Poor posture, past injuries, and hunching over your laptop for hours on end can lead to neck pain. While neck pain is a common complaint, it is rarely a symptom of a serious underlying issue. Even so, it can interfere with your daily life and make it difficult to sleep at night.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night due to neck pain, or your lack of sleep exacerbates existing neck pain, a new pillow could help. The right pillow supports your head and neck while you sleep, keeping your spine in proper alignment. When your spine is properly aligned, it reduces the stress and strain on your joints and allows your neck muscles to relax.
Shopping for a new pillow yields a nearly unlimited array of options but choosing the right one can be a challenge. The best pillow for neck pain relieves pressure on the neck and shoulders while keeping your spine in proper alignment all night long. Here’s a shortlist of the top pillows for neck pain on the market.
Pillow for Neck Pain Reviews
While most pillows serve the same basic function, certain pillows are designed to deliver a more customized degree of support for the head and neck. Typically referred to as “neck pillows,” these pillows are ideal for people who suffer from chronic neck pain.
We’ve done extensive market research to bring you a shortlist of the best neck pillows on the market to help relieve neck pain. Check them out below.
Overall Best: Snuggle-Pedic Adjustable Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Neck pain is a common complaint, but every individual experiences it in their own way. The neck pillow that works best for one individual might not be quite right for another. That’s where the Snuggle-Pedic Adjustable Shredded Memory Foam Pillow comes into play – it comes in three sizes (standard, queen, and king) and includes a bag of shredded memory foam so you can adjust the loft to your preference.
This memory foam pillow is uniquely designed to support the head and neck without being so firm that it tilts your head out of alignment with the spine. The shredded memory foam adjusts to your anatomy while relieving pressure on the neck and shoulders. If the pillow is too firm, simply remove some of the filling or, if it is too soft, add more to your preference.
In addition to being customizable, the Snuggle-Pedic pillow is designed to keep you cool and comfortable at night. This pillow utilizes Kool-Flow Technology which improves airflow through the pillow for a cooler sleeping experience. The pillow is designed by a chiropractor, so it is made with neck pain sufferers in mind, and it works well for any sleeping position.
- Available in three sizes (standard, queen, king)
- Supports the head and neck while relieving pressure
- Adjustable level of firmness and loft
- Shredded memory foam contours to your body
Three Alternative Options:
The Purple Harmony Pillow
If you suffer from chronic neck pain, an ordinary bed pillow might either fail to address your issues or could even make matters worse. Engineered with the same cushioning technology used in their mattresses, the Purple Harmony Pillow delivers the support and pressure relief you need to wake up feeling well-rested and pain-free.
The Purple Harmony Pillow features a multi-layer design with a supportive core of hypoallergenic ventilated latex surrounded by a layer of honeycomb-patterned Purple Grid Hex. This combination of materials is wrapped in a moisture-wicking Breeze Mesh cover for an all-around cool and comfortable night of sleep for even chronic neck pain sufferers.
To ensure you get the custom sleep experience you crave, Purple offers their Harmony Pillow in standard and king sizes as well as three heights – low, medium, and tall. Side sleepers may prefer the medium or tall height while back and stomach sleepers may prefer the low height. All Purple Harmony Pillows ship free and come with a 100-night in-home trial and a 1-year warranty.
ZAMAT Contour Memory Foam Pillow
When a standard pillow does nothing to relieve your neck pain, the ZAMAT Contour Memory Foam Pillow is an option worth considering. Not only is it filled with supportive memory foam materials, but the pillow itself is ergonomically contoured to support the head and neck without throwing your spine out of alignment. Simply put, it’s designed for neck pain relief.
This memory foam pillow helps relieve chronic neck pain, but also addresses other issues like headaches and migraines, shoulder pain, cervical strain, and poor-quality sleep. Suitable for all sleeping positions, this pillow is uniquely shaped to support the head and neck without straining the shoulders. It has a contoured shape that allows you to sleep in a natural position all night long.
In addition to being contoured for optimal neck pain relief, the Zamat Contour Memory Foam Pillow is adjustable. It comes with a removable piece of memory foam (about 0.8” thick) which enables you to customize the height of the pillow according to your preference. Side sleepers may prefer to leave the memory foam piece in while back sleepers may prefer a lower height. Hot sleepers will enjoy the breathable inner cover that promotes airflow, and the outer cover is removable and washable for your convenience.
GhostPillow Memory Foam Pillow
If neck pain isn’t your only concern, the GhostPillow Memory Foam Pillow could be the right option for you. Engineered with patented phase-change material, this pillow adjusts to your body heat in real time to keep you cool and comfortable all night long. Each pillow is individually molded and aerated to ensure continuous airflow throughout the night and the Ghost Ice Fabric cover plays a cooling role as well.
The GhostPillow Memory Foam Pillow is designed with multiple layers that work together to support your head and neck for optimal pressure relief. A support core of aerated gel memory foam takes the pressure off your neck and shoulders while ensuring continuous airflow through the pillow. The performance cooling side of the pillow is made up of a layer of patented phase change material that adjusts to your body heat, working in conjunction with the inner aerated mesh cover.
In addition to ensuring a cool night of sleep, the GhostPillow Memory Foam Pillow’s ergonomic design keeps your head and neck aligned to prevent neck pain. The gel memory foam core helps the pillow keep its shape while relieving pressure. You won’t have to worry about fluffing the pillow and it won’t collapse overnight. Plus, you’ll enjoy a 101-night sleep trial and a generous 5-year warranty.
Who Should Use a Neck Pillow?
Neck pain is nothing to joke about. While it may seem like a minor nuisance, it can interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep and that leads to a whole slew of health problems. A high-quality mattress can certainly help with pain, but what you really need is a neck pillow.
Some sources suggest neck pain affects over 30% of American adults and that 50% of those individuals experience chronic neck pain or frequent occurrences. Furthermore, about 20% to as many as 70% of American adults experience neck pain that interferes with their daily lives.
Because the neck is responsible for carrying the weight of your head, it is highly prone to injury. Everything from poor posture to arthritis can cause or contribute to neck pain and, if left untreated, it can cause significant disruption to your daily life, interfere with your ability to sleep, and could even put you at risk for complications or further injury.
If you struggle with neck pain, sleeping with a neck pillow could help. Neck pillows are beneficial for individuals recovering from neck injuries like whiplash and for individuals with osteoarthritis. They can help with general muscle strain from poor posture or long hours spent hunched over a desk, and they could help relieve pressure on the neck for individuals with herniated discs or pinched nerves.
What to Look for in a Neck Pillow
A pillow is a pillow, or so it may seem. They all take roughly the same shape and are filled with similar materials. If you suffer from chronic neck pain, however, you’ll want to delve a little deeper into the world of neck pillows to find one that delivers the ideal combination of comfort and support so you can enjoy a pain-free night of sleep each and every night.
Here are some factors to consider when shopping for a neck pillow:
- Your preferred sleeping position. While some people tend to shift positions throughout the night, most of us have one preferred sleeping position. That position affects what kind of pillow you need to support your head and neck, so you don’t wake up sore and stiff. Side sleepers generally need a higher loft pillow to keep their head from sinking while back and stomach sleepers need something a little bit flatter that keeps the head raised without throwing your neck out of alignment with your spine.
- Proper head and neck alignment. Your neck is an extension of your spine and the key to relief from neck pain is keeping the two properly aligned. The best pillow for neck pain keeps your head and neck supported but also offers pressure relief so your neck muscles can relax. It should be just full enough that your head rests comfortably and your spine is supported in its natural position.
- Personal preferences for firmness. Though you’ll want to choose a neck pillow that suits your preferred sleeping position, there is a little wiggle room in terms of firmness. A firmer pillow offers better support than a soft one, but you want to find something that gives you the ideal balance of pressure relief, support, and comfort to ensure a good night’s sleep.
- Ergonomic or contoured shape. While most standard pillows come in a rectangular shape, neck pillows are often ergonomically shaped or contoured. Many neck pillows have an indentation in the middle which accommodates the head and neck without putting pressure on the shoulders. You’ll need to consider the width of your shoulders and the size of your head when considering one of these contoured pillows, but they offer strong support and pressure relief.
- High-quality filling and materials. It’s tempting to save money by opting for a cheaper neck pillow, but your body will pay the price. Poor quality materials won’t offer the support you need and, even if they do at first, they won’t last. It’s generally best to spend a little more upfront on a good quality pillow because you spend roughly one-third of your life sleeping – don’t you want to be supported?
- Consistently positive customer reviews. Shopping for pillows online gives you access to a wide array of options, but it does have one downside: you can’t try the product before you buy. If you’re shopping specifically for a pillow to relieve neck pain, search the reviews for comments by other customers who have the same concern. If a product receives consistently high ratings AND many reviews mention pain relief, you’ll know you’ve found a good product.
Buying a new neck pillow really comes down to personal preference. What you find comfortable may not be comfortable for someone else, and your preferred sleeping position may make one pillow a better option than another. Check out our top recommendations above and do your own research to find the best pillow for neck pain that suits your needs and preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
How thick should a neck pillow be?
It depends on your anatomy and your preference for sleeping position. A neck pillow should be 3 to 6 inches thick – high enough that it supports your head and neck but not so high that it tilts the head upward. Your head should rest comfortably on the pillow to relieve pressure.
How do I choose a neck pillow?
Choose a neck pillow made from high-quality materials and make sure it has the ideal degree of loft to support your head and neck without compromising neutral spine alignment. Side sleepers generally need a higher loft pillow than back sleepers.
Who can benefit from using a neck pillow?
Neck pillows are designed to support the cervical spine, so they can really benefit anyone. More specifically, however, they are ideal for people who suffer from neck pain.