How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?

How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?

Written by Nectarsleep editorial team

Last Updated on Aug 05, 2022

In this article:

    People usually use several decorative throw pillows to solidify the room's ambiance and improve the sleep quality; so, how many pillows should you sleep with, or how to decorate or arrange them on the bed?

    Generally, the number of pillows considered too many depends on the bed size. That being said, are pillows necessary for a quality night's sleep?

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    Are Pillows Even Necessary for Good Sleep?

    Pillows add a subtle essence to the interior and the mattress. Besides their decorative purpose, pillows loft the sleeper into a comfortable position. However, the loft can either hinder or help with supporting a comfortable position, depending on the sleeper's preference.

    Stomach Sleepers 

    Stomach sleepers usually use a low-loft pillow or no pillows to support the natural curvature of the cervical spine. Since using a high-loft pillow may bend the neck unnaturally.

    Side Sleepers

    When you sleep on your side, it creates certain pressure points. Therefore, most side sleepers prefer to sleep on a medium to high-lofted pillow that keeps the spine and neck in a neutral position without creating any pressure. Besides, too firm or a high-loft pillow may keep the neck upright and build pressure.

    Back Sleepers

    A back sleeper requires a soft and medium-lofted pillow for proper support and neck to spine alignment. A thin pillow can cause the back sleepers to rotate their shoulders forward or backward.

    Other Reasons

    Although some people may not mind sleeping without any pillows, for others, sleeping without any pillows can cause their head to tilt against the neck, which can cause pain and stiffness in the neck or shoulder areas, and sometimes headaches.

    How Many Pillows Should Side Sleepers Sleep With

    When you sleep on your side, it is important to support the three areas that can misalign and cause muscle stiffness and body pain which means side sleeping requires more than one pillow. But is it okay to sleep with two pillows? For a side sleeper, a minimum of two pillows and a rolled sheet or towel will help achieve the proper alignment and avoid body pain. 

    One pillow under the head can support the neck and shoulder area without causing the head to tilt downwards. And one pillow between the knees to avoid them from collapsing onto each other, with a towel under the hip (if there's a gap between the hip and the mattress).

    How Many Pillows Should Back Sleepers Sleep With

    Unlike when you sleep on your side, the supine sleeping position requires a lot of support in the back. Therefore, using two pillows (one big and the other regular-sized pillow) or three regular pillows can help support the spine's natural curvature.

    A regular pillow under the head supports the cervical spine, with two standard or one big pillow under the knees to support the natural curves of the thoracic and lumbar spine. Using pillows like this will also keep the pelvis in a neutral position.

    How Many Pillows Should Front Sleepers Sleep With

    Usually, a stomach sleeper may prefer to sleep on a flat pillow or no pillow. However, using a pillow sometimes may stress the back because the spine is put out of position. Therefore, using two flat pillows or one flat pillow with a rolled towel or sheet may help avoid the pressure created on the back and spine. 

    As usual, one pillow under the head to provide neck support. And the other under the stomach and the pelvis area will help keep the spine in better alignment.

    How Many Pillows Should I Have Under My Head

    Although more pillows may be required to support a specific sleep position, having a single pillow under the head in every sleeping posture may suffice the need. That being said, in some cases, such as for stomach sleepers, a person may find it comfortable to sleep without any pillows.

    Why Sleep on More Than One Pillow

    Does it matter how many pillows you sleep on? The general assumption is that a person requires only one pillow while sleeping. However, while sleeping, keeping the spine and back in proper alignment is essential, and extra pillows may assist in achieving just that. So, what are the reasons that a sleeper may need extra pillows?

    Old Pillows

    Even though a pillow that claims to last long may flatten over time, for example, pillows like a down feather or foam pillows can lose their structure or become lumpy. 

    And instead of getting a new pillow, some people stack up the old pillows under their heads to create the needed loft to support their neck and the back. However, there are many risks to using an old pillow, as it may contain dust mites and mold spores.

    Wrong Material

    Sleeping on the wrong pillow type may misalign the neck and the back, which can develop headaches, cervical pain, and stiffness. For example, if you sleep on your side and own a soft down feather pillow, then you may require a second or third pillow to create a proper height that can support the neck.

    Body Support

    Having two or three pillows provides support to the body. However, is it good to sleep with 3 pillows? If a person sleeps on their side and has a habit of rolling onto their stomach in the middle of the night (which is likely to develop back pain), they can support their body with extra pillows. To avoid rolling, placing pillows behind your back and front provides support and allows you to sleep on your side comfortably.

    How to Pick the Right Pillow

    With various available options choosing the right pillow may be overwhelming. Hence, certain criteria and factors should be considered before selecting the pillow. Following are the important pillow-picking criteria that may help with decision-making.

    Firmness

    A proper firmness level and loft of the pillow are essential to maintain a proper alignment. And based on different sleeping positions, all types of pillow firmness levels are available, from soft to firm and high and low.

    Size

    Excluding the accent pillows, there are three sizes of pillows: standard, queen, and king. Although choosing the size depends on the preferences of the sleeper, however choosing them according to one's bed size might be more appropriate. For example, a king-size pillow is better suited to a king-size bed rather than twin or full-size beds.

    Quality

    Although every pillow may wear out over time, choosing a high-quality pillow may prolong its lifespan. Check the reviews of the product and materials used for manufacturing it to get an idea of its quality.

    Sleep Position

    The right pillow does not require it to be soft and cozy. A right pillow should be able to support the head, neck, and spine in whatever sleeping position. Therefore, a pillow that supports the spine's natural curvature in your go-to sleeping position is the right choice. 

    Preferences

    Preferences play an important role when choosing the right product since it narrows down the options among the various available choices.

    Body Type

    Since everybody is built differently, body type is also crucial when choosing the right pillow. For example, a petite sleeper will have a smaller frame, and a big or high lofted pillow can cause neck pain. Therefore a small pillow might be a suitable choice.

    Final Thoughts

    Although one pillow is sufficient for a good night's sleep, the sleeper's certain sleep positions and habits may require more pillows. And regardless of the manufacturer's claim, tick all the criteria and factors and briefly read the reviews before choosing a pillow.

    This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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