Finding the Best Pillow for Neck Pain

pillow types to help with neck pain
What's the best pillow to manage your neck pain?

If you suffer from neck pain (like more than a quarter of Americans), then it might be time for you to toss your old pillow and invest in a better one. The combination of a poor quality mattress, dirty bedding, and old pillows can wreak havoc on your sleep quality and steal hours of Zzz’s weekly.

What ultimately causes neck pain, though? It can be a combination of factors such as poor posture, bad sleeping positions, and sleeping on old, unsupportive pillows. We’ll review how to find the right pillow for your sleep needs and how to prevent and/or manage neck pain.

What to Look for in a Pillow

With so many pillow options on the market today, it can be difficult to decide which one is the best for your sleep needs. From foam to gel to feathers, you name it, and they probably have that type of pillow somewhere.

Many companies market that their pillows are designed to enhance your “sleep experience.” How does one quantify how a pillow will better your sleep experience? You can’t, but you can find the right pillow designed to promote better support for your neck pain.

Must Haves for a Pillow

Ultimately, a pillow should provide consistent support for your neck and head.

  • Should be fluffy — means it has a right amount of cushioning and that fresh air can flow through it easily.
  • Should fill the “gap” — it should fill the gap between your neck, head and back even when you move sleep positions.
  • Should be durable — look for a pillow with a higher thread count. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the highest thread count, but one with a 300 thread count should be sufficient. The higher the thread count, the more durable it is (and also more expensive).
  • Should be the right “fill” — the filling for a pillow ranges from feathers, fibers, and foam. Down feathers offer great supportive but so do synthetic/polyester fiber pillows and they are more cost efficient. If you like firmer support, a memory foam pillow might be a better choice. The new Saatva Pillow has a unique three-layer construction consisting of a core of shredded Talalay latex, which is surrounded by a down-like microdenier fiber inner pillow—and this is all wrapped in a 100% organic cotton cover. The Talalay latex provides head and neck support, plus it’s naturally hypoallergenic, dust-mite resistant, and breathable. Meanwhile, the fiber inner pillow adds a layer of plush comfort and is fully washable. Finally, the organic cotton cover wicks moisture to ensure you’ll sleep cool.
  • Should support your sleeping position — how you position yourself when you sleep can play a huge factor in what type of pillow you will need. Consider if you sleep on your back, side, front or switch up sleeping positions throughout the night.
  • Should keep your neck in a neutral position — remember how we noted that a good pillow should provide support for your neck and head? Well, you know you’ve found a good pillow if it keeps your neck in a neutral position for your sleeping position.

Learn More About Saatva Pillows

Saatva Pillow

A core of shredded American Talalay latex, wrapped in a breathable organic cotton cover. Plush and responsive for the perfect head and neck support.


What Type of Pillow Reduce Neck Pain?

According to studies, the right type of pillow can help reduce and/or manage neck pain. It’s a good idea to find a supportive pillow because ultimately your neck pain, if not managed, can cause shoulder pain in the long run.

When shopping for a new pillow, remember to consider all the tips we mentioned beforehand and keep in mind that the pillow should also provide uniform support for your sleeping position.

Overview of Pillow Types

These are some of the pillow types you should test drive:

  • Memory foam: These pillows mold to your neck and head in a matter of seconds and provide excellent comfort and support for your neck, back, and shoulders. They tend to trap heat though and are more on the expensive side.
  • Contour pillow: This type of pillow is best for back and side sleepers. It curves down to provide good support for the head and cradles the neck. Because of its shape design, which keeps your airways open, it can also help alleviate snoring issues.
  • Down pillow: Looking for the softest pillow? This is your best bet. It’s filled with fluff from the bellies of waterfowl. It also helps combat night sweating because the pillow can “breathe” easily. On the flip side, they can run you a pretty penny and are harder to maintain.
  • Latex: Have severe allergies? Since this pillow is made from 100% natural, organic material, it would a great fit for you. They are ideal for people that suffer from allergies, and neck and back pain. The only drawback is that they can be pretty costly.
  • Water pillow: This type of pillow is made of polyester on the top and filled with water on the bottom part. Since it’s heavier than a regular pillow, it doesn’t move as much. It contours to your neck and head easily but isn’t a good option for stomach sleepers.
  • Cotton: This is your basic pillow that is 100% natural and absorbent. It requires regular cleaning and doesn’t conform to your head and neck nearly as well as any of the other pillows mentioned above.


Sleeping on Side: For all you side sleepers out there, it’s best to go with a firmer pillow that fills the gap between your ear and shoulder.

  1. Sleeping on Back: As a back sleeper, you need a thinner pillow, so you’re head isn’t thrown forward. Also, go with a pillow with more cushioning in the lower part of the pillow to cradle and support your neck better.
  2. Sleeping on Stomach: This is the worst sleeping position because it throws your neck into an unnatural position. But if you can’t sleep in any other position, then you should find a pillow that is extra-thin, almost flat. Some even suggest not even using a pillow for your head but rather putting one under your stomach to prevent lower back pain.

Tips on How to Prevent Neck Pain

You know you need a supportive and comfortable pillow for your unique sleeping style but here are some other healthy tips to keep in mind to keep your neck pain under control:

  • Keep your posture in check.
  • Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach.
  • Sleep on your back – this is the best position for your entire spine.
  • Put your computer screen at eye level.
  • Keep your shoulders level when carrying heavy objects.
  • Drive a car with a highly-rated head restraint – prevents whiplash in case of an accident.

Share with us in the comment section which pillow is your favorite! And if you are in the market for a new mattress, make sure to check out our guide for the best mattress for back pain.

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Nicolle is the Content/Social Media Marketing Manager for Saatva and Loom & Leaf. If this article interests you, don't forget to share it using the buttons directly above.