Suffering from neck pain? You’re not alone. Many Americans deal with this discomfort, often without understanding its source. If you wake up with a sore neck, your pillow might be to blame. Your pillow’s role is crucial in supporting your neck and head at the right height to prevent strain.
To help you find the perfect pillow, we’ve tested various options rigorously. We assess comfort, durability, and their potential to alleviate neck pain. Our testers come from different weight groups and sleeping styles, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation. All pillows are tested on the same mattress for consistent ratings.
Table of Contents
12 Best Pillows For Neck Pain
1. Core Products Tri-Core Cervical Pillow
The Core Products Tri-Core Cervical Pillow is the top choice for alleviating neck pain. Designed for both back and side sleepers, this polyfill pillow strikes the perfect balance between firmness and softness. It boasts two differently sized bolsters on each side, catering to your specific neck support needs. If you’re a back sleeper, the pillow cradles your head in the center valley while supporting your neck with the bolsters, ensuring optimal spinal alignment. For side sleepers, the raised sides provide excellent support.
The trapezoidal core maintains head and spine alignment, reducing stress on upper-body muscles. The indented center offers flexibility for movement, enhancing comfort. While it may not completely eliminate poor posture, it encourages better sleeping habits.
The pillow’s unique shape might require some adjustment. Core Products recommends starting with the smaller bolster and gradually transitioning. Available in three sizes to suit various body types, it fits into standard pillowcases.
2. Pillow Cube Classic
The Pillow Cube Classic is a top choice for side sleepers seeking optimal neck support. Priced at $90, it offers a unique design with several features that promote a good night’s sleep. Made from memory foam, it boasts a firm feel and a high loft, ensuring it maintains its shape and provides excellent support. Its square shape is specifically engineered to keep your head and shoulders at a 90-degree angle, alleviating pressure on your neck. Additionally, the memory foam is naturally antimicrobial, adding to its appeal.
To cater to different body sizes, the Pillow Cube Classic is available in three sizes: standard, thin, and thick, catering to individuals ranging from 5’4″ to 6’3″ in height. Users have found that, despite its firmness, the foam contours to their head shape, delivering personalized support. However, it’s important to note that this pillow is primarily designed for side sleepers, as it may not be as comfortable in other sleeping positions. For those who tend to sleep hot, there’s also a cooling version available, promising a cooler and more comfortable night’s sleep.
3. Tempur-Pedic Ergo Neck Pillow
The Tempur-Pedic Ergo Neck Pillow stands out as an ideal choice for those seeking memory foam comfort to combat neck and upper-back pain. Its hypoallergenic memory foam interior conforms precisely to the contours of your head, neck, and shoulders, providing exceptional ergonomic support.
Similar to the Core Products pillow, it includes two differently sized bolsters to cradle your neck. What sets it apart is the slight slope in the middle, offering a comfortable resting place for your head, making it particularly suitable for side sleepers. With three available profile sizes (small, medium, and large), you can select the loft that best suits your body type and preferences.
Whether you suffer from neck discomfort, upper-back issues, or degenerative conditions, the Tempur-Pedic Ergo Neck Pillow offers superior support and comfort. Its machine-washable cover adds to its convenience. For those who prefer memory foam, this pillow is a top-notch choice for enhancing your sleep quality and reducing neck pain.
4. AllSett Cervical Neck Roll
The AllSett Cervical Neck Roll is a standout choice for individuals seeking relief from neck pain. Its design revolves around providing exceptional neck support. Composed of memory foam, it offers a firm yet comfortable feel, ensuring that your neck is well-supported throughout the night. This cylindrical-shaped pillow boasts a medium-high loft, striking a balance between elevation and comfort.
Dr. Singh, a renowned expert, recommends using this pillow in tandem with a standard bed pillow to prevent strain on other upper body areas. The key to its effectiveness lies in its targeted support, focusing solely on the neck while allowing flexibility for movements during sleep. Its machine-washable cover adds convenience and keeps it feeling soft and cozy.
Additionally, this versatile pillow can serve multiple purposes. You can position it between your head and shoulders or opt to use it between your knees for added spine support. Its sturdiness and responsiveness make it an excellent choice for those dealing with neck discomfort.
5. Bluewave Bedding Super Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow
For back sleepers seeking neck support, the Bluewave Bedding Super Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow is an excellent choice, with prices starting at $40. This pillow is specially designed to address the needs of back sleepers by providing a lower-loft, medium-firm option. Traditional high-loft pillows can strain the neck, worsening discomfort. The Bluewave pillow is offered in three lofts: super-slim (3.25 inches), ultra-slim (2.75 inches), and hyper-slim (2.25 inches). Back sleepers will find the super-slim option most suitable, as it provides the necessary support without elevating the neck too much.
The pillow is constructed with a single slab of gel-infused perforated memory foam with medium-firm density. While the pillow itself cannot be machine washed, the cover is easily removable and machine washable for convenient maintenance. It’s important to note that this pillow is not recommended for side sleepers, but it’s ideal for individuals who primarily sleep on their backs. Users have praised its supportive nature, particularly when positioned vertically under the shoulder blades. This design effectively keeps the neck properly aligned, minimizing discomfort and promoting restful sleep.
6. Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow
The Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow is a top-notch choice for individuals who prefer sleeping on their side or back and require additional neck support and relief from shoulder pressure. This uniquely designed curved pillow is filled with copper-infused gel memory foam, which brings a blend of benefits to your sleep experience. Firstly, the memory foam offers superb support to your neck and head, ensuring proper spinal alignment, which can significantly reduce neck pain and discomfort.
Moreover, the copper infusion in the memory foam helps regulate temperature by drawing heat away from your body. This means you won’t overheat during the night, ensuring a comfortable and cool sleep environment. The pillow’s adjustability is another standout feature, allowing you to customize both firmness and loft by simply adding or removing filling. This versatility lets you tailor the pillow precisely to your liking, ensuring maximum comfort and pain relief. Additionally, the machine-washable cover makes maintenance a breeze, ensuring your pillow stays clean and hygienic.
In summary, the Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow combines exceptional support, cooling properties, and customizable features, making it an excellent choice for those seeking relief from neck pain and improved sleep quality.
7. Layla Kapok Pillow
The Layla Kapok Pillow is an exceptional solution for individuals seeking both comfort and adjustability to alleviate neck pain. It combines two unique materials: kapok fiber and shredded memory foam. Derived from kapok tree pods, kapok fiber offers a fluffy and airy feel, setting it apart from traditional pillow fillings like wool or cotton. Blended with shredded memory foam, it delivers a plush yet supportive experience.
What truly sets this pillow apart is its adjustability. You have the freedom to customize both its loft and firmness according to your preferences. This makes it a wise choice, especially if you’re uncertain about the ideal pillow height for your neck support needs.
The rectangular-shaped Layla Kapok Pillow boasts a machine-washable cover for easy maintenance. Its versatility, combining the best of both worlds in terms of materials and adjustability, makes it a top contender for those in search of a personalized and effective solution to address neck pain issues.
8. Avocado Molded-Latex Pillow
The Avocado Molded-Latex Pillow is a top choice for individuals seeking relief from neck pain. Crafted from organic and sustainably sourced latex, this pillow offers a unique slab-style design with a consistently flat surface, akin to a sheet cake. This design ensures that, regardless of your sleep position or how many times you toss and turn during the night, you receive consistent support. Available in three sizes (standard, queen, and king), it caters to a wide range of preferences.
In terms of firmness, this pillow falls in the medium-firm category, providing solid support without excessive give. Its high loft, standing at around five inches, makes it particularly suitable for back and side sleepers. However, individuals with smaller frames or narrower shoulders may find it slightly too lofty. Personally, I found that it held my head up well, but it didn’t have the cradling effect some may prefer. Overall, if you’re looking for dependable and firm neck support that remains constant throughout the night, the Avocado Molded-Latex Pillow is a solid choice.
9. Therapeutica Orthopedic Sleeping Pillow (Average Size)
For those battling severe neck pain, the Therapeutica Orthopedic Sleeping Pillow offers potential relief. While consulting a doctor should be your primary course of action for severe pain, addressing your pillow and sleeping position can also make a significant difference. This specialized pillow is designed to align your neck, provide support to your thoracic spine, alleviate jaw pain, and cradle your head.
Available in four sizes (average, petite, large, and extra-large), choosing the right size depends on the horizontal measurement from the base of your neck to the tip of your shoulder. It’s essential to note that adapting to the Therapeutica pillow’s rigid shape may initially lead to increased discomfort. However, over time, it can help reduce stiffness. The firm molded foam gradually softens while maintaining its supportive structure with regular use. Notably, this pillow is manufactured by Core Products, the same company behind our top pick. If you’re seeking a solution for severe neck pain, the Therapeutica Orthopedic Sleeping Pillow is a contender worth considering.
10. Marlow Pillow
The Marlow Pillow is a uniquely engineered solution for individuals dealing with neck pain and searching for a comfortable and adjustable pillow. Filled with a proprietary blend of chopped memory foam and down-alternative microfiber, this pillow offers a balanced combination of support and softness.
One of its standout features is the presence of two compression zippers on either side. Unzipping these zippers allows the pillow to expand vertically, adjusting the loft without the need to add or remove any filling. This innovation makes it exceptionally easy to fine-tune the pillow’s height to suit your specific preferences and height, ensuring a personalized sleep experience that minimizes neck discomfort.
The chopped memory foam core delivers firm and responsive support to your neck and head, promoting proper spinal alignment. On the other hand, the microfiber adds a layer of pleasant softness, enhancing your overall comfort. Since experts often recommend firmer pillows for neck support, the Marlow Pillow’s zipper configuration empowers you to discover the ideal combination of firmness and loft that works best for your body size and preferred sleep position.
11. Mediflow Water Pillow
The Mediflow Water Pillow is an excellent choice for individuals seeking relief from neck pain while enjoying customizable support. Despite the initial apprehension of sleeping on a water-filled pillow, it offers unique benefits for neck support without the inconvenience of sloshing around.
This water pillow uses a straightforward yet effective design. It consists of an adjustable water pouch encased in a soft poly-fiber filling. The key to its versatility lies in the ability to adjust both the firmness and loft of the pillow by controlling the water level. Adding more water increases firmness, while reducing the water level creates a softer, flatter pillow.
What sets this water pillow apart is its ability to conform consistently to the shape of your head, acting like fluid memory foam. This feature significantly reduces neck stress caused by tossing and turning during the night. The weight of the water inside the pillow also ensures that it stays put, providing stable support for your head and neck.
If you’re new to the concept of water pillows and seeking a straightforward, effective solution for neck pain, the Mediflow Water Pillow is a reliable choice. Give it a try, and you may find it revolutionizes your sleep quality and alleviates your neck discomfort.
12. Purple Harmony Pillow
The Purple Harmony Pillow is a top pick for those seeking a cooling pillow that also provides excellent support for neck pain. It stands out for its unique design, combining hyperelastic polymer, perforated latex, and Purple’s signature gel grid material. These layers work together to encourage airflow, preventing you from waking up in a sweat-soaked pillow.
One of its standout features is its customizable loft height, with options for low, medium, and high lofts. The low loft is perfect for individuals with smaller frames, while the medium loft caters to side and combination sleepers with medium-to-large frames. The high loft option suits those with larger frames who prefer side and combination sleeping styles.
Having personally tested the medium-loft version, I can attest to its exceptional softness, making it an ideal choice for those who prefer a plush pillow while still needing reliable head and neck support. The inner latex slab provides more substantial support compared to shredded latex pillows, and the honeycomb grid adds a springy responsiveness that maintains its shape throughout the night. Unlike many softer pillows that lose their form and require constant fluffing, the Purple Harmony’s grid adjusts seamlessly as you change positions and quickly regains its shape. This combination of features, along with the moisture-wicking cover, contributes to a cooler and more comfortable night’s sleep.
How to Choose a Pillow for Neck Pain?
Choosing the right pillow for neck pain is crucial to ensure a restful night’s sleep and alleviate discomfort. The process involves considering several key factors to find the perfect pillow that suits your individual needs.
Loft: The loft of a pillow refers to its height and thickness. It plays a critical role in maintaining proper neck alignment. A pillow with the wrong loft can strain your neck. Side sleepers typically need a higher loft to keep their neck and head aligned with their spine. Back sleepers benefit from a medium loft, while stomach sleepers should opt for a lower loft to prevent neck strain.
Support: A pillow should provide adequate support to your neck and head. Cervical pillows are designed to offer excellent neck support by contouring to the shape of your neck. They are particularly beneficial for side and back sleepers, as they maintain proper spinal alignment.
Firmness Level: Pillow firmness determines how your head rests and should complement your mattress’s firmness. The right firmness level varies depending on your sleep position and personal preferences. Side sleepers typically benefit from medium to firm pillows, while back sleepers might prefer medium firmness. Stomach sleepers usually find soft pillows more comfortable.
Pressure Relief: A good pillow should alleviate pressure points, reducing discomfort in your neck. Choose a pillow that conforms to your sleeping position and body shape. This ensures that your neck remains supported, reducing the risk of pain.
Shape: Pillows come in various shapes, from traditional rectangular to ergonomic designs. Cervical pillows, with their contouring shape, offer targeted support to the neck and head. Some individuals also use additional pillows, such as a small roll under the neck, to enhance support.
Price: While it’s essential to invest in a high-quality pillow, prices vary widely. Consider your budget, but also remember that a good pillow can significantly impact your overall well-being and quality of sleep. It’s worth spending a bit more for a pillow that suits your needs.
Quality Materials: Choose a pillow made from high-quality materials that offer durability and comfort. Memory foam, latex, buckwheat, and feather pillows are popular options, each with its unique qualities. Memory foam molds to your head and neck for excellent support. Latex provides buoyant support and is hypoallergenic. Buckwheat pillows are breathable and conform to your shape, while feather pillows offer softness and conforming ability.
What Pillow Materials are Best for Neck Pain?
Selecting the appropriate pillow material is essential when addressing neck pain. The right choice can alleviate discomfort and promote a better night’s sleep. Several pillow materials are suitable for individuals experiencing neck pain, each with its own advantages and considerations:
Memory Foam: Memory foam pillows are a popular choice for neck pain sufferers. They conform to the shape of your head and neck, providing personalized support. This contouring helps maintain proper alignment, reducing pressure points. Memory foam is also hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites, making it a good option for allergy-prone individuals. However, memory foam can retain heat, potentially causing discomfort for those who sleep hot.
Latex: Natural latex pillows offer a buoyant and supportive feel. They promote neutral spinal alignment and reduce pressure on the neck. Latex is hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites and other allergens. It’s a durable material, and latex pillows can last for many years. However, latex pillows tend to be firmer, which may not be suitable for everyone’s preferences. They are also less adjustable than other types of pillows.
Buckwheat: Buckwheat pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls, which naturally interlock to provide excellent support. These pillows conform to the shape of your head and neck, promoting proper alignment. Buckwheat pillows are breathable, allowing for airflow to keep you cool during sleep. They are also hypoallergenic. However, some people find buckwheat pillows noisy and may need time to adjust to their unique feel.
Feather: Feather pillows offer softness and conforming ability. They can be fluffed and reshaped to suit your preferences. Feather pillows are often customizable, allowing you to adjust the loft by adding or removing feathers. However, over time, feather pillows tend to lose their loft and support, requiring frequent fluffing. They may not provide adequate support for individuals with severe neck pain.
Polyfoam: Polyfoam pillows offer contouring and a quicker response to pressure compared to memory foam. They are lightweight, affordable, and resistant to common allergens. Polyfoam pillows provide a good balance between support and comfort. However, like memory foam, they can trap heat, potentially causing discomfort for hot sleepers.
Gel-Infused Memory Foam: Gel-infused memory foam pillows combine the contouring benefits of memory foam with cooling properties. The gel helps dissipate heat, addressing one of the drawbacks of traditional memory foam. These pillows provide excellent support and pressure relief while promoting a cooler sleep environment.
What is the Best Pillow Positioning for Neck Pain?
The optimal pillow positioning for neck pain involves maintaining proper spinal alignment and minimizing strain on the neck muscles. Sleepers with neck pain should predominantly focus on two sleeping positions: back sleeping and side sleeping.
Back Sleeping: When sleeping on your back, use a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck while keeping your head level with your spine. A medium-loft pillow is typically suitable for most back sleepers. Placing a small, rounded pillow under the neck or a roll-shaped pillow can provide extra support and maintain the natural cervical curve.
Side Sleeping: Side sleepers should choose a higher-loft pillow that fills the space between the head and shoulders. This ensures that the neck remains in alignment with the spine. A contoured or cervical pillow designed explicitly for side sleeping can help cradle the head and neck while reducing pressure points. Placing a pillow between your knees can further enhance spinal alignment.
Regardless of your preferred sleeping position, avoid sleeping on your stomach, as it forces the neck into an unnatural position, leading to strain and discomfort. Proper pillow positioning, combined with the right pillow material and loft, can significantly reduce neck pain and promote restful sleep. Experiment with different pillow types and positions to find the one that best suits your individual needs and provides relief from neck pain.