The 12 Best Pillows for Neck Pain of 2022

The Coop Home Goods Original Pillow offers adjustability and support for people with neck pain

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Layla Kapok Pillow

Layla

Whether you have neck pain from working at your computer all day, scrolling too much on your phone, or a serious injury or condition, the pillow you sleep on matters. After all, we spend about a third of our 24-hour day sleeping. The best pillow for neck pain is one that keeps your head and neck straight, which chiropractors call neutral alignment. If your pillow is too tall, low, or unsupportive for your body and sleep position, that can exacerbate existing neck pain or even create new stiffness and soreness, explains The Joint Chiropractic’s Kevin Lees, DC

The good news: “People with neck pain often find switching to a comfortable pillow can make a night and day difference,” adds James D. Lin, MD, spine surgeon and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. But here’s the catch: There’s no one best pillow for neck pain. “Finding the right pillow is sort of like finding the right pair of jeans,” Dr. Lin says. “There may be a few misses before finding the right pillow for you.” The best option for you will depend on your body shape and size, your sleeping position, and what fill materials you prefer. 

To make our selections, we spoke with three experts, including a chiropractor and spine and neck orthopedic surgeon. We chose the best neck pillows based on shape, fill materials, firmness, and support. 

Here are our top picks for the best pillows for neck pain.

Best Pillow for Neck Pain Overall: Coop Home Goods The Original Pillow

4.4

Why We Like It: The Original pillow uses hypoallergenic, memory-foam-and-microfiber fill, which you can take out or add in for a thicker or thinner pillow, depending on your needs.

It’s Worth Noting: It may be too soft for those who prefer a firm pillow.

Our best overall choice for a pillow that relieves neck pain is Coop, The Original from Coop Home Goods because of its versatility. One thing that all three of our experts made clear: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all best pillow for people with neck pain. Your body shape, sleep position, and personal pain points all come into play for what will be comfortable for you—which is why the adjustability of this pillow from Coop Home Goods is your universal best bet.

The Original Pillow comes standard with a healthy loft; but then, it has a zipper opening so you can take out some of the fill to make a flatter pillow, or add more in from the included extra half-pound of fill for an even higher loft. So, if your sleep position or pain points change, you can adjust the same pillow instead of having to buy a new one.

What makes it stand out from other adjustable pillows is that the Coop Original is filled with medium-firm fill made from memory foam and microfiber. Not only do you get the natural body-conforming features of memory foam, but it's also hypoallergenic and GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US® certified, so it won't cause irritation. 

Granted, this pick is on the pricey side for a pillow, but because it’s adjustable and can suit your needs over time, we think it’s worth the cost. 

Price at time of publication: $72

Product details:

  • Fill material: Memory foam and microfiber
  • Firmness: Medium
  • Shape: Rectangular

Best for Side Sleepers: Layla Kapok Pillow

Layla Pullow

Courtesy of Layla

Why We Like It: The Layla Kapok Pillow is a medium-firm, high-loft pillow to keep side sleepers’ heads higher and in line with their spine, thanks to a hypoallergenic fill of memory foam and natural Kapok fibers.

It’s Worth Noting: This pillow is a good choice for side sleepers but is not ideal for back or stomach sleepers.

Side sleepers need a pillow with a higher loft (often 5 inches thick or more), to bring their head up and in line with their spine, our experts say. The Laya Kapok pillow is filled with shredded memory foam and soft, all-natural Kapok fibers (all CertiPur-US certified), creating a plush and airy feel while still being supportive. Kapok has a silky, cotton-like texture that’s perfect for pillows because it naturally repels moisture. The pillow comes at a medium firmness, which is usually perfect for side sleepers, but you also have the ability to take out some of the fill if you want something softer.

This pillow also comes with a 120-night sleep trial so you can return it if it doesn’t suit your sleep style, and is backed by a five-year warranty.

Price at time of publication: $109

Product details:

  • Fill material: Memory foam and Kapok fibers
  • Firmness: Medium
  • Shape: Rectangular

Best for stomach sleepers: Casper Original Pillow

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Casper Sleep Pillow

Casper

Why We Like It: Casper’s unique design keeps the Original Pillow soft yet supportive, and the low loft from the down-alternative filling is ideal to prevent your head from being too lifted when sleeping on your stomach.

It’s Worth Noting: It may not be firm enough for some people.

We’re sorry to break the news to you stomach sleepers, but Lees says sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for your neck. Even if you have the right pillow, lying on your stomach forces your head to turn to one side, which will likely cause neck pain eventually. If you’re a stomach sleeper, learning to lay on your back or side may relieve neck pain more than getting the right pillow. 

That said, using too high of a pillow while sleeping on your stomach can create pain. Instead, Dr. Lin recommends opting for a thinner pillow so your head isn’t too elevated relative to your torso. The beloved Original Casper Pillow—the sleep company’s best-selling pillow—utilizes a down-alternative fill with a low profile so your head is comfortable, but not lifted when you sleep on your stomach.

This pillow also features Casper’s unique pillow-within-a-pillow design to maintain support on the inside and softness on the outside. Plus, it has a breathable cotton weave to keep you cool at night.

Casper also offers a 30-night sleep trial and has great customer service if you’re not happy with your purchase. Even better, this pillow is backed by a one-year warranty.

Price at time of publication: $65

Product details:

  • Fill material: Down alternative
  • Firmness: Soft to Medium
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Trial or guarantee: 30-night sleep trial and one-year warranty

Best for back sleepers: Core Products Tri-Core Cervical Pillow

Core Products Tri-Core Cervical Pillow

Amazon

Why We Like It: This cervical pillow design helps cradle the head and support the neck while sleeping on your back.

It’s Worth Noting: The polyester fiber fill can trap heat, so it may not suit hot sleepers.

Back sleepers should look for a flatter pillow to help keep your neck’s natural curve, explains New Jersey-based Rahul Shah, MD, board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon. The Casper Original Low Loft Pillow, our pick for stomach sleepers, will work well for back sleepers, too. But Dr. Shah says that many people who sleep on their back also like a cut-out pillow since it helps cradle the head.

This cervical pillow from Core Products is a simple design with a center cradle for your head. It has a low, firm bolster at the bottom to support the natural curve of your neck for people with small frames, and a larger, firm bolster at the top for folks with a big frame. The raised sides help keep your head nestled in, too. This pillow provides firm support for the therapeutic benefits to your neck. However, the polyester fiber fill may retain heat. 

Bear in mind that a cut-out cervical pillow may take time for your body to adjust to it. To start, alternate with a traditional pillow every other night for two weeks. If you occasionally roll on your side during sleep, this pillow is not for you, because it is not meant for side sleeping at all. 

Price at time of publication: $46

Product details:

  • Fill material: Polyester fiber
  • Firmness: Very firm
  • Shape: Cut-out cervical pillow
  • Trial or guarantee: 100% satisfaction guarantee

Best for combo sleepers: Purple Harmony Pillow

4.4
Purple Harmony Pillow
Courtesy of Amazon.

Why We Like It: The Purple Harmony Pillow was thoughtfully designed with a unique internal grid structure and hypoallergenic latex core to support your head and neck in any sleeping position.

It’s Worth Noting: This pillow is on the expensive side, but they do offer a 100-night trial period.

We know: $179 is a lot for a pillow. But for that price, you’re getting a near-perfect design that’s more than worth it if you’ve tried out dozens of pillows to no avail. 

Purple’s pillows use a proprietary honeycomb-patterned grid that’s been specifically formulated and engineered to provide both head and neck support and optimal airflow. That unique design creates comfortable support from the moment you lay down and it’s responsive if you move around throughout the night. The grid is paired with a premium Talalay latex—which Purple says won’t irritate allergies the way a natural rubber latex might. Talalay latex shares the contouring properties of memory foam but stays cooler. Thanks to those internal materials, this pillow won’t fall flat over time or with use, either. Hot sleepers will appreciate the moisture-wicking, breathable mesh cover that keeps you from overheating.

This pillow also comes in three heights so you can pick which is best for you: The Low is usually best for stomach and back sleepers; the Medium is good for combination or side sleepers with a medium frame, and the Tall is best for side or combination sleepers with a large or extra-large frame. If you aren’t sure which is right for you, you can chat with a Purple sleep expert who can help you decide.

While you’ll be spending a pretty penny on this pillow, the brand offers a 100-night sleep trial if you try it and feel like it doesn’t live up to the hype.

Price at time of publication: $161

Product details:

  • Fill material: Talalay latex
  • Firmness: Medium
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Trial or guarantee: 100-night sleep trial

Best cervical pillow: The Cushion Lab Neck-Relief Ergonomic Cervical Pillow

The Cushion Lab Neck-Relief Ergonomic Cervical Pillow

Amazon

Why We Like It: For back sleepers, side sleepers, and back/side hybrid sleepers, this ergonomically-designed cervical pillow helps cradle your natural spine alignment.

It’s Worth Noting: This dense pillow may be too supportive for some.

Cervical pillows, which have a raised edge and lower center, are more supportive than a flat pillow, Lees explains. The design of this one helps cradle your head and stretch your neck, while you sleep. 

We love The Cushion Lab’s Cervical Pillow, as it’s made from contouring memory foam (with a gel infusion to keep you cool) and was shaped by an in-house ergonomist to ensure proper support and alignment. It features a sloped neck ramp for the lowest part of your C-spine, an arched cushion to relieve upper neck pressure, and a concave head basin for natural alignment when laying down. It has special accommodations for both back and side sleepers: The pillow has a curved shoulder cushion to keep back sleepers from shrugging up their shoulders during the night. And, the pillow features raised face support on the wings for side sleepers.

A cervical pillow's extra support can be too much for some people and lead to more soreness. So, if this is your first time using a cervical pillow, it’s smart to look for one with a refundable sleep-trial period. The Cushion Lab offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if this cervical pillow ends up being too supportive for your needs.

Price at time of publication: $59

Product details:

  • Fill material: Memory foam
  • Firmness: Firm
  • Shape: Cervical 
  • Trial or guarantee: 30-day money-back guarantee

Best memory foam: Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

TEMPUR-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

Why We Like It The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow utilizes proprietary memory foam to support and conform to your neck. It includes two different-sized bolsters to choose from depending on your sleep style and three sizes for different body types.

It’s Worth Noting: It may be too supportive for non-side sleepers.

Memory foam conforms to the shape of your neck, so it can enhance the fit of the pillow, says Dr. Shah. We love the memory foam TEMPUR-Neck Pillow because it is ergonomically designed with an extra-firm feel to maintain its shape and two different-sized bolsters for a higher or lower head angle, depending on your sleep style and pain points. 

Instead of a head cut-out, this pillow has a slope in the middle for your head to rest on, so it’ll be most comfortable for side sleepers. Keep in mind that Tempurpedic doesn’t offer a sleep trial period, so if you don’t sleep on your side, this pillow probably isn’t for you.

This pillow does come in three pillow profile sizes—small, medium, and large—for different body shapes, with the large at the highest loft of 4.75 inches and the small at the lowest, of 3 inches.

This Tempurpedic pillow also comes with a five-year warranty to guarantee quality.

Price at time of publication: $119

Product details:

  • Fill material: Memory foam
  • Firmness: Extra firm 
  • Shape: Contoured

Best budget low-loft pillow: Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow

 Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow

Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Like It: The low loft of the Bluewave Ultra Slim pillow will keep your neck in line with your spine when sleeping on your back or stomach, and the memory foam will contour to your neck—all for less than $50.

It’s Worth Noting: This pillow may be too thin for side sleepers or combination sleepers.

At just 2.75 inches high, this pillow is thin enough to support your neck and head while sleeping on your back or stomach—without breaking the bank. 

It’s filled with a CertiPUR-US-certified (meaning it’s free of dangerous chemicals) memory foam block, so it maintains that medium-firm support, even at the low height. The pillow also features both a gel infusion and perforated design to keep you cool at night.

At this price, you don’t get any kind of sleep trial or long-lasting guarantee, but if you’re looking for relief from your neck pain as a back or stomach sleeper without dropping too much cash, this pillow is a great pick.

Price at time of publication: $40

Product details

  • Fill material: Gel memory foam
  • Firmness: Medium-firm 
  • Shape: Rectangular, slim 
  • Trial or guarantee: No

Best budget high-loft pillow: Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

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Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow

Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Like It: This lower-cost, high-loft pillow uses toxin-free memory foam to support your head and neck when sleeping on your side. If you’re not satisfied with the product, Snuggle-Pedic will customize a replacement pillow for your specific needs.

It’s Worth Noting: This pillow’s loft may be too high for stomach or back sleepers.

This pillow is filled with shredded memory foam, which is ideal for people who have neck pain because once you find a pain-free position, the material contours to your head and neck to keep you in place all night. Its high loft will help support your spinal alignment when sleeping on your side, and the proprietary Kool-Flow bamboo pillow cover circulates air to keep you cool. 

Despite being one of the more affordable pillows on the list, this pillow is certified GreenGuard Gold to ensure the materials are all non-toxic. Most of all, we love this budget pick because, if you’re not happy with your pillow during the first 90 days, Snuggle-Pedic will customize a replacement pillow for your specific firmness, thickness, and support needs.

Price at time of publication: $75

Product details

  • Fill material: Shredded memory foam
  • Firmness: Medium
  • Shape: Rectangular

How We Selected the Pillows for Neck Pain

To determine what features in a pillow are best for neck pain, we spoke with three experts about what qualities to look for in a pillow to ease and prevent neck pain. They also shared which products they recommend to patients. 

The experts we spoke to include:

  • Kevin Lees, DC, manager of auditing and quality at The Joint Chiropractic
  • Rahul Shah, MD, board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon based in New Jersey
  • James D. Lin, MD, spine surgeon and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

What to Know About Choosing the Best Pillows for Neck Pain

All three of our experts agree: Finding the best pillow to support your spinal alignment is highly individual. Dr. Shah recommends spending at least 15 minutes laying on a pillow in your preferred sleep position in the store before buying it if possible. When shopping online, we recommend looking for a pillow with a sleep trial period or no-questions-asked return policy— that way, if the pillow ends up not being ideal for your body, you can return it and try another.

If your neck pain is chronic, or it’s from an injury or condition, consult with a chiropractor, physical therapist, or orthopedic surgeon to find out what kind of pillow they recommend for your specific needs.

But in general, you’re looking for a pillow that will keep your head and neck in neutral alignment (straight) with your spine. There are two key factors that influence this:

Your Sleep Position

This is one of the most important factors to determine what kind of pillow is right for you, and what kind will help alleviate neck pain. The goal in any sleep position is to have a pillow at the perfect height to keep your head and neck in neutral alignment with your spine. Usually, side sleepers will need a medium to high-loft and medium firmness to keep their head lifted all night long. Back and stomach sleepers will want a thinner pillow so that their head is barely lifted off the mattress. 

Your Body Size and Body Type

Your height, weight, and shoulder width all come into play for what size, loft, support, and materials are best for you. For example, a small person who sleeps on their side might not need as much loft to put their head in line with their shoulders, while someone with a big frame might need more. Similarly, a small-framed person may be better off with a standard pillow while a person with a larger frame may be better supported on a king-size pillow. People who are overweight may run hotter, so they should opt for cooling materials and stay away from heat-retainers like memory foam.

Then, when you’re looking for the best pillow for neck pain, the most important features to consider are:

  • Size: Size is actually the first thing Dr. Shah recommends adjusting to see its effect on neck pain. A too-large pillow may force the neck into an awkward angle and irritate the muscles that work to control the head, while a too-small pillow may not be supportive enough.
  • Loft: Loft is, essentially, how much fill is inside your pillow and therefore how tall your pillow will be. In general, stomach and back sleepers should opt for a lower loft, and side sleepers should choose a higher loft. Of course, there are exceptions: If you have a small frame and sleep on your side, you might need a lower loft. And if you have broad shoulders and sleep on your side, you’ll want an extra high loft. A good rule of thumb: When you’re lying down on your pillow in your go-to sleep position, there should be no gaps between your head, neck, and shoulders. Similarly, your neck shouldn’t be strained forward or sitting backward. 
  • Shape: People prefer different pillow shapes based on their natural anatomy, Dr. Shah says. Some back sleepers find having a cut-out area for their head is helpful for natural support. While side sleepers with wide shoulders may prefer a cervical pillow with a raised bolster to better fill the gap under their neck. Let your anatomy and personal preference be your guide. 
  • Support: While loft refers to the fill or height of a pillow, support is all about how squishy or hard a pillow is. “A firmer pillow will keep its shape better throughout the night and provides more support, which can be helpful for side sleepers,” says Dr. Lin. A firm pillow is also a good choice for people with severe neck pain, because it can keep the head and neck in place throughout the night. Meanwhile, softer pillows will compress down to a smaller height over time and may be better for stomach or back sleepers. 
  • Fill Material: What a pillow is made of influences its support and ability to contour to your body. The fill material also plays into how hot the pillow will get while you sleep. Memory foam contours to your body and holds you in the divet formed around your shape, which is great for keeping you in a pain-free position once you find it. However, memory foam also retains heat so it's often best when used in a combination fill. Latex has similar motion isolation properties as memory foam but is cooler. Always look for materials that have a certification (e.g., GreenGuard Gold, CertiPUR-US) to ensure the fillings are nontoxic and non-irritating.

Your Questions, Answered

What pillows do doctors recommend for neck pain?

All three of our experts say the best pillows for neck pain are ones that keep your head and neck in neutral alignment with your spine in whatever position you’re sleeping in. 


Are firmer pillows better for neck pain?

Typically yes, because a firmer pillow keeps your head at the same height all night instead of compressing down and moving your neck out of neutral alignment, says Dr. Lin. A firmer pillow is best for neck pain if you sleep on your side, and a firm pillow with a low loft is good for neck pain if you sleep on your back. If you sleep on your stomach, a plush, low-loft pillow is better to keep your spine in alignment. However, sleeping on your stomach can exacerbate or cause entirely new neck stiffness, so if you already have neck pain, you should consider switching to sleeping on your side or back.

Who We Are

Rachael Schultz has been a health and wellness writer for nearly a decade and specializes in translating scientific research and expert insight into digestible, usable everyday information. She has been a gear editor for five years and has extensive knowledge in discerning what differentiates a high-quality, reliable product that will not only support the buyer’s needs but is also worth your money.

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