How much does a pillow affect my sleep?

Despite their smaller size relative to your mattress, pillows remain instrumental for you to get proper rest. Improper selection will cause discomfort and lose of sleep. Sleep disruption can short-term and long-term issues.

Pillow Types

Positioning, size, firmness, and sleeper height all come into play when choosing the right pillow for how you sleep. Besides the steady and firm support, an ideal pillow helps align the head, neck, and spine.

Not Extra-Large or Too Small

Dozing off to sleep with an overly-large and too stiff pillow will prop your head forward, which constrains airways hampering normal breathing. It also exerts a severe strain on your neck or upper spine, further contributing to sleep discomfort.

The stress leads to disruptive sleep patterns and soreness of the upper spine or throat during the day. An extraordinarily sizeable or small pillow exerts strain on your muscles along the shoulders, neck, and back too.

Firmness or Softness Level

For stomach or back sleepers, go for a low-density to the medium-thickness pillow. Soft pillows have a considerably flat surface to provide a shorter length between the mattress and your head to reduce the slant of the neck.

Medium pillows pack more filling and density, the neck and head get proper support, with a constant alignment and curvature of the shoulders as well as the upper back. Designed for side sleepers, they lengthen the distance to the mattress for a perfect alignment of the spine and neck with an extra layer of support.

Pillows According to Bed Sizes

Pillows come in a vast variety of dimensions but vary depending on each manufacturer’s approach. Standard pillows approximated 20″ x 26″. A pair of standard pillows will offer support on queen-sized beds or three on a King-sized one. Queen pillows measure 20” x 30”. King-sized pillows measure 20” x 36”. Body-sized pillow measuring 20” x 54” fits into specially shaped body pillowcase that molds and curves up a pad-like curvature.

Pillow Height, Loft, & Support

When selecting pillow dimensions, you need to take into account the height. Pillow height affects the support of your head and neck, sleeping comfort or quality and spinal alignment. Based on your sleep posture, pick out height ideal for head and neck support.

For side sleepers, a relatively high pillow stays in line with your spine’s height raised as you sleep on your shoulder. The best pillows for back sleepers are medium-firmness and height that aligns your head a bit upward from your spine. A neutral spinal curvature for back sleepers retains an S curve. With a low-height pillow, your muscles become strained as they struggle to preserve alignment. Extremely high pillows constrict breathing tubes.

Pillow Filling & Sleeping Style

Filling made from foam, memory foam, down and feathers, polyester, and latex render the most excellent support and comfort while offsetting any pressure accumulating on your spine, neck and other parts.

Cotton pillows offer firm neck support but tend to flatten with time. Wool pillows do not flatten as a board like cotton but last longer with minimal softness. Most have higher firmness levels that stiffen your neck during the day.

Memory foam and poly-foam filled pillows glut in the market makes a budget-conscious picking. They offer improved neck support by attuning and reshaping in line with your weight.

Pillow Support & Spine Conditions

Sleepers battling spinal disorders will need proper backing to help the spine relax comfortably. Getting off to sleep gives your body a restorative and preventative way for the natural healing of the spine. Pillows fillings render varying levels of support. Proper spine alignment creates a natural S curve in a side view; your head rests in mid-line point between your shoulders with your head and neck straight. Pick a pillow that supports the neck, shoulders, and head to maintain the curvature of the spine in a neutral position.

Pillow Sleeping Comfort

Improved Overall Health

It curbs neck and upper spine problems as it allows you to maintain a natural position. Back-sleeping diminishes acid reflux, eases off low back pain, reduces creases and can promote perky breasts.

Inhibits Wrinkles

Side and stomach sleepers exert high pressure on your face, neck or chest causing crush lines and wrinkles.

Moldable Shape

Regardless of sleeping positions, an excellent pillow should carve in the contours beneath your head and neck. Relative to your physique and sleep posture, the pillow should mold beneath your head and offer firm neck support.

Common Indicators of the Wrong Pillows

Neck pain and migraine mainly stem from vertebrae stiffness and stress caused by inappropriate pillows, mattresses, and sleep postures.

  • Readjusting your sleep posture throughout the night.
  • Stems from a slew of causes such as firmness of the pillow, incredibly soft surfaces less supportive to your head and excessive thickness that leads to spinal misalignment.
  • Neck pain during the day. Waking up with neck pain stems from using the wrong pillow.
  • Migraines & Headaches. Unsuitable pillows create an awkward and imbalanced vertebrae position. Your pillow should diminish any nerve inflammation and nourish the spine for the long haul.


Improper pillow support has adverse impacts on the upper spine and neck which prevent you from sleeping your best. Choosing the right pillow comes down to your sleeping position, height, weight, comfort, and personal preference.