What Is The Best Pillow For Neck Pain In 2020? Our Top 5 Picks

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If you’re losing out on sleep at night, or maybe tossing and turning trying to get comfortable due to upper body aches, or perhaps even waking up in the morning with a painful neck, then it’s probable that you may be using the wrong type of pillow or one which is overdue for replacement.

What most people fail to realize is that although there are numerous other reasons, one of the most common causes of neck pain is much more controllable and preventable than one might think; in short, the answer is simply to have the best pillow for neck pain at your disposal. Choosing the right pillow for sleeping is just as important as choosing the right mattress. Both play a massive role in long-term health and well being, as well as preventing and relieving pain in the neck. You can buy cheap pillows online for a very low sum, so it’s a wonder why anyone would potentially continue to affect their health going forward after reading this.

Our simple objective is to provide you with sound unbiased advice on choosing the best pillow for neck pain, so that if you’re already experiencing the unfortunate condition, hopefully, our reviews and buyer guide will make things easier when it comes to making that all-important purchase. There are numerous pillow types ranging from a wedge to a contour, but learning about which will suit your needs might be slightly more complicated. Please take the time to read the reviews and comprehensive buying guide that we have compiled below, also learn about the different orthopedic pillows for neck pain and why they may suit you over others.

Top 5 Best Pillows For Neck Pain Compared

Image Product Features
Mediflow OriginalMediflow OriginalOur #1 Choice
  • Shape: Standard
  • Filling: Water
  • Sleeper: All
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MyPillow PremiumMyPillow Premium
  • Shape: Standard
  • Filling: Interlocking Poly Fill
  • Sleeper: All
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Xtreme ComfortsXtreme Comforts
  • Shape: Standard
  • Filling: Memory Foam
  • Sleeper: All
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  • Shape: Cervical
  • Filling: Fiber
  • Sleeper: Back / Side
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Sleep Innovations CoolSleep Innovations Cool
  • Shape: Contour
  • Filling: Gel Memory Foam
  • Sleeper: Back / Side
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Common Neck Pain Causes

Two of the most common contributing factors to disturbed sleep is back and neck pain. Recent studies show that unfortunately up to 1 in 4 people will suffer from some neck problems at least once in their life, and more to the point up to 50% of people have complained of waking up with some kind of a pain in the neck at least once in the past 12 months.

According to healthline.com there are at least 25 different causes of neck pain ranging from whiplash to arthritis. However aside from the medical reasons, the most simple ones which we often ignore and have more control over are listed below:

Old Pillows

Old PillowsOld pillows are the single most common suspect and contributor to a painful neck. An old and saggy pillow is one that may have lost its durability in terms of providing support. It’s likely to be far too soft, especially in the center, and will bow in the middle with the center being indented and probably failing to cradle the head as it used to when new. They are also very floppy and have dead spots that have little or no loft at all. Replacement should be paramount if any of the above sound like what you’re using right now because once you get rid of the old and bring in the new, you’re bound to feel improvements instantly.

Sagging Mattress

Sagging MattressLike the old pillow, a sagging mattress can also be the cause of neck muscle pain. Once the mattress loses the ability to provide support to the back and shoulders, the spine will bend abnormally thus creating increased pressure on the muscles which eventually leads to strain. Therefore perfect spinal alignment by way of pillow and mattress combined is necessary to avoid neck and shoulder problems. If your mattress is more than 8 years old or is sagging in the middle, it may be time to consider buying a new mattress.

Sleeping Position

Sleeping PositionThe common contributors may well either be the pillows or mattresses, or both, but additionally, the sleeping position can equally have a detrimental effect leading to constant neck pain. People have different preferences when it comes to sleep positions which is fine, but choosing the right pillow is key to either avoiding or aggravating pain in the neck. For example, a stomach sleeper using a memory foam contour pillow is surely going to suffer due to the high loft and increased firmness. Likewise, a back sleeper using a very soft pillow with hardly any loft will also suffer due to the lack of support. Therefore it’s important to acknowledge the importance of choosing a pillow based on your sleep position selected. To make things a little clearer we discuss below in further detail the best neck support pillows based on this contributing factor.

Frequent Traveling

Frequent TravelingWith the increase in cheap flights and long-distance traveling in general on the rise, there is a strong correlation of neck pain complaints which have spiked in recent years. People are sleeping for more extended periods on planes, buses, and cars without adequate neck support in place. However, there is one straightforward way to reduce the chance of getting pain in the neck after a long haul flight. While waiting for your flight at the airport, you’ll sometimes see people carrying U shaped cushions. These are known as travel pillows and are the most effective way to combat the strains of a flopping head and painful neck.

Sleeping Positions and Neck Pain

You may not realize, but your sleeping position and pillow have a tighter bond with one another than you think. The direct correlation between the two means that whether you’re a stomach, back or side sleeper, there is a different pillow for each position which will either cause or relieve pain. The key here is the loft and material. Below we will discuss in more detail:

Back Sleeper

A woman sleeping on her backSleeping on your back is the most common way in which people tend to fall asleep before changing onto their stomach or side. In an ideal scenario, while on your back, the head is propped up and the neck is not strained. Medically it’s proven to be the best sleeping position and has excellent benefits for the spine if using the correct pillow. However, if using the wrong type, soon enough you may end up with severe problems which will leave you suffering from aches, sleepless nights and painful days.

The best pillow for back sleepers which avoids pain and damage are ones which provide adequate support for the natural curvature of the spine, while also supporting the head and shoulders. Given the abundance of choice, ideally what suits the back sleeper is one of a medium thickness which is also of medium firmness that can cradle the head in its natural position. A typical recommendation would be a standard shaped shredded memory foam pillow due to the ability to mold and conform to the required shape behind the head and neck and also because they are easily adjustable. Additionally, contour pillows are good too, but ones which are quite high will have an adverse effect; anything under 4 inches tall should be fine.

Stomach Sleeper

A woman sleeping on her stomachConsidering the human neck naturally curves slightly forward, when stomach sleeping it is essential to maintain this curve to an extent when lying down without abnormally bending the natural curvature too much. To accommodate this position without causing damage or pain, the best pillow for stomach sleepers is one which is has a low loft (no more than 4-6 inches), should be relatively soft, and can be easily molded or scrunched into shape.

Sleeping on your stomach means the head is lifted at an angle that creates backward pressure on the neck (and spine) so anything too high will eventually either cause or aggravate problems. The oblong traditional shaped is suffice, low and plush yet supportive is ideal. Therefore in this case when it comes to stomach sleepers, for countering and alleviating, the best pillows for neck pain are often filled with memory foam. Feather pillows are popular too, due to their soft yet supportive properties. Additionally, water pillows are a good choice considering they have an adjustable height and firmness by way of increasing or decreasing the fill to customize the desired effect.

Side Sleeper

A woman sleeping on her sideAlthough most people fall asleep on their back, many end up turning onto their side. For the side sleeper, it’s just as important to have the right pillow because there is scope for strain and misalignment can easily occur if it’s too high or too low. While sleeping on your side, once the natural angle is bent too much to one side, it will eventually lead to a sore neck. Therefore to maintain a good posture without painful aches, the best pillow for side sleepers are ones with medium loft and which tuck under the neck but not too far down to the shoulders. There are many suitable types, such as cervical or contour pillows of any filling, and the traditional style also but ones which are medium/firm to provide good enough support and comfort.

Neck Pain Pillow Reviews

Mediflow Original Waterbase

Mediflow Original WaterbaseThe Mediflow water pillow is an ingenious invention that is clinically proven as top rated in the 5 categories tested (length of time to achieve sleep, number of sleep interruptions, period to regain sleep, the perception of sleep quality, and reduction of neck pain intensity). Water pillows are generally extremely effective when it comes to tailored support and longevity due to the wonderful idea of add or remove water to achieve your desired comfort results.

The Mediflow acts in the same way, but with a 5” outer layer of hypoallergenic polyester fiber with the water-filled inner which provides adjustable support. Unlike and in comparison to most contour pillows, this one is suitable for multiple sleeping positions, so a perfect all-rounder which cradles your head as you move around. Being an orthopedic pillow for neck pain, in terms of good value for money, compared to others in its price range this one stands out time after time.

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My Pillow Premium Series

My Pillow Premium SeriesHere is yet another fantastic addition from one of the leading retailers in this niche. It succeeds the Classic which was only available in two loft levels, whereas the Premium now goes one step further by allowing for a selection of 4 loft levels and also comes in a standard, queen, and king size. Proudly made in Minnesota, the claim is that the Premium will stay fluffy without going flat, therefore confidently offering a 60-day money back guarantee and a 10-year warranty.

Manufactured using an extraordinarily comfortable yet supportive custom open cell interlocking polyfill, which when combined with 4 height choices, means when it comes to pillows for neck problems this a very suitable choice indeed. Being suitable for all sleep positions, plus machine washable and dryable, there isn’t much left to expect for the price. After a few nights using one of these, you’ll soon forget about neck problems when you wake up refreshingly invigorated and free of neck or headaches.

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Xtreme Comforts – Shredded Memory Foam

Xtreme Comforts - Shredded Memory FoamThe shredded memory foam pillow on review here is a featured-packed goodie when it comes to value. A dust mite resistant orthopedic pillow which comes in a Kool-Flow™ micro-vented bamboo cover, it’s claimed to provide relief in multiple positions, as well as reducing snoring, insomnia, migraines, neck and shoulder pain. Xtreme Comforts say theirs is the most comfortable pillow in the world, and are so confident with their product they’ll offer a 30 day no quibbles money back guarantee. Reassuringly it is 100% the US made and conforms to CertiPur-US Certified Foam. It ticks all the boxes for all the right reasons; there aren’t many times we’ll say this but, the product is better than the sales pitch.

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Tri-Core Cervical

Tri-Core CervicalThe Tri-Core Cervical Pillow by US-based Core Products is recommended by medical professionals and revolutionarily designed specifically with the neck and back in mind. The fiber filled orthopedic pillow comes in three size options being Tri-Core (24″ x 16″), Mid-Core (22″ x 15″) and Petite-Core (19″ x 12″). There are additionally two firmness options available, Standard and Gentle, both of which vary in fiberfill amounts which also determines the loft. Both are known to provide very effective pain relief. Much of the current owners report it works very well as a side sleeper pillow due to the low trapezoid indentation in the middle designed to cradle the head.

Additionally, moving between side or back has no adverse effect either on the ability to continue providing proper spinal alignment. The clever two varying size supports tuck right under the neck perfectly which is an excellent accommodation for people of different size. For anyone experiencing neck or shoulder pain while sleeping this is a great low-cost investment for long-term health benefits.

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Sleep Innovations Cool Contour Pillow

Sleep Innovations Cool Contour PillowThe latest gel memory foam contour pillow by Sleep innovations is proof as to why these types are so famous for getting rid of neck pain. The cradling nature of contour pillows has always been proven to provide excellent support, especially for the back and side sleeper. Regarding the actual product on test, the top layer of cooling gel foam allows for a comfortable temperature during slumber, while continually relieving neck, shoulder and back pain by allowing muscles to relax fully. It comes with a blended 75% cotton and 25% polyester removable and washable cover which is perfect for staying hygienic.

At 5 inches high it’s not exactly low, therefore not recommended for the stomach sleeper. A 5-year limited warranty is in place for this hypoallergenic pillow which is reassuring to know is made in the USA. Not much (if anything at all) can be slated here; two thumbs up for sure.

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As mentioned earlier, choosing the best pillow for neck pain depends on your common sleeping positions. This is because combined with one of the many other causes; people generally strain their necks while in a prolonged position overnight. Therefore, whether sleeping on your back, side or stomach, there are most likely different types of pillows which will fulfill your needs better than others. As a general guide, please refer to the “sleeper” column in the above table to match your preference. If you need any further help or advice, please leave a comment or contact us.

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