How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?

Are you looking into improving your sleep quality?

Sometimes it is as simple as stepping up your pillow game.

The challenge, though, is determining the right number to achieve optimal night’s sleep.

So, how many pillows should you sleep with?

The answer depends on two major factors: your sleeping position and the type of pillow you’re using.

Is It Better to Sleep With One or Two Pillows?

Various sleep experts recommend using only a single pillow to sleep at night.

Going beyond this number can result in an awkward sleeping position that can then lead to neck or back pain.

Is Sleeping With Two Pillows Bad For Your Neck?

An article by the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) states that this is partly due to the height of your pillows.

After all, the main purpose of a pillow is to provide head comfort and support the natural curvature of your neck.

Piling two pillows or more atop each other might feel comfortable at first.

However, it will later cause unnecessary muscle strain to your neck, shoulders, and back.

Keep in mind that this rule only applies to people who sleep on their back.

Side sleepers and those who sleep on their stomach have other needs.

How Many Pillows Should a Side Sleeper Have?

how many pillows for a side sleeper, woman sleeping on her side

URMC also suggests that side sleepers sleep with two pillows but not atop each other.

Only a single pillow should remain on your head. The second pillow should go between your knees to keep your upper leg from being weighed down and messing up your spinal alignment.

This will also help support your hips and lower back, preventing aching muscles in the morning.

Choose a firm pillow for the job. You can also supplement it with a rolled towel or a third pillow to go under your waist to further support your back if needed.

What Kind of Pillow Does a Stomach Sleeper Need?

What Kind of Pillow Does a Stomach Sleeper Need? Man sleeping on stomach

Those who sleep on their stomach can also put their spine alignment at risk.

This sleeping position warrants a flat pillow to be placed underneath the stomach for added back support.

You can still use another flat pillow to support your head, but others also recommend having no head pillow at all.

What’s essential is to provide support to your neck since it frequently bears the pressure of your awkward sleeping position.

What Kind of Pillow Does a Back Sleeper Need?

Another factor that can affect the number of pillows you’ll have on your bed is the type you’re going to use.

Memory Foam

Memory foam pillows remain one of the most popular choices for back sleepers.

After all, they can easily mold to the user's specific head and neck contours to provide better support.

Can’t decide which pillow to get? You’ll be pleased to know that there are brands that actually allow a trial period for their pillows so you can better determine the right one for you.

The Adjustable Pillow

We also recommend looking into adjustable pillows. These are pillows that can add or remove fillings as you see fit.

They are a great option to make your pillows more versatile according to their current user.

Is There a “Best” Pillow?

The question as to which pillow is the best one has been asked for a long time.

Honestly, we believe that there is no right answer that will fit everyone, but one study did seek to find the solution.

The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine looked into three types of pillows: the standard feather pillow, memory foam pillow, and orthopedic pillow.

They sought to determine which one is the most optimal for sleep using three criteria: comfort, curve, and temperature.

The study involved 20 subjects, 10 men and 10 women, with ages ranging from 21 to 30.

The results showed that the orthopedic pillow proved the best among the three in significantly improving one’s sleep quality.

Just something to think about the next time you go pillow hunting.

The Zero Pillow Way

Here’s another idea: why don’t you try sleeping with no pillow at all?

Some sleep experts suggest that sleeping pillowless is a viable solution not just to improve your sleeping posture but also to minimize the strain that your neck and back muscles undergo to adjust to your pillow.

This option is advisable for any sleeping position. Those who sleep on their backs will find their body gradually falling into its natural posture.

On the other hand, side sleepers will find the lack of a head pillow beneficial for their skin.

After all, the friction caused by sleeping with one promotes wrinkles and acne.

Finally, stomach sleepers who constantly find their head twisted in an awkward position just to accommodate a pillow or two would find their neck liberated from that effort, resulting in a more comfortable night’s sleep.

We acknowledge that the zero pillow way is not for everyone. It will also take a while for you to get used to it.

It wouldn’t hurt to try it for a couple of nights, though.

See how your body reacts to it. Allow your neck and back to adjust.

You can always bring your pillow back, anyway.

How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?

As mentioned, the number of pillows you need will vary according to your sleeping position.

Don’t forget to account for the needs of your sleeping partner as well.

As a quick recap, those who sleep on their backs only need one pillow, side sleepers two, and stomach sleepers one to two, depending on personal preference.

Add the pillow or pillows that your partner will use, and you will have your answer.

How Many Pillows Should Be On a Bed?

Finally, let’s talk about using pillows to make your bed look more enticing to sleep on.

The mood that your bedroom has plays an essential role in your sleep quality as well, after all. You must not ignore it.

There are different types of pillows that you can use:

Sleeping Pillow

This is the pillow that we have been talking about so far. We recommend dressing it up in a solid-colored case.

It will help bring focus to the other pillows in your setup.

Light plain colors will also be more conducive for sleeping compared to more daring hues and patterns.

Decorative Pillow

What is a decorative pillow? Pile of different pillows

Ever wondered how you can make your bed as gorgeous as those in magazines? Then what you need are decorative pillows.

We personally prefer big square pillows called Euro pillows.

Aptly named, these luxuriously stylish pieces were once used as sleeping pillows in Europe.

They’re a great supplement to your sleeping pillows and can serve as an added cushion when you’re sitting upright and reading or watching television.

It will also protect your bed frame from body oil, sweat, and dust.

Accent Pillow

Finally, put the icing on top of the cake with accent pillows.

Unlike Euro pillows, these pieces are typically smaller with more detail and design.

There are a lot of styles to choose from: glittered, fur, bolster, monogrammed.

If you can imagine it, then there’s probably a pillow somewhere that looks just like it, and it can serve as the accent piece on your bed.

Beyond Just the Perfect Pillow

Are you still experiencing neck and back pain upon waking up? That’s a sign that you might need to adjust your posture as well.

Below are some tips to consider.

Lie Down as You Would if You’re Going to Sleep

Have someone check if there are gaps between your body and the mattress.

Come up with a way to fill in these gaps either with towel rolls or smaller pillows.

Always Make an Effort To Keep Your Spine Straight, Whatever Your Sleeping Position Is

Here’s one method we’ve found helpful: we keep our ears, shoulders, and hips aligned even when we’re turning positions.

Avoid Getting Your Waist Twisted or Angled in Any Way

This will always cause back pain when held for an extended period, such as when sleeping.

While you’re at it, you can go ahead and practice these posture tips even when you’re awake to reduce other causes of muscle pain further.

Seek Professional Help

Finally, don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re still finding it difficult to improve the poor quality of your sleep.

To Sum Up

Do you already have your pillows piled up on your bed, yet your sleep quality is still far from optimal?

Are you wondering how many pillows should you sleep with?

You are not alone. Finding the right number and type of pillows to use is a challenge that everyone needs to address to improve their sleep.

Sleep experts agree that you only need one to two pillows for sleeping.

The exact number will depend on your preferred sleeping position. You can also try going pillowless.