​Thick Pillows or Thin Pillows: Which are Best?

Posted by Emma Carlton - Buying and Merchandising Manager on 9th Aug 2023

​Thick Pillows or Thin Pillows: Which are Best?

Which pillow is best is a question we’ve all pondered at one time or another. But the answer really isn’t a straightforward one. Well, maybe it is. But, it’s your preferred sleep position that drives whether a thick pillow or a thin one is best for you. And what is best for you isn’t necessarily the best option for the next person.

By now, we’re all aware that a good mattress is key when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. But, did you also know that a pillow is also integral to a good night’s sleep too?

Generally, when picking out new pillows, people look at firmness ratings and materials. How thick or thin the right pillow should be doesn’t even cross their minds. But the truth of the matter is that while the fillings of a pillow and its firmness may be and excellent fit for your preferences, if you get the thickness wrong, your sleep will be impacted. It could even result in you waking up back or neck pain. No thank you!

So, is a thick pillow or a thin one the right choice for you? And what is pillow loft? Let’s find out.

Why is choosing the right pillow thickness so important?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of climbing into bed and sinking back into a sumptuously comfortable pillow. But the right pillow for you needs to boast more benefits than just comfort.

Comfort is a key component to good sleep. But support is equally important. And the right pillow plays a vital role in keeping your spine correctly aligned while you sleep.

The best pillow allows your head and neck to rest in a neutral position. So, your neck should not be craned or angled differently to your spine.

Side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers all have varying support demand. And so, they all need different pillow thicknesses. And if you like to mix it up, you’ll need to consider which position you spend the majority of your time asleep in as this will direct you to which pillow is best suited to your most frequent sleep position.

So how can we ensure that we pick the correct thick or thin pillow to ensure we get the support we need? Well, that comes down to your preferred sleeping position. Read on to learn more.

What is pillow loft?

Pillow loft is a term used to describe a pillow’s thickness or height. So, a pillow with a low loft is also known as a thin pillow. And – yep, you’ve guessed it – a pillow with a high loft is a thick pillow. So, now that we’ve got that cleared up, shopping for your perfect pillow should be a little easier!

Thick or thin pillows: what’s best for side sleepers?

A lady asleep on her side cradling her pillow

Side sleepers generally need a thicker pillow. This is because if you sleep on your side most of the night, you need a pillow that can adequately support your head. It needs to keep your neck and head in alignment with your spine and not angled down towards the mattress. A good pointer to choosing the right pillow if you are a side sleeper is to ensure the pillow thickness is the same width from the side of your head to the end of your shoulder.

Side sleepers should avoid pillows that are too thin. Thin pillows will not provide enough cushioning to support to the head and neck properly. But it’s also worth mentioning that a pillow has the potential to be too thick for side sleepers too. And if a pillow is too thick, it can impact the spinal alignment which can lead to a stiff neck.

A good pointer to choosing the right pillow - if you are a side sleeper - is to ensure the pillow thickness is the same width from the side of your head to the end of your shoulder.

Thick or thin pillows: what’s best for front sleepers?

A lady asleep on her front resting her head on a pillow

Stomach sleepers (or those who prefer to sleep on their front) often feel most comfortable using a flat pillow. This is because a very thin pillow can be used under the head, chest, or stomach as preferred.

If the head and neck are elevated too much by a pillow that is too thick stomach sleepers can develop neck, shoulder, and back pain. So, if you’re a stomach sleeper, be sure to look out for a pillow that’s made for your sleeping position. That way, you’ll hit that sweet spot where comfort and support are in perfect supply and you’re sure to wake each morning feeling well-rested.

Thick or thin pillows: what’s best for back sleepers?

A man sleeping on his back resting his head on a pillow.

When it comes to those who prefer to sleep on their backs, a medium loft is the ideal. This is because a pillow with medium thickness is supportive, but not so much so that it cranes your neck forward.

And so, back sleepers will benefit from the support and comfort of a pillow thickness that is somewhere in the middle of a thin pillow and a thick one. Be on the lookout for a pillow that is recommended specifically for back sleepers, and you’ll be on the road to a successful night’s sleep.

Thick or thin pillows: what’s best for sleepers who like to switch positions

There’s no easy answer to those who like to mix up their sleep position. But there are three options…

Option one:

Think about your sleep pattern. What is your preferred position to actually fall asleep in? And what position are you in when you wake up? If one position stands out as your preferred, or simply seems to crop up more frequently than the others, then take this as your primary sleep position. Then you can use this to direct your interest when shopping for new pillows.

Option two:

And just to warn you, this is a drastic one. If you really can’t figure out which sleep position is your preferred or most frequent, you could purchase a pillow for each sleeping position. That way you can switch up your pillows as frequently as you switch up your sleeping position. But, this an expensive route to travel. That said, your pillows should last up to three times longer than those with a go-to sleep position as you’ll be interchanging them on a regular basis. So, while it may seem like a lot to spend on pillows in one go, it’s a long-term investment.

Option three:

Our third option is a pillow that has been specifically designed for all sleeping positions. At Bensons we have pillows which fits this criteria. These are the Slumberland Latex Blend pillow; the Slumberland 100% Recycled pillow; the Slumberland Feels Like Down pillow, the Slumberland Spring Support pillow; the Slumberland Feather & Down pillow; and the Slumberland Memory Zone pillow. These pillows have been developed with a medium loft, so they are not too deep or too low. Plus, they are all flexible enough to contour to every sleeping position; perfect for those who switch up position during the night.

Final thoughts

When it comes to choosing between thick or thin pillows, let your sleep position be your driving force. It will guide you in the direction of the correct levels of both support and comfort for your personal sleep preferences.

If you’d like to learn more about the Bensons for Beds range of thick and thin pillows, you can always pop into your local Bensons store and speak with one of our sleep experts. They’re all dedicated to finding you the best solutions for your personal sleep needs and are always happy to help. 

authors profile
Emma Carlton
Buying and Merchandising Manager
Emma has worked at Bensons for Beds for 10 years and is a fundamental part of the Bensons’ team, her wealth of breadth and knowledge is invaluable. Emma’s drive, determination, and tenacity ensures we provide our customers with the market leading products to suit our customer individual needs, at great value prices.
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