Finding the best pillow for neck pain is a critical concern for the millions of people who suffer from neck pain. It’s estimated that up to 25% of all women will experience neck pain at some point. Up to 15% of men suffer from it. As we’ll discuss, the right pillow can help alleviate neck pain while sleeping, while also providing better quality sleep overall.
What is the best pillow for neck pain?
Finding the best pillow for neck pain isn’t straightforward. Many things will depend on finding it, including your specific cause of neck pain and your sleep habits. However, focusing in on a few key areas can help. When it comes to finding a good pillow for you, consider the:
- Pillow characteristics
- Material the pillow is made from
- Way you actually sleep
“The goal of using a pillow is to help keep your head in what is called a ‘neutral alignment,’ meaning your head is sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back too far or reaching too far forward.”
This simple adjustment can make a world of difference for neck pain patients. It’s important to get the pillow right and, if done correctly, some patients can find that their neck pain reduces or goes away completely. Dr. Raymond Hall on Pillo1.com states that:
“I consider the lack of proper neck and head pillow support that almost all ordinary pillows and even 99% of the so-called “therapeutic pillows” on the market, are the MAJOR cause of neck pain in our society.”
ChooseMattress.com echoes this sentiment, noting that old pillows or sagging mattresses are leading to many stiff neck issues for patients. Let’s take a look at these aspects before diving into our favorite options.
The best characteristics of pillows for neck pain
Where do you start when it comes to getting the best pillow for your neck pain? Loom & Leaf suggests focusing in on six characteristics of pillows for neck pain. They note that pillows should:
- Be fluffy
- Fill the gap between your neck, head, and back
- Be durable
- Have the right filling
- Support your particular sleeping position
- Keep your neck in a neutral position
Jennifer at MomActivity talks about a few more of her must-haves when it comes to pillows for neck pain. For example, she suggests readers look for wider pillows that can support your head.
Check out your pillow materials
PainAway Devices gives an in-depth look on the different materials that are used to make the best pillow for neck pain. On their post, they discuss different types of pillows made from:
- Down or down alternatives
- Memory foam
- Water based materials
You can find additional pros and cons about each of these different materials used to make pillows for neck pain at PillowAdvisor or Everyday Health. Many of these options are hypoallergenic, easy-to-clean, and dust mite resistant. We’ll be looking at a number of these different types of materials throughout this post. Most pillows, however, come in memory foam, down, or with water based materials.
How should I sleep with neck pain?
There are three types of sleepers: back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers. Universally, back sleeping tends to be the healthiest for reducing pain levels for all patients. However, side sleepers can often get a good night of sleep with a few modifications.
We typically find that stomach sleepers experience higher levels of both neck and back pain, so generally suggest that patients modify their sleep routine to avoid this sleeping style. However, in this post we will be discussing a few pillows for neck pain that work for each sleeping style.
Why is sleep so important?
We’ve discussed often on the blog the need for appropriate sleep for pain patients. Harvard Medical School supports this, noting that sleep researchers:
“Found that people who reported moderate to severe problems in at least three of these four categories were significantly more likely to develop chronic musculoskeletal pain after one year than those who reported little or no problem with sleep. One possible explanation is that sleep disturbances disrupt the muscle relaxation and healing that normally occur during sleep. Additionally, it is well established that pain can disrupt sleep, contributing to a vicious cycle of pain disrupting sleep, and sleep problems contributing to pain.”
Health.com also notes that not getting the right sleep can increase your risk of obesity and depression, other known comorbid conditions occurring with chronic pain.
The 25 best pillows for neck pain
With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at options for the best pillow for neck pain for you. This list is based on our trials and other customer reviews. It does not represent an endorsement from PainDoctor.com, nor do we make money from sharing these here.
Finding the best pillow for you will depend largely on what you need to have your best night’s sleep, as well as your budget and sleep style. If a pillow is causing you more pain, discontinue use. We’ve also included information on prices and materials for all of these. Do note that these prices are subject to change. Always check the original site for the most up-to-date prices.
The 25 best pillows for neck pain, updated for 2018, include:
- Core Products Therapeutic Sleeping Pillow
- Mediflow Waterbase Pillow For Neck Pain
- Custom Sleeping’s Cervical Orthopedic Pillow
- Shredded Memory Foam Pillow From Xtreme Comforts
- Core Products’ Tri-Core Standard Support Pillow
- Chiroflow Premium Water Pillow
- CozyCloud Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
- Tempur-Pedic Swedish Neck Pillow
- PharMeDoc Memory Foam Pillow With Cooling Gel
- Perform Pillow Low Profile Memory Foam Pillow
- Beautyrest Latex Foam Pillow
- NOFFA Memory Foam Pillow
- CR Sleep Memory Foam Contour Pillow
- Sleep Innovations Contour Memory Foam Pillow
- Classic Brands Conforma Memory Foam Pillow
- Beyond Down Gel Fiber Side Sleeper Pillow
- MALOUF’s Z Gel Memory Foam L-Shape Pillow
- MALOUF’s Latex Zoned Pillow For Neck Pain
- Comfy Comfy’s Buckwheat Pillow
- COOP Home Goods’ Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
- Relax the Back’s PureContour Dual Pillow
- Nakital Contour Pillow for Sleeping
- Easy Life’s Ergonomic Memory Foam Pillow
- Exceptional Sheets’ Extra Soft Down Filled Pillow
- Primaloft Down Alternative Pillows
Find out more about all of these below.
There’s a reason why BPillow, one of the best resources for pillows for neck pain reviews, calls the Mediflow Waterbase Pillow for Neck Pain their favorite. This neck pain pillow is backed by a clinical study at John Hopkins University that showed it was the best in class, receiving high marks in every category they studied, especially neck pain relief. The neck pain pillow’s inner water chamber allows you to adjust the level of support you need, whether you sleep on your back or side. And, over 2,000 reviewers agree, giving this pillow 4-stars on Amazon.
Type: Water | Price: $34.99
This pillow is one of the most unique, as it creates the perfect sleeping position based on your size and shape. To get this one, you’ll choose from multiple sizes, as explained in more detail on their site. Some reviewers call it a life saver, helping them to relieve neck and headache pain that has plagued them for years. Back Pain Relief Products calls it one of their top three best pillows for neck pain. Some reviewers have found it too firm, however, so as with all of these pillows for neck pain, it’s best to find the one that works best for you and your comfort level.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $81.25
3. CustomSleeping’s Cervical Orthopedic Pillow
For all the bells and whistles, check out this: the best pillow for neck pain when it comes to creating a custom fit and support. You can customize your direct neck support with this one, and a zipper on the bottom lets you change the pillow’s firmness. And since it’s filled with a shredded gel memory foam, it’s also soft and cool to sleep on.
Type: Memory Foam and Gel | Price: $49.99
Shredded memory foam pillows allow you to shape the pillow to your neck and sleeping position. Xtreme Comfort’s pillow is made in the USA, stays naturally cool thanks to its bamboo cover, and is machine washable. It also has the added benefit of being comfortable for those who sleep with their arm under their pillow, as the pillow is adjustable to any shape.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $44.97
Core Products’ pillow for neck pain provides options for all sleepers, whether they sleep on their side, back, or stomach. And it provides options for comfort, all in one uniquely designed pillow. Its center depression allows sleepers to customize their level of support–larger or smaller neck support options and thick padding along the edges for side sleepers, making it a great choice as one of the best options.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $40.96
Looking for the best pillow for neck pain, at a reasonable cost? The Chiroflow water pillow is one of the best, with multiple reviewers noting that they loved how it could be customized to provide the support they needed. Many reviewers noted specifically that it worked great to help them after neck injuries. They also noted that it was leak-proof, comfortable to sleep on, and easy to set up.
Type: Water | Price: $59.99
CozyCloud’s take on the shredded memory foam pillow combines breathable and cooling options while also allowing for proper neck and spinal alignment. This neck pain pillow was designed by a chiropractor. It also comes with a 10-year warranty, and is made in the USA from high-quality products.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $49.99
Tempur-Pedic® is one of the leaders of pillows for neck pain. Their classic Swedish neck pillow provides support to help properly align your spine for a better sleep posture. It’s the leading neck pain pillow by Bed, Bath, & Beyond reviewers for a reason!
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $99.99
The PharMeDoc pillow provides neck support, but it also is engineered with a cooling gel that helps keep the pillow cool in hotter climates (or for those suffering from hot flashes!). Reviewers loved the support of this pillow and that it was made with top-of-the-line products.
Type: Memory Foam and Gel | Price: $26.95
Low profile, chiropractor-approved, and eco-friendly? This pillow is a great overall option for those who are looking to find the right kind of support they need while sleeping. The bamboo cover is also machine washable, and all products used in this pillow are hypoallergenic. It got one of the highest ratings over at CrushReviews!
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $74.95
The reviewers over at DecentSleep.com think this is one of the best pillow for neck pain options–soft, made from all-natural latex, and resistant to bacteria, mold, mites, and fungus. They especially think it might be the best pillow for neck pain and headaches. And, neck pain and headaches caused by the wrong pillow is definitely a thing. MemoryFoamDoctor.com notes that:
“When your spine is out of alignment as you sleep, the muscles surrounding your neck and head try to make up for that lack of support. This is why you will wake up feeling stiff if your head isn’t properly supported, and in fact, the tension in these muscles can actually cause significant headaches over time.”
Type: Latex | Price: $43.45
For a very affordable neck pain pillow, look no further than NOFFA’s option. Many find that this helps with chronic aches in the neck and back, and it’s priced lower than $20. It’s made with shredded memory foam for better ventilation and neck alignment support.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $17.99
Another affordable budget find, the CR sleeping pillow has a gentle contour for sleeping. It’s also made with soft, washable jersey fabric. The pillow has a medium-firmness with two height levels depending on your preferences.
Type: Gel-Infused Memory Foam | Price: $19.95
Best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain
Sleep Innovations creates one of the best pillows for side sleepers with neck pain. It’s a standard memory foam construction (made entirely in the U.S.) that is lighter than some of the other pillows for neck pain on the market. It’s also one of the most affordable on the market. Even so, this contour pillow has a 4-star review on Amazon, from over 3,000 shoppers.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $24.99
Hypoallergenic, dust-mite resistant, and designed to keep your head cool while you sleep? The Conforma Memory Foam Pillow is a great option for those who are looking for the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain. It combines solid construction and support that help keep the head and neck supported during sleep. With its firm support, many larger people also love the pillow. Additionally, Classic Brands prides themselves on their customer service. Many customers note that they were quick to help with questions, as well as replacements if needed.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $37.62
This pillow, made by SleepBetter, uses a micro-denier gel fiber that mimics the feeling of the softest down feathers. Many reviewers claim that this pillow gives them the softness they love, with the support they need to relieve their neck pain. And, these pillows stay fluffy for even the hardest sleepers.
Type: Gel | Price: $42.30
Another unique option, this one for side sleepers! SleepComfortably.org calls this the most unique and possibly best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain. It also reduces the need for multiple pillows, promoting proper neck alignment. Other reviewers say it did wonders for their neck and shoulder pain, since it was able to provide them support on both sides.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $57.99
MALOUF provides one of the highest-end neck pain pillows on the market. With the higher price tag, you’ll get more customizable options for bed size, height, and firmness. It’s also made from all-natural latex, with no synthetic additives, and is naturally antimicrobial, mildew-proof, and dust-mite resistant. And since it’s created with zones, it means you’ll feel less pressure on the back of your head and more support under your neck.
Type: Latex | Price: $91.99
Buckwheat pillow?? Many sleepers find that buckwheat gives them the solid support they can’t find in other pillows. This one was specially made for larger sleepers, those with broad shoulders, or those looking for the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain. You can completely customize how much buckwheat is in the pillow. Many reviewers also claim that it holds its shape better than any pillow on the market.
Type: Buckwheat | Price: $115.00
Best pillow for back sleepers with neck pain
COOP Home Goods provides one of the best pillows for back sleepers with neck pain. And, with all U.S.-made products, it means the pillow doesn’t contain any ozone depleters, mercury, or other heavy metals. It’s also hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, and machine washable.
But does it really help relieve neck pain? Over 9,000 neck pain pillow reviewers seem to think so, claiming that they were able to customize the support and shape of the pillow to give them their best sleep.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $52.99
Relax the Back offers a wide variety of eco-friendly pillows that can help relieve neck and back pain. Their PureContour dual pillow is made with memory foam, contoured to best support the cervical neck region. It’s especially well-suited for back sleepers with neck pain.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $119.00
Nakital creates one of the best pillows for neck pain, for those who sleep on their side or back. Its breathable cover is also crafted to help reduce allergens in the bed and is made from non-toxic materials. Patients with cervical spondylitis and arthritis neck pain both enjoy sleeping with this pillow. It’s also a more affordable neck pillow for those on a budget.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $25.29
Don’t let the strange shape dissuade you–pain sufferers with shoulder and neck pain, bulging discs, and chronic upper back pain all benefited from using this pillow. It’s another hypoallergenic option, as well.
Type: Memory Foam | Price: $49.99
Best pillow for stomach sleepers with neck pain
While we don’t recommend sleeping on your stomach if you have neck pain, ExceptionalSheets does offer one of the best pillows for stomach sleepers with neck pain if you can’t kick the habit. This is a down-filled pillow that is hypo-allergenic and machine washable. Some reviewers call this pillow the best they’ve ever slept on.
Type: Down | Price: $54.99
Primaloft offers another pillow for neck pain that many stomach sleepers love. The pillow comes in three density options to provide support and comfort during the night.
Type: Down alternative | Price: $100.00
After finding the best pillow for neck pain
We hope you’ve found a pillow that provides some relief from your neck pain. Once you’ve found the pillow that works for you, though, don’t expect it to be magic the first night. PhysioWorks notes that:
“Your neck may feel different or uncomfortable during the first few nights of using any new pillow. This is because it is still adjusting to the healthy support. In the vast majority of cases, you’ll look forward to extreme comfort within a few days. However, a pillow that does not ease your neck pain within a week is probably not supportive or you have a neck condition that requires professional treatment.”
The Arthritis Foundation also suggests making time for neck pain exercises and physical therapy to help relieve pain. If using a pillow, along with some gentle neck pain stretches, don’t work, it’s likely time to call in a neck pain doctor. A trained neck pain doctor can suggest interventional and focused treatment options for your neck pain condition. Click the button below to find a pain doctor in your area.