How to choose the right neck pillow, according to an expert — plus 3 supportive picks


Whether you're prone to neck and back pain or you simply like to be extra cozy at night, having the right pillow can make a world of difference. "If you suffer from neck pain, a proper pillow will relax muscles and tendons around your neck and give you a sufficient amount of comfort to stop tossing and turning," Alex Savy, certified sleep science coach and founder of the review site Sleeping Ocean, tells Mic. So, what exactly should you look for when shopping for one of the best neck pillows for sleeping?

That largely depends on your personal sleeping habits, Savy explains. Side and back sleepers, for example, will want something with raised edges and a contoured design that can adapt to the curve of your neck and help relax your spine. "Raised edges allow you to switch between the supine and lateral positions and provide a supportive loft for both of them," he says. Side sleepers may want something with "slightly shorter edges," so they have somewhere comfortable to put their shoulder that supports their neck alignment.

Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, will do better with thinner pillows or even folded towels, Savy says. However, he notes that it's best for people who sleep on their stomach to ultimately try to adopt new sleeping habits. "When you’re sleeping on your stomach, you usually turn your head to the side, which results in straining the neck muscles," he says. In addition to straining the muscles, this puts your head out of alignment with your spine, which over time can lead to chronic neck problems.

Given these suggestions, think about your own sleeping habits and check out the best neck pillows for sleeping below.

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The one for back and side sleepers

With hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon, this popular pick is one of the best neck pillows for sleeping on your back or side. Like Savy recommends, it has a contoured design to more easily adapt to the curve of your neck. It also has raised edges to help you shift positions more smoothly. The cushioned memory foam offers soft, supportive loft and the edges are short enough that side sleepers can cradle their shoulders comfortably (and properly align their necks). The pillow's lightweight bamboo charcoal material makes it extra breathable, and it absorbs moisture if you get sweaty at night, too.

One reviewer says: "I love this pillow. I had another flat memory foam pillow that I like alright, but I was always trying to shove it up under my neck to give me support there. This pillow has that support built in - and it doesn’t shift! I like that there’s a higher side and a lower side. I put the higher side towards me when I sleep on my side (which is most nights) but I flip it to the lower side if I’m sleeping on my back. The pillow is lightweight and soft, but still very supportive.. [...] Overall I’m super excited about this pillow and would definitely recommend it."


The one for stomach sleepers

If you tend to sleep on your stomach, this extra thin neck support pillow is a great option. Although, it's best if you can ultimately change your sleep habits in the long-run, like Savy recommends, the slender profile will ease aches and pains in the meantime. It's not too thick (so your neck won't feel strained), and the soft, moldable memory foam provides exceptional stability. The material is gel-infused with ventilation holes that help keep you cool, and it has a machine-washable bamboo-polyester cover that wicks moisture, keeping you dry even on hot sweaty nights. As a bonus, it comes with a handy carrying bag.

One reviewer says: "I always sleep on my stomach and regular pillows give me a neck pain often. This one is very comfortable and I no longer wake up in the middle of the night because my pillow bothers me. I would totally recommend this product to anyone who sleeps on their stomach just like me. It is worth the price."


The one for travel

For folks who are constantly on the go but still want to sleep comfortably, this option is one of the best neck pillows for travel. It's constructed with high-quality memory foam that takes three full seconds to rebound, according to the brand, offering excellent therapeutic support. In addition to that, it boasts a contoured orthopedic design that keeps your neck properly supported. This pillow also has a removable cover that's breathable and sweat-resistant. As a bonus, it fits into a convenient travel case with a handle, making it easy to tote around.

One reviewer says: "I always go from place to place because of my work, so a comfy travel pillow is essential, and thank goodness, I added this to my 'travel buddies,' as I call them. This pillow is super comfortable, and there's no way that you'd be getting a stiff neck when you have this around despite how long the flight is."


Alex Savy, certified sleep science coach and founder of Sleeping Ocean