The 13 best pillows for sore necks, stiff shoulders and generally creaky bodies

It is difficult to fall asleep, but waking up with a creaky neck increases the injury. If this sounds familiar, you need a new pillow. The best pillows for neck pain really depend on the person and their needs: side sleepers need a very different pillow than back sleepers, and taller people (or those with large, powerful shoulders) will not be comfortable borrowing a pillow from theirs smaller friends. In other words, finding the right pillow for you may require some trial and error. Fortunately, there are a few rules of thumb you can follow to narrow the field down.

“The goal is to make sure your neck and head are straight over your shoulders while you sleep,” Srikant Kondapaneni, MD, chief pulmonologist at Englewood Health, told SELF. He explains that side sleeping requires a taller loft pillow because the extra height of the pillow allows more room for the sleeper’s shoulder to rest comfortably without crawling forward. In the meantime, a lower profile pillow is a better choice for back sleepers who run the risk of tilting their neck and head forward if their pillow is too high. Regardless of your sleeping position, your whole body, including your neck, should feel completely relaxed as you fall asleep, says Dr. Kondapaneni. This is how you know you’ve found a pillow that will keep shoulder pain (and the dreaded creaking of your neck) at bay.

Under the guidance of Dr. Kondapaneni as well as Michael Gallizzi, MD, MS, FAAOS, a spinal surgeon with OrthoONE at Sky Ridge Medical Center, we searched for the best pillows for sore throats currently available. Whether you sleep like a pill bug or starfish, or prefer a memory foam pillow to a down alternative, you don’t have to spend your morning feeling stiff as a board. Read on to find the pillow of your (literal) dreams that will help prevent chronic neck pain.

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