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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 neck pain, and answers frequently asked questions.

Learn more about neck pain.

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.

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

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

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.

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–$159
Slumber CloudPolysilkNASA-approved Outlastnosoft-medium, medium-firm$69–$89
Avocadolatex, kapokcottonyesmedium-plush$109–$139
Ghostbedpure gel memory foampolyester and spandexnomedium-firm$109
PurpleGelFlex Grid, latex, polyesternylon and spandex fibernomedium-firm$199–$239
Brooklinenmemory foam, polyestercottonyescustomizable$65–$85
Corepolyester, cottonpolyesternovery firmaround $48
Hullobuckwheat hullscottonyesfirm$169
EPABOmemory foamrayon and polyester blendyesfirm$39.99–$58.88
Mediflowpolyester, watercottonyescustomizable$70
Coop Home Goodsmemory foam, microfiberpolyester and bamboo-derived viscose rayonyesplush$96–$116
Brentwood Homegel memory foamplant-based Tencelnomedium$99
Eli & Elmlatex, polyester fiberpolyester, cotton, and spandex blendyescustomizable$129.99
Zomashredded foam, polyester fiberpolyester and spandex blendyescustomizable$100–$120
Noble Pillowcustomizablecottonyessoft-medium, firm, extra-firm$283–$324
Sweet ZZZplant-based downcottonnofirm$145–$160

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 inches (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.

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.


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

Do neck pillows really work?

Pillows designed for neck pain may only work for some, and trying different options may help an individual make future purchase decisions.

Why do I wake up with a sore neck every morning?

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.

What kind of pillow is best for neck pain?

Another 2021 review states that a spring or rubber pillow may be the most beneficial pillow type for reducing neck pain. The researchers also state that the material does not affect spinal alignment, but shape and height does. However, they do not recommend the optimum pillow height or shape.

Is a firm or soft pillow best for neck pain?

There is limited research to suggest which of these pillow types are best for neck pain.

However, this may actually depend on a person’s sleep position. For example, back sleepers may get more support from a firm pillow, side sleepers from medium-firm, and stomach sleepers from a soft pillow.

Individuals may wish to consider purchasing a pillow where they can adjust the firmness in order to find the right feel for them.

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.