The best pillows for neck pain – to help reduce aches and pains when you sleep

Designed for cervical spine support, these specialist best pillows for neck pain are an investment to reduce aches and pains

best pillows for neck pain
(Image credit: Future)

The best pillows for neck pain aim to keep your head, neck and spine in alignment and keep your neck supported. If you're experiencing pain after sleeping, it's worth noting that any physical symptoms can be the result of varied problems - so the ideal pillow for each type of pain will be different. 

Even if you're sleeping on what you think is one of the best pillows around, if it's not got the appropriate features to support the neck, chances are you'll still be left in pain. If you’re experiencing a continuing problem with your sleep, some of the best fitness trackers can help you to figure out the issue by monitoring your sleep and giving you some insight into your REM sleep cycle. Otherwise, a visit to the doctor is recommended. However, it’s also really important to check your pillow, to see if that is compounding the problem. 

To figure this out, determine the position you mostly sleep in. Back or side positions are most common. Most chiropractors advise not sleeping on your front as it can cause too much stress on the spine. Then check the following against your current pillow. Is there a big gap between your neck and the pillow surface? Does your pillow have too high or too low a loft (height)? Are you lying at an awkward angle, either too far up or low down on the pillow? Perhaps when travelling, you’re not using the best travel pillow for your needs? The main aim is to keep your head, neck and spine in neutral alignment, which is why a cervical or orthopaedic pillow could be a good choice if you suffer pain after sleeping. Luckily there are plenty of different pillows on the market – many designed specifically to aid neck and shoulder pain – so you are sure to find something that works for you.

How do I choose a pillow for neck pain?

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the best pillows for neck pain - it's not simply a one size fits all situation. The first thing to take into consideration is your sleeping position and how that relates to the firmness of the pillow, as the main aim in choosing any of the best pillows for neck pain is to ensure that your head, neck and spine are aligned. If you are a side sleeper a deeper, firmer pillow is recommended to ensure it retains its height over the course of the night. Back sleepers need a pillow with less depth and density – so the loft isn’t raising your spine out of alignment.

Another factor to take into consideration when choosing the best pillows for neck pain, is the kind of mattress that you sleep on. "Some mattresses will be firmer than others, so it's important that you match this to the type of pillow that you're choosing in order to make sure that you have the appropriate support," says registered osteopath Caroline Baker.

"A softer mattress could benefit from being paired with a firmer pillow," continues Caroline, "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 favours". Caroline also suggests taking every opportunity to find the perfect pillow for you by checking the pillow labels of any pillows you use in friends houses, hotels or holiday rentals if you love the sleeping experience so that you know what you're looking for. She also pointed out a really helpful tip that could help your alignment when you're sleeping away from home and may not have the most supportive options available to you.

"While many of us love the luxury we're met with when sleeping on a hotel pillow, sometimes those picks aren't always the best pillows for neck pain, as they don't feature suitable support. So if you ever find yourself in that situation, grab one of the towels provided in the bathroom, roll it up and just pop it underneath the pillow to provide you with that extra bit of helpful support."

The best pillows for neck pain as reviewed by our experts

Kally Sleep Cervical Neck Pain Pillow

(Image credit: Kally)

1. Kally Sleep Cervical Neck Pain Pillow

Best pillow for firm support at a great-value price

Size: W56 x D34cm
RRP: £29.99
Cover: 100% cotton
Guarantee: None
Reasons to buy
+Firm base for back and side sleepers+Cotton outer helps to prevent overheating+14-night trial period
Reasons to avoid
-Shape and firmness might not suit everyone

This 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. The slow-rebound inner is medium-firm in density, coming in at a seven on a scale of 1-10. The breathable, 100% cotton outer will also help those who tend to suffer from overheating at night. It’s slightly smaller than a standard pillow so it’s wise to invest in bespoke extra covers, 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. 

best pillows for neck pain, Sealy Zonal SupportWoman&Home Recommends - 5 stars

(Image credit: Sealy)

2. Sealy Zonal Support pillow

Best pillow for those who sleep in different positions

Size: 71x45cm
RRP: £75.99
Filling: Hollowfibre
Cover: 100% cotton
Guarantee: Three years
Reasons to buy
+Subtle support for head, neck and shoulders+Bounces back after use for longevity+Springy feel for comfort+Crisp but soft casing for luxurious feel+Available in firm, medium and soft support
Reasons to avoid
-Not as plump as others so could take some getting used to

If you're one who finds yourself tossing and turning at night or has all the best intentions of sleeping on your back and finds yourself flipped around onto your front in the morning, then finding the best pillows for neck pain that can work for you is no mean feat. Luckily, this Sealy pillow has come around to tick basically every box when it comes to the best pillows for neck pain. Although this offers firm support, which usually suits side sleeper better, the slightly flatter size means that it also works to align back sleepers perfectly while also featuring 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, as it doesn't feature too much, which can be bad for your neck in this position, but it also has enough cushion to keep you comfortable. And with the luxury feel that this supportive pillow offers at the same time, we were sold.

MARNUR pillow

(Image credit: Amazon/MARNUR)

3. MARNUR Memory Foam Pillow

Best pillow for tummy sleepers

Size: W64.5 x D37 x H14cm
RRP: £39.99
Filling: Memory foam
Cover: Polyester and spandex
Guarantee: None
Reasons to buy
+Will suit all kinds of sleepers+Ensures even pressure distribution to reduce strain on neck and head+Two different heights+Sweat-reducing cover
Reasons to avoid
-Shape requires custom pillow covers

While front sleeping is not really recommended and can cause neck issues for some, if you’re unable to sleep any other way, then this strangely shaped offering – the MARNUR Contour Memory Foam Pillow Orthopedic – might help. Designed to specifically cater for all sleepers, including those who spend the night on their stomach, it has a unique ergonomic shape designed to maintain the natural curve of your neck, which is why it's on our list of best pillows for neck pain. Armrests at the side reduce pressure on arms and wrists, a contour area properly aligns the neck while the centre section provides optimal support and comfort for the head. The cervical curve helps reduce head and neck rotation, ensuring even pressure distribution and reducing snores for comfortable stomach sleeping. The breathable, sweat-reducing pillowcase fits neatly and can be removed for washing, too.

Sissel pillow, best pillows for neck pain

(Image credit: Sissel/Amazon)

4. Sissel Classic Orthopaedic Pillow

Best pillow for preventing tension headaches

Size: W47 x D33 x H11cm (medium); W47 x D33 x H14cm (large)
RRP: £49.95
Filling: Polyurethane (PU) foam
Cover: 75% cotton, 25% polyester
Guarantee: Five years
Reasons to buy
+Good price for specialist pillow+Soft, washable outer cover+Five-year guarantee
Reasons to avoid
-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. The knock-on effect of this is possible tension headaches that then prevent you sleeping properly – a vicious circle. Having created cervical support pillows for more than 30 years, expert brand Sissel offers a number of them, including this Sissel Classic Orthopaedic pillow, which is designed to sit snugly in the space between the neck and shoulders when you sleep. This prevents your muscles tensing up to keep you in position if your pillow isn’t supportive enough. The soft, velour cover is removable and can be popped in the washing machine – sleep hygiene improved instantly! 

Simba Hybrid pillow, best pillow for neck pain

(Image credit: Simba)

5. Simba Hybrid pillow

Best pillow for hybrid comfort and a cool night's sleep

Size: 50 x 75cm
Filling: Memory foam cubes, microfibre casing
Cover: Cotton
Guarantee: 1 year
Reasons to buy
+Loose filling allows for bespoke fit+Removable cover for washing+Bag to store spare Nanocubes+One-year guarantee
Reasons to avoid
-Needs occasional plumping-Expensive 

The hundreds of foam Nanocubes inside the Simba Hybrid pillow 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, to create a personalised sleeping experience that could help to banish neck pain caused by an ill-fitting pillow. Keep more filling in for a firmer base with a higher loft (great for side sleepers) or, if you’re a back sleeper, remove some until you have the perfect lower, slightly softer sleep. To help you keep cool at night, especially if you suffer with hot flushes, the cubes are sandwiched between a hypoallergenic fibre, 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)

6. Tempur Original Support Pillow

Best pillow for firm structured neck support

Size: W50 x D31 x H11.5/8.5cm (medium); W61 x D31 x H11.5/8.5cm (large)
Filling: Visco-elastic memory foam and polyester
Cover: Polyester
Guarantee: 3 years
Reasons to buy
+Good support for side sleepers+Three-year guarantee+Hypoallergenic
Reasons to avoid
-Takes time to get used to shape-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 moulds 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 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.

best pillows for neck pain, Cuddledown Edelweiss Hungarian Goose Down pillowwoman&home recommends 4 stars

(Image credit: Cuddledown)

7. Cuddledown Edelweiss Hungarian Goose Down pillow

Best pillow for a feathery soft – yet still supportive – option

Size: Five sizes available
RRP: £169
Filling: Goose down
Cover: Pure Swiss cotton cambric 400 thread count
Guarantee: Five years
Reasons to buy
+Very plump and cushiony+Bounces back after use+Hugs the head and neck beautifully+Luxury, high-end quality
Reasons to avoid
-Sinks slightly when you lie on it-Expensive

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