These 11 Pillows For Neck Pain Are Ideal For Sore Sleepers

10 Oct.,2022

 

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The best pillows for neck pain allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your day—not sore, cranky and worn out because your sleep situation wasn’t up to snuff. After all, how can you possibly hope to look forward to the day in front of you when you’re struggling to even turn your head left and right? Luckily, pillows for neck pain solve the woes of most unhappy sleepers, turning bedtime into something you can enjoy again. In that sense, these pillows are just as important as a sturdy mattress or a just-right down comforter: They really can have a direct impact on the quality of your life. (Our top pick is the Tempur-Pedic Tempur Neck Pillow, which follows the natural curve of your head and neck—but we’ve got plenty of other great options ahead.)

With its contoured shape that follows the natural curve of your spine, the Tempur-Pedic Tempur Neck ... [+] Pillow is one of the best pillows for neck pain.

ILLUSTRATION: FORBES / PHOTO: RETAILERS

Scientists and doctors confirm as much. According to Nicole Nagle, DPT, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and health at Rutgers University, getting a pillow that will support your neck is crucial. A proper pillow keeps your head parallel with your mattress, rather than bent up or down, she points out. You’re also going to want to pass on anything that’s too flat or too puffy, as that will throw off your alignment and put you at risk for even more pain.

Ready to change up your pillow situation? Ahead, find our favorite pillows for neck pain, each of which provides just the right amount of support to ease your pain and transform your nights.

Best Pillow For Neck Pain Overall

A Bestselling Option With A Gentle Contour That Cradles Your Head

MOST POPULAR

Tempur-Pedic

Tempur-Neck Pillow

Material: Tempur foam | Firmness: Firm | Contoured: Yes

Tempur-Pedic is a huge name in the sleep world, and with good reason: The company knows how to make a quality product. This ergonomic pillow has a wavy shape to follow the natural curve of your head and neck. The pillow’s Tempur material never loses its shape and is designed to help relieve pressure and support you while you sleep. Choose from three sizes—small, medium and large—to find the pillow that’s right for you and your neck.

Pros:

  • Good support
  • Firm feel
  • Size options

Cons:

  • May feel too firm for some
  • Ergonomic shape isn’t for everyone

Best Memory Foam Pillow For Neck Pain

A Perfectly Shaped Pillow To Hold Your Neck In Place

Amazon

Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Material: Memory foam | Firmness: Firm | Contoured: Yes

A pillow that contours to your body—especially the neck area—can make a world of difference for anyone with chronic pain. This pillow from Epabo features a strategic ergonomic design to help support and cradle your head, neck and shoulders, allowing you to drift off into uninterrupted sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Breathable memory foam helps keep this pillow’s shape and allows you to stay cool and sweat-free while you sleep.

Pros:

  • Very supportive
  • Breathable materials

Cons:

  • Not comfortable for stomach sleepers
  • Can have a chemical smell that dissipates

Best Cervical Pillow For Neck Pain

An Ergonomic Wonder With Built-In Armrests

Amazon

Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow

Material: Memory foam, viscose, polyester | Firmness: Firm | Contoured: Yes

Prefer a more traditional cervical pillow to tackle your neck pain? The Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow has you covered. It has a butterfly-shaped contour to perfectly support your neck while you sleep, while aligning your head with the rest of your body and spine. A slope in the center also keeps your head from drifting out of position while you sleep. Special cut-outs on the side help provide a comfortable spot for your arms to rest. 

Pros:

  • Arm rests
  • Keeps head in place

Cons:

  • Not high enough for everyone
  • Takes some time to get used to it


Best Neck Pain Pillow For Side Sleepers

A Pillow For Extra Support, Even On Your Side

Amazon

Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow

Material: Latex, polyester | Firmness: Plush (and adjustable) | Contoured: Yes

Specially designed for side sleepers, Eli & Elm’s side sleeper pillow has a unique U-shape to support your neck and promote spinal alignment. The pillow is adjustable, so you can find the level of firmness and fill that works best for you. It’s also anti-microbial, mildew-proof and dust mite-resistant, if allergies are a concern. Happen to spill something on your pillow? The cover unzips and can be tossed in the wash.

Pros:

  • Adjustable
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Not ideal for every sleep position
  • Pricey

Best Cooling Pillow For Neck Pain

A Beloved Option That Prevents Night Sweats And Doesn’t Lose Its Shape

Purple

The Purple Pillow

Material: Polyurethane foam, polyester | Firmness: Soft | Contoured: No

Made from hyper-elastic polymers arranged in a smart-comfort grid, The Purple Pillow is specifically designed for head and neck support. A temperature-neutral gel grid allows for passive airflow while a moisture-wicking breeze mesh cover keeps you cool while you sleep. Thanks to its futuristic fill material, it never loses its shape and delivers consistent comfort and relief to the neck. And adjustable height boosters allow you to tailor it to your exact need.

Pros:

  • Adjustable
  • Cooling

Cons:

  • Softness isn’t for everyone
  • Heavy

Best Budget Pillow For Neck Pain

An Inexpensive Pillow That’s Seriously Effective

Amazon

Core Products D-Core Cervical Support Pillow

This product is also available on Target for $42.

Material: Cotton, polyester | Firmness: Extra firm | Contoured: Yes

Don’t let the low price fool you—this pillow has plenty of features that make it great for neck pain. Its unique D-shaped center helps cradle your head while its structured cervical roll aligns your neck while you sleep on your back. It also has a firm feel for next-level support. Choose from full and mid-size options—both fit into a standard pillow case.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Lots of support

Cons:

  • Shape isn’t for everyone
  • May flatten over time


Best Pillow For Neck Pain For Stomach Sleepers

A Thin But Supportive Option

Amazon

Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow

Material: Bamboo, polyester | Firmness: Firm | Contoured: No

While stomach sleeping isn’t recommended when you have neck pain, you can only do so much to adjust your go-to position. The Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow can help. This pillow is thin and flat, making it perfect for those who like to snooze on their stomach. It’s also infused with cooling gel to shuttle away extra heat and keep you comfortable while you sleep. The whole thing is encased in a bamboo-polyester cover that wicks away moisture.

Pros:

  • Cooling
  • Moisture-wicking

Cons:

  • Not ideal if you shift positions
  • Not slim enough for some

Best Firm Pillow For Neck Pain

An Adjustable Option For Those Who Can’t Decide What Thickness They Love Most

Nest Bedding

Nest Bedding Easy Breather Pillow

Material: Shredded memory foam, latex and polyester fiber| Firmness: Firm (and adjustable) | Contoured: No

Nest Bedding’s Easy Breather pillow is fully adjustable, so you can find the level of firmness that’s right for you. A nice perk: It comes overstuffed so, if your pillow preferences lean heavily on the side of extra-firm, you should be good to go right out of the box. The pillow offers up firm but soft support to mimic the feel of a down pillow, while still cradling your neck while you sleep. There’s also a contoured version that’s made specifically for side sleepers.

Pros:

  • Adjustable
  • Comfortable feel

Cons:

  • Not good for people with latex allergies
  • Heavy

Best Unconventional Pillow For Neck Pain

A Well-Contoured Option For All Types Of Sleepers

Amazon

Mediflow Water Pillow

Material: Polyester| Firmness: Adjustable | Contoured: No

A pillow filled with water may seem a little unconventional, but that just might be what your neck needs. An independent study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University has even proven the effectiveness of water pillows for reducing pain in the morning. Mediflow’s water pillow is fully adjustable—just add or take out water as needed. The pillow can be on the firmer or on the softer side depending on how you fill it, and you can experiment to get that just-right feel.

Pros:

  • Adjustable
  • Easy to prepare

Cons:

  • Water pillows aren’t for everyone
  • Takes time to find right level of firmness

Best Adjustable Pillow For Neck Pain

An Ideal Option For People With Allergies

Amazon

Coop Home Goods Eden Adjustable Pillow

Material: Memory foam, bamboo-derived viscose rayon, polyester | Firmness: Plush (and adjustable) | Contoured: No

Made to avoid the dreaded “pillow pinch”—when a pillow’s fill slides out from under your neck and support vanishes—this memory foam pillow from Coop Home Goods is a sturdy option that makes support a priority. It comes with extra fill you can add or remove for maximum comfort, and it’s also hypoallergenic and dust mite-resistant to help lower the risk you’ll wake up with a stuffy nose.

Pros:

  • Adjustable
  • Hypoallergenic

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Has a smell that dissipates over time

Best Orthopedic Pillow For Neck Pain

An Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow That’s Universally Helpful

Amazon

Uttu Sandwich Pillow

Material: Memory foam, bamboo viscose| Firmness: Medium-firm| Contoured: Yes

The gentle wave of the Uttu Sandwich Pillow helps support your neck while you sleep. Unlike some other memory foam pillows, the Uttu has adjustable heights. It’s originally filled with a high contour of 4.7 inches and 3.9 inches of low contour. If you remove the middle layer, you’ll get 3.5 inches on the high contour and 2.8 inches on the low contour. This pillow also has a cover made of 40% bamboo viscose for a cooling feel to keep you from overheating at night. It also works for side, back and stomach sleepers.

Pros:

  • Adjustable
  • Cooling

Cons:

  • Can take time to get used to
  • Not firm enough for some

How We Chose The Best Pillows For Neck Pain

To choose the best pillows for neck pain, we did a deep-dive into dozens of the top brands on the market and rounded up their top-selling pillow models. Next, we narrowed down the field using factors like customer reviews, comfort ratings and overall value. We also spoke with a physical therapist, who confirmed the qualities we should be looking for in the best pillows for neck pain. Finally, several of our staffers shared their own personal experiences and favorite purchases, helping us to further narrow the field of top contenders.

How To Select The Best Pillow For Neck Pain

“At night when you lay down to sleep, you want your head to be properly supported so that your neck muscles can relax,” says Nicole Nagle, DPT. With the wrong pillow, “your neck muscles are working overtime at night and this is not going to help your neck pain,” she says. Nagle recommends keeping the following factors in mind when looking for a pillow to help ease pain:

  • Keep your sleep style in mind. Certain pillows are tailored to particular sleep styles, and that matters for your pain. “If you are a back sleeper, your pillow should not be too thin where you are sinking into it,” Nagle says. “If you are a side sleeper, your pillow may need to be thicker to account for the distance between your bed and your head.”
  • Focus on your alignment. The right pillow should support your head and neck. “Your shoulders should not be on the pillow,” Nagle says. “The goal is for you to have a neutral spine, which means your head should not be placed too far forward or backward.”
  • Firmness and material are personal preferences. The main goal, Nagle says, is for you to be in alignment, with your head and neck aligned with your spine. “If finding a pillow that has greater firmness is going to help you maintain that alignment, then by all means go ahead,” she says.
  • Read the reviews. Buying online can be tricky, but it’s a necessity these days. That’s why Nagle recommends reading online descriptions and reviews before pulling the trigger on a purchase. And, if a company has a good return policy, even better.

Which Pillow Is Best For Neck Pain?

There isn’t one single pillow out there that’s perfect for everyone, but the best pillow for neck pain has two main characteristics: it’s firm enough to keep your head at a neutral angle so your spine stays aligned while you sleep, but yet somehow soft enough to allow some give to help alleviate pressure points. That’s why we like the Tempur-Pedic Tempur Neck Pillow—it checks all the boxes.

Memory foam and feather pillows are excellent options because they provide support, but also cradle your head to keep your spine neutral. Cervical pillows—the ones that have a depression in the center and raised edges—are also top picks. Keep in mind that the best pillow for neck pain may not feel totally comfortable at first. It can take some getting used to, so give it a little time.

How Should I Sleep To Avoid Neck Pain?

To avoid neck pain, it’s best to sleep on your back or your side. Your head and neck should be on your pillow, while your shoulders remain slightly below it. Your head should also be parallel to the mattress, rather than tilted at an angle.

What Type Of Pillow Is Best For Side Sleepers With Neck Pain?

It depends. Comfort, support and proper alignment are crucial, Nagle says, and you want to find a pillow that will meet all of those needs. We like the Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow for its level of firmness and unique shape that tailors to side sleepers.

Do Higher Pillows Help With Neck Pain?

Not necessarily. If your pillow is too high, it can throw your spine out of alignment and create even more pain, Nagle says. Ideally, you want to look for a pillow with a medium height to help you achieve this. If you’re unsure if a particular pillow’s height is right for you, opt for an adjustable pillow.