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Do you wake up each morning with pain in your neck? You’re not alone: Neck pain is a very common condition that can lead to considerable pain and even disability.

While it tends to have the most impact in middle age, neck pain can affect anyone. Pain following injury may resolve in a few days or weeks, but some people may have chronic issues.

Your sleeping position and pillow may play a role in continuing pain. For that reason, experts recommend choosing a pillow that helps support the neck and its natural curve.

We rounded up a list of top consumer-rated pillow options that can help relieve neck pain while you sleep.

We looked mainly for foam and latex pillows. Why? Because research suggests that these materials are helpful for people with neck pain. According to a 2020 study, latex and memory foam pillows may offer more support than traditional pillows and may help reduce neck fatigue.

Additionally, we looked for ergonomic pillows designed to provide ample cervical support without elevating the head too much. A 2021 study found that increased pillow height changes the way your spine curves and increases pressure in your cervical spine, or neck.

Finally, we still included several alternative pillow options, like models filled with down and buckwheat, since a foam pillow may not work for everyone.

Pricing guide

Pillows can range anywhere from $35 to $100 or more, so you’ll want to weigh your options carefully.

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$99
  • $$$ = over $99

The type of pillow you want may depend on your specific needs. We’ll walk you through nine options.

Best pillow for firm support

EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow

  • Price: $
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best for: stomach, side, and back sleepers

The EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow is an option for people looking for firm support.

This pillow is contoured to provide ergonomic support that aligns your head, neck, shoulders, and back. The company explains that, in the first 2 weeks of use, people may experience some discomfort as their body adjusts to using the pillow.

Pros

  • ergonomic contour design supports and aligns the head, neck, shoulders, and back
  • firm support
  • removable foam inserts for adjustable height
  • bamboo fiber cover is washable
  • budget-friendly option

Cons

  • some users find that it “sleeps hot”
  • neck support too high for some
  • may take time to adjust to this design

Best pillow for medium support

Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

  • Price: $
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • Best for: any sleep position

The Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow is a popular choice for people who sleep in any position. The fill, made of shredded memory foam, conforms to your head and neck, keeping the spine properly aligned while you sleep. Its fill is removable, allowing you to customize the support.

The vented bamboo cover is designed to help keep your head cool at night and is resistant to dust mites, making it a solid choice for people with allergies.

Pros

  • firm yet soft fill
  • shredded memory foam fill is customizable
  • keeps spine properly aligned during sleep
  • good for any sleeping position
  • bamboo cover stays cool
  • hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites
  • completely machine washable

Cons

  • noticeable chemical smell upon opening
  • some users reported a lumpy feel
  • not a great option for stomach sleepers
  • no warranty

Best pillow for soft support

DOWNLITE Extra Soft Down Pillow

  • Price: $$
  • Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
  • Best for: stomach sleepers

The DOWNLITE Extra Soft Down Pillow is a duck down pillow that’s good for people looking for soft support. Its flat design makes it a smart choice for stomach sleepers who have neck pain.

Bonus: You can machine wash and dry this hypoallergenic pillow.

Pros

  • sleeps cool
  • duck down fill provides soft support
  • flat design good for stomach sleepers
  • machine washable
  • hypoallergenic

Cons

  • some users found the pillow too flat
  • might not be a good option for those who change positions often
  • no removable case

Best pillow for head pain relief

Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow

  • Price: $$
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best for: side and back sleepers

The Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow is especially useful for people who move from their sides to their backs while sleeping.

The sides of the pillow are higher than the middle to provide neck support. The pillow itself is adjustable, so you can set the degree of firmness by removing or adding stuffing.

The cotton cover is hypoallergenic, and the filling is microfiber. No flame retardants or other harmful chemicals are used in the manufacturing process.

Pros

  • hypoallergenic cotton cover
  • no flame retardants or other harmful chemicals used
  • reported to be well made
  • adjustable firmness
  • sleeps cool
  • return within 90 days for full refund

Cons

  • may go flat over time
  • only available in one size
  • not suitable for those who prefer soft, fluffy pillows

Best pillow for side sleep

Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow

  • Price: $$$
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best for: side sleepers

The Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow is filled with a proprietary blend of organic latex and down alternative microfiber that the brand says is both antimicrobial and hypoallergenic.

The pillow’s shape is unique in that it’s a narrow rectangle with a curve on one side. This is meant to mimic how many side sleepers scrunch standard pillows to support their necks.

There are no petroleum-based chemicals or strong odors. As with other pillows on our list, you can add or take away filling for adjustable support.

Pros

  • maintains neutral temperature
  • 30-day at-home trial
  • antimicrobial and hypoallergenic
  • no petroleum-based chemicals or strong odors
  • adjustable support

Cons

  • may feel lumpy or pebbly
  • fill is not washable
  • requires specialty pillowcase
  • not a great option for stomach sleepers

Best pillow for stomach sleep

The Belly Sleep Pillow

  • Price: $
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • Best for: stomach sleepers

The Belly Sleeper Pillow is designed to be especially thin and flat — wonderful for people who sleep on their stomachs.

Its edges are curved to help reduce head and neck rotation and to reduce pressure points that contribute to pain. The memory foam material is infused with cooling gel. The brand says the pillow is also hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites.

Pros

  • great for stomach sleepers
  • regulates temperature with cooling gel
  • hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites
  • affordable price point
  • machine washable bamboo cover

Cons

  • may not work well for those who switch positions
  • not a great choice for combo or side sleepers

Best organic pillow for neck pain

Avocado Green Pillow

  • Price: $$
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best for: all sleeping positions

This vegan pillow is handmade in the United States. The all-natural materials are Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified.

What’s nice about this pillow is that it’s customizable. You can add or remove stuffing until it reaches the perfect comfort level for your neck.

Some reviewers say that with all the stuffing, it’s too lofty and causes neck pain.

However, others say that after removing some stuffing, it decreased their neck pain.

Pros

  • all-natural, vegan materials
  • handmade in the United States
  • adjustable fill
  • over cover is machine washable
  • free returns and 1-year warranty

Cons

  • stuffing may be too firm for some
  • not machine washable
  • temporary odor

Best ancient favorite pillow

Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow

  • Price: $
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best for: back and side sleepers

Buckwheat pillows have been used for hundreds of years and are still a favorite in Japan. The Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow gets high marks for keeping your head cool while you sleep.

This pillow supports the head and neck to help prevent stiffness and headaches. The hulls shift and rise at the neck area, allowing your head to sink into proper alignment.

Pros

  • buckwheat pillows are a favorite in Japan
  • sleeps cool
  • users report it helps to prevent stiffness and headaches
  • affordable price point

Cons

  • sleeping on buckwheat hulls may take some getting used to
  • standard size is reported as too small by some users

Best pillow for breathability

Layla Kapok Pillow

  • Price: $$$
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best for: side sleepers

Soft and supportive, this luxurious pillow is made with Kapok fibers and premium open-cell memory foam. The result: a plush pillow that cradles your head, conforming to your body and holding that shape throughout the night.

The cover of the Layla Kapok is a polyester/viscose blend with hexagon stitching. This provides extra breathability to allow for maximum airflow through the pillow — helpful for anyone who sleeps hot.

Pros

  • Highly breathable
  • Soft and supportive
  • Zippered cover provides the ability to remove some fill if desired

Cons

  • Higher price point
  • Pillow arrives with a bad smell

NamePriceRatingBest forFeatures
EPABO Memory Foam Pillow$4 out of 5stomach, back, and side sleepersfirm support, budget friendly
Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow$4.5 out of 5any type of sleeperhypoallergenic
DOWNLITE Extra Soft Down Pillow$$4.4 out of 5stomach sleeperhypoallergenic
Nature’s Guest Cervical Support Pillow$$4 out of 5side and back sleeperhypoallergenic cover, cooling
Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow$$$4 out of 5side sleeperantimicrobial, hypoallergenic
The Belly Sleep Pillow$4 out of 5 side and back sleepercooling gel
Avocado Green Pillow$$4 out of 5all types of sleepervegan materials
Sobakawa Buckwheat Pillow$4 out of 5back and side sleepercooling
Layla Kapok Pillow$$$4 out of 5side sleeperhighly breathable

Neck pain can involve discomfort in the muscles, bones, nerves, joints, and the discs between the bones. It can cause difficulty in movement.

Sometimes, a chronic health condition, such as fibromyalgia, causes neck pain. In other cases, it can occur as a result of an accident.

While periodic discomfort in your neck isn’t typically something to worry about, it’s important to seek medical care if your symptoms don’t go away within a week or escalate to other areas of your body.

It’s difficult to sleep when you’re experiencing any kind of pain, including chronic neck pain. You might toss and turn all night to find a comfortable sleeping position.

Researchers in a 2020 study that evaluated teens found that neck pain was linked to poor sleep quality in this age group.

Another 2020 study involved 2,328 individual twins. Researchers assessed their sleep quality and chronic neck pain. Chronic neck pain was significantly associated with poor sleep quality. Researchers concluded this association is partially confounded by genetic factors.

You spend about one-third of your life sleeping. Pillows that are too stiff or too full may strain your neck by keeping it flexed throughout the night, resulting in pain.

Ease your neck pain by using a supportive pillow, trying physical therapy or osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), and participating in regular exercise that includes strengthening exercises for the neck and upper quadrant.

Filling

Fill matters, too. There are several types of pillow fill, ranging from latex to polyester to feather. The type of fill you choose is up to personal preference and it may take some time to find the fill that feels best for you.

Change it up

A general best practice is to change your pillow every 1 to 2 years, especially if you’re using one made from feathers. Over time, the filling can compress and not provide enough support.

If you’re choosing a memory foam pillow, you may be able to get away with changing it less often. A good indicator that it’s time for replacement is if you’re experiencing new pain or if the filling is no longer distributed evenly.

Wash it

Regardless, it’s a good idea to wash your pillow every 6 months, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This is especially true if you have allergies or asthma. Drying on high heat will help kill dust mites.

If neck pain keeps you up at night, you might want to consider swapping your pillow for one that’s the right height. In the pillow world, height is usually described as loft.

The right amount of loft depends a lot on your preferred sleeping position. Stomach sleepers, for example, should opt for a pillow with a lower loft. Essentially, you want a pillow that will keep your spine in alignment without putting too much pressure on your neck.

You might also want to look for a pillow made of supportive foam or latex rather than down or down alternative.

Shape may also be a consideration. Cervical or ergonomic pillows are designed to provide support specifically for the neck and head, for instance.

Pillows can be made from a range of materials, including latex, polyester, cotton, and more. A 2020 study discovered that latex and memory foam are the best pillow materials for neck pain. This is because these materials provide neck support, which can improve sleep quality.

Generally, if you’re experiencing neck pain, it’s best to sleep on your back or side.

Sleeping on your stomach, especially if you’re sleeping with a pillow that’s too thick, can put excess pressure on your cervical spine and cause neck pain.

Keep your neck aligned with your body. You may want to place a pillow under your knees to keep your spine in proper alignment.

Still searching for the right sleep products?

Let us help. Shop our top picks for pillows by condition or sleeping position to get the sound sleep you deserve.

If you’ve changed your pillow but still aren’t finding relief, you can also try these tips:

  • Modify your overall posture when standing or sitting. Find a neutral spine in these positions, with your shoulders hovering directly over your hips and your ears over your shoulders.
  • Stretch your neck every 20 to 30 minutes when doing computer work, driving long distances, or doing other repetitive tasks that tax your neck. It may be helpful to set a reminder on your computer or phone to take breaks.
  • Use a backpack or rolling suitcase when carrying heavy loads. Either evenly distribute the weight or wheel it around. Using a shoulder bag puts excess strain on your neck and shoulders.
  • Use heat or ice to ease the pain by taking a warm shower or applying a hot or cold compress. This is especially effective in the first 2 to 3 days of an acute injury.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Try to quit smoking, if you smoke. Researchers note that smoking is associated with chronic neck pain.

Make an appointment with your doctor if your neck pain doesn’t respond to a change in your pillow, posture, or other lifestyle measures. The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if you don’t already have a doctor.

In some cases, neck pain may be a symptom of a condition that needs medical attention. Possible causes include:

Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice numbness or less strength in your arms or hands. Any shooting pain down your arm or around your shoulder is also important to note.

Seek immediate medical attention if your neck pain is severe or has resulted from an injury, like a car accident or fall.

Can a pillow cause neck pain?

Yes, it can.

A pillow that kicks your spine out of neutral alignment can leave you with neck pain in the morning. Similarly, if a pillow doesn’t provide enough support, it can also leave you clutching your neck when you wake up.

What pillow loft works best for sleeping with neck pain?

The loft of your pillow is the compressed height of the pillow when your head is sleeping on it. The loft can affect your sleep quality and your pain. However, current research doesn’t suggest one pillow height for all back and side sleepers.

Can replacing your pillow improve neck pain?

If you’re experiencing neck pain, it could be the fault of your pillow. Especially if it’s old, it might not be supportive enough anymore.

Swapping for a new pillow doesn’t mean your neck pain will magically go away, though. Pillow preference is personal, and what works for one person might not work for you. So a bit of experimenting is to be expected.

Additionally, not all neck pain is the fault of a bad pillow. If a new pillow doesn’t seem to help, be sure to talk with your doctor.

Which style of pillow is best for neck pain?

Some 2020 research suggests that memory and latex foams are the ideal materials to help prevent neck fatigue.

But that doesn’t mean other types of pillows won’t work for you. You may want to try a few to see what feels most comfortable to you.

How firm should a pillow be to alleviate neck pain?

A somewhat firm pillow is generally best for neck pain, especially if you sleep on your side. A pillow that is too soft and unsupportive will put pressure on your cervical spine. But the pillow should still have some softness. Any pillow that feels uncomfortable is going to be bad news for your neck.

Can neck pain be a sign of something serious?

While this is rare, neck pain can sometimes be a sign of something serious. Seek medical attention if you’re experiencing additional symptoms alongside the neck pain, such as numbness in your arms and hands, a fever and headache, or shooting pain down your shoulder.

Is a high, medium, or low loft pillow better for neck pain?

It depends on what type of sleeper you are. If you’re a stomach sleeper, it may be best to choose a pillow with a low loft to minimize the pressure on your spine. If you’re a back or side sleeper, a medium loft pillow that allows your head, neck, and spine to form a straight line may be right for you.

Finally, if you’re a side sleeper with bigger shoulders, a high loft pillow may be suitable. Note the pillow should equal the distance between the ears and the edge of the shoulders.

Getting relief from neck pain may be as simple as changing your pillow.

There are a number of options to suit a variety of needs and budgets, so it may be worth trying a few to see what works for you. Many companies offer money-back guarantees, so you’re covered if something doesn’t work.

If you still have neck pain after changing your pillow or your sleeping position, consider making an appointment with your doctor to rule out more serious conditions.