How Many Pillows Should You Sleep On? To Get a Good Nights Sleep

There is a much debate on the subject of pillows and how many you should sleep on. Should you surround yourself with fluffiness and comfort or maybe go pillow-free. This article addresses the issue of how many pillows should sleep on.

How many pillows should we sleep on

How Many Pillows Should You Sleep On?

How many pillows do you sleep on? Perhaps it’s one, it could be two. Maybe you don’t sleep with a pillow at all. Either way, you appear to be questioning your actions and your search for information has brought you here.

The truth is, it’s generally best to go for one pillow instead of two. There are also good arguments for sleeping without any pillow at all. 

Preparing your ideal sleeping conditions is essential to maximize your chances of getting a restful nights sleep. Ensure your bedroom is the correct temperature – a colder temperature is better. A well and correctly made bed can also increase your sleep quality.

This article provides information about why one is generally the magic number as far as your pillow count is concerned.

It also explains why you may want to consider a bed without a pillow and why correct pillow choice may be more important than pillow quantity and provides a surprising exception when two pillows may work best.

Why Do We Sleep on Pillows?

More than anything else, we sleep on pillows out of habit. Unless you have had a very radical upbringing, you probably won’t have any memories of sleeping without a pillow underneath your head. 

woman sleeping without a pillow

However, whether you can remember pillow-free sleeping or not, it will have been a part of your early life.

Babies need to be laid to sleep on a firm, flat surface that has no pillows, blankets, or soft bedding for at least the first year of their lives.

Guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediactrics suggest it may be advisable to extend this period by a further six months.

Be it after a year or perhaps a little longer, at some point our parents introduce pillows to our lives. After that, we know no other way.

Humans have been supporting their heads during sleep for many centuries and some of the ways of achieving this were not nearly as comfortable modern-day pillows are.

The early Egyptians used to lay their heads on stones or pieces of wood during sleep. This was mainly to discourage insects from crawling into their ears, nose, and mouth.  

The Greeks and Romans were some of the first early civilizations to use pillows made from cloth and feathers.

For obvious reasons, using stones never caught on, but using soft-fluffy head supports has become an accepted way of life.

These days, unless you are sleeping rough, you are unlikely to need to worry about insects invading the orifices of your face.

However, using a pillow can be a good way to keep your head and spine in line during sleep.

This probably the greatest argument for using pillows but using too many pillows or selecting pillows of the wrong type may actually increase the likelihood of problems.

Choosing Your Pillow(s): How to Get it Right

The first step in choosing a new pillow is to take a little time to consider your specific needs. If your present pillow allows you to enjoy a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling pain-free and refreshed, it makes sense to replace it with a pillow of a similar type. 

However, if you often experience neck or back pain after sleep it may indicate you have made a poor pillow choice. The right pillow needs to be the perfect height for your neck and spine.

Finding the right pillow may involve a lot of trial and error but a good-quality memory foam pillow will be a perfect choice for the majority of people.

If you are a side sleeper who often wakes up with back pain, you may need to consider using two pillows instead of one. That’s one pillow for your head and another one between your knees.

The presence of the extra pillow between your knees will prevent your uppermost leg from dragging your spine out of alignment during sleep.

Stomach sleeping is never recommended. This sleeping position puts most of your weight in the middle of your body, placing extra strain on the back and spine.

However, some people find it hard to sleep any other way. If you are a stomach sleeper, the best option may be to sleep with one (thin) pillow but place it under your stomach instead of your head. It will help keep your neck and back inline.

Arguments Against Using a Pillow

Although few of us are likely to relish the idea of sleeping without a pillow, there are a number of reasons why it may be advantageous to give it a try. It may not be an attractive idea but, let’s not forget, babies manage without a pillow just fine.

Unless you are a side sleeper, breaking free from tradition and going pillow-free should help you to keep your head and neck straighter during sleep than the use of a pillow would allow.

We spend more time awake than we do asleep and when we are walking around the head and neck maintain vertical alignment. The same is true for much of the time we are sat “upright” in chairs.

If we keep things relatively straight during the day, why not continue to do so at night?

You may be surprised to learn sleeping without a pillow can also be a good way to reduce acne. Pillows collect dust and other impurities throughout the day.

sleeping dog with a wrinkled face

Sleeping with your face next to fabric that has been contaminated in this way has the potential to have a detrimental effect on the complexion. It’s a little like beauty sleep in reverse.

Of course, if you wash your pillowslips regularly and keep your room well aired it will help limit the likelihood of problems of this nature. But what about wrinkles? Regular laundry duty won’t help there.

Sleeping with a pillow applies pressure to the face. This damaging effects of this pressure compound when you do so every night and may have the potential to accelerate the formation of wrinkles.

How Many Pillows Should You Sleep On? – The Bottom Line

If you began reading this article through a genuine desire to learn how many pillows you should sleep on, you now have the answer. If you normally sleep on your back, you are also faced with a choice—should you sleep with one pillow or try and sleep like a baby with none?

However, if you are a side sleeper, one pillow is the only way to go and you will have to take steps to ensure you pick one that helps keep your head, neck, and spine in line. You may also need to have a second pillow to place between your knees. 

With a pillow or without a pillow, though, the one thing you should not need to worry about is insects bugging you during the night. Oh, how the world has changed.