There is nothing worse than waking up with neck pain and a headache.
Here I’m going to show you my top picks for the best pillows to help with neck pain.
Whether your back, side or stomach sleeper I’ve got something for you.
Table of Contents
Buying A Pillow For Neck Pain
But before I get into my top picks, let’s talk about some of the things that you should look for if you’re shopping for a pillow to help with your neck pain.
First of all, you want to think about your alignment.
Your pillow should help you maintain what is called a neutral alignment. This means that if you’re resting on your side, your ears will line up with your shoulders. But if you’re resting on your back or your stomach, you want your chin to line up with your sternum.
Along those same lines, you also want to think about the loft of your pillow. This can depend on your sleeping position as well.
For example, if you’re a side sleeper and you have a really low loft pillow, that means that your neck is going to crane out of alignment, which can cause pain.
Similarly you want to think about your pillow’s firmness level. If it feels nice and firm and lofty and supportive at first but if it sinks during the night, that’s not good.
Let’s also talk about body type. If you are a petite person, you need a medium loft pillow. But if you’re larger and you have a bigger head to support, you’re going to want to make sure that your pillow is a little bit taller, especially if you’re resting on your side.
And last but not least, let’s talk about what your pillow feels like. This is up to your personal preference.
You can find pillows that will help with your neck pain whether they are down, down alternative or pure memory foam.
Ultimately it just depends on what you like. Do you want your head to sink into a cloud like comfort? Or do you want to feel that malleable, fluffy pillow?
Either way I’ve got some great options for you.
So let’s start.
My Top Pick
First up, the pillow that I personally sleep on every night – the Tuft & Needle.
I am a combination back and side sleeper and this pillow is the perfect loft for me.
But what also I love about it is that it doesn’t sink or compress as the night goes on. Whenever I switch to my side in the middle of the night, I still get that support that I need.
This pillow was a game changer for me. I thought that I was grinding my teeth and waking up with headaches because of that. Turns out I was just sleeping on a really crummy pillow and this one changed the game for me.
But a couple other really cool features about this is that it’s also super breathable. This pillow has a soft breathable cover. The foam inside is actually ventilated for airflow so it doesn’t trap body heat.
Another great thing is that this is one of the more affordable options on my list and I expect it to last a long time.
Best Orthopedic Pillow
Next up is the best orthopedic pillow.
If you didn’t know orthopedic is a fancy way of saying that it will help you maintain a neutral alignment, which as we now know will help you with your neck pain.
The Saatva pillow has a unique construction.
The cover is 100% organic cotton. Very soft, it’s the same kind of cotton that you’ll find in their mattresses.
It’s also breathable, so it’s not going to trap heat super easily.
In the first layer you’ll find some micro denier fiber. This feels a lot like down, it’s fluffy and malleable and super luxurious and soft.
In the core you’ll find pieces of shredded talalay latex foam. Talalay latex is especially durable, even more durable than dunlop latex.
Because it’s shredded, it provides plenty of room for airflow, but still creates that pressure relief that you need.
Overall I say that this pillow is medium firm so it’s best suited for back sleepers.
Best Foam Pillow For Neck Pain
My next pick is excellent for folks who want a traditional all foam pillow and it comes from customer favorite brand Casper.
Casper already is known for making mattresses that help people who deal with hip and back pain. And their pillow of course helps those with neck pain.
It also has a unique construction because even though it’s entirely made out of foam, it has three layers to it.
It has a mix of high density and low density foam, which combines to create the optimal
support that you need.
Best yet, this pillow is available in two loft options. So if you are a back or a side sleeper, I recommend getting the mid loft because it will provide the support that you need.
But if you rest on your stomach, you’re going to want something with lower loft, so opt for the smaller version.
But if you don’t know which one to get, don’t stress about it. Casper does offer a 30 night sleep trial period.
You have a couple of weeks to try it out within the comfort of your home. If you decide that the low loft isn’t working for you, exchange it for the middle off and vice versa.
Best Soft Pillow For Neck Pain
My next pick is great for those who are looking for something especially luxurious, plush and slow moving.
I’m talking about the Tempur-cloud pillow. Like its name suggests, this pillow comes from the famous mattress brand Tempur-pedic.
When most people visualize memory foam in their head, this is what they’re thinking of.
When you press your hand into it, it leaves an imprint of your palm for a good few seconds, so it’s super slow moving and lovely.
However you will sink into this pillow a little bit, so because of that I think it works really really well for back sleepers.
Best Firm Pillow For Neck Pain
Last but not least, I’ve got the Purple pillow.
This is my pick for the best firm pillow. It has a super unique construction. You’re really not going to find another pillow like this anywhere else.
It consists mostly of a three inch layer of their proprietary gel grid. This is a little bit thicker and wider than the grid you’ll find in their mattresses, but it’s essentially the same thing.
It feels super squishy in your hands, but as soon as you apply pressure it gets pretty firm.
What’s also cool about this pillow is that it comes with several cloth boosters. So if the three inch height just isn’t working for you, you can easily make it taller. That’s why I suggest this pillow for bigger people.
Because if you have a larger head to support, you’re really going to want to keep it elevated to keep it in that neutral alignment.
The Purple pillow works really well for hot sleepers because that gel grid has plenty of room for airflow and you’re not going to trap heat.
Still got questions? Not to worry. I’m here to help you out.
The first question I get asked all the time is what is the best pillow for neck pain?
I just gave you a full list of great pillows and ultimately it comes down to your personal. preference
As you know I’m a big fan of the Tuft & Needle, but if you’re looking for something different, something firmer opt for the Purple. Something soft and slow moving and luxurious, opt for the Tempur-cloud.
Why does my pillow make my neck hurt?
I was right there with you for the longest time and for me personally, my previous pillow was just too low of a loft and it was getting my neck out of alignment and was causing a lot of pain.
It really depends on what you currently have.
But you want to make sure that your pillow is at a good loft and that it is supportive , especially if you’re resting on your side.
But if you’re a stomach sleeper, get something super low loft because that will help your back of your neck stay in a good alignment.
What is the most affordable pillow for neck pain?
You’re gonna find tons of pillows out there and some of them will have lower price points than the one that I suggested, but sometimes it’s worth dishing out a little bit of extra money to make sure that your pillow lasts a long time and then you’re not waking up with aches and pains.
Don’t be afraid to spend a little bit extra, it’ll last you a while.
Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.