Best Cervical Pillows

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

31 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
275 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best cervical pillows

Last Updated July 2019

The wrong pillow can be a real pain in the neck, and even more so if you suffer from health issues like arthritis or cervical degenerative disk disease. But even without an underlying condition, poor sleeping posture can lead to neck strain, aching muscles, and pounding headaches — definitely not the best start to anyone's day.

Cervical pillows are specially designed to keep your cervical spine in proper alignment while you sleep, so you wake up feeling rested, refreshed, and pain-free. If you're ready to ditch your dumpy old pillow in favor of something more supportive, a cervical pillow is a sound choice. But with hundreds of options on the market, finding the perfect shape, size, and texture can be a challenge. Will you want one with memory foam? Cooling technology? Adjustable features?

Luckily, we’re here to help. For your convenience, we’ve created a detailed shopping guide. If you’re ready to buy, check out one of our recommended cervical pillows.

Your cervical pillow should allow your spine to rest in a neutral position, without causing your head to tilt up or down.

Key considerations

Materials and fill

Memory foam: Memory foam is widely regarded as the best material for cervical pillows — and it isn't hard to see why. As memory foam absorbs body heat, it molds to the shape of your head and neck, resulting in customized support that most other materials simply can't rival. What’s more, the resilient nature of memory foam allows it to bounce back to its original shape upon cooling, so you can count on consistent support, night after night.

Polyester: Whether dubbed as “polyester fiberfill,” “microfiber,” or “cluster fill,” this synthetic material tends to be budget-friendly, breathable, resistant to moisture, and decently supportive. However, it's important to note that while polyester pillows certainly have their fair share of benefits, they aren't typically as supportive or durable as their memory foam counterparts. If you're looking for a soft support pillow and don't mind replacing it after a year or so, polyester is an option worth considering.

Latex: If you’re looking for a firm, supportive pillow that will last for years, latex is an option worth considering. While not everyone is a fan of its springy texture, latex pillows are considerably more supportive than polyester varieties and may be more effective at alleviating neck pain. On the downside, latex isn’t very breathable and latex allergies are a common issue that might make this option unsuitable for some.

Water: Just about everyone is familiar with waterbeds, but did you know that you can get water-filled pillows, too? Water cervical pillows generally consist of a sturdy water-filled core surrounded by a comfortable layer of fiberfill. Most feature a contoured inner pouch that can be removed, so you can fill or empty water to adjust the firmness and loft of your pillow.

Firmness

While it’s true that firm pillows deliver greater support, they can sometimes take a little getting used to. You’re unlikely to find a cervical pillow that’s plush and cushy, but it doesn't need to be rock hard to be effective. Unless you require an extra firm cervical pillow for health reasons, investigating the various firmness options is worthwhile. For instance, a well-designed softer cervical pillow that provides support in all the key areas can still help reduce neck strain and alleviate aches without sacrificing comfort.

Shape

Cervical pillows are generally contoured to provide support where it counts. The most common cervical pillow shape features two parallel curves, with a larger curve at the bottom for neck support, a smaller curve at the top, and a depression in the center to cradle your head. This traditional design usually works best for back and side sleepers.

But there are a variety of shapes to suit different sleeping positions. Some resemble a traditional pillow with a concave center, while others feature unconventional designs with carefully positioned curves, dips, and wings to accommodate varying positions. Whatever the shape, remember to make sure that your prospective pillow is suitable for your sleeping style, especially if you flip from your back to your side throughout the night.

Size

Although some cervical pillows come in only one size, many are available in varying dimensions, including standard, medium, and large. Before you grab a pillow based solely on the size of your bed, take a moment to consider the width of your shoulders. Is your frame petite, average, or large? While standard or medium-sized cervical pillows should be perfectly adequate for those with an average build, broad-shouldered individuals will benefit from a larger pillow.

Adjustable support

An innovative spin on an old favorite, the UTTU Sandwich Pillow features a traditional shape with a removable center cutout, delivering customizable support for just about any sleeping style. With a high-quality memory foam construction, a breathable bamboo-derived cover, and adjustable loft, this cervical pillow achieves a fantastic balance of comfort and support.

Features

Adjustable loft

Being able to adjust the height of your pillow allows you to customize the level of support and comfort to more closely fit your needs. While some cervical pillows have zippers for adding or removing fill, others feature a cutout design that gives you the option to remove a layer. Water-filled pillows, on the other hand, can usually be adjusted simply by adding or removing water.

Cooling technology

If you tend to get hot while you sleep, a cervical pillow with cooling technology can help boost your sleep quality and comfort. High-density memory foam, in particular, is prone to retaining heat, so if nighttime overheating and perspiration is an issue, be sure to look for a cervical pillow that features cooling technology in the form of ventilation holes or cooling gel.

Pillow cover

While many cervical pillows come with removable covers, there are a handful that don't. Easily overlooked, a removable pillow cover is a highly desirable feature — and not merely because the unique shape of cervical pillows can make it nearly impossible to find one that fits just right. In terms of cleaning convenience, an easy-to-remove pillow cover can make life that much easier — and even more so if it happens to be machine-washable.

EXPERT TIP

By maintaining the natural cervical curve, the right cervical pillow will ease pressure on your joints and allow stiff muscles and ligaments to relax. Correct sleeping posture not only reduces aches and pains but will improve your quality of sleep as well.


Staff  | BestReviews

Cervical pillow prices

Inexpensive: Cervical pillows priced between $20 and $30 come in a variety of materials, many of which can, in fact, deliver all the support you need for a merrier morning. However, most decently supportive cervical pillows in this price range tend to be smaller standard-sized models in limited designs

Mid-range: Whether you’re looking for a larger pillow, adjustable loft, firmer support, or effective cooling technology, the $30 to $50 price bracket is sure to yield a generous selection of options. For the most part, cervical pillows within this range deliver an excellent balance of support, comfort, and durability.

Expensive: If specialty designs, extra size, luxurious covers, and premium materials appeal to you, expect to pay anywhere between $50 to $150. High-end cervical pillows are generally made to last, so as long as you take the time to choose the right firmness and shape, shelling out a little extra for a durable option can be a worthwhile investment.

DID YOU KNOW?

Consider the fact that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, and it's easy to see why correct sleeping posture is so important. While finding a quality cervical pillow is a great place to start, pairing it with the right mattress will deliver holistic postural support.

Tips

  • Choosing the right pillow for your sleeping style is essential. Side sleepers generally require more loft than back sleepers, so keep this in mind if you favor a single position. When in doubt, opt for a cervical pillow that supports both sleeping styles.
  • Give yourself some time to adjust to your new pillow. If you're accustomed to sleeping on a regular down or foam pillow, the unique shape and texture of a cervical pillow can feel a little strange at first. As long as your pillow isn't worsening aches, pains, or stiffness, and you’ve chosen the right design and loft for your sleeping style, your neck will eventually thank you for sticking it out.
  • If you're searching for a truly supportive cervical pillow, memory foam is generally the safest bet. Fiberfill cervical pillows might feel more comfortable if you're used to a softer pillow and high-end models certainly can deliver decent support and resiliency, but most will eventually begin to flatten and few are as supportive as similarly priced memory foam options.
  • Pay attention to cover materials. Bamboo-derived covers are naturally hypoallergenic and tend to deliver an excellent balance of breathability, comfort, and durability. Pure cotton is another popular choice, especially among allergy sufferers, and makes for a comfortable sleeping surface.

Gentle comfort

The Mainstay Contour Memory Foam Pillow is a sound choice for those seeking a supportive cervical pillow with a slightly softer texture. Parallel contours work to promote proper spinal curvature while the ventilated memory foam construction delivers gentle support and cooling comfort. It's also more affordable than most others in its class, so if you’re interested in trying out a cervical pillow, this option is a safe bet.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for a softer cervical pillow, the Arc4life Cervical Neck Traction Pillow is easily one of the best polyester fiberfill options around. Dual contoured sides deliver fantastic versatility, with one side featuring a traditional-style neck roll for support and the other boasting V-shaped contours to gently stretch and loosen up your neck. Whether you require a cervical pillow for medical reasons or simply prefer an extra-firm sleeping surface, the Therapeutica Cervical Pillow is a solid choice. A carefully contoured design combined with an extra-firm foam construction makes this pillow a great match for back and side sleepers in need of serious support. If you're interested in trying out a water pillow, but aren't keen on spending a lot on an unfamiliar design, the Mediflow Chiroflow Water Pillow is a good place to start. While it isn't contoured like most cervical pillows, most users find that adjusting the water content works exceptionally well when it comes to achieving the ideal loft and firmness.

Sleep hygiene is directly linked to sleep quality. Wash all bedding weekly and refer to your cervical pillow’s care instructions to find a suitable cleaning method.

FAQ

Q. Do I need to use a pillowcase with my cervical pillow?
A.
While there's no hard-and-fast rule that says you have to use a pillowcase, covering your cervical pillow can extend its shelf life by providing an extra layer of protection against perspiration and the body’s natural oils. Using a pillowcase that matches your bedding will also help tie in your bedroom décor and can make an oddly shaped pillow a little less conspicuous.

Q. How long will it take to notice the benefits of using a cervical pillow?
A.
This varies from person to person. While some experience rapid relief from aches and stiffness, others might need a week or so to adjust to sleeping on a cervical pillow. We recommend giving your pillow at least five to seven days before making a definitive decision about whether or not it's working for you. If you're experiencing worsening symptoms or simply can't get comfortable within this window, you might want to replace your cervical pillow with one of a different shape, height, or firmness.

Q. How often should I replace my cervical pillow?
A.
How often you replace your cervical pillow depends on its materials and overall durability. For instance, the average memory foam pillow typically lasts around two to three years, while polyester-fiberfill varieties should be replaced after about a year. As a rule of thumb, you should replace your cervical pillow as soon as it begins to lose shape or flatten out.

EXPERT TIP

If you sleep on your stomach, you’re placing strain on both your back and neck. Try to gradually shift to side sleeping by propping a body pillow under one side.


Staff  | BestReviews
The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Erica
    Erica
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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