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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.

The product tested was purchased by Chelsea Logan, Senior Editor at Healthline. All opinions are her own.

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

Fill materialCover materialAdjustableFirmnessPrice
TEMPURTEMPUR foampolyesternoextra-firm$119 to $159
Brooklinenmemory foam, polyestercottonyescustomizable$65 to $85
Eli & Elmlatex, polyester fiberpolyester, cotton, and spandex blendyescustomizable$129.99
Slumber CloudPolysilkNASA-approved Outlastnosoft-medium, medium-firm$69 to $89
Avocadolatex, kapokcottonyesmedium-plush$109 to $139
Ghostbedpure gel memory foampolyester and spandexnomedium-firm$139 to $159
PurpleGelFlex Grid, latex, polyesternylon and spandex fibernomedium-firm$199 to $239
Corepolyester, cottonpolyesternovery firmaround $48
Hullobuckwheat hullscottonyesfirm$169
Mediflowpolyester, watercottonyescustomizablearound $60
Brentwood Homegel memory foamplant-based Tencelnomedium$99
Zomashredded foam, polyester fiberpolyester and spandex blendyescustomizable$100 to $120

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


  • 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.


  • 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.
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There are many factors that people should consider when buying a pillow for neck pain.


Whichever pillow a person chooses should promote neutral spinal alignment. If the head and neck are too high or low, it can cause neck pain and discomfort.

Pillows typically have a low, medium, or high loft:

  • Low loft: These pillows are around 3 inches (in) or less in height and might be most suitable for back sleepers.
  • Medium loft: These pillows are around 3–6 in in height and might suit stomach sleepers best.
  • High loft: These pillows are over 5 in in height and might suit combination and side sleepers best.

It is important to note that researchers have not proven the above guidelines. A 2021 review suggests that there is not yet enough evidence to determine the optimal pillow height for different sleeping styles.

However, some studies the authors looked at suggested that males may require slighter thicker pillows than females.

Shape retention

Shape retention is an important consideration when buying a pillow. Certain materials may hold their shape better for longer, increasing the amount of time before a person has to buy a new pillow.

Memory foam and latex pillows are denser materials that may hold their shape better than cheaper materials such as microfill and polyester.

People with neck pain may find denser materials are a better purchase because they are more durable. Many companies offer adjustable fills that people can add to or take away from the pillowcase, allowing them to create the optimal pillow height.

Firmness level

Just like mattresses, pillows come in different firmness feels. People can choose between soft, medium, or firm pillows.

There is very limited modern research into how pillow firmness affects neck pain. People should try out different pillows where possible, ensuring that they provide enough support.

For example, side sleepers may prefer a medium or firm pillow because a soft pillow may allow their head to sink in too much, bringing their spine out of alignment.

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.


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 in
20 in
Super standardlength: 28 in
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.

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

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.

The type of pillow best for neck pain provides the right amount of support. People who are side sleepers may find a medium-firm pillow with a higher loft offers more support, whereas stomach sleepers may find a soft and low pillow reduces aches and pains.

A person may experience neck pain after sleeping in an unusual position or having an unsupportive pillow. Replacing a pillow with a more supportive one may help reduce neck pain from sleeping.

People who often get neck pain should contact a doctor to make sure there are no underlying causes.

Memory foam pillows tend to be denser than polyester pillows and may keep their shape for longer.

One of the main benefits of memory foam for neck pain is that the pillow “remembers” a person’s head shape and position, which may help promote neutral spinal alignment, reducing pain.

Firmness is subjective, and what one person may find soft, another may feel is medium.

There is very limited research on pillow firmness and neck pain. Generally, people who sleep on their sides may prefer a firmer pillow, whereas stomach sleepers may prefer a soft pillow.

While there are some general pillow trends for all types of sleepers, the right 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.