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If you’re someone who suffers from chronic neck pain, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep. And while a really great mattress can do a lot to alleviate some amount of pain, it’s not the only factor affecting your quality of sleep. Not surprisingly, the type of pillow you use has a major impact—and scoring one of the best pillows for neck pain can really make a difference in how you feel when you wake up in the morning.
The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow provides the alignment and support you need to wake up pain free.
A good pillow that isn’t too old, lumpy or flat and offers adequate support for your neck and back, like a cervical pillow, can indeed ease chronic pain. But some are better suited for the job than others. Of course, there are a lot of options out there. So we combed through tons of online reviews to find the best pillows for neck pain — they offer both comfort and support and will hopefully prevent all your aches and pains in the future. At the bottom of our shopping guide, see Nagle’s best tips for what to keep in mind while shopping.
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 also never loses it shapes and is designed to help relieve pressure and support you while you sleep.
It also gets rave reviews online, with one reviewer noting that, “the contour really supports my neck through the night.” They added, it’s “the only thing that keeps my neck supported and keeps neck pain away.”
Prefer a more traditional cervical pillow to tackle your neck pain? The Misiki memory foam pillow has got you covered. This cervical pillow 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. Special armrests on the side help provide a comfortable spot for your arms to rest.
One five-star reviewer raved about the difference this pillow made in their neck pain. “This pillow actually provides neck support,” they wrote. “One good night’s painless sleep made it worthwhile. Two weeks free of neck pain made it a necessity.”
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.
One neck pain sufferer who gave the pillow a five-star review said that the Eli & Elm pillow was the clear winner after testing out several options. “It is very soft and comfy, yet very supportive for my neck as well. I love the way the curve wraps around my neck and back. It’s like sleeping on a soft, supportive cloud,” they wrote. “The only problem I’ve found with this pillow is that it’s SO comfortable that I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning!”
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.
“I’ve slept with it for a few nights now and there’s been a world of difference already,” says one reviewer who suffers from neck pain. “No more waking up with a sweaty neck. No more waking up with tingling fingers. No more tossing and turning.”
Don’t let the low price fool you — this pillow has plenty of features that make it great for neck pain. Its D-shaped center helps cradle your head while its cervical roll supports your neck while you sleep. It also has a firm feel for next-level support.
One Amazon reviewer says they found a comfortable sleep position with this pillow “almost immediately.” “I NEVER would have thought about a pillow with a hole in it… BUT if you have neck issues, this pillow is OUTSTANDING,” another wrote. “I used to constantly shift around, never was able to get comfortable, always woke up with a neck ache and sometimes a headache. I got this pillow and I sleep so much better.”
While stomach sleeping isn’t recommended when you have neck pain, you can only do so much to adjust your go-to position. The Belly Sleep memory foam pillow can help. This pillow is thin and flat, making it perfect for those who like to snooze on their stomach, and it has curved edges to reduce head rotation. It’s also infused with cooling gel to keep you comfortable while you sleep and it’s encased in a bamboo-polyester cover that’s odor resistant.
One online five-star reviewer says it’s made a huge difference in their neck pain. “This pillow has absolutely eliminated my neck pain which neither chiropractic adjustments nor massages could do for me,” they wrote. “I am beyond thrilled. I will be buying more. This pillow will go with me when I travel as well.”
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.
Several reviewers say the pillow has helped their neck pain. “This pillow is SO comfortable, and so supportive,” one wrote. “Within three nights my neck and shoulder pain was greatly diminished. The memory foam in it feels very high quality and allows you to adjust it to your desired height.”
A pillow that contours to your body — especially the neck area — can make a world of difference for anyone with chronic pain. This memory foam 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.
Online reviewers are pretty impressed, with words like “perfect” and “wonderful” being thrown around a lot. “This pillow is DREAM for anyone who has chronic neck pain, likes to sleep on one dominate side, or tends to flip from side to side through the night,” one wrote. “I love the curve built in for the neck and both sides keep the support no matter how contorted my body gets throughout the night.”
Looking for something environmentally friendly? This pillow from Beans72 is made from organic materials, including unbleached cotton and buckwheat hulls. Plus, it’s customizable, meaning you can adjust it by adding or removing the filling. The buckwheat hull filling is a little different than the feel you’d get with a memory foam or down pillow — some people liken it to sleeping on a beanbag.
Overall, reviewers are pretty impressed, noting the pillow’s ability to support their head and neck. “Using this pillow I never wake with a sore neck or shoulders. I bought one for my father and the pillow alleviated neck pain he has had for years,” one wrote.
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.
It comes highly recommended by over 2,200 Amazon customers for its ability to relieve neck pain in any sleep position. “This is by far the best pillow anyone could want,” one reviewer wrote. “The pillow supports my neck no matter how I sleep on it, and yet it is soft and comfortable. Best of all, I wake up pain free.”
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 subtract 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.
This pillow comes highly recommended by thousands of Amazon customers. “The pillow is SO comfortable. I can’t really compare it to anything. It’s not like a down or like a feather pillow,” one reviewer wrote. “It’s not too high, or too low now. And the bamboo case it comes with is nice and soft.”
“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, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and health at Rutgers University. 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.
Sleeping on the wrong pillow can cause or exacerbate neck pain. If your pillow is too thick or too thin, it can force your neck into weird angles that put stress and tension on your body, resulting in neck pain. Even if your pillow feels comfortable at first, it’s possible that it’s not giving you the right amount of support. A proper pillow keeps your head parallel with your mattress, rather than bent up or down.
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.
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.
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 at an angle.