The Best Pillows For Neck Pain

Last updated: September 13, 2017

One of the great things about the modern consumer age is the huge number of choices we have. And when it comes to the best pillow for neck pain, there are literally thousands of options to choose from. For instance, if you look up ‘pillow’ on Amazon, here’s what you get.

amazon pillow search resultsAlmost half a million results! There is no way you’ll even get close to looking at a fraction of these. And even when make it more specific such as ‘neck pain pillow’, we still get the following.

amazon neck pain pillow search resultsBetter, but that’s still 4,645 more pillows than you need. How can you possibly make the right choice for you with that many options?

Fortunately, you don’t have to, because we’ve done all the work for you.

 

38 Contenders → 5 Best

 

We’ve put in tens of hours of research scrutinizing product reviews, specifications, descriptions, and tested plenty of possible pillow choices in many stores.

Based on all that research, we’ve come up with the best neck pain pillows, narrowed Down To Five.

5 Best Pillows For Neck Pain 2017

ProductMade InFillingLoft (Inch)FirmnessFeaturesPrice*Average Amazon Rating
Coop Home Goods
coop home goods hypoallergenic shredded memory foam pillow
USAShredded memory foamAdjustable (2" to 6")FirmAdjustable fill
Hypoallergenic
30-day refund/5 year warranty
$$12,300+ Reviews
4.4/5

Snuggle-Pedic
snuggle-pedic shredded memory foam pillow
USAShredded memory foamHigh (6")MediumHypoallergenic
Fully machine washable
90-day refund/20 year warranty
$$7,100+ Reviews
4.5/5

Xtreme-Comforts
xtreme-comforts hypoallergenic shredded memory foam pillow
USAShredded memory foamHigh (7")
Medium (5")
Medium-firmHypoallergenic
Fully machine washable
30-day refund/6 year warranty
$$1,900+ Reviews
4.2/5

Sleep Innovations
sleep innovations contour memory foam pillow
USAMemory foamMedium (5")Medium-firm5-year warranty

$3,700+ Reviews
4/5

MediFlow
mediflow waterbase pillow
USAPolyester, waterAdjustable (4.5" to 7")Adjustable (Soft to firm)Machine washable and dryable
Hypoallergenic
30-day refund/1 year warranty
$2,700+ Reviews
4/5

*$ = Less than $30-$50 | $$ = $50-$70

girl suffering from neck pain

The Main Cause Of Neck Pain

 

Chronic neck pain is a…. pain in the neck. Is there anything worse than waking up in the morning with a neck that’s so stiff and sore that you might as well have been sleeping on the hard ground? A good night’s sleep is supposed to leave you rested and energized to take on the day, not grimacing in pain as you gingerly try to stretch your aching neck.

One of the most common problems with chronic neck pain is the difficulty in diagnosing its source. Sure, maybe you’ve had an acute injury or trauma to the neck or spinal area, which explains it. But for many people, neck pain comes on gradually, without warning, and without any apparent rhyme or reason.

In a word? Frustrating.

But there is one cause of gradual onset neck pain that is often overlooked. And that is improper spinal alignment.

Bottom Line: Chronic neck pain could be caused by trauma or injury to the neck or spine. However, the most common and often overlooked cause is simply improper spinal alignment.

proper spine alignment when sleeping

Ideal Spinal Alignment When Sleeping

 

Straight and natural. Those are the two words that describe how your spine should be aligned when you are asleep. Your spine should be straight, but still follow its natural curvature. Take a look at the diagram below.

correct sleeping posture for neck and spine

Source: Quora

As you can see by the diagrams above, proper pillow selection is crucial to obtain proper spinal alignment while sleeping. Essentially, by filling up the ‘neck to shoulder’ area nicely, your neck and spine will have all the support they need.

Using an improper pillow puts stress on the cervical spine, resulting in compression and pinching of its nerves and discs. In addition, the muscles of the neck itself are constantly flexed. While the stress on the spine and the muscles is actually very minor, over an extended period of time, the cumulative stress results in chronic neck pain.

It can be hard to imagine that something as simple as pillow selection can have such a dramatic effect on the quality of your day-to-day life, but this is actually good news. It means that with one simple change, you could give yourself the gift of a life free of chronic neck pain.

And even if you are not suffering from neck pain at the moment, that doesn’t mean that your current pillow is right for you. Remember, chronic neck pain is gradual, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So how do you know that a specific pillow will be right for you? After all, everybody is built differently and factors such as body weight, shoulder width, and sleeping position all have major influence in determining appropriate pillow selection.

Bottom Line: While sleeping, your spine should be straight, but still naturally curved at some areas. To maintain this proper sleeping posture, you need the right pillow. Otherwise, the stress placed on your spine and neck muscles will lead to chronic neck pain.

different pillow lofts and sizes

Choosing the Ideal Pillow Loft and Firmness – The 4 Factors

 

Pillow Talk: As you read this guide, you will come across the word ‘loft’ often. Loft refers to the height of the pillow when it lays flat on the mattress. So loft is just a fancy word in the pillow world for height or thickness. Pillows are referred to as ‘high loft(> 6 inches), ‘medium loft(3 – 6 inches), or ‘low loft(< 3 inches).

When it comes to firmness, the opposite of ‘firm’ is ‘plush’.

Loft and firmness also compensate for one another. For instance, a high-loft plush pillow may sink down to a medium-loft level when you place your head on it. However, a medium-loft firm pillow will stay at the medium-loft level since it is more supportive.

Factor #1

Sleeping Position

 

The two most common sleeping positions are side and back. For side sleepers, the ‘neck to shoulder area’, which needs to be filled up, is the largest. For back sleepers, this area is much smaller. This means that side sleepers require a higher loft pillow compared to back sleepers. In general, side sleepers should use medium to high loft pillows while back sleepers should use a medium loft pillows. And as for stomach sleepers? Unfortunately it is not recommended for those with neck issues to sleep on their stomach as the position by its very nature puts stress on the neck and spine as the back is arched and the head is turned. If you insist on sleeping on your stomach however, you should definitely get a low loft pillow so that your spine isn’t arched unnaturally even more than it already is.

Bottom Line: Medium to high loft pillows for side sleepers, medium loft pillows for back sleepers, low loft for stomach sleepers.

Factor #2

Body Weight

 

The heavier you are, the more your shoulders and upper back will sink into the mattress. If your pillow loft is too high, your spine will be curved upwards unnaturally, causing strain.

Bottom Line: The heavier you are, the lower loft your pillow should be.

Factor #3

Shoulder Width

 

This factor is exclusive to side sleepers. However, as studies have shown that side sleepers make up almost 70% of the population, this factor is no less relevant. The broader your frame and the wider your shoulders, the greater the space your pillow needs to fill. So, side sleepers need a higher loft pillow.

Bottom Line: For side sleepers, the broader your frame is, the higher loft your pillow needs to be.

Factor #4

Pillow Filling

 

The pillow filling largely determines the firmness and loft of the pillow. There are many types of pillow fillings you can find today – cotton, polyester, wool, down, feathers, memory foam, latex, buckwheat, microbeads, and water. In general however, the best type of pillow filling for neck pain is memory foam variants due to the fact that they’re able to mold and conform nicely to the contour of your neck and head.

Bottom Line: Pillow fillings greatly influence the feel and support of the pillow. Memory foam is generally the best option for those with neck pain.

Coop Home Goods Shredded Hypoallergenic Certipur Memory Foam Pillow

Overall Best Pillow For Neck Pain

Coop Home Goods

While Coop Home Goods is our absolute top choice, there are 2 other options which come so close that they’re worth mentioning and compared to see why. These are the top 3 pillows for neck pain:

  1. Coop Home Goods Shredded Hypoallergenic Certipur Memory Foam Pillow
  2. Snuggle-Pedic’s Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
  3. Xtreme-Comforts’ Hypoallergenic Bamboo Pillow – Shredded Memory Foam

What makes these three pillows so great for neck pain? Let’s look first at their filling, which as you can see is shredded memory foam.

The Advantages Of Shredded Memory Foam

Shredded memory foam is the ideal filling for the average Joe or Jane with neck pain issues. We have established that memory foam, developed for astronauts in the 70s, can provide optimal support for the natural curvature of your neck and spine because of the foam’s conforming capabilities.

But it was not without its problems; namely that it was too hot, stuffy, and firm. Shredded memory foam solves the above problems while still retaining all the benefits of memory foam.

First, by ‘shredding’ the memory foam, this allows for increased airflow and ventilation. This equals less heat retention. And as a bonus, all three pillows come with a micro-vented bamboo/polyester cover that further boosts the ventilation effect. To summarize, heat retention will not be a problem when it comes to any of our Top 3 pillows.

Second, shredded memory foam pillows feel softer compared to traditional memory foam pillows. The reason is obvious; since there are so many separate pieces of memory foam, they shift around more when weight is placed on it, and feel softer as a result.

This is not to say that its supportive capabilities are reduced. Because each individual piece is still memory foam, they are just as supportive but just more ‘moldable’ in totality. And this is a good thing, because the more a pillow can naturally mold itself to the curvature of your neck, head, and spine, the better the support. And that translates to less neck pain.

Oh and as a bonus? All three pillows are completely machine washable, a distinct convenience advantage they enjoy over traditional memory foam pillows.

Now, let’s move on to the quality of the pillows.

Pillow Quality

When it comes to the issue of quality, none of our Top 3 is lacking. All of them are made right here in the USA. Don’t be fooled by other manufacturers which like to claim ‘Designed in the USA’, even though the actual product is made in China.

The shredded memory foam within all three pillows is also CertiPUR-US certified, meaning no ozone depleters or chemical flame retardants. This means less chemical odors as well, although user reviews indicate that the pillows usually had a chemical odor for the first few days of use. You can leave the pillows out to air for this period to let the odor dissipate.

So far, it seems that all three pillows are very similar and to be sure, you won’t go wrong with any of the three. As you can see by their ratings and the number of ratings, these pillows are highly popular for a reason, and thousands upon thousands of customers are more than satisfied with their pillow.

Nonetheless, we are going to rank these pillows, and to do that, we’ll need to look at some of their differences.

Firmness And Loft Compared

In terms of firmness, Snuggle-Pedic is definitely the softest on our list. Xtreme-Comforts was the middle of the pack while Coop Home Goods was the firmest (although not by much). So take this into account when making your choice.

However, as we mentioned, the overall feel of the pillow is determined by firmness and loft. Snuggle-Pedic has a 6-inch loft, which is high, and combined with its softness means that it is overall the plushest pillow on our list. Nevertheless, because of the high loft, it might be more suitable for larger framed individuals or side sleepers.

Xtreme-Comforts has two versions, the regular version, which has an even higher loft of 7 inches, and a slim version with a medium loft of 5 inches. Despite the higher loft however, it still has a less plush feel compared to the Snuggle-Pedic, which some people prefer. Just like the Snuggle-pedic, the high loft in the regular version makes the pillow more ideal for larger framed individuals or side sleepers. Thankfully, the slim version opens up options to smaller frame individuals and more diverse sleeping positions.

And what about the Coop Home Goods? Here’s the good news, the loft is completely customizable! That’s right, this pillow is the only pillow on the list that gives you the option of adding or removing the shredded memory foam as needed. The loft in this pillow can range from 2 inches to 6 inches. This means that this pillow is suitable for a wide variety of sizes and sleeping positions. Definitely the most versatile on this list.

Overall Best

So which is the best pillow among the 3 for your neck pain? We’re going to have to give it to the Coop Home Goods simply based on the fact that it has an adjustable fill. This means that regardless of your body shape, size or sleeping position, you can keep adjusting the pillow until it’s ideal for your needs.

It’s also worth noting that Coop Home Goods is the #1 bestseller in bed pillows on Amazon, so that should count for something.

Price RangeApproximately $50 - $60
Made InUSA
FillingShredded Memory Foam
Sizes (Inch)20" x 26" (Standard)
20" x 30" (Queen)
20" x 36" (King)
Loft (Inch)Adjustable (2" to 6")
FirmnessFirm
FeaturesAdjustable fill
Removable and washable polyester/bamboo cover
Hypoallergenic
30-day refund/5 year warranty
Average Amazon
Rating
4.4 out of 5 stars (12,300+ reviews)

  • Able to customize pillow loft by adding or removing the memory foam.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Superior support for all types of sleeping positions.
  • Cooling effect from shredded memory foam and bamboo cover.

  • Some people have complained of a slight chemical odor.
  • You need to experiment a little to find the optimal shape and loft.

Bottom Line: This pillow’s main strength is the support provided by its proprietary memory foam coupled with the adaptability you have from being able to add and remove the foam. This means that it is suitable for a wide range of body sizes and sleeping positions. Two words: quality and versatility. Our top pillow choice when it comes to neck pain. Coincidentally, the #1 bestseller pillow on Amazon.

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snuggle-pedic shredded memory foam pillow

Second Best Pillow For Neck Pain

Snuggle-Pedic

The second best alternative is Snuggle-Pedic. It stands out from the pack by giving the highest level of customer service, as seen by the unprecedented 90-day refund period with a 20 year warranty. Numerous user reviews also emphasize the responsiveness of the company. Also, within the first 90 days, you have the option of sending your pillow back to the company to get the filling and loft adjusted. Not as good as it being adjustable by itself, but it’s still something.

 

Price RangeApproximately $50 - $70
Made InUSA
FillingShredded Memory Foam
Sizes (Inch)18" x 24" (Standard)
20" x 28" (Queen)
20" x 35" (King)
Loft (Inch)High (6")
FirmnessMedium
FeaturesRemovable polyester/bamboo cover
Hypoallergenic
Fully machine washable
90-day refund/20 year warranty
Average Amazon
Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars (7,100+ reviews)

  • You can contact the manufacturer to adjust the loft of your pillow within the first 90 days.
  • Cool flow polyester/bamboo cover.
  • Firmness/loft can be adjusted a little by shifting around the memory foam.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Excellent customer service.

  • Some people have complained that the shredded memory foam shifts too much and requires frequent readjustment.
  • Initial memory foam odor that dissipates after a few days.

Bottom Line: This pillow provides an excellent combination of support and comfort, being on the softer side compared to other memory foam pillows. This pillow has been called ‘overstuffed’, meaning that its loft is high, so it’s more suited toward larger framed individuals. However, some people have found that they need to frequently adjust the pillow throughout the night. Our second pick when it comes to neck pain pillows.

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xtreme-comforts shredded memory foam pillow

Third Best Pillow For Neck Pain

Xtreme Comforts

By process of elimination that leaves Xtreme-Comforts as the third best alternative. Make no mistake; this is still a great pillow that will definitely help with your neck pain, it just does not have as many ‘features’ as the above two. That said, the fact that it offers a ‘Slim’ version of its pillow is a definite plus on its side.

 

Price RangeApproximately $45 - $55
Made InUSA
FillingShredded Memory Foam
Sizes (Inch)17" x 23" (Standard)
18" x 26" (Queen)
28" x 33" (King)
Loft (Inch)High (7")
Medium (5")
FirmnessMedium-firm
FeaturesRemovable polyester/bamboo cover
Hypoallergenic
Fully machine washable
30-day refund/6 year warranty
Average Amazon
Rating
4.2 out of 5 stars (1,900+ reviews)

  • Cool flow polyester/bamboo cover.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Superior support for side sleepers.
  • Firmness/loft can be adjusted a little by shifting around the memory foam.

  • Some people have found this pillow a bit too firm for their liking.
  • Initial memory foam odor that dissipates after a few days.

Bottom Line: This pillow provides great support for the neck, but smaller sized individuals might find the loft a bit too high for their frame, even in the ‘Slim’ version. Despite the high loft, some have also found it to be on the firmer side, so this is the ideal pillow for people who like their pillows firmer and higher. Our third pick for top neck pain pillows.

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Sleep Innovations’ Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Best Budget-Friendly Neck Pain Pillow

Sleep Innovations

Times are hard, but it’s even harder living with chronic neck pain. For the price of this pillow, you might think that you would be getting something that is ‘average’ or ‘passable’. That’s certainly not the case when it comes to this pillow, because it is just as good as or better than its more expensive brethren.

Let’s begin with its quality. You might expect a pillow at this price point to be manufactured in China, but you would be wrong. The memory foam in this pillow was manufactured here in the USA, although the cover was made in China.

The contour shape, is of course specifically designed to provide ideal spinal and neck support. The thickest part of the pillow has a 5-inch loft while the thinnest part is about 3 inches. This medium loft makes the pillow ideal for both side and back sleepers. However, larger framed individuals might find this pillow a little too thin for their liking, especially since this pillow is not particularly firm.

And while the quality to price ratio for this pillow is outstanding, there are certain tradeoffs that you have to accept with purchasing a pillow at this price point. Namely, when it comes to long term durability of the pillow. Some users have reported that the pillow sagged a little after a year or so of use. However, given the pillow’s price point, that is still a fantastic deal.

Price RangeApproximately $30 - $50
Made InUSA
FillingMemory Foam
Sizes (Inch)15" x 20" (Standard)
15" x 24" (Queen)
Loft (Inch)Medium (5")
FirmnessMedium-firm
Features5-year warranty
Average Amazon
Rating
4 out of 5 stars (3,700+ reviews)

  • Contour design helps alleviate neck pain and stiffness.
  • Softer than most memory foam pillows.
  • Easy on the wallet.
  • Made in the USA (except cover).

  • Some people have found that this pillow isn’t firm enough.
  • Some issues with longevity of pillow.

Bottom Line: The most budget-friendly option on our list, the price for the standard pillow can sometimes even dip below $20. Despite the low price, it still performs the job, with many reviewers noting how it helped alleviate their neck pain. Nevertheless, the low price comes at a cost – the pillow is less dense, meaning some find it too soft while also having issues with longevity.

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MediFlow’s Original Waterbase Pillow

Best Pillow For Severe Neck Pain

Mediflow

First off, if you have severe neck pain, please consult your physician and follow his or her recommendations. While most neck pain is quite minor, resulting from strained muscles and such, things like herniated discs, can cause more severe chronic neck pain. Based on our research, many users with more serious injuries have found relief by using MediFlow’s Original Waterbase Pillow.

The other pillows on our list are great for alleviating neck pain. But most people who use those pillows have little to no neck pain issues; the fact that they can and do alleviate neck pain is just incidental. That means that those pillows are best suited for those that only have mild neck pain issues, typically as a result of poor posture, tight muscles, and strain from using unsupportive pillows.

But what if you have severe medical issues such as herniated discs, occipital neuralgia, cervical spondylosis, or are recovering from a surgery or accident? Our analysis of user reviews showed that the majority of its most satisfied users had severe pain resulting from medical and physical issues that no other pillow could alleviate. Only the MediFlow pillow was able to provide them with the relief they needed.

One of the main reasons for this is that water does not need to be ‘molded’ to fit a shape. This allows the pillow to provide naturally contouring support that is ideal for people with severe neck pain.

The loft and firmness of the pillow is also customizable by adding or letting out water as needed. This means that the pillow can be used by a wide variety of individuals, however it should be noted that even when empty, the MediFlow pillow is already relatively thick.

This pillow isn’t also the most ‘user friendly’; most users report needing quite some time to be able to determine the exact level of water they needed to add. Also, if the air bubbles are not properly removed, this can lead to the pillow making noise when weight shifting.

The pillow is also heavy; fully filled it weighs 8lbs! Definitely something to keep in mind.

Some users reported a mild smell of mildew (solved by adding bleach to the water), and a small minority noted that their pillow sprang leaks, raising some questions about its long term durability. That said, those users were able to return it to the manufacturer and get it replaced as long as it fell within the 1 year warranty period.

In conclusion, this pillow isn’t perfect, but if your neck pain is more severe than most, you’ll need a specialty pillow to meet your increased neck support needs. And the MedfiFlow Original Waterbase Pillow may just be the pillow you need to alleviate your neck pain.

Price RangeApproximately $40
Made InUSA
FillingPolyester, Water
Sizes (Inch)20" x 28"
Loft (Inch)Adjustable (4.5" to 7")
FirmnessAdjustable (Soft to firm)
FeaturesCotton cover
Machine washable and dryable
Hypoallergenic
30-day refund/1 year warranty
Average Amazon
Rating
4 out of 5 stars (2,700+ reviews)

  • Provides above average relief for neck pain sufferers.
  • Adjustable loft and naturally contouring support.

  • Takes time to figure out your ideal level of water filling.
  • Very heavy.
  • Questionable durability.

Bottom Line: If your neck pain is more than just a persistent annoyance, but a serious medical issue, then this may be the pillow for you. The water base provides naturally contouring support that many users who have suffered neck injuries, herniated discs etc. have found to provide significant relief for their neck pain. This pillow however isn’t the most ‘user friendly’ and it can take some time to find the ideal water level. It is also very heavy. As a water pillow, there’s an inherent risk of it leaking, as has happened to some users.

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pillows on bed

Conclusion

 

We spend almost a third of our lives asleep, which means a third of our lives with our heads on a pillow. It is no surprise then that an inadequate pillow can lead to neck pain, while a proper supportive one can actually alleviate neck pain. Shredded memory foam is the best material for this purpose and consequently our 3 best pillows for neck pain all have this filling.

Our #1 pick is Coop Home Goods ($50 -$60) which has one primary advantage over all the others – you can adjust the amount of filling, customizing the pillow to fit your body weight, shoulder width, sleeping position and spine curvature. Not to mention, it’s currently the #1 bestselling pillow on Amazon. However, it is also the firmest pillow among the three.

On the other hand, our second best alternative, Snuggle-Pedic, ($50 -$70) is great for those who like a softer and plusher feel. Further, the customer service from this company is simply top notch. You can send the pillow back to the company to get the filling and loft adjusted.

And while it would seem that our third best alternativeXtreme-Comforts ($45 – $55) is ‘the worst’; that isn’t true at all. It is just more basic and is thus cheaper than the other two pillows. There’s also a ‘Slim’ version available for smaller framed individuals. In terms of firmness, it’s in between the above two pillows.

For those who are struggling through hard times and neck pain, we have Sleep Innovations which is our best budget-friendly neck pain pillow, which currently retails as low as $30 (depending on season, you may even get it for under $20!). It will easy on your neck, and your wallet.

For those of you who have severe neck pain, things are even harder. There’s a good chance that the above pillows may not be enough. However, there’s also a good chance that MediFlow ($40) can help. As our best pillow for severe neck pain, it has a water pouch which provides you with naturally contouring support. Numerous users with severe conditions such as herniated discs, occipital neuralgia, cervical spondylosis, and traumatic injuries have reported a significant degree of pain relief when using this pillow.