Based on my years of experience and after extensive research and interviews with leading experts these pillows are:
- Best in Terms of Price
- Materials are hypoallergenic
- Easy to care for
- Doctors and Experts Recommended
- Plus I have included list of Pros & Cons for each
Our Recommended Top 7 Neck Pillows
(read the extensive reviews below)
We all hate waking up and realizing that we have pain in our neck, which can indirectly affect our overall health.
In truth, the feeling can be especially exasperating, and it is one of the easiest ways for you to begin a day on a pretty bummed note. Bottom line is that a mismatched or wrong pillow can set the day’s tone for you; it will determine whether you will be in pain the rest of the day or will you be in a bad mood because you couldn’t get adequate and quality sleep all night? Both can give you a hard time!Many people attribute the neck pain to the quality of their mattress or their sleeping position. That being said, here are the major causes of stiff neck or neck pain at night:
- Your sleeping position: It is possible that you figured out your best hibernating position a while back, and it is also true that old habits die hard and so do sleep patterns. However, if you’re a type of person that sleeps often on their stomach, then you’re doing more harm to your neck than good. When you sleep on your stomach, you twist your head and neck to the side, and they both remain that way for however long your sleep is. This puts a lot of pressure on your nerves, and it usually manifests in further pain. It can affect the upper body as well as the lower body.
- Your pillow: You might not believe it but your pillow can also cause neck pain (ironic, isn’t it?). The best pillow is aligned in such a way that your neck is properly aligned with the center of your body. If the pillow is too big, your head and neck will be bent overly upwards. On the other hand, an excessively flat pillow will leave your head and neck bent downwards. The size and potential positioning is something you ought to look at whenever you buy a pillow. A good pillow will give a good neck extra support.
- Weak or stiff muscles: It is also possible that the reason why you always wake up with neck pain is that you have arthritis or chronic related conditions. In this case, be sure to see a physical therapist to help you manage your condition and give you tips on muscle relaxation techniques.
- Your sleeping habits: Your sleep habits and hygiene can also contribute to neck pain. Try going to bed early to avoid sleeping disturbance and muscle pain. Additionally, get proper exercise, avoid coffee or alcohol before bedtime to get better sleep.
I recommend reading the following pieces:
Why You Should Have a Neck Pillow for Neck Pain Management
In truth, the only and primary advantage that a pillow provides in helping protect against neck pain is the most important one; protecting the cervical spine, one of the best options for prevention out there.
There are seven bones in your neck, and all seven of them come together to form the cervical spine. These bones receive support thanks to cervical disks, and they are also cushioned by tendons and muscles. The cervical spine has a regular curved shape (called the lordotic cervical curve). Whatever causes you to lose that general spinal column position is definitely going to cause some stress on the lower body and spine as well as other supporting structures. The manifestation of this stress is what is seen as neck pain.
In truth, there have been just a few research efforts done on neck pillows. However, it is obvious that a neck pillow that is able to provide firm and proper support, as well as a good shape, will be able to help protect the cervical spine from experiencing irregularities in original shape when you sleep. The result of that is a better feeling in your back and neck when you take a time-out. This can be one of the possible explanation on how to prevent neck pain. Don’t get stuck in the vicious cycle of waking up with neck pains every morning when something tangible can be done about it.
Pillow Shopping and Your Shopping Style
Contrary to popular belief, your sleeping style can help you determine in selecting the most appropriate pillow type for you.
- Side sleepers will do well with thicker pillows. These pillows will keep their spines straight as they sleep. However, they will need to be cautious so as not to get a pillow that is so thick, it keeps their neck out of alignment. The pillow also has to be firm so as to provide sufficient support.
- Back sleepers will be better served by thinner, low-lift pillows. These ones will fill the space between themselves and the mattress, thereby keeping their heads as high as is needed to achieve a neutral position.
- For stomach sleepers, low-lift, thinner pillows are also ideal. The stomach sleeping position is very difficult to work with. You will definitely not want a thick pillow as it will cause your back to be overly bent causing unwated lower back pain.
Types of Pillows and Their Materials
Pillows go beyond what we see and use to keep our heads in proper sleeping position. There are actually a wide array of pillow types, with the most popular being:
- Body pillows: Body pillows are oversized pillows that are for a specific cause; ideally designed to provide cushioning to the entire expanse of the body.
- Memory foams: Memory foams are polyurethane mixed with certain chemicals. They have increased viscosity and density, meaning they can easily conform to the shape of your neck and head as soon as you put them on the foams.
- Contour pillows: Contour pillows were made for people who sleep on their sides. The middle of the pillow is downward sloping, thereby providing support to the neck and spine.
- Down pillows: A down pillow is probably the softest type of pillow available. Filled with stuff like feathers, they provide optimum comfort.
- Buckwheat pillows: Buckwheat pillows are also very comfortable. Made from Buckwheat (the material that is used to protect kernels), the pillows are effective, albeit very rare.
- Latex pillows: Just as the name goes, latex pillows are made from latex, and they are ideal for people who suffer from allergies as well as neck and back pain.
Factors to be Considered When Buying a Pillow
Buying a pillow is not an investment that should be taken lightly. It is possible to find a good quality pillow within the price range that you are looking for. However, there is a wide variety of factors to be considered, including but not limited to the following:
- Your pillow should ideally have enough surface area to cover the size of your head and neck. A lot of people make the mistake of just resting their heads, leaving a space between the head and the shoulders in the process. In order to avoid stiffness and aches in the neck, it is highly important that you keep both the head and neck warm.
- As much as possible, try not to use more than one pillow. When you use too many pillows, you head will be tilted forward, thereby bringing a lot of strain to your neck. As long as you get the right one, a single pillow is sufficient.
- Make sure that when you’re shopping for pillows, you purchase one that works with how you sleep. If you sleep on your stomach or your side, then make sure that the pillow you use for your head and neck is quite flat. It will ensure that the tilt of your head is more natural.
- If you’re a side sleeper, it is also recommended that you make use of a body pillow or a knee pillow. This will ensure that the position of your spin is maintained. A body or knee pillow will help you to keep your knees apart, and the strain on your spine will reduce as well. Also, since your spine is connected to your neck, the neck in question will also be strain-free.
- Make sure that you are aware of what is inside your pillow. There are various properties in your pillow that can have advantages and characteristic that you might not be aware of. For example, a feather pillow might not do anything to alleviate the chronic pain in your neck since it is soft and can’t provide proper firmness and support.
- Most pillows are used for certain purposes. This means that if you have neck aches, there are actually some types of pillows that might exacerbate your condition. For instance, a pregnancy pillow can’t help with neck aches. Know the type of pillow you’re buying and whether it meets your needs.
- If you see a pillow that is extremely flat, steer clear. A flattened pillow won’t be able to provide any wide range support.
Care and Handling Tips
Just as it is with many other care products, it is essential that you know how to handle and take care of your pillow if it is to last. If viewed under the microscope, one can see thousands of dust mites, dead skin cells and bacteria on the surface of a used pillow. We spend so many hours of our lives sleeping, especially on our pillows that it is unavoidable to not breathe, sneeze, drool, etc on them. Therefore, it is very important to take care of your pillow and make sure you keep following the care handling instructions for them.
- Know that pillows don’t last forever: A pillow is not self-sustaining. The moment you see that your pillow is getting too flat, then its time you change it.
- Cleaning is vital: A lot of times, we use pillows without knowing the value of cleanliness. You need to regularly clean your pillow, as it traps sweat and particles.
- Wash your pillows at least once a week
- Spritz your pillow with vodka: Vodka acts as a quick-drying sanitizer that can give your pillows some refreshment as you change them.
Reviews of Our Top 7 recommended Orthopedic Pillows
This pillow’s fabric is made from bamboo, exclusively manufactured in the US. It is made so that it never loses its form and goes flat. It’s perfect for sleepers who prefer to sleep on their side, stomach and back as it is adjustable and gives the appropriate orthopedic support that you need. If you have allergies, fear not, because the pillow is hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant. The breathable cover is Kool-Flow, keeping you cool all through the night. The shredded foam inside the pillow can be removed to achieve your desired softness and thickness. It all sounds like this pillow has some therapeutic benefits.
The amazing part of buying this pillow is that you have 120 days to try it out and see if it works for you. Within the 120 nights, you can get a refund if you contact Relief-Mart directly. An additional plus is that this pillow is environmentally friendly due to its Biogreen memory foam. It comes in three different sizes: standard size, queen size, and king size. It is fully machine washable and has easy care instructions.
Reviews on Amazon are stellar as well with 4 and a half stars out of 5 based on almost 11,000 unique customer reviews. Positive reviews include comfort sleeping in whichever position that you sleep in, the airflow technology the pillow is made of helps regulate the temperature accordingly. Negative comments are mostly about consumers finding it too firm to use at the beginning and the initial odor that may linger around after you open it. However, based on our research, this pillow is truly luxurious and worth the penny.
This pillow’s cover is made from bamboo making it very soft and breathable. Coop pillow maintains an even surface as to give your head support. Inside the pillow, you will find gel-infused blend which is a blend of CertiPUR-US certified memory foam and microfiber. This ensures that the pillow does not lose its shape or clumps after a long time of usage. You can adjust the pillow according to your sleeping preference. This pillow is also machine washable and dryer friendly. Because of the gel-infused foam, you are also guaranteed to have a cool night.
Customers have a 100-night trial with money back guaranteed and no questions asked. Though it is perfect for people of all ages, and also pregnant women, side, and back or stomach sleepers find it the most comfortable. Customers rave about the alleviation of neck pain after using this pillow regularly. They also love the fact that this pillow shapes to the body to give maximum support and comfort due to its customizable construction.
Most of the common complaint as per users were the lingering smell of the pillow after it is recently unboxed, which does go away after some time of regular use. It comes in two sizes: queen and king sizes. On Amazon, it has 4 and a half stars with about 15,000 customer reviews. Only 7% of the comments are 1-star with 71% of the comments with 5-star reviews making it one of the best pillows for neck problems sold out there.
Z ZONED GEL DOUGH Gel-Infused Memory Foam Bed Pillow Premium Water Base Pillow
The ZONED GEL DOUGH has three technologies that make it into a comfortable, supportive pillow. The memory foam of thi pillow is infused with gel material that helps in distributing heat as to prevent heat buildup. It has large visible holes in the middle to help cradle the head and the smaller holes around the perimeter to support the neck. The airflow through the pillow allows for more breathability.
The soft velour cover from bamboo, which can be found in the pillow, is removable and machine washable. The gel formula creates a supple memory foam that conforms to curve for personalized support. This pillow comes in a standard size measuring 25 by 16 by 7 inches and comes with a 5-year warranty.
On Amazon, it has a 4.2 rating out of 5. Customers like the comfort and support it offers, however, many complained that the pillow heats up after 15 minutes of use, after which, you may have to rotate it on the other side to feel the cool. While some love the softness and mushiness of the pillow, others complain that it is too mushy for them to use.
Recommended by medical professionals and Chiropractors, the Chiroflow pillow is great for grade neck pain support. It has passed test results that demonstrate neck pain relief after use. The Dacron StaLoft fiber filling prevents the pillow from becoming flat. The pillow is great for side and stomach sleepers. The way it works is that you can customize your pillow to your desired level of comfort by either adding or removing water. It automatically adjusts to your head movement throughout the night. You don’t need to fluff it so chances of you waking up often at night are reduced.
The covers are easily removable and washable. You can wipe the inner case where the water is stored to clean up for dirt. The thermally insulated rubber in the water core helps keep the right temperature, preventing the water from getting too warm due to the body heat which is an added benefit. Because it contains water and not foam, the pillow does not bunch up but rather takes shape where you apply pressure for the water to flow.
Customers complain that using this support pillow filled with water can be heavy to use at first and the fluid pressure may cause more harm than good. One size is good for all as you can adjust the water to customize your level of comfort: soft, medium or firm. The company offers a 3-Year warranty against defects. It has a rating of 4 stars on Amazon. One customer complained about mold formation on the pillow and some others complained that the seam split up on the side after multiple uses. Positive reviews rave about the lessening of neck pain.
The Iso-Cool pillow cover is made out of 100% cotton in the US. It has outlast Adaptive Comfort material whose microscopic PCM beads absorb heat and feel cool. It provides great comfort for side sleepers due to its visco-elastic memory foam filling and gusseted sides. It comes in the following measurements: 23 x 15.5 x 5 inches. The cover is removable and machine washable. The materials of the cover are hypoallergenic making it a perfect choice for those with allergies.
On Amazon, it has 3.7 stars out of 5, with around 4000 customer reviews. Common customer complaints are that the quality of the new Iso cool pillow has gone down compared to its older version. Side sleepers rave about the comfort of the pillow for their use. Though it is a heavy pillow, users like that it is not easily removable from its resting place.
Tested by experts at Johns Hopkins University, the Mediflow has 20 years of technology behind it that makes it one of the best pillows to sleep on. The study done in JHU found Mediflow best in all categories of sleep improvement, including reducing neck pain. Because it’s water base, you can fill the inner chamber to your desired state of comfort. Unlike other pillows which lose their shape by the morning, you can rest assured that Mediflow keeps its shape throughout your sleep cycle and gives you support with your changing positions. Because of the even distribution of the weight by the pillow, the pressure is taken off your head and neck.
The Mediflow pillow is perfect for back or stomach sleepers, giving them comfort and uninterrupted sleep throughout the night. The cover has a zipper and the foam is removable so you can wash it. When you first open the box, you may think the pillow is a regular pillow, however, once you turn it around, you will see the opening for the water chamber. The pillow comes with instructions on how much water you need to add to the chamber for the degree of firmness you are looking for.
Customers may find that if they don’t have the right amount of water, the pillow seems to not be working in their favor. However, with a little adjustment, they confirm that this pillow has helped with their neck pain. They have also found that they get fewer headaches waking up the next morning. Customers with negative reviews complain about the leaking that they had to deal with. These complaints are not great in number, however. Some also complain about the chemical smell that lingers around after unwrapping the pillow, as seems the case for most newly unwrapped pillows.
You have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee if it does not seem to be working for you. A study published on PubMed, “Cervical pain: a comparison of three pillows”, demonstrates that waterbase pillows reduce morning pain intensity, gives increased pain relief, and a great quality of sleep.
The design of this pillow is different from other pillows, with the trapezoid shaped hollow in the middle of the pillow. The design is supposed to give you support and comfort for the head as you are sleeping your natural position. Based on your needs and body size, you would pick one of the three size options available along with the 2 firmness levels. The fiber this pillow is made of is intended to take the shape of the head sleeping on it. It springs back when compressed to offer comfort and good night’s sleep.
It does not come with a standard pillowcase, so you will have to invest in one after getting this pillow. You may fit the standard size into a standard pillowcase, the other two pillow will have some room in the standard pillowcase. The side lobes are taller than the middle to give comfort for side sleepers. It has different sized lobes to support different sized people. To take care of this product, you would soak in warm water and hand wash. Do not put in a dryer. You can refluff after it has air dried. Those who love this pillow love it for its user friendly trapezoid hallow.
Are neck pillows washable?
Yes, most neck pillows are washable. However, to be on the safer side, be mindful of the material it is made of and read the care instructions that come with it.
Are there specific pillows for specific positions?
If you have a specific sleeping position, it will be best for you to research for the best pillow type for your neck.
How likely is it that my pillow is a major cause of neck pain?
It is unequivocal. If you have a bad neck pillow, the effects on your neck will be pronounced and you will have severe problems. It might take a while, but you can rest assured that they will show up. For improved quality of sleep, simply changing or upgrading your pillow may make the world’s difference.
Can sleeping without a neck pillow hurt your neck?
Ideally, your neck should be slightly elevated so as to maintain the position of the cervical spine which is what a pillow provides.
Do I also need to change my mattress?
You can research on what best mattresses are for you but its effects are not as vital as those of the pillows for neck pain management.
What is the best neck pillow for me?
The answer to this question depends on how you sleep, various pillows are conformed to certain sleeping positions and can have different higher levels of comfort.
How many pillows should you sleep with?
For side sleepers, it is recommended that they sleep with one pillow under their head and one pillow between their legs/knees as the additional support may be beneficial. For back sleepers, they may consider sleeping with one pillow under their head, while the second would be under their knees. This can help support their neck and spine. For stomach sleeper, one pillow is best.
Is it better to sleep without a pillow?
If you are a side sleep or a back sleeper, do not sleep without a pillow as it can cause more harm than good. If you are a stomach sleeper, this could be a viable option and you can actually benefit from sleeping without a pillow. Resting your head and neck on a flat surface wihtout a pillow can be a good thing and can help with neck pain, but please speak to your doctor or someone equivalent in the health care system who can respond appropriately to this concern.
Can using the right pillow help with snoring and sleep apnea?
Yes – there are specific pillows which are made to help with snoring. There are the Wedge pillow, the contour pillow, the latex foam pillow and some others are great options and can help with snoring. As for sleep apnea, we recommend that you speak with your caregiver to be properly diagnosed as having one and they will have treatment recommendations according to your specific needs.
Will using the right pillow help with shoulder pain and joint pain as well?
Yes – the right pillow will minimize pain in your neck and shoulder. The Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo pillow, the Coop Home Goods pillow and the Z Gel Memory foam pillow reviewed here are some common type pillows you can look into investing in for shoulder pain as well.
I have a lot of migraines. Is it cause of the pillow I use to sleep on?
If you are having restless nights of sleep, interrupted and stiffness in your neck when you wake up, it could be causing the greater risk of frequent headaches or migraines. Sleeping on a bad pillow starts a domino effect on your body.
When is neck surgery required for neck pain?
Your doctor may consider neck surgery as a treatment option when all other approaches have turned out to be futile or have failed. For example, if you have already tried changing your pillow, gone into physical therapy, rested as recommended, taken various pain-relieving medications, neck surgery might be next on the list. For extreme cases, they may even look into spine surgery.
Has there been any clinical research or study that we need special pillows?
There are have been some studies done which show the possible effects that pillows may have on neck pain. A particular study done in South Korea, “Effectiveness of Functional Pillow on Neck Pain, Disability, Quality of Sleep and Life”, looked precisely into this topic.
Are therapeutic pillows okay for someone who is heavyweight?
Someone with extra body weight can benefit largely from using the right pillow as well. When sleeping, how the body is positioned can have an effect on your airway which could be due to sleep apnea or other breathing problems. Using the right pillow will ensure that you are comfortable and will help with opening up airways which are otherwise obstructed. If you have diabetes and are overweight, you may want to look into weight loss exercises as losing extra body fat can help not only with your blood levels but also with sleeping problems.
How long do these pillows last? What about the wear and tear?
For any product you own, if you are following the care handling instructions, it will last as long as indicated by the seller. Taking good care of your pillow and making sure you are not being too rough during washing them should help it last longer. If you find that your pillow came damaged, contact their customer service to see if you can get an exchange or a refund for that product.
Is musculoskeletal pain related to neck pain?
Your neck pain can be related to musculoskeletal pain. Usually, musculoskeletal pain is caused by jerking movements, car accidents, falls, blows to the muscle, fracture and so on. Therefore, it is possible that your neck pain is not due to your sleeping habits or your pillow. To ensure you are getting the correct diagnosis, speak to your doctor.
Is my poor posture also contributing to my neck pain?
Poor posture can definitely be the culprit behind your neck pain. If your spine and neck are not optimally aligned, the neck can be a victim of wear and tear over time, which can contribute to your neck pain. However, the effects of poor posture do not stop there. Poor posture can wreak havoc on other parts of the body too. If you have poor posture at work sitting, you may consider getting an ergonomic assessment to see if your computer, your chair, and other office objects are positioned best as per your body’s needs. Some workplaces are now also offering standing desks and balance boards as part of office furniture. Studies show that people who have options of both sitting and standing desks at their workplace complain of less neck and shoulder pain. Additionally, it also helps with their posture.
I read something that neck pain can cause a stroke. Is that true?
The carotid and vertebral arteries are two pairs of blood vessels in our neck. They are also known as the cervical arteries. Their crucial job is to carry the blood to our brains. If one of the vessels has a tear in their lining, known as a cervical artery dissection, blood leaks from that layer can form a clot. This clot could be responsible for blocking blood flow through the artery to the brain, resulting in a stroke. If you suspect that you may have a cervical artery dissection, contact your doctor immediately.
Does price point matter when purchasing a good quality pillow?
As with any product, an expensive pillow may work for you and not work someone else. Similarly, a pillow at a lower price point may work for you and not necessarily for someone else. This is why its imperative to do research on a pillow and what their features are before investing in one.
Is it true that the heavy metal detox can cause neck or back pain?
We recommend speaking to your doctor about this.