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How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?

Have you ever wondered whether your plush pile of pillows is the reason for your poor night’s sleep recently? The truth is that, although these fluffy, magical nighttime headrests are soft and comfortable to the touch, they may be causing more harm than good in terms of the optimal night’s sleep. So, just how many pillows should you sleep with for a great rest?

To determine the answer to this question, we’ve outlined a number of contributing factors, all lending to the notion that only ONE pillow is what’s needed for your routine slumber. That’s right, for those of you who regularly sleep surrounded by a myriad of cottony comforts, you’ve been sleeping the wrong way!

Fret not, fellow snoozers, below are the several reasons why just ONE pillow is your best bet at a good night’s sleep:

A Brief History of The Pillow

According to, a pillow is defined as a rectangular cloth bag stuffed with feathers, foam or rubber, or other soft materials, that is used to support the head while lying down. But, just how important is it to support the head in this way?

To answer this, let’s dive into the history of this product. Dr. Weil, MD, an acclaimed alternative medicine practitioner and spokesperson states that humans have used pillows throughout the centuries. From the times of the early Egyptians, people rested their heads on stones to keep bugs from crawling up their noses and into the other orifices of the face.

Many ancient cultures incorporated stone pillows, while the Greeks and Romans employed some of the first uses of cloth and feathers. Fast-forward to current day, and they are now a vital part of everyday life and deemed an essential sleep accessory.

How to Choose The Right Pillow

If the ultimate goal is to support your neck during sleep and to align the bones of the neck and the spine anatomically, then it makes sense that less is more in terms of elevation. If you are always feeling the need to stick a second cushion under your head, then it’s entirely possible that the pillow you’ve chosen isn’t ideal for your body type.

How then, should you go about choosing the right pillow? The first step is to identify your specific needs. Ask yourself what problems you are regularly experiencing that are preventing you from experiencing an ideal evening rest.

Are You Frequently Experiencing Neck or Back Pain?

If you answered yes to this question, it’s possible that you are sleeping each night in an awkward position. It is important to choose a pillow that is at the perfect height for your unique neck and spine. With so many options on the market, this can sometimes be an arduous task.

For a little help with determining which pillow would be best for help with neck pain, you can consult our recommendations. For those with back pain, it’s a good idea to take a look at your particular sleeping position. If you are a side sleeper, then you might be an exception to the one pillow rule.

Related: Best Pillow for Neck Pain and Best Mattress for Neck Pain

Two Pillows for Side Sleepers

Don’t get too excited. The rule still applies for beneath your head. However, it is best to put that second pillow between your knees. According to the University of Rochester, putting a cushion between your knees at night helps to prevent the leg on top from pulling your spine out of alignment. This will ultimately relieve any stress on your lower back and your hips. You can check our side sleeper pillows if this is your preferred position, although the one for your knees doesn’t have to be so high quality.

One Pillow For Stomach Sleepers

This sleeping position is never recommended, but you’ll ultimately fall asleep and stay asleep in the position that is most comfortable for you. If you happen to be a stomach sleeper, then one thin pillow is the best option (unless it’s more comfortable to go without one completely). The less angled your neck and back are, the better for your overall health.

View Our Guide: Top Pillows for Stomach Sleepers

An Interesting Argument For The Use of NO Pillows

Many of us have never stopped to question whether or not a pillow is truly needed to sleep well through the night. At a young age, they are introduced as a subsequent natural attachment to the bed. However, when you dissect the human anatomy, there is a case for doing away with pillows altogether.

The most fundamental example of why the use of a pillow might not make sense is that, when walking upright, our head and neck are in vertical alignment at the top of the spine. When you take our vertical bodies and lay them flat, it would make sense that you would be most aligned pillow-free.

There are many health benefits to forgoing the use of a cushion beneath our heads. The first benefit is a reduction of acne. Pillows are often harbingers of dust and other impurities. Resting your face on a dirty cushion every night might just be causing blemishes.

The second most notable benefit is the prevention of wrinkles. Because you are routinely putting pressure on your face each night, there is the potential for the acceleration of wrinkle formulation. There are several other possible benefits that you may or may not reap if you ditch the nighttime neck pad:

  • Prevent back and neck pain
  • Straighten and normalize bone structure
  • Avoid stress
  • Prevent inflammation
  • Prevent or reduce depression

Get More Info: Is it Better to Sleep With Or Without Pillow?


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. If you’re ready to shop around for something new, take a look at our review section, and I’m sure you will find plenty products that suit your sleeping style.

Sources and References:

  1. Do You Need A Pillow For Sound Sleep? –
  2. 23 Incredible Sleeping Without a Pillow Benefits Base On Research –
Jill Zwarensteyn

Jill Zwarensteyn


About Author

Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Combination Sleeper