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Best pillow for neck pain 2024: Tested picks to banish stiffness and sore muscles

A collection of pillows on a blue background

Wake up in comfort with the best pillows for neck pain, selected and reviewed by our experts

The best pillows for neck pain are designed to support your head and neck properly so you can avoid discomfort. Whether it’s from lying in an awkward position or having the wrong supports, sleeping is a common way to pick up aches and pains in your neck. Luckily, getting the correct support can be a simple and inexpensive affair.

This article contains several great and varied options to put your neck pain to bed if you’ll excuse the pun. Memory foam is the most popular material for this type of pillow, but we’ve also considered and presented alternatives for different tastes and needs. You’ll also find the pillows come in a range of shapes and sizes for different preferences, with prices ranging from just £14 to around £70-100 for more premium models.

Some pillows featured have been thoroughly tested in real life by our experts, while we endorse others based on exhaustive market research, including comparing specifications, checking manufacturer websites, reading user reviews and more. Our top recommendations come with all the information you need including sizes, materials and washing instructions. Below them, you’ll find our detailed buying guide with expert comments to help you find the right pillow for you.

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Best pillow for neck pain: At a glance

Best-value memory foam pillowBedStory Memory Foam and Microfibre Pillow (~£29)Check price at Amazon
Best ergonomic pillowOriginal Groove Pillow (~£30)Check price at Groove
Best V-shaped pillowHabitat Orthopaedic V Shape Pillow (~£14)Check price at Habitat

How we test pillows

The best way to test a pillow is to sleep on it, and that’s exactly what we do. However, we don’t just put our feet up, we also take into account:

  • Firmness
  • Temperature
  • Loft (Height)
  • Value for money

What’s more, different people have different preferences and sleeping styles. For example, side sleepers might want a solid pillow with a bit more loft to it, while those prone to overheating during the night should be aware that memory foam can feel warm as it responds to your body heat.

We also consider other factors such as removable covers, trial periods and special features (can a pillow be adjusted? Does it have an ergonomic design?) all of which help us to form a comprehensive impression of a product.

The best pillows you can buy to prevent and soothe neck pain in 2024

1. BedStory Memory Foam and Microfibre Pillow: Best-value memory foam pillow for neck pain

Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… affordable memory foam for all sleeping positions
Not so great for… limited sizes

Memory foam is great for providing neck support. This pillow from BedStory will mould to the contours of your neck, regardless of what position you sleep in, springing back into shape when you lift your head. And at under £40, it’s much more affordable than some rival memory foam pillows – particularly ones from bed-in-a-box brands such as Emma.

Because it reacts to your body temperature, memory foam can sometimes feel hot and clammy – particularly in the warmer months. BedStory claims that its pillows are cooling, thanks to a layer of perforated gel-infused foam. That said, it’s important to take these claims with a pinch of salt, and sleepers who are prone to overheating in bed should bear this in mind before purchasing a memory foam pillow.

For more information on this, check out our best cooling pillow buying guide and roundup.

Key specs – Filling: Memory foam; Cover: Microfibre and tencel (machine washable); Sizes: 1 (60 x 40cm; 13cm height)

2. Original Groove Pillow: Best ergonomic pillow

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Groove

Great for… ergonomic comfort, hypoallergenic materials
Not so great for… use with a standard pillowcase

Originally called the EasySleeper pillow, the Groove Pillow is a contoured memory foam pillow with a little dip in the middle to cradle your head and neck. This is designed to ensure proper spinal alignment for both side and back sleepers. During our testing, we found it comfortable and supportive, if ever so slightly on the thin side, and we never woke up with a sore or stiff neck during testing.

The memory foam inner is infused with bamboo and charcoal, which is far from an uncommon feature in today’s bedding market (the materials are lauded for their antibacterial, hypoallergenic and supposed cooling properties), and the cover is machine washable. Importantly, the pillow also comes with a 100-night trial period, at the end of which you can return it for a full refund if you’re unhappy. It’s already a reasonably priced pillow at £30, but having this trial period certainly doesn’t hurt when it comes to buying with confidence.

It’s also worth mentioning that we tested the pillow with a standard 50 x 75cm pillowcase, which had a slightly loose fit. Given the unique shape of the pillow, you might get a better fit from one of Groove’s pillowcases (measuring 69 x 43cm): these start at £15 and are available in a range of materials including cotton, bamboo and linen.

Key features – Filling: Memory foam; Cover: Quilted scuba (neoprene) (machine washable); Sizes: 1 (60 x 35cm, 11/6cm height)

Check price at Groove

3. Habitat Orthopaedic V Shape Firm Support Pillow: Best V-shaped pillow for neck and back pain

Price when reviewed: £14 | Check price at Habitat

Great for… pillow huggers, knee support
Not so great for… those needing a firm pillow

A V-shaped pillow is a great choice if you suffer from back and neck pain, and struggle to get comfy on standard pillows. Buyers report that it’s more medium than firm and ideal for side-sleepers who want to hug the pillow and sleep with one knee resting on it – a position which soothes your back while the other branch of the V supports your neck and head. This pillow does come with a pillowcase, which is handy because you’ll struggle to fit it inside your standard cases!

Key specs – Filling: Polyester; Cover: 70% polyester 30% cotton (machine-washable at 40C); Sizes: 1 (75m x 75cm)

4. Eve Memory Foam Pillow: Best firm memory foam pillow

Price when reviewed: £70 | Check price at Eve

Great for… firm support, bounce-back
Not so great for… budget-conscious buyers

Eve’s pillow hasn’t got an ergonomic shape like some of the other options in this roundup, but it is one of the best memory foam pillows we’ve tested, particularly if you’re after something with a firmer feel.

In our opinion, it ranks much higher on the firmness scale compared to some of the other memory foam pillows we’ve tested. Not only that, but we found it’s quick to regain its shape once you lift your head and, much like The Moon by Rested featured above, offers great bounce-back.

It’s this level of support that makes the Eve memory foam pillow a decent choice for sleepers who might be struggling with neck pain and shoulder crunch. And if, by chance, you don’t notice an improvement in your sleep, Eve offers a 30-night trial period at the end of which you can return your pillow for a full refund if you’re not happy.

Read our full Eve Memory Foam Pillow review

Key specs – Filling: Memory foam; Cover: Polyester (machine washable); Sizes: 1 (42 x 66cm, 13cm height)

How to choose the best pillow for neck pain

What type of pillow is best for solving neck pain?

Moulded support pillows are supremely comfortable for your neck because they support its natural curve, says Gary Jones, physiotherapist at Physio 206. “Your neck naturally curves slightly inwards, and contoured pillows help maintain that,” says Gary. “Over the years, that inward curve tends to flatten, especially if you spend too long stooped over your desk. So a moulded pillow with a high bit for your neck lets your body rest in a more natural and healthy position.”

Memory foam is especially well suited to providing the support your neck needs, so we’ve included several memory foam pillows in our rundown. Foam tends to feel quite soft at first, but it firms up as it moulds to fit the natural posture of your body, creating a cradle that supports your unique pressure points while you’re in the land of nod. On the downside, memory foam can feel a little too warm in summer, so some pillows include special cooling layers to offset clamminess.

If you’re considering a memory foam pillow, then be sure to check out our dedicated memory foam pillow roundup.

Natural latex also feels buoyant and supportive and is a more natural and sustainable option than memory foam. However, its eco credentials can push the price up – especially if you go for organic and other certifications. However, given how many hours you spend sleeping on your pillow and the life-changing impact of neck pain, a good pillow is worth investing in.

Feather and down pillows are soft but versatile, giving you the freedom to make them more and less puffy in different areas to lend exactly the support you want. However they quickly lose their “loft” (pillow jargon for height), and feathers can easily become displaced while you sleep, failing to give your head and neck consistent support through the night.

Does it matter what position you sleep in?

Side sleepers need higher pillow height than back sleepers, to accommodate your shoulder and support the inward curve of your neck. A too-flat pillow can lead to the dreaded “shoulder crunch”, stressing and straining the muscles in your neck as you sleep. Go for a memory foam or latex pillow that’s dense enough to maintain its depth throughout the night.

Back sleepers don’t need as much pillow depth. A pillow that’s too big will push your head upwards and lose this natural curve, causing neck and shoulder pain.

Front sleepers also need a flatter pillow than side sleepers. However, in the long run, it’s recommended that you switch to sleeping on your side. “Sleeping on your front is not a natural position for your neck to be in,” says Gary Jones. If you’re starting to experience symptoms, say you’re waking up with neck pain or headaches, then it may be time to change your pillow or even the position you’re lying in.” That said, if that’s a deal-breaker, check out our roundup of the best pillows for front sleepers.

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