Waking up with neck pain is sure to put a damper on your morning, and there’s a good chance your pillow is the root of the problem. If your pillow isn’t supporting your head and neck properly as you sleep, your neck muscles can tense up during the night, resulting in a stiff neck come morning.
That’s why using a quality pillow is so important. There’s no one pillow that’s right for everyone, though, which can make shopping for one quite tricky. Your pillow should cradle your head while keeping your spine and neck in a neutral position, and you might need a thicker or thinner option, depending on your usual sleep position. There are also lots of different pillow materials to choose from, including memory foam, latex, down, and even...water?
Here, the best pillows for neck pain.
Best Overall: Misiki Memory Foam Orthopedic Pillow
It might look a little wild, but the Misiki Cervical Memory Foam Pillow is a game-changer for those with neck pain. Cervical pillows are ergonomically designed to support your neck and head, promoting better spinal alignment and relieving pressure, and this product’s unconventional design allows it to be used in any sleep position—yes, that includes stomach sleeping!
This pillow is made from memory foam with a washable polyester cover, and it features a neck contour, head contour, and armrests, allowing you to find a position that’s comfortable yet supportive. Not convinced this unusual pillow can solve your sleep woes? Just read some of the glowing reviews from happy buyers, many of whom say the pillow is a must-have if you’re suffering from neck pain.
Best Budget: Milemont Memory Foam Cervical Pillow
Thanks to the Milemont Memory Foam Pillow, a good night's sleep doesn't have to cost you. The pillow is crafted from premium high-density memory foam with small channels to improve breathability, and it has a curved form that cradles your head at night. This shape supports the cervical curve of your neck, which is key to reducing neck pain. The pillow is covered in a washable case for easy maintenance, and it’s an unbeatable budget pick for all sleeping positions.
Best Cervical: Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow
The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow doesn’t look like your average pillow—and that’s because it’s not. This ergonomically-designed product is ideal for anyone who experiences neck pain in the morning, as its unique curved design cradles your head and supports your neck, keeping your body in proper alignment all night long. Plus, it comes in three sizes, allowing you to pick the perfect option to suit your frame.
This ergonomic pillow has a single piece of contoured TEMPUR foam inside, and it’s shaped in a way that provides alignment and support to your neck and shoulders. The inner foam is wrapped in a removable and washable cover made from hypoallergenic material, ensuring it’s easy to keep clean without a traditional pillowcase.
The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow is best for side and back sleepers, and reviewers swear it’s a life-saver for anyone with neck pain.
Best for Side Sleepers: Eli & Elm Cotton Side Sleeper Pillow
If you typically sleep on your side, you know there’s often a battle that happens between your pillow and your shoulder, as they’re both trying to occupy the same space. However, we’re happy to tell you that there’s a solution to this age-old struggle, and it’s the Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow.
Engineered with side sleepers in mind, this unique headrest has a U-shaped design that ensures your shoulder always has somewhere to go and your spine can stay in a comfortable position.
The pillow is filled with a mixture of shredded latex and polyester fiber, and it’s wrapped in a cotton-polyester cover. What’s nice is that you can unzip the pillow and remove—or add—filling, changing the height and firmness of the pillow to perfectly suit your preferences.
Best for Back Sleepers: Purple Harmony Pillow
If you generally drift off to dreamland on your back, the Purple Harmony Pillow can help ease your aches and pains thanks to its Purple Grid Hex, which instantly adapts to your head and neck for personalized comfort all night. The Harmony Pillow also has a latex core and moisture-wicking cover, all of which come together to create an oh-so-comfy and super-breathable spot to rest your head.
This pillow is available in two sizes, but the standard option, which is 6.5-inches tall, is recommended for back sleepers. The inner Purple Grid Hex helps the pillow maintain its shape over time, and you'll love that it's soft, bouncy, and supportive enough to reduce neck and back pain.
Best for Stomach Sleepers: Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Stomach sleepers are often overlooked in the pillow world, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! One of the best options for those who like to sleep on their stomachs is Bluewave Bedding's Ultra Slim Pillow, which is under three inches high to keep stomach sleepers' spines aligned during the night. It's filled with CertiPUR-US certified memory foam and comes with a machine-washable cover made from a combination of polyester and bamboo, which will help keep you cool.
Not only that, but the foam is infused with gel and has ventilation holes to maximize airflow and keep things cool. If you really want a barely-there pillow, there's also the Hyper Slim Pillow, which comes in at just 2.25-inches tall.
Best Memory Foam: Coop Home Goods The Original Pillow
Coop Home Goods' cult-favorite Original Pillow is a top choice for anyone with neck pain, as it has an adjustable design that lets you tailor its shape to suit your needs. The pillow comes in both Queen and King sizes, and it’s filled with a medium-firm shredded memory foam. Each pillow comes with a half-pound bag of extra filling, allowing you to add or remove memory foam. The end result? An unbelievably comfortable pillow that perfectly suits your body and sleep style, making aches and pains a thing of the past.
Best Latex: Coyuchi Turiya Organic Latex Pillow
If you tend to sleep hot, a latex pillow like Coyuchi's Turiya Pillow might be just what you need. Latex is naturally more breathable and bouncy than memory foam, plus it also resists mold and mildew and naturally repels dust mites.
Even with the appealing properties of latex, what you'll love most about the Turiya Pillow is its thoughtful form. The pillow has a large contour in the center where back sleepers can comfortably (and ergonomically) rest their heads, and there are two smaller divots where side sleepers can arrange their ears, taking pressure off these sensitive areas. Plus, the whole thing is wrapped in a washable cotton sateen cover that makes it a breeze to care for.
Best Down: Brooklinen Down Pillow
The Brooklinen Down Pillow is delightfully soft and lofty, and its squishy form allows you to better mold the pillow to suit your sleeping position. It's available in two sizes and three support levels—plush, mid-plush, and firm—and it’s filled with down clusters and feathers that are treated with antimicrobials to prevent mildew from forming.
These down pillows from Brooklinen have a comfortable cotton sateen shell with double-stitched edges for durability, and the mid-plush and firm options feature an extra supportive inner layer of feathers. The brand recommends its firm pillow for side sleepers and the plush option for stomach sleepers—either way, the billowy soft feel will lull you to sleep in no time.
Best Water-Filled: Mediflow The Water Pillow
It might sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but a water-filled pillow might be exactly what you need to help alleviate neck pain. Unlike traditional pillows, water pillows provide dynamic support no matter which way you sleep or move around, ensuring comfort throughout the night. Here's how it works: The pillow contains a fully sealed and insulated water pouch, which you fill to your preferred firmness level. (Yup, it's totally customizable too.) The pouch is covered by a polyester fiber layer, and the whole thing is encased in a comfy cotton shell.
Because it's so dynamic, it's suitable for all sleeping positions—including stomach sleepers, who are notoriously difficult to shop for. If you're still not convinced or want to try it for yourself with no risk, take note that you get a 30-night trial period before you have to commit.
Best Adjustable: Layla Kapok Pillow
Stomach sleepers are often overlooked in the pillow world, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! One of the best options for those who like to sleep on their stomachs is the Layla Kapok Pillow, which has an adjustable design that allows you to take out as much fill as you need to get comfy. Stomach sleepers typically need a thinner pillow to keep their spine neutral, so this feature is key.
The Kapok Pillow is filled with a mixture of shredded memory foam and Kapok fiber, which is a soft and airy alternative to cotton that provides a longer-lasting loft. The pillow is then wrapped in a copper-infused cover, which helps to reduce odor and keep you cool throughout the night.
Best Neck Roll: Healthex Cervical Neck Roll Pillow
Neck roll pillows don't really look like they're meant for sleeping on, but they actually provide a good deal of support and promote spinal alignment. The Healthex Neck Roll Pillow is a great option for back sleepers—it's made with a memory foam fill and has a washable, hypoallergenic bamboo cover that's breathable and comfortable to sleep on. The cylindrical shape conforms to the shape of your body and keeps your shoulders aligned while sleeping on your back, all while absorbing pressure and supporting the head.
The best part about this pillow is its versatility—not only can you use it on your neck, but you can also use it as a lumbar pillow for your lower back while you're sitting up or lying down. Plus, side sleepers can use it between their knees to keep their spines aligned while sleeping.
Overall, our top pick is the Misiki Orthopedic Pillow (view on Amazon) for its ergonomic butterfly design, easy-to-clean cover, and functionality—it's rare to find a pillow that works for all types of sleepers. For a more affordable option, we recommend the Milemont Memory Foam Pillow (view on Amazon) because it's made of high-density foam and has an ergonomic curved shape.
What to Look For in a Pillow for Neck Pain
The world of ergonomic, neck-friendly pillows is full of shapes beyond your classic rectangular pillow. The most important term to know is "cervical pillow", which refers to a pillow that is ergonomically-designed to alleviate tension in the neck and promote proper spinal alignment. These pillows typically have a wavy shape with a length-wise indentation for your neck, and are best for side or back sleepers. Other options include "butterfly"-shaped pillows, which work for all sleep positions, horseshoe-shaped pillows for side sleepers, and even neck rolls, which are basically bolster pillows for sleeping.
Super soft, squishy pillows may sound great in theory, but they're the last thing you should use if you have neck pain. Soft pillows lack support, so you should go with something extra-firm instead. Beware that this switch will probably take a few weeks to get used to, and it's recommended that you start slow and use a firmer pillow a few nights a week, gradually increasing until you're used to the feel.
The best types of pillows for neck pain are typically filled with memory foam, a supportive material that's also comfortable. If you're not ready to say goodbye to down or down alternative pillows, make sure you're choosing one that's extra-firm to give you the proper support you need. Hot sleepers should go with gel-infused memory foam or latex, both of which are cooler and more breathable than standard memory foam. Another surprising option? Water-filled pillows, which offer dynamic support no matter which position you're in.
Why You Should Trust Us
Camryn Rabideau writes about furniture, décor, and home furnishings for MyDomaine. She considers herself somewhat of a pillow elitist, and she can’t imagine life without her Coop Home Goods Pillow, which looks as good as new even after years of use.
Bohringer K, Cuda A, Maurer D. What Pillow Types Are Best For Neck Pain?. Evid Based Pract. 2016;19(4). doi:10.1097/01.EBP.0000541203.98666.08