How many pillows should you sleep with?

Plants to help you sleep at night

How we might find the perfect number of pillows to sleep with sounds like the subject of a Hans Christian Andersen tale. After all, he stated pretty precisely that twenty mattresses and twenty eider-down beds proved insufficient to keep the princess from feeling the pea.

While we might like to think that our perfect number of pillows could illuminate some hidden royal ancestry, in fact it is our sleeping positions that define how many pillows we should sleep with. Read on to find out what the best sleeping positions are and the optimum pillow count for each position. Or click here to find your perfect pillow.

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Side sleepers

The majority of people are side sleepers, so the chances are that you are too! Now, just because side sleeping is the most common sleeping position, that doesn’t mean it’s the best for your body. 

That’s why it’s recommended that side sleepers use two pillows: one under the head and the other between the knees. This is because the leg you place on top when you sleep on your side can pull your spine out of alignment, leading to issues with your lower back and hip in the future. Using two pillows ensures that the neck is supported and the spine is aligned. 

The leg you place on top can pull the hips and spine out of alignment. Placing a pillow in between your knees can realign your spine and help you avoid any long term damage to your joints and bones.

A firm pillow between your knees will keep them from touching, and a medium firm pillow underneath your head will ensure it stays supported throughout the night. 

Sleeping on back

Sleeping on your back is the best sleeping position for keeping your spine aligned and encouraging blood flow. While it might make you snore more, it’s certainly worth trying to sleep on your back every night.

One pillow should be placed beneath your head to support your neck and straighten your spine, while another pillow should be placed beneath your knees, also to straighten your spine. 

While it might sound uncomfortable at first, you are much less likely to pick up any long term joint, bone, or muscle injuries from your sleeping position if you sleep on your back. 

Raising your knees slightly when sleeping on your back has also been proven to help people fall asleep quicker, and lying on your back is more likely to make you want to get up in the morning and not lie in bed!

Front sleepers

Sorry front sleepers, while the allure of melting into one hundred pillows and a marshmallow-like mattress might be irresistible, this is by far the worst sleeping position for your bones, joints, and circulation. 

Lying on your stomach puts a lot of stress on your lower spine, pulling it out of alignment, and arms and legs can easily have their circulation cut off by pillows, other body parts, and unnatural elevation.

If the urge to sleep in this position is simply too much to resist, place one thin pillow beneath your head and one medium firm pillow beneath your pelvis. These pillows will help to align your spine, keeping your head low and your pelvis raised.

How many pillows should neck and back pain sufferers use?

If you are suffering from neck or back pain, the number of pillows you use can help alleviate some of your discomfort. Learn more about relieving pain through the right mattress.

Neck pain

Neck pain can be caused by a variety of things including trauma, a pinched nerve, bad posture, and poor core strength. Neck pain sufferers should be more aware of their sleeping position and the number of pillows they use. 

They should only sleep on their back and use 1 pillow to align the neck so that the spine lays flat against your mattress. Placing a pillow underneath your thighs will also help to flatten your spinal muscles. This Mammoth Ultimate Slim Pillow is the perfect size and hardness to help alleviate neck pain.

Back pain

As with neck pain, your back pain can be caused by a multitude of things, so it is important that your sleeping position and pillow count are not contributing towards your discomfort.

If you are a side sleeper, try putting a pillow between your knees to help alleviate stress on your spine. 

If you are suffering from lower back or disc pain, try sleeping in the foetal position with your knees tucked into your chest. Use a medium to high pillow such as this Raylon Superior Comfort Deep Latex Pillow to support your head.


Whether you are already suffering from pain or discomfort, or you want to avoid it in the future, your sleeping position and pillow count are crucial. Huge, thick, cushiony pillows are often bad for you, so try to look for something that will support your spine. This, along with a sleeping position that aids spine alignment, will give you the best chance at avoiding long term back and neck issues in the future.

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