best pillow for neck pain

Best Pillows for Neck Pain Relief 2019: Top Picks & Buying Guide


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Are you looking for a comfortable pillow that will help with your neck pain?

You’ve come to the right place.

There are more than a dozen reasons why you could be experiencing neck pain from arthritis to whiplash. Whatever the cause, it can difficult to find a comfortable pillow.

Most pillows don’t provide adequate support for your head, which puts too much strain on your neck or forces your neck into an unnatural position.

Such pillows can worsen your neck pain.

What you need is a pillow that provides the perfect balance of support and pressure relief. It should hold your neck in alignment with the rest of your body to prevent strain.


What's In This Buying Guide?

In this in-depth buying guide, we review the best pillows for neck pain.

We have compared dozens of pillows in the market and picked the best ones designed to offer neck pain relief.

The guide includes recommendations for back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers.

If you are struggling with back pain, having the right mattress is even more important. Read our best mattresses for back pain guide for our top recommendations.


Best Pillows for Neck Pain Relief

PillowWhy We Picked It Price 
Coop Home Goods Memory Foam
Coop Home Goods Memory Foam
perennial, proven Amazon Choice with over 16,000 reviews$$
MARNUR Contour Pillow
MARNUR Contour Pillow
perfect spine support using a groove down the middle$$
SleepRightSplintek Side
SleepRightSplintek Side
full facial cradle plus a perfectly-angled shoulder cradle$$$
Xtreme Comforts Adjustable Pillow
Xtreme Comforts Adjustable Pillow
thinner and softer than most, so your head will not bend back$$
UTTU Sandwich Pillow
UTTU Sandwich Pillow
designed specifically for neck support and alignment.$$
Mediflow Water Pillow
Mediflow Water Pillow
clinical tests prove it reduces neck pain$$
Cradle Me Cervical Pillow
Cradle Me Cervical Pillow
best overall design with lots of position choices$$
KaUa Neck Roll
KaUa Neck Roll
1,000s of satisfied customers & rave reviews$$
J-Pillow Travel Pillow
J-Pillow Travel Pillow
added chin support prevents your head from falling forward.$$
Nursal Contour
Nursal Contour
great reviews, washable cover - and half the price$$

Best Overall: Coop Home Goods Memory Foam

best pillow for neck pain

With over 16,000 reviews and a high rating, this one is a proven choice.

This pillow is not just good for people with neck pain, it’s great for almost all kinds of sleepers. That’s because it is adjustable.

Just open the zipper and remove some of the foam to reduce the pillow’s loft.

If you need more loft than the pillow provides, contact Coop Home Goods and they’ll send you more filling.

Filling

The pillow contains shredded memory foam with some microfiber blended in.

Memory foam is one of the best pillow materials for neck pain. It conforms easily around your head and neck, providing just the right amount of support while also relieving pressure.

Shredded memory foam is even better than solid memory foam. It molds more readily, providing ultra-comfortable contouring.

The only downside of shredded memory foam is that it requires daily fluffing to keep the pillow in shape.

The addition of microfiber gives the pillow a softer, more luxurious feel that prevents any pressure on your sensitive neck.

The filling is hypoallergenic and CertiPUR certified.

While some customers say it has a bit of smell out of the package, it’s harmless. The pillow doesn’t have any flame retardants, PBDEs, formaldehyde or any harmful chemicals.

Cover

There are two covers: an inner layer and the outer casing.

The inner layer enhances the pillows mold-ability. That is, it allows the pillow to contour better around your neck and head.

The outer case is made from bamboo rayon. It’s soft, smooth, absorbent and stays cool throughout the night.

Specs

Size: Queen (20” x 30”) and King (20” x 36”)

Loft: adjustable

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable. You can also wash the entire pillow in the washing machine.

Cover material: Bamboo Rayon

Fill: Premium shredded memory foam blended with microfiber

Pros

  • Adjustable loft – you can adjust it to your sleeping position.
  • High-quality memory foam filling.
  • Soft and breathable cover.
  • Durable – backed by a 5-year warranty.

Cons

  • Slight smell when new. But it goes away quickly.
  • Requires daily fluffing.


Best for Back Sleepers: MARNUR Contour Pillow

best pillow for neck pain

Getting the right pillow for neck pain when you are a back sleeper is…well, a pain.

That’s because back pillows tend to have a higher loft than other types of pillows. This can put a lot of strain on your neck and worsen your condition.

We recommend the MARNUR cervical Pillow.

It has a special contoured design that makes it perfect for back sleepers who want to protect their necks from too much pressure. This consists of a groove cut into the center of the pillow to align with your neck.

The edge of the groove is raised slightly to conform to your neck’s curvature.

So when you lie on the pillow, your neck is not floating in the air like with traditional pillows. Instead, the pillow conforms to it, providing a great mix of support and pressure relief.

A cavity at the center of the pillow holds your head in a comfortable grip.

Filling

The pillow uses slow-rebound memory foam to provide a nice balance between support and pressure relief.

The solid memory foam fill is not as soft as shredded memory foam but that’s not a problem. The contoured design means you don’t need an extra-soft pillow to conform around your neck.

In fact, firmer pillows are usually better for back sleepers. They maintain their loft through the night, ensuring your head doesn’t fall too low.

The main downside of solid memory foam is that it retains heat. With shredded foam, there’s space for excess heat to flow out of the pillow.

Solid foam traps heat, making it less than ideal if you are heat sensitive or you are experiencing hot flashes.

Cover

The polyester + bamboo rayon cover helps a bit with cooling so the memory foam’s heat retention is not as bad as in some other pillows.

The rayon part of the cover fabric is especially good at breathability and absorbing excess moisture.

The case is removable and washable.

Specs

Size: Standard (23.5” x 14.5”)

Loft: 5.5

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable.

Cover material: Bamboo rayon and polyester

Fill: Contoured solid memory foam

Pros

  • Contoured design provides excellent spine support and relieves neck pain for back sleepers.
  • Uses pressure-relieving memory foam.
  • Ideal for sleeping in different positions.

Cons

  • Slight smell when new. But it goes away within a couple of days.
  • Entire pillow not washable. You can only wash the outer casing.


Best for Side Sleepers: SleepRightSplintek Side

best pillow for neck pain

If you sleep on your side, you know how the wrong pillow can cause problems in your neck and shoulders.

Sleep on a pillow that’s a little too high or too low and you wake up with a sore neck and aching shoulders.

Most pillows, even those designed for side sleepers, don’t really hit the sweet spot. If it’s not a problem with loft, it’s an issue with shoulder positioning.

The SleepRightSplintek Side pillow is designed to meet the biggest challenges of sleeping on your side.

It’s soft to make sure it conforms easily to your head and neck and you can select the perfect loft for your needs when ordering (options include 3”, 4” and 5”).

But the most important feature is the design. The pillow focuses on three areas: your face, your neck and your shoulders.

The top is contoured in such a way that it cradles your face. This eliminates pressure on your ear and jaw.

Along the side is a notch that curves inwards. This allows the pillow to provide full support for your neck without putting any pressure on your shoulders.

Instead of your shoulder is on the pillow, which happens with most pillows, it remains on the mattress in perfect alignment with the body.

This prevents soreness and pain around your neck and shoulders.

Filling

The pillow uses solid memory foam.

Normally, we’d recommend shredded memory foam over solid foam for neck pain. But because of this pillow’s contoured design, you’ll find the solid filling to be just as comfortable.

The main problem with solid memory foam is how hot it gets. The manufacturer has tried to mitigate this by embedding air channels within the foam.

But as many customers have noted, it still doesn’t feel as cool and breathable as latex or shredded memory foam pillow.

Cover

The cover is made from bamboo rayon.

It feels super soft and helps with the memory foam’s breathability problem.

The cover is removable and washable.

Specs

Size: 24” x 5”

Loft: 5” (3” and 4” options available)

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable.

Cover material: Bamboo Rayon

Fill: Contoured solid memory foam

Pros

  • Facial and shoulder cradles provide excellent neck, shoulder, and head support.
  • Available in multiple loft options.
  • Includes air paths to aid in cooling.
  • Soft and breathable rayon cover.

Cons

  • Not as breathable as shredded memory foam.
  • Pricey.
  • Has a chemical smell when new. But it goes away in a few days.


Best for Stomach Sleepers: Xtreme Comforts Adjustable Pillow

best pillow for neck pain

The neck is at the highest risk of strain when you are sleeping on your stomach. So it’s essential that your head, neck, and body be on a straight line.

You need a flat pillow with a lower loft than usual. It should be soft enough to contour around your face and neck.

For stomach sleepers, we recommend the Xtreme Comforts Adjustable pillow for a couple of reasons.

One, it has an adjustable loft. You can lower the pillow as far as you want to make it more comfortable. The pillow comes with a starting loft of 6.4” so you have plenty of height to work with.

Two, it uses shredded memory foam. This makes it more conforming than your standard solid foam pillow.

Filling

The shredded memory foam feels soft and luxurious to the touch but still firm enough to support your head and neck.

By opening the zippered cover and removing some of the foam, you can adjust the loft of the pillow to your liking.

The pillow is overstuffed when it arrives, giving you more flexibility when choosing your ideal loft.

Even after adjusting the pillow’s height, you can still move the shredded foam around until the pillow feels just right.

For instance, you can make it lower at the center for your head and higher on the sides to support your arms.

Being shredded foam, cooling is much better compared to solid memory foam pillows.

As for your health safety, the memory foam used is CertiPUR certified, hypoallergenic, mold resistant and dust mite resistant.

Cover

Similar to other premium pillows, the cover is made from bamboo with some polyester and Lycra included as well.

To enhance cooling and breathability, the cover has micro-vents on its surface. They ensure that any excess heat or moisture quickly dissipates out of the pillow.

If you are heat sensitive or have night sweats but you want a memory foam pillow, we highly recommend this one.

The cover is washable and you can also wash the entire pillow.

Specs

Sizes: Standard, Queen, and King

Loft: adjustable

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable. You can also wash the entire pillow in the washing machine.

Cover material: Bamboo rayon with polyester and Lycra blended in.

Fill: Premium shredded memory foam.

Pros

  • Shredded memory foam provides excellent contouring and pressure-relief for neck pain sufferers.
  • Customizable loft.
  • Cool and breathable vented rayon cover.
  • 6-year warranty.

Cons

  • Requires frequent fluffing to regain its shape.
  • Unpleasant smell when new.


Best Adjustable Pillow: UTTU Sandwich Pillow

best pillow for neck pain

The UTTU Sandwich pillow stands out from other adjustable pillows with its ease of customization.

With other adjustable pillows, you need to open the zippered cover and remove some of the shredded foam.

It takes time and you have to find a safe place to store the unused foam in case you need to puff up the pillow later.

With the Sandwich pillow, all you need to do is remove a single layer of solid foam and you can instantly enjoy a lower loft.

Granted, it doesn’t provide as much flexibility as a shredded foam adjustable pillow. You can only adjust it to a specific loft.

Filling 

Shredded foam pillows are generally better for neck pain. They provide better contouring and pressure relief.

Though the UTTU pillow uses solid memory foam, it feels almost as good as shredded memory foam.

The manufacturer uses a special type of memory foam they call UTTU Dynamic Foam. It’s softer and has more give than standard memory foam.

It easily molds around your head and cushions your neck against pressure.

But it’s not too soft that it lets your head tip backward. It hits the sweet spot between firm support and soft pressure relief.

The cervical design with a raised lip and a middle groove also help position your neck and head for maximum support and proper alignment with your spine.

The filling consists of three layers, hence the ‘sandwich’ name.

If you sleep on your back or have broad shoulders, the initial loft is perfect.

But side sleepers will find it more comfortable to remove one of the layers to lower the height. Stomach sleepers may find a single layer to be the most comfortable.

Add and remove layers until you find the loft that works best for you. Unlike a shredded foam pillow, it takes just a few seconds to adjust the pillow.

Cover

The cover is 60% polyester and 40% bamboo. The bamboo part of it makes it highly breathable and moisture absorbent while the polyester part adds durability.

Specs

Size: 7.9 x 14.2 inches

Loft: adjustable

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable

Cover material: Bamboo and polyester

Fill: 3 layers of Solid memory foam

Pros

  • Easily adjustable loft.
  • Designed specifically for neck support and alignment.
  • Soft memory foam provides excellent pressure relief.
  • Soft and breathable cover.

Cons

  • You can only wash the cover.
  • An unpleasant, but harmless, odor when new.


Best Water Pillow: Mediflow Water Pillow

best pillow for neck pain

For people with severe cervical pain a foam pillow, even if it contains shredded memory foam, may not provide enough pressure relief to alleviate the pain.

We recommend a water pillow.

A study comparing a standard pillow, a roll pillow, and a water pillow found the water pillow to be the most effective at reducing neck pain.

The Mediflow water pillow uses proven water-based technology to reduce neck pain.

You can adjust the feel of the pillow by adding different amounts of water.

It takes a bit of trial and error to get it right but once you find the amount that works for you, you’ll enjoy the best sleep you’ve ever had.

Filling

The Mediflow pillow is a combination of a traditional cushioned pillow with a water base.

As you roll your head on the pillow at night, the water moves with you, ensuring your neck and head are always in the right position and alignment.

As I mentioned, you can adjust how firm the pillow feels by adding or reducing the amount of water you add.

Add more water to make it firmer.

Because it’s water, it can get firm without feeling too unyielding. But if you prefer a softer comfort feel, add less water to make it medium firm or soft.

Don’t expect to get it right the first night. It takes several attempts to get it to feel exactly the way you want.

I know you are probably wondering about problems a water pillow might have like mold and leaks.

You don’t have to worry about any of that. The water pouch is completely sealed and can withstand years of use without leaking or developing mold.

Unless your pillow has a manufacturing defect, in which case you are protected by a 30-day money back guarantee and a 3-year warranty, it is perfectly safe to use.

The top layer consisting of Dacron Hollofil fiber provides extra contouring and pressure relief to ensure a painless and comfortable sleep.

Cover

The pillow is encased in a luxury cotton case.

Being cotton, it does a great job wicking away sweat and keeping the pillow cool.

Specs

Size: 20 x 28 inches

Loft: adjustable

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable

Cover material: Cotton

Fill: water base and fiber top layer

Pros

  • One of the most comfortable pillows for people with neck pain.
  • Water-based and fiber cushion provide excellent contouring and pressure relief.
  • Cool and moisture-wicking cotton cover.
  • No leaks and no mold.

Cons

  • Takes several attempts to adjust it to the right firmness and loft.
  • Pillow is not washable. You can only wash the cover.


Best Cervical Support: Cradle Me Cervical Pillow

best pillow for neck pain

The Cradle Me pillow looks quite different from other cervical pillows. It has more of a 3D design with a contoured surface and sides.

The unique butterfly shape hugs your neck and head to provide no-pressure support.

The wings on the side cradle your head in place while the groove in the middle molds around your neck to relieve pressure.

The Cradle Me pillow is designed specifically for back and side sleepers with neck or back pain.

Filling

The pillow is made from high-quality memory foam.

Your head sinks comfortably into the pillow but not too much that it compromises support. It strikes a good balance between soft contouring and firm support.

Memory foam is already great at pressure relief. The 3D contoured design makes it even better. It cradles your head, neck, and shoulders.

You cannot adjust the loft of the pillow but you won’t need to. The memory foam moves with you, molding to your neck whether you are sleeping on your back or side.

Something else we love about the memory foam used in this pillow is how soft it feels. The low-quality memory foam used in some pillows feels hard and causes painful pressure points.

The comfortable medium soft feel is most apparent when you sleep on your side. The pillow doesn’t press into your ear and cheek.

In some pillows, the foam can be too firm that it causes ear pain.

The only disadvantage of the memory foam in the Cradle Me is that it tends to heat up especially on warm nights.

Cover

The 100% polyester cover helps a bit with cooling but it’s not as good as bamboo pillowcases.

If you are sensitive to heat or have frequent night sweats, you might want to find a cooler pillowcase or switch to another pillow altogether.

Specs

Size: 21.4 x 13.9 inches

Loft: 4.6” at the highest point

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable

Cover material: 100% polyester

Fill: Solid memory foam

Pros

  • 3D contoured design cradles your head and neck in a comfortable position.
  • Ideal for multiple sleeping positions.
  • Soft and pressure-relieving memory foam fill.
  • Good shoulder support.

Cons

  • Not ideal for stomach sleepers.


Best Neck Roll: KaUa Neck Roll

best pillow for neck pain

If standard and cervical pillows haven’t helped with your neck pain, try the KaUa Neck Roll.

It’s designed to relieve neck and back pain. It’s also good for relieving shoulder pain and tension.

The KaUa Neck Roll pillow is perfect for use at home (in bed or on the sofa) and it’s also one of the best pillows for traveling.

It’s small enough to fit in your carry on.

On the bed, some people prefer using the neck roll on its own. You can also use it along with your standard pillow. Just position it in front of your pillow in such a way that your neck goes over it.

Try both styles and see which one feels best for your neck and shoulders.

Filling

The roll is made from a single piece of memory foam.

It’s softer than standard memory foam but still firm enough to hold up your neck in the right position. The best way to describe it is medium firm.

The memory foam retains its shape for years. It doesn’t sag or get deformed, ensuring you get the same great support even after years of use.

Cover

The removable cover is made from natural bamboo.

It feels incredibly soft to the touch. At night, it wicks away moisture and keeps the pillow cool.

The bamboo fabric is naturally hypoallergenic, making it safe for those with sensitive skin.

Specs

Size: 4” in diameter and 18” length

Loft: 4”

Cleaning: cover is removable and washable

Cover material: Natural bamboo

Fill: Solid memory foam

Pros

  • Provides targeted support and pressure relief for the neck.
  • Also helps with back and shoulder pain and tension.
  • Great for traveling.
  • Cool, breathable and hypoallergenic cover.

Cons

  • Not ideal for stomach sleepers with neck pain.


Best Travel Neck Pillow: J-Pillow Travel Pillow

best pillow for neck pain

Spending a lot of time seated in airplanes or trains is not good for neck pain. Your neck is under more pressure and stress.

The J-Pillow can help.

Unlike standard U-shaped travel pillows that only go behind your head and neck, the J-Pillow extends to the side and front.

The 3D design provides great support for your head, neck, and chin.

This keeps your head cradled comfortably in place. The chin support extension prevents your head from falling forwards and straining your neck.

No more stiff neck or sore shoulders on long flights or bus rides.

You can adjust the different arms of the pillow to suit your specific sleeping position. Whether you are lying back against the seat or leaning against the window, the pillow works just as well.

Something else we love is that the pillow is machine washable, which is super important for a travel pillow.

The manufacturer recommends washing on a warm wash and tumble drying on low heat.

Filling

Memory foam travel pillows tend to feel a bit too firm. There are people who love the firmer feel.

But if you prefer to rest your head on a soft and plush pillow, you’ll love the J-Pillow.

It contains polyfill fiber, which is softer and contours better than solid memory foam. The pillow easily snuggles itself around your head, neck, and chin, providing great support and pressure relief.

Cover

The soft and fuzzy cover is made of polyester.

It feels really good against your skin though it can get a bit warm in hot weather. But the large surface area allows good airflow to keep your skin from getting hot and clammy.

Specs

Size: small enough to fit in a bag.Can be folded into an even smaller size.

Cleaning: Machine washable

Cover material: Polyester

Fill: Polyfillfiber

Pros

    • Special design provides 360-degree support for your head, neck, and chin.
    • Great for long flights or bus rides.
  • Adjustable positioning.
  • Soft fiberfill relieves pressure around your neck.
  • Softcover feels great against your skin.
  • The entire pillow is machine washable.

Cons

  • Can get a bit warm when it’s hot.


Best Value: Nursal Contour

best pillow for neck pain

Orthopedic and cervical pillows are generally pricey compared to standard pillows. If you are looking for a good quality cervical pillow without the high price tag, we recommend the Nursal Contour.

The surface of the pillow is contoured to cradle your head in place and position the neck in alignment with your body.

The side of the pillow is also contoured into a half moon shape that provides space for your shoulders to rest.

The pillow is made in China so don’t expect the same quality as US-made pillows. One particular complaint among users is the unpleasant chemical smell it emits when new.

Filling

The pillow consists of solid memory foam. It has a medium firm comfort feel, ensuring your head and neck get the right amount of contouring without sinking too far.

The memory foam is high density. It retains its shape and form through years of use.

The only problem with the memory foam is that it can get uncomfortably warm during hot weather.

The cover helps a bit with cooling but you should consider buying your own cooling pillowcase if you are sensitive to heat.

Cover

The manufacturer doesn’t specify which fabric they’ve used in the cover. They only say it is hypoallergenic. But considering the price point, it’s most likely polyester.

Specs

Size: 23.6 x 13.8 inches

Loft: 3.9” at the highest point

Cleaning: Cover is removable and washable

Cover material: Not specified (Most likely polyester)

Fill: Solid memory foam

Pros

  • Contoured design provides support and pressure relief for your neck and shoulders.
  • Long lasting high-density memory foam.
  • Ideal for all sleeping positions.

Cons

  • The chemical smell when new.
  • The memory foam retains heat especially during warm weather.


What Causes Neck Pain?

best pillow for neck pain

The reasons behind your neck pain can be as simple as sleeping wrong ora serious condition like cancer.

Luckily, neck pain is rarely due to a serious problem and is easily treatable. In cases of chronic neck pain, you can manage the pain via a combination of medication and therapy.

All the causes of neck pain can be grouped into five categories depending on which part of the neck is affected.

Muscle strains: This happens when there is prolonged pressure or strain on the neck such as hunching over a computer for hours or sleeping in the wrong position.

Worn joints: Neck joints can degenerate and stiffen because of age or a bad sitting posture. Even one problematic joint can affect all the others. Certain conditions like osteoarthritis can also wear doing the neck joints, causing pain and discomfort with every turn of your head.

Nerve compression: More commonly referred to as pinched nerve, nerve compression occurs when a herniated disk or bone spur in your neck pinches a nerve. This causes pain that can spread from the neck to the shoulders and arms. In older people, nerve compression is often because of osteoarthritis. In younger sufferers, it can be caused by an injury that results in a herniated disk.

Whiplash: This very common injury occurs when the neck is forced to suddenly move forwards and backward. This usually happens in a car accident especially when it involves a rear end collision.

Diseases: The most common disease that causes neck pain is arthritis. In rare cases, serious conditions like cancer and meaning it is the cause of persistent neck pain.

Note that only your doctor can accurately diagnose the cause of neck pain. So if the pain persists for several weeks and seems to be getting worse, go see your doctor instead of waiting it out.


Why Pillow Choice is Important To Neck Pain Relief

best pillow for neck pain

Your spinal cord starts from the base of your skull (the foramen magnum), through your skull and down your back.

It is essential that your spinal cord maintain its curvature and alignment all the time, whether you are standing, sitting or sleeping.

That last part is where your pillow comes in.

If your pillow is too high, it causes the neck to curve upwards, causing pain and soreness. It can also exacerbate existing pain.

If your pillow is too low, your head tips too far back and your neck curves downwards, again causing or worsening neck pain.

In both cases, the portion of your spinal cord that is within your neck is forced out of alignment with the rest of the spinal cord. This also strains neck muscles and joints, causing more pain.

Choosing the right pillow ensures that your neck is supported in the right position.

A good pillow should also mold around your neck instead of pushing against it. That’s why memory foam pillows are the best for neck pain.


Types of Pillows Neck Pain Sufferers Should Consider

best pillow for neck pain

Contoured/cervical Pillow

These are the best pillows for neck pain sufferers. They are contoured to provide targeted support and pressure relief to the neck.

A cervical pillow usually consists of a raised edge that keeps the neck in alignment with your body and a low center that cradles your head in a supportive position.

Most cervical pillows are designed for back and side sleepers but there are a few that are comfortable for stomach sleepers as well.

Adjustable Pillow

It can be hard to find the perfect pillow height that won’t leave your neck sore and painful.

Maybe your home is, as one pillow customer put it in an Amazon review, a graveyard of pillows that have all failed to meet your comfort needs.

That’s we love adjustable pillows.

It doesn’t matter whether you like a flat or stuffed pillow or your sleeping position; an adjustable pillow is great for you.

You just need to adjust it until it feels perfect.

Most adjustable pillows work by having a zippered case that lets you remove or add shredded foam. Others consist of removable layers.

Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

The most important feature to look for in a pillow for neck pain is pressure relief. A pressure-relieving pillow greatly reduces discomfort and pain in your neck.

Shredded memory foam pillows are some of the best when it comes to pressure relief.

The foam pieces mold around your neck and head more readily than solid memory foam. This cushions your neck against any pressure regardless of your sleeping position.

Solid memory foam pillows are also good at pressure relief but they don’t contour as well as their shredded cousins.

If you have to buy a solid memory foam pillow to alleviate neck pain, make sure it is a contoured or cervical pillow. It’s more comfortable than a standard-shape memory foam pillow.

Water Pillow

Water is even better than shredded foam at contouring and relieving pressure.

The great thing about water is that it easily moves around with you when you roll your head or change your sleeping position.

Memory foam takes a bit of time to adapt to your new position.

If you have serious neck pain caused by an injury or an accident, you might find a water pillow to be more relieving than a memory foam pillow.

Neck Roll

A neck roll is a pillow just for your neck.

It provides targeted support and pressure relief for your neck.

The best way to use a neck roll is together with your standard pillow. They form something similar to a cervical pillow.

Travel Pillow

You need to take care of your neck all the time, whether you are sleeping, working on a desk or travelling.

Travelling is especially strenuous to the neck because of the prolonged sitting posture, usually in cramped and uncomfortable seats.

A travel pillow allows you to rest and sleep without hurting your neck.

If you travel a lot, we highly recommend the J-Pillow.


Features to Consider When Buying a Pillow To Relieve Neck Pain

best pillow for neck pain

Contoured vs. Even Surface

A contoured pillow consists of a curved surface with varying heights. The ends are usually higher than the middle, which allows the pillow to cradle your head in a comfortable position.

One side of the pillow is also usually curved towards the center of the pillow. This provides good shoulder support and ensures your spine retains its natural curvature.

Contoured pillow is the best for relieving neck pain.

A pillow with an even surface can also relieve neck pain as long as it molds around the neck and head.

Shredded memory foam and water pillows are the best for this.

Loft

Loft refers to the height of the pillow.

The best loft depends on your physique and sleeping position.

If for instance, you have broad shoulders, a higher pillow will feel more comfortable. If you sleep on your stomach, a thinner pillow is better for spinal alignment.

High loft pillows are 5” or thicker. They are ideal for some back sleepers, individuals with a large physique and those who sleep on a firm mattress.

Medium loft pillows are 3”-5” thick. They are great for side sleepers, most back sleepers and those who sleep on a medium soft mattress.

Low loft pillows are less than 3” thick. They are the best for stomach sleepers, some side sleepers, individuals with slim shoulders and those who sleep on a soft mattress.

Adjustable

If you are not sure which loft is best for you, get an adjustable pillow.

This is a pillow whose height you can adjust by removing or adding shredded foam or foam layers.

Adjustable pillows are generally better for neck pain sufferers. With non-adjustable pillows you may have to go through several to find the one that works for you.

Material

The best and most popular material for neck pain pillows is memory foam.

Its ability to conform to the intricate curves around the neck and head makes memory foam highly effective at relieving neck pain.

The memory foam can be solid or shredded. Shredded is better because of it contours better around the neck.

If you opt for a solid memory foam pillow, look for one with a contoured design.

We don’t recommend other types of pillows for neck pain sufferers.

Buckwheat tends to be too firm, down and down alternative pillows are too soft, latex doesn’t contour as well as memory foam and poly fiber is too soft and lacks adequate neck support.

Cover Material

For the cover, you want something that is soft, cool and gentle on your skin.

Cotton is good. It wicks away moisture and allows body heat to flow away from the pillow.

Most pillows use a bamboo-based cover that is even better than cotton at cooling and breathability.

Polyester covers are common in cheaper pillows. They are durable and soft but don’t keep the pillow as cool as a cotton or bamboo rayon case.

Care and Maintenance

If you are concerned about the pillow accumulating dirt or getting stains, look for a shredded memory foam or fiber pillow that is safe for machine washing.

If it is a solid foam pillow that cannot be machine washed, make sure the cover is removable and washable.

Size

Pillow sizes range from standard all the way to King size.

If you have a big bed, have a large body or turn often in bed, get a larger size that gives you plenty of room to move and spread your hands.

Note that dimensions vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Not all standard pillows measure the same.

So check the pillow’s specific dimensions before you order.

When choosing the right pillow size, make sure you can get a pillow case that will easily fit over the pillow with some length to spare.


How to Position A Pillow to Relieve Neck Pain

best pillow for neck pain

  • If you don’t have a cervical pillow, placing a rolled up towel at the base of your pillow can help relieve neck pain. Alternatively, buy a neck roll and use it along with your existing pillow.
  • If you have an adjustable pillow, increase or reduce loft to make it more comfortable for your neck.
  • Use multiple pillows. A pillow between your knees or under your back can help if you also have back or hip pain. Extra pillows are also great for expectant women.

Frequently Asked Questions

best pillow for neck pain

What pillow should I use for neck pain?

A cervical memory foam pillow, a water pillow or a shredded memory foam pillow.

Is it better for your neck to sleep without a pillow?

Only if you are a stomach sleeper. Some stomach sleepers find it more comfortable to sleep without a pillow.

For all other sleeping positions, a pillow is essential in maintaining proper alignment between your neck and the rest of the body.

Is using a pillow bad for your neck?

Using the wrong pillow can hurt your neck or aggravate existing pain. But sleeping without a pillow can be just as bad if not worse.

The most important thing is to get a pillow that works for you.

What firmness is best for neck pain?

Medium firm pillows are the best. They provide a good amount of support without exerting too much pressure on the neck.

What kind of pillows are used in hotels?

Most hotels use fiber, feather or down pillows. They are not ideal for neck pain sufferers since they are too soft and don’t provide adequate support.

But most hotels will provide a memory foam pillow on request.

Are memory foam pillows good for neck pain?

They are the best. They provide pressure-relieving contouring while also supporting the neck in a healthy position.

Where To Shop & Save (Best Bargains)

The best place to shop for a new pillow is online. There is much more variety with some new innovative pillow brands only selling their products online.

You also get access to the best bargains and offers.


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