9 of the best pillows for neck pain

Reduce the morning aches with one of these pillows specially designed to relieve neck pain.

The best pillows for neck pain

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

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

The best pillows for neck pain: THE SIMBA Hybrid® Firm PillowCredit: Simba

If you experience neck pain, look no further than The Simba Hybrid Firm Pillow. We put this pillow to the test 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.

Our review: "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."

Pros

  • Good for a range of sleep positions
  • Machine-washable
  • Heat control tech to keep you from overheating

Cons

  • We found initially there was a slight smell (this passed within a few days)

Best pillow with adjustable height and firmness

The best pillows for neck pain: Emma original pillowCredit: Emma Sleep
Price: £47.25 ( was £105)

www.emma-sleep.co.uk

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.

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."

Pros

  • Suitable for all sleepers
  • Washable cover
  • Moisture-resistant

Cons

  • Some users may find the Emma Original Pillow too firm

Best posture correcting pillow

The best pillows for neck pain: EasySleeper pillowCredit: Groove Pillows

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.

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.”

Pros

  • Light and comfortable
  • Breathable, natural and antibacterial
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • It might take a while to get used to the shape

Best for helping with spine and neck alignment

The best pillows for neck pain: TempurCredit: John Lewis

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.

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."

Pros

  • Temperature-sensitive
  • Firm feel
  • Cover is machine-washable

Cons

  • Some found they still got a little warm at night.

Best water pillow

The best pillows for neck pain: Mediflow The Water PillowCredit: Amazon
Price: $70.00
Alternative retailers
Walmart$94.33View offer

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.

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."

Pros

  • Hypoallergic
  • Responsive support
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Because of the water, it can be quite heavy to move about

Designed for maximum airflow

The best pillows for neck pain: The Simba Hybrid PillowCredit: Simba
Price: £81.75 (was £109)

simbasleep.com

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.

Our review: "As someone who suffers with arthritis, more often than not I wake up in some level of pain. This pillow has really helped me have a fantastic nights sleep. The memory foam moulds to my head and neck, ensuring I wake up pain-free and refreshed. The cubes makes adjustments easy. Plus, the breathable cover keeps me cool all night long. I appreciate the firmness level, and the pillow maintains its shape exceptionally well. It's an investment in quality sleep."

Pros

  • Well suited to a range of sleep positions
  • Machine washable
  • Adjustable height and firmness

Cons

  • Some may not want to spend as much on a single pillow

Best affordable option

The best pillows for neck pain: John Lewis & PartnersCredit: John Lewis

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.

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."

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Well suited to most sleep positions
  • Hypoallergenic and designed to be breathable

Cons

  • Described as medium/firm, but some reviewers found it more on the softer side

Best soft but supportive pillow

Panda Luxury Memory Foam Bamboo PillowCredit: Amazon
Price: $69.95

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.

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!”

Pros

  • Breathable and hypoallergenic
  • Suitable for all types of sleepers
  • Sustainable

Cons

  • Some found it had a bit of a smell at first, but this goes over time

FAQs

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.

Best pillows neck

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?

woman doing neck stretches in 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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