Neck pain is all too common and according to the British Chiropractic Association, we’ll suffer from one, if not more, episodes of neck pain during our lives.
The cause of neck pain isn’t always clear, it could be triggered by stress or the way we stand or sit. However, one of the most common causes of neck pain can be from not sleeping with the correct pillow, which is essential for supporting our necks properly. A good pillow should hold your head in the correct place as if you were standing upright but lying down, while good posture and an aligned spine when sleeping will help stop aching and stiff muscles in your neck, shoulder, and back. Your pillow should be tucked well into the neck and shoulder to support your head properly.
Looking for the best pillow for neck pain depends on your sleeping position, your body shape and size and whether you overheat in the night. We've rounded up some of the best pillows for neck pain on the market to help you find the best one for you.
Can pillows cause neck pain?
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. It is best to sleep on a feather or memory foam pillow as this cradles your neck allowing for an aligned spine and neck.
The best pillows for neck pain 2022
THE SIMBA Hybrid Firm Pillow
Best firm pillow for neck pain
If you experience neck pain, look no further than The SIMBA Hybrid Firm Pillow. Our Deputy Commercial Content Editor has put this pillow to the test for the last 50 days and is here to report back on what she has found. From the five layers of comfortable support to its ability to personalise it with the layering, this option gets a thumbs up from us.
Dimensions: 45 x 70cm
Tried and tested by Deputy Commercial Content Editor, Lily Anderson, she said, "From someone that suffers from neck and back pain, I was really surprised that a firm pillow was the answer to a good night's sleep. Why? It distributes the weight of my head evenly. I switch between sleeping on my side and my back - being able to personalise my pillow by removing or adding layers allows me to get the right balance between too hard and soft.
Although it was a bit of a struggle to get a case on with all the layers, it was worth it because the Stratos technology means that the pillow responds to my body temperature ensuring I keep cool. This has been a lifesaver during the heat this summer."
Groove Pillow (formerly EasySleeper)
Posture correcting pillow
Sink into this ultra-soft Groove pillow for the perfect night's sleep. The memory foam helps to eliminate neck and upper back pain by correcting your posture while you sleep and promotes neutral spine alignment. This pillow is suitable for back and side sleepers from the age of 13 upwards, while its antibacterial properties keep it completely germ-free and bad smells at bay. It's also fully recyclable too.
Dimensions: 60 x 34 x 11 x 7cm
Verified customer review: “After suffering with chronic neck and shoulder pains for years and having tried almost every kind of pillow known to man I was rather sceptical about how different this pillow would be, plus it wasn’t a cheap option. But as the pain was steadily increasing and I was waking almost every morning still feeling tired and with pain in my neck and shoulders and a headache I thought that I had nothing to lose. Getting used to the shape took me a few nights but I persevered and now I wouldn’t go back to using an ordinary pillow. My neck and shoulder pain has considerably reduced. I am also waking with no headache, feeling refreshed. I would encourage everyone suffering with pain and sleepless nights to give this pillow a try.”
Tempur Comfort Pillow Original
Helps with spine and neck alignment
If you are a back and neck pain sufferer then ensuring you have the right pillow could make all the difference. The Tempur Original Comfort Pillow is made with luxury memory foam and is firm enough to make sure your spine and neck are aligned. It is also the only pillow recognised by NASA and certified by The Space Foundation. This pillow is suitable for side, back or stomach sleepers and comes with a machine washable pillow cover.
Dimensions: 70 x 50cm
Verified customer review: "It fits around your neck as you move around and is as comfy you would want a pillow to be. I haven't tried the cloud standard but I think this is comfy enough. If you don't like super soft pillows, this might be the better choice."
Mediflow Waterbase Fibrefill Pillow
Maybe you have heard of a waterbed, but have you heard of a water pillow? This clinically proven Mediflow water-based pillow is made with a structure approved by a John Hopkins independent study. It is a pillow suitable for all types of sleepers. It contains a water pouch that is fully sealed and insulated and you can always adjust the water level to ensure the pillow is the right height for you. It is also hypoallergenic.
Dimensions: 34 x 53 x 11cm
Verified customer review: "Read a lot of reviews on this before buying. At the time I was really suffering with ongoing neck pain and spending lots of money on the chiro so was willing to try something else. I have found that this really does help my neck, as it holds its form and shape all night and I don't wake up with a stiff neck as the pillow has moved during the night."
The Simba Hybrid Pillow
Designed for maximum airflow
If you are looking for support and cooling properties, then the Simba Hybrid Pillow will suit your needs. It uses breathable and nanocube technology designed for maximum airflow and allows air to escape so you can keep cool. The cooling feature comes from three elements. Firstly, the astronaut-inspired temperature regulation used in the fabric of the pillow. There is also a special layer of mineral-enriched fibres that disperses heat. Lastly, the mesh fabric ensures that the pillow is breathable and releases heat when you sleep. Overall, it is a versatile pillow that suits anyone no matter the sleeping position.
Dimensions: 50 x 70cm
Verified customer review: "Really comfortable and suits the Luxe mattress we have. Very soft and contours your head to your body."
The Memory Foam Pillow by Eve Sleep
Cradles your neck and head
If you are after a memory foam pillow, then this pillow by Eve Sleep does a great job cradling your neck and head without it being too firm. The pillow is hypoallergenic, breathable, stretchy and comes with a washable cover. It gives more support than a squishy pillow and has cooling properties so you will not get overheated during the night. It helps with back and neck pain as you're less likely to wake up aching if your spine is properly aligned. This product is designed with this in mind to give you a good night's sleep.
Dimensions: 42 x 66cm
Verified customer review: "Very impressed with how comfortable this pillow actually is! On first impressions, I was feeling a bit dubious with how heavy the pillow felt & also lacking the ability to plump it up. However, after my first night's sleep upon it, all my concerns became diminished! It was so comfy! Both myself and my Chiropractor have definitely seen (& felt) an improvement with my neck & shoulder complaint. I would definitely recommend this pillow. It's certainly worth the cost."
The Microfibre Shaper Pillow by Eve Sleep
Suitable for back sleepers
If you happen to be someone that suffers from allergies, then this microfibre pillow from Eve Sleep will be perfect for you. It has a plump filling and holds its shape better than down or feather pillows. It is made with mesh sides which is ideal for breathability. This pillow would be suitable for back sleepers.
Dimensions: 46 x 67cm
Verified customer review: "Fantastic pillow, I love it and have slept much better since receiving it. Very good quality."
John Lewis & Partners Synthetic Soft Like Down Standard Pillow
If you are looking for a traditional pillow and an affordable option, then the John Lewis synthetic pillow will suit your needs. It is ideal for those who sleep on their back or side as this pillow keeps the spine aligned. It comes in two forms, the first is a medium-firm pillow that works great for back or side sleepers or the soft option, which suits back or front sleepers.
Dimensions: 75 x 50cm
Verified customer review: "This pillow is soooo supportive. Replaced a feather pillow with this and amazed at how comfortable and supported both my head and neck feels. Sleeping better and getting off to sleep so much faster."
Supportiback Orthopaedic Contour Memory Foam Pillow
Built-in cooling layer
This orthopaedic contour pillow is fabricated to help alleviate the pressure on your spine. Designed with curved memory foam, the pillow helps to support your back. There's also a built-in cooling layer within the cushion to eliminate overheating during the night. One thing to note is that you won't be able to flip the pillow because the cooling gel is the one side.
Dimensions: 10 x 15cm
Verified customer review: "This pillow has changed my life. I am waking up pain free after months of neck and back pain. This is so much better than other orthopaedic pillows I have tried and perfect size. It takes a couple of nights to get used to it but stick with it as it is the answer to solving neck pain. The cooling part is an added bonus too."
The White Company Duck Down Pillow
Doesn't flatten over time
If you are looking for the best pillow for neck pain and you are a side sleeper then this supportive pillow from the White Company is ideal. It comes in two different forms, medium and medium firm. As it is made with three main chambers fabricated from different proportions of duck feather and duck down. It provides good back, shoulder and neck support and does not flatten over time.
Dimensions: 50 x 75cm
Verified customer review: "Extremely good quality. I was a little sceptical that it was possible to make a feather pillow of this firmness, but I am convinced!"
Panda Luxury Memory Foam Bamboo Pillow
Soft but supportive
This 3rd generation memory foam pillow is supportive for your head, neck and spine but is also soft enough to ensure you have a great night's sleep. The silky bamboo pillowcase provides ultimate comfort, while also helping to regulate your temperature, keeping you cool in the summer but warm in the winter. It also comes with a 10-year manufacturer guarantee and a 30-night trial, where you can either get your money back or have a free replacement if you're not 100 per cent satisfied.
Dimensions: 60 x 40 x 12cm
Verified customer review: “Absolutely amazing company! They sent TWO pillows for me to try, as I was having problems with my first pillow being too soft. They offered to send a firmer second pillow to try. How amazing is that? Such a lovely company to buy from, a genuine caring group of people who really want you to have a good night's sleep. I have been astounded by their kindness and generosity and cannot recommend them highly enough. They're brilliant, and their pillows are fabulous too. Give them a go, you won't be disappointed!”
Emma Original Pillow
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 you're on your side, then the Emma Original Pillow could be for you, as it's made to support the sleeper whatever their position. The pillow consists of three foam layers, two firm sloped ones and a squishy foam layer - and any of these can be removed just in case you need to adjust the height or firmness.
Dimensions: 40cm x 70cm
Verified customer review: "We love our Emma bed! Best sleep guaranteed! The pillows and the duvet just perfect. Can't fault anything. We've got a weighted blanket too. I wish we've discovered earlier Emma! Do yourself a favour and buy them right now. You won't regret it."
The best pillows for neck pain FAQs
How does neck pain affect sleep?
It can be tough to get a good night's sleep when you're in pain, causing you to toss and turn as you attempt to find a sleeping position when you are comfortable.
A study from 2020 found that neck pain was linked to poor sleep quality in teens.
Best sleeping positions for neck pain
When suffering from neck pain, you'll want to sleep on either your back or side, ensuring your neck is aligned with your body.
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.