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How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?

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Most people tend to sleep with two pillows. But research suggests that you really should only be sleeping with one under your head. Why? Is sleeping with two pillows bad for your neck? Well, the reason is quite simple. A pillow is designed to raise your head slightly so that your head and neck are aligned.

The wrong type of pillow or even too many pillows can result in poor-quality sleep. This in turn can impact your overall health and well-being. So, it’s clear that getting your pillow right is just as important as choosing the right mattress.

So, what kind of pillows should you use? Our handy guide will give you all the information you need so that you buy the right type of pillow - and the right number of them.

Woman fluffing soft pillows on bed.

How many pillows should side sleepers use?

If you're a side sleeper, you do get to use two pillows but they're not both for your head! The best way to align your spine is to have one pillow under your head and one between your knees. In the side sleeping position, the leg you place on top can pull on your spine leading to stress on your lower back and hips.

Try to use a firm pillow between your knees to keep the knees from touching. As for your head, a medium-firm pillow is perfect. These two pillows combined will keep your spine & neck perfectly aligned.

How many pillows should back sleepers use?

As a back sleeper, you're already treating your spine a lot better than most. It is technically the ideal way to sleep for your spine's health. So long as you use the right pillows, that is.

When it comes to the decision of one pillow or two, it’s still best to stick with one. To take the stress off at the end of the day, try sleeping with a soft pillow under your knees as well as your head. Having the two pillows positioned this way keeps your spine in its natural curvature. Raising your knees slightly when sleeping on your back is also proven to help people fall asleep quicker!

How many pillows should front sleepers use?

Sleeping on your stomach is dubbed the worst position for sleeping. This is because laying flat on your stomach puts high stress on the back of the spine, pulling it out of position.

If you can, try to avoid sleeping this way where possible. If it's the only way you can get those zzz's, place a medium pillow under your pelvis area. 

This keeps your spine in the best alignment it can be in this position. Ideally, try not to have a pillow under your head but if you need one, make sure it's a soft pillow. Keeping your head as low as possible will help to align your spine correctly.

What is an adjustable pillow?

Modern sleep innovations mean you can now purchase adjustable pillows to suit your very specific sleep needs. Whether it's layers within the pillow that can be removed or added, or even foam cubes, like SIMBA's Nanocube® technology, these pillows can be amended to become firmer or softer, fuller or flatter. An adjustable pillow is ideal if you like to sleep in different positions each night, as you can adjust the pillow to keep you optimally supported.

How often should you change your pillows?

Most experts believe that you should change your pillows every one to two years to ensure they remain supportive. After this, you’ll find that even the best memory foam pillows start to lose their bounce. It can be difficult to get comfortable if your pillow has a big dip in the middle.

Pillows also need to be kept clean and free of allergens. By the second year, your pillow is probably starting to get a little grubby – it’s time to buy a new one!

How to break in a new pillow?

A new pillow can feel a little stiff to start with! A great way to break in a pillow is to pop it into a pillowcase, put it in the tumble dryer with a couple of tennis balls, and give it a quick tumble for five minutes. This should soften up the structure a little without damaging the shape of the pillow. Note that this technique will only work for fibre pillows, not memory foam pillows or down pillows.

Woman putting an Emma pillow into a pillowcase.

Is it better to sleep without a pillow?

If you’re a stomach sleeper, it’s definitely better to try and sleep without a pillow as this keeps your spine straight and avoids blocking your airways. However, if you sleep on your back or sides, you do have to have a minimum of one pillow to keep your head and neck properly supported.

Finding the right pillow to sleep on is just one of the steps you can take to find your ideal sleeping situation! You can use our handy Mattress Buying Guide, as well as our MattressFinder tool to match you with some of our dreamiest sleep surfaces that fit you perfectly. You can also shop our range of bed sheets and duvet cover sets to truly complete your sleep set up.

An image of the author, Molly, Family Home Specialist Molly, Family Home Specialist Bio & articles

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