How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?

A good pillow together with a good mattress play an important role in helping you get a good night’s rest. But do you need a pile of pillows for that? The short answer is no. All those fluffy pillows might look cozy but they may actually be causing you more harm than good. So, just how many pillows should you sleep with for a proper night’s rest?

Why Just One Pillow Is Recommended?

why just one pillow is recommended

Most people need just one pillow for a good night’s sleep. That’s all you need to support your head. And if you find yourself often grabbing a second pillow to get into a comfortable sleep position, you could just be using the wrong type of pillow for your sleep.

The purpose of a good pillow is to slightly raise your head in order to align your neck and spine. This helps to keep your head, neck and spine in a neutral position. And if the pillow is too high, it can leave your spine misaligned and that will also lead to pains and aches the next morning.

People often grab an extra pillow or two in order to compensate the lack of support. They think that since it’s the same height, it should provide the equivalent support. However, instead of stacking multiple pillows to get the proper support, it’s better to opt for just one pillow that is thick and supportive enough. The reason behind this is simple. Most people move around during the night and as you move, the pillows also get dislocated and this can mess up the alignment of the neck and spine.

So, for most people one pillow is enough. However, what’s more important is choosing the right pillow.

First of all, when choosing the right pillow, look for one that is of the right height.

The pillow height is usually called pillow loft. Low loft means it’s 3 inches and below, medium loft is 3-5 inches thickness and high loft pillows are 5 inches and above.

Your body type and the sleeping position you prefer determines which loft is more suitable for you.

For example, if you have wide shoulders, large head and you usually sleep on your side, a high loft is recommended.

On the other hand, if you have narrow shoulders, smaller head or you sleep on your back, then a thin to medium loft is recommended. It should be low enough to hold the head level with the rest of the spine. If it’s too high, it will put stress on the neck and can compromise the airway.

And if you’re a stomach sleeper, the best would be the thinnest pillow or no pillow at all. Look for plush, thin and malleable pillows that provide enough support and cushioning. For example, memory foam, down and feather pillows are great options.

Pillows also differ by the type of material that they’re made from. The most popular type is memory foam pillows. They mold to the shape of your head and neck, providing adequate support throughout.

Another good type of pillows is the adjustable type. These pillows allow you to add or remove the filling according to your needs, so that you can find the perfect thickness for your neck and spine to remain in neutral.

Number of Pillows For Different Sleeping Positions

how many pillows should you sleep with

With all that being said, there are exceptions to the one pillow rule. You could use an extra pillow depending on your sleeping position. But that extra pillow should not go under your head.

  • Back sleepers. For this sleeping position, which is, by the way, the most ideal position, one pillow is enough to provide sufficient support for your head. You can use an extra pillow and put it under your knees. Having one pillow under your head and one under your knees, will help to keep your spine in its natural curvature.
  • Side sleepers. In this sleeping position you can also use two pillows. Place one under your head and the other one between your knees. This will prevent the top leg from pulling your spine out of its balanced alignment. On top of that, it will also prevent putting stress on your lower back and hips. When choosing a pillow for between the legs, opt for a firm one that will help to keep the knees from touching each other.
  • Stomach sleepers. This is the worst position for sleeping since it puts more stress on the back of the spine. So, if you can, try to avoid sleeping in this position. However, if this is the only way you can fall asleep, choose a pillow that is very thin in order to keep your head as low as possible. And just one pillow is enough. Or, try to skip the pillow altogether as that is the best for keeping the alignment in this position.

How About Not Using Any Pillows?

sleeping without a pillow

Have you ever wondered if you need a pillow at all to get a good night’s sleep? It does seem like a natural attachment to any bed but is it really necessary?

In general, your sleep position dictates whether sleeping with or without a pillow will benefit or hurt you.

If you’re a side sleeper, you do need proper pillow support to keep your spine straight while you sleep. Without a pillow, the head will weigh down the neck, wrenching it out of the alignment with the rest of the spine.

Back sleepers also benefit from sleeping with a pillow. Without it, the head can fall too far back, putting a strain on the neck and back. So, it’s best to opt for a pillow but one that is thin.

Stomach sleepers are the ones that can really benefit from sleeping without a pillow. This helps to keep your head on the same level as your spine.

Bottom Line

In all, one good pillow is all you need for comfortable sleep. Depending on your sleeping position, you could use one more pillow but for placing it under or between your legs. The main thing is finding a proper pillow for your body type and sleep position, so you can have adequate support for your spinal alignment.

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