Last updated on October 11th, 2018
Yes, there are pillows that have been specially designed and manufactured to fight back against neck pain. That said, no two people sleep exactly the same way, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when you’re browsing pillows for neck pain.
To help you get started in your search for the perfect pillow, here’s a look at the best pillows for neck pain, as well as key considerations and important information to assist you during your search.
What Causes Neck Pain While Sleeping?
First things first: What exactly causes neck pain while sleeping? There are several things that can lead to neck pain while sleeping, including:
- Position: Your sleeping position is often the culprit when you experience neck pain in bed. If you sleep at an awkward angle for your neck night after night, it’s only natural for neck pain to start showing up – and get progressively worse.
- Injury or Weakness: If you already have an injury or weakness in a certain muscle, that injury or weakness can lead to neck pain. And the weak spot need not be in your neck to cause neck problems. For example, if you have an arm injury, that injury may force you to sleep at a strange angle – which can cause neck pain.
- Insomnia and Other Sleeping Issues: When you have trouble sleeping, the last thing you want is neck pain. But the tossing and turning that’s often associated with insomnia and other sleeping disorders can increase the likelihood that you experience neck pain, too.
- Pillows: Ah, yes, pillows can certainly lead to neck pain. As noted, no two people sleep exactly the same way, and no two pillows are exactly alike either. That’s why a mismatch between a pillow and a person can lead to neck pain.
This is not a comprehensive list of the things that can lead to neck pain while sleeping – it’s simply a list of the most common reasons why neck pain emerges. If you’re quite sure that none of the things listed above is causing your neck pain, consult with a physician to see if he or she can help you identify what is causing the pain.
Pillow & Neck Pain: All There is To Know
What should you look for in a pillow when you have neck pain? The keyword is “neutrality”. You want a pillow that keeps your neck in a neutral position where it’s perfectly aligned with your spine and the rest of your body.
But, if you’re pillow is too firm or too fat, you risk elevating your neck above where it would be aligned with the rest of your body. Of course, this leads to neck pain over time. Conversely, a pillow that is too soft or too flat will lower your neck below the point where it would be aligned with the rest of your body. Again, this can lead to neck pain.
This can be an even greater challenge and bigger problem when you’re sleeping outside of your bed. For example, have you ever used a neck pillow while sleeping on a red-eye flight? Neck pillows are a nice try at solving the difficult problem of sleeping on a plane. But, they don’t provide near the neutrality or alignment that a traditional pillow can when used in a traditional bed.
So, even if you have the right pillow, a night or two of sleeping with the wrong pillow on a flight or at a friend’s house can lead to neck pain that’s difficult to shake in the long-term. When you find the right pillow, do your best to use it every night – even when you’re away from the house.
Best Cervical Pillows To Avoid Neck Pain
People who experience neck pain when sleeping often turn to cervical pillows. But what are cervical pillows? They are pillows specially designed for people who suffer from cervical hypolordosis, which sounds a lot scarier than it actually is.
Hypolordosis is simply when your spine curves less than normal. People who suffer from hypolordosis may find that traditional pillows don’t provide the type of support they need. Cervical pillows can help prevent common types of neck pain, including joint strains and sprains, tension headaches, cervical spasms and more.
But what is your best option from among cervical pillows for neck pain? Here’s a look at some of the best cervical pillows on the market today, as well as information on why each one might be your ideal fit.
Xtreme Comforts Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow — Editor’s Choice
If you’re looking for one of the most versatile options from among the best pillows for neck pain, look no further than the Xtreme Comforts Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow. Many choose this pillow because it works for all sleeping positions, including back sleepers, side sleepers and stomach sleepers.
This pillow is also customizable, to a certain extent. An inner zipper allows you to increase or decrease the thickness of the pillow, which is helpful given the many different body types and sizes. Patented memory foam means that the pillow keeps its shape night after night without ever going flat or getting lumpy.
And, as an added bonus, Kool-Flow technology keeps you from overheating during the night, which is a known way to promote continuous sleep. Also, hypoallergenic materials prevent allergy-related fits of coughing and sneezing, which also helps promote better sleep.
Some users report a chemical-like smell that fades after about a week, though it can make you uncomfortable at first. The pillow does keep its shape night after night — but only for about a year. After 12 months of daily use, the pillows begins to destabilize and lose its shape.
One final thought: Memory foam isn’t the best option for everyone. For example, if you toss and turn, it may be difficult to use a memory foam pillow, which can make your tossing and turning even more pronounced.
While the Xtreme Comforts Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow isn’t for everyone, it’s the most versatile and effective option on this list — which is what made it an easy pick for Editor’s Choice.
- Versatile, delivering support for all types of sleeping positions
- Inner zipper allows for adjustment of the pillow’s thickness
- Shredded memory foam prevents the pillow from going flat or getting lumpy over time
- Kool-Flow technology prevents you from getting hot, and hypoallergenic materials prevent allergy-related fits of sneezing and coughing
- A chemical-like odor when the pillow is brand new may be uncomfortable for some
- Memory foam is best for static sleepers rather than those who toss and turn
- The pillow starts to lose its stability after about a year of heavy
Perform Pillow Medium Profile Memory Foam Neck Pillow — Top High-End
Here’s another memory foam option that is on the higher end of the spectrum for both price and quality. The Perform Pillow Medium Profile Memory Foam is among your best options when searching for the best pillows for neck pain. While it costs a bit more than other options on this list, it gets the job done.
A bamboo cover helps keep the sleeper cool throughout the night, and the specially designed memory foam is approved by chiropractors nationwide. As an added benefit, this pillow’s eco-friendly construction keeps it free from lead, mercury and other heavy metals.
The Perform Pillow comes in 3 different profiles, too: medium, thick and thin. While this looks like an added benefit at first glance, it can be difficult to identify the perfect thickness for your neck. In fact, many who choose this Perform Pillow find that they have to make a return or 2 before landing on the perfect profile.
The Perform Pillow is also a little bit smaller than some of the other options on this list. While the small footprint might be good when traveling, many prefer a larger pillow for everyday use.
And, finally, there’s the question of cost: Do you get added value from the Perform Pillow that is commiserate with the higher price point? Only you can determine that, but it’s the price that made this pillow our Top High-End option rather than Editor’s Choice.
- Eco-friendly construction that contains no lead, mercury or other heavy metals
- Bamboo cover helps keep the sleeper cool all through the night
- Specially designed foam is approved by chiropractors
- Higher price point may be more than some sleepers want to invest
- Smaller footprint than other pillows makes it harder to manage
- Comes in 3 sizes, but it can be difficult to identify the right size without trial and error and a return or 2
Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow — Best Pillow For Neck Pain
The Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow is another chiropractor-approved option that many who suffer from neck pain have selected from among the best pillows for neck pain. That said, this pillow option is best-suited to back sleepers, so look elsewhere if you prefer sleeping on your side or stomach.
This pillow is adjustable, though, which is nice when you want just a little bit less thickness. Use the dual-zipper design to remove the fill that you don’t want, but beware: Using the zippers and handling the fill can be a little bit messy and challenging. Set aside some time to get it just right.
Like other pillow options on this list, the Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow is designed to keep you cool at night and to prevent allergic fits that can hamper continuous sleep.
Perhaps the greatest drawback to choosing the Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow is how well (or how poorly) it keeps its shape over time. Many users have reported that this pillow simply goes flat in too short a period of time to be useful. That said, given the pillow’s performance and value, it’s our choice for Best Pillow for Neck Pain.
- The perfect solution for back sleepers with neck pain
- Dual zippers allow for adjustment of the fill and thickness
- Hypoallergenic design that boosts coolness and fights against allergies
- Not a great solution for side and stomach sleepers
- Flattens more quickly than other options on this list
- Using zippers and adjusting fill can be a challenging endeavor
Chiroflow Waterbase Pillow — Best Value
There’s one thing that stands out when evaluating the Chiroflow Waterbase Pillow — its price point. This is our Best Value because it delivers the performance that many with neck pain want at a price that is far below what you’ll pay for other options.
This pillow uses a unique waterbase design that delivers a great alternative to tossers and turners who can’t really use a memory foam pillow. And it works! Many who have ordered the Chiroflow Waterbase Pillow report that their neck pain symptoms quickly dissipated when using this product.
But, as is too often the case, you get what you pay for. This pillow is known for durability issues. First, some users report that the pillow itself began to tear over time, rendering it useless. And, other users reported leaks in the waterbase portion of the pillow, which led to mold issues in some cases.
This is an interesting and effective product to try if you’re experiencing neck pain and memory foam just isn’t doing the trick. But be aware of the Chiroflow Waterbase Pillow’s shortcomings, even before you make the relatively small investment into purchasing it.
- A price that’s hard to beat
- Waterbase provides an alternative for tossers and turners who can’t use memory foam
- Designed to rejuvenate skin and reduce the effects of fatigue
- Durability issues limit this pillow’s usable lifespan
- Water can leak if pillow is used improperly, leading to mold
- Water can make sleeping a little noisy when you toss and turn
Tri-Core Cervical Pillow
If you’re looking for a tough pillow that is going to deliver the performance you need over the long-term, choose the Tri-Core Cervical Pillow. This pillow offers a unique design that actually gives you options depending on your neck and how you like to sleep — or how you need to sleep to fight neck pain.
But, while the unique design is helpful to some, it does cause problems for others. This pillow is in a trapezoid shape that allows you to choose different sides and different options. But this unique design makes the pillow a bad fit for side sleepers, and it’s also incredibly difficult to find your preferred side in the middle of the night when it’s dark.
Still, this pillow is known to alleviate neck pain by placing the spine in its natural position. Also, given how durable the pillow is, there’s added value in buying it — you’re going to get a lot more use than with other options.
- Unique design gives the sleeper options
- Durability unlocks added value
- Alleviates neck pain by placing spine in natural position
- Difficult to adjust pillow in the middle of the night
- Best for back sleepers — not for side sleepers
- Tough to find the right side of the pillow in the dark
Pillows for Neck Pain FAQs
People searching for the best pillows for neck pain often ask a similar series of questions. As you search, you may have some of the same questions that others with neck pain are asking. To help preemptively answer those questions, here’s a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about pillows for neck pain.
How Do You Position Pillows for Neck Pain?
Outside of getting a cervical pillow that’s specially designed for neck pain, you can try some different things with more traditional pillows. First, you can take out some fill if your pillow is too firm and thick, which may help lower your neck back into alignment. And, second, you can try stacking pillows if your main pillow is too thin and soft — which can raise your neck back into alignment.
What Pillow Should I Use for Neck Pain?
For example, if you’re a back sleeper who remains static most of the night, there are memory foam options that would be perfect for you. But, if you toss and turn and often sleep on your side, there are also alternatives that would make good replacements for memory foam.
Don’t get frustrated if the first cervical pillow you choose doesn’t work out. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the perfect fit. But, once you do, you’ll enjoy better sleep.
Is it Better for Your Neck to Sleep Without a Pillow?
But, for comparison’s sake, think of pillows like shoes. Can you go barefoot? Of course. Going barefoot is natural. But wearing shoes is comfortable — when you find the right pair of shoes. Choose the wrong pair, a pair that makes your feet hurt, and you’d be better off going shoeless. But, choose the right pair, a pair that is perfectly comfortable, and you’ll enjoy an experience that’s far better than going barefoot.
So, in short, going without a pillow is better than using a pillow that gives you neck pain. But, finding the right pillow is superior to going without one.
What is the Best Cervical Pillow?
And, to repeat, don’t get frustrated if the first pillow you try doesn’t work. There’s a fair amount of trial and error in finding the right cervical pillow. But, once you find the right one, you’ll be glad that you persevered through the search to find your perfect option from among the best pillows for neck pain.
What Kind Of Pillow Should I Use for Neck Pain?
Cervical Pillow Buyer’s Guide
What exactly should you be looking for in a cervical pillow? There are any number of key decision factors, and you’ll have to think through what’s most important to you. But, that said, here’s a look at 6 key things to consider before making a final decision:
1. Sleeping Position: Find a cervical pillow that is designed for how you sleep. You can find pillows that are best for back sleepers, side sleepers, as well as pillows that are versatile enough for any position.
2. Size/Thickness: Some cervical pillows are made available with different thickness options. You’ll want to find a pillow that offers the ideal thickness for your neck and body.
3. Sleeping Behavior: If you stay in one place all night, there are cervical pillows that are perfect for you. Also, if you toss and turn all night, there are other pillows that are designed to meet your needs. Just make sure you get the right cervical pillow for your sleep behavior.
4. Allergies: Suffer from allergies? Get a hypoallergenic pillow that will limit fits of coughing and sneezing. Many hypoallergenic pillows also use technology that keeps you cool at night.
5. Durability: Durability means value. Get more value by choosing a cervical pillow that will last for years rather than just months.
6. Pricing: Price always matters. Consider your budget, and then choose a cervical pillow that fits into that budget.
Again, you may have other important decision factors that are unique and specific to you — but these 6 should provide a good place to start as you seek out your most favorable option from among the best pillows for neck pain.
Which Pillow is Best for Neck Pain?
We’ve outlined our top choices. The best pillow for neck pain is a matter of personal preference, but you enjoy many great options that include our 4 recommendations:
Editor’s Choice: The Xtreme Comforts Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Best High-End: Perform Pillow Medium Profile Memory Foam Neck Pillow
Best Pillow for Neck Pain: Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow
Best Value: Chiroflow Waterbase Pillow
Remember that new products and new technologies are coming onto the market all the time. Check back for updates to this post as new products become available to those seeking the best pillow for neck pain.
Final Thoughts on Pillows for Neck Pain
The good news is that manufacturers are addressing the need for pillows for neck pain in the 21st century. Therefore, you enjoy more options now than at any other time in history — so make the most of your many options by choosing your best fit from among pillows for neck pain.
Efrain is a culture and lifestyle writer from Atlanta. He loves indie music, minimalism, and helping people get a better night’s rest.