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10 Best Pillows to Get Rid of Neck and Back Pain

Good Housekeeping logo Good Housekeeping 1/2/2020 Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping Institute
The best bed pillows for neck pain, back pain, side sleepers, back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and more. Our top-rated pillows at every budget include foam, down, fiberfill, and unique blends. © slumber cloud The best bed pillows for neck pain, back pain, side sleepers, back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and more. Our top-rated pillows at every budget include foam, down, fiberfill, and unique blends.

A good pillow is key to getting restful sleep, but finding the best one is no simple task. With so many options to choose from, it all comes down to your personal preferences for material and your sleep position. Side sleepers should choose a thick, firm pillow; stomach sleepers need a soft, thinner one; and back sleepers need somewhere in between. The goal is to have your head and neck aligned so that when you’re lying down, your neck isn’t tilting in any direction.

"Patients come to me in pain, and I know their pillow isn't keeping their neck aligned with their spine," says Dr. Darren Pollack, chiropractor and medical director of DASHA Wellness & Spa. "Over time, this wear-and-tear can cause muscle stiffness, tendonitis, nerve pain, herniated discs, and more."

The experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Textiles Lab have tested all kinds of pillows including foam, fiberfill, down, and more. We check how easy they are to clean and whether they'll actually hold up to laundering, then we have real consumer testers try them out for feedback on comfort and support. The picks below are top performers from our test, popular styles from brands that have performed well in the past, or new models with innovative features.

Here are the best pillows to buy for your bed:

Best Overall Pillow: Coop Home Goods Adjustable Pillow

Best Value Pillow: AmazonBasics Down Alternative Pillow 2-PackBest Down Pillow: Boll & Branch Down PillowBest Down & Feather Pillow: Home Decorators Down Surround PillowBest Down Alternative Pillow: Wamsutta Medium Stomach Sleeper PillowBest Foam Pillow: Tempur-Pedic Neck PillowBest Foam Cluster Pillow: Layla Kapok Memory Foam PillowBest Adjustable Pillow: Sleep Number ComfortFit Ultimate PillowBest Cooling Pillow: Slumber Cloud Cirrus PillowBest Organic Pillow: Naturepedic Organic Sculpted Latex Pillow

Before you get shopping, here's what to keep in mind as you pick out your best pillow.

How do I choose the right pillow?

Get to know the materials. Down pillows tend to be the fluffiest, but a combination of down with feather will be firmer and often less expensive. Down alternative pillows can still feel soft and offer good support, but they're usually made with synthetic fill and are be more affordable than down. Either way, make sure the outer fabric is tightly woven with no fibers or feathers poking out. Memory foam pillows are thicker and firmer. You can choose from solid memory foam or memory foam clusters, which feel more plush to lie on while still offering the support of foam. There are also hybrid pillows that mix foam clusters and fiberfill so you get the best of both categories.

Take a look at special features based on your preferences. You can look for innovative features that come with some pillows, like cooling properties if you tend to overheat or adjustability if you want to change up the firmness level.

Consider any recent health changes. Health-related changes (like weight fluctuation, new aches and pains, or other changes in your body as you age) affect the type of support you need, Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., an environmental scholar at the National Sleep Foundation.

Don't overlook care instructions. Before purchasing a pillow, check the care label to make sure you're willing to wash it as recommended. Most are machine washable, but some are dry clean only, have front-loading machine restrictions, or only allow spot-treating. Your pillow will last longer if you wash it two to four times a year, and if you use a pillow protector to keep it clean and safe from wear.

Best Overall Pillow

Coop Home Goods Adjustable Pillow

a close up of a towel: Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow © Coop Home Goods Premium Adjustable Loft Pillow


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This pillow lets you create your own personalized fill: It comes with extra stuffing that you can add or remove at home to make sure you're getting the best fit. It not only saves you the time and effort of searching for your perfect height, but it also lets you test it out in the comfort of your own bed. The fill is a blend of shredded memory foam and microfiber clusters so it feels both supportive and plush. Just be cautious when you're adjusting the fill; it can get a bit messy and it's not something you'll want to adjust on a regular basis. We love that the cover is machine washable and the foam is CertiPUR-US certified. It’s also a bestseller on Amazon with over 14,000 five-star reviews from users who call it the "best pillow ever."

Best Value Pillow

AmazonBasics Down Alternative Pillow 2-Pack

a close up of a towel: Down Alternative Soft Density Pillows, 2-Pack © AmazonBasics Down Alternative Soft Density Pillows, 2-Pack


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To get the most bang for your buck, you can snag this set of two pillows from Amazon's own brand for a fraction of the cost of other individual pillows. The down alternative style is made entirely of polyester so it's machine washable and good for those with allergies. This variation has a soft density, so it feels plush and is ideal for stomach or back sleepers that need a flatter pillow. If you're looking for more support, AmazonBasics also has a gusseted version that has a higher rise to cradle your head and neck. The pillows ship to you in a vacuum-sealed package and spring to shape when you open them.

Best Down Pillow

Boll & Branch Down Pillow

Down Pillow © Boll & Branch Down Pillow


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It's pricey, but the luxoriously lofty down fill makes this pillow feel supportive yet not too hard. It comes in two variations: soft and medium/firm, which is surprisingly high so it’ll keep your head and neck aligned when you’re lying on your side. It uses a chamber construction to help keep its shape and the outer fabric is tightly woven to keep down inside. On top of that, the down is ethically sourced and the cover is made of 100% organic cotton. The brand also offers a 30-day trial so you can make sure you love it or you get your money back.

Best Down & Feather Pillow

Home Decorators Down Surround Pillow

a large white bed sitting next to a window: Down Surround Pillow © Home Decorators Down Surround Pillow


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This Home Depot option has a unique double-pillow design: there’s an inner chamber of feathers for support with an outer layer of down for a soft, fluffy feel. It has a medium density so it's designed to work with most sleep positions – i.e. it's not too soft or too firm. Even better: it's backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal – so if it’s defective within two years of purchasing, Good Housekeeping will give you a refund. Like the previous pillow, the down is certified by the Responsible Down Standard for ethics and the outer cover is made of cotton.

Best Down Alternative Pillow

Wamsutta Medium Density Stomach Sleeper Pillow

a close up of a towel: Medium Density Stomach Sleeper Pillow © Wamsutta Medium Density Stomach Sleeper Pillow


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Down alternative is ideal for a lower cost and easy care, and this one did not disappoint. Not only is this a total steal for under 20 bucks, it also was a top performer across the board: It sprang back to shape after we put a weight on it, testers unanimously said it was comfortable and supportive, and it laundered well and looked great after five wash cycles. The lower profile makes it ideal for sleeping on your stomach (like the name suggests), but it has a 2-inch gusset all the way around so it isn't too flat. The fill is made of polyester and it has a cotton cover.

Best Foam Pillow

Tempur-Pedic Neck Pillow

a close up of a piece of paper: Neck Pillow © Tempur-Pedic Neck Pillow


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If you like firm support, this is the pillow for you. It’s made of solid memory foam and is ergonomically-designed to give you proper alignment if you sleep on your side or back. The shape is contoured so it’ll fit the curve around your head, neck, and shoulders. It also has a lower profile so it won’t feel too high, though it does fit pillowcases a bit awkwardly. Still, it held up to our pressure tests and those who prefer firm pillows said it felt supportive and great to lie on. The polyester outer cover is removable and can be machine washed.

Best Foam Cluster Pillow

Layla Kapok Memory Foam Pillow

a close up of a keyboard: Kapok Memory Foam Pillow © Layla Kapok Memory Foam Pillow


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It's technically a memory foam pillow, yet it feels fluffy and soft thanks to its blend of shredded foam and kapok (a natural fiber that’s similar to cotton). You get the best of both worlds: a pillow that's both supportive and plush. The brand doesn't specify an intended position, but it’s not too high or too low and we've found that the structure works with multiple sleep styles or for people who often change positions. The cover has copper in it to help prevent you from overheating, but note that the grey color of the pillow is visible through some white pillowcases.

Best Adjustable Pillow

Sleep Number ComfortFit Ultimate Pillow

an umbrella sitting on top of a bed: ComfortFit™ Pillow © ComfortFit™ Pillow


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You may know Sleep Number for its adjustable beds, but this pillow also gives you a personalized support level. It comes with three separate inserts for you to add or remove depending on your sleep position and preference for pillow height, which can change over time. Like some of the other styles, the fill is a blend of shredded memory foam and down alternative fibers so you get the mix of softness and support. The cover is both smooth-feeling and machine washable for convenience. Sleep Number has lots of other pillows in its assortment, so you can take its pillow quiz to find the best option for you.

Best Cooling Pillow

Slumber Cloud Cirrus Pillow

Cirrus Pillow © Slumber Cloud Cirrus Pillow


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Some cooling pillows feel instantly cool to the touch, but they don't help regulate your body temperature throughout the night. This one uses Outlast technology, which stores and releases your body heat as you sweat and is designed to help keep you feeling cooler all night long. It also comes in lots of options so it can be used with a variety of preferences: there are both down and polyester down alterantive fills and multiple firmness levels to choose from. And despite having cooling technology, the entire pillow is machine washable.

Best Organic Pillow

Naturepedic Organic Sculpted Latex Pillow

a close up of a piece of paper: Organic Sculpted Latex Pillow © Naturepedic Organic Sculpted Latex Pillow


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Natural latex is foam that comes from the rubber tree, and this pillow uses latex that's certified organic by the Global Organic Latex Standard. It also has an organic cotton outer fabric and the entire pillow is GreenGuard certified so you know there are no unsafe levels of chemicals. The latex inside is solid (not shredded) and the brand says it's designed to cradle your head and neck, so this one's best suited for side and back sleepers. The downside is the care instructions are spot clean only, so you can't machine wash it.


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