The best pillows for neck pain and reducing aches for front, back and side sleepers

Designed for cervical spine support, the best pillows for neck pain should guarantee a good night's sleep

one of w&h's best pillows for neck pain and a woman with neck pain on a patterned background
(Image credit: Future)

The very best pillows for neck pain aim will keep your head, neck, and spine aligned and will reduce pressure on the top of your body to alleviate aches and pains. 

When it comes to finding the best pillow for you, it all depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you're experiencing neck pain at night, or feel stiff in the morning, it might be worth investing in a pillow specifically designed to alleviate pressure in that area. Pillows designed for neck pain aim to keep your body in neutral alignment. They ensure your head, neck, and shoulders are supported and at the optimum height to avoid any unnecessary strain on that area of your body.

To help you find the best pillow for neck pain, various expert testers assessed a range of pillows from popular brands (including Sealy, Simba, and Tempur) over the course of a few nights, and asked experts for their take on the best pillows for neck pain. Evaluating pillows made from different materials, they worked out how well each one alleviated neck pain, while judging other factors too such as value-for-money, hypoallergenic options and style. And, if you suffer from pain elsewhere while you sleep, such as lower back pain, you may want to see our expert guide to the best pillows for back pain, too.

The best pillows for neck pain as chosen by experts

Kally Sleep Cervical Neck Pain Pillow

(Image credit: Kally)
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1. Kally Sleep Cervical Neck Pain Pillow

Best pillow for neck pain overall

Specifications

RRP: £29.99 (UK only)
Size: 56cm x 34cm x 10cm
Filling: Memory foam
Cover: 100% cotton
Guarantee: None

Reasons to buy

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Firm base for back and side sleepers
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Cotton outer helps to prevent overheating
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14-night trial period
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Great value-for-money

Reasons to avoid

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Shape and firmness might not suit everyone
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Smaller than standard pillows

The Kally Sleep Cervical Neck Pain memory foam pillow features a butterfly shape with a divot in the middle that gently cradles the head, while simultaneously offering cervical (spine) support. Filled with soft memory foam, the slow-rebound inner is medium-firm in density, coming in at a seven for firmness on a scale of 1-10. 

The breathable, 100% cotton outer will also help those who tend to suffer from overheating at night or who often find themselves waking up feeling hot and wondering how to get back to sleep in the middle of the night. It’s slightly smaller than a standard pillow though, so it’s wise to invest in bespoke covers as extras, which can be bought online. Kallysleep also offers a 14-night trial so you can test it out for a couple of weeks to ensure it’s the right fit for you. One of our best pillows for neck pain overall, offering good value for money, a good trial period, and great support.

Sealy Zonal Support pillow, one of the best pillows for neck pain,

(Image credit: Sealy)
Best pillow for those who sleep in different positions

Specifications

RRP: £44.99 (US shipping available)
Size: 71cm x 45cm
Filling: Hollowfiber
Cover: 100% cotton
Guarantee: Three years

Reasons to buy

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Subtle support for head, neck and shoulders
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Springy feel for comfort
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Crisp but soft casing for a luxurious feel
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Available in firm, medium and soft support

Reasons to avoid

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Not as plump as others so could take some getting used to

If you're someone who finds yourself tossing and turning at night, moving through all manner of sleeping positions, then finding a pillow for neck pain is no mean feat. Luckily, the Sealy Zonal Support pillow ticks all the boxes. It offers firm support, which usually suits side sleepers better, but the slightly flatter design means it also works to align back sleepers perfectly. There's also a soft option if you prefer your pillow to feel a bit more marshmallow-like, and it features a soft edge to support your neck and shoulders comfortably. This supportive but pliable cushioning also helps if you find yourself sleeping on your tummy a lot. With the luxury feel this supportive pillow offers, we're sold.

MARNUR memory foam pillow

(Image credit: Amazon/MARNUR)
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3. MARNUR Memory Foam Pillow

Best pillow for tummy sleepers

Specifications

RRP: $35.99 (US only)
Size: 64.5cm x 37cm
Filling: Memory foam
Cover: Polyester and spandex
Guarantee: None

Reasons to buy

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Great for tummy sleepers
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Ensures even pressure distribution to reduce strain on neck and head
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Two different heights
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Sweat-reducing cover

Reasons to avoid

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Shape requires custom pillow covers

Front sleeping is not really recommended as it can cause neck issues, but if you’re unable to sleep any other way then this strangely-shaped offering might help. It's the MARNUR Contour Memory Foam Pillow Orthopedic and it's designed specifically to cater to all sleepers, including those whose sleeping position means spending the night on their stomach. 

The pillow has a unique ergonomic shape, designed to maintain the natural curve of your neck. Armrests at the side reduce pressure on arms and wrists, and a contour area properly aligns the neck, while the middle section provides optimal support and comfort for the head. The cervical curve helps reduce head and neck rotation, ensuring even pressure distribution for comfortable stomach sleeping. The breathable, sweat-reducing pillowcase fits neatly and can be removed for washing, too (see our guide to how to wash pillows for tips). 

Sissel pillow, one of the best pillows for neck pain

(Image credit: Sissel/Amazon)
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4. Sissel Classic Orthopaedic Pillow

Best pillow for preventing tension headaches

Specifications

RRP: $84.50 / £49.95
Size: 47cm x 33cm (medium); 47cm x 33cm (large)
Filling: Polyurethane (PU) foam
Cover: 75% cotton, 25% polyester
Guarantee: Five years

Reasons to buy

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Good price for a specialist pillow
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Soft, washable outer cover
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Five-year guarantee

Reasons to avoid

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Might not suit front sleepers

If your neck isn’t supported properly when you sleep, it can strain the vertebrae and tendons, resulting in soreness and stiffness in the morning. This can lead to tension headaches, headaches that then prevent you from sleeping properly.

Having created cervical spine support pillows for more than 30 years, expert brand Sissel offers a number of options, including the Sissel Classic Orthopaedic pillow. This foam pillow is designed to sit snugly in the space between the neck and shoulders when you sleep, and properly reduces aches and pains come morning. This prevents your muscles from tensing up to keep you in position if your pillow isn’t supportive enough. The soft, velour cover is removable and can be popped into the washing machine. 

Simba Hybrid pillow, one of w&h's best pillows for neck pain

(Image credit: Simba)
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Best adjustable neck pillow for a cool night's sleep

Specifications

RRP: £99 (UK only)
Size: 50cm x 75cm
Filling: Memory foam cubes, microfibre casing
Cover: Cotton
Guarantee: One year

Reasons to buy

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Loose filling allows for a bespoke fit
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Cooling effect
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Removable cover for washing
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Bag to store spare Nanocubes
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One-year guarantee

Reasons to avoid

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Needs occasional plumping
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Expensive 

Simba do some of the best mattresses around, and their pillows are equally good. There are hundreds of foam Nanocubes inside the Simba Hybrid pillow that will gently cushion your head, neck, and spine, while also creating a supportive base. 

The loose cubes—encased in a zip pocket—can be taken out or added to depending on your sleep position and preference, creating a personalized sleeping experience. It's no surprise we rate this as one of the best pillows for neck pain. Keep more filling in for a firmer base with a higher loft (great for side sleepers) or, if you’re a back sleeper, remove a handful of the cubes until you have the perfect lower, slightly softer sleep. To help you keep cool at night, especially if you suffer from hot flushes, the cubes are sandwiched between a hypoallergenic fiber, enriched with minerals, called Aerelle Cool Night that dissipates heat, and a microfibre padding for softness. 

See our full Simba Hybrid pillow review

Tempur Original support pillow, best pillows for neck pain

(Image credit: Tempur)
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6. Tempur Original Support Pillow

Best pillow for firm structured neck support

Specifications

RRP: $109 / £105
Size: 50cm x 31cm (medium); 61cm x 31cm (large)
Filling: Visco-elastic memory foam and polyester
Cover: Polyester
Guarantee: Three years

Reasons to buy

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Good support for side sleepers
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Three-year guarantee
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Hypoallergenic

Reasons to avoid

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Pricey compared to other pillows
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Not suitable for front sleepers

Made with the same space-age material that fills its mattresses, the Tempur Original Support pillow has been specifically designed to cradle the neck and shoulders to provide pain-free slumber. 

Through the night, the firm memory foam filling gently molds to the shape of your head and neck and then springs back to its original shape afterwards, ensuring that each sleep is as comfortable as the last. It’s available in three height sizes, so you can pick the one that suits your style of sleeping - Tempur recommends the medium or large for women and the large or XL for men.  There’s also a 30-night trial if you’re not sure which one is best for you. The soft outer cover can be washed at 60˚and spares are available to buy, too.

Cuddledown Edelweiss cushion Cuddledown Edelweiss Hungarian Goose Down pillow

(Image credit: Cuddledown)
Best comfortable pillow for neck pain

Specifications

RRP: £169 (international shipping available)
Size: Five sizes available
Filling: Goose down
Cover: Pure Swiss cotton cambric 400 thread count
Guarantee: Five years

Reasons to buy

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Very plump and cushiony
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Bounces back after use
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Hugs the head and neck for maximum support
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Luxury, high-end quality

Reasons to avoid

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Sinks slightly when you lie on it
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Expensive

Super squishy pillows probably won’t offer enough in the way of neck support, as these types of pillows can sink under the weight of your head during the night.  If you prefer a softer surface, then you’ll also need to invest in something with firmness and a good bounce-back to protect your neck and spine. Cue the luxurious Cuddledown Edelweiss Hungarian Goose Down pillow. 

With a good loft and a supportive fill, it features 20% extra down to provide the perfect balance of softness and support and gives you the plush feel you would expect from luxury hotel pillows. We rate it as the most comfortable, yet supportive, pillow for neck pain. 

Mela Dual Pillow

(Image credit: Mela)

8. Mela Dual Pillow

Best pillow for allowing movement

Specifications

RRP: £65 (UK only)
Size : 50 x 75 x 20cm
Filling: OEKO-TEX certified polyester
Cover : 100% cotton
Guarantee : Information not available

Reasons to buy

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Unique pillow-in-a-pillow design
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100% cotton cover is cooling 
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Osteopath-approved
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Built-in support around the edges for plumpness 
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30-night trial period with the offer of a full refund

Reasons to avoid

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The plump shape might not suit some side sleepers
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Only one size

The most unique aspect of this osteopath-recommended pillow is its pillow-in-pillow design, providing a comfy blend of squish and support. The Mela Dual Pillow has an inner pillow to provide overall support, while the inner pillow supports the neck. This pillow comes recommended by osteopath Anisha Joshi, of OsteoAllies (opens in new tab), who praises its support for the neck. "The best pillows for neck pain are the Mela Dual Pillows, which support your neck whilst also allowing movement," she told w&h. "It's important to look for a pillow that allows freedom of movement whilst you’re sleeping, because it’s important for our bodies to move while we sleep."

Made from a down alternative - a high-quality microfibre filling - its OEKO-TEX certification means it's free from harmful chemicals. Another advantage is that the 100% cotton cover is cooling and breathable, particularly useful if you suffer from night sweats. This pillow also has built-in support along the edges to keep it plump and ensure the pillow doesn't lose its shape. While the Mela Dual Pillow is a great option for most sleeping positions, side sleepers may find the plump shape less comfortable. Plus at the moment, there's a special offer on this pillow, meaning if you buy one, you get one free, using the code PILLOW. 

Royal Rest pillow

(Image credit: Royal Rest)

9. Royal Rest Original Pillow

Best pillow with multiple heights

Specifications

RRP: Original: £74.79
Size : Standard Foam: 51cm x 39 cm | Memory Foam: 51cm x 34cm
Filling : Standard foam / memory foam
Cover : 100% cotton
Guarantee : Three years

Reasons to buy

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Choice of memory foam and standard foam
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Removable cotton cover 
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Two layers of foam to provide support and softness
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CFC free and allergy tested

Reasons to avoid

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Some reviews say it takes a while to get used to the shape 

This pillow for neck pain comes with high praise from chiropractor Dr Xandra Middleton (DoC) of The Natural Doctors (opens in new tab), who has personally invested in this pillow for herself and her family. "My favourite choice is the Royal Rest Original Pillow. It’s made of two types of foam; a dense core that gives the support you need and a lighter comfortable foam around the outside."

This classic pillow comes in two height options (standard foam and memory foam) so you can tailor the product to your bed size. Choose from the Royal Rest Original and the Royal Rest Original King Size. "This pillow has two heights depending on if you have broad shoulders so it has the flexibility to suit most people. The shaping is ideal to preserve and support the natural neck curve on your back and perfectly supports the neck on your side, keeping the spine neutral. I’ve recommended this pillow for years in practice and it’s the pillow I use for myself and my family."

How to choose the best pillow for neck pain

The best pillows for neck pain are not a one-size-fits-all solution. When shopping for a new pillow, you should consider what type of sleeper you are, whether that's a back sleeper or a side sleeper, and the type of mattress you sleep on. You should consider: 

  • Sleeping position: If you're a side sleeper, you'll need a firmer pillow that can retain its height over the course of the night. If you're a back sleeper, opt for a pillow with less depth and density so it's not forcing your spine out of alignment while you sleep.
  • Mattress type: Some mattresses are firmer than others, so it's important you choose a pillow that matches and offers the right support, advises osteopath Caroline Baker (opens in new tab). "A softer mattress could benefit from being paired with a firmer pillow. However, if you use this same pillow in conjunction with a super firm mattress, you could be met with a loftier combination that will do your neck and spine alignment no favors."
  • Material: A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (opens in new tab) shows pillows made from latex or memory foam offer the best neck and shoulder support. Caroline also advises taking note of the label on pillows you've loved at family and friends' houses, or hotels, for inspiration on the type of material and firmness you like best.
  • Bounce: "You want to look for a pillow that bounces back, and one that feels like it slots into your neck and therefore supports your head," says Joshi.

Is a high or a low pillow better for neck pain?

According to chiropractor Dr Xandra Middleton, both can present a problem for neck pain, as we're striving for a neutral alignment. "Both high and low pillows can be an issue. Both push the neck into an unnatural position, which can create tension in the neck," she told w&h. "The ideal is neutral, which means you preserve the natural curve of the neck when sleeping on your back and a straight spine if lying on your side."

Chiropractor Dr Stefaan Vossen Chiropractor at Core Clinics (opens in new tab) reiterates this point, explaining, "If you sleep on your side a pillow that's too high or low can again cause your head and neck to come out of line with your spine which can cause neck as well as shoulder pain."

What's the best filling for pillows for neck pain?

The most popular pillows for neck pain are usually filled with memory foam (standard and memory), latex, buckwheat, or feathers. These materials offer the best balance of support and pressure relief. However, Dr Middleton comments that one of the most popular fillings, memory foam, won't be right for everybody. 

"I find that some of my patients dislike the hard feeling of memory foam and, if you get warm at night, memory foam in a pillow can make this worse. I like a supportive-but-light foam for my patients to give them both support and comfort," she told us. 

However, Dr Vossen urges memory foam still a good choice when it comes to combating neck pain. "Memory foam can be too firm and 'unforgiving' for some people, but it comes in different densities so don't be afraid to 'try' pillows just as you would a mattress. 

"Non-memory foam which still has enough density to offer support is probably best for most neck pain sufferers because it moulds to your face, head and neck but still offers good support." 

How can you prevent neck pain in future? 

While investing in one of the best pillows for neck pain is a great start, there are other measures you can take to prevent neck pain in the future. "In terms of preventing neck pain, your best bet is to actually strengthen your neck - lots of people who have neck pain typically think they have to stretch, but really you need to strengthen," Joshi told us.  

"You can do this through isolated neck strengthening exercises, for example by putting your hand on the side of your head and gently pushing against your hand, holding for 10-20 seconds on either side."

Aleesha is a digital shopping writer at woman&home—so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows what the best buys are at any moment. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. A year on the w&h news team gained her invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first—as well as an AOP awards nomination.

With contributions from