Best Pillows for Neck Pain 2019

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Updated: June 27, 2019

Your Pillow Matters

If you’re like most people you haven’t given much thought to your pillow but if your sleep isn’t ideal, you should. Sleeping is a critical recovery period for our bodies and mind and if you have trouble sleeping or waking up with pain, especially in your neck or back, it may be related to your pillow. Your pillow alone can often be what is causes pain and finding one that matches your body, sleep position, temperature and preference can dramatically improve your sleep quality and the way you feel when you wake up every morning.

Tips for Neck Pain Sufferers

When you sleep you should be trying to find a neutral spinal position where your pillow enables your spine to be straight vs overly supported (causing an upward bend in your spine) or under-supported(causing a downward bend in your spine). Keep in mind depending on your sleep position you may need a thicker or thinner pillow to find this neutral position. Referring to the image below make sure:

  • Your spine is straight as possible
  • Your pillow provides support to your entire neck in addition to your head
  • Your pillow is positioned up against your shoulders
Proper Neck and Spine Position - Best Pillows for Neck Pain

Matching Your Pillow to Your Sleep Position

Choosing a pillow can seem fairly straight forward but if you're suffering from sleeping-related neck pain or sleeplessness it becomes very important to choose not only a high-quality pillow but a pillow design that matches your sleeping position, anatomy, and personal preference.  While there are dozens of unique sleeping positions they are mostly variations of the list below. Here are the common sleeping positions and which pillow pairs the best with them:

  • Side - Side sleeping is the common sleeping position and there are many pillow options for side sleepers. While a traditional pillow design (rectangular, filled with shredded foam, fiber, etc...) can work great, cervical design or more commonly known as neck pillows are a great match for side sleepers. They are designed to properly support your neck head and shoulders while.
  • Back - Back sleeping is also very common and considered one of the best sleep positions for getting quality rest. Back sleepers have plenty of options. Like side sleepers, you can use either a traditional pillow and a cervical pillow. Some cervical pillows cater even more to back sleepers like our #4 pick above that includes a contoured cut-out to cradle your neck and head while laying on your back.
  • Stomach - Sleeping on your stomach can lead to back and neck pain but is reported to be great for your digestive system. Pairing a pillow with stomach sleeping leaves few options beyond a traditional pillow design.

How to Choose the Right Pillow

The funny video made by the Spine Health Institute below actually provides some great guidance on selecting a pillow and finding a neutral spinal position:

Our Review Process

Like many of our sleep recommendation guides, we start off with in-depth consultations with experts on the topic. In this case, we've sought out experts on sleep, joint and muscle pain as well as spine health to give us the best perspective and guidance on recommending products we think can help you sleep better.

If you’ve researched sleep you’ve probably learned there is no silver bullet for getting quality sleep. What works for you may not work for someone else. Selecting your pillow is no different. Because of this fact, we worked with our experts to define common categories for sleepers and what you may be looking for in your next pillow. Our top picks are tailored to different pillow designs, sleeping positions, materials, and budgets.

Best Pillows for Neck Pain

When it comes to sleep everyone is different. When you consider your sleep position, sleep temperature, weight, personal preferences, and budget, you realize you may need a very specific pillow. We've created the following common categories to help narrow down your search:

  • Value - You're looking for the maximum combination of function and cost
  • Budget - You're on a tight budget but want to compromise as little as possible.
  • Cervical Support - You want a pillow that is contoured to your body for maximum ergonomics.
  • Cooling - Staying cool is your top priority, if you're cool, you're happy with your pillow.

Coop Home Goods Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow

 Coop Home Goods Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow - Best Pillows for Neck Pain

Best Value Pillow for Neck Pain

  • Adjustable loft enables you to set different pillow thicknesses to cater to your body and desired support
  • Great for all sleeping positions
  • Cover designed to keep you cool and prevent sweating
  • By far one of the most popular pillow options for its ability to adjust to your body and work with all sleeping positions.
  • Great value despite being the most expensive option on our list.
  • 100-day satisfaction guarantee

Simply Sova Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Simply Sova Shredded Memory Foam Pillow - Best Pillows for Neck Pain

Best Value Runner Up

  • A slightly less expensive alternative to the Coop Home Goods pillow, the Simply Sova Pillow offers an adjustable loft but is limited to two levels of adjustment due to the two removable layers.
  • The plus is no foam mess and consistent firmness across the entire pillow.
  • Great for all sleeping positions
  • Breathable hypoallergenic materials and design
  • Great value and frequently discounted.

Beckman Hotel Collection Gel Pillow

Beckman Hotel Collection Gel Pillow - Best Pillows for Neck Pain

Best Budget Pillow for Neck Pain

  • Gel fiber filled pillow that resists shifting and loss of firmness and support.
  • Package includes two pillows
  • Great for all sleeping positions
  • High thread count shell
  • The best option for those on a tight budget and or looking to replace both pillows on a full, queen or king bed.
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee

Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Epabo Contour Memory Foam Pillow - Best Pillows for Neck Pain

Best Cervical Support

  • Innovative and ergonomic cervical design pillow that provides support for shoulders, neck, and head.
  • Ideal for back sleepers but could also be used for side sleeping if you desire a firm pillow.
  • Breathable cover reduces sweating.
  • Great value when it comes to an highly ergonomic pillow.
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee

WonderSleep Adjustable Loft Memory Foam Pillow

WonderSleep Adjustable Loft Memory Foam Pillow - Best Pillows for Neck Pain

Best Cooling Pillow for Neck Pain

  • Two setting adjustable loft cooling pillow that is highly breathable with a great cooling effect
  • Great for all sleeping positions
  • Package includes two pillows
  • Hypoallergenic materials
  • Great value for the cooling performance and getting two pillows for less than many other single pillow options
  • 1 year limited warranty

Compare Table

Pillow Material Positions Adj. Loft? Price
All Yes $60
All Yes $48
Gel Fiber Back and
No $32 ($16 ea.)
Epabo Solid
Back and
No $44
All Yes $50($25 ea.)

Key features in Quality Pillows

Pillows are getting more innovative by the minute and now you can shop for pillows to suit your every need. Here are some key features you should look out for in buying your next pillow:

  • Adjustable Loft - Adjustable loft pillows are a great choice if you've found yourself sensitive to the height of your pillow in the past. They give you the ability to make adjustments to tailor your pillow's comfort and support. Adjustable loft pillows like our #1 and #2 choice are also great if you can't see the pillow in person or buying online.
  • Cooling - Most of us don't like to sweat while we sleep. Many quality pillows are already designed to reduce or prevent sweating but some pillows are designed exclusively for those of us that are hot sleepers.
  • Washable - While most pillows are washable make sure you confirm. Always follow the washing instructions but washing your pillow can extend its life and help re-fluff the material inside.

Pillow FAQs

Here are some of the common pillow questions we get from our readers:

When should I replace my pillow?

If you are suffering from back or neck pain or find yourself having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up with feeling refreshed your pillow may be among the causes, especially if it is older, flat and lacks support. While a good pillow can last for years we recommend evaluating your pillow once a year, to confirm it still supporting your body properly and not harming your sleep quality.

Can I wash my pillow?

Most pillows have instructions included on how to wash them and often they are written on a label similar to what you see on items of clothing. We recommend following these instructions but always account for extra drying time. Nearly all pillows are notorious for drying on the outside while still being sopping wet on the inside, especially when dried in a machine dryer. While most down or feather filled pillows aren't intended to be washed, there are methods that can increase your success such as drying with tennis balls to prevent the feathers from clumping.

Should your pillow be under your shoulders?

Generally, no your pillow shouldn't be under your shoulders. Ideally, your pillow is there to help align your spine and neck with the rest of your body maintaining a neutral position. This applies for both back and side sleeping positions. If there is a need to have your pillow under your shoulders, you may have an issue with your mattress.

Can pillows be recycled?

Typically pillows cannot be recycled, unless they are made from recyclable material, appropriately labeled, and your recycling company has the ability to process them. If your pillow is like most and can't be recycled, there is a lot you can do before resorting to throwing it away (sending it to a landfill). Read the bottom of our mattress disposal guide for 6 great ideas on how to reuse or donate your pillow.

Can pillows cause headaches?

Headache is a deep topic that has many complexities. While your pillow can be part of the reason you're having headaches it is rarely the single cause. We always recommend talking to your doctor if you have troublesome headaches.

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