The 7 Best Pillows for Neck Pain of 2020

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First Look

Best for All Sleep Positions: The Casper Pillow at Target

"The experience is like lying in a soft cloud."

Best for Stomach Sleepers: Xtreme Comforts at Amazon

"Thinner than traditional pillows."

Best for Back Sleepers: MARNUR Contour Memory Foam Pillow at Amazon

"Has a special groove designed to provide spine support."

Best for Side Sleepers: SleepRight Splintek Side at Amazon

"Designed with a full facial cradle and a 12-degree shoulder cradle."

Best Water-Based: The Water Pillow by Mediflow at Walmart

"Reduces neck pain and improves the overall quality of sleep."

Best Neck Roll: Ka Ua (Hawaiian Rain) Neck Roll Pillow at Amazon

"The perfect shape for ultimate neck comfort."

Best Travel Pillow: J Pillow Travel Pillow at Amazon

"Prevents your head from flopping forward."

Waking up with neck and shoulder pain is not a great way to start the day, especially if the culprit is your pillow. To find relief, many people will change their sleep position, without considering the role their pillow plays. For the best results, experts recommend using a pillow that provides neck support while also finding the right sleep position for your body. Our experts narrowed down the list of brands and styles so that you don’t have to.

Here, the best pillows for neck pain. 

Our Top Picks

1

Best for All Sleep Positions: The Casper Pillow

casper-pillow

Courtesy of Target

If you fall asleep on your side but wake up on your stomach, finding the right pillow can be a real challenge. The good news? Casper, the same brand that makes mattresses, has come up with a pillow that is suitable for all types of sleepers.

The Casper pillow is actually a two-in-one pillow. The inner pillow is supportive of your head, neck, and shoulders, while the outer part gives you a soft fluff that many people crave when they sleep. Our tester found that the fill was evenly distributed, which allowed the pillow to retain its shape even during a lot of movement throughout the night.  

The pillow is pricey, but it comes with a 100-night trial so you can return it if you don't like it. Plus, this pillow is really easy to clean in the washer.

2

Best for Stomach Sleepers: Xtreme Comforts Hypoallergenic Memory Foam Pillow

From Xtreme Comforts, this pillow is designed with stomach sleepers in mind. It’s thinner than traditional pillows, so it doesn’t force the head and neck to bend backward. However, it still promises the comfort and support of a traditional shredded memory foam pillow. 

When you sleep on your stomach, you want something that’s not only comfortable and supportive but also something that’s made well and safe, since your face is on the pillow all night. This pillow is free of all the scary stuff like lead, mercury, phthalates, and the like, and its bamboo cover is hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant. 

The cover is also designed with Kool-Flow micro-vented technology that promises to keep your pillow cool throughout the night -- a feature our tested discovered when they had a “cool” sleeping experience. 

It comes in three sizes (standard, queen, and king), and satisfied sleepers rave about the comfort it provides.

3

Best for Back Sleepers: MARNUR Contour Memory Foam Pillow Orthopedic Pillows

While this contour memory foam pillow from MARNUR can be used by side and stomach sleepers, it’s back sleepers who find it particularly comfortable. The ergonomic design has a special groove in the middle that’s designed to provide neck support and help prevent soreness. It measures 23.5" x 14.5" x 5.5" and comes with a zippered pillowcase that can be machine washed.

4

Best for Side Sleepers: SleepRight Splintek Side Sleeping Memory Foam Pillow

Attention side sleepers: This pillow from SleepRight is made just for you. Not only does it support your body with its premium memory foam filling, but it’s also designed with a full facial cradle and a 12-degree shoulder cradle to keep your head and neck supported while alleviating pressure from your jaw, ear, and shoulders. It automatically adjusts to your body, and it may even cut down on snoring as it’s designed with air paths in the top surface of the memory foam to improve breathing.

It comes in three sizes so you can choose the thickness you like, and the pillow cover, which is hypoallergenic, is made of Rayon (from bamboo).

5

Best Water-Based: The Water Pillow by Mediflow Original Waterbase Pillow

Mediflow

Courtesy of Walmart 

While you don’t see a lot of waterbeds these days, this water-based pillow is designed to provide the neck support you need to alleviate neck and shoulder pain. From Mediflow, you can fill the pillow’s “bladder” with as much or as little water as you like to adjust the pillow to support your head and neck. Want it a little firmer? Just fill it with more water. Perhaps a bit softer would be more comfortable? Just let a little water out. No special chemicals are needed, just regular tap water.

The water compartment is covered by a thermal insulator and filled with a hypoallergenic hollofil fiber designed for comfort. The pillow comes in one size—20" x 28"—and can fit into a standard or queen-sized pillowcase.

6

Best Neck Roll: Ka Ua (Hawaiian Rain) Neck Roll Pillow

This neck roll pillow from Ka Ua doesn’t look like your typical pillow. Instead of a typical rectangle, it’s long and round, which may provide the shape you need for ultimate neck comfort. Plus, it can be used in a variety of ways. Under your neck and head, it's memory foam molds to fit you. You can also position it between your legs, underneath your knees, or anywhere else you need extra support while you sleep. It measures 4" x 18" and comes with a removable bamboo pillow cover that’s machine-washable.

7

Best Travel Pillow: J Pillow Travel Pillow

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or as a passenger in a car, it’s a great time to catch up on some much-needed sleep. The problem is that sleeping while sitting up can be difficult at best and leave you with a sore neck. This J-shaped pillow, however, provides a solution. Unlike other neck pillows, this one wraps around your neck and then tucks under your chin as well to prevent your head from flopping forward. You’ll wake up refreshed and without a painful crick in your neck and shoulders.

What to Look for in a Neck Pillow

Support: The ideal pillow supports a ‘neutral spine’ position. One quick way to test a pillow in the store, according to Brent Rader, DPT, is to stand against a wall in the position you sleep, a tactic that is especially helpful for back and side sleepers. With your heels and shoulders against the wall, place the pillow under your head and take note of the resulting position. If your head seems to tilt toward the wall excessively, you may need a pillow with more support. But if your head leans away from the wall excessively, a pillow with less support may be more appropriate.

Size: If you’re planning on taking your pillow when you travel, size will be a major consideration. Opt for a pillow that fits in a travel bag or backpack, but still gives you the neck support you need. Also related to size is the thickness of the pillow. Too thin, and you’ll likely experience pain in your head and neck. But if you get a pillow that is too thick, the space between your neck and spine will be too big, leading to a lack of support. 

Price: Neck pillows can range in price from $25 to over $100. Although you get what you pay for, it’s important to consider the cost, especially if you’ve already tried a few pillows. 

What the Experts Say

“Posture is a huge part of controlling neck pain. Since most people sleep six to eight hours per night, this constitutes a substantial portion of our daily neck posture. Choosing a pillow that optimizes the position of your neck through this long period of sustained posture is key in preventing symptoms the next day.”—Brent Rader, DPT, physical therapist at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics

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