Unfortunately, neck pain can occur from any number of unforeseeable and impossible-to-predict causes. But once you have it, what can you do? Dealing with it quickly and effectively is the best course of action. And while rest can be a big part of the pain relief process, you should also ensure your sleeping habits aren’t the root cause of the problem. Using a muscle relaxer or sleeping on one of the best pillows for neck pain can relieve and remove many of these potential issues.
In the same way that the best cooling pillows can help hot-headed sleepers get a good night’s rest, the best pillows for neck pain can alleviate sleep-disrupting issues, which may be the result of incorrect sleeping positions. But before we get around to a selection of the best pillows, let’s take a look at the causes of neck pain and how you can choose the right kind of pillow for your individual needs.
What Causes Neck Pain?
Sleeping on a pillow that is the wrong height can interrupt your slumber and leave you with chronic neck pain. This is due to it twisting or misaligning your upper spine. Whether it’s too thin, too thick, or even just too lumpy, a misshapen pillow can throw off your spinal alignment. And while it is tempting to stock up on a few cheap, quick-fix pillows from your local department store, investing in the best pillow for neck problems is a way to better your health in the long term.
Dr. Kevin Lees of The Joint Chiropractic, the nation’s largest chiropractic care provider, explains the issue in greater depth. ”Chronic back and neck pain can develop simply by sleeping in a position that doesn’t support our natural spinal curves. Without support, the weight of our bodies can add stress to joints and ligaments that may cause inflammation. Although we all have our own preferences when it comes to firm or soft pillows, it is important to keep in mind how that pillow will affect a great night’s sleep and long-term health effects.”
Pro tip: Regardless of which pillow you use, sleeping on your back or your side can help alleviate neck pain, unlike stomach sleeping which can actually worsen it. Your head and neck should be able to rest on your pillow while your shoulders should remain slightly underneath it. Try to keep your head parallel to your bed rather than tilted.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pillow for Neck Pain
The best pillow for neck and shoulder pain comes in many forms. Great options include indented or v-shaped pillows, otherwise known as cervical pillows. They either have a cut-out shape or a depression in the center with raised edges. While we can’t guarantee that the best pillow for neck pain will immediately or permanently cure your neck issues, some pillows have the potential to help relieve that pain. Support is key, but there are a few other factors to consider.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re searching for the best pillow for neck pain as a side sleeper, stomach sleeper, or back sleeper; there are some key factors to consider before you commit to buying your neck pain-fighting pillow.
- Sleeping style/Loft: A thicker pillow may be better for side sleepers to account for the distance between the head and the mattress, while a thin or indented style might be more comfortable for those who sleep on their stomach. A medium-thick or low-profile pillow is best for back sleepers. As Logan Foley, Sleep Science Coach, and managing editor at The Sleep Foundation shares, “Loft is a key element to consider when picking out a pillow. The loft of a pillow determines the angle of your head in relation to your spine. If you don’t know what loft is best for you, there are pillows with adjustable lofts that may be a good option. Those who have trouble finding a properly supportive pillow may opt for a small rounded pillow under the neck for added support in addition to the main pillow.”
- Firmness: If you find that a firmer pillow keeps you better aligned, opt for a firmer or more filled option. The pillow should be firm enough to keep your head at a neutral angle but soft enough to relieve pressure points. If you’re not confident which pillow material and density you find more comfortable, you may want to choose an adjustable pillow with a filling that can be increased or decreased.
- Material: High-quality materials include rubber, latex memory foam, feather, and silk. Memory foam conforms, whereas feather is more easily manipulated in various sleeping positions. The best materials for pillows can adapt to your body’s movement.
- Physical Health – Before you make any major changes to the way you sleep or if the problem has been persisting for a long time, it may be worth consulting with your healthcare professional to ensure you’re in good health and are unlikely to experience any major issues if you change your sleeping habits.
Ready to pick out the right pillow for dealing with your needs? Check out our selection of the best pillows for neck pain below. We’ve included options for every kind of sleeper, from the best side pillow for neck pain to other uniquely-shaped options which you may not have even considered yet. Scroll down to find the right one for you.
1. Silk and Snow Pillow
Silk and Snow’s uber-plush pillows deliver cloud-like comfort for almost every kind of sleeper. This is mainly thanks to the pillow’s shredded hybrid filling, which consists of gel memory foam and down-like microfiber. This popular pillow is one of the most versatile and universal options we could find for dealing with neck pain. This is based on one factor: it’s highly adjustable. Being able to add or remove the filling to your personal preference means you can find the perfect loft level for your needs, whether you sleep on your back or your side. Furthermore, the pillow has a removable cover which is machine-washable for easier cleaning.
2. viewstar Memory Foam Pillow
This viewstar Memory Foam Pillow is a customizable option that is ideal for either back or side sleepers. It’s possible to add more or take away the shredded foam interior to create a pillow that is truly customized to your personal preference. The process may take a little bit of trial and error, but when you find the right density and height, you’ll have the right support to let you sleep deeper and wake up feeling happier and less tense. The pillow is also available in two different sizes, comes with a removable, machine-washable cover, and has the backing of more than 2,500 five-star ratings from Amazon users.
3. Cozy Earth Silk Pillow
Vetted by Oprah as the softest bedding ever, Cozy Earth’s bamboo and silk pillows are truly luxurious. While the shell is made from their signature 100% bamboo material, the filling is 100% mulberry silk. This makes for a uniquely moldable and supple pillow that stays consistent and never shifts, keeping your spine at an optimal angle. To prove their confidence in this promise, the pillows have a 10-year warranty against shifting. This really is one of the best pillows for neck pain for hot sleepers who often find pillows that their pillow is too high or too low.
4. Eli and Elm Cotton Side Sleeper Pillow
Flat pillows are a side sleeper’s worst nightmare as they offer little to no support for the head. On the other end of the spectrum, pillows that are too thick can lead to shoulders on the pillow, resulting in equal discomfort. These factors are why the Eli & Elm pillow features a convenient cut-out for your shoulders. This unique and effective feature has earned it more than 1,200 glowing reviews. The U-shape provides support for side sleepers and conforms to the specific dimensions of the average head and neck, making for a night of better sleep. It also makes this one of the best pillows for neck pain if you’re a side sleeper.
5. Saatva Latex Pillow
Similarly to memory foam, the Saatva Latex Pillow’s shredded latex design can help relieve the pressure points around your neck and head by providing just the right amount of support. And while it may not be the cheapest neck pain pillow, it is made from some of the most comfortable and durable materials, meaning that compared to its foam-based competitors, this lofty pillow won’t break down anytime soon. It’s a solid choice for side sleepers or anyone who prefers a slightly higher loft when they sleep. Furthermore, the pillow’s natural latex is more breathable than foam and has a zero off-gassing odor, so it’s particularly good for sensitive or lighter sleepers.
6. ZAMAT Contour Memory Foam Pillow
If you’re looking for the benefits of an orthopedic pillow without the hefty price tag, check out the ZAMAT Contour Memory Foam Pillow on Amazon. At under $40, it’s the most affordable DIY solution for neck and shoulder pain and also works for every kind of sleeper. This is definitely the right choice if you’re on a tight budget and experiencing cervical vertebrae issues. You’ll enjoy the benefits of a contoured, foam pillow which is backed by an impressive number of positive reviews. Additionally, this pillow is available in four different colors and is either a firm or a soft model.
7. Quince Luxe Goose Down Pillow
Many sleepers find that down pillows, like this Quince Luxe Goose Down Pillow, provide an unparalleled level of comfort. In addition to the satisfying puff of air they release when your head lays down, people love the perfectly fluffy texture, especially when compared to the best memory foam pillows. This pillow from Quince is available in two different firmness levels and also comes with a cotton sateen shell. One happy buyer described the pillow as an “extra supportive cloud.” Plus, Quince’s pillow is more affordable than many competing down pillows, which tend to be pricier.
8. DMI Body Pillow
If you want support for your head but also love support at your side, the DMI Body Pillow is made for you. This unique L-shaped pillow provides support in both places simultaneously, allowing you to focus on getting the best quality sleep you can. It supports your upper by reducing any pressure put on your neck and back. This hypoallergenic pillow is also supplied with a removable cover for easy cleaning. This is truly a great choice for sleepers who love to hug and snuggle up to their pillow during the night.
9. Tempur-pedic TEMPER-Cloud Pillow
Memory foam cradles your body, offering a customized fit every time. Arguably, no one does memory foam better than TEMPUR-Pedic. Their Tempur-pedic TEMPER-Cloud Pillow for neck pain features the brand’s signature adaptive foam. This is also an excellent choice for travel as it can easily compress into a much smaller size. For back and stomach sleepers alike, this low-profile, cloud-like pillow conforms where and how you need it to. Plus, it comes with a machine-washable cover.
10. Bluewave Ultra Slim Memory Foam Pillow
If you’re craving a thinner and flatter silhouette, look no further than Bluewave’s slim foam pillow to encourage better cervical neck alignment and deeper sleep. With a medium-firm feel, it stands 2.75 inches tall and works best for stomach and back sleepers. Ventilation holes and a gel-infused material helps wick heat away from your body as you rest. One particularly picky stomach sleeper comments, “It’s like someone took a mattress topper and cut a rectangle out of it, which is exactly what I was looking for.”
11. Obasan Organic Shredded Rubber Pillow
An indented pillow, like this Obasan Organic Shredded Rubber Pillow, can potentially help out with relieving neck pain. The organic rubber filling helps accommodate the different levels of support needed for various shoulder widths and neck lengths. It’s ideal for back, side, and stomach sleepers who require a little extra neck support. The filling is also more durable than foam, making it a longer-lasting investment. The shredded rubber filling can be increased or decreased for head and neck customization. Unlike cheaper alternatives, it won’t lose its loft and comfort over time.
12. GhostBed Faux Down GhostPillow
Do you love the feeling of down but are allergic to it or want a more sustainable sleeping solution in your bed? GhostPillow’s faux down pillow offers the luxurious, huggable feel of a down pillow thanks to its microfiber gel fill which closely mimics the sensation of goose or duck down. The malleable material also works for all kinds of sleepers and means you’ll experience less clumping and shifting than with a traditional down pillow. Basically, this popular pain reliever is an oversized hotel-quality pillow with a big dose of extra support and breathability.
13. Dosaze Contoured Orthopedic Pillow
An orthopedic pillow is designed to correct your body’s position, and this Dosaze Contoured Orthopedic Pillow does just that. By cradling your neck’s natural curvature with its contoured shape, you’ll find you enjoy better sleep through your more relaxed way of lying. Made from premium high-density memory foam, this versatile pillow works for side, back, and stomach sleepers. And although its material is high-density, it’s not rigid as other orthopedic pillows, allowing for greater freedom of movement even as it corrects and cradles your upper body.
14. Rearand Chiropractic Pillow
If chronic neck pain is keeping you awake or disrupting your day-to-day life, then it may be time to try the Rearand Chiropractic Pillow. This pillow for neck pain cradles your head, aligns your neck, and provides support while helping to alleviate pain. The smart design isn’t just good for use in bed, either. It can provide a 15-minute refresh whenever you need it in the car, at the office, or just when you’re sitting down at home. The lightweight design makes this option both convenient and surprisingly portable, so keeping it nearby for an impromptu treatment isn’t too inconvenient.
15. PillowCube Sidekick
The idea of sleeping on a cube-shaped pillow may feel a little bit unusual, but for some people, the level and angle of support they provide can’t be beaten. By comprehensively supporting your head and neck, the pillow helps align your spine as you rest. The inside of the cube is made up of a high-quality foam that helps to manage temperatures during the night. It’s also supplied with a quilted cover that sports a secure, zippered closure and can be removed for easy cleaning.
16. Emircey Adjustable Neck Pillow
Want a pillow that can deal with a range of common pain complaints, including neck pain, stiff shoulders, headaches, and arm numbness? Then the Emircey Adjustable Neck Pillow could be the answer you’re searching for. The unique-looking pillow features a hollow central core which is surrounded by a butterfly contour, allowing your head to sit exactly where it feels comfortable. Additional areas built into the pillow include arm supports, side sleeper supports, and shoulder contours. Additionally, this impressively-reviewed pillow is available in your choice of six different colors.
17. inight Ultra Thin Memory Foam Pillow
While sleeping on your stomach is rarely encouraged when dealing with neck pain, if you have to do it, try adding this insert Ultra Thin Memory Foam Pillow into the equation. The flat-style pillow can be adjusted between two different heights, letting you find the right one for your personal preference. The pillow is also surrounded by a cover with a cool-to-touch layer on one side and an anti-slip layer on the other. In addition, the pillow’s memory foam interior sports a ventilated design which effectively dissipates heat during the night, keeping you cooler and more comfortable as you rest.