How Big Should A Bed Pillow Be?

Your bed pillow plays a big role in how comfortable you are when you sleep. They are made from a variety of materials and come in several different sizes. But how can you tell what size pillow is right for you?

The standard pillow size is 20 inches by 26 inches. This pillow will fit into most standard pillowcases and is appropriate for most bed sizes, from twin to queen. But there are larger pillows available for king beds or for those who prefer more space. 

When buying a pillow, you want to make sure the size is comfortable for you while you sleep. But you also want to make sure it suits your bed size; if it's too big or too small, it may look odd. We have outlined the different sizes of pillows below to help you decide.

White bed pillows on a king sized bed, How Big Should A Bed Pillow Be?

Common Pillow Sizes


The most common pillow size on the market is called "standard." Standard pillows measure 20 inches by 26 inches and fit most pillowcases, and is also the most popular size on the market. A standard pillow works well for children or adults who do not move too much when they sleep. Bedding experts say if you move a lot at night, you may slip off a standard pillow and cause neck and shoulder pain.

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Super Standard

A "super standard" pillow is a specialty size that runs just a little longer than a standard--20 inches by 28 inches. Parents sometimes prefer these pillows to fill the gap between the mattress and the bunk bed's edge. Adults who change positions at night may also prefer a super standard pillow to have a little more support. Super standard pillows fit well in standard pillowcases.

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A "queen" pillow is just a little bigger than a standard pillow. It spans 20 inches by 30 inches. Though the difference between a queen and standard pillow is four inches in length, some manufactures use "standard" and "queen" designations interchangeably. A queen pillow will still fit in a standard pillowcase, though fluffier pillows may feel a little firmer than if you use a queen pillowcase.

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King pillows are substantially longer than standard pillows. They measure 20 inches by 36 inches, which means you need to use a king-sized pillowcase to cover them. Most people buy king pillows if they have king mattresses or move around a lot at night and want a lot of extra space for their head and neck.

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Body pillows are the longest pillow available on the market, measuring 20 inches by 54 inches. Most people use body pillows to boost a separate head pillow or along the length of their bodies for extra support. This type of pillow is particularly good for side sleepers. Pregnant women also use body pillows to support their growing bellies while sleeping on their sides. You need to use a specialty body pillow-sized pillowcase to cover it.

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How much bigger should a pillowcase be than the pillow?

Your pillowcase should be at least one to two inches longer and wider than your pillow. Most pillowcases also have three to four inches of extra fabric at the end, but you should only measure the primary area of the pillowcase that your pillow will sit in to make sure it will fit properly. If your pillow is extra fluffy or if your pillowcase is an exact fit or a little too small, your pillow may feel firmer than expected or even stick out of the open end.

What kind of pillows do you use for shams (and can you sleep on sham pillows)?

Bedding experts recommend finding a firm yet fluffy pillow for your sham. You want a filler pillow that extends to the edges of the sham and can fill it out so that it pops out the corners. This way, the sham's decorative features can be displayed completely when lying on your bed. Some recommend using down alternative filler pillows or feather pillows because they are both firm and flexible.

You can sleep on sham pillows; it can support your neck and shoulders, depending on the kind of filler pillow you use. But shams are often fancier than regular pillowcases. Many have some ornamentation on them, or they are made of textured fabric, which would make them uncomfortable to lay on for extended periods of time. Sham pillows are typically used only as decoration on the bed when you're not sleeping in it. You can also use shams behind your regular pillows for a boost when sitting up in bed.

How firm should my pillow be?

The firmness of your pillow depends on your typical sleeping position and what you find comfortable. There are general guidelines for which firmness provides the most support, but you should try out the pillow as best you can to see if you would enjoy resting on it. Here is what bedding experts recommend for different kinds of sleepers. 

Back Sleeper

A good bet for back sleepers is a medium-firm pillow. Back sleepers do not want a too firm pillow; a pillow that is not flexible enough will push your head too far forward and put your neck into an uncomfortable position. But the pillow also can't be too soft since it needs to provide some support to keep your head from falling too far down towards the mattress. 

Side Sleeper

Side sleepers need to have enough support for their head and neck to align them properly with their back. A firm to medium pillow works well. Some side sleepers also like to use body pillows for additional support for their shoulders and back.

Stomach Sleeper

Because stomach sleepers only need to lift their heads a little to align their neck and spine, a relatively flat and soft pillow works best. A pillow that is too fluffy or firm lifts your head too high and may cause neck pain.

Combination Sleeper

If you move around while you sleep, you need a comfy pillow that will support your head and neck and yet conform to the position you are in. Pillow experts recommend a medium-firm pillow for combination sleepers. 

What's the right number of pillows for my bed?

Only you can determine how many pillows you want or need on your bed. Some may like many pillows, including decorative ones, while others prefer the bare minimum number of pillows to sleep with. But here are some general guidelines for several different sizes of mattresses. 

How many pillows do I need for a full-size bed?

Two standard pillows will fill the space across a full-size bed. Some choose to add one or two shams or other decorative pillows to add color or a fun design to their bedroom. 

How many pillows do I need for a queen size bed?

To span across a queen size bed, you will need two standard or queen pillows. You can also use two king pillows if you want your pillows to reach all the way to the edges of the bed. 

How many pillows do I need for a king-size bed?

King pillows have the extra length you need to cover a king mattress. Two king pillows will reach across a king bed almost to the edges. If you prefer smaller pillows, you can also use three standard or queen pillows.

In Conclusion

The standard size bed pillow is versatile and will suit almost any size mattress. Those who want a little more room may opt for a queen or king-size pillow. When choosing the right one for you, make sure they fit your mattress and your sleeping habits.

To learn more about bedding, check out these interesting articles:

What Is a Sham In Bedding? [And Do You Need One?]

What Does A Bedroom Set Typically Include? [5, 6, And 7 Pieces]

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