The City Mattress Blog

sleep tips

How Many Pillows Should You Sleep with?


Man sleeps under all white linen covers and several pillows

How many pillows do you sleep with? Chances are good that if you ask many different people this question, you’ll get a variety of answers. Some people will say just one, while others scoff at that. Is there a right and wrong answer, though? Or is it simply a matter of personal preference? Let’s look into these questions right now!

First things first- experts say the best sleeping position is one that keeps the head, neck, and spine in a neutral position. For this reason, they say you should sleep with only one pillow under your head. However, preference and sleeping position often take the lead over expert advice when it comes to considerations for the ideal number of pillows. In perfect world, everyone would have one single pillow that fits all their needs. This means:

Neck support

You want to keep your spine, neck, and head in a neutral position. A pillow with the right amount of support will keep your body aligned the way it should be, thereby preventing a stiff neck and painful shoulder in the morning.

The ability to conform to your shape

The right pillow should conform to your body’s natural shape, which will be different depending on what position you sleep in. Stomach sleepers will need a softer, thinner pillow that doesn’t bow their back awkwardly. Back and side sleepers have their own unique pillow needs. A good pillow should have soft, malleable material that doesn’t lose its structural integrity over time.

Ample surface area

A pillow that’s too small is going to put you in an awkward position when you roll off of it. You want a pillow with a good amount of surface area. Otherwise, you may find yourself waking up with your head flat on the mattress. That’s why we sell multiple sizes of pillows, like King size pillows for King size mattresses.

Sleeping with multiple pillows may seem like the more comfortable choice, but it isn’t necessary if you find the right pillow. Sleeping with one thicker pillow is generally the preferred option. While sleeping with two or more pillows each night may work for some people, pillow stacking can lead to its own set of problems. One of the most common is that it becomes nearly impossible to get your spine naturally aligned if your head is lying on a big tower of pillows. When you sleep with your head at an incline, your spine loses its normal and healthy level of curvature. This can result in stiffness and chronic neck pain. If you prefer to sleep at an incline, you want your entire torso to be raised, not just your head. Placing your mattress on an adjustable bed base is ideal for this.

So, how many pillows should you sleep with? If it’s the right new pillow for you, only one will do! If you insist you need two, three, four, or even more, the true problem probably lies in the pillows themselves. Old down feather or memory foam pillows will go flat over time. Even high-quality pillows will eventually lose their structure and become either too thin or lumpy. Rather than seeing this as the time to buy new pillows, too many people take another old pillow and put it on top of the other in order to create added height. 

It could also be that you’re sleeping on the wrong pillow material for your sleeping position. If you sleep on your side with a soft, thin pillow, you may feel like you need a second or even a third pillow to support your head in a comfortable position. In reality, what you need is a side sleeper pillow designed especially for people like you!

A general consensus among experts is that one pillow is the optimal choice for a good night’s sleep. If you’ve been piling them up beneath your head, it may be time to reconsider whether or not you’re sleeping on the right pillow. It may simply be time to go pillow shopping!

The funny thing about sleeping is that everyone does it differently! What might be the perfect amount of pillows for one person could feel incredibly uncomfortable to someone else. Just the same, one person may feel like a Pillow Top mattress is a cozy sleep oasis while the next person says “No way! Only a Firm mattress feels supportive enough to sleep on without back pain.” Neither of these people are right or wrong; it’s all about your personal comfort preferences.