The best pillows for neck pain will elevate your sleeping experience. Nothing is worse than waking up with a crick in the neck and if you regularly suffer with neck pain, you will know that the wrong pillow can exasperate tension in the neck. No one enjoys waking up feeling like they haven’t had a good night's sleep, especially when it leads to a day riddled with aching pain. The best pillows will keep your head, neck and spine aligned, relieving pressure on the top half of your body.
According to the British Chiropractic Association, we’ll suffer from one, if not more, episodes of neck pain during our lives. The cause of this pain isn’t always clear, it could be triggered by stress or by the way we stand or sit. However, the most common cause of neck pain can be from sleeping with the wrong type of pillow. Did you know that there are specific pillows which are better for side sleepers for example.
The best pillows for neck pain at a glance:
Best firm pillow for neck pain: The Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow – view on Simba Sleep
Best pillow with adjustable height and firmness: Emma Original Pillow – view on Emma-Sleep
Best posture correcting pillow: Groove Pillow – view on Groove Pillows
From memory foam pillows to orthopaedic pillows and many more, we’ve rounded up the best pillows for neck pain, as well as answering all your neck pain-related questions to ensure you get a more peaceful (and painless) slumber. Back pain can also be closely linked to neck pain too, so if this is something else you suffer from, then make sure you check out our best pillows for back pain round-up.
Best firm pillow for neck pain
If you experience neck pain, look no further than The Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow. We put this pillow
- Good for a range of sleep positions
- Heat control tech to keep you from overheating
- We found initially there was a slight smell (this passed within a few days)
Best pillow with adjustable height and firmness
If you're a bit of a fidgeter when it comes to sleeping, one minute you're on your back the next
- Suitable for all sleepers
- Washable cover
- Some users may find the Emma Original Pillow too firm
Best posture correcting pillow
Sink into this ultra-soft Groove pillow for the perfect night's sleep. The memory foam helps to
- Light and comfortable
- Breathable, natural and antibacterial
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- It might take a while to get used to the shape
Best for helping with spine and neck alignment
If you are a back and neck pain sufferer then ensuring you have the right pillow could make all
- Firm feel
- Cover is machine-washable
- Some found they still got a little warm at night.
Best water pillow
Maybe you have heard of a waterbed, but have you heard of a water pillow? This clinically proven
- Responsive support
- Good value for money
- Because of the water, it can be quite heavy to move about
Designed for maximum airflow
If you are looking for support and cooling properties, then the Simba Hybrid Pillow will suit your
- Well suited to a range of sleep positions
- Machine washable
- Adjustable height and firmness
- Some may not want to spend as much on a single pillow
Best affordable option
If you are looking for a traditional pillow and an affordable option, then the John Lewis
- Well suited to most sleep positions
- Hypoallergenic and designed to be breathable
- Described as medium/firm, but some reviewers found it more on the softer side
Best soft but supportive pillow
This 3rd generation memory foam pillow is supportive for your head, neck and spine but is also
- Breathable and hypoallergenic
- Suitable for all types of sleepers
- Some found it had a bit of a smell at first, but this goes over time
How to choose the best pillow for neck pain
While one pillow may work wonders for you, it may not work well for another. Taking into account the type of sleeper you are is really important. Here’s what you need to consider:
Your sleeping position: If you’re a back sleeper you’ll need a pillow with less depth and density, to stop it from forcing your spine out of alignment during the night. If you’re a side sleeper opt for a firmer pillow, as you’ll need to make sure it retains its height throughout the course of the night.
The type of mattress you have: You may have a soft mattress, a firm mattress or even a mattress topper for a comfortable night's sleep, so it’s important you choose a pillow that complements its composition. For example, if you have a firm mattress then a firm pillow could keep your head too high, throwing your spine off alignment and leading to an uncomfortable night's sleep.
What pillow is best for neck pain?
Considering we spend around one-third of our lives sleeping, a good pillow is well worth the investment. Here are the best types of pillows for neck pain.
Can pillows cause neck pain?
Yes. When a pillow doesn't provide support for your head and neck properly, it can create tension in your neck muscles, and cause neck and shoulder pain. Feather and down pillows can cause neck pain as they don’t offer much support due to their softness. You’re looking for a pillow that cradles your neck and keeps your spine aligned, like one of the ones mentioned above.
What kind of pillow is best for side sleepers with neck pain?
A foam pillow is optimal for side sleepers as they cushion and conform to the head and neck. It also provides stronger support than shredded foam or other pillow filler materials.
What are some good neck stretches before you go to bed?
To help relieve an aching and sore neck it is a good idea to stretch before you go to bed. Here are three simple neck stretches. You should only stretch as much as is comfortable and stop if any stretches feel painful or uncomfortable.
1. The bear hug
First, stand with the feet hip-width apart and open the arms wide.
Then cross one arm over the other arm at the elbows, reaching over opposite shoulders and grasping the backs of the shoulders.
After, gently pull the shoulders forward and hold the stretch for 20 seconds while breathing deeply.
Repeat the stretch, alternating the cross of the arms. You should feel this stretch in the upper back.
2. Head rolls
First, sit with a straight back and gently bring the chin down toward the chest.
Roll the head to the right, so that the ear is over the right shoulder.
Hold this for 5 seconds, then gently roll the head back toward the chest.
Roll the head to the left, so that the ear is over the left shoulder.
Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly roll the head back in a clockwise circle three times.
Reverse the direction and gently roll the head in a counterclockwise circle three times.
Repeat steps 1–6 three times.
You should feel this stretch in the neck muscles and upper back.
3. Spinal twist
Start by lying down on one side on the floor or a mattress.
Bend both knees slightly deeper than 90 degrees at the hips, keeping the knees themselves bent at 90 degrees and the feet overlapping.
Align the hips and shoulders and keep the head and spine in a straight line.
Extend the lower arm in front of the body to chest level, resting it on the floor or mattress while reaching with the upper arm down to grasp the rib cage.
Engage the abdominal muscles to stabilize the spine, pulling the shoulders back and down without moving the torso.
Gently exhale and slowly rotate the torso by pulling the rib cage around with the upper arm. Avoid rotating the hips, as this causes the upper thigh to slide backwards while twisting.
Continue rotating the torso until comfortable. The deeper bend at the hips and engaged abdominal muscles will prevent arching in the lower back.
Hold this position for 15–30 seconds, then release and relax for 30 seconds.
Repeat steps 1–8 two to four times on each side.
You should feel this stretch in the abs, chest, full back, and shoulders.
Short neck stretches that you can do daily before bed
Watch this short video for some great exercises to prepare yourself for a comfortable night's sleep.
Ellen Kinsey is a senior health and wellness product writer for Yours, specialising in natural health and beauty. She lives and breathes all things food, travel and wellness.
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