The Best Pillows for Neck Pain: Leave Morning Aches in the Past

Woman using neck pillow

Few things are worse than waking up from a long night's sleep with a crick in your neck that won't stop aching throughout the day. While finding a supportive mattress can help you get your best night's sleep, a supportive neck pillow is also key. The best pillows for neck pain support a healthy alignment between your head, neck, and spine. Proper spine alignment limits pressure placed on your neck or lower back so you can wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free.

So if you're feeling sore and achy in the mornings, it's probably time to take a second look at your pillow, especially if it's old, flat, or overstuffed. Not sure where to start looking? We've got you covered. Our expert review team has rounded up the top ten pillows to help you get your best night's sleep, ranging from affordable options to luxury picks. We'll outline the key features, perks, and drawbacks of each one so you can find the pillow you need to get the sleep of your dreams.

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The Best Pillow for Neck Pain - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall - Saatva Latex Pillow

Saatva Latex Pillow

SPECS

  • Size: Queen: 28" x 18"; King: 34" x 18"
  • Material: Latex and cotton
  • Firmness: Adjustable

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The Saatva Latex pillow is built with an adjustable core. You can remove the inner core to lower the height of your pillow which is great if you rest on your stomach or back (a pillow with a lot of loft can put your neck in an awkward position and lead to neck pain). The latex material in the pillow is also buoyant and gently cradles your head and adjusts to your natural posture. We especially like how the pillow adapts if you change sleeping positions throughout the night, making this a good pick for combination sleepers also.

Even after removing the inner core, this pillow may be too lofty for those with smaller bodies and stomach sleepers. If you’re on the fence about this pillow, Saatva allows you to try it out risk free. You can sleep on this pillow and return it at any point during the 45-night sleep trial period.

What We Like

  • Adjustable height to suit a wide variety of sleepers
  • Eco-friendly
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Comes with a removable and machine-washable cotton cover
  • Has a 45-night sleep trial period

What We Don't Like

  • Higher loft may be uncomfortable for sleepers with petite body types
  • More expensive than other options

BUY: Saatva Latex Pillow

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Neck Pain - Eli and Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

Elli and Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

SPECS

  • Size: 17″ x 29″
  • Material: Latex and polyester
  • Firmness: Adjustable

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The Eli and Elm cotton side-sleeper pillow is designed with side sleepers in mind. The side sleeping position can put pressure on your neck and shoulders, but the“U” shape of this pillow allows your neck to stay in alignment with your spine as your shoulders have space to sink into your mattress. If this pillow feels too lofty or firm for you, you can adjust the firmness by unzipping the liner and removing some of the shredded latex fill inside.

Shredded latex is a temperature-regulating material that allows air to flow through the bed, so this pillow can also help you sleep cool. One drawback, however, is that at a price point of over $100, it may not be affordable for all sleepers.

What We Like

  • Ergonomic design
  • Adjustable firmness
  • Temperature regulating
  • OEKO-TEX certified to be free of harmful materials

What We Don't Like

  • Only is suited to one sleeping position
  • More expensive than other options

BUY: Eli and Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

Best Cervical Pillow For Neck Pain - Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow

Elviros Cervical Memory Foam Pillow

SPECS

  • Size: Standard 21"x13"; Queen Size 25" x15"
  • Material: Memory foam
  • Firmness: Firm

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The Elviros memory foam pillow is a cervical pillow—sometimes also called an orthopedic pillow—that has a butterfly-shaped design with a small indentation for you to rest your head in the center. This design allows your head to sink gently into the pillow while still keeping your neck in a neutral alignment. The butterfly design of this pillow also allows for you to rest your arms around the pillow as you sleep without putting your spine out of alignment. You can flip the pillow one way to suit the side sleeping position while the other side of the pillow is designed for back sleepers.

However, this pillow isn't adjustable so there's no way to change the loft if it doesn't suit your body type. Also, it may be too high for those that prefer to rest on their stomach.

What We Like

  • Includes arm rests
  • Budget-friendly
  • Designed for back and side sleepers

What We Don't Like

  • Size may not suit all sleepers
  • Not designed for stomach sleeping position

BUY: Elvirios Cervical Memory Foam Pillow

Best Memory Foam Pillow for Neck Pain - Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow

SPECS

  • Size: Standard 21"x13"; Queen 24: x 15", King 26" x 16"
  • Material: Memory foam
  • Firmness: Soft or firm

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The Epabo Contour pillow is made of memory foam that gently conforms to your body as you lay your head and neck on it, while still providing enough pushback to keep your spine in alignment. You can get this budget-friendly pillow on Amazon for less than $50, and it comes in two firmness levels: soft and firm. The pillow allows you to easily remove a layer of foam from the pillow by simply unzipping the cover and pulling it out, so you can further customize the feel of your pillow.

However, it might not offer enough support to keep side sleepers comfortable throughout the night. Side sleepers typically need more support than any other sleep position in order to keep their head and neck raised and in line with their spine.

What We Like

  • Can work for all sleeping positions
  • Comes in a variety of sizes and firmness levels
  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like

  • Can sleep hot compared to other pillow materials
  • Off-gassing smell when you first unbox the pillow

BUY: Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Most Comfortable Pillow for Neck Pain - Silk and Snow Pillow

Silk and Snow Pillow

SPECS

  • Size: 20" x 27"
  • Material: Memory foam and microfiber
  • Firmness: Medium

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The Silk & Snow pillow is a shredded memory foam pillow that comes wrapped in an OEKO-TEK certified organic pillow cover. The foam in this pillow is also CertiPUR-US certified, making this pillow an eco-friendly pick. Plus, you can add or remove as much memory foam from the pillow as you want so it works for all sleeping positions.

This pillow is pressure-relieving because of how the memory foam contours to your body's natural curves, but some sleepers may not like feeling hugged by their pillow if they prefer a firmer surface. Also, memory foam can tend to trap body heat, so a latex or gel-infused pillow might be a better pick for those who tend to sleep hot.

What We Like

  • Gently hugs and supports your head and neck
  • Memory foam is CertiPUR-US® certified
  • Adjustable firmness
  • Comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 3-year warranty

What We Don't Like

  • Memory foam sleeps hotter than other mattress materials
  • Some sleepers may not like the sinking feel of memory foam

BUY: Silk and Snow Pillow

Best Cooling Pillow for Neck Pain - The Purple Pillow

The Purple Pillow

SPECS

  • Size: 24"x16"
  • Material: Polyurethane foam
  • Firmness: Soft

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The Purple Pillow is made of a polymer foam that has a similar bouncy and cool feel as gel-infused foam. The polymer foam layer is shaped in a grid design, which allows the pillow to cradle the natural shape of your body and allow air to flow through the pillow so you don't wake up feeling sweaty. You can also remove or add foam booster layers to adjust the loft of the pillow to suit your body and sleep position.

Although it’s adjustable, the Purple Pillow may not have a low enough loft to suit most stomach sleepers who need a pillow with a lower profile to keep pressure off of the neck. Likewise, The Purple Pillow may be too tall for those with petite body types to be able to get comfortable.

What We Like

  • Sleeps cool
  • Responds to your movements when you toss and turn
  • Includes two height boosters to adjust loft of pillow

What We Don't Like

  • May be too tall for stomach sleepers
  • Loft is not adjustable
  • More expensive than other options

BUY: The Purple Pillow

Best Adjustable Pillow for Neck Pain - Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow

Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow

SPECS

  • Size: Queen 20" x 30"; King 20" x 36"
  • Material: Gel-infused memory foam
  • Firmness: Medium-soft

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The Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow is full of shredded gel-infused memory foam that you can add or remove to create a pillow that is uniquely customized to your body and preferences.

Some reviewers note that this pillow goes flat over time, but Coop sends a bag of extra fill with your pillow purchase to make sure you can feel supported even if the pillow loses its loft after you've used it for a while. We also like that the fill of this pillow is hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant.

What We Like

  • Adjustable loft fits a variety of sleeping positions
  • Gel-infused memory foam provides pressure relief without trapping heat
  • Made in the USA
  • Hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant

What We Don't Like

  • Off-gassing smell when you first unwrap the pillow
  • Some customers note that the pillow gets flatter over time

BUY: Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow

Best Pillow for Neck Pain and Shoulder Pain - Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Pillow

Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Pillow

SPECS

  • Size: Queen 20" x 30"; King 20" x 36"
  • Material: Copper-infused memory foam
  • Firmness: Medium

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The Brooklyn Bedding Luxury pillow is made of copper-infused memory foam, which provides the sleeper with the deep pressure relief of memory foam without sleeping hot. The open cell construction of this pillow helps body heat move away from the surface of the pillow so it stays extra cool.

This pillow also suits all sleeping positions—stomach sleepers can choose the low profile option, back sleepers can choose the high profile option, and side sleepers can choose whichever pillow best suits their body type. This memory foam provides a balanced feel where it cradles your neck and shoulders without pushing back or letting them sink too far into the surface.

What We Like

  • Sleeps cool
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Options to suit any sleeping position

What We Don't Like

  • You can't fluff or adjust the shape of this pillow
  • A more expensive option

BUY: Brooklyn Bedding Luxury Pillow

Best Budget Pillow for Neck Pain - Core Products Extra Firm Support

Core Products Extra Firm Support

SPECS

  • Size: Midsize 22" x 15"; Full size 24"x16"
  • Material: Polyester fiberfill
  • Firmness: Extra firm

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The Core Products Extra Firm support pillow is designed with a D-shaped indentation in the center to allow your head to rest gently in the center of the pillow while a cervical roll provides ergonomic support to your neck. You can flip the pillow around to choose from two neck rolls—a larger one and a smaller one—to suit your body type and sleeping position.

This pillow provides extra firm support so that you won't feel your head sinking too far for comfort into its surface overnight. The extra firm support is an acquired taste and may take some getting used to, but many reviewers state that this pillow helped them eliminate headaches and morning neck pains when they slept on it consistently. It is important to note that this pillow is not designed to suit side sleepers.

What We Like

  • Budget-friendly price
  • Firmer level of support helps keep spine in healthy alignment
  • Ergonomic design

What We Don't Like

  • May feel uncomfortable at first as your body adjusts to the pillow's extra firm feel
  • Not suitable for side sleepers

BUY: Core Products Extra Firm Support

Best Luxury Pillow for Neck Pain - Cozy Earth Silk Pillow

Cozy Earth Silk Pillow

SPECS

  • Size: Standard 20" x 30" ; King 20" x 36"
  • Material: Silk filling
  • Firmness: Medium-soft

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If you're looking for a decadent sleeping experience, the Cozy Earth Silk Pillow might be the right pick for you. This pillow is filled with hand-shredded AAA grade long-strand Mulberry Silk Filling and comes wrapped in a breathable and moisture-wicking bamboo cover. The Cozy Earth Silk Pillow has a fluffy, cloud-like feel that is similar to down, but holds its shape longer than down pillows.

This pillow costs more than twice as much as most of the pillows on this list, but its high quality materials and 10-year warranty make it an investment that would hold up over time. Also, this pillow might not be a good pick for those who prefer firmer surfaces or need more solid support to sleep sound throughout the night.

What We Like

  • High quality materials such as AAA grade silk, natural bamboo, and
  • Sleeps cool
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Holds shape longer than down pillows

What We Don't Like

  • Soft feel may not provide enough support for all sleepers
  • Expensive
  • Not adjustable

BUY: Cozy Earth Silk Pillow

How to Choose the Best Pillow for Neck Pain

Material

The material pillow determines the feel and type of support it will provide. Down is one of the more common and traditional pillow types. Made of goose and duck feathers, these pillows feel soft and fluffy but tend to go flat throughout the night.

Memory foam pillows have also gotten more popular in the last decade. Pillows filled with this material provide support while also conforming to your body's natural shape. These pillows will spring back into shape as you toss and turn, and a high-quality memory foam pillow will adapt to new sleeping positions as you readjust. Memory foam can tend to hold heat, but opting for a shredded or aerated memory foam pillow can help you sleep cool.

Latex pillows offer a more subtle pressure relief than memory foam. Latex is naturally cooling and resistant to dust mites, but may be more expensive than other materials. Some sleepers also may be irritated by these pillows if you have a latex allergy.

Some pillows are made with a polyester or fiber fill that is designed to mimic the feel of down. These pillows are typically built without animal by-products and are budget-friendly, but go flat quicker than authentic down pillows.

Silk pillows provide a fluffy and light feel similar to down, but tend to hold their shape longer and are more durable in general. They are also cooling, breathable, and hypoallergenic, but also are one of the most expensive pillow types on the market.

Firmness

Ultimately, your pillow needs to be firm enough to hold your head in a healthy posture throughout the night. Firmness is subjective, so ultimately you need to choose the pillow that feels right for your sleeping position and body type, but many people are properly supported by a pillow with a medium firmness level. A pillow that is too soft will allow your head and neck to sink, which may cause aches and pains. On the other hand, a pillow that's too firm, however, may not provide enough pressure relief and comfort for you to get a restful night's sleep.

Sleep Position

Finding the right pillow for your sleep position is key to preventing neck pain. You'll want to look for a pillow that keeps your head in a neutral alignment with your spine so that your pillow isn't causing your muscles to cramp by allowing your neck to droop too far down, or pushing too far up.

Back sleepers need a pillow that cradles the neck and keeps the head at a healthy, horizontal position throughout the night. Most sleepers will find that a medium-loft and medium-firmness pillow does the trick.

If you sleep on your side, you typically will need a pillow with a higher loft because the distance between your head and the bed is greater than when you are laying on your back and stomach. A medium or high loft pillow with ample support will likely be the best pick, depending on your size and preferences.

Stomach sleepers generally sleep best on a pillow with a low loft that is on the softer side to prevent the pillow from pushing the head up at an uncomfortable angle. It can also be helpful for side sleepers to place a small pillow under the hips to help reduce stress from the midsection and lower back.

FAQs About Pillows for Neck Pain


What kind of pillow is best for neck pain?

The best pillow for neck pain is a pillow that keeps your neck and head in a healthy posture, i.e. in alignment with your spine. The firmness, size, loft, and shape of the best pillow for neck pain depends on your body size, sleeping position, and preference for a softer or firmer feel.

What firmness of pillow is best for neck pain?

The best pillow firmness for neck pain depends on your body type, sleeping position, and preference. Stomach sleepers typically do best with a softer pillow with a low profile, while back and side sleepers may prefer a medium or medium-firm pillow that keeps the head lifted while allowing a little bit of give to prevent the pillow from pushing your head too far up and out of alignment.

Should I sleep without a pillow if my neck hurts?

Sleeping without a pillow may actually make your neck pain worse because it may allow your head and neck to sink into an uncomfortable angle and strain your muscles. However, stomach sleepers can get away with this (a pillow with too much loft can force a stomach sleeper to strain their neck). Instead, consider looking for a new pillow that suits your sleeping position and body type and will better support your posture as you sleep.

Do neck pillows actually work?

The right neck pillow will provide cervical support, meaning that it will keep your head lifted in a healthy, neutral position as you sleep. Keeping your head, neck, and spine in a healthy alignment helps keep stress and strains off your neck so you can wake up pain-free.

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