Is Sleeping With A Lot Of Pillows Bad For You?

Waking up with a sore neck is something many of us are all too familiar with. Given things like technology and modern stress already affecting our sleep, we don't need neck pain to contribute to a night of tossing and turning. Could our pillows be to blame?

Good sleep is just as important to our health as exercising or eating well, according to Healthline. When we don't get adequate sleep, hormones that regulate appetite are affected, leading to higher consumption of calories during the day. Not getting enough sleep is tied closely to the risk of obesity, as motivation to exercise is hugely affected. Lack of sleep also contributes to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

When we get good sleep, our brain functions — like cognition, concentration, productivity, and memory — improve dramatically (via Healthline). Longer sleep has been tied to better athletic performance, improved immune function, better processing of emotional information, and less inflammation.

Neck pain is a major side effect of poor sleep. According to a 2016 study published in the journal Peer J, roughly 25% of the world's population suffers from neck pain — and poor pillow designs may contribute to the discomfort.

How do pillows contribute to neck pain?

When a pillow doesn't have the proper support, it can adversely affect the spine, leading to body pain and headaches, according to the 2016 Peer J study. When pillows are too high, the cervical spine is not aligned, and it creates too much cranial pressure, which results in discomfort.

The ideal sleeping position, whether that be on your back, side, or stomach, includes a neutral spine, keeping the spine aligned and relaxed without excess weight or strain on it (via Coastal Orthopedics). When the pillows are too high, you lose the normal curvature of the spine while your head is angled forward, causing soreness, and poor sleep. However, if you sleep without a pillow or it is too low, the converse problem occurs — the head is angled down, and the natural curve of the spine is exaggerated.

So while sleeping with too many pillows may be harmful to your sleep and overall health, sleeping with too flat a pillow can be, too. Finding the right amount of support in a pillow for your body size and neck shape is critical for good sleep (via PhysioWorks).