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

man lying on the side in bed

Shopping for a new pillow? The multiple options on the market can be overwhelming to the point where you may have a hard time settling on the perfect one. And then there’s the issue of determining the right height for you as well.

The majority of us end up with the right pillow height by pure coincidence. In most cases, we order models that are a bit excessive in terms of height and forcefully sleep on them until they eventually flatten to a level we’re comfortable with.

But did you know that there’s a specific range of pillow height that can give you amazing comfort throughout the night depending on your preferred sleeping position and body type?

What is the Proper Pillow Height?

There’s no one-size-fits-all figure when it comes to pillow height. As stated above, it can be a matter of preference usually determined by factors such as your favorite sleeping position and body size.

To determine the correct pillow, you can either go down the trial and error route while looking for the perfect pillows or follow expert guidance to find a suitable one.

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

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 those who prefer this position have the highest requirements in terms of pillow height.

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

If you’re an adult of petite body frame, then a 5-inch pillow should be just fine for you. However, taller and heavier sleepers typically prefer the 6-7-inch range.

Thus, the majority of average-build folks report getting amazing sleep from 6-inch high models.

But whatever the height of pillow you choose, don’t forget to order a new set each time you notice that the old ones have flattened beyond your comfort.

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 predominantly lie down on their tummies usually have lower height requirements for neck support.

This is because the excessive elevation of the neck can result in significant levels of pain among stomach sleepers. The 4-inch pillows can feel just right for teens and lightweight folks while those with a heavier build tend to gravitate towards the 5-inch models.

No wonder many stomach sleepers thrive on flatter and flexible pillows.

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 favorite sleeping position is lying down on the back then it is only logical that you’d want to know the best pillow height for your sleep needs.

Like stomach sleepers, too much elevation can strain the neck and cause stiffness in the morning. This can also make it difficult to sleep while affecting your posture as well. A 4 or 5-inch pillow should fill the space between the neck and back region comfortably to enhance your nights.

The Best Pillow Height for Combination Sleepers

What is the right pillow height for combination sleepers? The answer is it depends. While there may be clear-cut pillow height ranges for specific positions, the situation may become more confusing for combination sleepers.

Remember, A combination sleeper is anyone who flips between different positions through the night.

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

Therefore, you can choose a custom pillow height based on your dominant sleeping position as well as body type. For instance, if you’re a combination sleeper who spends more time lying on the stomach, you’ll be more comfortable choosing a model that is 4-5 inches high.

How to Choose Your Pillow Height Based on Body Type

Your body type plays a massive role when shopping for the right pillow. Consumers of heavier builds usually sleep better on higher pillows.

Thus, all things being equal, a plus-size side sleeper may require a 7-inch pillow compared to a petite side sleeper who may settle for a 5-inch.

Besides, the higher the amount of weight you place on a pillow, the quicker it flattens. Hence, choosing a model of considerable height when you’re overweight can slow down the pace of flattening.

This can eliminate the need for frequent replacements resulting in time and money savings in the long run.

How to Confirm the Right Pillow Height

We’re glad to have given you the correct range of pillow heights for every sleep position. But remember, they’re only estimates so it is up to you to find the sweet spot that works for you within those ranges.

Here are a few tried and tested methods for confirming the perfect pillow height for your needs.

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

The best way to determine the perfect pillow height is to test extensively. You can do this by ordering 2 or 3 pillows of different heights and lying down on each one for a considerable period to settle on your favorite.

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

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

Besides, mattress showrooms also allow potential consumers 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 info, you can log onto Amazon or another online retailer to order the perfect model for your needs.

2. Read Product Reviews

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

Chances are, you’ll come across reviews from consumers who’re of a similar build and sleeping position preferences as you. This can help you order pillows of the right height without extensive 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?

Sites like Pillowise allow you to find the perfect elevation for your neck and back region through its interactive web-based pillow height calculator. This tool effectively gives you an estimate of the right pillow height to target during shopping.

However, such tools require personal details such as Neck Circumference, Shoulder Width, Neck Height, Mattress Firmness, and Preferred Sleeping Position.

As long as you input the required data, you can get an accurate pillow height to optimize your sleep comforts all night long.

4. Use Towels to find the Proper Pillow Height

a couple of towels and sanitizer

Towels can offer a quick alternative to determine the ideal pillow height. This test is popularly used by Chiropractors to determine alignment issues their patients may be suffering.

  • The first step is to get four bathing towels and fold each one 3 times into a square.
  • Stack the towels on top of each other and lie down on it.
  • The 4 towels will be too high for comfort so remove one and rest on your head on the remaining 3.
  • With each towel taken off the stack, your head will feel more comfortable.
  • Keep removing the towels until you find the most comfortable height for your head.
  • Measure this height and use that as a guide to order your brand new pillow.  

This method is very convenient compared to having to order multiple pillows online for trial and error. It also eliminates the problem of organizing returns which can be cumbersome and time-consuming. 

5. What is Loft? 

If you’ve been paying attention to product descriptions of pillows online and elsewhere, then you’ve probably come across the term Loft.

The 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 with thickness ranging from 3-5 inches

High Loft – These are pillows which are at least 5 inches high 

Generally, side sleepers thrive on high loft pillows while mid-loft and low-loft models fit the majority of back and stomach sleepers. 

Benefits of Choosing the Perfect Pillow Height

Finding the right pillow height can supercharge the quality of your sleep This is why it is incumbent that you follow the right steps to find those pillows that can 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 happens to be too high then you can expect to toss and turn throughout the night before you finally drift off to sleep.

In some cases, the pillow can be so high that it just seems impossible for resting your head. When that happens, you could 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 used to getting optimum neck and body support from suitable pillows in the past.

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

2. The Right Pillow Support your Spine 

Pillows are meant to create the right spinal support for the body. They elevate the neck and shoulders from flat sleeping surfaces such as mattresses or sofas which in turn elevates the spine. As such, pillows of the right height should place your spine in a neutral position.

This may not only offer you a good night of sleep but it can also alleviate excessive pressure from the neck and other delicate regions.

Besides, choosing the perfect pillow height sets up the body in the correct sleeping posture. This may prevent slouching and other posture issues that can knock down your self-confidence and lead to aggravated health problems.

Getting the perfect pillow height may not only result in a deep, long-lasting sleep but it can also help you wake up without pain in the morning. 

When do you need to Change Your Pillows?

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

According to industry experts, pillows should be changed at least every 18 months.  But most people end up with pillows higher than what they need. By the 18th month or so, these pillows may have flattened to suit their preferences.

Thus, the majority of consumers are forced to hold onto pillows well past their time. Getting the pillow height right from the beginning allows you to get a new one as and when necessary.

Also, it gives you full confidence that you’ll face no problems finding another great model when shopping for 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 problems finding the right one for you.

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

They can cause issues ranging from the wrong posture to backache, 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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