Pillows for neck pain are specifically designed to treat and relieve neck issues during sleep. Neck pain is believed to affect about 20% of people on a daily basis and selecting the right pillow to sleep on has the potential to ease neck pain and provide higher quality sleep (1).
In fact, many studies have begun researching the effects of ergonomic latex pillows, the role that pillow height plays in the development of neck pain, and even how pillows, in general, affect the neck (2, 3, 4).
1. Milemont Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
The Milemont Shredded Memory Foam Pillow is our top choice for a variety of reasons. Constructed of memory foam material, this pillow provides substantial support for the head and neck while still providing an ideal level of firmness. With this design, the neck and spine maintain proper and more natural alignment while still offering comfort.
In addition to comfort and neck support, the pillow also offers a breathable design for enhanced comfort and relaxation while also being constructed from CertiPur-US Certified Foam to guarantee product safety for consumers and the environment. Furthermore, numerous reviews show that a resounding number of consumers were highly satisfied with the product, proving its quality and efficacy.
2. POLAR SLEEP Contour Memory Foam Pillow
The POLAR SLEEP Contour Memory Foam Pillow is a cervical pillow designed to support the natural curve of the neck and spine while promoting muscle relaxation in the shoulders, neck, and upper back. Made of 100% memory foam material, this pillow is ideal for neck support and comfort to provide a quality night’s sleep for every type of sleeper.
What makes this pillow unique is the ability to adjust the height of the pillow by manipulating the inserts provided with the product. With heights ranging between 3-5 inches, it’s possible to adjust the pillow to personal preferences and reduce neck pain associated with pillow height.
3. Royal Therapy Memory Foam Pillow
Not only does the Royal Therapy Memory Foam Pillow offer a five-year warranty for all consumers, but it also provides ample support for those with neck and upper back pain. With an impressive level of firmness, the pillow provides more gentle support to the neck while allowing the head to sink down slightly.
This pillow also comes with the option to remove the middle layer and adjust the pillow height to tailor neck issues to the individual. With a hypoallergenic cover preventing the development of mold and a cooling feature to reduce the temperature of the pillow, this Royal Therapy pillow is one of the best pillows for neck pain on the market.
4. GREHOME Memory Foam Pillow
As an ergonomically-designed pillow, the GREHOME Memory Foam Pillow has incredible potential for those suffering from neck pain, headaches, and neck stiffness. The memory foam design allows for proper and natural support of the head and neck while encouraging a better night’s sleep.
The physical design of the pillow consists of one end measuring 3.5 inches in height and the opposite end measuring 4.7 inches, allowing for individual tailoring. Maintaining hygiene and cleanliness with this pillow is also a breeze, as the outer cover is removable and washable. Additionally, the pillow is hypoallergenic to prevent the formation and spread of mold, bacteria, and fungus.
5. SEPOVEDA Contour Memory Foam Pillow
This SEPOVEDA Contour Memory Foam Pillow is perhaps the most unique and specialized contour pillow available for those with neck pain. Made from 75% cotton and 25% polyester, this pillow was strategically designed to mold to the natural contour of the head, neck, and shoulders.
This specific pillow also boasts a 5-second rebound rate for its memory foam material, which accurately demonstrates just how high-quality the pillow and its material are. The design of this pillow is conducive to all types of sleepers, with separate features targeting side sleepers and back sleepers and the support needs for each type of sleeper.
6. Wonwo Memory Foam Pillow
The Wonwo Memory Foam Pillow is described by the manufacturer as the “perfect sized pillow” that supports height adjustment depending on personal needs. Constructed of a slow memory foam material, it’s reasonable to expect this pillow to provide adequate neck support while helping to maintain the natural curvature of the neck.
The strategic design of this pillow supports all types of sleepers, including stomach, side, and back sleepers, which demonstrates this pillow’s incredible versatility. With an outer pillowcase made of Bamboo fiber, the pillow will remain cool while sleeping on it and also prevent the build-up of dust and other allergens that pillows are prone to developing.
7. Milemont Memory Foam Pillow
The Milemont Memory Foam Pillow is made purely of memory foam material designed to support the cervical spine and head while sleeping. The design is also fully supportive of all stomach, back, and side sleepers, which makes this pillow a perfect tool for even the most difficult sleepers.
By using this pillow, consumers should expect a reduction in neck and upper back pain, greater quality REM sleep, and improved comfort while resting. With the inclusion of a high-quality cover, the cover can be easily removed and washed to promote cleanliness and hygiene. The Milemont Memory Foam Pillow is also made without chemicals to provide a safe and healthy sleeping experience.
8. Gentle Living Cooling Neck Roll Pillow
The Gentle Living Cooling Neck Roll Pillow is a bit different than the other pillows on this list when it comes to physical design and benefits. With its roll design, this pillow can be used directly under the neck in combination with other pillows. The removable soft cover that comes with this pillow allows consumers to machine wash their pillow and encourage a hygienic sleeping environment.
The Gentle Living Cooling Neck Roll Pillow is made of memory foam material designed to adjust to the natural curvature of the neck while also cooling the neck.
9. OXA Spring Contour Pillow Series
The OXA Spring Contour Pillow Series is the only spring pillow on our list. Spring pillows are extremely supportive of the neck and spine, essentially cradling the neck throughout the night. With the unique design of this pillow, consumers can expect a reduction of heat and moisture build-up while using the pillow as well as an extremely comfortable night’s sleep. The design also targets neck and spine conditions like arthritis, spondylitis, and neck and back pain.
The greatest feature of this pillow is its remarkable durability, with the manufacturer claiming that, even after 50,000 cycles, the pillow will maintain well over 90% of its volume and softness.
10. HL HEALTHYLINE Memory Foam Amethyst Pillow
The HL HEALTHYLINE Memory Foam Amethyst Pillow is by far the most unique pillow on this list. Not only is this pillow made from memory foam material, but it also infused obsidian, jade, amethyst, and tourmaline. With the inclusion of these gemstones, the manufacturer claims that the pillow will provide more of a calming effect to users.
The memory foam design of the pillow is supportive of the natural curvature of the spine and neck and effectively reduces the pressure in the neck while sleeping. This pillow has also been shown to reduce stiffness, encourage spinal alignment, and boost muscle relaxation. The company also produces other similarly made products like mats, beds, and even heated pillows that can be used in conjunction with this memory foam pillow.
How We Ranked
To rank the best pillows for neck pain, we first considered the make of the pillow. Based on studies determining the best pillows for neck pain and discomfort, our top selections on the list were pillows made of materials scientifically proven to provide the greatest benefits for those with neck and back pain. Memory foam pillows are ideal for those with neck pain since they encourage the upper back and neck to fall into a proper position. That’s why most of the pillows on our list, like the Milemont Shredded Memory Foam Pillow and the Wonwo Memory Foam Pillow, were high-quality memory foam pillows.
We were reluctant to include feather pillows due to the frequent discomfort, neck stiffness, and headaches reported after using this type of pillow. Neck pillows were also frowned upon since they often required a second pillow to be effective at treating. Spring pillows are great for providing support, cradling the neck effectively, and promote the natural alignment of your head and neck. However, they are shown not to be as effective as memory foam pillows when treating neck pain. We did include one spring pillow variation, the OXA Spring Contour Pillow Series, based on user reviews on physical design supportive of neck alignment and comfort.
We also highly considered the physical shape and design of the pillows on the list. Bonus points were given to products like the Royal Therapy Memory Foam Pillow, and the Polar Sleep Contour Memory Foam Pillow, which offered adjustable height options to tailor the neck pain treatment based on the individual’s body.
Comfort was also an important element to consider. Products that provided proper neck support, but ignored comfort were immediately axed from our list. The GREHOME Memory Foam Pillow was given bonus points as well for providing a hypoallergenic design that prevented the formation and spread of mold, bacteria, and fungus.
The HL Healthyline Memory Foam Amethyst Pillow made our list for not only being made of high-quality memory foam, but infused gemstones to encourage calmness in users. While there is no direct science behind this, it’s a nice touch of uniqueness to a market saturated with me-too products.
We also looked at user reviews quite closely. The only pillows we selected on our list, like the Milemont Memory Foam Pillow, have a large number of reviews, with a striking majority being fantastic. This demonstrates the high-quality of the pillow and makes it more likely that readers like you will also appreciate the pillow and what it can do for you.
Pillows for neck pain can help to reduce neck issues and improve Neck Pain Rating Scale values. In a study conducted in 2019, researchers determined that participants using visco-elastic polyurethane pillows in conjunction with consistent chiropractic treatment drastically improved their Neck Pain Rating Scale values (5).
Another 2019 study showed that spring pillows are effective at treating cervical neck pain and thoracic pain, as well as headaches associated with each (6).
Ergonomic pillows for neck pain can reduce symptoms of cervical spondylosis. In a 2018 study targeting at-home treatment methods of cervical spondylosis, researchers discovered that sleeping on an ergonomic latex pillow for four weeks proved beneficial to those with cervical spondylosis. In fact, participants in the study experienced significantly lower Neck Pack Rating Scale scores as well as lower Neck Disability Index scores, which proves that the right pillow can improve the overall quality of life (7).
Another study was focused on individuals with spinal degeneration and was attempting to understand the relationship between the type of pillow used and the effect on these conditions. This 2019 study recognized that sleeping with a polyester pillow reduced cervical pain when awakening during the night and increased side flexion (8).
Cervical pillows for neck pain can lower heart rate and tympanic temperature. A 2017 study looking to determine the effectiveness of a newly released cervical pillow discovered that the use of the pillow led to a decrease in heart rate as well as lower tympanic temperature. In addition, the majority of study participants noted that the pillow provided comfort while sleeping and felt their quality of sleep was improved (9).
Medium height pillows for neck pain can significantly impact well being. A study released in 2015 determined that the height of the pillow also drastically affects a person’s perception of neck pain. In this study, participants experiencing neck and upper back pain found that a foam pillow of 10 centimeters was the ideal height in terms of comfort and quality of sleep (10).
Cervical pillows can minimize neck pain upon waking. In a 2004 study, scientists recruited participants suffering from chronic neck pain, who might also be experiencing headaches as a result. The study concluded that the participants using the provided cervical pillows over the course of four weeks experienced significantly lower neck disability and neck pain after waking up in the morning. There were slight effects on neck pain later in the day, but these effects were not considered statistically significant (11).
Pillows for neck pain can improve neck posture. In a study published in 2011, scientists researched the effects of pillow type on neck posture and angle. During the study, side-sleeping participants utilized four different types of pillows, while scientists observed the effects on their cervicothoracic spine position, specifically the slopes between different vertebrae in the cervical spine.
The conclusion of the study revealed that foam pillows are the best option for maintaining the current slope of a person’s cervicothoracic spine. Additionally, the study discovered that transitioning to a foam pillow from a feather pillow can significantly impact the slope of the cervical spine (12).
Pillows for neck pain can improve head stability while sleeping. A study conducted in 2014 determined that when comparing three different types of pillows in study participants, pillow temperature, the comfort provided, and the cervical curve, all varied greatly. Each of these factors has the potential to affect neck pain and stability.
The findings of this study prove that the proper pillow doesn’t just reduce neck pain, but also targets the concept of comfort and the role this plays in getting quality sleep. A combination of these factors is important when selecting a proper pillow (13).
Some pillows for neck pain can cause more neck problems. Not selecting the right type of pillow can actually worsen neck pain symptoms. A 2010 study entitled “Pillow use: the behavior of cervical stiffness, headache and scapular/arm pain” was conducted to determine how various types of pillows affect neck pain and other bodily symptoms.
Most significant in this study is the number of participants that dropped out during the feather pillow trial. A majority of study participants using the feather pillow reported long-term neck stiffness throughout the day and neck discomfort upon waking up.
This study also concluded that using a foam pillow can result in headaches, arm pain, and neck stiffness after waking up. The foam pillows used in this study were both contoured and regular shaped but were not designed specifically for targeting neck pain. Though a majority of the pillows used in this study produced negative effects in study participants, the general consensus was that latex pillows played a greater role in reducing arm pain and headache (14).
When it comes to selecting a pillow for your neck pain, you should choose a memory foam pillow of a medium height that’s contoured to the natural shape of your head, neck, and spine. Specialized memory foam pillows designed to ease neck pain are ideal for those who specifically experience cervical neck pain or discomfort on a consistent basis. The use of these pillows can boost sleep quality while also reducing neck pain, all while providing a comfortable sleeping environment.
If you’re unsure of the actual height that’s best for your body, you should consider buying a pillow that provides removable layers to adjust the height on your own.
What pillow features cause neck pain? If you find yourself waking up with neck pain or stiffness, it’s most likely a combination of the pillow you’re using and the position you find yourself sleeping in. The two most significant factors related to pillows causing neck pain are the actual height of the pillow and the material used to create the pillow.
Does the design of a pillow affect neck pain? Generally speaking, the height of the pillow has the potential to greatly impact comfort while sleeping. In several studies, scientists determined that sleeping on an extremely flat pillow and sleeping on a very tall pillow both produce discomfort in users. Most sleepers prefer using a pillow that is somewhere between these two standards. Not only are they much more comfortable, but they are also ideal for molding to the natural curvature of your head, neck, and spine.
Can a pillow cause neck pain? Pillows can cause neck pain if they’re not designed for your needs, but the right pillow won’t cause this pain. Selecting a better pillow has the potential to seriously reduce your neck pain and stiffness and provide you with higher quality sleep every night.
Should I sleep without a pillow if my neck hurts? Sleeping without a pillow can sometimes prove beneficial because of its ability to keep your head flat and limit the pressure and stress on your neck and spine. Though you might find it more comfortable, there are potential health consequences associated with long-term lack of use.
Why do we use pillows? Pillows provide your neck and head with appropriate support and help to maintain the natural alignment and curvature of your spine. However, this all depends on what type of pillow you’re actually using. If you’re considering sleeping without a pillow because you currently have neck pain, you should be evaluating your current pillow, as it could be the source of your current neck pain.
What kind of pillow is good for neck and shoulder pain? While the best pillow for neck and shoulder pain may vary depending on your personal preference and level of neck pain, there are a few guidelines you should follow to find the perfect pillow for you.
The first thing you need to think about is how you sleep. Some pillows are designed for all sleeping styles, while others are better for back sleepers or side sleepers. These particular pillows are shaped in a way that supports the neck and the head better for these specific sleeping styles.
If you have neck and shoulder pain, the best type of pillow you can use is some sort of memory foam pillow. These pillows are perfect for neck and shoulder pain because they adapt to the natural curve of your neck and reduce the amount of pressure on your neck and shoulders.
You also need to think about the height of the pillow. If you’re unsure of which height would be best for you, there are pillows available that include removable layers and inserts to allow you to adjust the size according to your height preferences. These pillows are usually of high-quality and completely customizable for the perfect sleeping experience.
Should your shoulders be on your pillow? For the most part, the answer is no, but it really depends on what your reasoning behind it is. The proper method of using a pillow only calls for your head to rest on it, especially in the case of memory foam pillows. However, using a pillow allows for the elevation of your head and neck into a more natural position. By also allowing your shoulders to rest on your pillow, you’re manipulating the position of your head and neck and risking discomfort and injury.
With that said, there are some pillow varieties on the market that are shaped in a manner that supports the head, neck, and shoulders. However, these pillows are designed specifically for this purpose and to provide comfort to all three areas of the upper body. You should only be placing your head and neck on your pillow while you’re sleeping unless your pillow was specifically built to support your shoulders as well.
What is the healthiest sleeping position when using a pillow? The healthiest sleeping position is one in which your spine and neck are supported in a natural position without placing excess strain or pressure on these regions. This means selecting a pillow that doesn’t excessively extend or flex your neck, but also provides a firmness that keeps your neck stable while sleeping.
In reality, any sleeping position can be healthy as long as the neck, back, and head aren’t manipulated in a way that can cause damage or injury (i.e., sleeping on a pillow that’s too high, low, soft or firm). If you notice that your neck and back are manipulated in an unusual way while you’re sleeping, you might want to reevaluate your sleeping positions or your pillow.
How many pillows should you sleep with if you have neck pain? If you have neck pain, there is no real need to sleep with more pillows than you already are. If you believe that the height of the pillow is what’s causing your neck pain, you should see what you can do about adjusting the height. If it’s too low, you can double up and add a thinner pillow beneath your current pillow to raise your head. Simply adding more pillows does very minimal when it comes to treating neck pain, especially considering the implication that a greater elevation will lead to reduced neck pain. The best height is one that is conducive to a natural position, which would not be a common result of just adding more pillows.
What is the best solution for neck pain caused by pillows? The best solution for neck pain is buying a singular pillow that provides enough support to maintain the curve of your spine and neck. There are pillows designed specifically for those with neck pain, and many even offer the option of being able to adjust the height of your pillow by adding or removing layers within the pillow.
Why does my neck hurt every time I wake up? The major reason why your neck hurts when you wake up is because of the position you were sleeping in. If you find yourself sleeping in an abnormal position where your neck is extended or flexed in a way that’s not natural, you’ll likely wake up with neck stiffness or pain. Neck pain may also be caused by an improper pillow.
By using a pillow that’s too low, you’re placing undue pressure on your neck. By using a pillow that’s too high, you’re extending the muscles of your neck in a way that can cause discomfort. A pillow that’s too soft will lead to too much compression in the neck, and a pillow that’s too firm will cause discomfort and rigidity in the neck.
It’s also possible that you currently have some type of spinal degeneration, nerve pain, or a neck muscle injury. Each of these conditions can lead to neck pain at any point in the day, but most commonly upon waking up. If your neck pain persists every morning and you’ve already attempted to replace your pillow with one that’s more capable of reducing neck pain, your best solution would be to visit your doctor and determine the cause of your pain.
Where can you buy pillows made for neck pain? Almost every major retail store has a bedding section that sells bedding, sheets, blankets, and pillows. Many stores even offer memory foam pillows or other types of pillows designed for those with neck pain. These stores often do not have much of a selection, and you’d be limited in the type of pillow you can actually buy – which is why we recommend an online store like Amazon. Not only do you have a much wider selection in terms of a variety of pillows, but Amazon Prime enables you to get some of these pillows within one to two days.
What are the different types of pillows for neck pain? There are a few different types of pillows for neck pain that you can buy, each boasting its own unique benefits. Feather pillows are the softest type of pillow that you can buy. Though these pillows provide some type of support, they are generally viewed as less comfortable, and certain people are more likely to develop neck stiffness or pain after using this type of pillow.
Memory foam pillows are ideal for those with neck pain, stiffness, or headaches. While providing firm support, the pillow encourages the upper back and neck to fall into a proper position, all while providing supreme levels of comfort.
Neck pillows directly targets the position and support of the neck while sleeping. They are usually used in conjunction with another pillow. Spring pillows are great for providing support and cradling the neck and head effectively while sleeping. They promote a natural alignment in the neck and head and are usually seen as pretty comfortable.
What causes neck pain while sleeping? There are several causes of neck pain while sleeping, including the angle of your neck, the position you’re sleeping in, and the support provided by your pillow. The angle or slope of your neck while sleeping is greatly affected by the height of your pillow. As mentioned earlier, the best slope would be somewhere between a completely flat pillow and an elevated pillow.
How does the height of your pillow affect neck pain? If you’re sleeping on your side with a pillow that’s too high or too low, the neck pain you experience will likely be on one side of the neck. Similarly, sleeping on your back with an improper pillow can affect the rear of your neck.
What is the most common reason for neck pain caused by pillows? The most significant reason for neck pain as a result of using a pillow is the lack of proper support. If you’re using a feather pillow or another extremely soft material that causes your head to sink deeper into the pillow, you’re throwing off the natural alignment of your neck and placing more pressure on your cervical spine. With increased cervical spine pressure, you’re more likely to develop headaches, neck stiffness, or other long-term neck injuries.
While you might be fully accustomed to using your current pillow every night when you’re sleeping, the pillow you’re using could actually be causing neck pain, discomfort, stiffness, and even headaches. If these symptoms describe your daily experiences, investing in a proper pillow could significantly improve your symptoms and your overall quality of sleep.
The general consensus is that sleeping with memory foam or a specialized spring pillow can improve your symptoms greatly. Conversely, you should avoid sleeping with a feather pillow, as many consumers report neck stiffness, headache, and overall discomfort.
The pillow you decide to buy will be based on personal preferences, but you should highly consider buying a pillow designed specifically for neck pain and spinal issues. There are plenty of options available on the market, and there’s sure to be one that fits all of your needs.
For FitBug’s #1 pillow for neck pain recommendation, click here.