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

This article looks into how a pillow can improve neck pain, lists the best pillows for nek pain, and answers frequently asked questions.

Learn more about neck pain here.

A quick look at the best pillows for neck pain

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.

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 overall: TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow isolated on a blue background.
  • Price: $119-159
  • Sizes: small (20 x 12.5 x 3.5 in), medium (20 x 12.5 x 4 in), large (20 x 12.5 x 4.75 in) travel (10 x 12 x 4 in)

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.

Learn about the best firm pillows here.

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.

Learn more about TEMPUR-pedic pillows here.

Pros:

  • 5-year warranty
  • free shipping
  • hypoallergenic cover

Cons:

  • no sleep trial
  • unclear information on materials
  • the company says on its website that pillows cannot be returned

Best cooling: Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow

Slumber Cloud UltraCool Pillow
  • Price: $69-89
  • Sizes: standard (20 x 26 in), king (20 x 36 in)

Slumber Cloud stocks this ultra-cool pillow that comes with Polysilk down alternative fiberfill. It also has NASA-approved Outlast fabric on both sides.

A person can choose between two firmness options: soft-medium and medium-firm.

The pillow features Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification technology.

It is breathable and helps with heat dissipation, which may suit people experiencing hot flashes and night sweats.

Learn about more of the best cooling pillows here.

This pillow is machine-wash-compatible.

Pros:

  • a 60-night trial
  • free shipping
  • financing options
  • two firmness levels to choose from

Cons:

  • only two sizes available

Best eco-friendly: Avocado Green Pillow

Avocado Green Pillow
  • Price: $109-139
  • Sizes: standard (25 x 19 in), queen (29 x 19 in), king (35 x 19 in)

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.

Learn about the best eco-friendly mattresses here.

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

Learn more about nontoxic mattresses here.

The cotton cover is machine washable, and the pillow comes with an extra fill bag so a person can adjust the loft 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.

Read our review of Avocado mattresses here.

Pros:

  • 100-night sleep trial
  • free shipping
  • 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

Best hypoallergenic: Amerisleep Flex Pillow

Amerisleep Flex Pillow
  • Price: $100-120
  • Sizes: queen (16 x 27 x 6 in), king (16 x 34 x 6 in)

This pillow contains MicroFlex cushions that are hypoallergenic and resistant to bacteria and dust mites, making it suitable for individuals with allergies.

Learn about more of the best hypoallergenic pillows here.

Amerisleep recommends that individuals clean their pillow once or twice anually or right after spills. For the cover, turn it inside out and wash it with mild liquid detergent in cold water.

This pillow comes with eco-friendly MicroFlex cushions allowing people to adjust its shape. These also help warm air to pass through for temperature control.

It has a breathable cover that offers a cooling effect.

The pillow holds the CertiPUR-US certification.

Amerisleep offers free shipping within the continental United States. The pillow comes with a 10-year warranty.

Read our review of Amerisleep here.

Pros:

  • CertiPUR-US certification
  • a 10-year warranty
  • suitable for persons with allergies

Cons:

  • trial not available on this pillow
  • may be lumpy for some people
  • only two sizes available

Best for side sleepers: Ghostbed GhostPillow Memory Foam

ghostbed GhostPillow Memory Foam
  • Price: $95
  • Size: one size (16 x 23 x 6 in)

Ghostbed recommends this memory foam pillow for side sleepers. It comes with a zippered cover that is cool-to-the-touch.

The pillow features pure gel memory foam core that prevents collapsing during sleep. In addition to that, a person does not have to fluff it.

Learn about more of the best memory foam pillows here.

This pillow supports the head and adjusts to the body heat.

The cover material comes with polyester and spandex construction.

Read our review of Ghostbed here.

Pros:

  • washable cover
  • free shipping
  • a 101-night sleep trial
  • supports all sleeping positions
  • breathable

Cons:

  • available in only one size
  • may be thick for some persons
  • higher cost than other options

Best for stomach sleepers: Purple Harmony Pillow

The Purple Harmony Pillow isolated on a blue background.
  • Price: $179-219
  • Sizes: standard (26 in low and medium versions or 28 in tall x 17 in), king (34 x 17 in)

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 larger bodies.

A low loft pillow is typically better for stomach sleepers as it supports neck and spine alignment.

Learn more about the best pillows for stomach sleepers here.

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

Purple notes that the pillow uses its GelFlex Grid material, which 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.

Read our review of Purple mattresses here.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • not suitable for people with a latex allergy
  • higher cost than other options

Best for combination sleepers: Brooklinen Marlow Pillow

Brooklinen Marlow Pillow
  • Price: $65-85
  • Sizes: standard (17.5 x 26 in), king (17.5 x 36 in)

Brooklinen offers the Marlow Pillow for people with back and neck pain. It consists of 80% memory foam and 20% polyester fiber filling, and cotton for the shell fabric.

It comes with a zipper that allows users to adjust its firmness.

It is allergy-friendly and suits those who are looking for a vegan product.

The pillow has a breathable design and cooling-infused foam.

Brooklinen recommends spot cleaning and fluffing the pillow.

Learn about the best mattresses for combination sleepers here.

Pros:

  • breathable
  • adjustable firmness
  • a 365-day return guarantee
  • may suit side sleepers

Cons:

  • may be too firm for some
  • only two sizes available
  • may flatten after months of use

Best for back sleepers: Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow

The Tri-Core Cervical Support Pillow isolated on a blue background.
  • Price: $40-42
  • Sizes: petite (18.9 x 14.96 x 4.02 in), mid-size (22 x 14.5 x 4.75 in), full (24 x 16 x 3 in)

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

Adjusting to pillows such as this can take time because it requires changes in sleep posture. The manufacturer recommends that people alternate between this pillow and a standard pillow while adjusting to a new one. 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.

Learn more about the best pillows for back sleepers here.

Pros:

  • two color choices and one pattern available (designed for children)
  • 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

Best adjustable: Hullo Buckwheat Pillow

The Hullo Buckwheat Pillow isolated on a light blue background.
  • Price: $109-159
  • Sizes: small (20 x 14 in), standard (20 x 26 in), king (20 x 36 in)

Buckwheat pillows are a suitable option for people who want an adjustable pillow, or 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.

Learn more about buckwheat pillows here.

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.

According to Hullo, the cotton case is certified organic.

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Best contoured: EPABO Memory Orthopedic Pillow

The Epabo Memory Orthopedic Pillow isolated on a blue background.
  • Price: $39.99-49.99
  • Sizes: standard (21 x 13 x 3.9 in), queen (24 x 15 x 4.6 in), king (26 x 16 x 5 in)

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.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • may be too firm for some

Best water pillow: Mediflow Water Pillow

The Mediflow Fiber Water Pillow isolated on a blue background.
  • Price: $70
  • Size: one size (28 x 20 x 4.5 in)

The Water Pillow by Mediflow combines pillow fiber with a supportive layer of water. Mediflow claims 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 comfort levels.

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 soft: Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow

Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow
  • Price: $96-108
  • Sizes: queen (30 x 20 in), king (36 x 20 in)

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.

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 users report a strong smell from the pillow
  • limited size range

The table below compares the pillows in this article on key features:

Fill materialCover materialAdjustableFirmnessPrice
TEMPURTEMPUR foampolyesternoextra-firm$119–159
Slumber CloudPolysilkNASA-approved Outlastnosoft-medium, medium-firm$69–89
Avocadolatex, kapokcottonyesmedium-plush$109–139
Amerisleepfoampolyester foamyescustomizable$100–120
Ghostbedpure gel memory foampolyester and spandexnomedium-firm$95
PurpleGelFlex Grid, latex, polyesternylon and spandex fibernomedium-firm$179–219
Brooklinenmemory foam, polyestercottonyescustomizable$65–85
Corepolyester, cottonpolyesternovery firm$40-42
Hullobuckwheat hullscottonyesfirm$109–159
EPABOmemory foamrayon and polyester blendyesfirm$39.99–49.99
Mediflowpolyester, watercottonyescustomizable$70
Coop Home Goodsmemory foam, microfiberpolyester and bamboo-derived viscose rayonyesplush$96–108

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 influence how expensive a pillow is.
  • Firmness: Pillows come in many firmness levels. Some brands recommend certain firmness levels for specific sleep positions. People should consider their sleep position and how much neck support their chosen pillow will provide.
  • Loft: The loft is the height of the pillow. Pillows with higher lofts may not be suitable for people with neck pain, as they may need to keep the neck and back properly aligned.
  • Fill: A wide variety of pillow fill materials are available. People 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.

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

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 support the body, including the head and neck. It is sometimes more expensive than other materials but is more durable.
  • Water pillows: Water can adapt to a person’s movements and support the head and neck. However, there may be more convenient types of pillow to use than a water pillow.
  • 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

Many people experience neck pain that may result from everyday stressors, such as work or 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 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.

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 only work for some, 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?

People should replace their pillows every 1–2 years to ensure they always get 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.