How to Choose the Correct Pillow Height [The Ultimate Guide]

man lying on the side in bed

Looking for a new pillow? The many options on the market can be so overwhelming that it’s hard to decide on the perfect pillow. And then there’s the problem of determining the right height for you.

Most of us end up with the right pillow height purely by accident. More often than not, we order models that are a bit too high in terms of height and forcibly sleep on them until they are finally flattened to a level we are comfortable with.

But did you know that there is a certain range of pillow height that can provide you with amazing comfort throughout the night, depending on your preferred sleeping position and body type?

What is the proper Pillow Height?

There is no one size fits all when it comes to pillow height. As mentioned above, it can be a matter of preference, usually determined by factors like your preferred sleeping position and body size.

To determine the right pillow, you can either go the trial and error route while searching for the perfect pillows or follow the guidance of an expert to find a suitable pillow.

Either way, you should know that the perfect pillow height can make your life easier in many ways.

What is the Best Pillow Height for Side Sleepers?

How high can a side sleeper pillow be?

The answer is 5-7 inches. The nature of side sleeping means that those who prefer this position have the highest requirements in terms of pillow height.

Typically, pillows within the above range should be able to fill the space between the neck and shoulders to allow for light sleep.

If you are an adult with a petite build, then a 5-inch pillow should be just fine for you. However, larger and heavier sleepers usually prefer the 6-7 inch range.

For example, the majority of average-built people report that they sleep amazingly well with 6-inch-tall models.

But no matter what pillow height you choose, don’t forget to order a new set every time you find that the old ones have gotten too flat.

What is the Best Pillow Height for Stomach Sleepers?

What is the right pillow height for stomach sleepers? For adults, the answer is 4-5 inches. Unlike side sleepers, those who lie primarily on their stomachs usually have lower height requirements for neck support.

This is because excessive elevation of the neck can cause significant pain for stomach sleepers. The 4-inch pillows may be just right for teenagers and light-weight people, while those with heavier statures may lean more toward the 5-inch models.

It’s no wonder that many stomach sleepers do well with flatter and more flexible pillows.

What is the Best Pillow Height for Back Sleepers? 

woman lying down on a pillow

What is the perfect pillow height for back sleepers? The answer is 4-5 inches. If your preferred sleeping position is lying on your back, then it stands to reason that you want to know the best pillow height for your sleeping needs.

As with stomach sleepers, too much height can strain your neck and cause stiffness in the morning. This can also make it harder to fall asleep and affect your posture. A 4 or 5-inch pillow should comfortably fill the space between your neck and back to improve your nights.

What is the Best Pillow Height for Combination Sleepers? 

What is the right pillow height for combination sleepers?

The answer is, it depends. While there are clearly outlined pillow height ranges for certain positions, the situation can get more confusing for combo sleepers.

Remember, a combo sleeper is anyone who switches back and forth between different positions during the night.

But the good news is that combo sleepers also have a dominant sleeping position. They sleep either on their side, back, or shoulders more than in the other positions.

Therefore, you can choose a custom pillow height based on both your dominant sleeping position and your body type. For example, if you are a combination sleeper who spends more time lying on your stomach, you will be more comfortable with a model that is 4-5 inches high.

How do you Choose Your Pillow Height Based on Body Type?

Your body type plays a big role in buying the right pillow. People with heavier body types tend to sleep better on higher pillows.

All things being equal, an oversized side sleeper will need a 7-inch pillow compared to a petite side sleeper who can settle for a 5-inch pillow.

Also, the more weight you put on a pillow, the faster it will flatten. Therefore, if you are overweight, choosing a model with considerable height can slow down the rate of flattening.

This can eliminate the need for frequent replacement, saving you time and money in the long run.

How do you Confirm the Right Pillow Height?

We’re glad we could give you the right pillow height choices for any sleeping position. But remember, these are just estimates, so it’s up to you to find the sweet spot that works for you within these ranges.

Here are a few best practices to help you determine the perfect pillow height for your needs.

1. Test, Test, and Test Pillows until you find the Best one for you

The best way to determine the perfect pillow height is to test it extensively. You can do this by ordering 2 or 3 pillows at different heights and laying on each for an extended period of time to settle on your favorite.

Fortunately, online retailers offer free trials for most pillows on the market. So testing the different options to choose the right one should be easy, especially if you can return the rest.

If you decide to go this route, make sure you return the product at least a week before the expiration date. This can ensure that you can get a full refund from the retailer.

Also, mattress showrooms offer potential consumers the opportunity to lie down and test not only mattresses, but pillows as well. You can use this trick to find out the perfect pillow height for your body type and sleeping position, even if you have no intention of buying from a showroom.

Armed with the right information, you can log on to Amazon or another online retailer to order the perfect model for your needs.

2. Read Product Reviews

Product reviews can give you great insight into a particular product even before you order it. If you’re unsure about which pillow height to choose, these reviews can be crucial in many ways. Just log on to your favorite online retailer and start digging through the various customer reviews on different pillows.

Chances are, you will come across reviews from customers who have a similar stature and sleeping position as you. This can help you order pillows with the right height without a lot of trial and error.

3. Pillow Height Calculators

Did you know that there are pillow height calculators online to help you make the perfect choice before you shop?

Websites like Pillowise allow you to find the perfect height for your neck and back through their interactive web-based pillow height calculator. This tool effectively gives you an estimate of the right pillow height to aim for when shopping.

However, such tools require personal details like Neck Circumference, shoulder width, Neck Height, Mattress Firmness and Preferred Sleeping Position.

As long as you enter the required data, you can get an accurate pillow height to optimize your sleeping comfort all night long.

4. Use Towels to find the Proper Pillow Height

a couple of towels and sanitizer

Towels offer a quick alternative for determining the ideal pillow height. This test is popularly used by chiropractors to determine alignment problems in their patients.

  • The first step is to get four bath towels and fold each of them into a square three times.
  • Stack the towels on top of each other and lie on them.
  • The 4 towels will be too high for comfort, so take one towel away and lay your head on the remaining 3.
  • With each towel you remove from the pile, your head will feel more comfortable.
  • Keep removing towels until you find the most comfortable height for your head.
  • Measure this height and use it as a guide to order your new pillow.

This method is very convenient compared to having to order multiple pillows online and try them out. It also eliminates the problem of organizing returns, which can be tedious and time-consuming.

5. What is Loft? 

If you have been paying attention to product descriptions of pillows online and elsewhere, you have probably come across the term loft.

Loft is defined as the thickness of a pillow and comes in 3 types.

  • Low Loft
  • Mid Loft
  • High Loft

Low Loft – These are pillows that are 3 inches thick or lower.

Mid Loft – Pillows that are 3-5 inches thick.

High Loft – These are pillows that are at least 5 inches high.

Generally, side sleepers are comfortable on high loft pillows, while mid loft and low loft models are suitable for the majority of back and stomach sleepers.

Benefits of Choosing the Perfect Pillow Height

Finding the right pillow height can improve the quality of your sleep. Therefore, it is important that you follow the right steps to find the pillows that will make your nights memorable.

1. You will have a more Comfortable night

Few things can be more uncomfortable than spending the night on the wrong pillow. If your pillow is too high, expect to toss and turn all night before you finally fall asleep.

In some cases, the pillow may be so high that it simply seems impossible to rest your head on it. When this happens, you might even be forced to ditch the pillow altogether and sleep flat on the mattress.

On the other hand, sleeping on a pillow that feels too flat can be quite uncomfortable. This is especially true for those who are used to having their neck and body optimally supported by suitable pillows.

Extremely flat pillows can also seem non-existent. The situation can be so bad that you can barely feel it under your neck.

2. The Right Pillow Support your Spine 

Pillows are there to create the proper spinal support for the body. They lift the neck and shoulders off flat sleeping surfaces like mattresses or sofas, which in turn straightens the spine. Therefore, pillows with the right height should place your spine in a neutral position.

Not only can this give you a good night’s rest, but it can also take excess pressure off your neck and other sensitive regions.

Also, choosing the perfect pillow height sets your body up in the right sleeping position. This can prevent slouching and other postural problems that can weaken your confidence and lead to aggravated health problems.

The perfect pillow height can lead not only to a deep, long-lasting sleep, but also to waking up in the morning without pain.

When do you need to Change Your Pillows?

It’s no secret that pillows flatten over time. Even the most durable models with the latest innovations will eventually flatten out, contrary to manufacturers’ claims.

According to industry experts, pillows should be changed at least every 18 months. But most people end up with pillows that are higher than they need. By 18 months or so, those pillows may have flattened out to suit their preferences.

So the majority of consumers are forced to stick with pillows that are way past their prime. If you get the height of the pillow right from the start, you can get a new one when you need it.

It also gives you the peace of mind that you won’t have trouble finding another great model when you want to buy a new one in the future.


Here’s everything you need to know about pillow height. As long as you follow the guidelines we’ve revealed here, you should have no trouble finding the right one for you.

Remember, it’s not worth sleeping on old pillows that offer less than adequate support because they can soon lead to so many problems.

They can cause problems ranging from poor posture to back, neck and shoulder pain.

Gabriel Smith

Hello, my name is Gabriel and I LOVE to sleep. Okay, you’re right, a lot of people do like sleep. But my passion is actually not sleeping. My interest lies in the “theoretical part”. What to do before bedtime. What a good night’s sleep is. etc. In short, how to sleep well. I hope you share the same interest as me, and enjoy reading everything about sleep.

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