Best Pillow for Neck Pain: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
Each year between 30 percent to 50 percent of middle-aged Americans suffer from some type of neck pain. Neck pain is common and usually fades away within two weeks, however, if pain continues especially when you wake in the morning, the source of the pain could be your pillow.
The right pillow offers the perfect balance of comfort and support for a good night’s rest and can even alleviate pain. We share our favorite best pillow for neck pain and offer a comprehensive guide on what to look for in pain relief.
30 Second Summary: Best Pillows for Neck Pain
- Amerisleep’s Comfort Classic — The Amerisleep Comfort Classic is our Editors’ Choice as the best pillow for neck pain because it contains pressure-relieving memory foam and has a comfy 6-inch loft. Plus, it comes with a 10-year warranty.
- Zoma’s Pillow — We like the Zoma Pillow for neck pain relief because it’s made with customizable MicroCushion™ foam technology, allowing you to find your ideal loft and comfort. The Zoma Pillow comes with free shipping and a 10-year warranty.
Best Pillows for Neck Pain
|Amerisleep Comfort Classic||Features pressure-relieving memory foam and has a comfy 6-inch loft|
|Amerisleep Dual Comfort Pillow||Dual-sided comfort offers sleepers a firm or soft side|
|Amerisleep Flex Pillow||MicroFlex cushions allow the pillow to mold to your head and neck|
|Zoma Pillow||Flexible MicroCushions™ allow you to adjust the pillow to your ideal comfort level|
|Vaya Pillow||Hypoallergenic foam pillow with a ventilated cover|
|Coop Home Goods Shredded||Better cooling through shredded memory foam with adjustable loft|
|Mediflow Original||Waterbase pillow with adjustable loft ideal for all sleepers|
|Xtreme Comforts Shredded||Shredded memory foam with Kool-Flow technology prevents overheating|
|EPABO||Solid foam with removable panel to adjust pillow loft|
|K Ka Ua Cervical Bolster||Cylindrical pillow can be used to support back, knees, and other joints|
|Hullo||Buckwheat fill for a firm, adjustable pillow|
|Chiroflow Premium||Ergonomic design, waterbase pillow reduces neck pain|
The Amerisleep Comfort Classic pillow is our favorite pillow for neck pain. The pillow contains a single piece of Bio-Pur® memory foam and is encased in a soft, breathable cover.
Amerisleep’s signature Bio-Pur® is eco-friendly, as manufacturers partially replace petroleum with castor oil for a cooler foam with little to no off-gassing odor. Bio-Pur® is also more breathable than traditional memory foam.
The 6-inch high loft makes the Amerisleep Comfort Classic a great choice for side and back sleepers, with foam providing excellent support and pressure relief to the neck, reducing pain. The lightweight, responsive feel of this pillow ensures a good night’s sleep.
The Amerisleep Comfort Classic pillow comes with a 10-year warranty.
Amerisleep Comfort Classic Highlights
- Ideal for side and back sleepers
- Comes with a 10-year warranty
- Features advanced open-cell memory foam to prevent overheating
Amerisleep’s Dual Comfort Pillow comes with two different firmness options—a soft and a firm side. Side sleepers with neck pain may prefer the firm side because the slight lift of this material will keep the head lifted and aligned with the neck to prevent tension and pressure build-up.
The soft side of the Dual Comfort Pillow is ideal for back sleepers with neck pain because this material contours closely to the head and neck. The soft side provides maximum comfort while still keeping the head and neck in alignment. You can purchase the Dual Comfort Pillow in either a 5-inch loft or a 6-inch loft depending on your needs.
This pillow is also cooling and perfect for those who sleep hot. The Bio-Pur® plant-based memory foam doesn’t retain heat the way most foam pillows do. Plus, both sides of the pillow feature air channels that help regulate temperature.
The Dual Comfort Pillow comes with a 100-night sleep trial period and a 10-year warranty to ensure you are happy with the comfort and support of the pillow.
Amerisleep Dual Comfort Highlights
- Open-air channels for temperature regulation
- Includes 10-year warranty
- Dual-sided comfort
The Amerisleep Flex Pillow is designed to give sleepers more control over the shape of their pillow. The foam filling inside this pillow features Amerisleep’s MicroFlex cushions. These cushions are malleable foam and polyesters pieces that give the pillow its unique molding quality.
The open space between the MicroFlex cushions also helps warm air dissipate quickly, preventing heat build-up. The cover of the Flex Pillow features a lightweight, airy material that is ventilated for better air circulation, so you always sleep cool and comfortable.
The Amerisleep Flex Pillow comes in either a queen or king size. It also comes with a 10-year warranty and a 100-night sleep trial that allows you to test out the pillow in the comfort of your own home.
Amerisleep Flex Pillow Highlights
- Soft, ventilated cover
- Includes 10-year warranty
- Customizable shape
The Zoma Pillow consists of shredded Micro-Cushions™ and is covered by a polyester-spandex cover.
Shredded Micro-Cushions™ are a combination of shredded foam and polyester fiber. The materials are antibacterial and dust mite-resistant, an excellent choice for those with allergies. The open structure of the filling also provides better air circulation inside the pillow for better cooling and reducing inflammation of sore neck muscles.
The removable polyester spandex cover is constructed into a breathable mesh fabric, enabling airflow and preventing sleepers from overheating.
The adjustable 6-inch loft of the Zoma Sports pillow never goes flat or lose its shape. Sleepers can customize the pillow to their preferred shape for great comfort and support all night long. Plus, the Zoma Sports pillow is machine-washable.
The Zoma pillow includes a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
Zoma Pillow Highlights
- Adjustable MicroCushions™ let you find your most comfortable pillow
- Suitable for all sleeping styles
5. Vaya Pillow
The Vaya Pillow is a hypoallergenic foam pillow with a plush, pressure-relieving comfort level that is perfect for those with neck pain. Plus, the Vaya Pillow comes at a budget-friendly price—the queen size is $60, while the king is $85.
Although this pillow is affordable, it is made with high-quality, durable foam that will keep you sleeping in a safe, comfortable position throughout the night. Vaya foam is highly responsive and keeps your head and neck in alignment no matter which position you sleep in. This foam is also certified by CertiPUR-US® to be free of harmful chemicals and flame retardants.
The cover of the Vaya Pillow is made of a soft, perforated fabric that keeps air circulating, so your pillow stays cool to the touch. Vaya includes a 10-year warranty and a 100-night sleep trial with each pillow purchase.
Vaya Pillow Highlights
- Perforated cooling cover
- 10-year warranty
- Affordable price
The Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam pillow contains CertiPUR-US® certified shredded memory foam, creating a comfortable platform for the head. Shredded memory foam offers better cooling through its open structure, allowing for better air circulation. Sleepers can easily adjust the loft based on their preferred sleep position.
The machine-washable cover is made of a polyester/rayon blend to wick away moisture and provide a plush, soft surface.
The Coop Home Goods pillow is designed to ease stiff neck muscles by cradling the head and neck. This soft, yet supportive pillow is an excellent choice for sleepers with neck pain. Its hypoallergenic materials also makes it a great option for those with allergies— resistant to dust mites and other bacteria, offering a healthier sleep.
The Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam pillow comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 5-year warranty.
Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Highlights
- Shredded memory easily circulates air
- Adjustable loft
- Breathable, bamboo cover
The Mediflow Original pillow is a water-based ergonomic pillow with a two-layer construction— soft and resilient Dacron Hollofil® and a thermal insulator water chamber. The pillow is encased in a hypoallergenic, 200 thread count cotton cover.
The water fill supports the head, neck, and shoulders. Sleepers can easily adjust the pillow’s firmness through the water level— soft, medium, or firm. Because of its adjustable loft, the Mediflow Original pillow is a great choice for any type of sleeper.
The Mediflow Original pillow was part of a clinical study by Johns Hopkins University in 1997 which included a total of 41 participants with some form of neck pain between the ages of 26 and 76. Results show that participants slept better and woke with less pain using the Mediflow Original pillow.
The Mediflow Original pillow is easy to care for— simply remove and machine wash the outer cover, then wipe down the inner chamber with a damp cloth. The pillow comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a 3-year warranty.
Mediflow First & Original Water Highlights
- Waterbase pillow with soft Dacron Hollofil® fiber
- Adjustable loft based on water level
- Clinically proven to alleviate neck pain
The Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam pillow consists of CertiPUR-US® certified shredded memory foam. The foam is not only cooler than single-piece memory foam pillows, but the loft is adjustable by adding or removing fill. The pillow can be shifted for the perfect shape, making it an ideal choice for any type of sleeper. Another unique feature is that the Xtreme Comforts pillow is machine-washable.
The bamboo pillowcase is hypoallergenic and incorporates Kool-Flow technology, wicking away moisture with micro vents allowing for better airflow— sleepers will keep cool with less risk of overheating at night.
Dust mite-resistant memory foam conforms to the head and neck, reducing neck pain and relieving headaches. The Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam pillow comes with a 1-year, money-back guarantee.
Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Highlights
- Shredded memory foam fill
- Kool-Flow™ technology
- Machine-washable pillow
The EPABO pillow’s ergonomic design contours to the head and neck to achieve spinal alignment. With firm support and good air circulation, this pillow is perfect for side and back sleepers— the design may not work for stomach sleepers because of its loft.
The hypoallergenic bamboo cover keeps dust mites, bacteria, dirt, and debris away from your pillow, and is also machine washable. The EPABO pillow is made from solid memory foam. The 0.8-inch piece of memory foam inside is removable if sleepers find the loft too high.
The EPABO pillow includes a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
- Ergonomic design
- Removable memory foam panel
- Great for side and back sleepers
The K Ka Ua Cervical Bolster pillow is a lightweight option with firm support. Consisting of a single piece of memory foam, this pillow is not only used to cradle the neck, but it can also support the back, knees, and other joints.
The polyester/rayon cover is both hypoallergenic and machine-washable. To clean the memory foam, use a cloth dipped in warm water mixed with a small amount of mild detergent.
The pillow comes in three thickness options— 3, 4, and 6 inches. The K Ka Ua Cervical Bolster pillow can be used with or without a regular pillow, depending on your sleep position, but it is a good idea for back sleepers to have that needed support to the head.
The K Ka Ua Cervical Bolster pillow is a great choice for side and back sleepers. Despite regular use, the pillow is proven to hold its shape for consistent support to the neck. The K Ka Ua Cervical Bolster pillow includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
K Ka Ua Cervical Bolster Highlights
- Bolster neck pillow
- Three thickness options
- Used with or without a regular pillow1. Hullo
The Hullo pillow is an eco-friendly option, filled with 8 to 9 pounds of buckwheat hulls. This pillow offers a firm, ergonomic support to remove stress from the spine and relax neck and back muscles through its contouring properties.
The machine-washable cover is made of organic cotton twill, offering a soft and cool sleep surface. Sleepers receive further cooling through the open structure of the buckwheat fill, leaving less chance of overheating at night.
The Hullo pillow is customizable— sleepers can unzip the outer cover and inner shell to add or remove buckwheat filling to achieve the right loft. The company also sells additional buckwheat hulls in 10 and 20-pound bags.
The Hullo pillow is perfect for any sleep position and comes with a 60-night sleep trial.
- Eco-friendly pillow option
- Customizable loft
- Great for any sleep position
The Chiroflow Premium pillow is a water-based, ergonomic pillow designed to reduce neck pain. The pillow’s loft and firmness depends on the water level— use less water for a softer, low-loft pillow; more water for a firmer, high-loft pillow.
The pillow contains a thermally insulated water chamber and a Dacron StaLoft Hollofil® polyester fiber filling for soft comfort. The 300 thread-count cover improves airflow and prevents overheating while wicking away moisture.
Like the Mediflow Original, the Chiroflow Premium pillow was also part of the same clinical study done by Johns Hopkins University in 1997. This pillow was also found to help reduce neck pain in 46 participants and improve their sleep quality.
The Chiroflow Premium pillow comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a 3-year warranty.
Chiroflow Premium Highlights
- Waterbase pillow
- Great for all types of sleepers due to adjustable loft
- Subject of clinical study
What Causes Neck Pain?
Causes of neck pain vary. Some of the most common causes of neck pain include sleeping on the wrong pillow type, using a worn-out pillow, or a medical condition or injury, such as muscle strain, nerve compression, worn joints, and so on.
Muscle strain occurs because of overused muscles, like working at a desk for long periods of time, reading in bed, grinding your teeth, or sleeping on your stomach.
Nerve compression occurs when nerves are unable to fully extend due to spine issues, like herniated disks and bone spurs.
Worn joints naturally happen through age— as time goes by, our joints start to deteriorate through wear. This can worsen through osteoarthritis, where cartilage between bones wears down.
Car accidents, labor-intensive jobs, and sports have a higher risk of injury, like whiplash, fractures, and torn muscles. These types of injuries cause or worsen existing neck pain.
Chronic neck pain can develop from diseases and medical conditions like cancer, spinal meningitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of Neck Pain
Neck pain can cause reduced motion of the neck and constant headaches. If left untreated, neck pain may worsen symptoms, including severe or persistent pain, shooting pain to the arms, torso, or legs, and/or numbness, tingling, or weakness in the body.
How Pillows Affect Neck Pain
Pillows cradle the head and neck, aligning the spine no matter the sleep position. The best pillows can release built-up tension in the neck and back, reducing pain, while the wrong type of pillow could worsen muscle tension and pain.
For example, a side sleeper should not choose a low-loft pillow because it would lack the cushion needed to fill in the large gap between the neck and shoulders, throwing the spine out of alignment and causing muscle strain.
What to Look for in a Neck Pillow
To find the most comfortable pillow for neck pain, potential shoppers need to keep in mind the pillow’s material, shape, size, loft, and price, as well as their sleeping position.
The material of a pillow determines how a pillow redistributes your body weight as you move. The most common pillow materials include memory foam, water, polyester, buckwheat, feathers, and latex. Memory foam and water are some of the most popular neck pillow materials because of their ability to cradle the head and neck and align the spine.
Memory foam contours to the head and neck, relieving pressure points and keeping the spine in neutral alignment. Memory foam pillows contain either a single, solid piece of foam or shredded foam. Sleepers can adjust shredded memory foam pillows to their desired loft and shape, while single-piece memory foam pillows are most likely shaped in an ergonomic design to better position the head and neck.
Unlike other pillow materials, waterbase pillows can’t be compressed over time— their loft depends on the water level. Water pillows conform to the head and neck, aligning the spine, and include a polyester or foam padding for extra cushioning.
Polyester fill mimics the softness of cotton and won’t flatten easily. They’re a low-cost option (between $10-$20), but they have shorter lifespans, about 1 to 3 years. Polyester pillows contain either shredded or interlocking fibers.
Buckwheat pillows are an environmentally-friendly option for eco-conscious customers. Buckwheat pillows are quite firm, often adjustable, and offers good neck support.
Down feather pillows are made with the outer feathers of ducks or geese. While down (fluff found under the outer feathers) pillows are a luxury option because of how soft they are, they wouldn’t be able to offer the type of support feather pillows provide to reduce neck pain.
Latex is a natural material extracted from rubber trees. Similar to memory foam, latex conforms to the head and neck to relieve pressure and align the spine. Latex pillows are available as a single-piece or shredded, and may also be a good option for those with neck pain because of their adjustable loft.
A pillow’s shape determines the type of support it offers to the neck. Neck pain sufferers should look for curved or even surface pillows.
Curved or contoured pillows are usually made from a single piece of memory foam— cervical pillows or orthopedic pillows are classic examples of a curved pillow. The neck area is elevated with a slight depression for the head.
Even surface pillows are standard pillows, smooth and rectangular. Even surface pillows contain shredded memory foam, feathers, or poly-fill to contour to the head and neck for support and comfort.
Pillows come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different body types and needs:
- Travel-Size Pillows
Small and lightweight, meant to fit in carry-on bags. The most common is the U-shaped travel pillow.
- Standard-Size Pillows (20 x 26)
This is the most common and most compact size. Fits twin, twin XL, and full-size beds.
- Queen-Size Pillows (20 x 30)
Great for restless sleepers and perfect for queen size bed or larger.
- King-Size Pillows (20 x 36)
Like queen-size, also good for restless sleepers, offering more room to toss and turn. Perfect for king or California king size beds.
- Euro-Style Pillows
Ideal as a headrest or backrest. Sizing varies.
- Body Pillows (54 x 20)
Ideal for side sleepers who like to snuggle and for pregnant women.
Loft refers to the thickness of a pillow. There are three types of lofts— low, medium, and high. A pillow’s loft is directly linked to a pillow’s support and comfort. Loft depends on preferred sleep position, mattress type, and shoulder width.
- Low-loft: 3 inches thick or less
- Medium-loft: 3 to 5 inches thick
- High-loft: 5 inches thick or more
Your preferred sleeping position has a large impact on the type of pillow you choose. Keeping your spine in neutral alignment can reduce neck pain and provide a better night’s sleep— to do this, you need a pillow with the right loft based on your sleeping position.
Side sleeping is the most common and most popular sleeping position. It allows for better breathing, and by lying on the right side, sleepers can reduce acid reflux and improve heart health. The best pillows for side sleepers are medium to high-loft. Side sleepers can also use a contour pillow, which has a higher loft in the neck area and a lower loft in the head area.
Back sleepers naturally align their spine since their back is in direct contact with the sleep surface. Like side sleeping, back sleeping allows for better breathing, but there’s a risk of snoring and a greater risk of developing sleep apnea. Sleeping with a medium loft pillow or even a cylindrical pillow under the neck is the best for back sleeping, or they can use a specialty pillow sized to elevate the neck for support.
Stomach sleeping is the least common and the least healthy sleeping position. Stomach sleepers may experience neck strain and back pain— neck strain from twisting the head at an unnatural angle to breathe and back pain from gravity pulling the weight down in the midsection, forcing the natural curve of the spine to straighten. Low-loft pillows are perfect for stomach sleeping.
Stomach sleepers are at a greater risk of worsening their neck pain if they continue to sleep in this position. A better and healthier alternative is switching to the right side or back sleeping.
The price of a pillow depends on the type of pillow material and pillow size. Natural materials, like latex, and bigger sizes will cost more. The average price for a queen-size pillow runs between $25 to $100. While it might seem better to go for a low-cost option, if you suffer from neck pain, go with a pillow from a reputable brand— you may have to spend a few extra dollars, but the results will be worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a firm or soft pillow better for neck pain?
It’s not so much about firmness as it is the loft. You want to find a pillow that’s the right height and both cushioning and support. Memory foam, buckwheat, and down or feather pillows are a popular choice because they’re soft but also keep your neck in a healthy position. Side sleepers usually prefer mid-loft pillows, back sleepers enjoy both mid and high-loft pillows, and stomach sleepers need low-loft pillows.
Should I sleep without a pillow if my neck hurts?
No, sleeping without a pillow can actually exacerbate neck pain. Pillows support your neck and keep your head in line with the rest of your spine, ultimately maintaining healthy alignment. Sleeping without a pillow means your neck doesn’t receive any support, and this can lead to worsened aches and pains. Instead of ditching pillows entirely, swap your uncomfortable pillow for something that’s more suitable for your sleep needs.
Why does my neck hurt after waking up?
Morning neck pain usually stems from two things: sleeping on your stomach or using a too-thick or too-thin pillow. When you sleep on your stomach, you twist your head to the side to breathe, and sleeping with a twisted spine can quickly lead to aches and pains. If your pillow isn’t the right height, it can cause you to sleep with a bent neck, also resulting in discomfort.
How many pillows do you need for neck pain?
You should always sleep with only one pillow under your head. However, if you have neck pain, you can use pillows to improve posture and ease discomfort. For example, back sleepers with neck pain sometimes place a pillow under their lower back to keep their spine straight and prevent their head from dipping down. Side sleepers will put a pillow between their knees to keep their knees and hips aligned and prevent the top leg from pulling the spine out of alignment.
Do pillows cause neck pain?
Sleeping with the wrong pillow can lead to neck pain, but sleeping with the right pillow can ease discomfort and prevent neck pains from forming. Your pillow shouldn’t be causing your neck pain, so if swapping your old pillow for a new one doesn’t relieve your pain, it may be worth talking to your doctor about your discomfort.
Did You Find A Pillow for Neck Pain?
If you’re tired of going to the chiropractor for neck pain, your current pillow might be the problem. Neck pain can also result from medical conditions or injuries. A new pillow, specifically designed to relieve pain by providing better neck support, is key to a good night’s sleep.
We hope our guide helps you find the best pillows for neck pain.