Best Pillows for Neck Pain

An estimated 289 million people experience neck pain worldwide each year. Although more adults complain of neck pain with age, neck pain is also a problem experienced by a growing number of children and adolescents. Choosing a pillow designed to alleviate neck pain can help provide relief.

There are many different kinds of pillows, which can make it difficult to determine which one is best for you. For example, different pillows have different thicknesses, firmness levels, and price-points. Also, many are filled with different materials, such as down, latex, polyester fill, and memory foam.

There is no single best pillow for neck pain. The best pillow for you depends on factors unique to your situation, such as your most common sleep position and preferred material types. Still, there are pillows designed with neck pain in mind. We’ll discuss pillows on the market that are suitable for people with neck pain, as well as how to determine which one is right for you.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

  • Pillow Type
    Latex
  • Loft
    Adjustable
  • Pillow Price
    $120
  • Model
    Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow
Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow

Highlights

  • Contoured shape is ideal for promoting spinal alignment in some sleepers
  • Adjustable fill levels allow you to customize the pillow's height
  • Designed to reduce allergens

Ideal For:

  • Side sleepers
  • People whose loft preferences vary over time
  • Those who are allergic to down pillows
  • Durability
    4/5 (Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow)
  • Firmness
    3/5 (Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow)
  • Shape Retention
    3/5 (Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow)
  • Moldability
    4/5 (Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow)
  • Conforming
    3/5 (Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow)
  • Temperature Neutrality
    4/5 (Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow)

The Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow is designed to be a comfortable pillow for side sleepers that adequately maintains spinal alignment. The bottom of the pillow is contoured into a U shape, providing head support without interfering with shoulder placement.

The Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow also addresses the problem of pillow height, or loft, often experienced by side sleepers. If your pillow is too thin, your head tips downward toward the bed and doesn’t remain in alignment with your spine, which can lead to neck strain. A pillow that’s too thick can cause the opposite problem, angling your head too far upward. The Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow gives you the ability to add or remove fill, so you can customize the loft to fit your body’s needs.

With a fill made up of latex pieces and polyester fiber, this pillow is designed to resist common allergens and has a medium firmness level. Its removable, washable cover also makes it easy to keep clean. The pillow comes in one size, with a width that falls between that of standard and queen pillows.

Eli & Elm offers free returns for any reason within 45 days of delivery. The pillow also comes with a 5-year warranty.

Best Value

GhostBed GhostPillow - Shredded

  • Pillow Type
    Foam
  • Loft
    Adjustable
  • Pillow Price
    $190 - Standard $270 - King
  • Model
    GhostPillow Shredded
GhostBed GhostPillow - Shredded

Highlights

  • Shredded memory foam contours to your body
  • Adjustable fill customizes the pillow height
  • Comes with a 101-night sleep trial

Ideal For:

  • Combination sleepers
  • Shoppers on a budget
  • People whose loft preferences change night to night
  • Durability
    3/5 (GhostPillow Shredded)
  • Firmness
    1/5 (GhostPillow Shredded)
  • Shape Retention
    3/5 (GhostPillow Shredded)
  • Moldability
    5/5 (GhostPillow Shredded)
  • Conforming
    3/5 (GhostPillow Shredded)
  • Temperature Neutrality
    3/5 (GhostPillow Shredded)

The GhostPillow by GhostBed offers versatility for combination sleepers and those with changing preferences. This pillow contains a mixture of shredded memory foam and microfiber fill, which can be adjusted to change the pillow’s thickness. GhostBed also offers a 101-night sleep trial, allowing you to try out the pillow before deciding whether to keep it.

The memory foam fill conforms to the body, allowing the GhostPillow to relieve pressure. Since the memory foam fill is shredded, you can add or remove fill to adjust the pillow to the shape you prefer.

GhostBed has covered the GhostPillow with a breathable cover designed to promote cooling airflow, so your head doesn’t get too hot at night. Gel is added to the memory foam fill, which may also prevent overheating.

The GhostPillow comes with a 5-year warranty and is available in a standard size, as well as a size that falls between queen and king.

Most Comfortable

Layla Kapok Pillow

  • Pillow Type
    Foam
  • Loft
    Adjustable
  • Pillow Price
    $109 - Queen $129 - King
  • Model
    Kapok Pillow
Layla-Kapok-Pillow-new-version

Highlights

  • Made of memory foam and natural kapok fibers
  • Adjustable fill options allow for a customizable pillow loft
  • Copper-infused fabric is designed to keep the pillow cool

Ideal For:

  • Side sleepers
  • People who require pressure relief for the neck
  • Hot sleepers seeking a foam pillow with cooling features
  • Durability
    4/5 (Kapok Pillow)
  • Firmness
    3/5 (Kapok Pillow)
  • Shape Retention
    3/5 (Kapok Pillow)
  • Moldability
    4/5 (Kapok Pillow)
  • Conforming
    3/5 (Kapok Pillow)
  • Temperature Neutrality
    4/5 (Kapok Pillow)

The Layla Kapok combines memory foam with natural kapok fibers to create a soft, plush pillow. This pillow is easily moldable and conforms to the body. The kapok fibers come from seeds of a tree, and they make for a light, breathable feel.

Although the Layla Kapok Pillow is medium soft, it tends to maintain its loft well. For this reason, the pillow rates highly with side sleepers. The pillow feels soft but doesn’t immediately lose height when you lie on it.

That said, the Kapok Pillow can be customized to work for any type of sleeper. It comes overstuffed to suit sleepers who prefer a higher loft, but it can easily be adjusted by unzipping the pillow and removing some of the fill.

The Kapok Pillow is available in both queen and king sizes. Layla offers a 120-night sleep trial, during which you can return your pillow for free. The pillow also comes with a 5-year warranty.

Best Neck Support

TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

  • Pillow Type
    Foam
  • Loft
    3.5" (Small) 4" (Medium) 4.75" (Large)
  • Pillow Price
    $109 - Small $119 - Medium $149 - Large
  • Model
    TEMPUR-Neck Pillow
TEMPUR-Neck-Pillow

Highlights

  • Contoured to fit the natural curvature of the neck
  • TEMPUR foam retains shape well
  • Comes with a removable cover

Ideal For:

  • Side and back sleepers
  • Those needing a balance of support and contouring
  • Shoppers seeking a machine-washable cover
  • Durability
    4/5 (TEMPUR-Neck Pillow)
  • Firmness
    3/5 (TEMPUR-Neck Pillow)
  • Shape Retention
    5/5 (TEMPUR-Neck Pillow)
  • Moldability
    3/5 (TEMPUR-Neck Pillow)
  • Conforming
    5/5 (TEMPUR-Neck Pillow)
  • Temperature Neutrality
    3/5 (TEMPUR-Neck Pillow)

The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow is filled with solid memory foam that has been carefully cut into an ergonomic shape designed to support the neck and head. Your head will sink in a little when you lie down. Unlike a more traditional pillow, this type of pillow retains its shape and cannot be fluffed or molded.

As an extra firm pillow available in three lofts — 3.5 inches, 4 inches, and 4.5 inches — the TEMPUR-Neck Pillow can provide support for people of different sizes and with varying sleep position preferences. However, it works best for side and back sleepers. Stomach sleepers will likely prefer a pillow that’s less firm and has a lower loft.

The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow cover is both removable and washable, making it easy to keep the pillow clean.

Tempur-Pedic does not allow customers to return pillows unless they arrive damaged or defective. However, the pillow comes with a 5-year limited warranty.

Best for Combination Sleepers

Bear Contour Pillow

  • Pillow Type
    Fiber
  • Loft
    2"
  • Pillow Price
    $125 - Standard/Queen
  • Model
    Contour Pillow
Bear-Contour-Pillow

Highlights

  • Contoured cutout U shape
  • Dual sides may appeal to combination sleepers
  • Cover material is designed to resist allergens

Ideal For:

  • Back sleepers
  • People who enjoy high loft
  • Those who snore at night
  • Durability
    3/5 (Contour Pillow)
  • Firmness
    1/5 (Contour Pillow)
  • Shape Retention
    3/5 (Contour Pillow)
  • Moldability
    5/5 (Contour Pillow)
  • Conforming
    3/5 (Contour Pillow)
  • Temperature Neutrality
    3/5 (Contour Pillow)

The Bear Contour Pillow has a U-shaped cutout designed to give side sleepers ample support. With a high loft of 6 inches, this pillow also promotes spinal alignment and helps prevent neck strain or pressure points caused by your head sinking in too far toward the mattress. This unique design allows side sleepers to have the pillow on both sides of their head and close to their body, without it also propping up their shoulders.

Back sleepers may also like the Bear Contour Pillow, since it lifts the head slightly, which may help reduce snoring. This pillow could also work well for combination sleepers who primarily sleep on their side but like to flip onto their back for periods of time during the night. This pillow is likely too thick for stomach sleepers, however.

The Bear Contour Pillow’s fill is made of synthetic alternative down fibers that provide a soft feel similar to natural down. The pillow is sold in one size, which falls between standard and queen.

The Bear Contour Pillow comes with an extended 100-night return policy beginning on the date of delivery. It also has a 2-year limited warranty.

Best Pressure Relief

Amerisleep Comfort Classic Pillow

  • Pillow Type
    Foam
  • Loft
    6"
  • Pillow Price
    $90 - Queen $115 - King
  • Model
    Comfort Classic Pillow
Amerisleep-Comfort-Classic-Pillow

Highlights

  • A 6-inch loft promotes spinal alignment in side sleepers
  • Light open-cell foam construction
  • Ideal for sleepers who want to sink into their pillow

Ideal For:

  • Back and side sleepers
  • Shoppers on a budget
  • People who enjoy the feel of memory foam
  • Durability
    4/5 (Comfort Classic Pillow)
  • Firmness
    2/5 (Comfort Classic Pillow)
  • Shape Retention
    4/5 (Comfort Classic Pillow)
  • Moldability
    3/5 (Comfort Classic Pillow)
  • Conforming
    4/5 (Comfort Classic Pillow)
  • Temperature Neutrality
    3/5 (Comfort Classic Pillow)

The Amerisleep Comfort Classic Pillow offers the conforming feel that many sleepers seek in memory foam, at a more accessible price-point.

With a 6-inch loft, this pillow works well for many side sleepers. As a medium firm pillow with some contouring, it also works well for many back sleepers. Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, might prefer to opt for a thinner pillow.

The Amerisleep Comfort Classic Pillow is made of memory foam, which can relieve pressure and provide the support you need to maintain spinal alignment throughout the night. Although memory foam is known for trapping heat, Amerisleep constructed this pillow with cooling channels and a breathable cover designed to keep sleepers cool.

The pillow is available in queen and king sizes.

All Amerisleep pillow sales are considered final, so there is no sleep trial. Returns are only accepted if your pillow arrives already damaged. The Comfort Classic Pillow does come with a 10-year warranty, though. Under the warranty, Amerisleep replaces any pillow exhibiting defects, including loose seams and cracked foam.

Why You Should Trust Us

At Sleep.org, we use scientific studies to drive our articles and recommendations. For years, our staff has thoroughly researched everything to do with sleep. We regularly revisit our articles and guides to make sure they are aligned with the latest sleep data.

When it comes to sleep products such as pillows for neck pain, we personally research and test all the products we endorse. Multiple sleepers of different body weights and sleep position preferences help us test products and ensure we aren’t recommending products that only work well for one type of sleeper.

What is Neck Pain?

Between 20% and 70% of people experience neck pain severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Neck pain is often recurring, and it’s one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. Its prevalence and impact on many people’s lives make it an important issue to address, especially since you can sometimes reduce the pain by simply choosing the right pillow and getting a good night’s rest.

Neck Pain and Your Pillow

While the causes of neck pain are sometimes unknown, getting high-quality sleep can help to alleviate it. Whether your neck pain was caused by an injury, poor posture, or how you sleep, using the best pillow for you can help relieve your neck pain.

Multiple factors influence which is the best pillow for someone with neck pain. Ideally, a pillow should provide comfort while also being supportive enough to keep the spine aligned. To promote spinal alignment, a pillow must have the right height and firmness level for your most common sleeping position.

Pillow Height, Firmness, Support, and Keeping Your Spine Aligned

Each sleep position requires a pillow with specific qualities in order for the sleeper to maintain spinal alignment as they sleep. A pillow’s height, also called its loft, along with its firmness level, determines how well a pillow can support you in your preferred sleeping position throughout the night.

Pillow Height (or Loft)

To help you maintain spinal alignment as you sleep, your pillow must have the right loft for your preferred sleep position.

Sleeping Position What Pillow Loft Do You Need?
Side Sleepers Side sleepers tend to require a pillow with a thick loft. When you lie on your side, your pillow must fill the space between your head and the surface of the mattress in order to promote spinal alignment. If the pillow is too thin, your head will angle toward the mattress, putting a strain on your neck.
Back Sleepers Back sleepers generally require a pillow with a low or medium loft. The pillow should lightly lift and support the head. If it’s too thick, however, you may experience neck strain from your head angling forward during the night.
Stomach Sleepers Stomach sleepers require the thinnest pillow of all sleeper types and can even get away without using a pillow. Many pillows are too thick for stomach sleepers and will cause the neck to arch by elevating the head too high. An adjustable fill pillow might work well, since you can remove much of the filling and make the pillow thinner. Some stomach sleepers like to place a pillow under their hips or torso instead of their head.
Combination Sleepers If you spend time in more than one position as you sleep, you have a few pillow options. A medium loft pillow will work well when you’re on your back and is less likely to cause extreme strain in any position. Or you might consider purchasing a pillow that is best suited to the position you spend the most time in. You could also keep two types of pillows on your bed.

How Firm Should Your Pillow Be?

Firmness refers to how a pillow responds to weight. A firm pillow indents very little, while a soft pillow indents deeply in response to weight. Like a pillow’s loft, a pillow’s firmness impacts how well the pillow can support you in your preferred sleep position. Although personal preference also plays a role, different firmness levels are better suited to different sleeping positions.

Sleeping Position What Firmness Do You Need?
Side Sleepers Side sleepers are often best supported by a medium to firm pillow. Soft pillows can’t always offer the level of support a side sleeper needs. If a pillow has a high loft but is very soft, the pillow will sink under the weight of your head, potentially leading to neck strain as your head tilts downward instead of maintaining alignment.
Back Sleepers Back sleepers can receive adequate support from a medium or even a soft pillow. Since a high loft isn’t required to promote spinal alignment in back sleepers like it is for side sleepers, back sleepers can opt for pillows that allow them to sink in more deeply.
Stomach Sleepers Soft pillows are ideal for stomach sleepers. They can provide comfort without propping up the head and arching the neck. Stomach sleepers want to stay away from firm pillows that will likely lift the head out of alignment with the rest of the spine.
Combination Sleepers As a combination sleeper choosing a pillow, it’s important to consider which sleeping positions you gravitate toward most often. You can choose the pillow that best suits your favorite position, or you can choose a medium firm pillow, as long as it doesn’t cause you discomfort.

Support and Keeping Your Spine Aligned

When a body is in proper spinal alignment, the spine is relatively straight, with natural curves in the lower back and at the neck. Supportive pillows and mattresses have the right construction and firmness to support this natural alignment. An unsupportive pillow or mattress causes your spine to become misaligned when you lie down.

Your pillow and mattress need to support your weight and sleep position. If a mattress is too soft or too firm, you can experience pressure points in your hips, lower back, shoulders, and neck. And if your pillow is too firm or too soft, too thin or too thick, you might experience spinal misalignment and neck strain as you sleep.

What Type of Pillow is Best for Neck Pain?

The best type of pillow for neck pain is the one that provides adequate support to keep your spine aligned throughout the night, such as a chiropractic pillow. That said, there isn’t one perfect pillow for all sleepers with neck pain.

The best pillow for you depends on your preferred sleep position. The height, firmness, construction, and materials used in a pillow, such as solid memory foam, shredded memory foam, down, and latex, all impact how that pillow functions. If you aren’t sure what type of pillow you need, you may want to consider an adjustable pillow. These pillows allow you to add or remove layers or filling to adjust the pillow’s height or firmness.

How to Sleep to Help With Neck Pain

Finding the right pillow is an important step toward preventing or alleviating sleep-related neck pain. How you sleep on your pillow affects spinal alignment, pressure points, and whether or not you develop pain overnight.

Side Sleepers

Side sleepers should try to sleep with only their head on the pillow and both arms in similar positions, whether that’s outstretched or wrapped around a second pillow. Although you might feel tempted to put your bottom arm under your head, try not to do so. Raising your bottom arm to use it as an additional pillow can also raise your head, straining your neck. Having your arm in that position might also prompt shoulder pain or cut off the circulation in your arm.

Back Sleepers

Ideally, back sleepers should sleep with their arms and legs in symmetrical positions. You may choose to sleep with your arms and legs close to your body, or spread out. Try not to have one arm by your side and the other raised up by your head. This asymmetry can contribute to neck and shoulder strain.

Stomach Sleepers

Of all sleep positions, stomach sleeping is most likely to strain the neck and back, especially with age. If this is your preferred position, try not to sleep with your head to the side, or consider switching sides throughout the night. Placing a second pillow or a body pillow under your hips or torso can make it easier for you to maintain spinal alignment.

Last Tips for Dealing With Neck Pain

Picking the right pillow for you can help with neck pain, but there are other options to explore, too.

Find the Right Mattress: Your mattress impacts your spinal alignment as much, if not more, than your pillow. A mattress that doesn’t promote spinal alignment might result in pressure points, strain, and neck and back pain. Be sure to do your research and choose a mattress based on your body weight and sleep position preference.

Exercise: Engaging in regular exercise has been shown to spur modest improvements in neck movement and pain severity. Consider strength training, stretching, aerobic activity, or all three.

Try Acupuncture: Acupuncture is another option that can slightly improve neck function in people with neck pain. Often considered an alternative or complementary medical treatment, acupuncture involves a trained professional putting needles into the skin’s surface at key points on the body.