The 9 Best Pillows for Neck Pain to Improve Your Sleep Quality
Whether you're texting, scrolling through your favorite social apps, or staring at your laptop, you put a lot of strain on your neck during the day. "One out of three people suffer from neck pain," Max Cohen, DC, chiropractor and founder of MaxHealth Chiropractic in Wellington, Florida, tells Health. "Constant sitting with a forward head posture in front of a computer or cellphone is one of the most common causes of neck pain."
On the bright side, neck pain relief can be as easy as choosing the right pillow. The best pillows for neck pain keep you propped up in a healthy posture so you can enjoy a comfortable night's sleep free of aches and pains. But deciding which one to buy among the thousands available online is no easy task. That's why the pros at Mattress Advisor spent hours testing options in their lab to determine which pillows deserve your attention. Learn more about their top nine picks below.
Choosing the best pillow for neck pain
There are several things to consider when picking out a pillow to sleep on, especially if you're someone who frequently wakes up feeling more exhausted and achy than you did at the beginning of the night. For neck pain sufferers, it's important to think about the following factors when you shop for a new pillow.
The best pillows for neck pain support your upper body by maintaining proper spine alignment. An unsupportive pillow allows your neck to slump or push too far upward, which can negatively affect your posture and lead to neck strains.
A pillow's loft, or height, makes a big difference when it comes to support for the neck and spine. Side sleepers need a pillow with a high loft that fills the distance between the bed and their neck to keep the spine aligned as they snooze. If you're a stomach sleeper, you'll be more comfortable with a lower loft pillow and back sleepers should look for a medium loft option.
- Memory foam: Memory foam pillows balance support and comfort, contouring to the shape of your head and neck to help keep the spine in alignment. By reducing pressure to sensitive areas, memory foam pillows can ease and even prevent neck pain.
- Down and Down Alternative: Despite their popularity, down pillows (which are made with duck and goose feathers) and down alternative pillows (which contain hypoallergenic synthetic materials like polyester) are not great for neck pain sufferers. Feather and imitation feather pillows may be soft and plush, but they tend to lose their loft over time and lack adequate support.
- Cotton: Cotton pillows are hypoallergenic and do not retain heat or moisture, making them an excellent choice for allergy sufferers and hot sleepers in need of a cooling material. However, they tend to be flat and firm—two characteristics that aren’t always friendly on the neck.
- Water: At the core of water pillows is a sac of water wrapped in foam. You can adjust the loft and firmness of the pillow by adding or removing water from the sac, which is helpful for those experiencing pain. If you need a higher loft to keep your head and neck in a neutral posture, you can customize the height to your liking.
A medium-firm pillow is ideal for the average sleeper looking to relieve neck pain. A pillow that is too soft may allow your head to sink into the bed, causing discomfort, and an overly firm pillow could feel too stiff, contributing to the pressure already being placed on your neck.
The 9 best pillows for neck pain
Best Overall: Layla Kapok
The Layla Kapok features two main materials: shredded memory foam and kapok, a hypoallergenic down alternative. The memory foam contours around your neck as you sleep, relieving pressure, and the kapok fibers offer a plush feel that you typically get from feathers. However, unlike down pillows, the kapok keeps the pillow from going flat.
Best for Stomach Sleepers: Helix Sleep
Made with a combination of cozy down and feathers, the Helix pillow offers the right amount of loft and support to keep stomach sleepers in a neutral position so they don’t wake up with a stiff neck. The pillow also has a cotton cover that wicks away sweat to help you stay cool and comfy throughout the night.
Best Cooling: Nest Easy Breather Pillow
Say goodbye to night sweats with the Nest Easy Breather. This cooling pillow is filled with shredded foam that provides adequate airflow, and it comes wrapped in an ultra-breathable cover that stays cool to the touch. Available in four sizes, the Nest Easy Breather suits any body type or sleep position—you can even adjust the amount of fill to make the pillow work for you.
Best Support: Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Neck Pillow
The Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Neck Pillow is an orthopedic contour pillow that gives your cervical spine (aka your neck) extra support, allowing your muscles to relax and providing pain relief to the neck, back, and shoulders. A good size for back and side sleepers, this firm pillow comes with a five-year limited warranty and a washable hypoallergenic cover.
Best Durable: Purple Harmony
Buy a Purple pillow and you may not have to purchase another one for 10 years. That’s how long the brand guarantees that its special filling, aka its “hyper-elastic polymer grid,” will last. The material is also used in Purple mattresses—think squishy, stretchy plastic in the shape of a waffle with lots of channels for airflow. Plus, this pillow is now available with foam boosters, which provide contouring to help relieve neck pain.
Best Memory Foam: Casper
Memory foam has a reputation for retaining heat, but Casper’s huggable pillow features perforated foam that allows air to flow freely for added breathability. The Casper is made with a total of three foam layers—two plush polyfoam layers and a memory foam core—which provide contouring comfort and extra support to keep pressure off of the head and neck. The pillow’s six-inch loft signals that it’s a great choice for side and back sleepers.
Best for Side Sleepers: Eli & Elm
Eli & Elm’s cervical pillow is specifically designed for side sleepers. The unique U shape helps the body maintain proper spine alignment throughout the night so that you can snooze pain-free. To adjust the loft, sleepers can simply add or remove excess latex and polyester fill inside the pillow to create a customized feel.
Best Adjustable: Coop Home Goods
An adjustable pillow lets you customize the firmness and loft to best suit your needs. The Coop Home Goods shredded memory foam pillow is not only adjustable (you can easily add or remove the amount of fill inside the pillow), but it also adapts to your movements throughout the night, contouring to your head and neck to keep you well-supported.
Best Value: Tuft & Needle
You don’t need to bust your budget to get a pillow that will help with neck pain. Tuft & Needle’s original foam pillow features materials like graphite, cooling gel, and adaptive foam to keep you comfortable during the night—and it costs under $100. To make this deal even sweeter, the Tuft & Needle pillow ships for free and comes with a three-year warranty.
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