Neck pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints and can result from holding the neck in an awkward position for long periods. This can commonly occur when sleeping with a pillow that is either too full or too flat, resulting in spasms and strains of the muscles within the neck and shoulder regions.
Cervical pillows have been developed to help hold the portion of the spine connecting the head to the shoulders (cervical spine) in neutral alignment.
This article reviews our top picks for the best cervical pillows for sleeping and provides guidance for selecting a pillow that best suits your needs.
Best cervical pillows: shortlist of pillows for neck pain
- ZAMAT — best overall cervical pillow for neck pain
- Cushion Lab — best memory foam cervical pillow
- Sutera — best contoured cervical pillow
- Tempur-Pedic — best cervical pillow for side sleepers
- Alex Orthopedic — best cervical pillow for travel
How we chose the best cervical pillow for neck pain?
When evaluating cervical pillows, we used the following criteria to help distinguish the best pillow for cervical neck pain amongst all the competitors on the market.
|Pillows with good value compared to the price
|Pillows designed to keep proper neck alignment
|Use of high-quality material and filling to construct the pillow
|Real customers' experiences using the pillow
- Price. Cervical pillows can be a significant investment, and we identified those that provide the best value compared to their cost.
- Design. Properly designed cervical pillows should cradle the head and keep the cervical spine in proper alignment throughout the night.
- Quality materials. Identifying products that use high-quality materials to produce comfortable pillows built to last.
- Reviews. Obtaining real customer experiences is invaluable when identifying the top-rated pillows that can help relieve neck pain.
Best cervical pillow for neck pain: an overview
Using a cervical pillow for sleeping can provide significant benefits for those who suffer from chronic neck pain. Therefore, we researched a wide variety of pillows to formulate our list of the best cervical neck pillows on the market.
1. ZAMAT — best overall cervical pillow for neck pain
ZAMAT's butterfly-shaped cervical pillow is ergonomically designed to support the neck, shoulders, and head to provide restful sleep while minimizing stresses to the cervical spine. Using CertiPUR-US-certified high-quality memory foam, it conforms to your body and prevents pressure points that can occur with pillows that are too hard or too soft.
The unique butterfly design provides comfort and support regardless of your sleep position. This increases the pillow's versatility for those who often change positions during the night.
Out of over 7,000 reviews, customers have given the butterfly-shaped cervical memory foam pillow a 4.3-star rating out of 5.
This ZAMAT pillow is available for $65.99 and comes with a 100-night sleep trial to ensure it provides you the comfort you deserve. It also comes with a washable pillowcase and a 10-year limited warranty.
2. Cushion Lab — best memory foam cervical pillow
The Neck Relief Ergonomic Cervical Pillow uses proprietary HYPERFORM, a gel-infused dynamic memory foam, to relieve pressure and maintain the spine's natural alignment. This HYPERFORM material is designed to return to its original shape to provide night-after-night comfort.
This Cushion Lab pillow is designed to provide comfort and support for side and back sleepers while using breathable materials to help keep you cool.
This product boosts a 4.8-star out of 5-star rating and has been reviewed by over 350 customers.
The Neck Relief Ergonomic Cervical Pillow is available for $75 and has a 30-day money-back guarantee. Free shipping is included to any of the 48 contiguous United States.
3. Sutera — best contoured cervical pillow
The Dream Deep Pillow by Sutera is designed using CertiPUR-US-certified "Active Bliss" memory foam to provide ergonomic support for your neck and head throughout the night. The high-density memory foam helps to reduce pressure points as it gently contours to your head.
Sutera designed this pillow to include two butterfly wing cut-outs to provide comfort and support in all sleep positions. So whether you sleep on your back, stomach, or side, this pillow can help you achieve a better night's sleep.
Customers have given the Dream Deep Pillow over 6,000 5-star reviews.
The Dream Deep Pillow is available for $64.97 and offers a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. This pillow is also available for free shipping within the United States.
4. Tempur-Pedic — best cervical pillow for side sleepers
The TEMPUR-Neck™ Pillow is manufactured using TEMPUR Material to provide a firm feel to the pillow while ergonomically supporting the head and neck. It is available in three sizes to better adapt to unique body styles and sleep preferences.
Using the sizing chart on the TEMPUR-Neck™ Pillow website, it is easy to determine the correct size pillow for your sleep position. This pillow is recommended for back and side sleepers.
With over 4,450 reviews, the TEMPUR-Neck™ Pillow has achieved 3.9 stars on a 5-star rating system.
The TEMPUR-Neck™ Pillow is available for $63, which includes free shipping. The pillow is backed by a 5-year warranty to help you rest assured it will provide lasting comfort.
5. Alex Orthopedic — best cervical pillow for travel
ContourSleep Cervical Pillow by Alex Orthopedic supports the head and neck to help better align the cervical spine as you sleep to reduce neck pain and stiffness. Its relatively smaller design makes it ideal for travel.
The ContourSleep Cervical Pillow is specifically designed to help side and back sleepers with neck pain associated with poor sleep positions. Its high-quality material helps to alleviate pressure points that develop while you sleep.
Alex Orthopedic's ContourSleep Cervical Pillow is available for $55 and comes with a 90-day warranty. Currently, this product has a limited number of customer reviews.
Comparing the best cervical pillows in 2024
|Customer Reviews (out of 5 stars)
|back, side, stomach
|back, side, stomach
* — The user ratings were taken from the manufacturers' websites.
What to look for in a cervical neck pillow
When selecting the best cervical pillow for neck pain, there are specific characteristics to consider for both your body and sleep position, as well as the pillow itself.
The overall goal of a cervical pillow for sleeping is to maintain the normal contour of the spine during your sleep. Therefore, the filling should help cradle your head but have a firm neck area to help support the normal curves of the spine. The height of the pillow should not be so high that it causes the neck to flex forward or so thin that it produces excess strain on the neck.
The best cervical neck pillow for side sleepers should be on the firmer side to help maintain the position of your spine. Memory foam pillows are a good choice for back sleepers since the material molds to your head.
When you should use a cervical pillow?
Trying a cervical pillow can be beneficial if you regularly wake up with neck pain and soreness. Regular pillows are typically a single rectangular pocket filled with materials to provide a cradle to the head. These pillows lack the design to help maintain neutral neck alignment, which can result in neck issues when too large or too thin.
An orthopedic cervical pillow for neck pain is designed to support the head while providing a firmer neck area to help maintain neutral spine alignment. However, not all cervical pillows are created equal; thus, determining the correct height and firmness will be essential in helping relieve neck pain.
Are cervical pillows suitable for side sleepers?
Yes. There are many different options when it comes to cervical pillows that are specifically designed to support the neck in side sleepers. The best cervical pillow for side sleepers is typically firmer and thicker to help maintain spinal alignment in the side-laying position. An appropriately supportive cervical pillow and a body pillow can help keep the neck aligned while preventing the rest of the spine from twisting and putting stress on the head and neck.
The five cervical pillows that made our list are designed to provide support for side sleepers, and the best pillow for you will depend on your needs and specific body characteristics. In many cases, finding the correct cervical pillow is often a trial-and-error process.
How to take care of a cervical pillow
Properly caring for a cervical pillow can prolong its lifespan and prevent the premature breakdown of the pillow. Each material has its cleaning instructions; thus refer to the manufacturer's directions on cleaning and maintaining your specific pillow.
Memory foam and polyfoam cervical pillows should never be placed in the washer. To clean these pillows, spot cleaning or hand washing with mild detergent is recommended every 2 to 3 months. Once clean, the pillows should be left to air dry and not placed in a dryer.
Pillowcases should be washed at least once a week. The method to clean these depends on the material and referring to the manufacturer's directions is the best way to maintain them. Pillowcases should be replaced every one to two years.
Other ways to reduce neck pain
Many different factors can contribute to the development of neck pain. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help reduce, prevent, and alleviate neck pain, in addition to a supportive cervical pillow.
- Ergonomic adjustments to workspaces. Setting the height of your computer screen at eye level will prevent excess stress on the neck. Using a headset or hand-free options for phone calls are additional ways to limit neck strain.
- Exercise. Regularly performing stretches and strengthening exercises for the neck can help maintain range of motion and improve muscle tone, relieving stress on the spine.
- Heat and cold therapy. The use of cold packs can help to reduce inflammation and treat acute pain. Heating pads or hot tubs can help to loosen tight muscles and improve neck pain.
- Physical therapy. Seeking the expertise of a physical therapist can be beneficial in reducing neck pain. They have many different modalities to help alleviate neck pain and can list helpful exercises and stretches.
Improve your sleep with these products
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How do you know what size cervical pillow to buy?
When selecting a cervical pillow, the correct height is determined by whether it maintains the proper alignment of the spine. Another way to determine size is the use of measurements. Some manufacturers provide guides to help obtain measurements that can be used to determine the correct pillow size.
Are cervical pillows good for side sleepers?
Yes. There are many different options when it comes to cervical pillows that are specifically designed to support the neck in side sleepers. Choosing a firmer and thicker pillow is often recommended to help maintain neutral alignment when lying on your side.
What is the difference between a wedge pillow and a cervical pillow?
Wedge pillows are designed to raise a portion of the body during sleep, while a cervical pillow is designed to cradle and support the head and neck. Wedge pillows are specifically used to help with acid reflux and snoring, whereas cervical pillows are used to alleviate head and neck pain.
Should you sleep on the side if your neck hurts?
The best sleeping positions for neck pain are side and back sleeping. It is generally advised to avoid sleeping on your stomach if you suffer from acute or chronic neck pain. Regardless of position, it is important to use a pillow that provides adequate support for the head and neck.
- BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. Neck pain: global epidemiology, trends and risk factors.
- Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Treatment of Neck Pain: Noninvasive Interventions: Results of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000–2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders.
- The Journal of Rheumatology. The Use of Neck Support Pillows and Postural Exercises in the Management of Chronic Neck Pain.