We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Pillows play an essential role in allowing the body to rest and recover. By supporting the head, a pillow can keep the neck in line with the spine, helping relieve neck pain and allowing the muscles to relax.

Quick links

The best pillow for neck pain will vary according to a person’s sleep style and the firmness and support of the pillow.

This article looks into how a pillow can improve neck pain, lists a range of pillows a person can buy online, and answers the top frequently asked questions about pillows for neck pain.

Many types of pillows are available. Some that may suit those with neck pain include:

  • Contoured pillows: With these pillows, a person’s head will rest in a specially designed contour, with elevated areas supporting the neck to keep the neck and back in good alignment.
  • V-shaped pillows: A V-shaped pillow elevates the head and keeps the spine straight. This may help alleviate neck and back pain by improving sleep posture.
  • Memory foam pillows: Memory foam molds precisely to a person’s shape to provide support in the appropriate areas.
  • Latex pillows: Latex is a responsive material that can provide good support to the body, including the head and neck. It is sometimes more expensive than other materials, but it is also durable.
  • Water pillows: Water can adapt to a person’s movements and provide support to the head and neck. However, a water pillow may not be the most convenient type of pillow to use.
  • Buckwheat pillows: An environmentally friendly option, a pillow that contains buckwheat can be comfortable while providing appropriate support.

Sizes

The table below details standard U.S. pillow sizes. The pillows in this article may come in these standard sizes but may also come in unconventional shapes and sizes.

StandardLength: 26 inches (in)
Width:
20 in
Super standardLength: 28 in
Width:
20 in
QueenLength: 30 in
Width: 20 in
KingLength: 36 in
Width: 20 in

Medical News Today chooses mattresses, sheets, pillows, and other bedding that meet the following criteria:

  • Certifications: Where possible, MNT will choose products that have CertiPUR-US or other certifications. This means the products are low in pollutants and free from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
  • Size: MNT chooses products that are available in various sizes.
  • Materials and fill: MNT selects products made from different materials and fills, such as memory foam and latex, to suit a range of sleep styles and lifestyles.
  • Budget: MNT features products that are available at a wide range of budgets.
  • Sleep trials: Where possible, MNT chooses companies that offer a sleep trial.
  • Shipping: MNT will include shipping information, such as where the company delivers to and whether shipping is free.
  • Warranties and return policies: MNT will include products that carry warranties and clear return policies.

Learn more about MNT’s product selection and vetting process here.

Below are some of the best pillows for neck pain that a person can consider.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best contoured design: EPABO Memory Orthopedic Pillow

The EPABO Memory Orthopedic Pillow features an ergonomic contour that may suit back and side sleepers. The contoured design cradles the head, helping keep the spine aligned and relaxed.

The manufacturer writes that this pillow uses breathable memory foam to keep people cool while they sleep.

A person can also adjust the pillow to suit them. It features a removable piece of foam at the back, which can lower the resting position of the head for people who find the pillow too high.

The company describes this pillow as firm. The pillow has a rayon-polyester case and a memory foam fill.

The pros and cons a person can consider include:

Pros:

  • free pillowcase included
  • suitable for back, side, and stomach sleepers
  • hypoallergenic cover
  • free shipping and returns

Cons:

  • may be too firm for some

The following table shows the sizes and prices of the EPABO Memory Orthopedic Pillow range:

SizeMeasurementsPrice
standardLength: 21 in
Width: 13 in
Height: 3.9 in
$39.99
queenLength: 24 in
Width: 15 in
Height: 4.6 in
$41.99
kingLength: 26 in
Width: 16 in
Height: 5 in
$49.99

Best for changing positions: Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow

The Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow is designed for back sleepers. The center dips down to cradle the head and promotes proper alignment in the spine for different types of sleepers.

For back sleepers, the sturdy cervical roll supports the neck itself, while the head rests in the contour. One side of the pillow has a larger neck roll for more support, while the other side has a smaller neck roll for less support.

The manufacturer advises that the pillow may not suit side sleepers but also states that if a side sleeper decides to use the pillow, they should use the side areas because they are higher, allowing for proper neck alignment.

The versatility of the pillow’s design makes it a suitable option for people who switch positions throughout the night.

Adjusting to pillows such as this one can take time because it requires changes in sleep posture. Core Products recommends that, while breaking in a new pillow, people alternate between using this pillow and a standard pillow. This will help their body adjust to the new sleeping posture.

The company describes this pillow as very firm. The pillow has a polyester fiber fill and a cotton-polyester blend cover.

The pros and cons a person can consider include:

Pros:

  • two color choices
  • fits into standard pillowcases
  • can suit multiple sleep positions
  • free shipping and returns
  • uses nonallergenic materials

Cons:

  • may require several weeks of adjustment, according to the company
  • not ideal for side sleepers
  • may be too firm for some

The pillow is available in three differently priced sizes, as detailed below:

SizeMeasurementsPrice
petiteLength: 18.9 in
Width: 14.96 in
Height: 4.02
$39.73
mid-sizeLength: 22 in
Width: 14.5 in
Height: 4.75 in
$41.57
fullLength: 24 in
Width: 16 in
Height: 3 in
$52.97

Best latex pillow: Purple Harmony Pillow

The Purple Harmony Pillow might suit people who find memory foam options too hot.

Purple notes that the pillow uses its own GelFlex Grid material that contains more than 1,500 air channels to keep air circulating through the pillow and keep heat away from the head.

The pillow also has a Talalay latex core that the company claims is naturally cooler than other memory foam options.

The cover is a blend of nylon and spandex with a moisture-wicking treatment.

The Purple Harmony Pillow comes in three heights: low, medium, and tall. Purple recommends each height for different people, as follows:

  • Low: This pillow is 5.5 in high. It may be ideal for stomach and back sleepers and people with a small to medium body size.
  • Medium: This pillow is 6.5 in high. It may be ideal for side and combination sleepers with a medium to large body size.
  • Tall: This pillow is 7.5 in high. It may be ideal for side and combination sleepers and those with a larger body size.

The pros and cons a person can consider may include:

Pros:

  • 100-night trial
  • free shipping
  • hypoallergenic and nontoxic
  • range of lofts

Cons:

Further details on each pillow’s measurements are below.

SizeMeasurementsPrice
standardLength: 26 in (low and medium), 28 in (tall)
Width: 17 in
$179
kingLength: 34 in (all sizes)
Width: 17 in
$219

Best extra-firm pillow: TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

The original contoured TEMPUR-Neck Pillow from TEMPUR-PEDIC is an extra-firm pillow offering strong support for back or side sleepers with neck pain. As a result, this pillow may not suit people who prefer plush pillows.

It comes in thicknesses ranging from 3–4.75 in to accommodate the needs of different sleepers and body sizes.

The pillow itself is made from extra-firm TEMPUR material, which helps support the neck and keep the head aligned while a person is sleeping on their side or back.

However, the company does not clearly state what TEMPUR material consists of.

The pillow also features a removable, washable, and hypoallergenic polyester knit cover.

The pros and cons a person can consider include:

Pros:

  • 5-year warranty
  • free shipping
  • hypoallergenic cover

Cons:

  • expensive
  • no sleep trial
  • unclear information on materials

Below are details on the sizes and prices of the TEMPUR-Neck Pillow.

SizeMeasurementsPrice
smallLength: 20 in
Width: 12.5 in
Height: 3.5 in
$119
mediumLength: 20 in
Width: 12.5 in
Height: 4 in
$129
largeLength: 20 in
Width: 12.5 in
Height: 4.75 in
$159

Best water pillow: Mediflow Water Pillow

The Water Pillow by Mediflow combines pillow fiber with a supportive layer of water. The Mediflow website states that this water-based technology improves a person’s sleep quality by reducing neck pain.

Back and side sleepers can adjust The Water Pillow to suit their needs by adding or removing water from the membrane.

This technology may also help reduce the need to readjust the pillow during use, as the water inside the pillow instantly adjusts to the head’s movements.

The original Water Pillow uses hypoallergenic fibers. The company also offers pillows using either down or memory foam layers for different levels of comfort.

The Mediflow Fiber Water Pillow is available to purchase online and is available in only one size:

SizeMeasurementsPrice
one sizeLength: 28 in
Width: 20 in
Height: 4.5 in
$69.99

Pros:

  • suitable for sleepers in all positions, according to the manufacturer
  • adjustable water level
  • 30-day trial

Cons:

  • only one size available
  • may be heavy and noisy
  • some reports of leaks and mold developing after use

Best for natural fill material: Hullo Buckwheat Pillow

Buckwheat pillows are a suitable option for people who want a product made with natural materials.

These pillows contain thousands of buckwheat hulls instead of foam or fibers. The company describes buckwheat hulls as firm but malleable and breathable.

According to Hullo, the cotton case is certified organic. However, the company does not state which certification this product holds.

People can adjust this buckwheat pillow to suit their sleeping style and comfort preferences by adding or removing hulls from the pillow.

This may suit people who believe their needs will change over time or who want to be able to adapt their pillow if the severity of their neck pain changes.

Pros and cons of the Hullo Buckwheat Pillow may include:

Pros:

  • 60-night money-back guarantee
  • adjustable height
  • organic cotton cover
  • plant-based materials

Cons:

  • user reports of buckwheat filling being noisy
  • may be too hard, according to some users

The Hullo Buckwheat Pillow comes in the following sizes:

SizeMeasurementsPrice
smallLength: 20 in
Width: 14 in
Height: adjustable
$69
standardLength: 26 in
Width: 20 in
Height: adjustable
$109
kingLength: 36 in
Width: 20 in
Height: adjustable
$93.60

Best for environmental certifications: Avocado Green Pillow

This nontoxic product contains a mix of organic latex and organic kapok. The latex is Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certified, and the kapok fill and cotton cover is certified by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

These certifications ensure that the materials used have been harvested and manufactured in environmentally friendly ways.

This product also holds Greenguard Gold certification, which indicates that it has been tested and found to be low in chemical emissions that could be harmful to health.

The cotton cover is machine washable, and the pillow comes with an extra fill bag so a person can adjust the pillow to their preferences. As a result, the company claims that this pillow is suitable for people in all sleep positions.

The company describes its latex core as durable and able to regulate temperature. The kapok fill is hypoallergenic, and the company claims it is softer and lighter than down.

The pillow comes with a 100-night trial, a 1-year warranty, and free shipping.

The pros and cons a person can consider include:

Pros:

  • 100-night sleep trial
  • holds several environmental certifications
  • adjustable
  • extra filling available separately

Cons:

  • medium-plush feel that may be too soft for some
  • not suitable for people with a latex allergy

The Avocado Green Pillow is available in the following sizes:

SizeMeasurementsPrice
standard Length: 25 in
Width: 19 in
$99
queen Length: 29 in
Width: 19 in
$109
king Length: 35 in
Width: 19 in
$119

Best down alternative: Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow

This pillow’s fill is a mix of gel-infused memory foam and microfiber. The company writes that it is a supportive alternative to down fill and may be suitable for people who are allergic to down or lead a vegan lifestyle.

A purchase comes with extra filling so a person can add or remove as much as they like to create a height that suits their needs.

Additionally, the pillow features a 100% polyester lining and a breathable pillowcase made from a blend of polyester and bamboo-derived viscose rayon.

Its memory foam holds CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold certifications.

According to the company, this pillow is hypoallergenic and the cover is washable.

The pros and cons a person can consider include:

Pros:

  • 100-night sleep trial
  • lengthy 5-year warranty
  • holds environmental certifications
  • includes extra filling
  • feels like down

Cons:

  • plush feel that may be too soft for some
  • some user reports of a strong smell from the pillow
  • limited size range

The Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow is available in the following sizes:

SizeMeasurementsPrice
queen Length: 30 in
Width: 20 in
$96
king Length: 36 in
Width: 20 in
$108

The table below compares the pillows in this article.

Fill materialCover materialAdjustableFirmnessPrice
EPABOmemory foamrayon and polyester blendyesfirm$39.99–49.99
Core Productspolyester, cottonpolyesternovery firm$39.73–52.97
PurpleGelFlex Grid, latex, polyesternylon and spandex fibernomedium-firm$179–219
TEMPURTEMPUR materialpolyesternoextra-firm$119–159
Mediflowpolyester, watercottonyescustomizable$69.99
Hullobuckwheat hullscottonyesfirm$69–109
Avocadolatex, kapokcottonyesmedium-plush$99–119
Coop Home Goodsmemory foam, microfiberpolyester and bamboo-derived viscose rayonyesplush$96–108

Many people experience neck pain that may result from everyday stressors, such as work, or from poor posture. Sitting for long hours in front of a computer or mobile device may cause additional neck strain.

A person’s sleep posture is important. One function of a pillow is to keep the neck in correct alignment with the rest of the spine to ensure that the muscles relax properly and do not overextend.

Additionally, a 2021 research review states that pillow height and shape are important factors in reducing neck pain and promoting spinal alignment.

Many people sleep on their sides, but some people prefer to sleep on their backs and others on their stomachs.

In general:

  • side sleepers should aim for a thicker pillow to keep their neck aligned with their spine
  • back sleepers should start with a medium pillow that supports their neck and lets their head rest
  • stomach sleepers should have a very thin pillow to prevent extension in their neck

Each sleeper will benefit from a different kind of pillow to promote the correct neck posture while sleeping. This is essential, as incorrect neck posture can cause or worsen neck pain and prevent the neck from resting during the night.

Below are some of the pros and cons of pillows for neck pain that a person can consider before making a purchase.

Pros

  • A 2016 study found that neck support pillows helped reduce pain.
  • A person can adjust some neck support pillows to suit their needs.
  • Individuals may have the option to specify their preferred thickness.
  • Many options for material, filling, and size are available.

Cons

  • Pillows of this type are usually not ideal for stomach sleepers.
  • They may have a higher cost than standard pillows.
  • They may not suit those wanting to travel with their pillow.

When choosing the best pillow for neck pain, a person may wish to consider the following factors:

  • Price: A person should consider their budget when shopping for a pillow, as the size, fill, and cover material can all influence how expensive a pillow is.
  • Firmness: Pillows come in many firmness levels. Some brands recommend certain firmness levels for specific sleep positions and offer a sleep trial so a person can try the pillow and decide whether it is right for them. A person should consider their sleep position and how much neck support their chosen pillow will provide.
  • Loft: Loft is the height of the pillow. Pillows with higher lofts may not be suitable for people with neck pain, as they may not keep the neck and back properly aligned.
  • Fill: A wide variety of pillow fill materials are available. A person should consider how supportive fillings may be, whether certain fillings will help them stay cool while they sleep, and any allergies they have.
  • Certifications: Some people may want to consider products that hold certifications from CertiPUR-US or OEKO-TEX. These certifications ensure that a product has been tested for and is free of harmful chemicals and substances.

Below are some of the top frequently asked questions about the best pillows for neck pain.

Do neck pillows really work?

According to a 2016 study, neck support pillows significantly improve neck pain. However, these pillows may not work for everyone, and trying different options may help an individual make future purchase decisions.

What causes neck pain from sleep?

Neck pain may occur if a person’s neck is twisted or misaligned while they sleep. This may be because their pillow does not support their neck and head appropriately.

How often should I change pillows?

A person should replace their pillows every 1–2 years to ensure that they are always getting the appropriate support to avoid muscle pains.

What kind of pillow do chiropractors recommend?

The best pillow will vary from person to person. Chiropractors will recommend pillows based on a person’s particular needs, taking into account their sleep preferences and any health conditions or injuries they have.

According to a 2019 study, a visco-elastic polyurethane pillow could be useful in conjunction with chiropractic treatment to reduce neck pain.

Is a high or low pillow better for neck pain?

A 2021 review states that a pillow 7–11 cm tall is the most effective for neck pain. The authors also state that a contoured design, a cooling surface, and a latex fill may decrease neck pain and promote sleep quality and spinal alignment.

While there are some general pillow trends for all types of sleepers, the ideal pillow can vary for each person.

Changes in support levels, body positioning, and even material may make some people lean toward one type of pillow instead of another.

It may be best to look for companies that offer trial periods or find a way to try different pillows or pillow types before purchasing them.

Understanding their sleep needs can help a person make the correct purchase the first time and find lasting relief from neck pain.