How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?


How many in a bed is enough? We’re talking pillows, of course. While one person cannot sleep without two or more pillows, others prefer to forgo all but the thinnest of pillows entirely.

So who is right? How many pillows should you sleep with?

According to sleep experts, using one or two pillows is optimal for back or side sleepers. For front sleepers, a single thinner pillow is often enough.

What are Pillows Actually For?

While pillows are a nice decorative addition to our bedrooms, they also play an important part in helping us to get a good night’s rest-something that is critical for living a healthy and happy life. One of the key benefits of a pillow is it can improve our sleep posture.

Proper posture when we stand or sit is really important. Taking care not to slouch ensures our spines are properly aligned and it keeps our joints in better health. To avoid pain and rest better, the same principle is important for when we sleep.

Here’s a video that helps show what we mean by neck position and spine alignment when we sleep, and why it is important:

Pillows come in many shapes and different materials. Evidence supports that our choice of pillows, be it memory foam, latex, or the more traditional down pillow, can also change how comfortably we sleep.

So, a well-placed pillow or two can help prevent us from sleeping in positions that lead to us bending our necks and putting extra strain on our joints.

As with most things sleep-related, how many pillows we use is a highly personal thing, but there are some pointers that can help steer us in the right direction.

How Many Pillows: It Depends On Your Sleep Style

A pillow or two that fills the space between our ears and shoulders can help keep us comfortable during the night and promote spine alignment and joint health.

Still, it seems reasonable to suggest that the fewer the number of pillows between us and a good night’s sleep, the better. So are there any benefits to having more than this? The answer is, depending on what kind of sleeper you are, there may be.

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, stomach sleepers can benefit from having one thin pillow on which to rest their head, or no pillow there at all.

At the same time, stomach sleepers can benefit from having a flat pillow underneath their stomach and pelvis. When positioned in this spot, the pillow helps give some much-needed support to prevent the body from resting in an unhealthy shape.

For people who sleep on their sides, a pillow under the head can keep the neck supported and the upper back pain-free.

Posture advice says that side sleepers can benefit from a firm pillow placed between the knees. This can help to keep the sleepers’ legs properly aligned and prevent the leg that is on top from leaning too far over to rest on the mattress and pull on the back.

Back sleepers might also benefit from using a pillow under their heads to fill the gap between their ears and shoulders.

In addition, another small pillow under the knees can help people who sleep on their backs keep the body in proper alignment.

While adding extra pillows should be done with caution, if you notice that there are any large gaps between your body and the mattress, this may be a sign that a small pillow could help to support your body in that area.

What About No Pillows at All?

Some people swear by the sleep and health benefits of omitting their pillows entirely. We know that stomach sleepers can sometimes find their sleep improves if they ditch the pillow under their heads, so what about the rest of us?

Clinicians note there is no firm medical reasoning to support such claims. Current research suggests that most people will find benefits in using a pillow or two while they sleep so long as that pillow suits their needs properly.

The Number of Pillows is Up to You

As touched on above, there isn’t a definite rule for how many pillows we should sleep with. Whatever works for you is the right answer, but how do we determine that?

One way of experimenting might be to start with one thin pillow and to gradually add in one more pillow each night in ways that compliment your sleep style. By doing this you may be able to notice changes in sleep quality and find the best number of pillows for you.

Final Thoughts

It’s worth considering the shape of your pillows and what your pillows are made of, as that can go a long way to helping you get a good night’s sleep and feeling refreshed.

How many pillows do you have? Let us know in the comments below and if you have any pillow-related questions, we’d be happy to hear from you.

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