Sleeping on the side

Best Pillow for Side Sleepers with Neck Pain

Most people never realize the seriousness of neck pains until they find that their sleep or quality of life is chronically affected by them. Over time, the accumulative effect of neck injuries caused by positioning the neck incorrectly during sleep can lead to more serious discomfort, both emotionally and physiologically. If you fall into this category and have recently tried to find the right pillow for side sleepers with neck pain, you may have felt a little overwhelmed by the sheer variety of products on the market. But finding the right pillow is probably simpler than you think.

The “mechanics” behind proper sleep

The way you position your neck during sleep is key to your wellbeing. There are some rules here which should never be broken.

Neck-spine alignment: The neck should always be in alignment with the rest of the spine. If your pillow is too low as you lie on your side, your neck will slope downwards. If it’s too high, your neck bend upwards – both of these cause strain to the neck.

Pillow firmness: Your pillow should have the right level of firmness. A traditional pillow, when folded length-wise will be able to spring back when a trainer is placed on top of it. If this doesn’t happen, buying a new pillow is definitely in order.

Filling the head-shoulder gap:. The more-or-less perpendicular gap between the neck and shoulders should be filled in order to provide maximum support. There are a number of pillows on the market with special contours that cradle the neck.

image credit: striatic

Choosing your next pillow

The development of medical pillows still isn’t an exact science, mostly because the neck and body of each person varies – sometimes quite dramatically – so provided that you stick to the three basic rules mentioned above, choosing a pillow for your needs will often come down to the simple question of “what works best for you?”

Memory foam pillows
Memory foam is a marvelous invention, both in terms of comfort and in caring for the neck, and this technology has become relatively inexpensive in recent years. Memory foam pillows can often be ideal for the light or finicky sleeper as they help them to maintain their original posture (which is often hard to do once you’re awake.) More to the point, these can be very helpful if the slightest change causes pain to your neck.

Water based pillows and water hybrid pillows
There is a wide array of medical water pillows on the market. Hybrid pillows are arguably an even more comfortable, and although quite expensive. These may be very useful, especially if you suffer from degenerative discs. In general, water pillows have received the endorsement of qualified doctors and so they may be a more expensive, yet also more effective pillow for side sleepers with neck pain.

Latex pillows
The main advantage of these pillows over traditional pillows is that they achieve a better balance between support and firmness. Unlike conventional pillows, they also retain their spring factor over the long term. If you want to allay minor to moderate neck pains during sleep, you will find that these are, at any rate, more comfortable than conventional pillows.

Best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain

Below you can find few of the best-reviewed pillow for side sleepers on the market. I encourage you to read just a few consumer reviews before buying a certain pillow. This way you will be quite sure whether that certain pillow is what you’re looking for and you will know what to expect. Hope you’ll be able to find your new pillow below.

Shredded Memory Foam Pillow with Bamboo Cover

Shredded Memory Foam Pillow with Bamboo Cover by Coop Home Goods

Recently shredded memory foam pillows have become very popular and for a reason. This shredded memory foam pillow by Coop Home Goods is one of Amazon’s bestsellers with lots of favorable reviews. The best thing about shredded memory foam is that it allows you to adjust its height – you can fluff it up or thin it out depending on your needs which is a huge step forward from all molded memory foam pillows where you couldn’t control their height. Besides that, its cover is made of polyester and bamboo which helps in keeping the pillow cool during the night (many non-shredded memory foam pillows suffer from getting hot during the night). Overall, choosing a shredded memory foam pillow seems currently the way to go. Check it out!

Z by Malouf Natural Talalay Latex Zoned Pillow

Z by Malouf Talalay Latex Zoned Pillow

Z by Malouf is a very popular latex pillow. As a side sleeper, you probably want to choose a firm model (unless you really prefer sleeping on soft pillows). This pillow gives good support (your head and neck don’t sink into it), keeping your spine properly aligned. It dissipates heat well, so if you’re a person who often complains that your pillow is hot, that shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

One thing to note – this pillow has an initial strong smell that fades away within a couple of days, so waiting a day or two before using it is a good idea, especially if you’re sensitive to smells.

Mediflow Waterbase Pillow

Mediflow Original Waterbase Pillow

Mediflow Waterbase Pillow is a water-based pillow, that allows you to easily adjust the level of its firmness by simply adding or removing water from it. It’s a great choice for people who aren’t sure whether they need a soft or a firmer pillow. With this pillow changing its firmness level is as simple as pouring in (or out) some water. Another feature people enjoy is that the shape of this pillow auto-adjusts itself to the moves of your head while you sleep (thanks to the water in it). If you’ve already tried memory foam pillows and they didn’t help much, this one might be the one you’re looking for.

Sleep Better Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow

Sleep Better Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow -Gusseted Side Sleeper

Iso-Cool Pillow is a memory foam pillow available in three shapes. Gussetted or contour are great choices for side sleepers. It supportive )which is very important for side sleepers), but not too firm. Besides that, it offers all benefits of memory foam pillows. If your neck hurts and you think changing your pillow will help, this one is definitely worth checking out.

Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow

Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow
Another type of pillow definitely worth checking out if you’re a side sleeper who suffers from neck pain is a cervical pillow. Therapeutica is among the best choices when it comes to those pillows. It’s one of few pillows that’s available in various sizes so if you need a large pillow that’s not a problem with Therapeutica. It’s quite unique shape allows for sleeping both on your side and back. It’s worth noting that many people suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) found relief in using this pillow so if you’re one of them, this pillow is worth a try. If you’re still not convinced, check out reviews on Amazon.

Sleep Innovations Cool Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Sleep Innovations Cool Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Sleep Innovations Cool Contour Memory Foam Pillow is an inexpensive memory foam pillow shaped for back and side sleepers (orthopedic design). The top layer prevents heat retention (many people complain about heat retention in memory foam pillows, although almost every great pillow has some sort of “technology” to prevent that from happening). Of course the “cooling layer” won’t be cool enough for some people, it’s just a matter of personal preferences. People find this Sleep Innovations’ pillow very comfortable and supportive.


Investing in the right pillow is just as important as choosing the right bed. Having the right pillow can mean the difference between a good or poor quality of life as one grows older. Be sure to read online customer reviews before you by a new pillow for side sleepers with neck pain, and bear in mind that affordability is often a poor substitute for your wellbeing.