How many pillows should you sleep with?

Close up of Hungarian goose down pillows

You should sleep with only one pillow underneath your head, but you may want a second pillow between your legs depending on your sleep style. Ideally, you should sleep on your side or on your back for a good night’s sleep as sleeping on your stomach can give you neck or back ache.

The NHS advises ‘If you wake up in the morning with increased pain and stiffness in your neck, you may need to correct the position in which you sleep. A pillow should support your head and neck by filling in the natural hollow of the neck between your head and shoulders. Ideally only use one pillow.'

 

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How many pillows to sleep with:

  1. How many pillows should side sleepers use?
  2. How many pillows should back sleepers use?
  3. How many pillows should front sleepers use?
  4. How many pillows should combination sleepers use?
  5. How high should your head be on a pillow?
  6. Choosing the right pillow.

 

HOW MANY PILLOWS SHOULD SIDE SLEEPERS USE?

Side sleepers may find it more comfortable to sleep with two pillows, one under their head and one between their legs. For side sleepers, your pillow should be higher under your neck than your head to keep your spine straight when you sleep. Sleeping with a second pillow between your legs can stop the top leg from pulling your spine out of alignment and relieve stress on your lower back and hips.

You may find it more comfortable if this second pillow is a smaller, firmer pillow such as a toddler pillow which measures 40cm x 60cm (16” x 24”) and is around 5cm high.

See our guide to all pillow sizes.

 

HOW MANY PILLOWS SHOULD BACK SLEEPERS USE?

Back sleepers should use one medium thick pillow to support their neck. If it's beneficial, back sleepers may also want to sleep with a second pillow under their knees. This second pillow should be a softer pillow that helps keep your spine neutral. Having your knees slightly raised when you sleep on your back may also have the added bonus of helping you to fall asleep faster. 

 

Person lying on grass with a book

  

HOW MANY PILLOWS SHOULD FRONT SLEEPERS USE?

Stomach sleepers should sleep with one thin pillow underneath their head or a medium pillow underneath their pelvis or may not need to sleep with a pillow at all. If you are a front sleeper, make sure your pillow doesn't raise your head out of alignment. A full body pillow could help you to sleep better. These pillows are 45cm x 150cm (18” x 59”) and help to reduce pressure on your shoulders and hips while you sleep. 

 

HOW MANY PILLOWS SHOULD COMBINATION SLEEPERS USE?

Combination sleepers move around in the night and find themselves swapping between different sleep positions. One pillow is still the best option. This should be a medium firm pillow that is still supportive when you sleep on your side but doesn't cause any pain to your neck or spine when you swap to sleeping on your back.

 

Pile of 3 Hungarian goose down pillows

 

HOW HIGH SHOULD YOUR HEAD BE ON A PILLOW?

Your pillow should be approximately 10 - 12 cm or 4 - 6 inches off the mattress to provide the right support for the neck and head according to a study in a 2015 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.

If your pillow is too high or too low, it will angle your neck away from your natural neutral spine alignment, potentially leading to soreness and stiffness.

Bad sleep posture can lead to all sorts of health issues, including neck and back pain, headaches and fatigue. Your general health and mattress condition or type can affect your sleep posture, but the right pillow can help keep your neck in proper alignment throughout the night.

Is it better to sleep with two pillows or one? You may be used to sleeping with two pillows underneath your head. If they are providing the right amount of height and loft to keep your next and spine aligned properly and you sleep comfortably, then you may want to continue to sleep with two pillows or find a single thicker pillow that provides you with the right amount of support.

See our guide: Best pillow for neck pain.

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PILLOW

The right pillow should help your body maintain the ideal sleeping position throughout the night, keeping your head, neck and spine in neutral alignment. If you wake up with neck or back pain, then your pillow is probably not offering you the right support and it could be time to treat yourself to a new one!

See our guide on How to choose a pillow.

 

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Author: Emily Attwood: :





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A standard size pillow in the UK is 50cm x 75cm (20” x 30”). Here's the scooms guide to pillow sizes in the UK:

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If you wake up with neck pain or stiffness, and perhaps shoulder pain too, then it could be because your pillow is not properly supporting your head and neck. Your neck should remain in line with your head as you sleep.

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Bedding size guide

DUVET SIZE GUIDE

These are standard UK bedding measurements so if you know your mattress size, you can easily work out which duvet size you need. (Width x length.)

UK sizes Duvet size Mattress size
Single 135 x 200cm (53 x 79") 90 x 190cm (36 x 75")
Double 200 x 200cm (79 x 79") 135 x 190cm (53 x 75")
King 225 x 220cm (89 x 87") 150 x 200cm (60 x 78")
Super king 260 x 220cm (102 x 87") 180 x 200cm (72 x 78")

US/CANADA BEDDING SIZES: Approximate matches to UK sizes are US King/UK Super king, US Queen/UK King,  US Full/UK Double and US Twin/UK Single.

EUROPEAN BEDDING SIZES: Each size - Single, Double, King and Grand king - is a little larger than the UK equivalent.

Measure your mattress to see which size bedding you need: our UK v European v US mattress comparison guide.

 

DUVET TOG RATING GUIDE

Young children can overheat so if they are old enough to use a full size bed, we recommend using a single size 4.5 tog duvet.

 Tog rating Season / heat Feel
2.5 tog High summer / hot sleepers Light thermal insulation
4.5 tog Summer Lower thermal insulation
9 tog Spring & Autumn Cosy medium heat
All season 13.5 tog 4.5 tog + 9 tog Very warm
All season 11.5 tog 2.5 tog + 9 tog Warm
All season 7 tog 2.5 tog + 4.5 tog Lower warmth

 

DUVET FILL WEIGHT GUIDE

Our goose down duvets have high 700 fill power. Fill weight is measured in GSM (grams per square metre). For example view our 9 tog king size goose down duvet for more duvet details.

Fill weight (not total duvet weight)
Single All seasons - 788gsm
9 tog - 486gsm 
4.5 tog - 302gsm 
2.5 tog - 220gsm
Double All seasons - 1168gsm
9 tog - 720gsm
4.5 tog - 448gsm
2.5 tog - 320gsm
King All seasons - 1478gsm
9 tog - 911gsm
4.5 tog - 567gsm
2.5 tog - 400gsm
Super king All seasons - 1671gsm
9 tog - 1030gsm
4.5 tog - 641gsm
2.5 tog - 480gsm

 

PILLOW SIZE GUIDE

Our pillows come in two sizes and two firmness options. (Width x length.)

Standard  50 x 75cm
King 50 x 90cm

 

BED LINEN SIZE GUIDE

Our fitted sheets are deep fit, up to 40cm / 15.7" mattress depth. And our duvet covers fasten with large, easy to use buttons. (Width x length.)

Duvet cover Fitted sheet Flat sheet Pillowcase (pair)
Single 140 x 200cm 90 x 190cm 180 x 275cm
Double 200 x 200cm 135 x 190cm 230 x 275cm 50 x 75cm (Standard)
King 230 x 220cm 150 x 200cm 275 x 275cm 50 x 90cm (King)
Super king 260 x 220cm 180 x 200cm 305 x 275cm

 

MATTRESS PROTECTOR SIZE GUIDE

Our mattress protectors are deep fit, up to 40cm mattress depth. Choose the same size protector as your mattress size. (Width x length.)

Mattress protector size Mattress size
Single 90 x 190cm 90 x 190cm
Double 135 x 190cm 135 x 190cm
King 150 x 200cm 150 x 200cm
Super king 180 x 200cm 180 x 200cm 

 

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