Is Sleeping With Two Pillows Bad For Your Neck?
For a good night of sleep, keeping your neck and spine supported and in a healthy position is crucial for your overall comfort. Pillows and cushions are essential for great rest, but is it best to sleep with one or two pillows under your head?
Since pillows are critical for neck health, setting up your bedroom correctly is a must. In this article, we’re looking at whether sleeping with two pillows is bad for your neck and how many pillows you should sleep with for optimal comfort and support.
Let’s dive in.
The Science Behind Pillow Use and Neck Pain
When you’re asleep, your neck and spine should be in alignment and not at a twisted angle. Keeping your spine straight and supported prevents aches or pains and improves overall sleep quality. Your sleeping position can largely control this, and proper back or side sleeping is the best for spinal alignment.
However, your sleeping position isn’t the only factor that can cause neck pain. Your choice of pillow can also leave you with a sore neck. A good pillow will keep your spine in anatomical alignment while you sleep through cervical support (a dipped shape) or specialised materials (such as latex or memory foam). Standard pillows don’t always offer as much support, especially if they’re older or have turned bad.
Is Sleeping With Two Pillows Bad For Your Neck?
Two pillows might feel cosy, but depending on the size and firmness of your pillows, you might accidentally hurt your neck.
If your pillow pile is too high or stiff, you’ll likely experience neck pain in the morning. This is because the pillows keep your neck flexed overnight, and your spine is left out of alignment (Harvard Health, 2012).
Avoiding bad sleep posture reduces the chance of insomnia, sleep apnoea, and other sleep pathologies (Cary, Jacques and Briffa, 2021). So, to improve your sleep quality, it might be time to ditch the excess pillows.
But it’s essential to note that not all pillows are the same. If your pillows are thinner, they might be okay for your neck alignment and enhance your sleep quality. Also, some people may need pillows that are slightly different from others due to unique spinal alignment (Türkmen et al., 2023).
If you’re ensuring that your spine is aligned via a healthy sleeping position and your pillows aren’t too thick, sleeping with two can be okay. However, if you wake up with pain or experience interrupted sleep, you might need to swap to one pillow and change your sleeping position.
Alternatively, you can choose a specially designed double pillow if you enjoy the sensation of two pillows. These are more expensive but offer the same sleep experience without sacrificing spinal alignment. One thicker pillow is better than two stacked pillows.
Benefits vs. Drawbacks of Sleeping With Two Pillows
Weighing up your options? Here’s what you need to consider.
- Two pillows can help you breathe at night
- Extra comfort
- Can (sometimes) relieve pressure from injuries
- Promotes a misaligned spine
- Higher chance of neck and back pain
- Two pillows tend to get hotter in the summer
- More chance of allergen and dust accumulation
Should Side Sleepers Use Two Pillows?
One of the only cases where two pillows are recommended is side sleeping.
As sleeping on your side creates a vertical shoulder gap, you need a firmer or higher pillow to keep your head in line with your spine. Remember, always aim to keep your spine as straight as possible.
Does Sleeping With Two Pillows Help With Snoring?
Research has confirmed that sleeping with two pillows (or at an incline) can reduce snoring and improve sleep for snorers (Danoff-Burg et al., 2022). So, two pillows can be a good idea if you want to decrease your snoring.
It’s a common method to avoid snoring or to assist with other conditions (such as GERD or sleep apnea). However, before using two pillows, ensure you’re familiar with healthy sleep posture and proper spinal alignment to avoid any potential neck pain. Otherwise, you might eliminate your snoring but have an aching neck.
How Many Pillows Should You Sleep With?
You should sleep with one pillow for an optimal night’s sleep. This is because one pillow keeps your head level with your spine and doesn’t push it too high or out of alignment. If your spine comes out of alignment, you’re more likely to experience neck pain, back pain, or interrupted sleep.
Choosing the Right Pillow
Choosing the best pillow for neck pain comes down to finding a pillow that offers comfort and support and suits your sleeping position.
There are many different types of pillows, each providing different benefits that can improve your evening rest. Here are the main types of pillows you should consider:
- Memory Foam Pillows - The benefits of memory foam pillows include proper neck support and spinal alignment, improved sleep quality, hypoallergenic properties, and even pressure point relief!
- Cervical Pillows - A cervical pillow has a “dipped” shape for extra neck support. These also come in various materials, for example, memory foam cervical pillows like the Groove Pillow.
- Down Pillows - Down pillows are made from duck or goose feathers and are great for comfort.
- Normal Pillows - Normal pillows offer comfort and are very affordable.
Typically, memory foam pillows are considered best for neck pain and general spinal alignment. This is because they take the pressure off your neck while keeping it in a safe position. Perfect for both comfort and health.
Sleeping with two pillows is best avoided to ensure your neck is in a healthy position. Instead of multiple pillows, using just one promotes better sleeping posture and reduces the risk of aches and pains.
However, don’t worry if you sleep with two pillows. Depending on the pillow size and your chosen sleeping position, it can sometimes be safe. But when in doubt, experimenting with different pillows and positions is the best way to find the style that fits you best.
Ready to improve your sleep health? The Groove Pillow is an ergonomic memory pillow designed to relieve neck pain for multiple sleeping positions.
- Cary, D., Jacques, A. and Briffa, K. (2021). Examining relationships between sleep posture, waking spinal symptoms and quality of sleep: A cross sectional study. PLOS ONE, 16(11), p.e0260582. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0260582.
- Danoff-Burg, S., Rus, H.M., Weaver, M.A. and Raymann, R.J.E.M. (2022). Sleeping in an Inclined Position to Reduce Snoring and Improve Sleep: In-home Product Intervention Study. JMIR Formative Research, 6(4), p.e30102. doi:https://doi.org/10.2196/30102.
- Harvard Health. (2012). Say. [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/say-good-night-to-neck-pain#:~:text=Avhttps://www.mybib.com/manual/formoid%20using%20too%20high%20or [Accessed 26 Sep. 2023].
- Türkmen, C., Esen, S.Y., Erden, Z. and Düger, T. (2023). Comfort and Support Values Provided by Different Pillow Materials for Individuals with Forward Head Posture. Applied Sciences, [online] 13(6), p.3865. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/app13063865.