The 9 Best Pillows For Neck Pain, According To Doctors

Hey, how old’s that pillow you’re currently using? Pretty damn old, I’d assume.

Just FYI: You should really replace your pillows every one to two years, according to the National Sleep Foundation (Here’s a quick test: Fold the pillow in half. If it stays folded, it’s time for a new one.)

But I get it. Picking the right pillow is a big decision—especially if you’ve got neck pain. “If you’re thinking about investing in a new pillow or mattress, the number of options and amount of conflicting information about choosing the ‘right’ kind can be overwhelming,” says Neel Anand, M.D., a professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles, California. “It’s a decision you don’t want to get wrong because your neck and/or back may live with it for years to come”

The best pillows for neck pain depend on a lot of factors. You’ve got to know your body—how you sleep, what your daytime habits are— as well as what pillow options are out there. Here’s what to keep in mind.

WonderSleep Premium Adjustable 2-Pack Memory Foam Pillows


You know that super-expensive face cream that you bought—and hated? Yeah, the best pillows for neck pain are definitely not the priciest either. 

“Don’t assume the more money you spend, the more comfortable you’ll be,” says Anand. “The best sleeping surface is the one that feels best to you.”

Try it: WonderSleep Premium Adjustable 2-Pack Memory Foam Pillows, $39.99, Amazon


Hullovota Contoured Memory Foam Pillow


Victor Romano M.D., author of Finding The Source: Maximizing Your Results – With and Without Orthopedic Surgery, said it was a contoured memory pillow “to support the curve in your neck” that rescued him from his own neck pain years ago, and he still uses that pillow today.

Try it: Hullovota Contoured Memory Foam Pillow, $35.99, Amazon


eLuxury I Am Low Density Stomach Sleeper Pillow


To be clear, sleeping on your stomach isn’t going to do your neck pain any favors, says Alex Tauberg, D.C., a chiropractor at Tauberg Chiropractic & Rehabilitation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

But still, if you’ve been a stomach sleeper for, well, ever, you’re probably not going to easily change now. In that case, it’s important to choose a pillow that can accommodate that position, says Tauberg.

Try it: eLuxury I AM Low Density Stomach Sleeper Pillow, $39.99, Amazon

Sleep Innovation Memory Foam Contour Pillow


Before buying a pillow, it’s important to review the warranty and return policy carefully, says Anand. “There are often fees for returning a pillow or mattress, and they grow more expensive the longer you wait,” he says. “Most policies also have strict rules about the condition the pillow/mattress must be in to be covered and/or returned”—yes, even if you get excruciating neck pain from using it.

If you can, Anand recommends heading to the store to try out pillows before buying. “Spending the time upfront can save you money–and aches–in the long run,” he says.

Try it: Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour Pillow with 5-Year Warranty, $26, Amazon

Cariloha Bamboo Gel Pillow


If you’re a tried-and-true feather pillow person, but your neck is always killing you, switch it up. 

Your comfort is more dependent on the pillow’s support, rather than what it’s made of, anyway, says Tauberg, who suggests being adventurous and trying one of the newer styles of pillows out there (think: silk, bambooo, or latex). 

Try it: Cariloha Bamboo Gel Pillow, $109, Amazon


Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow


Ideally, you want ample space between your mattress and your head while you lie in bed, says Anand. 

So, for a firmer mattress, you’ll need a thicker pillow. “There is less cushion for your shoulder to sink into and thus there is a greater space between your mattress and head,” says Anand. 

Try it: Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow Combination With Adjustable Fit, $59.99, Amazon


Home Luxury Living Ultra Thin Memory Foam Pillow


On the other hand, Anand says for a softer mattress you will need a thin pillow to “compensate for your shoulders sinking into the bed.”

A thick pillow makes the space between your head and the mattress too wide, essentially elevating your neck to an uncomfortable position. 

Try it: Home Luxury Living 2.5 Inch Ultra Thin Memory Foam Pillow Sleeper, $54.99, Amazon


UTTU Sandwich Pillow


Like Romano, Anand says he, too, is a big fan of cervical contour pillows because “your neck rests on a less elevated side when lying on your back, or on a more elevated side when sleeping on your side.” 

The key here is to focus on alignment. You want to make sure your neck and back are aligned, and neck stays parallel to the mattress, to avoid pain, says Anand. 

Try it: UTTU Sandwich Pillow, $39.99, Amazon


Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel-Infused Memory Foam Pillow


Specifically, texting. If you’re a tech junkie, Anand says to avoid a pillow that causes your head to bend forward while lying on your back, or that causes your head to bend significantly to the side while lying on your side. This will only exacerbate the neck pain you probably have from bending your head forward to look at your phone all day. 

Try it: Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel-Infused Memory Foam Pillow, $47.95, Amazo

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