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Best Water Pillows – 2022 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Written by Tuck Staff

Quick Overview

Mediflow founder Maurice Bard dreamed up the idea for the water pillow after suffering injuries in a car collision more than 25 years ago. Bard placed a hot water bottle under his pillow and was inspired to design a pillow that offered the same comfort and responsive neck support.

With the help of specialists, Bard engineered a pillow with an internal envelope that can be filled with or drained of water to adjust the pillow loft and firmness. Today, the water pillow is available through Mediflow, it’s subsidiary Chiroflow, and a number of competitors. Read on to learn more about this innovative product with our guide to the best water pillows of 2022.

Best Water Pillows

Best Water Pillows – Reviewed

Best OverallWater Pillow by Mediflow

Best Overall – Water Pillow by Mediflow


  • Hypoallergenic Dacron Hollofil fiber filling
  • Jumbo size fits standard pillow cases
  • Machine wash- & dryable
  • Free shipping within 50 states
  • 30-day sleep trial with three-year warranty
Water Pillows by Mediflow are available to Our readers at the lowest price
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Best OverallWater Pillow by Mediflow

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From the inventors of the original water pillow, the Water Pillow by Mediflow features an upper layer filled with breathable, hypoallergenic Dacron Hollofil fiber over an insulated water pouch base.

As with other water pillows, the Water Pillow by Mediflow adjusts to head movement, contouring the head and neck as you shift positions. The whole pillow is wrapped in a 200 thread count pure cotton cover. The Water Pillow by Mediflow was a subject of clinical trial by John Hopkins University, which concluded the pillow offers superior pain relief — particularly for the neck — compared to other pillows.

The pillow is available in one size: jumbo, or 28 x 20 x 4.5 inches. The Water Pillow by Mediflow comes with free shipping within the U.S. and is backed by a 30-day sleep trial and a three-year warranty for manufacturing errors.

Best for Neck PainMediflow Memory Foam Water Pillow

Best for Neck Pain – Mediflow Memory Foam Water Pillow


  • European memory foam with airflow pockets
  • Large size fits standard pillowcases
  • Free shipping within 50 states
  • 30-day sleep trial with three-year warranty
Mediflow Memory Foam Water Pillows are available to Our readers at the lowest price
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Best for Neck PainMediflow Memory Foam Water Pillow

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To engineer the Mediflow Water Pillow: Memory Foam, manufacturers upgraded the original pillow’s Dacron fiberfill to European memory foam. The upper layer of memory foam contours the head and neck as the insulated water chamber below responds to movement.

The memory foam is ventilated with airflow pockets to prevent the overheating associated with traditional memory foam pillows. The whole pillow is covered in a hypoallergenic polycotton shell with a 300-thread count.

The Mediflow Memory Foam water pillow comes in a single size: 25 x 17.5 x 5.5 inches. The pillow ships free to 50 states and is backed by a 30-day return window and three-year warranty.

Best for Side SleepersXtra-Comfort Water Pillow

Best for Side Sleepers – Xtra-Comfort Water Pillow


  • Shredded memory foam top layer
  • Cotton shell
  • Durable nylon water pouch
  • Measures 26” x 18” to fit most standard pillowcases
  • 30-day guarantee
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Best for Side SleepersXtra-Comfort Water Pillow

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Water pillows can be great options for side sleepers who often experience pressure-induced pain in the neck and shoulders. Xtra-Comfort’s Water Pillow allows side sleepers to customize the loft and firmness to maintain spinal alignment, while the memory foam top layer helps reduce pressure buildup.

A soft, breathable cotton shell encases the pillow. Memory foam pillows are often notorious for trapping heat, but the pillow’s shredded memory foam top layer allows more air to circulate. As a result, hot sleepers should stay quite cool on the pillow.

The pouch is made from durable nylon material that prevents leaking. Xtra-Comfort recommends changing the water every six months and spot cleaning when necessary.

The Xtra-Comfort Water Pillow should fit most standard pillowcases, measuring 26 inches by 18 inches. Pillow purchases are backed by a 30-day guarantee.

Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Water Pillow

To help you identify the best water pillow brand and model for your needs, we discuss different water pillow designs, pros and cons, sizing, and more in the buying guide below.

Water Pillow Construction

Though the name suggests a simple pillow filled with water, the water pillow is comprised of a fairly sophisticated design.

Although specifics and materials may vary from model to model, the basic composition of every water pillow is the same: a layer of fiber or other material with a thin, fillable sac of water as the base. This internal water sac is made from a resilient, insulated material to prevent heat transfer and bacterial growth. The sac can be filled with tap water to achieve desired height and firmness through a funnel via a valve in the pillow.

Aside from their interior water pouch, water pillows look and function much the same as traditional pillows. Similar to conventional pillows, water pillows may be filled with a variety of materials. Different fillings within a water pillow may provide different levels of support, firmness, and feel while interacting with the water sac below.

The most common types of water pillow fill include:

  • Polyester Fiber: Polyester fiber or “polyfiber” is a synthetic material designed to recreate the softness of cotton. Polyfiber water pillows are lightweight, hypoallergenic, odorless, and sold in varying levels of firmness. Polyfiber tends to clump or flatten over multiple uses, but the water base helps prevent the sagging and shape loss typically associated with this material.
  • Memory foam: Viscoelastic polyurethane foam or “memory foam” is a highly contouring material that conforms to pressure and heat. The material is designed to contour to the head and neck to provide support and pain relief. Memory foam pillows may be more expensive than traditional polyester fiber pillows and may feature an initial off-gassing odor when unwrapped. Sleepers who tend to sleep hot may find memory foam water pillows retain more heat.
  • Down: Made from the soft interior plumage of ducks or geese, down pillows tend to be lightweight and soft. Although traditional down pillows may lose their shape over time, the water chamber found in down water pillows helps to stop sagging and compression. However, down pillows come with potential odor and may irritate allergies.
  • Down alternative: Down alternative is a polyester fiber material designed to mimic the softness and lightness of down. Down alternative pillows may have a shorter lifespan, but make a good substitute for sleepers with allergies to down or odor sensitivity.

Why Choose a Water Pillow?

Due to its unique construction, a water pillow is able to offer a number of benefits over traditional pillows. The water chamber base supports the upper layer of fiber, memory foam, down, or down alternative, preventing the pillow from compressing or losing its shape over time. The water chamber responds to head movement, supporting the weight and conforming to the shape of the head and neck as the sleeper shifts positions.

With the help of the firm water pouch, water pillows are able to maintain their shape without fluffing throughout the night.

Pros and Cons of Water Pillows

Potential benefits associated with water pillows include:

  • Pain relief: A 1997 study by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that water pillows reduced morning pain intensity and enhanced pain relief. The responsive support afforded by the water pouch helps reduce neck and body pain at night and throughout the following day. The pouch conforms to the head and neck as the sleeper shifts positions, ensuring the head, neck and spine are supported throughout the night.
  • Improved quality of sleep: The results of the John Hopkins University study also suggested the pillow may be effective in improving quality of sleep over all by reducing nighttime aches. Compared to many models of traditional pillows, the water pillow is better able to maintain its shape and doesn’t require sleepers to routinely wake to readjust or fluff up their pillow.
  • Adjustability: Water pillows can be adjusted for height and firmness by adding or removing water from the interior pouch.
  • Temperature regulation: The inner water pouch is insulated to prevent heat transfer and keep sleepers cool at night.
  • Anti-aging: While most pillows exert pressure against the skin when you lie on your side or stomach, the water pillow conforms to the face. This can help reduce wrinkles and prevent skin irritation.

Potential drawbacks associated with water pillows include:

  • Weight: The water pillow may be heavier and more difficult to move than other pillows when the inner pouch is filled.
  • Complicated adjustments: Determining the appropriate loft and firmness may require some initial trial and error. While experimenting with different heights and firmness levels, sleepers may have to repeatedly add and/or remove water until they determine their ideal fullness, which can be messy and time consuming.
  • Leaking: In rare cases, sleepers have reported leaking from the pillow’s water chamber.

What Type of Sleeper Is Best Suited to a Water Pillow?

Because of their conforming capabilities and adjustable height and firmness, water pillows are a good choice for many different types of sleepers.

Water pillows may be particularly suited for the following users:

  • Sleepers who experience head or neck pain. The pillow has been clinically shown to reduce pain — particularly neck pain — during the night and next day.
  • Sleepers who prefer multiple options for loft and firmness, or who are unsure of their ideal height or firmness level.
  • Sleepers who tend to overheat in the night. The insulating cover of the water pouch is designed to prevent heat transfer, while upper layers of fiber, down, and down alternative may promote airflow.
  • Back sleeperswho may require a conforming pillow to reduce pressure points in the neck and other sensitive areas. Water pillows can be adjusted to have a higher loft, which can help support the head and neck better when sleeping face up.
  • Side sleepers, who may require a conforming pillow to reduce pressure points on the neck or shoulders. Side sleepers also tend to do well with higher loft pillows, which are more adept at filling the space between the neck and the pillow

Alternatively, water pillows may be less suitable for the following types of sleepers:

  • Sleepers looking for a simple, hassle-free pillowas water pillows may demand time and energy to fill and adjust.
  • Some stomach sleeperswho may find the pillow’s loft too high even if the water chamber is empty.
  • Sleepers bothered by a noisy pillowbecause water pillows with polyester fiber or down alternative pillows may produce noises when compressed.

In addition, different water pillow fillings may be better suited for certain sleepers than others. Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind when selecting a water pillow filling:

  • Memory foam water pillows are best for side sleepers who don’t sleep too hot, as this material can offer exceptional pressure relief for the head and neck but may retain heat.
  • Down water pillows are best for back or side sleepers who sleep hot and weigh less than 200 pounds. Down filling is highly breathable, but may not provide sufficient support to sleepers who weigh more than 200 pounds.
  • Down-alternative water pillows are best for back and side sleepers who have down allergies, since these pillows mimic the support and feel of down without the associated allergy risk.
  • PolyFiber water pillows are appropriate for side, back and stomach sleepers, but may not provide as much pain relief as the other materials.

Which Sizes are Available for Water Pillows?

Water pillows are available in a variety of sizes, though exact specifications may vary by brand. The basic size ranges for water pillows include:

  • Travel: 13” x 16” – 13.5” x 21”
  • Standard: 16” x 25” – 18” x 26” (Fits regular pillowcases)
  • Large/Queen: 20” x 28” (Fits regular or queen pillowcases)

Other Considerations for Water Pillow Shoppers

Beyond design, there are several other factors to take into account when purchasing a water pillow. Before making a buying decision, consider the following:

Cleaning: Review the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to determine whether your potential pillow has a removable cover that is machine washable, or if it is spot clean only. Note whether the pillow itself can be washed or if it requires special cleaning.

Mattress Encasement:  Although water pillows from reputable brands have an excellent track record for avoiding leaks, you may want to use a waterproof mattress encasement to provide an additional layer of protection for your bed against fluids.

Shipping & Delivery: Note the shipping costs and delivery policies for the water pillow. Does the manufacturer offer free shipping to your location? In addition, if you are ordering through Amazon, look to see if the pillow is eligible for free, two-day delivery under Amazon Prime.

Warranty & Returns: If the manufacturer offers a refund policy, note the return window. Familiarize yourself with the warranty of your water pillow. Warranty length can show how much confidence the company puts behind the product. In addition, knowing the water pillow’s warranty may be useful in the event you find a defect after the return window has expired.

Additional Resources

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