'How many pillows should I sleep with ?’ - Sleep experts answer this question once and for all

The pathway to getting the best sleep you could possibly have

Ruffled pillows on a bed with a chair
(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes Photography)

The importance of a good night's sleep in our day-to-day lives is indisputable, affecting everything from energy levels to mental health. 

From finding the best pillow to creating a soothing sleep sanctuary, there are many ingenious hacks on how to sleep better and add calming bedroom ideas to your boudoir. However, according to the experts it's having the right amount of pillows that can make or break your snooze. 

So you might be asking yourself right about now - how many pillows should I sleep with? Is it better to sleep with one or two pillows? Or more? The sleep experts’ feedback is in and all of us probably be adding or removing some pillows for tonight.

Sadly, there is no one size fits all answer to how many pillows you should sleep with. But fear not, as there is an easy way to find out how much head (and body!) support is right for YOU. Turns out, it’s all about the position you sleep in.

How many pillows should you sleep with?

Bedding and a book on a bed

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘The purpose of a pillow is to support your head and align your neck and spine while you lie down,’ clarifies Kora Habinakova, sleep and bedding expert from Sleepseeker

'Nobody wants a crooked, misaligned neck and spine, which can result in issues such ‘discomfort, stiffness, and even pain in the neck, shoulders, and back. It can also exacerbate existing spinal conditions or lead to new ones over time.'

How many pillow do side sleepers need?

If you are a side sleeper, then the recommended amount of pillows is two. But only one of them is for your head. ‘

The other pillow is for your legs. When sleeping on your side, your spine can pull out of alignment and cause pain in your lower back and hips,’ explains sleep expert Kora. 

‘Placing a pillow between your knees can help keep your spine align properly, whilst using a higher loft pillow is often recommended to fully support your head and neck,' adds Emily Attwood, co-founder of bedding brand Scooms

If this is your favoured sleep position, then Ideal Home's Sleep Editor, Amy Lockwood, can help you find the best pillow for side sleepers from the team's tried and tested favourites.

Floral-print pillows on a bed

(Image credit: Future PLC/Blackmore Photography Ltd)

How many pillow do front sleepers need?

According to sleep expert Kora, front sleepers should go for either one thin pillow or none at all to minimise potential strain on your neck. I know, shocker! 

‘Sleeping on your stomach is generally considered less ideal for spinal alignment, regardless of how comfortable this position may be,' points out Emily from Scooms.

How many pillow do back sleepers need?

Traditional back sleepers will also be all set with a single pillow. However, the best pillow for back sleepers is a different kind than the one stomach sleeping requires. 

‘Back sleepers may find a medium-firm pillow to be the most comfortable,’ says Emily from Scooms. Sleep expert Kora further specifies, ‘A pillow that is three to five inches thick with firmness and height to support the neck's natural curvature, without forcing your head forward and onto your chest.’

What else do you need to factor in?

Bed with colourful pillows and blankets


Aside from your sleeping position, there are other things to consider when deciding on the number of pillows you allow in your bed.

If you already from neck pain, for example, Kora from Sleepers recommends to use ‘only one pillow, and the pillow should align your head to be the same height as the rest of your body when you sleep.’

Your head size and overall body weight are also important. The bigger the size of your head, the more likely it is for your head to sink too deeply into an average pillow. If that is the case, Kora suggests investing in a thicker pillow.

It’s a similar case when it comes to body weight. ’Lighter individuals are less likely to sink into the mattress and tend to prefer medium-thick pillows that will help to promote optimal spinal alignment,’ she explains. ‘Those with heavier weight considerations are more likely to experience sinkage and may find a thinner pillow helps keep the head even with the spine.’

How many pillows should you have in your bed?

Now that we’ve clarified how many pillows you should sleep with, we need to know how many pillows you should have in your bed. As that is a whole other thing. Bed isn’t only for sleeping. It is a place where we relax, read a book, watch a movie, scroll through Instagram and more. For those purposes, you might want to have more than one pillow to hand. 

‘I would say that you need at least two pillows per person,’ says Sophie Platts, founder of sustainable wool bedding brand Floks. ‘You might want to sleep with just one pillow but would like the comfort of more pillows to prop you up for reading or your morning cup of tea. Pillows can be arranged in multiple ways to accommodate these needs, from horizontal to vertical and in a lovely squashy pile for relaxing.'

 Happy sleeping! 

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.