Best Pillows for Neck PainUpdated on August 8, 2020 While all product recommendations are chosen independently, we may receive compensation for purchases made through our site. Learn more about our affiliate program here.
Neck pain can cause significant sleep disruptions. With chronic neck pain, it is hard to find a comfortable position for falling asleep. At the same time, poor sleep and lack of support can exacerbate the problem, making neck pain worse and longer-lasting.
Finding the right pillow is an important step in both preventing and managing neck pain. A pillow that offers proper support and cradling makes sure that the neck doesn’t bend too far in any direction. Keeping the neck cushioned promotes overall alignment with the spine and can help you avoid waking up with stiffness or aches.
In this guide, you’ll find our top choices for the best pillows for neck pain. In addition, our primer to buying a neck support pillow provides all the necessary information for you to be well-informed and on your way to more comfortable sleep.
Our Top Picks
|Z Zoned Gel Dough||Gel-Infused Poly Foam (One-Piece)||Cushions neck with zones of different firmness, Gel foam resists heat retention||$99.99|
|Eden Pillow||Shredded Memory Foam + Microfiber||Fully adjustable, Responsive foam plus softness of microfiber||$79.99|
|Waterbase Pillow||Water Chamber + Fiber Fill||Unique water chamber core, Adjusts to your head in real-time||$47.00|
|Luxury Bamboo Shredded Foam Pillow||Shredded Memory Foam||Moldable and responsive, Free loft customization||$59.99|
Malouf Z Zoned Dough Pillow
Why We Like it
- Consistent loft with one-piece design
- Responsive foam to cradle head and neck
- Zoned design adds extra neck comfort
- Three choices for loft level
Construction: The Malouf Z Zoned Dough pillow is made with one piece of gel-infused polyfoam. Zones of different foam strength provide neck support in different positions. The cover is made with 75% polyester and 25% bamboo-rayon. It is stretchy and breathable.
Sizes: It is available in only Queen and King sizes.
Loft: The pillow is available in Low (4.5”), Medium (6”), and High (7”) loft levels. As a one-piece pillow, it will maintain loft better than shredded foams.
Neck Support: The zoned foam has holes that help the pillow contour to your head. In the center, the holes are larger to cushion the back of the head, while the holes near the edge are smaller to maintain support for the neck.
Fit for Sleeping Positions: This pillow is best suited for side and back sleepers. Side sleepers do better with Medium or High loft. Back sleepers do better with low loft.
Temperature Regulation: Gel polyfoam does not retain heat like traditional memory foam, and the aerated foam promotes cooling airflow.
Affordability: This high-end pillow is more expensive than many foam pillows. The exact price varies based on size and loft.
Trial Period:Returns are only accepted within 30 days if the product is unused and in its original packaging.
Warranty: The pillow comes with a 5-year warranty.
Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow
Why We Like it
- Gel foam is responsive and stays cool
- 100-night trial
- Foam material contours to support neck
- Zippered cover lets you adjust loft level
Construction: The Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow has a fill that is made of shredded gel-infused memory foam and microfiber (polyester material). This combination offers softness, moldability, and responsiveness. The cover is made with Lulltra fabric that is 40% bamboo-rayon and 60% polyester.
Sizes: This pillow comes in Standard, Queen, and King sizes.
Loft: A zippered inner liner lets you add or remove fill material to modify the loft to fit your needs. The shredded material compresses to cradle your head and neck, and it can be molded in real-time to give it a loftier feel.
Neck Support: Moldability of shredded foam gives you the ability to perfectly shape the pillow to fit your neck. Responsive foams cradle and cushion your neck for extra support.
Fit for Sleeping Positions: This pillow is best for side sleepers and back sleepers because of its responsiveness and moldability. It can work for stomach sleepers if foam is removed.
Temperature Regulation: The foam is gel-infused and cross-cut to reduce heat retention, and the cover permits airflow to keep the pillow cool.
Affordability: The price varies by size and ranges from $70-$90.
Trial Period: A 100-night sleep trial lets you test the pillow out on your own bed.
Warranty: Coop Home Goods offers a 5-year warranty.
Chiroflow Waterbase Pillow
Why We Like it
- Innovative design with a fillable water chamber that moves along with you
- Supportive and contouring thanks to exterior fiber fill
- Adjustable loft
- Exterior fill adds softness and comfort
Construction: The interior of the Chiroflow Waterbase Pillow has 3 components. In the core is a fillable water chamber. Surrounding that chamber is a layer of insulating material. The outer layer is made with polyester fiber fill. The cover is cotton with a thread count of 300.
Sizes: This pillow measures 20” x 28” and fits in standard pillowcases.
Loft: The loft of the pillow can be adjusted by adding or removing water from the inner chamber. The water moves inside the chamber to align the loft with the pressure applied by your head and neck. You can add or remove water to alter the overall loft level.
Neck Support: By adjusting to your neck in real time, the water-based core ensures support. The polyester exterior enhances the contouring to your neck. Some studies have shown strong results for neck pain relief.
Fit for Sleeping Positions: Because it fits to your head and has an adjustable fill level, this pillow can work for anyone, but is best for side and back sleepers. It may be too tall for some stomach sleepers.
Temperature Regulation: None of the materials retain significant heat, and the cotton cover helps with airflow and breathability.
Affordability: The pillow costs $56.95, which is comparable to many less innovative pillows.
Trial Period: Customers have 30 days to try the pillow at home.
Warranty: The pillow comes with a 3-year warranty covering manufacturer defects.
Snuggle-Pedic Luxury Bamboo Shredded Foam Pillow
Why We Like it
- Moldable and responsive foam for neck support
- Free customizations of loft level
- 120-night trial
Construction: The Snuggle-Pedic pillow uses a mix of shredded memory foam and polyfoam for a moldable and responsive fill. The cover is a ventilated blend of bamboo-rayon and polyester.
Sizes: The pillow comes in Standard, Queen, and King sizes.
Loft: As delivered, the pillow has medium loft. The material is moldable to let you adjust its shape to fit your needs. Snuggle-Pedic offers free customizations. To do this, contact the company and send in the pillow for them to modify the loft level.
Neck Support: By cradling the neck, the pillow gives padding to maintain a stable amount of bend. Re-shaping the pillow lets you find the perfect height at any moment.
Fit for Sleeping Positions: Free customizations allow this pillow to be used by any kind of sleeper. As shipped, it works best for side sleepers.
Temperature Regulation: Shredded foam facilitates cooling airflow, and the bamboo-rayon in the cover with venting properties stays cool.
Affordability: The price is $50-70 depending on size.
Trial Period: You can try the pillow for 120 nights with the option to return it for a full refund. Snuggle-Pedic covers return shipping if you decide to return it.
Warranty: The pillow has a 20-year limited warranty that covers the fill material only.
What You Need to Know When Buying a Pillow for Neck Pain
As you shop for a pillow for neck pain, it helps to know the details both about this health issue and about your pillow options. This section is your guide to the vital information you need to shop wisely.
Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain usually arises in the muscles. Muscles may be strained by abnormal movement like whiplash or turning the head too quickly. Holding the neck in one position for too long – including while working or sleeping – can aggravate the muscles.
Joints in the neck can be painful from inflammation and degeneration. This is more common among the elderly or those who have suffered a neck injury.
Damage to or pinching of the nerves can cause neck pain as well. Spinal issues often are an underlying cause of this kind of nerve issue.
Because there are numerous possible causes, anyone with ongoing or severe neck pain should see a doctor to help with diagnosis and treatment.
Sleeping Position and Neck Pain
Stomach sleepers are at high risk for neck pain because it is difficult to maintain a balanced angle of the head in this position.
Side sleepers usually need extra support to prevent the neck from bending too much and putting excess pressure on the muscles.
Back sleepers can struggle with neck pain if they do not get proper support and the neck overextends either forward or backward.
Important Pillow Considerations
Your pillow(s) should fit your bed, and you’ll usually see pillows listed as either Standard, Queen, or King. Some cervical support pillows, though, have specialty sizes.
The interior material of the pillow is known as the fill. The type of fill will have a huge impact on the type of neck support it provides.
Memory foam cushions extremely well because of its responsiveness. Shredded memory foam is lighter, moldable, and less prone to retaining heat. One-piece foam pillows have more consistent loft. Gel-infused foams can reduce the risk of sleeping hot.
Latex is bouncier than memory foam but also quite responsive. It can be shredded or kept in one-piece. Latex normally costs more than foam, and some people have allergies to this material.
Down is made from the soft, interior feathers of ducks or geese. It is exceedingly soft and light and can be molded into many shapes. It has more variable loft and is expensive. Feather pillows use exterior feathers and are not as soft. Some people are allergic to down and feather pillows.
Down alternative pillows use polyester or other synthetics to create a feel like down at a lower cost and without allergy issues. This material is moldable and plush.
Buckwheat fill uses thousands of husks that are responsive, moldable, and resist overheating. The downside to these pillows is their cost, weight, and the noise from the husks when you move on the pillow.
Polyester fiber fill is a lower-cost material that retains softness. It does not contour as much as other materials but is usually hypoallergenic.
Loft is the height of the pillow without any weight applied to it. Some pillows have more consistent loft which means that they don’t shrink much even when pressure is applied.
Pillows may have adjustable loft levels. This is normally achieved by having a cover that opens to let you add or remove fill.
The right loft for you depends on your sleeping position, body size, head size, and mattress characteristics. If you sleep on your side, you likely need more loft, especially if you have broad shoulders that create a bigger gap between your head and the pillow.
Back sleepers do better with low or medium loft, and stomach sleepers are best served by low loft pillows.
A person with a larger head may need more loft or more consistent since their head can put more pressure on the pillow.
A person whose body weight is higher should consider a pillow with less loft since they may sink into the mattress, creating a risk of an exaggerated gap between the shoulders and neck.
The softer your mattress, the more you want to consider a pillow with less loft and vice versa. If you sink into the mattress, you don’t want excess loft in your pillow that can cause craning of the neck.
Since you will virtually always use a pillowcase, the cover material is less important than the fill. Some materials can help with breathability and reducing the chance of sleeping hot.
Cotton is breathable and soft and frequently found in pillow covers. Polyester is less breathable but often blended with another material, like bamboo-rayon, that has better airflow and moisture-wicking properties.
Many pillows are sold with the option to try the pillow out at home as part of a sleep trial. Having a few weeks or more to test out the pillow can help confirm that you’ve picked the right product.
A warranty offers protection against defects in the materials and crafting of the pillow. A robust and long-term warranty gives you a remedy in case your pillow breaks down prematurely.