The Best Pillows for Neck Pain

Learn how the right pillow can eliminate your neck pain and see our picks for the best pillows for neck pain of 2019.

By Jayna Nickert

When a person suffers from neck pain, it’s no small inconvenience. Pain can impact so many areas of life in ways that make functioning difficult. From sleeping to simple movements around the house, neck pain can really limit a person.

At some point or another, neck pain will affect 25% of women and 15% of men. The source of an individual’s neck pain will vary from one person to the next, but a common aggravator of neck pain is the pillow that’s being slept on.


Our Picks for The Best Pillows for Neck Pain

Check out our top picks for the best pillows for neck pain.

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Shredded Memory Foam Pillow by Xtreme Comforts

The Shredded Memory Foam pillow by Xtreme Comforts is an excellent pillow choice for sleepers looking for support and movability. Known for its orthopedic support that aligns the head and neck, this pillow helps minimize aches and pains. The loft of this pillow is relatively thick, making it an especially good options for side and back sleepers, although it will serve all sleeping positions well. Made with KoolFlow micro-vented technology, the Xtreme Comforts memory foam pillow regulates body temperature and is far more breathable than traditional memory foam. The cover of the Xtreme Comforts pillow is made of 40% bamboo and is machine washable. Available online for $64.

 

Sleep Innovations Contour Memory Foam Pillow

The therapeutic design of The Sleep Innovations Contour Memory Foam pillow was carefully crafted to prevent pain and stiffness by aligning the neck and shoulders. It’s ideal for back and side sleepers who can choose between the high or low loft side for individualized support. This pillow is crafted in the US and made of 100% cotton. Available for $26 on Amazon for a queen.

 

Mediflow Waterbase Pillow

The Water Pillow by Mediflow is completely adjustable and clinically proven to reduce neck pain. is ideal for someone who moves around a lot during the night. Filled with fiber that floats on a thin layer of water, the Mediflow Water Pillow carefully cradles the head while offering unrivaled support. It is wrapped in a 200 thread count, hypoallergenic, cotton cover that is machine washable. The firmness and thickness of this pillow can be adjusted by simply adding or removing the amount of water found inside. Available online for $69.

 

The Purple Pillow

Say goodbye to sweaty foam and feathers with the carefully crafted Purple Pillow. Made of Purple’s proprietary hyperelastic polymer constructed in an egg-crate design, your neck will stay elevated and cradled throughout the night. The Purple Pillow sleeps exceptionally cool and never has to be fluffed. Not to mention, it’s antimicrobial. This pillow is optimal for individuals with neck pain by offering spine support so the head can relax. It comes with an adjustable booster for side sleepers, and will never break down or lose its shape. Available at Purple for $99.

PlushBeds Natural Luxury Handmade Wool Pillow

If you are a sleeper who suffers from neck pain and you are on the hunt for an eco-friendly, humanely made, organic, luxury pillow, look no further. The filling of PlushBeds’ Wool Pillow is made from 100% pure virgin wool in the USA and is hand filled for each sleeper so they are provided with the exact level of support they need.

Wool makes for  great pillow filler because it is naturally moisture-wicking and regulates body temperature. The wool used in this pillow is responsibly sourced from sheep who have been treated humanely throughout their lives. Only the cleanest fleece is used in PlushBeds’ pillows and it is hand washed with gentle biodegradable detergent. There are no chemicals used in the curling process of the wool, and it’s natural ivory color is free of bleach. This pillow can be purchased from PlushBeds for $114.

Snuggle-Pedic Supreme Plush Bamboo Pillow

Made for all sleep positions, the Snuggle-Pedic Pillow conforms to your shape for excellent neck support. The interior combines Biogreen® memory foam and CertiPUR-US® certified foam to make the pillow fluffy. The foam is hypoallergenic, eco-friendly and has low VOC emissions, so off-gassing is at an absolute minimum.

Snuggle-Pedic offers a 120-night sleep trial and a very generous 20-year warranty, ensuring your pillow will last.


How Pillows May Contribute to Neck Pain

Pillows can contribute to neck pain due to a lack of support, whether from age or poor construction. When designed properly, a pillow is supposed to align the head so that it sits atop the shoulders in a neutral position without bending back or reaching forward too far. When a person sleeps on his or her side, the pillow should support the head so that the neck isn’t arching too far to one side. A lack of proper head and neck support is a common issue with most standard pillows today. In fact, many pillows marketed as “orthopedic” or  “therapeutic” to alleviate neck pain are not able to properly support for the head and neck. Therefore, it’s important to know what to look for when shopping for the best pillows for neck pain and always consult a chiropractor for their professional recommendations.

What to Look For in a Pillow if You Have Neck Pain

If you suffer from neck pain, or would simply like to avoid it by having proper support, there are some specific qualities you should lookout for when shopping for the right pillow. It’s always beneficial to test a pillow out before buying to confirm it will give you the support you need. A supportive pillow will keep your neck in a neutral position as you sleep, no matter what position you may be in. You’ll want a pillow that is durable, does not sink, and fills the space between your head, neck, and back.

Outside of age, the filling used in a pillow will best determine the level of support, durability and loft it provides. There are a variety of materials that are used to make the best pillows for neck pain that each come with their own set of pros and cons:

Memory Foam

Memory foam pillows, known for their comfort and contour, are a great pillow for reducing neck pain by offering adequate support. One of the greatest benefits of sleeping with a memory foam pillow is their ability to respond quickly and easily to changes in body position and leaving no space between  the neck, head, and back. They are also easy to care for and durable. Memory foam has traditionally received a bad rap for trapping heat but advances in the product development of foam has largely resolved this issue.

Latex

Pillows made from latex are arguably the most durable and long lasting of all pillow types. Not to mention, latex is known for being naturally breathable and hypoallergenic. Latex pillows are good for pain relief because they shape nicely into the back of the head and offer good support. However, latex pillows can be expensive and are not ideal for sleepers who move around in their sleep as the height cannot be adjusted. Sometimes latex is a bit smelly at first due to the natural materials used to craft the pillow.

Buckwheat

Buckwheat pillows are traditionally Japanese and filled with hulls that contain buckwheat seeds. Pillows made of this material are supportive and contouring, making them a great place to rest your head. Oftentimes, buckwheat pillows are adjustable, so they are ideal for sleepers to switch positions frequently throughout the night. These pillows are breathable, durable, and made from natural materials. However, they can be a bit heavy and noisy as you move, and they are on the more expensive side.

Feathers

These types of pillows are usually affordable, easy to move around and shape, and are durable. They also have a good lifespan and tend to be soft. On the downside, the feathers will oftentimes poke through the cover and they can hurt or feel uncomfortable. They also require fluffing on a regular basis to regain their form and are not allergen-free.

Down

Down pillows are typically very plush, comfortable pillows. Soft to the touch, cool, and lightweight, down pillows are enticing to most sleepers. However, down pillows are not ideal for side sleepers, or those with neck pain, as they do not offer much height or support. They can also be on the expensive side and do require some fluffing from time to time.

Microbeads

Pillows made with microbeads are wonderful for relieving neck and shoulder pain. They offer great support and responsiveness—contouring to the shape of your body and head as you adjust positions. Pillows filled with microbeads are also fairly affordable, light and breathable, and long-lasting. One downside to these types of pillows are that they are cylindrical in shape so they may not fit into standard pillowcases. Additionally, they can be difficult to get used to as they may feel strange at first or be on the firm side.

Polyester

Cost-effective, lightweight, and allergen-free, polyester pillows are easy to care for and move around easily. Unfortunately, they have a short lifespan (six months to two years) and will become flat fast. It’s also common for them to become lumpy and lose their form.

Water Pillows

Water pillows offer support that can be customized for height and firmness. Water is the ideal filler for a contour pillow as it shapes itself to fit the head and neck. This superior contouring ability offers excellent relief from back and neck pain. Water pillows can also be cooling. However, they can be heavy and a bit noisy. Keep in mind that it may take some time to find the right water level to meet your firmness and comfort preferences.

A pillow with the wrong filling is likely to go flat fast—becoming less and less supportive as you use it. You should also look for a pillow that is designed to support you in your preferred sleep position. Learn more about the best pillows for every sleep position here.


Pillows are the only factor to consider when it comes to pain management. If you’d like to find a mattress that also offers superior support for neck, back, and shoulder pain we welcome you to view our mattress guides to learn more about the best mattress for you.


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