If you’ve ever woken up with a stiff or sore neck and thought, “Man, I have to get a better pillow,” you’re not alone (trust me). Sleeping on a pillow that doesn’t offer you the right kind of support can not only dampen the quality of your slumber, but can also affect your general well-being on a day-to-day basis. But don’t worry — Sleepopolis is here to help!
With guidance from the Sleepopolis Expert Network, I rounded up 10 pillows designed to alleviate neck pain in sleepers of all styles and positions. Keep reading to check out my top pillow picks, and learn a bit more about keeping healthy sleep posture.
Disclaimer: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of advice or treatment from your physician or medical professional. This review is meant to be an informative guide of options for those looking to maintain healthy posture while they sleep. User experiences and needs will vary. If you experience lasting pain, soreness, or discomfort while sleeping, it’s always a good idea to seek out a healthcare professional in person.
The Best Pillows for Neck Pain
Best Pillow for Combo Sleepers
Saatva Latex Pillow
Combo sleepers who want to make sure their pillow supports them in every position should definitely dive into the Saatva pillow.
Firstly, I must admit that I’m a combo sleeper and this is the pillow I currently use at home. I’ve been snoozing with it for about two years, and am so impressed by how seamlessly it adapts to every sleep style. It’s lofty enough for side sleeping, compressible enough for stomach sleeping, and keeps me comfortably cradled when I’m on my back.
It features a unique pillow-in-pillow design wherein a fluffy down-alternative cover envelopes a Talalay latex core. This combination strikes a cozy balance between soft and supportive, as the outer pillow offers a plush feel, while the inner core adds a buoyant boost. Plus, you have the option to use the pillow as is, or remove the middle insert!
If you primarily sleep on your back and side, I suggest using this pillow exactly as it comes. However, stomach sleepers looking to reduce the loft and firmness can easily unzip the pillow, and remove the latex core for a softer feel. For all the details on this great combo sleeping accessory, read my full Saatva pillow review!
Price: $$$, with a 45-day trial period.
Perfect For: Combo sleepers looking for an all-position pillow with an adjustable loft!
A fluffable mix of down-alternative and Talalay latex makes this pillow cozy, cool, and great for combo sleepers!
Best Cooling Pillow for Neck Pain
DreamCloud Best Rest Memory Foam Pillow
Neck pain can be even more aggravating if you’re sleeping hot. That’s why anyone who struggles to stay cool at night should look into the DreamCloud Best Rest Memory Foam Pillow. In addition to cradling the head and taking pressure off of the neck with its deep-contouring memory foam, it has a breathable cover and an infusion of coppergel. Both of these traits help the pillow – and thus the person – sleep incredibly cool.
Full DreamCloud Best Rest Pillow review coming soon!
Price: $99-$129, with a 50-night trial period.
Perfect For: Anyone who wants to stay cool while soothing their neck pain.
A contouring pillow with a dash of coppergel for extra cooling!
Best Firm Pillow for Neck Pain
Up first my personal favorite — the Casper foam pillow. This firmer pillow is designed to keep your head and neck properly aligned, preventing any future neck pain while alleviating any existing pain.
The balanced support of this pillow is designed by plush outer layers of foam to keep your head and neck comfortably cradled, and a firm inner layer of foam that conforms to pressure and supports neutral spine alignment. Back sleepers should appreciate the medium-firm, balanced feel and loft up to 5 inches here. This pillow maintains its shape overnight with the combination of high and low density foams. Side sleepers should also be comfortable on the Casper foam pillow!
This pillow is different from many foam pillows in yet another way — you won’t get hot throughout the night thanks to Airscape foam promoting airflow and ventilation. If you are ready to change out your pillow to relieve some neck pain, I highly recommend trying out the Casper Foam Pillow; and if you’re curious about this brand’s other products, be sure to check our Casper pillow, Casper sheets, and Casper mattress reviews!
Price: $$, with a 30-night trial period to personally test it.
Perfect For: Side and back sleepers looking for a lofty, balanced pillow with plenty of support for neck pain.
The Casper Foam Pillow sleeps cool and has the balanced support that's great for back sleepers!
Best Memory Foam Pillow
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow
If you’re a memory foam fan who sleeps hot, this pillow is for you.
Filled with one thick piece of Tempur-Pedic’s memory foam, the TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze offers a moldable feel, and a super slow response to pressure. Those who like to sink deeply into their pillow are likely to be most compatible with this one. Plus, it features a high loft and medium-firm feel, ideal for helping side sleepers maintain healthy posture.
That said, a common complaint about memory foam is that it traps heat and warms up throughout the night… But not this pillow! Two proprietary cooling gel pads keep both sides of the pillow feeling cool and cozy all night long. As a hot sleeper myself, I can tell you this is one of my all-time favorite memory foam pillows because it feels so cooling against my face.
That said, those who love memory foam but don’t want a cooling pillow should check out my full review of Tempur-Pedic pillows (this brand offers quite a few options!). But if you’re a side sleeper looking for a cool and soothing memory foam pillow, I heartily suggest you give this one a try.
Price: $$$, a little pricier than the others in this roundup — but, to me, the fact that it’s backed by a 5-year warranty inspires confidence that this brand proudly stands behind its product.
Perfect For: The side sleeper who runs hot and loves the feel of memory foam!
The TEMPUR-Cloud pillow provides the great body contouring memory foam feel that Tempur-Pedic is known for and is a great choice for the back sleepers out there!
Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers with Neck Pain
Nolah AirFiber Pillow
Technically, the Nolah AirFiber doesn’t use down, but a down alternative called polyfiber. It’s soft and shapeable, allowing you to get the fluffy feeling of down without the allergies that sometimes come with it. Feel-wise, this is a plush yet supportive pillow that should be a good fit for any sleeping position, although stomach sleepers should be especially comfortable. The pillow also has a phase-change material to help it keep a low temperature.
Mosey on over to our full review of the AirFiber Pillow!
Price: $79-$158, with a lifetime warranty.
Perfect For: Anyone who loves the soothing softness of down.
A plush yet supportive pillow filled with a soft down alternative!
Best Organic Pillow
Avocado Green Pillow
Eco-friendly sleepers looking to alleviate neck pain with an all-natural pillow are going to be most compatible with the Avocado Green.
From the cotton cover fabric to the internal fill, this entire pillow is made from organic materials. It’s filled with a blend of shredded Dunlop latex and a sustainable tree fiber called Kapok, which combine to offer a medium-firm feel. Additionally, it has a quick response to pressure that lets the sleeper rest on top of the pillow rather than sink into the material.
One of my favorite things about this pillow is that it’s adjustable, which allows sleepers of all styles to find their perfect loft. If you find this pillow to be too lofty or firm, simply unzip the pillow and remove the stuffing until you’re satisfied! That said, I suggest stomach sleepers remove some fill to reduce the loft before snoozing with this pillow.
This pillow is traditionally shaped, which means you’re more than welcome to dress it with a pillowcase. But its organic cotton cover fabric is hypoallergenic, soft, and easily machine washable (so feel free to enjoy it without a pillowcase!).
For the full scoop on this pillow, be sure to check out my full Avocado pillow review!
Price: $$, with a generous 100-night trial and a 1-year warranty.
Perfect For: The eco-friendly sleeper looking for a supportive pillow with an adjustable design!
Made with all-natural latex, the Avocado pillow is both eco-conscious and supportive!
Best Down Pillow
Brooklinen Natural Down Plush
Stuffed full of Canadian down feathers, this Brooklinen Natural Down Plush Pillow features a high fill power of 600. When shopping for down products, it’s important to note that fill power determines how fluffy and lofty it’ll be (and 600 means very fluffy). Sleepers in the market for big ol’ feather pillows are sure to enjoy this one.
That said, this pillow’s tall 5-inch profile is easily compressed into a low loft of 2-inches, as natural down is a very soft material. In fact, this pillow has a malleable quality that lets you push, press, and fold it to meet your unique needs. As for me, I like to fold one corner under my arm when I’m on my side for extra comfort.
Meanwhile, sleepers with allergies might like to know that this down has been treated with Ultra Fresh Antibacterial Additives, an OEKO-Tex technology used to make it hypoallergenic. So if you tend to avoid real down because of sensitive skin or allergies, just remember that this pillow was crafted to be extra resistant to mold and mildew.
Learn everything there is to know about this pillow in my full Brooklinen Natural Down pillow review!
Price: $$, which is a great value for a natural down pillow. Plus, Brooklinen offers a 365-day return policy and a lifetime warranty.
Perfect For: Sleepers of all styles looking for a soft and lofty pillow filled with 100% real down!
Brooklinen's Pillow provides plush and fluffy comfort for those interested in ethically sourced down! Enjoy 10% off your order with code SLEEPOPOLIS10!
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Neck Pain
Layla Kapok Pillow
Light and airy with a balanced feel, the Layla Kapok Pillow has a high loft that should be comfortable for side sleepers. When lying down, they should feel pressure relief and be able to maintain a healthy sleep posture. The internal fill cradles the head and neck, and you can even remove it to adjust the pillow to your preference.
If you’re intrigued by the Layla Kapok Pillow, read more in my full review!
Perfect For: Side sleepers — naturally!
With its high loft, the Layla Kapok should be super-comfy for side sleepers, and even has adjustable fill!
Best Pillow for Pressure Relief and Neck Pain
Bear is known for their high-quality cooling mattresses, and the brand also makes some fantastic pillows, like the Bear Cooling Foam pillow, a medium-firm, solid foam pillow that’s meant to sleep super cool.
Side and back sleepers will feel their necks nicely supported by medium-loft and LOFT-X foam fill, which has a nice, medium-firm feel. I’d also heartily recommend this pillow to hot sleepers. The fabric really stays cool to the touch and absorbs body heat, and the dual mesh side panels allow for added breathability.
Price: $125 – $145, with a 100-day trial and a two-year warranty.
Best Soft Pillow For Neck Pain
Purple Harmony Pillow
Next up on my list is the Purple Harmony pillow, and I picked it specifically for those looking for a soft pillow that alleviates neck pain.
The Purple Harmony pillows, like Purple mattresses in general, have an extremely unique feel that can be great for those who are looking for something different. We think that it lies on the firmer side of the scale, but it should still have plenty of cushion. It’s also made from a very breathable spandex mesh material that wicks moisture and promotes a ton of airflow through the pillow. As a hot sleeper, I can tell you that this served to draw heat away from my head, and make for a nice, cool snooze.
Why It’s Good For Neck Pain
That said, the real magic lies directly beneath the cover fabric. I’m talking, of course, about the brand’s proprietary Hyper-Elastic Polymer. Hyper-Elastic Polymer is a unique material that’s exceptionally bouncy and durable while remaining somewhat soft, and it’s prominently featured in the Purple Mattress and Purple original pillow.
In the Purple Harmony, the Hyper-Elastic Polymer gives the pillow its shape, and helps it maintain its integrity night after night. Meanwhile, one piece of Talalay latex makes up the core of this pillow, which only adds to its bouncy-quick response to pressure. Why would you want a bouncy pillow, you ask? Well, its buoyant resilience keeps it from going flat no matter the sleeping position.
In my experience, that’s what makes this pillow great for neck pain. The Purple Harmony supported me in every sleeping position, conformed to the natural contours of my head and neck, and bounced back to its original shape every morning.
Read all about it in my full Purple Harmony pillow review!
Price: $179, with a 100-night trial period and a one-year warranty.
The Purple Harmony is great for any position sleeper and is extremely breathable to help you sleep cool through the night!
Choosing The Right Pillow for Neck Pain
Even if you don’t deal with chronic neck pain, choosing the right pillow is crucial to maintaining healthy posture while you sleep. If you’re pretty sure your pillow is responsible for that crick in your neck, it’s time to upgrade your sleep accessories.
I’ve chosen six different pillows designed to meet the needs of a wide range of sleepers, and they all have one very important thing in common — they help you maintain a neutral spine. Now, when it comes to alleviating neck pain, neutral spine alignment is the name of the game. Essentially, this means your head, neck, and spine are all resting in line with their natural curvature, and are not craned or strained in any way. (1)
During the course of my research, I spoke with physical therapist Dr. Keith Poorbaugh of the Sleepopolis Expert Network. He told me that if your head or neck is thrown out of neutral alignment with your spine, you’re not only at greater risk of neck pain, but it’s likely to put pressure on your shoulder and lower lumbar region as well.
Dr. Poorbaugh reminded me that since every body is built differently, the same pillow and position is not going to work for every sleeper. However, he did offer some general tips for finding healthy spine alignment:
- Position — Choose a sleeping position that supports a neutral spine. This could be represented by ears in line with shoulders, or chin in line with sternum. The primary purpose of this is to support the natural C curve of the cervical spine, which will often require pillows to be fluffed up to support the mid-cervical spine.
- Stomach Sleeping — If you can, choose a side-lying position or the supine position. Avoid the prone position, as it tends to position the upper cervical spine at end-range rotation or extension.
- Every Body is Different — Neck pain problems can range from articular (joint-related), myofascial (strains, sprains, trigger points), neurogenic (nerve irritation (tension/compression) or somatosensory (loss of positional awareness). Proper pillow support isn’t the same for everybody.
- Pillow Maintenance — After 6-8 months, check in to see if your pillow is still offering you proper support. If not, replace it as soon as possible.
With neutral spine alignment in mind, let’s dig into this pillow roundup, shall we?
Well, there ya have it, folks. Those are my top pillow picks for sleepers looking to alleviate neck pain. But remember: it would be a shame for your pillow’s hard work to go to waste because you’re sleeping on the wrong mattress. So, if you think it’s time for an upgrade, check out our guide to the best mattresses.
In the meantime, let’s recap the most important points when it comes to alleviating neck pain:
- Neutral Spine Alignment — When you’re lying in bed, you should never feel like your head is being forced out of neutral alignment with your spine. Your ears should be in line with your shoulders, and your chin should be in line with your sternum.
- Loft & Support — Different sleeping positions require different lofts and levels of firmness. Side sleepers are most compatible with a lofty build and medium firm to firm level of support. Back sleepers are best suited to a medium loft and soft-medium firmness.
- Stomach Sleepers — Stomach sleepers need to make sure their pillows are low in loft and soft in feel. The lower the loft, the less likely it is that the head will be craned upward, out of alignment with the spine.
- Adjustability — Being able to adjust the level of loft and support is a good way to customize the support that’s best suited to your specific needs/body type.