We have all experienced neck pain at some point in our lives. Waking up with a stiff neck and in aches can make it hard for us to function even if it is not Monday morning. Neck pain can be considered one of those „modern age diseases“ that can be triggered by excessive use of technology. Spending too much time sitting in front of a computer in a wrong posture and with a bad screen position, or looking at smartphone screens constantly and bending our head and neck forward, those are our everyday activities that affect our neck making it sore and stiff. Sleeping is essential because it can help us recover during the night and alleviate the pressure on the neck. That’s why it is vital to have a proper pillow that will support the neck as a wrong pillow can be a cause of struggles.

Sleepless and rough nights are often caused by the wrong choice of pillow, so if you are having problems with neck pain, you may consider changing your pad first. The pain usually occurs from time to time, but it can become a chronic condition, that is why the choice of the right pillow is so essential. Also, we usually sleep on one pillow for a few years, and during this period it is getting a lot of use. It is crucial to be aware of the symptoms of a worn-out pillow. When your pillow starts developing indentations, sagging, sinking, losing its firmness, when you start folding it beneath your head, etc. those are all the signs that you might need a new one. But, how to find a good one when there are so many different compositions, features, shapes, and sizes? Well, that is why we are here, we have prepared reviews of the best neck support pillows, and an in-depth buyer’s guide that will point out which factors you should pay attention to.

 

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

Highlights:

  • Warranty period – 5 years
  • Extra firm
  • Different loft sizes

As our first choice, we represent you an orthopedic TEMPUR-Neck pillow with an ergonomic design that follows your body curves and raises the neck while supporting it gently and adapting to your head. This pillow is made from memory foam that is described as “extra firm” which means that this pillow will not sink in overtime and jeopardize the spinal alignment. This model offers three different levels of loft thickness, 3, 4, and 4.5 inches, so that the shoppers can find a perfect match which suits their body preferences such as shoulder width, head size, and neck length. Despite being tagged as “extra firm,” this pillow is not uncomfortable, it contours and cradles your head and neck while relaxing the muscles and aligning the spine.

source: tempurpedic.com

Memory foam base is covered with a micro vented polyester knit cover that is easily removable, machine washable and breathable. Foam core should not be washed, if anything spills over it, try blotting up as much as you can and leave it out to dry itself.

Although the average lifespan of memory foam pads is around 2 to 3 years, the TEMPUR-Neck pad is backed up with a 5-year warranty, which guarantees that this model is more durable than the other foam pads, they would repair it or replace it if necessary. It also comes with a price below the average price point, which means that you will get a quality pillow for a low price. It weighs 2.8 pounds, and its dimensions are 20 x 4 x 14 inches. The shipping is free within the contiguous US.

Great for:

  • Back and side sleepers
  • Sleepers looking for a fair price
  • Average and heavyweight sleepers

 

Malouf Zoned Gel Dough

Highlights:

  • Warranty period – 5 years
  • Different loft sizes
  • Excellent heat regulation

This memory foam pillow is infused with Gel Dough formula which keeps it cool and helps with heat regulation. Also, almost an entire surface of the pad is perforated with Zoned Technology designed holes of different dimensions. They provide airflow and thanks to them this model is probably the most breathable pillow on the market. It comes with a Tencel mesh removable cover, and this eco-friendly fabric helps as well with heat and moisture regulation. The cover is machine washable, but the pillow itself is not. If any stains occur, try spot cleaning it with a damp cloth.

source: maloufsleep.com

The Zoned Technology design sets the focus on optimal comfort feel for the head and neck. Larger holes were placed in the middle of the pillow so that they can cradle and support the head, while the smaller holes go around that area and conform to the neck. This pillow contours your body without losing its shape and also affects the improvement of spinal alignment.

This pillow comes in two different dimensions, King 16 x 35 inches, and Queen 16 x 29 inches, both options come with three loft sizes. The low-loft is 4.5 inches, the medium is 6 inches, and high is 7 inches thick. A warranty period of 5 years guarantees you that you are investing your money in a pillow that is durable more than other foam pads, and all shoppers within the contiguous US have free shipping.

Great for:

  • Back and side sleepers
  • Hot sleepers
  • All weight groups

 

Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo Pillow

Highlights:

  • Warranty period – 20 years
  • Sleep trial period – 120 nights
  • Adjustable loft

This pillow offers the comfort of a down pillow, but unlike the down pillow, this one will not lose its shape over the time due to the mix of different types of shredded foam. The foam that this company uses for pillows comes from excess foam used for their mattresses. They combined hypoallergenic and CertiPUR-US certified foam which is very low in V.O.C. with Biogreen foam. These pillows filled with small pieces of foam are incredibly soft and comfortable, but also resilient and lighter than other cushions from shredded foam. Dense memory foam is naturally dust mite resistant, which makes it the most comfortable and hypoallergenic material in bedding.

source: snugglepedic.com

The Kool-Flow Micro-Vented Bamboo cover is made from polyurethane and bamboo viscose, and it is hypoallergenic, soft and highly breathable, so it is going to keep you cool all night long. The whole pillow can be machine washed and dried, so there is no need to worry about cleaning because it is very easy to maintain. Its adjustable loft suits everyone providing the right amount of comfort and support that will please your neck and release the stress of the muscles.

This pillow is super lightweight with only 1.01 pounds, and it comes in three cut sizes, Standard 26 x 19 inches, Queen 28 x 20 inches, King 35 x 20 inches. But its dimensions and loft thickness are adjustable and can be easily personalized by gathering or spreading out the foam. The company recommends shipping the pillow back to them if there is a need for customization, to remove or add some extra foam, the shipping is free. With such excellent customer service, very affordable price, 120 nights sleep trial and a 20-year warranty, Snuggle-Pedic Bamboo Pillow is one model that is hard to beat.

Great for:

  • People looking for a fair price
  • Sleepers of all weight groups and sleep positions
  • Hot sleepers

 

Purple Pillow

Highlights:

  • Warranty period – 1 year
  • Sleep trial period – 100 nights
  • Medium loft (3”)

For all of you who are searching for a more innovative pillow design, we represent you the Purple pillow, constructed with the company’s signature Smart grid design. The company started with mattresses, and then they adjusted their design to other products and cushions. Their unique design of open Hyper-Elastic Polymer mesh allows free air flow which provides maximal breathability, and it is antimicrobial. This rubbery-like material contours to your body without losing its shape. Reinforced firm edges will support your neck properly while the soft middle part cradles the head.

source: purple.com

The key material used for this pillow is a polymer, which by itself is not a very breathable material, but when it is used to create a triangle-grid structure with air pockets, that results with air moving freely even when you are lying upon it. Construction of this pillow makes it a top cooling pad, but it is important to say that sleeping cool is a relative category, because on the overall body temperature can also influence our pajamas, mattress, blanket, etc.

The polyester and bamboo blend was used for a cover which is removable and can be machine washed and dried, the polymer grid is attached to a firm base layer of polymer, and it can be hand-washed and air-dried.

This unusual pillow is a bit heavier, it weighs 10 pounds, and it comes in one size 16.3 x 8.4 x 6.9 inches. There is a sleep trial period of 100 nights so you can try it out and feel if it is the right one. Also, it comes with a 1-year warranty and free shipping within the contiguous US.

Great for:

  • Back and side sleepers
  • Sleepers willing to spend more
  • Average and lightweight group of sleepers

 

Coop Home Goods Travel and Camping Pillow

Highlights:

  • Warranty period – 5 years
  • Sleep trial period – 100 nights
  • Adjustable loft

The Coop Home Goods pillow was created for all travelers and campers who are not into inflatable pads but are looking for the comfort of a standard sleeping pillow. Although it has a smaller shape, this pillow is made out of the same materials as their best-selling standard pillows. Comfortable, shredded memory foam is CertiPUR-US certified and blended with a poly fiberfill, and you can increase or decrease the filling to reach that perfect loft size, you do get a package of extra stuffing with it. These and the fact that it can be compressed are the reasons why this pillow will be your new inevitable travel companion. It works for every sleep position, and it will give you the right amount of neck support even in the upright posture.

source: coophomegoods.com

For the cover, they used bamboo-derived viscose and polyester blend which is quilted for increased airflow. The cover is hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant and breathable, not to thin so that it provides a cozy and soft comfortable feel. Both cover and the pillow with its filling are machine washable and dryable, but it is important to dry it out completely. We also recommend washing it with cold water, do not use fabric softeners, and make sure that the foam filling is completely dry. Shredded foam is easier to dry than the regular one-piece dense foam pillow, so this is a huge advantage when it comes to maintaining your pad.

This travel size pillow comes with a stuff sack which saves the space and decreases the size of the pad, its dimensions are 19 x 14 inches, and it can be compressed to 10 x 6 inches, so it saves a significant amount of space, perfect for campers and travelers. And with a 5-year warranty, you are sure that you have made a good choice.

Great for:

  • Sleepers of all weight groups
  • Travelers and backpackers
  • All sleep positions, including upright

 

Nest Bedding Easy Breather

Highlights:

  • Warranty period – 2 years
  • Sleep trial period – 100 nights
  • Adjustable loft

For sleepers with neck pain, loft size is an important thing, that is why the Easy Breather pillow with its adjustable loft can be their perfect choice. This pillow contains shredded memory foam combined with polyfill like substance, and this material blend can be easily removed or added through the zipped cover, to customize the loft height. There is only one thicker cover layer, so it is not really removable like most of the other covers.

source: nestbedding.com

This material mix mimics the comfort feel of a feather and down pillow, it cradles the neck and head, provides optimal support and contour. No matter how much of a filling you remove or add, this pillow is still going to provide proper contouring and comfort. Due to its stuffing, this pillow has free air flow, and the Tencel blended cover adds up extra breathability to it. Tencel comes from eucalyptus pulp, and it is considered as an alternative for cotton although it has to go through some synthetic processes to create a fiber which can be used for fabric. For this cover, Tencel is combined with polyester, and the plushy surface is quilted to create that luxury appearance and feel.

Easy Breather sleeping pillow is eco-friendly, owns a CertiPUR-US certificate, and it is free from flame retardants, phthalates, heavy metals, or anything that could harm your health. The only downside of this pillow is the fact that it cannot be machine washed or dried, it can only be spot cleaned, including the cover. So we suggest using a pillowcase over it for easier maintaining and more hygienic sleep surface. The pillow comes in three sizes: Standard 24 x 16 inches, Queen 27 x 16 inches, and King 32 x 16 inches. There is a 100-night sleep trial period, 2-year warranty, and free shipping within the contiguous US.

Great for:

  • Light and average groups of sleepers
  • Back and side sleepers
  • Sleepers willing to spend more

 

Let’s Talk About Neck Pain

After we have introduced you to our top picks of pillows for neck pain, now it is time to get to that more painful subject. Neck aches can lower the quality of your daily activities and jeopardize your mental and physical condition. Usual symptoms of chronic neck pain are constant headaches, stiffness, reduced motion range of head and neck, spasm, muscle strain, etc. In most cases, neck pain does not require medical treatment, but we suggest speaking to your doctor if you are experiencing severe and constant aches, pain that is followed by numbness, tingling, or it migrates to the shoulders, arms, or any other areas of your body. Some of the most common causes of neck pain are:

  • Muscle strain – many factors can cause strained neck muscles, sitting at work desks for a long time, reading in bed, or sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
  • Injuries – many different body injuries can lead to neck pain, but especially people who are involved in car accidents can experience very severe neck pain due to the sudden and intense head wince forward or backward.
  • Sitting at a computer – since we all spend a lot of time in front of a computer, the wrong desk setup and a sitting posture are among the most common reasons that can cause neck pain.
  • Worn joints – as we age, our neck joints aggravate, so due to their age, many adults but mostly elderly people are experiencing neck pain. If the person is suffering from osteoarthritis, that can make the problem even worse because it wears down the cartilage between vertebrae.
  • Nerves – some spinal problems like bone spurs or herniated disks can prevent nerves to extend fully, and that also develops neck aches.
  • Traveling – we all love it, but sitting and sleeping in an upright position is not good at all for the neck, so whether you are traveling by plane, train, bus or car, make sure to bring a travel pad that can help you sleep more comfortably and that will support your neck correctly. It prevents sore muscles and stiffness so that you can rest while in transportation.
  • Diseases – it has been proven that some diseases like spinal meningitis or cancer can lead to the development of chronic neck pain.

 

Shopping Tips for Sleepers with Neck Pain

Pillows are made from different materials, constructions, and can have a significant impact on your neck by either aggravating the current condition or making an improvement and relieving the aches and pressure. For people with pains in their neck, too high and stiff cushions are not appropriate because they are not comfortable enough and can cause muscle strain. Memory foam pillows are an excellent choice for a sensitive neck, and the foam will contour to your body shape and cradle your neck and head. Feather pillows are also a good option because they as well conform closely to the body contours, but they tend to flatten quickly and must be replaced often because flat pillow can aggravate neck pains. So if you are not ready to buy a new pad each year or two, you might as well skip the feather filled pillows. For neck pain sufferers, pillows with adjustable loft can be the right solution. They are filled usually with shredded memory foam which contours the body curves correctly, and that foam can be added or removed by sleeper’s desire, adjusting the loft and giving him the maximal custom experience.

It is recommended that people with neck pain should sleep on their side or back, as those two sleeping postures are the best for their condition. We are now going to give you our advice for each sleep position and suggest a matching pillow.

  • Side sleepers – sleeping in this posture can cause spine misalignment, so it is essential to achieve spinal alignment in this position. That can be accomplished with a pillow that has elevated edges to support the neck properly, and a lower central area to conform to the head.
  • Back sleepers – in this position it is also essential to have more elevated and rounded surface beneath the neck, with an indentation in the middle for the head. If you use an adjustable pillow, you can spread the filling so that it is more concentrated and thicker beneath your neck. Also, the combination of a rounded pad beneath the neck and a more flat pad beneath the head works great as well.
  • Stomach sleepers – while sleeping on your stomach there are no chances to achieve proper spinal alignment, and that is why this sleeping posture is considered as the unhealthiest one, and it can be the cause of a neck and back pain. While sleeping like this, your neck is usually turned to the side, which can develop muscle strain. Changing the preferred sleep position can be difficult, but if you are having problems with your neck try avoiding this sleeping posture.

 

Buyer’s Guide: Pillows for Neck Pain Sufferers

If you are experiencing neck pain, there are three main pillow features which you should pay attention to when choosing the right one for yourself. Those three categories are size, loft, and shape; we will start with the size.

There are six standard pillows sizes and an extra “small” size for orthopedic memory foam pillows that have elevated neck support. In the table down below we listed pillows by their size and features, all measures are in inches, the first number stands for width and the second one for length.

Size Dimensions Price Pillowcase Notes
Small 20 x 12 inches Varies Special sizes This size is for memory foam curved pads, which are shorter than standard pillows
Standard 20 x 26 inches $ Standard 20-21 x 30-32 The most common and compact pillow size
Super Standard 20 x 28 inches $ Standard 20-21 x 30-32 Longer than standard, but it fits the standard pillowcase
Queen 20 x 30 inches $$ Standard 20-21 x 30-32

Queen 20-22 x 30-34

This size is longer, which is great for sleepers who turn and toss
King 20 x 36 inches $$$ King 20-21 x 36-41 Great size for those who sit and read in bead; also for sleepers who turn and toss
Euro 26 x 26 inches

24 x 24 inches

22 x 22 inches

20 x 20 inches

18 x 18 inches

16 x 16 inches

$$ Euro (Varies) Their square shape makes them a great backrest or headrest pillows
Body Pillow 54 x 20 inches

48 x 20 inches

$$$ Body Pillow (Varies) Great for pregnant women and side sleepers

Right after the size, the next feature you should consider is the shape of a pillow. For sleepers with neck pain curved or flat surfaces are the best as they will provide them with the right amount of support and pain alleviation.

  • Curved surface – these cervical or orthopedic memory foam pillows have an elevated area that supports the neck, while the head area is indented. Some people use it upside-down and claim that they feel much more comfort and support using it that way. Cervical pillows for neck pain are probably the best thing that you can afford for your comfort during the night and pain-free mornings.
  • Flat surface – flat shape is considered as a standard pillow shape. With this shape neck pain sufferers may achieve the right amount of support, depending on pillows composition and filling. Shredded memory foam is usually the best choice of pillow fill for people with neck pain because it contours so well to their neck and head. Feather filled cushions are also comfortable and pain-relieving, but they tend to lose their firmness and shape quickly. Contouring materials have turned out to be the best for relieving aches in the neck and shoulders.

The loft or thickness of a pillow is another category that you should have in mind, based on your body features you should choose a loft that suits you. Your head size, shoulder width, personal weight, preferred sleep position, mattress, are all important factors which when combined with appropriate loft size can round up a perfect sleeping experience. We are going to summarize down below which loft suits the best all of those factors so that you can quickly figure out which one is perfect for you.

There are three different loft sizes:

  • Low-loft – pillows that are less than 3 inches thick
  • Medium-loft – pillows that are from 3 to 5 inches thick
  • High-loft – pillows that are more than 5 inches thick

When it comes to sleep position, people who tend to sleep mostly on their back usually prefer medium-loft pads because they offer the right balance between thickness and softness. Side sleepers typically go for high-loft to compensate that extra space between their pillow and neck, but the medium-loft can suit some of them as well, for example, sleepers with narrow shoulders. Stomach sleepers often sleep even without the pillow, but when they use it, it should be the low-loft one because that is the most comfortable thickness for them. Although we have to point up one more time that sleepers with neck pain should avoid this sleeping posture.

Pillow position is something that we did not mention before; there are two types of positions. Sleepers who sleep with a pillow partially beneath their head should go for medium-loft or even high-loft for better neck support and spinal alignment. On the other hand, those who sleep with pillow entirely under their head should suit the best low-loft or even medium-loft thickness.

Finding a perfect match pair of mattress and pillow can be a challenge. Although pads and mattresses are often sold in a pair, sometimes the pairing that company made may not suit your needs. For low-loft pads, the best mattress type is memory foam or latex model, because they sink deeply below the sleeper so that there is less space between the sleep surface and neck and head. Medium and high-loft pillows go well with innerspring mattresses and hybrids because they are less responsive, so there is more space between the surface and sleepers head and neck.

Body weight is important for mattress choice, but it can also be a factor for the selection of loft thickness. Sleepers who are heavyweight (above 230 pounds) usually sink in too much into their mattress, so for them, a low-loft or a medium-loft pillow is a must. On the other hand, average and lightweight sleepers cannot sink in as much, so they should go for medium-loft or even high-loft thickness to fill the gap better.

People with smaller head should use low-loft or medium-loft, while the ones with larger and heavier heads will find better support and less sinkage while sleeping on the high-loft pillows.

Sleepers with broad shoulders have a bigger gap between their neck and head and sleep surface, so for them, high-loft is the most comfortable option. For those sleepers with more narrow shoulders, low-loft or medium-loft should be enough thickness for proper support.

As we have mentioned before, adjustable pillows can provide different and custom loft thickness, so they are a somewhat universal solution that can suit all sleepers with neck pain, regardless of their body features.

 

Pillow Construction and Materials

In a particular section, we would like to highlight different types of pillow materials that are most common among pillows and try to seclude which ones are the best for neck pain. We are going to go through seven mostly used pillow materials.

  • Buckwheat – usually from 5 to 10 pounds of buckwheat hulls is used for one pillow. These pillows provide the above average support, coolness, and adjustable loft. They are a bit heavy, noisy, and their price can be even heavier for your wallet. Some sleepers may find it too firm, so keep that in mind, but they do provide decent support for the neck, so overall they are suitable for neck pain sufferers.
  • Down – soft feathering that can be found beneath the outer feathers of ducks and geese’s is used for pillows with adjustable loft. These pillows are super lightweight, soft and comfortable, but they come with a higher price and need to be fluffed frequently. Also, they tend to lose their shape quickly and can cause problems to sleepers with allergies. They usually come with a low-loft and are maybe too soft to provide support and soothe neck aches.
  • Down alternative – polyester fibers are used to mimic the weight and softness of down. They also have adjustable loft, softness, but there are no allergy risks, and they are much more budget friendly. Yet, they as well lose their shape quickly, need to be fluffed, but when it comes to neck pain, there is not much that this pillow can do, it can only deteriorate your symptoms and aches.
  • Feather – outer feathers of geese and ducks are also used for filling. These pillows are lightweight, soft, the loft is adjustable, and they have a long lifespan. Sometimes you may be poked through the pillowcase by the quills, and the price point for feather filled pillows is higher than the average. There is a need for often fluffing, but besides that these pillows conform closely to sleepers head and neck, and can be a good choice if you are dealing with neck pain.
  • Polyester – this synthetic fabric is created to mimic the softness of cotton, usually shredded or interlocking fibers are used for pillows. They come with a low price, no risks of allergies, but their lifespan is short and they tend to lose their shape quickly. People with neck pain should avoid pillows with shredded polyester as they can aggravate their symptoms and conditions. On the other hand, pillows with interlocking fibers can be convenient for neck pain problems.
  • Latex – this natural substance is extracted from the sap of rubber trees, and latex pillows offer close conforming, long lifespan, support, cool sleep, but they do not come with an adjustable loft. Latex models are a bit heavier and pricier but are great in releasing the pressure of your neck and shoulders.
  • Memory foam – initially developed by NASA, memory foam quickly became popular material which guarantees an increased feeling of comfort. Whether it’s a solid piece of viscoelastic polyfoam or shredded memory foam, this is a material that gets softer once it comes in touch with body heat. It provides close conforming, if the foam is shredded the loft can be adjustable, and it produces no noise. Memory foam is probably the best pillow material for people with neck pain. These pillows can be expensive, but they soothe and relieve neck pains more effectively than any other.

So, to summarize our material review, memory foam and feathers turned out to be the best choices for people with neck pain. Buckwheat and latex pillow can also come in option, but their high price and lack of some features earned them a lower score. Materials such as polyester, down and down alternative, are at the bottom of our list after comparing different pillow materials for neck pain sufferers, so we highly recommend people with aches to avoid them.

At the very end, we would like to mention one popular and somewhat innovative pillow for sleepers with neck pain. That is the pillow with inner water chambers that can be drained or filled to personalize the loft thickness. They conform closely and are pretty popular among neck pain sufferers.

 

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