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The 9 best pillows to reduce back and neck muscle pain. In-depth reviews from real, overnight sleeping tests.

Many pillows claim to have the ultimate solution to back and neck muscle pain. But which ones really work (if any)? We put them to the test.

Jun 20, 2024

Final Winner: 1 out of 9

(See below for an in depth review)

Contoured Ergonomic Pillow

by

9.5/10

15 votes

A+

Overall Grade

Suitability for different sleeping positions

10/10


Comfort

9/10


Support

10/10


Return policy / warranty

10/10


Value

9/10


PROS

Prevents you from snoring

Actually helps reduce neck pain

Innovative contour design works for side, back and combination sleepers

Best value and quality for the price

CertiPUR-US Certified Memory Foam

Luxuriously soft cooling bamboo cover

2-Year-Warranty

30-Night-Sleep-Trial

CONS

Only available online


Visit official store
9.5/1015 votes

How and why we reviewed these 9 pillows

I spent many years just sleeping on any old pillow I happened to pick up at the store. It worked fine for me. Or so I thought. Despite suffering from regular neck and back pain after sleeping, I never made the connection with my pillow. Then a friend told me about her ergonomic pillow, and what a difference it had made to her. I realized that I require a specific type of pillow. But with so many options out there claiming to help, which would be best for me?

I spend a lot of time researching various types of pillows to find which ones were most popular, and which seemed to get the best (and worst) reviews. To thoroughly test them, I narrowed the list down to 9 pillows, looking at:

  • Effectiveness at reducing back and neck pain
  • Comfort
  • Cover
  • Return policy / warranty
  • Value

Thousands of reviews read, 40 pillows considered

9 market-leading pillows tested

3 months spent testing

It was an unusual 3 months, to say the least. But my experiment was successful – I found what I was looking for and now my sleep is longer, deeper and I wake up rested.

All the pillows were good. Except one. The Derila Contoured Ergonomic Pillow – It was the pillow I slept on. I found that the shape was ideal, providing support and a ‘neck nook’ that stopped me from rolling around and getting store and stiff overnight. I definitely woke up feeling much better rested with this pillow.

Very close second was the Zymme, a similar pillow with the same contoured design. The main differences are that it’s a bit bigger (which makes it a better choice for many), and had a flat side as well as a contoured one.

Do you HAVE to spend $$$ to get an ergonomic pillow that works?

As with anything, the cheapest options are usually a compromise in some way. I actually haven’t included the very cheapest options into the list, because in my experience they simply won’t give you the support you need to reduce neck and back pain.

Cheap pillows will usually be filled with poor quality memory foam that doesn’t feel supportive, doesn’t hold its shape or mold to your body properly. They’ll also usually be underfilled and often actively uncomfortable. Even if they feel supportive at first, they’re unlikely to last as long as a more expensive, better quality pillow, saving you more money in the long run.

You might also want to consider what a good quality, supportive pillow means to you. If better sleep and less pain means you’re able to focus harder on work and be more productive, your pillow could even make you money back. If you’re on a tight budget, look out for discount deals. At the time of writing, the winning pillow (Derila) was on offer at a 70% discount, for example. I also saw that you could get a discount by getting a bundle of two or more pillows, which you can give as gifts later.


Contoured Ergonomic Pillow

by

9.5/10

15 votes

A+

Overall Grade

Suitability for different sleeping positions

10/10


Comfort

9/10


Support

10/10


Return policy / warranty

10/10


Value

9/10


PROS

Prevents you from snoring

Actually helps reduce neck pain

Innovative contour design works for side, back and combination sleepers

Best value and quality for the price

CertiPUR-US Certified Memory Foam

Luxuriously soft cooling bamboo cover

2-Year-Warranty

30-Night-Sleep-Trial

CONS

Only available online


Visit official store
9.5/1015 votes

The Bottom Line

The Derila pillow is designed specifically to reduce back and neck pain. And I found that it really did work, and did the job better than any other pillow I tested (except the Zymme, the Derila’s cousin from the same manufacturer). The contoured shape helped keep my neck and back aligned, so I was able to wake up pain-free.

The memory foam was really supportive and high-quality, and molded well to my shape. It’s CertiPUR-certified, unlike the EPBAO (which is a visually similar pillow, but without the quality of the Derila).

One of the manufacturers’ big selling points is that this pillow is good for side, back and front sleepers, and I found that to be true. I sleep on my side and back, and both were comfortable. I’m not a front sleeper, but I can see how it would work if you were: the contouring is shaped just right to give you that support in any position.

This was the only pillow I tested that helped reduce snoring significantly (which kept my partner happy!). Many ergonomic pillows claim to reduce snoring, but most don’t do it that effectively. However, the Derila does. I think it's because it aligns your neck and back, as misalignment can be a cause of snoring.

One downside is that the Derila might feel a little on the small side for some. It worked well for me, but if you prefer a larger pillow, the Zymme might suit you better (it’s a very similar pillow in many other ways except size).

I also found that (though it is breathable), it was a little hot to sleep on (as were the other memory foam pillows on the list), but you can get a cooling cover to go with it, which I’d recommend.

The bottom line is that this pillow distinguishes itself from other pillows in 3 ways.

  • Actually helps you reduce pain. After sleeping on the Derila, I finally woke up without the usual soreness that usually accompanied my mornings.
  • Quality materials. The CertiPUR-certified memory foam has retained its shape to this day. While in some pillows that meant a pillow surface that is too firm, with the Derila pillow, it’s still soft, comfortable and molds to your body, but springs back to its original shape when you’re not sleeping on it.
  • Helps with reducing snoring. This one was a surpise for me, and definitely a positive surprise for my partner!

You’ll see from the pictures that the pillow works pretty nicely in different sleeping positions. Of all the pillows I tested, this is the one that I think is likely to work for the greatest number of people, and reduce pain regardless of how you sleep.

There is a 30-day refund period too, so you can try it out and see if it’s right for you. I’ve been using it for around several months now, and I've found it to be ideal for me.

LIMITED TIME: CLICK HERE FOR OUR 70% OFF EXCLUSIVE LINK


Zymme Contoured Ergonomic Pillow

by

8.4/10

5 votes

B

Overall Grade

Post-sleep soreness reduction

8/10


Comfort

9/10


Support

8/10


Return policy / warranty

9/10


Value

8/10


PROS

Flat or contoured sides to choose from

Works for any sleeping position

Suitable if you prefer larger pillows

CertiPUR-US Certified Memory Foam

Luxuriously soft cooling bamboo cover

2-Year-Warranty

30-Night-Sleep-Trial

CONS

May be too large for some sleepers

Only available online


The Bottom Line

The Zymme is essentially a larger, slightly more luxurious version of the Derila. If you like a larger pillow, and you need neck and back support, it could be perfect.

It has a similar unusual contoured shape as the Derila, and I found it kept my neck and back aligned very well all night. I woke up feeling pretty fresh and without the aches and pains that I often get from sleeping in a poor position.

I’d also say that you might want to invest in the cooling cover as an extra. The cooling cover is great if you’re a really hot sleeper. But the Zymme is worth the additional investment – it’s nearly just as good at helping you reduce post-sleep soreness as the Derila.

Unlike the Derila, the Zymme is double sided, as you’ll see in the pictures above.

You can flip it over and use it as a flat pillow if you don’t need or want the contours. Personally, I really benefit from a contoured pillow, but I can see how this might suit people who only get occasional neck or back pain and don’t need that level of support all the time.

For me, though, the Zymme was just a little too big – for others, it might be ideal. It depends on your shape and what you’re used to. Like the Derila, it comes with a 30-day refund period, so you could even order both to compare.


7.6/10

5 votes

C

Overall Grade

Post-sleep soreness reduction

7/10


Comfort

9/10


Support

7/10


Return policy / warranty

8/10


Value

7/10


PROS

Graphite-infused memory foam and latex

Brand name

Return policy

CONS

Only reduced neck pain slightly

Expensive

Lacks additional features


The Bottom Line

Made from a combination of memory foam and latex foam, infused with graphite for coolness, the Saatva feels supportive and high-quality when you sleep on it.

The graphite did a decent job of keeping me cooler for longer. Plus, the use of latex foam as well as memory foam helped too (latex is generally cooler than most memory foam). If you’re a hot sleeper who struggles with regular memory foam, the Saatva could be a good choice.

However, while it is a good pillow, I found a couple of problems.

  • No contoured shape. There’s no specific neck pain reduction. Many pillows have a contoured shape designed to reduce neck pain, but the Saatva doesn’t. Nor is it adjustable, and it doesn’t align your back and neck (something I find essential). I did feel my neck felt a bit niggly in the morning after sleeping on it. If neck pain is an important issue for you, I’d suggest choosing another pillow.
  • Less comfortable than Derila or Zymme. In comparison, It just wasn’t that comfortable. The latex is good for keeping cool if that’s your priority, and the quality is there, but it felt springy to me. This is partly a personal preference though.

I also don’t think the Saatva is great value. It’s significantly more expensive than others on the market, and I can’t see how that’s reasonable. It has a quality fill, but not good enough to justify the price tag. And I’d expect a better quality cover, rather than just simple cotton.


7.6/10

4 votes

B

Overall Grade

Post-sleep soreness reduction

7/10


Comfort

9/10


Support

7/10


Return policy / warranty

8/10


Value

7/10


PROS

Adjustable

Value

Trusted Brand

CONS

Fill is memory foam + polyester

So isn’t as supportive

No specific neck pain reduction features


The Bottom Line

This is a great pillow for everyday use, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who struggles with neck and back pain. It feels just like any regular pillow.

Neck pain usually happens when your neck and back aren’t aligned properly, either vertically or horizontally. Because it’s adjustable, this pillow does help with vertical alignment – you can adjust the height so it’s the right height to keep your neck and back aligned.

But horizontal alignment is harder to achieve, and the Coop doesn’t manage it, as the pictures show.

This is the misalignment that happens as you toss and turn left or right during the night, which can cause pain (that sore feeling you get of having slept ‘funny’ when you wake up). Contoured and shaped pillows can provide the support you need to prevent this.

It’s also not 100% memory foam, which means it’s less supportive and becomes harder to fluff once it’s been used a few times. And the adjustable fill is pretty messy and annoying to deal with.

This could be a great pillow to have in your guest room, but it’s not ideal for sleeping on it every day if you have any neck or back issues.


7.0/10

4 votes

C-

Overall Grade

Post-sleep soreness reduction

7/10


Comfort

8/10


Support

6/10


Return policy / warranty

7/10


Value

7/10


PROS

Kapok + Memory foam fill

Adjustable

Copper cover

CONS

No specific neck pain reduction features

Cover doesn’t feel “smooth”

Kapok fill takes getting used to


The Bottom Line

Similar to the Coop, this is a good pillow for everyday use, but it’s not a great choice if you need something that will prevent or relieve neck and back pain.

It is height adjustable and so, like the Coop, will mean you can align your neck and back vertically, but you won’t get any support to prevent you from moving left and right during sleep. I found my neck moved around a lot when using this pillow, and I woke up pretty sore. Including when I slept on my back and my side.

A couple of other issues with it too. The gray cover is really visible through standard pillowcases, and doesn’t look great. And while the cover feels nice and cool, it’s not very smooth. I found the textured pattern annoying to sleep on.

It’s also (again like the Coop) messy to adjust the fill. Plus there’s nowhere to store any fill that you’re not using.

There’s nothing wrong with this pillow as a good, general use pillow. It could be ideal for your guest room. But as I think the pictures show pretty clearly, it’s not a good choice if you have neck or back pain.


7.8/10

4 votes

C

Overall Grade

Post-sleep soreness reduction

7/10


Comfort

7/10


Support

7/10


Return policy / warranty

10/10


Value

8/10


PROS

Not messy

Generous return policy

CONS

Too high, even when adjusted

New to the market


The Bottom Line

The Marlow is a decent pillow, new to the market from Brooklinen (the sheet company). It provides some support and is height adjustable. But (like the Coop and Layla), it’s not contoured, and so not as effective at preventing neck and back pain as it could be.

However, it is much easier and less messy to adjust than some other adjustable pillows I tried. You just unzip a zipper to change the height, which is of course pretty much instant and very simple to do. There’s no removing filling and storing it as there is with others.

The (big) downside is that you only get 2 height levels to choose from, so buying this pillow means gambling that one of them will suit you. Other adjustable pillows might be difficult to adjust, but it’s generally a job you only do once. I’d personally prefer to have more choice on pillow height and put up with a bit more faffing to get it right.

The other issue is that even at the lower of the 2 heights, it’s quite a high pillow. Good for some, but it’s very individual. It didn’t work for me, but it might for you. You can see clearly below how high it is.

The lack of contouring also means that you don’t get the support you need to stop you rolling through the night, which can be a major cause of morning neck pain. Also, if you sleep on both your back and your side (as I do, and I think most people do), then the ability to sleep on different heights through the night is really beneficial. I know I’m more likely to avoid neck pain if I sleep on the slightly higher sides of a contoured pillow when I’m on my side, and move into the lower middle section when I’m on my back.

However, if you tend to prefer higher pillows, the Marlow is worth a try due to their generous returns policy. You have up to a year to try it and return for a refund, though of course, I’m sure you’ll know much sooner than that if it’s right for you.


7.0/10

3 votes

C

Overall Grade

Post-sleep soreness reduction

7/10


Comfort

7/10


Support

7/10


Return policy / warranty

10/10


Value

8/10


PROS

Relatively inexpensive

Provides some neck pain relief

CONS

Not very comfortable

Small

Too firm


The Bottom Line

This pillow is pretty similar to the Derila, but lacks the Derila’s quality. If your budget is really tight it could be an option, and it is contoured, but otherwise it wouldn’t be my choice.

It’s filled with memory foam, but it’s not CertiPUR certified, so it’s noticeably lower quality than the Derila and not as comfortable. It’s very firm, which is good for support, but isn’t great in terms of comfort.

When I slept on it, it was reasonable on my back but not great when I was on my side. Most people need a slightly thicker pillow to keep their back and neck aligned when side sleeping, and this just doesn’t provide that.

You can see the lack of height and poor support in the picture below.

This meant my shoulder just sank into the bed, and I felt pretty sore on waking.

The EPABO does offer a 30 day returns period. It could be enough time for you to work out if it’s right for you, so might be worth a try if your budget is tight.


6.2/10

2 votes

D

Overall Grade

Post-sleep soreness reduction

7/10


Comfort

6/10


Support

7/10


Return policy / warranty

5/10


Value

6/10


PROS

Provides some neck pain relief

Medium price

Unique design

CONS

Gets hot (has an expensive cooling option)

Uncomfortable shape for front and back sleepers


The Bottom Line

The pillow cube is (unsurprisingly!) cube shaped. The manufacturers claim that the shape is ideal for side sleepers, so this pillow probably isn’t great if you sleep on your back or front.

However, I found it wasn’t ideal for side sleeping either. The cube shape does provide good neck/back alignment by filling the shoulder gap, as the manufacturers say. But the pillow is pretty high, which can be uncomfortable. Especially on your back, but even on your side.

It’s also pretty warm, so if you’re a hot sleeper, you’ll probably find it uncomfortable. It’s very firm, which is good for support, but it does seem to make it warmer than other pillows. That said, they do offer a cooling version, though it’s more expensive ($134 at the time of writing).


6.6/10

4 votes

D

Overall Grade

Post-sleep soreness reduction

6/10


Comfort

5/10


Support

8/10


Return policy / warranty

8/10


Value

6/10


PROS

Cool and breathable

Return policy

Provides support

CONS

Latex feel takes getting used to (a bit too springy)

Expensive

No specific neck pain reduction features


The Bottom Line

The Purple Harmony is marketed as ‘The greatest pillow ever invented’. I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a nice pillow with some stand-out features.

If you’re a hot sleeper, you’ll probably love it, as it has an unusual, honeycomb grid shape, designed to keep air flowing. I did definitely feel cooler. I could feel the grid through the cover though, which takes a bit of getting used to.

The grid is made of latex, which is quite firm and springy. It will suit many people, but I wasn’t a huge fan personally. I actually found it quite hard to fall asleep on, though I was fine once I actually dropped off. And the grid actually left marks on the skin (see the picture) which isn’t ideal.

One nice feature is that it comes in multiple sizes, so if you tend to find most pillows are either too small or too big for you, you should be able to find your perfect size.

I’d say this is a niche pillow, in that it will be absolutely perfect for some but terrible for others. It comes with a generous 100-day return policy though, so it could be worth a try, especially if staying cool is a priority.

Conclusions

For most people who suffer from neck or back pain, I would recommend either the Derila or the Zymme pillow. I found that the contoured shape was by far the most supportive option, and the one that helped reduce morning soreness most effectively. But the other contoured pillows I reviewed (like the EPBAO) weren’t the same quality as the Derila.

The Derila was my personal favorite, as I liked the size, but those who prefer a bigger pillow should look at the Zymme. If you don’t want a contoured pillow, the Purple Harmony is good quality, though it definitely won’t suit everyone, hence its low score. The Coop is another good quality pillow, but isn’t great for pain reduction.

Disclosure: If you purchase products via links on our site, we may receive commissions. However, we carefully research and evaluate each product or service, ensuring it meets our quality standards.


By Rebecca Jacobs

info@consumersrate.com