If you’re after the best orthopedic pillow on the market, you’ve probably noticed there are plenty of options available, and they come in all kinds of sizes and shapes to suit different sleepers.
Orthopedic pillows are designed in various ways to provide ideal support and comfort. Whether it’s for your neck, lower back, or shoulders, these pillows could help alleviate the pain you feel in your preferred sleeping position. However, you should always take the time to speak to your doctor about the pain you’re feeling. While a pillow may help, chronic pain sometimes requires more medical attention.
In this review, we’ll discuss the best orthopedic pillows and their features, including the pros and cons of each one, to help you make an informed decision. Further below, we’ll also share tips on what to look for when shopping for an orthopedic pillow.
Top 8 Best Orthopedic Pillows
- Saatva Graphite Pillow – Editor’s Pick
- Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Neck Pillow – Best Orthopedic Pillow for Neck Pain
- Lagoon Fox Pillow – Best Orthopedic Pillow for Side Sleepers
- Luxome LAYR Pillow – Best Adjustable Orthopedic Pillow
- Puffy Signature Pillow – Best Orthopedic Pillow for Combination Sleepers
- Brooklinen Marlow Pillow – Best Orthopedic Pillow for Back Sleepers
- Avocado Organic Latex Wedge Pillow – Best Eco-Friendly Orthopedic Pillow
- Purple Harmony™ Pillow – Best Latex Orthopedic Pillow
Sleep Advisor’s Testing Methodology
We test pillows in various sleeping positions to evaluate who would benefit from a certain model the most. This helps us get a better grip on how the pillow feels and performs in terms of support and pressure relief. We also test for elements like durability, temperature regulation, comfort, and off-gassing.
Best Orthopedic Pillows
Saatva Memory Foam Pillow
A luxury memory foam pillow offering cooling features.
The Saatva Graphite pillow features a combination of graphite-infused memory foam and latex designed to provide excellent comfort and cooling. Graphite technology draws the heat away from your body, and the core is breathable and allows plenty of airflow for additional cooling. We found this to be a great cooling pillow and as such, would recommend it for hot sleepers.
This pillow has that slow-responding feel that’s common with memory foam and does a good job of contouring your neck and head. This way, it offers enough support to keep your head from sinking too deeply, keeping it aligned with the rest of your body. While we like the Saatva Graphite when lying on our back and side, we generally wouldn’t recommend this one to stomach sleepers, though, as it has a higher loft, and not everyone will be able to get it to compress enough for stomach sleeping.
The organic cotton knit cover on this pillow is soft and gentle, as well as moisture-wicking and breathable — another win for hot sleepers. Best of all, the cover is removable and machine-washable, making it easy to keep clean and fresh. You can also tumble-dry it on a low cycle, but the inner pillow is only suitable for spot-cleaning.
- Cooling features – This pillow is infused with graphite to help keep the memory foam clean and also boasts a breathable, moisture-wicking cover. On top of that, it features latex, which is temperature-neutral. While testing it, we found this pillow was excellent for cooling, so suffice it to say these cooling materials do their job well.
- Easy to clean – The cotton cover is removable and machine-washable, which makes it a breeze to maintain. Plus, you can spot-clean the pillow itself.
- The sizing – This pillow is available in only two sizes. You can choose between King and Queen, but there are no smaller sizes available.
- The price – Saatva is a high-quality brand, but their products can be a bit pricey. This pillow starts at 165 dollars for the Queen size.
For more information, check out our full Saatva Latex pillow review.
Best Orthopedic Pillow for Neck Pain
Sleepers with neck pain probably know the struggle of trying to fall asleep with the tension buildup. Neck pain can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position, affecting your sleep in various ways. One way to alleviate this feeling is by sleeping on an ergonomic pillow such as the TEMPUR-Neck Pillow. This pillow comes in three sizes, allowing you to choose based on your body frame and preferred sleeping position.
The ergonomic shape follows the curves of your head and neck, offering high-level support. The pillow is made from Tempur® material that allows a bit of sinkage for pressure relief while keeping your head aligned. The curve of the pillow fits your neck perfectly, helping alleviate pain and tension in this area.
The loft goes from 3.5 to 4.75 inches, depending on the size you choose. Most back and side sleepers should find it comfortable, while stomach sleepers may not like the ergonomic design. The polyester knit cover is hypoallergenic and suitable for people with allergies. It’s also removable and machine-washable, which is another plus.
- Ergonomic design – The ergonomic design offers unmatched support by filling in the gap between your neck and mattress perfectly. This means your head and neck should stay aligned with the rest of the body instead of sinking or curving uncomfortably.
- Proprietary Materials – Tempur-Pedic is known for using proprietary materials that give unique comfort and durability, so you shouldn’t worry about the longevity of your pillow.
- No trial – Unfortunately, the company doesn’t offer any trial due to the personal nature of the product.
- Not for stomach sleepers – This pillow’s ergonomic shape is uncomfortable for stomach sleeping as the curve would prop the head too high up.
Interested? Check out our full TEMPUR-Neck Pillow review for more.
Best Orthopedic Pillow for Side Sleepers
Lagoon Fox Pillow
Adjustable stuffing and available in queen and king sizes.
Side sleepers need a combination of support and pressure relief, and we found Lagoon’s Fox pillow to be an excellent pillow for side sleepers. This pillow has a medium firmness that allows enough sinkage to prevent pressure buildup. You should feel your head sinking a bit, but the pillow returns to shape quickly when you move. The contouring is what helps relieve the tension around the neck and head, and the pillow offers plenty of support for optimal body alignment.
The Fox is stuffed with shredded memory foam you can remove to adjust the loft. This makes it easier to fit a range of sleepers, although we found it’s best for those who sleep on the side, especially if you keep most, if not all, of the foam inside.
The cover is hypoallergenic, which is good for those with allergies. It’s made from a bamboo and polyester blend, giving it a smooth and gentle feel. Another feature we liked about the Lagoon Fox is that you can wash the entire pillow, including the cover, liner, and fill. This makes it easy to keep clean.
- Trial and warranty – This pillow comes with a 1-year warranty and a 30-night trial. While it’s not the longest trial period out there, it’s still a good amount of time to see if you like the pillow.
- It’s adjustable – You can remove or add some of the shredded memory foam to make the pillow more suitable for your body frame while side sleeping.
- Two sizes only – The Fox pillow comes in Queen and King sizes only, which means there are no smaller sizes that would be better suited for smaller beds.
- Too soft for some – Although the pillow feels like a medium when it comes to firmness, people who prefer firmer pillows may find it a bit too soft.
For more options, check out our picks of the Best Pillows for Side Sleepers.
Best Adjustable Orthopedic Pillow
Luxome LAYR Pillow
A pillow with adjustable firmness levels for all types of sleepers
If you’re looking for an adjustable orthopedic pillow that fits a range of sleeping positions, we think the Luxome LAYR could be a fantastic choice. This memory foam pillow has a unique dual-sided design with one down alternative side and one gel-infused, shredded memory foam side. The third insert you receive is made from two blocks of memory foam that give a firm feel. The inserts are removable, so you can go back and forth, adding or removing each one until you find the best firmness.
This adjustability means you can customize the pillow to fit your needs. The down alternative insert is the softest, while the shredded memory foam insert has a medium firmness. The two memory foam blocks are 1 and 2 inches tall, so you don’t even have to add both.
The Luxome LAYR is one of the most adjustable pillows we tested. The three inserts allow countless options to make the loft and firmness fit your preferred sleeping position and body frame. Each insert is encased in an individual cover, making it easier to remove or put back in the pillow.
- Easy to adjust – The zipper on the cover allows easy access to all three inserts, making it easier for you to customize the loft and firmness. The entire process shouldn’t take longer than a minute.
- 30-day trial – After purchasing, you get 30 days to test this pillow at home. Should you want to return it, you can do so within the 30-day trial, and you’ll get a full refund.
- The price – This pillow offers excellent comfort, support, and adjustability, but it does cost more than 100 dollars for the Queen size. That being said, the investment could be worth the higher cost.
- Extra insert – Although having three inserts gives you plenty of customization options, you’re unlikely to use all three at once. With that said, you’ll need somewhere to store the third insert.
Best Orthopedic Pillow for Combination Sleepers
An adjustable pillow that could benefit hot sleepers and those with allergies
Sleep Advisor Score
4.90 / 5
Combination sleepers need a pillow that’s comfortable in multiple sleeping positions. We rate this Puffy pillow well for side, back, and stomach sleeping, making it a great find for those who like switching positions.
The way you make it work for you is by adjusting the loft (height of the pillow). This is easy to do by removing the memory foam filling to make the loft lower. We recommend that side sleepers use a higher loft, back sleepers go for more of a medium loft, and stomach sleepers use a lower loft.
The Puffy pillow comes with a bamboo rayon and polyester cover that you can remove for easy washing. It’s machine-washable and hypoallergenic, making it a good option for people with allergies.
The liner that holds the fill is made from polypropylene, a synthetic material we often see in upholstery. The fill is made from shredded polyurethane foam that is certified by CertiPUR-US® to meet strict health and safety standards. Additionally, we like that this pillow’s foam core is shredded into tiny pieces, so it molds more easily, which is also valuable to combination sleepers.
- Versatile – Thanks to its adjustability, this pillow should work well for all sleeping positions. Adjusting the loft should take just a few minutes.
- Warranty and trial – The Puffy comes with a 101-night trial and an industry-leading lifetime warranty.
- Too firm for some – Despite its name, this pillow has a firm feel that may not work for everyone.
- It’s more costly – The Puffy costs over 100 dollars for the Standard size, which could be a drawback for budget shoppers.
Curious? Check out our full review of the Puffy Signature pillow.
Best Orthopedic Pillow for Back Sleepers
Back sleepers usually seek support to keep the head aligned with the rest of the body. However, this shouldn’t come at the price of pressure relief. Your pillow should still allow enough sinkage to prevent pressure from building up. If this sounds like something you’d find comfortable, you may want to try the Brooklinen Marlow pillow.
The Marlow is a memory foam pillow with an adjustable design. The pillow has zippers on both sides, allowing you to customize the firmness. The inside has chopped memory foam and polyester fiber in a breathable mesh to foster airflow. This mesh is made from polyester and is lightweight enough not to add any significant weight to the pillow.
While testing the Marlow first-hand, our reviewer, Jill, said she felt most comfortable while lying on her back, experiencing both support and softness. “I could feel the conforming memory foam, which gave it softness and adaptability, but it wasn’t so plush that it lacked support.”
One of the best qualities of the pillow, though, is that it’s available at a more affordable price, especially for a higher-end orthopedic product.
- Cooling – Despite having a memory foam fill, which can sometimes run hot, Jill described this pillow as “cool to the touch.” It also helps that the memory foam is chopped for extra breathability.
- Allergy-friendly design – The Marlow is made with anti-microbial materials designed to minimize the growth of bacteria and allergens.
- No big adjustments – The Marlow has two zippers on each side that allow you to adjust its firmness to some extent. Although this is easy to do, Jill described that she didn’t feel as much of a difference in the feel when adjusting the zippers.
- It’s not washable – Unfortunately, no part of the Marlow pillow is machine-washable. This model is only suitable for spot-cleaning.
Best Eco-Friendly Orthopedic Pillow
Avocado Organic Latex Wedge Pillow
If you’re after a wedge orthopedic pillow, you should consider this Avocado model. This organic pillow is an excellent eco-friendly choice, and the company offers it in two height options, including 7 and 10 inches, which should accommodate more sleepers.
This wedge pillow is made from Dunlop latex, offering a soft yet supportive feel. The design supports the neck and head, but you can also use it for added back support while you work, read, or watch TV in bed. This Avocado pillow has a gentle slope that may even help reduce snoring in some cases since sleeping with the head elevated can help open up the airways for easier breathing.
This Avocado wedge pillow has a GOTS-certified cotton cover that’s eco-friendly and suitable for people with allergies. In addition, Dunlop latex is also GOLS and FSC certified, which is another plus for shoppers looking to go green with their purchase. The cover is machine-washable, but make sure to use cold water only. Unfortunately, the rest of the pillow is only suitable for spot-cleaning.
- Cool and anti-microbial – Latex is an excellent option for hot sleepers and those with allergies.
- No chemical flame retardants – This Avocado pillow doesn’t have any chemical flame retardants, such as fiberglass, making it a healthier option for consumers.
- Not for everyone – Although many people find wedge pillows comfortable, this unique design isn’t for everyone. For example, the wedge makes it impossible to sleep on the stomach.
- One size only – Although you can choose the height of the pillow, the rest of the dimensions remain the same whether you choose the 7 or 10-inch model.
Learn more: How to Use a Wedge Pillow
Best Latex Orthopedic Pillow
If you’re after a latex orthopedic pillow, we think the Purple Harmony™ pillow is worth your attention. This orthopedic pillow comes in three loft sizes: Low, Medium, and Tall. The Low model is 5.5 inches, the Medium model is 6.5 inches tall, and the Tall is 7.5 inches. With different loft options available, this allows for more tailored comfort so that you can choose based on your body frame and preferred sleeping position.
This pillow has a breathable and stretchy cover that you can remove for easy washing. It’s machine-washable, so keeping it clean is a breeze. The cover has the Purple Grid Hex™ designed to offer enough support without causing pressure or heat buildup.
Under the cover is the Talalay latex core giving a soft yet responsive feel that doesn’t trap heat. Talalay latex is ventilated and naturally breathable, making the Purple Harmony™ pillow a good option for hot sleepers. Lying on it, you should feel the soft latex supporting the neck and head, offering just enough sinkage without making you feel trapped.
- Versatile firmness – The soft feel is nicely paired with the bounciness of latex, giving you a balanced feel of just enough sinkage and support. As such, we think this pillow should work for most sleeping positions, especially the Medium loft model.
- Trial and warranty – This pillow comes with a 100-night trial, giving you plenty of time to test how it fits your needs and preferences. The company also backs this up with a 1-year warranty.
- The price – The Purple Harmony™ is a more expensive pillow, and even though it offers a lot of value for money, it might not be within everyone’s budget.
- Non-adjustable – Unfortunately, you can’t adjust the loft or firmness of this pillow, but it does come in three loft options.
To learn more about the Purple Harmony™, check out our Purple Harmony™ Pillow review.
What is an Orthopedic Pillow?
An orthopedic pillow is designed to help with body alignment. Standard pillows may feel too firm or soft, or fall flat as you sleep, which can cause shoulder and neck pain. Orthopedic pillows should help avoid this issue by promoting a more natural alignment no matter your sleeping position.
For side sleepers, natural alignment is when their ears and shoulders are aligned, whereas, for stomach and back sleepers, it’s when your sternum is aligned with your chin. An orthopedic pillow should make it easy to sleep this way.
Who Should Consider Using an Orthopedic Pillow?
Anyone looking to improve their sleep should consider using an orthopedic pillow. However, the people who would benefit the most are those with neck, back, and shoulder pain. If you often wake up with tension and pain around your neck, shoulders, and back, it may be due to poor alignment.
An orthopedic pillow that fits your preferred sleeping position and body frame can help you sleep in a proper alignment, significantly reducing the pain if poor sleep posture is what’s causing it.
What to Look For in an Orthopedic Pillow
Apart from budget, which most of us consider right off the bat, you should also think about other important qualities that go into the quality of the pillow, its performance, and other preference-based features you may need for better sleep.
For example, do you sleep hot? Are you looking for hypoallergenic materials? What’s your preferred sleeping position? These are just a few questions you should ask yourself before deciding on an orthopedic pillow. Although orthopedic pillows are designed to alleviate pain and tension, that doesn’t mean each one will work for your specific needs and preferences.
Orthopedic pillows can be made from different materials, including latex, memory foam, and down. It’s difficult for us to say which one is the best since choosing one depends on your needs. Latex pillows are typically best for those with allergies. This material is also a good option if you want a responsive pillow as latex is naturally bouncy.
Memory foam pillows are popular because they can provide gentle cradling and excellent support, although it tends to overheat without additional cooling features. Down is a good option if you want natural materials and a soft pillow, but it may not be the best if you have allergies.
Support is one of the main things you want to focus on when buying an orthopedic pillow. If your head and neck aren’t supported well enough, you may find them sinking too deeply into the pillow, resulting in more neck and back pain. For this reason, it’s best to look for a pillow that doesn’t offer too much sinkage.
Some sinkage is okay for pressure relief, but make sure your neck and head are properly aligned with the rest of the body.
You should always try to match your pillow with your preferred sleeping position. If you’re a side sleeper, you should go for medium to high loft and medium or firmer support so your neck is in a neutral position.
Back sleepers should go for a medium loft and firmness to that their neck isn’t too high but still supported. On the other hand, stomach sleepers should go for a nearly flat pillow that’s softer because a taller, firmer one would keep the head propped up too much.
When it comes to firmness, you have the freedom to choose whatever feels comfortable to you. A medium firmness should work for nearly everyone, but there are soft and firm options for those with different preferences.
Some orthopedic pillows have an adjustable firmness, which could be helpful because it gives you more flexibility. Generally, though, we think side sleepers are best with medium or firm pillows, back sleepers with medium-firm pillows, and stomach sleepers with softer pillows.
The feel of the pillow is another subjective consideration you want to keep an open mind with. How you like your pillow to feel may be entirely different from how someone else likes their pillows. For this reason, it’s best to think about various options. If you’re unsure, consider trying out a few models and making the best of their trials.
If you also run hot at night, investing in an orthopedic pillow that also comes with cooling properties could be a good idea. Cooling pillows usually have a cool-to-the-touch cover or a breathable one at least, and they’re often filled with gel-infused or shredded foam, or latex, which is naturally temperature-neutral. If you’re extra hot, we recommend pillows that have both a cooling core and cover for added comfort.
Some orthopedic pillows come in multiple loft options. This makes it easier to choose one based on your body frame and preferred sleeping position. However, others have one loft available but are adjustable. Similarly, this allows you to customize the height, making it fit your sleeping style.
Again, side sleepers can do well with higher pillows, stomach sleepers should look for nearly flat pillows, and back sleepers should try medium loft.
Naturally, we want pillows to be comfortable, but orthopedic pillows should excel at this. They’re designed to alleviate pain caused by poor posture and alignment while sleeping. The best way they can do this is by offering comfort in whatever position you choose to sleep in. You should try to pair your sleeping position with the right loft and firmness to get the best comfort.
Budget is on top of the list for many of us when it comes to buying a new pillow. However, it’s not so much about getting the most expensive or affordable pillow. Instead, it’s more about getting the best value for the money you’re paying.
You should consider the budget you’re working with and how much you’re comfortable paying. This way, you can narrow down your options, which can make it easier to pick one.
Off-gassing tends to happen with memory foam pillows, and it’s normal. In most cases, off-gassing odors dissipate within a day or two, so it’s nothing to be concerned about, but this can be bothersome for those sensitive to smells who may want to use their new pillow right away. Eco-friendly pillows don’t usually have this issue.
Cleaning & Care
Cleaning and care are major things to consider when buying an orthopedic pillow. Some models are machine-washable, while others are only safe to spot-clean. In some cases, you may come across a removable and machine-washable cover, while in others, the cover is also only for spot-cleaning. Either way, think about what works best for you.
Types of Orthopedic Pillows
- Adjustable – Adjustable pillows typically have a customizable loft. In some cases, firmness is also adjustable. This is usually done by removing and adding the fill until you find the perfect height and firmness for your sleeping position.
- Memory Foam – Memory foam orthopedic pillows are usually excellent for support and pressure relief. Memory foam can be shredded, cut into cubes, or included as a block of material for highest-level support.
- Dual-Profile – Dual-profile pillows often have one cooling side. In some cases, there can be a difference in firmness between the two pillow sides.
- Neck Pillow – A neck pillow usually has an ergonomic shape and a curve that helps follow the shape of your head and neck. The shape fills the gap between your neck and the mattress, helping alleviate pain and built-up tension.
- Down or Down Alternative Pillow – Down pillows are very soft and are often highly comfortable for stomach sleeping because they’re easier to keep flat.
- Microfiber – Microfiber is a good option if you want a luxurious pillow without the allergens from down. This is a synthetic material but a fluffy and soft one. Plus, it’s more affordable than down.
Best Orthopedic Pillow FAQs
What does an orthopedic pillow do?
An orthopedic pillow promotes a healthy sleeping posture and good alignment in order to reduce pain caused by poor posture and misalignment. However, an orthopedic pillow can only alleviate pain if you choose the right firmness and loft for your preferred sleeping position.
What is the best orthopedic pillow for side sleepers?
The best orthopedic pillow for side sleepers is one with medium firmness and a medium to high loft. However, you should also consider your body frame. For example, side sleepers with a smaller body frame may want to consider a medium loft. Also, many side sleepers can benefit from an ergonomic shape with a curve that follows the shoulder and neck curves.
What is the best orthopedic pillow for shoulder pain?
The best orthopedic pillow for shoulder pain would be one that keeps your neck and upper back aligned with the rest of the body. This can mean different things for different people, depending on the preferred sleeping position and body frame.
Our Final Thoughts
An orthopedic pillow can make all the difference when it comes to alleviating back and neck pain. In some cases, it can also help with knee and hip pain if you use it as a body pillow between your knees or under your lower back.
The market offers many options, so choosing one may feel overwhelming. However, once you consider the things we went through in our buyer’s guide, you should feel more comfortable deciding on one. Hopefully, our reviews of the best orthopedic pillows helped you figure out which one of these models would work the best for you.
Olivera is a content writer for Sleep Advisor and is enthusiastic about sleep. She firmly believes in the benefits of daytime naps on top of getting a full 8-hour sleep at night.