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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.

Back and Side Sleepers
SpineAlign Pillow by Dr. Loth
SpineAlign Pillow by Dr. Loth
SpineAlign Pillow by Dr. Loth

Three adjustable chambers help back and side sleepers maintain proper spine alignment throughout the night! Enjoy a special discount by using our link!

Shoulder Pressure Relief
Layla Pillow
Layla Pillow
Layla Pillow

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

Side Sleepers
Nest Bedding Easy Breather Side Sleeper Pillow
Nest Bedding Easy Breather Side Sleeper Pillow
Nest Bedding Easy Breather Side Sleeper Pillow

Shredded memory foam makes the Easy Breather pillow a dream to sleep on! Save 8% on your Nest purchase with the code SLEEPOP8!

Combination Sleepers
Avocado Pillow
Avocado Pillow
Avocado Pillow

Made with all-natural latex, the Avocado pillow is both eco-friendly and supportive! 

Stomach Sleepers
Pillow Guy Down Alternative Pillow
Pillow Guy Down Alternative Pillow
Pillow Guy Down Alternative Pillow

A cushiony down alternative makes these Pillow Guy pillows super soft and flexible. Use code SLEEPOPOLIS to get 15% off your order!

Back Sleepers
I Love My Pillow Out Cold
I Love My Pillow Out Cold
I Love My Pillow Out Cold

This pillow features a dual construction so that sleepers can choose between a cool, contoured feel, or soft, traditional support! Enjoy a special discount by using our link!

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 Back and Side Sleepers

Sleeping on my back on the SpineAlign

SpineAlign Pillow by Dr. Loth

The first pillow I want to show you is the SpineAlign by Dr. Loth. This is a contour pillow (also known as a cervical spine pillow) that was designed by a chiropractor specifically for back and side sleepers.

The SpineAlign pillow features a unique construction meant to help back and side sleepers maintain neutral spine alignment throughout the night. It features three chambers two with higher loft for side sleepers, and one middle chamber with lower loft for back sleepers.

The higher loft of the side chambers is going to help folks in the lateral position relieve pressure in the shoulders, and keep the head and neck in healthy alignment. Meanwhile, back sleepers can comfortably rest in the middle, between the higher lofted sides. For back sleepers, the taller side chambers serve to keep the head comfortably held in place so you won’t deviate out of alignment.

This pillow is filled with a proprietary blend of fiber and foam, and it offers a slow response to pressure. This allows the pillow to conform to your head and neck, while maintaining its shape everywhere else. Additionally, it’s adjustable which offers sleepers the ability to personalize the loft and level of firmness to their liking (don’t be afraid to move fill from one chamber into another chamber!).

Oh, and an interesting feature of this pillow is that the side with the company’s logo was built to have higher loft to accommodate sleepers who are 5’7” and taller, while the other side has a lower loft, better suited for sleepers who are shorter than 5’7”.

Watch me test the full performance of this pillow in my SpineAlign Pillow review.

Pricing: $129 or $149, depending on whether you choose a standard or queen size pillow.

Perfect for: Back and side sleepers who like a slow response to pressure!

SpineAlign Pillow by Dr. Loth
SpineAlign Pillow by Dr. Loth

Three adjustable chambers help back and side sleepers maintain proper spine alignment throughout the night! Enjoy a special discount by using our link!

Best Pillow for Shoulder Pressure Relief

Holding on tight to the Layla pillow

Layla

Up next is the Layla pillow! I chose this pillow because it’s got a very lofty build full of shredded memory foam and a natural tree fiber called Kapok.

The Kapok has a light, airy and fluffable quality, while the shreds of memory foam are more dense and resilient, striking a satisfying balance between plushness and support.

The Layla pillow’s super lofty build is going to be particularly beneficial for those with broader shoulders. The high loft and fluffy Kapok serve to relieve pressure in the shoulders, while also allowing the memory foam to conform to the head and neck. Broad shouldered side sleepers might benefit from this pillow the most, as they need a taller profile in order to relieve joint pressure, while also maintaining a neutral spine.

Because of this very tall build, though, I do not recommend this pillow for stomach sleepers. (Don’t worry, stomach sleepers — I’ll be getting to you soon!). However, this pillow is also adjustable, allowing sleepers the opportunity to manipulate the fill in order to customize the loft and level of support.

For the full scoop on this pillow, check out my Layla pillow review.

Pricing: $79 – $99, depending on whether you choose the queen or king size.

Perfect for: Back and side sleepers who need extra pressure relief in their shoulders!

Layla Pillow
Layla Pillow

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

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

Nest Bedding Easy Breather Side Sleeper

Here we have the Easy Breather Side Sleeper pillow from Nest Bedding. And as the name suggests, this pillow is tailor-made for folks who stick to the lateral position.

Similar to the Layla, the Easy Breather Side Sleeper is packed full of shredded memory foam which gives it great moldability, and a nice slow response to pressure. This helps the pillow conform to your head and neck which, in turn, helps hold your posture in a healthy, neutral alignment.

However, unlike the Layla, the memory foam in this pillow isn’t blended with any other material which creates a more densely supportive feel. In general, side sleepers are better suited to a firmer level of support and a higher loft, so this pillow is going to be most compatible with side sleepers.

The thing that makes this pillow exceptionally useful for alleviating neck pain, though, is its unique boomerang-shaped construction. The sides are built to be much loftier while the middle is thinner, allowing side sleepers to seamlessly roll back and forth without losing that healthy posture.

This pillow is also adjustable! And the reason I’m choosing so many adjustable pillows is that we all sleep differently, and we all have unique needs. When you’re trying to alleviate neck pain, a one-size-fits-all approach does not apply, so being able to personalize the level of support that’s best for your body can be very beneficial.

Want all the details on this pillow? Check out my full review of the Easy Breather Side Sleeper.

Pricing: This pillow comes in one size, and is $120.

Perfect for: Side sleepers who like to roll back and forth throughout the night.

Save 8%
Nest Bedding Easy Breather Side Sleeper Pillow
Nest Bedding Easy Breather Side Sleeper Pillow

Shredded memory foam makes the Easy Breather pillow a dream to sleep on! Save 8% on your Nest purchase with the code SLEEPOP8!

Best Pillow for Combination Sleepers

Avocado

Next up is the Avocado pillow! This bad boy made the list because it’s designed to offer supportive pressure relief to sleepers of all styles.

It’s filled with an even mix of natural Dunlop latex shreds and Kapok (the natural tree fiber we saw in the Layla pillow). So, folks who like to “sleep green” can enjoy the eco-friendly element at play here, as this pillow is exclusively filled with organic, sustainably harvested materials.

The Kapok gives this pillow some nice, plush fluffability, while the latex offers a bouncier, quicker response to pressure. So, the internal fill conforms to your head and neck (helping the sleeper to keep neutral spine alignment), but lets your head rest on top of the pillow rather than deeply sink into it. Sleepers who don’t love that slow sink into a memory foam pillow might be particularly compatible with the Avocado.

As far as loft and firmness are concerned, the Avocado offers this happy medium quality that lends itself well to all sleeping positions. It’s got a medium level of loft and a medium firmness, but it’s also adjustable. If you want to reduce the loft for some stomach sleeping, simply reach in and remove as much fill as you like.

Find out everything there is to know about this pillow in my full Avocado pillow review.

Pricing: This pillow comes in standard, queen, and king sizes, and ranges from $79-$99.

Perfect for: Combination sleepers who like to go green.

Avocado Pillow
Avocado Pillow

Made with all-natural latex, the Avocado pillow is both eco-friendly and supportive! 

Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers

Pillow Guy

Okay, stomach sleepers — this is your moment. I give you the Pillow Guy Stomach Sleeper. But, before we get into this pillow’s construction, let’s talk a little bit about stomach sleeping.

Stomach sleeping can be kind of a tricky position, and Dr. Poorbaugh is one of many sleep experts who advise against sleeping in the prone position. You see, when you’re lying on your stomach, you’re at greater risk for putting too much pressure on your neural arch (the bony areas of your upper spine), your lower abdomen, and lower back. (2)

However, Dr. Poorbaugh did tell me that, “to mitigate the risk of stomach sleeping for articular pain in the shoulder or spine, the best option is to utilize proper pillow support.”

So, if you are a fan of the prone position, I strongly suggest you check out my Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers review. In the meantime, the key thing to remember is a low loft, and a soft level of firmness.

A soft level of support and low loft keeps your head from craning upwards, allowing you to keep a neutral spine and healthy posture. Pillow Guy’s Stomach Sleeper is filled with the brand’s proprietary poly-gel fiber which is very soft and compressible. Of every pillow I’ve ever tested, this one is able to achieve the lowest loft. Remember: the lower the loft, the better.

That said, I don’t find this pillow to be beneficial for any position other than stomach sleeping. It really provides just the slightest buffer between you and your mattress, which is really only ideal for the prone position.

If you’re a stomach sleeper and you’re experiencing neck pain or bodily discomfort, you might want to check out our Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers review as well.

Want to know more about this pillow? Check out my full Pillow Guy review.

Pricing: $79-$99, depending on whether you pick the standard, queen, or the king size.

Perfect for: Stomach sleepers only!

Take 15% off your order!
Pillow Guy Down Alternative Pillow
Pillow Guy Down Alternative Pillow

A cushiony down alternative makes these Pillow Guy pillows super soft and flexible. Use code SLEEPOPOLIS to get 15% off your order!

Best Pillow for Back Sleepers

I Love My Pillow Out Cold

And last (but not least!) is the Out Cold pillow from I Love My Pillow. I chose this pillow because it’s got a dual construction wherein one side has a flat loft, and the other side features a shallow contour in the center. So, while this pillow is not adjustable, sleepers do have the option to experiment with which side provides the best support.

This pillow is filled with one solid piece of the brand’s proprietary foam, and it’s designed to offer sleepers a slow, deep sink into the material. This is going to be a great option for folks who love the feel of solid memory foam as opposed to shredded memory foam.

The foam in this pillow does a great job of conforming to your shape and holding your head in neutral alignment with your spine. But the contoured side gives back sleepers, specifically, a little extra help maintaining a neutral spine, as it cradles the head when in the supine position.

Not to mention, it’s called “Out Cold” because the contoured side of pillow is covered in icy-crisp phase change material. The cooling quality of the phase change material can potentially serve to ease muscle inflammation, as well as counteract the heat retention that is common with solid memory foam. (3)

Want all the details on this pillow? Check out my I Love My Pillow review.

Pricing: $119 or $129, depending on whether you pick a queen or a king size.

Perfect for: Back sleepers who run hot, and love the slow sink into memory foam!

I Love My Pillow Out Cold
I Love My Pillow Out Cold

This pillow features a dual construction so that sleepers can choose between a cool, contoured feel, or soft, traditional support! Enjoy a special discount by using our link!

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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