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Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for both physical and mental health. It helps us to stay alert and productive during the day and also helps to improve our overall well-being. Conversely, a lack of sleep can lead to various health issues, such as fatigue, depression, anxiety and obesity. Additionally, it can impair our ability to concentrate and make decisions.
The position you sleep in and the pillows you use can significantly impact your sleep quality. For example, sleeping on your stomach can strain your neck and back, while sleeping on your side may cause shoulder and hip pain. Choosing the correct pillow and the right number of pillows can help alleviate these issues by providing the necessary support for different sleep positions. Considering several factors can help you answer the question: “What kind of and how many pillows should you sleep with?”
Factors to Consider
When choosing a pillow, it is essential to consider your sleeping position and individual needs. For instance, stomach sleepers should opt for a thinner pillow that won’t cause their head to be pushed too far forward or up.
The material of the pillow is also significant. Memory foam pillows provide appropriate support and contour to the shape of your head and neck. Latex pillows offer excellent support while maintaining breathability and coolness. Down or feather pillows may be comfortable but may not provide enough support for those with chronic pain or who suffer from neck stiffness or soreness after sleeping.
It’s also important to consider the pillow’s size when selecting. For example, a standard-size pillow may not be wide enough to properly support side sleepers, while an oversize one may be too bulky for stomach sleepers or those who prefer to curl up with their pillows at night.
How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?
So, how many pillows should you sleep with? According to Jackson Lindeke, product expert at Sleepfoundation.org, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer.
“When deciding on the number of pillows to sleep with, it is important to keep in mind your sleeping position and comfortability,” Lindeke says.
While some people may only need one pillow to sleep, there are situations where additional pillows can provide better support and comfort.
“Back sleepers may find more comfort in sleeping with a pillow under their knees to relieve any lower back pain,” says Lindeke. “Side sleepers may benefit from sleeping with a pillow in between the knees for a better sleep posture.”
Body pillows may suit side sleepers who like to hug a pillow against their body, and expecting individuals who have a hard time getting comfortable can benefit from pregnancy pillows that provide targeted support to areas like the midsection, back or knees.
So while the right answer to how many pillows you need is individual, for most of us, one or two will do.
Once you have decided what type of and how many pillows you need for a good night’s sleep, you’ll want to find good quality options. Following are some top picks from SleepFoundation.org’s list of the best pillows of 2023.
Best Pillow for Neck Pain: Layla Kapok Pillow
The Layla Adjustable Fill Kapok Pillow, $109, is a premium cooling pillow designed to provide individuals with a comfortable and relaxing night’s sleep. The pillow is made with high-quality, natural kapok fibers sourced from the kapok tree, which grows in tropical climates. Its adjustable fill feature makes it especially great for people with neck or back pain who need to customize their sleeping support.
Customers appreciate this pillow’s quilted, washable outer cover and hypoallergenic properties.
“For years I have suffered with bad sleep. I’d wake up and my eyes would burn. I just chalked it up to allergies. I really never knew about dust mites or considering it was the pillow,” wrote reviewer William Sherman. “With this pillow being hypoallergenic and with just the right amount of plush to firm (as well as loft….you can even remove the filler inside if it’s too high) for my head, it has made a significant difference.”
Best Pillow for Side Sleepers: Eli & Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow
This contoured pillow, $130.99 on Amazon, is an excellent choice for individuals who primarily sleep on their side. The adjustable filler allows you to customize the contour to your specific needs, enabling side sleepers to sleep soundly without aches and pains. It also features a removable latex and polyester filling, making it easy to clean and maintain.
Best Pillow for Neck Support: Luxome LAYR Customizable Pillow
This Luxome pillow, $189.99 for a standard set of two, is an excellent option for those with neck pain who need proper neck support while sleeping. The pillow is made from memory foam, known for its ability to conform to the shape of the neck and head, providing optimal support. The pillow also features a cooling cover, which keeps users cool and comfortable throughout the night.
Luxome LAYR customizable pillows have 4.5 stars, and many customers who reviewed them report decreased neck pain.
“I was having issues with my neck/head being at a downward angle when I would sleep on my side,” one reviewer wrote. “I would wake up and my neck would crack horribly and I would have a pounding headache at the base of my skull. This pillow (with all the inserts) keeps my neck straight. I haven’t woken up with a headache for over a week now.”
Best Pillow for Back and Stomach Sleepers: Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Pillow
The Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud ProHi Pillow, $128.99 for a set of two, is an excellent choice for both back and stomach sleepers who need a supportive and comfortable pillow. The pillow is designed with a unique shape that provides optimal neck support while keeping the spine in its natural alignment. The Tempur material conforms to the shape of the user’s head, neck and shoulders, distributing the weight evenly and reducing pressure points. In addition, the pillow’s plush and soft feel adds comfort, ensuring a restful and comfortable sleep.
The number of pillows you sleep with is a personal preference that can impact your sleep quality, neck and spine alignment and overall well-being. While some people prefer to use multiple pillows to support their backs, necks, legs and heads, others find that a single pillow is most comfortable for them.
The answer to the question, “How many pillows should you sleep with?” is to find the option that supports your body’s needs and allows you to wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated.
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