Pillow Height: How High Should Yours Be?

January 24, 2022 | Casper Editorial Team

Why is it that some pillows help you melt into a dreamless slumber, while others have you tossing and turning all night long?

You may be sleeping with a pillow of the wrong height.

Correct pillow height can be the difference between powering down and counting sheep until sunrise. While most people prefer a pillow height between four to six inches for healthy head and neck support, a bed pillow’s height can be as individual as the preference for its materials is.1 

Whatever your preferred sleeping position and body type, confirming that your pillow height is ideal will ensure you’re optimizing your shuteye for the best rest of your life. From defining pillow loft to breaking down the optimal spinal position, let’s make sure you’re sleeping right.

Whether you want a low loft or medium loft pillow, Casper has the ideal pillow height for you with a filling you love. Browse our selection of cozy, supportive pillows.

What is Pillow Height (aka Pillow Loft)?

The first step to finding the right pillow for your body is understanding the terminology manufacturers use to define pillow size and shape.

If you’ve already begun your pillow shopping—online or otherwise—you might have noticed the phrase “pillow loft” cropping up here and there. So, what exactly is it?

Loft is the term used to refer to a pillow’s thickness.2 When pillow shopping, you can consider it interchangeable with height.

You’ll most often find pillows described with one of the following three terms:

  • Low Loft – Pillows with low loft are three inches thick or less. 
  • Mid Loft – Pillows with mid loft are between three and five inches thick.
  • High Loft – Pillows with high loft are five inches thick or more. 

You can find good-quality pillows in every category. It just depends on your preferences and sleep position

At Casper, we’re all about optimizing your sleep, so our pillows come with multiple options in terms of loft. The Original Casper Pillow, for example, is available in both mid and low loft to suit the needs of the sleeper.

Now that we know how pillow height is categorized, let’s look at how high, low, and mid loft pillows stack up.

Should Your Pillow Be High or Low?

We know, we know. You just want a straightforward answer—how high should your pillow be? Trust us, if we could give you one pillow type that would fit every person on the planet, we would. 

But the truth is, it depends.

Maybe you’ve experienced a sleeping pillow that was too flat. Or perhaps you’ve tried sleeping on one so tall it seemed to want to escape from beneath you. You might wonder who could possibly sleep with this pillow? The strange thing is that someone else would consider it their dream sleep companion.

Finding the perfect pillow height is so important and individual because pillows change our spinal alignment. The wrong pillow height will not only affect your sleep quality but can also cause you to have an improper spine alignment. This can lead to a crick in your neck, sleep apnea, or a cervical spine injury. On the other hand, proper alignment can help to alleviate aches and pain in the neck, shoulders, and back.

To fall asleep quickly, stay that way all night, and wake up feeling comfortable and rested, you ideally want to maintain a neutral spine. This means that, no matter what your sleeping position and body type, you don’t want such a high loft that your head is tilted up or such a low loft or a thin pillow that your head is hanging down.2

How your head aligns with your spine depends on a variety of factors in your sleep situation.

#1 Sleep Position

In an ideal world, your head stays in alignment with your spine. You can tell you’ve achieved the perfect pillow height when your ear lines up level with your shoulder.  

It’s easier to know for sure when you’ve got a friend to help you out. Have them look at your back and neck (or take a photo) as you rest on your side, testing out your pillow. 

Each sleep position presents its own challenges:

  • Back sleepers might notice that their heads droop down from their spines with a low pillow, or that they’re elevated at a slight incline with a sleep position that’s too high. 
  • Side sleepers face similar challenges to back sleepers. With a high position, you might also notice pressure on your shoulders.
  • Stomach sleepers run the risk of arching their head up from the middle of their body all night long. This puts undue stress on the neck and spine.

As you can see, knowing your sleeping position is vital for choosing the right pillow. But finding the right height for your sleep position also depends on your specific body and sleep setup.

#2 Body Type

We’ve mentioned that body type plays a role in selecting the right pillow height for you. But how exactly does it factor into the equation? 

Generally, body type is less of a consideration for pillow height when compared to sleep position, which should be your primary focus in finding the right pillow height for you. However, there are a few considerations:

  • If you sleep on your side, your shoulder height will also play a role in your ideal pillow height. Broad shoulders mean more distance between your spine and the bed—but it also means you’ll need a higher pillow.
  • Heavier sleepers will sink into their mattresses more, which means they may require lower-loft pillows than a more petite sleeper would. 

#3 Mattress Firmness

When you sleep, your mattress gives way to your body. Just how much, however, depends on your mattress firmness.

With a softer mattress, you sink in further. Because your spine will be closer to the height of the mattress, you won’t need as much height from your pillow.

#4 Pillow Firmness

Just like mattresses, pillows come in different firmnesses.

Some prefer the softness of a down pillow, while others want the support of a foam pillow beneath them as they journey into dreamland. Choosing a firm or soft pillow is a decision that can impact the type of loft you need.

Keep in mind that a low loft down or down-alternative pillow will compress down during the night, while a low loft foam pillow will better maintain its shape and height underneath the weight of your head. 

That’s why it’s so important to assess your pillow-to-be in situ to see how it fits with your entire sleep situation. 

What is the Correct Height for a Pillow?

By now, we’ve adequately explained that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for pillow height.

So, where should you start in your quest for the perfect partner?

You can get a rough estimate of the right kind of pillow based on your sleep position.

  • Side Sleepers – If you sleep on your side, you can expect sweet dreams when using a medium-density pillow between five and seven inches in height. These are considered mid or high loft pillows.2 Side sleepers require the highest pillows to maintain a neutral spine. But once again, keep in mind that a lower pillow may be suitable if it’s made from a denser material.
  • Back Sleepers – If you get your shuteye on your back, consider a pillow between four and five inches in height. These mid-loft pillows can help you keep your head in the clouds and in line with your spine all night long.
  • Stomach Sleepers — If you tend to doze off on your stomach, you might want to consider reducing the risk of back strain by using pillows between four and five inches in height. These are considered mid or high loft pillows. 
  • Combination Sleepers — Combination sleepers are people who vary their sleeping position. But even these people have a primary sleeping position, which usually dictates their pillow height preference (with one of the above categories). 

If you can’t define it or tend to switch between different positions as you sleep, we’d recommend a mid loft Hybrid Pillow. It should fall in the middle of most people’s preferences.

Tips For Choosing Your Ideal Pillow Height

Since you’ve stuck with us so far, you practically have a PhD in pillows. 

You’re almost ready to dive into shopping mode. But first, here are some final tips to keep in mind as you click through options or sink into a trial slumber:

  • To choose your material, consider your other needs. For example, if you sleep hot, a cooling memory foam pillow could be an ideal sleep partner. If you have allergies, you might prefer a synthetic foam or polyfill pillow over down. And if you’re on a budget, consider a polyfill pillow that gives you a cozy bang for your buck. The right pillow is the one that suits your body and lifestyle.
  • Once you’ve chosen your material, choose the height that you think will help you maintain ideal spinal alignment (taking the firmness of your mattress and pillow into account).
  • Your pillow should feel flexible, molding to your body shape. But most of all, your pillow must feel comfortable to you. Trust your instincts. If a pillow isn’t a good fit— you’ll know by how you feel.

And if it’s not a match made in heaven, don’t lose heart! Make adjustments to find a height that will support your sleep and your health.

Make Sure Your Pillow Measures Up With Casper

At Casper, we know that a good night’s sleep can affect your whole day. And the height of your pillow plays a major role in your sleep.

With so many factors to consider, you might feel a little like Goldilocks. That’s more than understandable! Need help? We provide plenty of guides to help you choose the right one for you


  1. Queen West Physiotherapy & Acupuncture. PILLOWS — Happy Sleeping!. https://www.queenwestphysio.ca/strategies/sleeping
  2. Sleeperholic. How to Choose the Correct Pillow Height [The Ultimate Guide]. https://www.sleeperholic.com/pillow-height/