Stacking pillows behind your head, folding them between your legs, or sleeping without a pillow altogether are all signs that you haven’t found the correct pillow height.
Your ideal pillow is one that contours to the natural curvature of your neck. A pillow is intended to keep your head and neck elevated in a neutral position to ensure proper spine alignment while you sleep.
A pillow that is too high or too low can cause back pain and neck pain. Because we all have different body types and sleep positions, there isn’t one single pillow that will work for everyone.
Choosing a Pillow Height Based on Your Sleep Position is Best
The best way to shop for a pillow is to match it to your primary sleep position.
Out of all the sleep positions, side sleepers need the thickest pillow because the goal is to find one that fills the empty space between your neck and shoulders. For adult side sleepers, the recommended pillow height is between 5 inches and 7 inches.
Back sleepers need a pillow that doesn’t push their head too far forward, causing strain on the neck. A pillow height between 4 inches and 5 inches is ideal for adult back sleepers.
Stomach sleepers, like back sleepers, need a pillow that doesn’t elevate their head, causing neck pain. Most stomach sleepers prefer a flat, adaptable pillow. For that reason, a pillow height of four inches or less is best for stomach sleepers.
If you switch sleep positions throughout the night, choosing a pillow based on your body type is your best option.
How to Choose a Pillow Based on Your Body Type
For people with smaller builds, a pillow four inches or less would be ideal. Those who would describe their build as average should try a pillow between four inches and five inches high. Finally, people with larger builds should try a pillow higher than five inches tall.
Because choosing a pillow by body type is more difficult than selecting a pillow by sleeping position, look for a pillow with a sleep trial and a free return policy. Try sleeping on the pillow for at least a week to see if you experience any neck or back pain after waking up. If the pillow works to keep your spine and neck in a neutral position, it’s a keeper.
Choose Your Ideal Pillow Height with a Memory Foam Pillow
A variety of materials can be used to build a pillow including down alternative fill, latex, polyester, and memory foam. Each type of material differs in the level of support it provides for your head, neck, and shoulders.
Muse has engineered a memory foam pillow in four different pillow heights, an extra low, low, medium and high, to accommodate all body types as well as side sleepers, back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and multi-position sleepers. If you’re not sure how to choose the pillow height that’s best for your body type and sleep position, take a two-minute quiz to find out.