Do you frequently wake up with neck and shoulder pain? If so, it could be time to upgrade your bedding. To ensure your neck stays in the proper alignment, look for an orthopedic pillow.
These pillows aren’t just comfy — they also help alleviate pain! Here are our picks for the best orthopedic pillows of 2021.
If you need help shopping for a pillow, check out our buyer’s guide below. We’ll go over all of the different aspects to consider when purchasing an orthopedic pillow.
Our Top Picks
- Saatva – Top Rated
- Layla Kapok – Best Customizable Pillow
- Tuft & Needle – Best Orthopedic Pillow For Neck Pain
- Brooklyn Bedding – Best Cooling Pillow
- Eli & Elm – Best Orthopedic Pillow For Side Sleepers
- Purple Harmony – Best Orthopedic Pillow For Heavy People
As our top rated pillow, the Saatva Latex has many impressive features. It feels lofty and luxurious, and that’s thanks to its unique construction.
First, you’ll notice its soft cover made out of organic cotton. When you unzip the outer pillowcase, you’ll feel plush microdenier fiber sewn all around the edges. This gives the pillow the fluffy feeling of down feathers.
The core consists of shredded Talalay latex foam. This provides ample support and durability. This material feels much softer than traditional latex, and it’s great at relieving pressure.
With a medium firm feel, this pillow will work well for back and side sleepers.
- The Saatva Latex pillow has a unique construction that feels like down feathers.
- It has a medium firm feel, so it’s great for back and side sleepers.
- The high-quality and luxurious materials make the pillow extra durable.
Learn more in our Saatva pillow review.
The Saatva Pillow has an organic cotton cover that is removable. Underneath is an outer pillow made up of hypoallergenic microfibers. You can unzip that pillow and reach a pouch filled with shredded Talalay latex pieces.
Best Customizable Pillow
Don’t know exactly what you need from a pillow? In that case, you’ll want to check out the Layla Kapok.
This customizable pillow is filled with tiny pieces of Kapok tree fibers and open-celled memory foam. Together, this gives the pillow the plush feeling of down.
When it first arrives, the pillow will feel extremely lofty and firm. If that doesn’t work well for you, simply remove some of the interior filling. After a bit of trial and error, you’ll get your pillow the ideal loft.
And if you’re a hot sleeper, this pillow will definitely help you out. Its cover has copper fibers sewn in, which helps keep the surface clean and cool. Plus, the open-celled memory foam allows for airflow, so it won’t trap heat like many others do.
What Makes The Layla Kapok Pillow Stand Out?
- It’s filled with tiny pieces of Kapok tree fibers and open-celled memory foam, giving it the feeling of down feathers.
- It’s adjustable, so you can easily get it to your preferred loft and firmness level.
- The copper fibers and open-celled memory foam promotes airflow and breathability.
Read our full Layla pillow review.
The Layla Pillow features a zipper on the side that lets you access the Kapok fiber and shredded memory foam mixed filling. It has a soft knit cover that includes copper-infused yarn and a pattern that matches the mattress cover.
Best Orthopedic PIllow For Neck Pain
Tuft & Needle
Neck pain can completely disrupt your life. Oftentimes, tension and pain is exacerbated by a bad pillow. If you’re fed up with the constant discomfort, check out the Tuft & Needle pillow.
Made with 5″ of Tuft & Needle’s special foam, this pillow feels extra supportive and responsive. It won’t sag throughout the night, so it will especially help side sleepers maintain the correct neck alignment. Larger back sleepers, too, should find this pillow helps alleviate chronic pain.
Even though it’s made out of foam, the Tuft & Needle pillow shouldn’t make you feel hot at night. That’s because the foam is infused with graphite and cooling gel beads. These materials help pull heat away from the body.
Plus, when you apply pressure to the pillow, the beads stack on top of each other and create additional support.
And because Tuft & Needle custom cuts each piece of foam, this pillow is extremely durable.
What Makes The Tuft & Needle Pillow Stand Out?
- It’s super supportive, so it will help side sleepers with neck pain.
- The pillow has many impressive cooling features, such as the graphite infusion and cooling gel beads.
- The Tuft & Needle pillow features the company’s proprietary foam, which is both responsive and durable.
Read our Tuft & Needle pillow review.
Made with special responsive foam, the Tuft & Needle pillow feels both soft and supportive. It has many cooling features, and it's super durable. It's a great match for back and side sleepers. Click the link below to save 10% on your purchase!
Best Cooling Pillow
Brooklyn Bedding Latex Pillow
Memory foam pillows have the tendency to trap body heat. But if you especially love the slow-moving feel and pressure-relieving qualities, you don’t have to settle for something else. Latex foam also conforms to the body, and it’s much more breathable.
If you often wake up feeling hot and clammy, check out the Brooklyn Bedding Latex pillow. This product has a thin cover made out of organic cotton, so it wicks away heat.
At its core is a thick slab of latex foam. Not only does this pillow help keep sleepers cool — it’s also eco-friendly and hypoallergenic! Also, this durable material should give your pillow a long lifespan.
You can choose between Brooklyn Bedding’s low or high loft pillow. The low loft will work best for stomach sleepers, and the high loft is best for side or back sleepers.
What Makes The Brooklyn Bedding Latex Pillow Stand Out?
- The latex core is naturally breathable, so it’s great for hot sleepers.
- It’s available in a low and high loft, so it works well for all sleeping positions.
- The materials are eco-friendly and hypoallergenic. It’s also super durable.
Brooklyn Bedding's Talalay Latex Pillow is a supportive and pressure relieving blended latex foam pillow. It has a ventilated core and removable soft knit cover. It comes in two loft options, making it a good choice for any sleep position.
Best Orthopedic Pillow For Side Sleepers
Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow
Side sleepers – take note! Eli & Elm’s popular cotton pillow has a special U-shape design, which helps people maintain the proper spinal alignment in this sleeping position.
This pillow has a thin cotton cover, so it shouldn’t make sleepers overheat at night. In the filling, you’ll find two materials: soft polyester fiber and responsive latex noodles. The interior fluff gives the pillow a balanced feel.
To make things even better, this pillow is especially versatile. You can easily remove some of the filling to adjust the loft. This means it will work well for both small and large people.
Plus, you can remove the cover and wash it on the cold cycle. It’s easy to maintain and should last for many years.
What Makes The Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow Stand Out?
- It has a special U-shape design, which helps side sleepers maintain the proper spinal alignment.
- The pillow has a soft cotton cover that’s breathable and machine washable.
- You can easily remove the interior filling and adjust the loft.
Read the full Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow Review
The Eli & Elm Organic Cotton Side Sleeper pillow is designed for side sleepers with its curvature and offers great support with its latex foam and polyester fiber combination. Save 20% on your Eli & Elm pillow.
Best Orthopedic Pillow For Heavy People
Purple Harmony Pillow
Heavier people need pillows that offer plenty of support, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in the Purple Harmony.
Available in standard and tall sizes, this pillow suits a wide variety of people. Smaller people will prefer the standard pillow’s 6.5″ height. The tall pillow stands at 7.5″, so it’s especially great for larger sleepers.
The Purple Harmony pillow has a thin mesh cover, so it shouldn’t trap heat. Beneath this sits a layer of Purple’s hex grid technology. This squishy, gel-like material is a thinner version of what you’ll find inside a Purple mattress.
The core is made out of Talalay latex foam, a naturally breathable material that promotes airflow. When you rest your head on top of it, you’ll sink in slightly. However, you won’t need to worry about this pillow sagging throughout the night.
And because it’s made out of high-quality materials, this pillow should last a long time.
What Makes The Purple Harmony Pillow Stand Out?
- It’s available in standard and tall sizes, so it works well for many different sleepers.
- Because it’s super durable and supportive, the pillow will work well for heavier people.
- The pillow has breathable materials, so it shouldn’t trap heat.
Read the full Purple Harmony pillow review to learn more.
The Purple Harmony pillow combines a solid and bouncy feel - thanks to its ventilated latex core - with the squishy nature of the Hex Grid that's made with the brand's Hyper-Elastic Polymer. Save up to 10% when you bundle with other Purple products.
What Is An Orthopedic Pillow?
Pillows that feel too firm or flat can cause neck tension and shoulder pain. Orthopedic pillows, however, help ease the discomfort by promoting a neutral alignment.
Side sleepers reach a neutral alignment when their ears line up with their shoulders. If you’re a back or stomach sleeper, you’ll want your chin to align with your sternum.
Choosing The Right Orthopedic Pillow
With so many different pillows on the market, it can feel exhausting to sift through them all. To make the selection process easier, we outlined the most important things to consider when buying an orthopedic pillow.
A pillow’s firmness level will greatly affect how comfortable it feels. Most pillows feel medium firm, which works well for back sleepers. However, stomach sleepers greatly benefit from a soft pillow that easily compresses. If you don’t quite know what firmness level you need, opt for a customizable pillow. With these types of pillows, you can easily remove or add filling to adjust its firmness.
Not every pillow will work for each sleeping position, so it’s especially important to figure out how you rest at night. If you’re a back sleeper, you’ll need a soft pillow with decent support. If the pillow feels too firm, you may feel your neck craning out of alignment. Side sleepers will want to look for a firm and supportive pillow. You don’t want it to deflate or sag as the night goes on! Stomach sleepers should look for a pillow that is almost completely flat. This will help the chin stay in line with the sternum.
This one is ultimately up to your personal preference. Do you like the fluffiness of a down feather pillow? Or do you prefer to feel memory foam cradle your head? No matter what you choose, you’ll find a pillow that works for you.
Side sleepers often prefer U-shaped pillows because they create extra room for shoulders. Traditional rectangular pillows will work better for back and stomach sleepers. Ultimately, it comes down to what you think looks and feels best.
Many companies sell pillows with washable covers, so you don’t even need to purchase a pillowcase. But with some pillows, the filling sits directly inside the outer cover. This makes it especially difficult to wash because you have to remove all of the fluff before putting it on the cold cycle. This may not be a deal breaker for some, but it’s an important element to consider.
Pillow prices range from cheap to expensive. Usually, you get what you pay for. We always recommend people consider their budgets before springing for brand new pillows.
You’d hate to shell out money for a new pillow, only for it to disintegrate after a year. If you want your pillow to stand the test of time, look for something made with high-quality materials. Custom-cut foams and Talalay latex typically have longer lifespans than other materials. And, as always, make sure to follow the washing directions carefully. Otherwise, the pillow’s covers may lose their luster.
Types of Orthopedic Pillows
As you can see, there are so many different kinds of orthopedic pillows out there. We broke down the most popular models below, so you can easily find the right product for you.
These pillows have several different loft options. Typically, they come with foam inserts that you can place inside the cover. This allows sleepers to find the perfect height for their body weight and sleeping position.
Adjustable pillows share many similarities with dual profile pillows. They’re both customizable and easy to change. But unlike dual profile models, adjustable pillows don’t have foam inserts. Instead, sleepers can add or remove the filling from the interior of the pillow.
If you want your pillow to gently cradle your head, opt for something made out of memory foam. This slow-moving material helps relieve pressure, and it’s super comfortable. However, classic memory foam also has the tendency to trap heat. If you already wake up feeling hot at night, you’ll want to make sure your orthopedic pillow has some cooling features built in.
Look for something made with open-celled memory foam, because this will promote airflow and breathability. Gel, copper, and graphite infusions also help pull heat away from the body and keep you cool.
Pillows stuffed with microfiber pieces typically feel soft and fluffy. Even though it’s an entirely synthetic material, microfiber still feels super luxurious and comfortable. Also, microfiber pillows tend to cost less than down and memory foam models. If you’re on a budget, this could be a great choice.
Typically used while traveling, these small U-shaped pillows help cradle the neck and ease pain. They work well for short naps, but they’re not recommended for everyday use.
Down pillows are filled with the back, wing, and chest feathers from geese and ducks. This creates an airy and malleable feel, so they can work well for stomach sleepers. However, due to its materials, down pillows often attract allergens and dust mites. They also cost a bit more than other types of pillows. If you love the way these pillows feel, you may also want consider getting something that’s stuffed with down-alternative.
Once again, here are our top picks for the best orthopedic pillows of 2021.
|Layla Kapok||Best Customizable Pillow|
|Tuft & Needle||Best Orthopedic Pillow For Neck Pain|
|Brooklyn Bedding||Best Cooling Pillow|
|Eli & Elm||Best Orthopedic Pillow For Side Sleepers|
|Purple Harmony||Best Orthopedic Pillow For Heavy People|
Before we wrap up, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about orthopedic pillows.
What is the best orthopedic pillow?
As you can see, there are so many great orthopedic pillows on the market. Ultimately, it depends on what you need. Stomach sleepers will love the low loft Brooklyn Bedding Latex pillow. Heavier people should consider the Purple Harmony pillow.
What is the best pillow for neck pain?
If you frequently suffer from neck pain, you’ll want to get a pillow that will help you get back to neutral alignment. In our experience, the Tuft & Needle foam pillow really helps support and cradle the head and neck.
What is the best pillow for back pain?
When back pain strikes, it’s tough to focus on anything else. We recommend switching to the Saatva Latex pillow if your pain becomes severe. This pillow has a unique construction that creates both comfort and support — which is exactly what you need if you’re frequently feeling back pain.
What does an orthopedic pillow do?
Orthopedic pillows help sleepers maintain the correct spinal alignment. For side sleepers, this means the pillow is supportive enough to keep the ears in line with the shoulders. Back and stomach sleepers should find a pillow that helps their chins stay in line with their sternums.