Snoozing with a supportive pillow is a great way to maintain healthy posture and guard against neck pain. Of course, with so many options on the market, it can be tough to determine which pillow will bring you sweet dreams… and which will leave you feeling sore and stiff. But never fear — my best pillows for neck pain review is here!
In this guide, I’m presenting the top seven pillows designed to alleviate neck pain and unlock your best sleep potential. Plus, I’ll impart my own tips and tricks for finding the pillows that match each sleeping position so you’re better equipped to find the one that meets your unique needs. Let’s get started!
Best Pillows for Neck Pain
- Best for Stomach Sleepers – Nolah AirFiber Pillow
- Best Cooling Pillow – Bear Pillow
- Best for Side Sleepers – Layla Pillow
- Best Latex – Purple Harmony Pillow
- Editor’s Choice – Casper Pillow
- Best for Combo Sleepers – Saatva Pillow
- Best Memory Foam Pillow – TEMPUR Cloud
- Best Organic – Avocado Pillow
- Best Down Pillow – Brooklinen Pillow
Disclaimer: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative, but shouldn’t replace advice or treatment from a medical professional. If you experience chronic pain or discomfort while sleeping, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional.
Methodology: How To Pick The Right Pillow For Neck Pain
Before I show you my favorite pillows for alleviating neck pain, let’s go over some of the basics. Below, I’ll break down the key factors to consider when picking the right pillow for your position, and let you know how to avoid the ones that might strain your neck!
Finding the Right Loft & Firmness for Neutral Spine Alignment
When it comes to relieving neck pain, neutral spine alignment is the name of the game. You’ll hear me mention this a few times, but promoting neutral spine alignment is your pillow’s most important job (whether you deal with chronic neck pain or not).
Now, you might be wondering, “How am I supposed to know if my spine is in neutral alignment?” Well, here’s a trick I like to use: If your spine is in neutral alignment, your ears should be in line with your shoulders, and your chin should be in line with your sternum. So when you’re lying in bed, take some time to see if your chin is being craned upward, or if your ear is pressed into either shoulder. If so, it’s time to readjust and regain a healthy posture.
That said, it’s important to match your pillow to your preferred sleeping position in order to keep healthy posture. To find the right fit, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the pillow’s loft (height) and firmness rating. So let’s take a closer look at the best loft and firmness for each position:
- Side Sleeping – Side sleepers need a high-lofted pillow with a profile of at least 4-inches tall. This serves to hold the head in neutral alignment with the spine, and relieve pressure at the shoulders as well. Additionally, side sleepers should aim for a pillow with a firmer feel in order to help it maintain its shape and loft throughout the night.
- Stomach Sleeping – Stomach sleepers need a low-lofted pillow with a soft feel in order to keep the head in line with the spine, and prevent it from being craned upwards. That said, stomach sleepers can choose a pillow with a lofty profile, as long as the internal fill is soft enough to compress into a loft of 2-inches or less.
- Back Sleeping – Back sleepers are typically most compatible with a medium level of loft and firmness, but have some room to experiment. Some may prefer a firmer feel, while other back sleepers may enjoy more plush and cushy comfort. Just remember that neutral spine alignment is the most important factor, so if you find that your chin is being pushed toward your chest, your pillow is probably too lofty.
Before we move on to the next factor, remember that you can find a more in-depth explanation of how to keep healthy sleeping posture in my complete guide to picking the right pillow!
Choosing The Right Materials to Guard Against Neck Pain
Once you’ve settled on the right loft and firmness, it’s time to focus on the material details. From foam to feathers, pillows can be filled with all kinds of materials (and each one offers its own unique support!) So let’s explore some of the most popular ones below:
- Memory Foam – Memory foam has a moldable feel and a slow response to pressure, making it a great pick for sleepers who like to sink deeply into their pillow. The memory foam can come in one solid piece, or be shredded for a fluffier, more breathable feel. Back and side sleepers are often most compatible with this material, as it does a great job conforming to the head and neck while maintaining its loft. That said, some memory foam pillows are built with a very low loft to accommodate stomach sleepers (but make sure it’s 2-inches tall or less!).
- Latex – Latex pillows are typically lighter in weight with a bouncy-quick response to pressure. Again, the latex can come in one piece, or be shredded for a more fluffable feel. If you don’t like the feel of memory foam, you may prefer the way latex lets you rest on top of the pillow instead of sinking into it. In my experience, latex pillows can be great for all positions, as they offer a springy kind of support that quickly adapts to each sleep style.
- Down & Down-Alternative – Down and down-alternative pillows offer a soft, compressible feel that’s typically best for stomach sleepers. Stomach sleepers looking to alleviate neck pain might want to start here, as these materials can be fluffed or pressed into the loft that works best. That said, back and side sleepers looking for a high-lofted down pillow with a feathery and firm feel should pay close attention to “fill power.” Fill power ranges from about 300-900, and a higher fill generally produces a loftier and firmer pillow.
If you’re still not totally sure which material sounds right for you, don’t worry — we’re about to get up close and personal with each one. But before we do, there’s one last thing to consider: when to replace your pillow.
When To Replace Your Pillow
Once you’ve found the perfect pillow, it can be tempting to check “cure neck pain” off your list and move on. But replacing a pillow that no longer supports you is a key factor in the fight against neck pain!
That’s why I recommend checking in with your pillow every 6-8 months. If you notice that it’s gone flat, feels lumpy, or is no longer maintaining its shape throughout the night, there’s a good chance it needs to be replaced.
Of course, some pillows filled with soft, compressible materials (like down, down-alternative, or polyester, for example) need to be frequently fluffed in order to maintain integrity. So if you see that your brand new down pillow has lost its loft, don’t throw it away just yet! Instead, give it some enlivening fluffs to bring it back to life.
Okay, folks, now that we’ve covered the main points to consider, let’s dive into this roundup of the best pillows for neck pain!
Best Pillows for Neck Pain 2021 – Top 9 Picks!
Best Pillow for Stomach Sleepers
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!
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
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!
With a phase change cover, the Bear pillow is best for back sleepers who run hot.
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers
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!
A copper infusion in the cover helps to make the Layla pillow ultra cool and comfortable.
Best Latex 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!
The Purple Harmony is great for any position sleeper and is extremely breathable to help you sleep cool through the night!
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!
Sleepers can enjoy Casper's pillow-in-a-pillow design in order to customize the loft and feel!
Best Pillow for Combo Sleepers
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!
A fluffable mix of down-alternative and Talalay latex makes this pillow cozy, cool, and great for combo sleepers!
Best Memory Foam Pillow
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow
If you’re a memory foam fan who sleeps hot, this pillow is especially 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 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: $170-$200, which is 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 Organic Pillow
Eco-friendly sleepers looking to alleviate neck pain with an all-natural pillow are probably 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. So 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: $79-$99, 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
Last (but not least!), I give you the extra fluffy Natural Down Plush Pillow from Brooklinen.
Stuffed full of Canadian white duck down, this 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 a big ol’ feathery pillow 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: $99-$119, 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!
Well sleepers, we’ve reached the end of my guide and you’re well on your way to finding the pillow that’ll fix that crick in your neck. And as you carefully consider all your options, don’t forget to pay close attention to materials, loft, and firmness in order to find your perfect pillow match. Oh, and be sure to follow Sleepopolis on social media, and subscribe to our YouTube channel! Happy sleeping, everybody.
What is the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain?
In order to alleviate neck pain, side sleepers need a pillow with a lofty profile and medium to firm level of support. This will serve to hold the head, neck, and spine in healthy neutral alignment.
Can pillows cause neck pain?
Sleeping with a pillow that doesn’t properly support you can definitely cause neck pain! That’s why it’s so important to pick the sleep accessories that fit your body type and support you in your go-to position.
Is sleeping without a pillow better for your neck?
Back and stomach sleepers may find that sleeping without a pillow helps them maintain neutral spine alignment, but side sleepers need a pillow in order to keep healthy posture and relieve pressure at the shoulders and hips.