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Neck pain plagues a significant amount of Americans, and the causes aren’t always entirely clear. If you often find yourself waking up with a sore neck, chances are your pillow could be partly to blame. Your pillow’s job is to hold your neck and head at the right height to prevent unnecessary strain. A pillow that’s too high or too low can cause pressure to build up as the neck tries to compensate for the lack of support.
Our team has reviewed countless pillows. In our testing, we examine how they stand up to wear and tear, decide who will find them comfortable, and determine whether or not they could help reduce neck pain. Since weight and sleeping position both affect how your pillow feels, we make sure to use testers from multiple weight groups and sleeper types. Our top pick pillows for neck pain have been chosen for their performance and given accolades that highlight their strengths.
Read our top picks to learn more about each one’s materials and unique qualities. While your sleep setup might not be the original root of your neck pain, it can play an important role in making it better or worse. In the buyer’s guide section, we’ll break down the reasons you could be experiencing neck pain and how your pillow can help. We’ll take a deeper look at how body position and pillow construction can enhance comfort, and we’ll teach you what to look for when shopping for a pillow for neck pain.
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The Layla Kapok Pillow accomplishes the twofold task of reducing neck pain and sleeping cool in most environments. We have the pillow’s unique fill blend to thank on both counts. Shredded memory foam is mixed with fibers from the kapok tree, which have the same plushness and consistency as natural down. Since neither of these materials retain too much heat, the Kapok Pillow should maintain a comfortable temperature. The cover is also infused with copper, which has natural cooling properties to help keep the pillow’s surface comfortable.
Adjustable loft is another benefit of the pillow. Owners can unzip the cover and add or remove as much fill as they wish to achieve the ideal loft for their sleep position and level of neck pain. Side sleepers may be content with the initial design because of its higher profile, whereas back and stomach sleepers may need to remove some fill to feel comfortable. You can wash and dry the cover in any household machine, but you should only spot clean the fill as needed.
The Kapok Pillow is available in queen and king sizes. Customers who purchase two pillows will receive a 50% discount on the second model. Layla offers free shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. and backs each order with a 120-night sleep trial and a 5-year warranty.
SF Readers get 25% off pillows at GhostBed
Side and back sleepers with neck pain often benefit from using a high-profile pillow, since both of these positions typically require more loft than stomach sleeping. Measuring 7 inches thick and packed with plush down alternative microfibers, the GhostPillow – Faux Down is well suited to these individuals. The fill cushions the head and neck to create a cloud-like feel and the pillow as a whole is quite soft, but uncomfortable sinkage won’t be an issue for most people.
Temperature control is another key strength. Down alternative pillows already sleep cool compared to other pillow types, but this one takes thermoregulation to the next level with a cover made of Ghost Ice fabric woven with phase-change material. The surface will dissipate body heat and remain cool to the touch regardless of how warm you feel. The down alternative fibers are infused with gel for extra breathability. The entire pillow can be washed and dried in household machines, saving you time and money whenever it needs to be cleaned.
The GhostPillow – Faux Down is reasonably priced compared to other similarly constructed pillows. Ground shipping is also free throughout the contiguous U.S., and you’ll have the option to bundle your purchase with a mulberry silk pillowcase and save roughly 50% on that extra item. The sleep trial for this pillow lasts 101 nights, and those who decide to keep it also qualify for a 5-year warranty.
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The Saatva Latex Pillow will check boxes for many sleepers thanks to its adjustable design. The core contains shredded Talalay latex that feels soft and responsive in equal measure, while the inner pillow is cushioned with down alternative microdenier fibers to enhance the plushness without compromising support. The inner pillow can be removed, reducing the loft and giving the surface a firmer feel. This customizable design makes the pillow for back and side sleepers alike.
A thick gusset along the side helps the pillow maintain a full shape, so you shouldn’t need to fluff it very often. The outer cover is made of breathable organic cotton and the internal components won’t retain too much body heat. As a result, the pillow sleeps fairly cool. As a bonus for owners, both the cover and microdenier pillow can be laundered at home, allowing you to avoid inconvenient hand washing or dry cleaning bills. Queen and king sizes are available.
As part of your purchase, you may include two sateen pillowcases for an added charge. Saatva provides free shipping to all customers in the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 45-night sleep trial and 1-year warranty.
Best for Side Sleepers
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The Eli & Elm Side-Sleeper Pillow has a unique shape with a recessed middle for the shoulder, designed to fit to your body while side-sleeping. This accommodates the shoulders and provides the needed support to reduce neck pain. The filling is a blend of latex and polyester fiber that provides just enough resistance to hold your head aloft.
The pillow’s medium feel and relatively high loft are well-suited to side sleepers. Filling can be added or removed to adjust the loft, which will also have an impact on the firmness.
Eli & Elm has included cooling gels in the pillow’s filling to help maintain temperature neutrality and give the pillow a softer feel. The pillow has a breathable and machine-washable cover, made of an organic cotton and polyester blend.
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Birch’s Organic Pillow balances responsiveness and softness to create a comfortable sleep experience. Shredded Talalay latex fill gently cradles the head and provides excellent support for sleepers across different sleeping positions – side sleepers in particular.
The pillow is encased in an organic cotton cover. Cotton is naturally breathable and great for those who run hot at night or tend to sweat. A layer of organic wool wraps around the inner fill to further enhance the pillow’s cooling and moisture-wicking properties.
The inner fill consists of airy Talalay latex that contours the head and neck. Latex is naturally responsive but the material’s softer feel allows sleepers to mold the pillow. Two sizes are available, standard and king. Because of the latex and wool fill, the pillow is not machine washable. Birch recommends spot cleaning with mild detergent and tumble drying on low to re-fluff.
Birch offers free shipping to all 50 states and a 100-night sleep trial. Each Organic Pillow purchase comes with a 1-year warranty.
Best Plush Support
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Few raw materials on earth offer the cooling properties of silk. Cozy Earth has harnessed this natural property with the Silk Pillow, which contains pure, long-strand mulberry silk with no foam, latex, or other fillers. A cover made of moisture-wicking viscose from bamboo also provides excellent temperature control, making this pillow a great option for hot sleepers, people who sweat in their sleep, and those who reside in humid places.
The silk has earned an AAA Grade for its ultrafine texture and resistance to clumping. This helps to ensure very little shifting – a constant issue with pillows containing lower-grade silk. Since the shell has a very smooth feel, the pillow is well suited to people with acne and other conditions that cause sensitive skin. To clean the pillow, simply machine-wash in cold water with no fabric softener or bleach, then dry on a medium cycle. You can also hang the pillow to dry, but you’ll never need to pay extra to have it dry-cleaned.
Given the premium materials used to construct the Silk Pillow, its price-point is very reasonable – especially compared to the competition. All orders include a 100-night trial for testing out the pillow and a manufacturer’s warranty that covers structural defects for up to 10 years.
Best Pressure Relief
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The PlushBeds Organic Shredded Latex Pillow provides even support and a plush feel to relieve common pressure points. Meanwhile, the responsive latex surface keeps the head aligned with the spine and gently contours to the neck and shoulders.
The Shredded Latex Pillow is encased in an organic cotton cover. Thanks to cotton’s natural breathability, hot sleepers should feel comfortable throughout the night. The shredded latex fill is also breathable and should not trap too much heat. Customers can choose from three sizes for their pillow: standard, queen, and king. PlushBeds recommends spot cleaning the pillow as needed and using a pillowcase for protection.
PlushBeds offers free shipping to the contiguous U.S. with no minimum purchase necessary. Purchasing the Shredded Latex Pillow comes with a 3-year warranty.
Best Memory Foam
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An unconventional shape sets the SleepEasy Easy Sleeper Pillow apart from its competitors. Containing a single piece of memory foam, the pillow elevates the neck to improve alignment while a grooved midsection cradles the head. This design reduces stiffness around the head and neck without creating an uncomfortable dip – a common complaint regarding other cervical pillows.
The Easy Sleeper can also improve your posture, making it a good choice for people who primarily sit while working. The pillow has been approved for children 13 and older. The breathable, machine washable cover is composed of polyester and cotton, and includes a zipper made of recycled plastic.
Compared to other ergonomic neck pillows, the Easy Sleeper carries a very affordable price-point. SleepEasy ships pillows worldwide, and most customers receive their pillow within seven business days. The company issues full refunds on all returns within 30 days of delivery, provided the pillow is in good condition and shipped in its original packaging.
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For some who live with chronic neck pain, pillow loft and firmness preferences vary from night to night depending on their general discomfort level. These sleepers are prime candidates for adjustable pillows. The Original Pillow by Sweet Night is a standout adjustable model stuffed with shredded memory foam that can be added or removed to change how thick the pillow feels. Adjusting the loft can also affect the firmness level, though this pillow maintains a comfortable balance of contouring and support regardless of its overall volume.
The cover is composed of breathable fabric that helps keep sleepers cool despite the foam’s heat-absorbing properties. And because the foam is shredded, the Bamboo is quite moldable and well suited to people who enjoy clutching or cuddling with a pillow while they sleep.
The cover can be removed and machine washed whenever it needs to be cleaned, though Sweet Night recommends hand washing in order to preserve the fabric’s lifespan. The foam should never be cleaned. Standard, queen, and king sizes are available for the pillow.
The Original Pillow’s sticker price is quite low compared to other adjustable, shredded foam pillows. Sweet Night also offers free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Each purchase includes a 100-night sleep trial and three-year warranty.
Our team at Sleep Foundation includes experts and testers with years of experience in the sleep product industry. We have tested over 300 pillows in order to determine which ones are best suited to sleepers with different needs. Our team includes back, side, stomach, and combination sleepers, as well as sleepers of different body types. This allows us to represent as wide an array of sleep preferences as possible in our findings.
During the testing process, our team members lie on each pillow for a period of time to evaluate firmness, support, pressure relief, and other performance features that are relevant to sleepers with neck pain. Testers shift around to evaluate the pillow in different positions. The picks above reflect the pillows that out-performed all other models.
Neck pain can be caused by a number of factors. It may stem from an injury or a chronic condition such as arthritis, or it may arise from daily habits such as poor posture or too many hours of sitting at a computer. While symptoms vary, neck pain sufferers often experience:
If you have severe pain or additional symptoms, or if you’re not sure what’s causing your neck pain, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor to rule out underlying conditions.
Regular exercise and a healthy body weight are thought to have a positive impact on chronic neck pain. The American Chiropractic Association notes that neck pain often goes hand-in-hand with high stress levels and obesity.
The eight hours you spend in bed every night is a critical time for those who suffer from neck pain. The positions you adopt as you sleep can either relax your neck or put it under additional strain. As part of your sleep setup, a supportive pillow should promote proper neck and spine alignment.
Not only can an unsupportive pillow exacerbate your neck pain, but studies show that the wrong pillow can lead to discomfort during the night. This leads to nighttime awakenings, creating a vicious circle that makes it difficult to get the rest you need to recover from neck pain.
Your pillow is unlikely to be the sole source for your neck pain. However, choosing the right pillow and adopting a healthy sleeping position can help ease pressure on the neck. You should replace your pillow when it’s no longer able to provide the proper support.
For neck pain sufferers, choosing the right pillow can be a key step toward living pain-free. The right pillow will depend on your individual needs. We’ll walk you through the most important considerations, including how to choose the best material, shape, and thickness for your individual sleeping style.
Most people don’t give much thought to their pillow, beyond choosing a pillow that’s nice and squishy for immediate comfort. This means that when we do realize our pillow may be contributing to our neck pain, we may not know how to go about choosing a proper one. Shoppers in this position may be susceptible to misleading marketing and end up choosing a pillow that’s ill-suited for their needs.
To help you get started, we’ve made a list of the most important factors. Focusing on these factors and having a basic understanding of how pillows work can help you find the pillow that works best for you.
The best pillow for neck and shoulder pain is firm enough to hold the head at a healthy angle, but soft enough to alleviate pressure points. Most sleepers find success with either a memory foam, latex, buckwheat, or feather pillow, as these materials offer the best balance of support and pressure relief.
Sleep experts recommend either back or side sleeping if you suffer from neck pain. Sleeping on your stomach causes your head to bend at a sharp angle and arches your spine, which puts unwanted pressure on your neck. Strict stomach sleepers should choose a pillow with a low loft to minimize pressure.
For best results, back and side sleepers should ensure that their head, neck, and top of the spine form a straight line. Sleeping with a pillow that’s too high or too low can cause aches and pains. Likewise, sleeping with your head rolled to one side or the other is also likely to cause neck pain.
In addition to choosing the right pillow, you can reduce neck pain through lifestyle changes like adopting proper posture, taking stretching breaks, and generally being more active. People who suffer from neck pain should avoid shoulder bags, slouching, and long periods of sitting at the computer.
The best pillow for neck pain is one that has the right loft, firmness, and shape for your preferred sleeping position. Preferences vary among types of pillows, so that some people find that memory foam pillows relieve their neck pain while others are much more comfortable with microfiber filing.
There are also variations within pillow types — memory foam pillows are available as a solid piece or with shredded foam filling, and each variant works well for some people but not others. Instead of focusing on the type of pillow, it is more important to determine the loft, shape, and filling that will work best with your body type in your preferred sleeping position. Reading independent reviews can help you understand these factors, as can speaking to any health care professionals treating your neck pain.
The correct pillow loft for alleviating neck pain is one that will hold your head and neck at a neutral angle in alignment with the natural curve of your spine. The right loft therefore depends on your preferred sleeping position. For example, side sleepers usually need a medium to high-loft pillow, while stomach sleepers require lower pillows so as not to crane their neck upwards. You should also consider how far you sink into your mattress, since one that cradles you deeply may require you to use a lower-loft pillow.
Pillows should be firm enough to support the neck without creating pressure points, but the precise firmness of a pillow depends on your usual sleeping position. Back and side sleepers usually require firmer pillows than stomach sleepers, while combination sleepers and people whose firmness preferences change may want to consider an adjustable pillow.
If you prefer very soft pillows that do not adequately support your neck, you may enjoy a memory foam pillow with significant pressure relief. While the core of the foam should still provide enough support, its contouring qualities may make it feel subjectively “softer” and therefore more comfortable.
Our product experts have extensive experience testing just about every sleep product on the market. Send an email to [email protected] with your questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
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