How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?

Sleeping with a pile of pillows seems cosy, right? Also, a bed that has a lot of pillows on it looks appealing to the eyes. It invites you to take a rest and just relax.

But did you ever wonder if pillows could be the reason for your poor sleep quality? Just how many pillows does one need to get a good night’s sleep? The answer might surprise you.

According to studies, all you need is just one pillow. First of all, sleep is highly influenced by the spinal alignment. This means that your spine needs posture support during your sleep so that your neck, shoulder and hips are aligned all night long. Too many pillows can cause you to struggle to get comfortable, which leads to interrupted sleep.

Poor sleep quality has been linked to impaired mental and physical function as well as stress and numerous medical conditions. Here are some reasons why you only need one pillow to get a good night’s sleep.

The Right Pillow

The ultimate goal when you go to sleep is to get your spinal alignment correctly. This is why we use a pillow to correctly support and align the neck and spine. If you find yourself sticking another pillow underneath the first one, the problem could be caused by using the wrong pillow type.

So, how do you correctly identify the correct pillow for your sleeping style or needs? The first step is to ask yourself what problems you are experiencing and how to avoid them from happening.

Back and Neck Pain

Many sleepers experience back and neck pain during their sleep. This is usually caused by stress to the neck and shoulder muscles due to poor alignment as you shift positions. This is why it is important to choose the right kind of pillow that will prevent you from misaligning your bones and muscles during slumber.

People who experience back and neck pain should look for a firm but comfortable pillow to sleep on. Contoured pillows keep the neck and spine aligned no matter what position you sleep in. Contoured pillows come in many varieties. A good choice is a contoured memory foam pillow because this type is firm but adjusts in softness when pressure is applied to it.

Side Sleepers

Sleep experts recommend two pillows for side sleepers. But don’t get too excited, because the second pillow should be placed between the knees. Studies conducted by the University of Rochester suggest that a pillow between your knees at night pulls up your spine, preventing misalignment. This pillow positioning relieves stress on the lower back and hips.

Side sleepers will benefit greatly from either a contoured pillow or a thick gusseted one. Contoured pillows can help align the spinal column even in the side position and while the neck is supported by the contoured shape. The latter choice can hold the head level between the shoulders while the thickness fills the space underneath the neck.

No Pillows

Stomach sleepers should sleep with no pillows. Sleeping on your stomach with no pillows allows the spine to lay flat. However, many stomach sleepers cannot sleep comfortably in this position due to the pressure on their ears and head. If you must sleep with a pillow in this position, we recommend using a thin one.

Thin pillows are ideal because they relieve the pressure on the ears and head but still allow the spine to lay as flat as possible. Good pillow choices include feather or down pillows and shredded memory pillows.

An Argument for No Pillows

Pillows have been around for a long time. We have used pillows for centuries, with early Egyptians using a stone to rest their heads to prevent bugs and insects from crawling into their orifices.

Other ancient cultures also used pillows. It was the Romans who first used cloth and feathers for cushioning. Fast forward to today and you get a wide array of pillows, with materials ranging from buckwheat to space-age memory foam.

But many of us don’t really question whether or not we need pillows. For most people, they use pillows because they’re on the bed. Most of us grew up using pillows because our parents used them. However, studies of the human anatomy suggest that we can actually benefit from not using pillows.

Aside from natural spine alignment while lying in the prone position, not using a pillow can prevent acne. Pillows are a magnet for dust, germs and other impurities. Resting your face on a pillow causes them to transfer to your skin and cause irritation. This is one of the reasons why you wake up with acne and blemishes in the morning.

Another benefit is the prevention of wrinkles. Put down the Botox needle because all you need for less visible wrinkles is to stop using a pillow. When you go to sleep at night, you are unknowingly pressing your face onto your pillows, causing wrinkles to form.


People who pile up pillows beneath their heads should reconsider this practice. Too many pillows can cause a strain on the neck and spine, which can bring about pain and discomfort. Pillows underneath the head are only good for relieving congestion when you have a cold; other than that, it can only lead to poor sleep quality.

Sleeping without pillows is hard, but it can greatly benefit you in the long run. Still, many people will find it hard to sleep without one. Centuries of using a pillow have made it strange for us to go to bed without anything under our heads.

If you’re still wondering how many pillows you need, the answer is one. All you need is one good pillow that fits your needs and you will get a good night’s rest. So, take your time to find a good pillow that can align your spine and relieve any stress on pressure points. It will take experimentation and observation on your part to find a pillow that can provide comfort and pain relief.