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Best Pillow for Neck Pain

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 six 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.

Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers
Nolah AirFoam
Nolah AirFoam
Nolah AirFoam

The fluffy down-alternative in this pillow allows sleepers to shape and fold it until they've found the loft and firmness of their liking!

Best Cooling Pillow
Bear Pillow
Bear Pillow
Bear Pillow

With a phase change cover, the Bear pillow is best for back sleepers who run hot. Use code SLEEPOPOLIS to save 20% on your purchase!

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers
Layla Pillow
Layla Pillow
Layla Pillow

A copper infusion in the cover helps to make the Layla pillow ultra cool and comfortable. 

Editor’s Choice
Casper Pillow
Casper Pillow
Casper Pillow

Sleepers can enjoy Casper's pillow-in-a-pillow design in order to customize the loft and feel!

Best Latex Pillow
Purple Harmony Pillow
Purple Harmony Pillow
Purple Harmony Pillow

The Purple Harmony is great for any position sleeper and is extremely breathable to help you sleep cool through the night!

Doesn't expire

Best Pillow for Combo Sleepers
Saatva Pillow
Saatva Pillow
Saatva Pillow

A fluffable mix of down-alternative and Talalay latex makes this pillow cozy, cool, and great for combo sleepers! 

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.

Spinal Alignment

With neutral spine alignment in mind, let’s dig into this pillow roundup, shall we?

The Best Pillows for Neck Pain

Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleeping on the Nolah pillow

Nolah AirFoam

Okay, stomach sleepers — this one’s for you. The Nolah AirFiber pillow is soft, fluffy, and made with the prone position in mind. 

Filled with the brand’s proprietary down-alternative, the Nolah AirFiber pillow is super soft and compressible into a very loft. Remember: stomach sleepers need a soft, low-lofted pillow in order to maintain healthy posture and alleviate neck pain. That said, this pillow can be pushed, folded, and pressed into a loft of less than an inch! 

Stomach sleepers who love the feel of real down but don’t want to sleep on animal products are probably going to be most compatible with this pillow. It’s crafted to feel feathery but, rest assured, no real feathers are used to make it! It’s 100% hypoallergenic, so those with down allergies should feel free to roll around with the Nolah AirFiber.  

Plus, its cotton cover fabric is infused with Phase Change Material, a super cooling textile used to pull heat away from the body.

Stomach sleepers who run hot should definitely peruse my Nolah pillow review

Price: starting from $79, with a 120-night trial period!

Perfect For: Stomach sleepers looking for a fluffy, feathery, cooling pillow!

Nolah AirFoam
Nolah AirFoam
Nolah AirFoam

The fluffy down-alternative in this pillow allows sleepers to shape and fold it until they've found the loft and firmness of their liking!

Best Cooling Pillow

The Bear Pillow is great for those looking to sleep cool

Bear Pillow

If you’re looking to alleviate neck pain and stay cool at the same time, the Bear Pillow is probably the pick for you. 

Covered in Phase Change Material and filled with ventilated foam, every part of this pillow was made with hot sleepers in mind. For those who are unfamiliar, Phase Change Material is a super cooling textile that’s prominently featured in the world of bedding. It’s designed to make fabric feel icy-cool to the touch (no matter how many times you wash it). 

The foam in this pillow is the brand’s proprietary formula, and it’s got a medium-firm feel. In my experience, its supportive level of firmness held my head, neck, and spine in neutral alignment and promoted healthy posture while I slept. Not to mention, its ventilated channels prevented the foam from trapping my body heat! 

Another cool thing about this pillow is that mesh panels cap each end, serving to further boost its overall breathability. If you tend to avoid foam pillows because of their reputation for heating up, rest assured that this is one very cooling and airy pillow.

For all the details, be sure to dive into my full Bear pillow review

Price: $95-$115, with a 100-night trial period.

Perfect For: Sleepers looking for  a very cooling and breathable pillow!

Save 20%
Bear Pillow
Bear Pillow
Bear Pillow

With a phase change cover, the Bear pillow is best for back sleepers who run hot. Use code SLEEPOPOLIS to save 20% on your purchase!

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

Trying out the Layla pillow for side sleeping

Layla Pillow

Side sleepers looking for a very lofty pillow to alleviate their neck pain should look no further than Layla!

Stuffed full of shredded memory foam and Kapok, this pillow features an exceptionally lofty 7-inch profile. As I mentioned, this is particularly beneficial to side sleepers, as a lofty pillow of at least 4-inches is needed to keep healthy posture and relieve shoulder pressure. That said, this is one of the loftiest pillows I’ve ever tested, which might make it best-suited to those with broad shoulders. 

As a hot sleeper, one of my favorite things about this pillow is its copper-infused cover fabric! It’s primarily made from polyester (which feels very soft to the touch), but has copper threads discreetly woven into the material in order to draw heat away from the body.

If you want to know more about my personal experience snoozing with this pillow, check out my full Layla pillow review

Price: $99-$119, with a 120-night trial period and a 5-year warranty! 

Perfect For: Side sleepers looking for a lofty pillow to alleviate their neck and shoulder pain!

Layla Pillow
Layla Pillow
Layla Pillow

A copper infusion in the cover helps to make the Layla pillow ultra cool and comfortable. 

Editor’s Choice

The Casper Down Pillow

Casper Pillow

Next up is the Casper down pillow, a perfect stomach sleeping accessory for folks who love a soft and fluffy feel. 

This pillow is filled with 100% ethically sourced down, and kind of reminds me of the pillows I’ve enjoyed at hotels. It’s very plush and feathery, but is soft enough to compress into a low loft of less than an inch. 

In my experience, that’s what makes it so great for stomach sleeping! It offers a cozy, cloud-like feel with a low profile that helps stomach sleepers maintain healthy posture. Remember: Stomach sleepers need a soft, low-lofted pillow in order to keep neutral spine alignment and prevent strain on the neck.

Personally, one of my favorite things about this pillow is that it’s machine washable. Pillows filled with real down are often spot-clean or dry-clean only, but this one can be washed and dried by machine. Stomach sleepers who prioritize easy wash care should definitely give it a try; 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: $125-$165, with a 100-night trial period to personally test it. 

Perfect For: Stomach sleepers who love the fluffy, soft feel of real down!

Casper Pillow
Casper Pillow
Casper Pillow

Sleepers can enjoy Casper's pillow-in-a-pillow design in order to customize the loft and feel!

Best Latex Pillow

The Purple Harmony Pillow

Purple Harmony Pillow

First on my list is the Purple Harmony, an all-position pillow designed to support you whether you snooze on your back, side, or stomach.

Made from a combination of Talalay latex and Hyper-Elastic Polymer, this pillow offers a springy kind of support that adapts to the natural contours of your head and neck. For those unfamiliar, Hyper-Elastic Polymer is the brand’s proprietary material, designed to be super bouncy and durable. It’s kind of rubbery, has a very quick response to pressure, and helps this pillow maintain its shape. 

In my experience, this pillow’s quick response to pressure served to hold my head, neck, and spine in neutral alignment. I was also impressed by how it returned to its original shape every morning, rather than losing its loft and support. Plus, its ability to support me in every position makes it an excellent choice for combo sleepers.

Additionally, hot sleepers might like to know that every part of this pillow’s construction is ventilated for better breathability! For more about my personal experience snoozing with the pillow, be sure to check out  my full Purple Harmony review

Price: $160, which might be a little out of some folks’ price range; but keep in mind that you’ve got a 100-night trial period to test it out. 

Perfect For: Combo sleepers looking for a bouncy and breathable pillow! 

Purple Harmony Pillow
Purple Harmony Pillow
Purple Harmony Pillow

The Purple Harmony is great for any position sleeper and is extremely breathable to help you sleep cool through the night!

Best Pillow for Combo Sleepers

The Saatva pillow is great for combo sleepers

Saatva 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: $145-$165, with a 45-day trial period.

Perfect For: Combo sleepers looking for an all-position pillow with an adjustable loft!

Saatva Pillow
Saatva Pillow
Saatva Pillow

A fluffable mix of down-alternative and Talalay latex makes this pillow cozy, cool, and great for combo sleepers! 

Final Thoughts

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.
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Sarah is the Senior Writer and bedding expert at Sleepopolis. Every week, she personally tests and reviews new pillows, sheet sets, and other sleep accessories. She accompanies every video review with a meticulously detailed article to ensure her audience has all the pertinent info they need for the best shopping experience possible. Perhaps that’s why her fans have dubbed her “the most thorough pillow reviewer on the Internet.” Having tested everything from sleep trackers to mattress toppers, Sarah's expertise runs deep and is always expanding. She received her degree in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College and spends her free time doing stand-up, making pasta, and hanging with her cats.
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