Bedrooms

How many pillows should you sleep with? Experts reveal all

Everybody has a preference when it comes to pillows – but this is the number the experts recommend for a good night's sleep

Headboard ideas with colorful scheme
(Image credit: Future/Jon Day)

How many pillows you should sleep with seems like a niche concern when it comes to bedroom design. In this space, your decor choices can have a direct impact on your sleep – and consequently, your overall well-being. 

Amongst these decor decisions might be whether you are buying the best pillows, but you should also consider whether you have the correct number of pillows, too. It's a highly personal choice, but one that's vital to get right, if, experts underline, you want to sleep better

So, while you may have found a therapeutic paint color and the best mattress for an optimum night's sleep, it's equally important to get your soft furnishings right. But how many pillows should you sleep with? Here, the sleep experts reveal the answer. 

How many pillows should you sleep with?

The answer to the question of how many pillows you should sleep with is: it depends on your sleep position. Different sleep positions require different pillow depths for you to wake up without that crick in your neck. So, considering the sleep position you generally adopt will help define how many pillows you should sleep with. And, if you are already waking up with that crick in your neck, it's likely that you are currently sleeping with the wrong pillow, or number of pillows. 

How many pillows should side sleepers sleep with?

If you are a side sleeper (research suggests the majority of people sleep on their side), then you should sleep with one deep pillow or two shallower pillows under your head – and one between your knees. 

'For side sleepers, using two pillows is best, due to the nature of the vertical shoulder position,' explains Alison Jones, Sleep Expert at leading mattress brand, Sealy. However, while you may place two slim pillows under your head, Alison suggests one medium-high pillow will do just as well – but an extra one will be even more useful for spine alignment.

'Place a medium-high pillow under the head and use an additional soft pillow placed gently between the knees,' she says. 'The use of the additional pillow helps to limit rocking, which can cause stress on the lower back and hips and helps to keep the spine and neck straight and well-aligned.'

Similarly, a study by SleepJunkie revealed that 30.6% of participants sleep with two pillows. They concluded that people have an average of 2.2 pillows on their beds, but as their Sleep Expert Christine Lapp emphasizes, you only need one of these pillows for your head. 

'While we only need one pillow underneath our head, you can use pillows for additional support elsewhere, she explains. She also urges side sleepers to place a pillow 'beneath your knees and/or ribs to reinforce healthy spinal alignment.' 

How many pillows should back sleepers sleep with?

If you sleep on your back, Allison's suggests a single, flatter pillow: 

'When sleeping on your back, the aim is to keep the head, neck, shoulders, and spine level, therefore one pillow with a medium-lift tends to be most suitable,' she begins. However, she suggests keeping a second pillow between your knees – as it improves blood circulation and offers comfort. 

How many pillows should front sleepers sleep with?

Once again, one single, flatter pillow remain the optimum number for front sleepers – though a second pillow is also suggested for beneath the hips. 

'Adding a medium thickness pillow below the hips will help the positioning of the spine when in this position,' Allison adds. However, the expert confesses that 'if [your] sleeping position that doesn't use a pillow at all’ then it would be best to sleep on the stomach.'

Is it better to sleep with two pillows or one?

It is not necessarily the number of pillows that should be considered but the height/loft of the pillow under your head because it's all about the aligning the neck and spine properly, so that it doesn't bend unnaturally while you are asleep. So, side sleepers will be more comfortable with a deeper pillow – or two pillows – while front or back sleepers will be more comfortable with a single, flatter pillow.

How many pillows should I have under my head?

Sleep experts advise sleeping with one pillow under your head at a depth that suits your sleep position – deeper for side sleepers, flatter for back or front sleepers. However, you should sleep with the type, makeup and number of pillows beneath your head that feels comfortable to you, and that doesn't give you neck or back problems. 

Megan Slack
Megan Slack

Megan is a News Writer across Future Plc’s homes titles, including Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. As a News Writer, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.