cook-off. Have patience, and in time, the smell will fade away.

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Amazon/OCESOPH Source: Amazon/OCESOPH

Which Pillow?

Choosing the right pillow for headaches and migraines depends on what kind of sleeper you are (side, back, or stomach). Look for a pillow that keeps your neck and spine in alignment while in these positions.

Try one of these 6 top picks and you’ll soon be resting easy!

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Source: Dosaze, WebMD, John Hopkins, Healthline