Different Pillow Sizes Explained

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
November 30, 2022
|
9
min read

Building the perfect sleeping setup requires a lot of trial and error, from trying out duvet sizes and bed sheet sizes to mattress firmness levels. This also includes finding the right pillow size for your bed. Luckily, plenty of online resources (like this one) cut through the confusion and lay out all the information you need. 

In this guide, we briefly outline different pillow sizes’ dimensions, prominent advantages, drawbacks, and their best use cases – all so you can understand how to choose a pillow.

Why Pillow Sizes Matter

Having the right size pillow can impact your sleep quality dramatically. For example, let’s say that you tend to roll around often at night. In this case, you’d be better off with a larger pillow that can accommodate your constant adjustments. 

The opposite is true for folks who sleep like a log. If this is true for you, a smaller pillow may be the perfect choice.

Beyond this, pillow sizes can affect the overall aesthetic of your bedroom and determine how the stuffing sits inside its casing. Some smaller pillows can feel “fluffier” because of their smaller dimensions, while larger pillows may feel flat. However, this usually differs from brand to brand, so it’s best to check out their products first.

Pillow Sizing Chart

 

Dimensions (inches)

Dimensions (centimeters)

Standard

20 in x 26 in

51 cm x 56 cm

Queen

20 in x 30 in

51 cm x 76 cm

King

20 in x 36 in

51 cm x 92 cm

Body

20 in x 54 in

51 cm x 132 cm

 

Standard-Size Pillow Dimensions

The standard-size pillow is the most common and versatile out of all the options on the market. Because of its relatively small dimensions, it pairs perfectly with all mattress sizes, from twin to California king. 

At a modest 20 x 26 inches, the standard pillow can easily be fluffed up into a high loft for side sleepers or flattened out for back and stomach sleepers. However, the standard-size pillow may not be the best choice for restless sleepers because of its limited width. 

Best For

  • Individuals sleeping in smaller beds like a twin or twin XL
  • Sleepers who don’t move too much
  • Side and stomach sleepers

Advantages

  • Can comfortably be used across a wide range of bed sizes
  • Complements most sleeping positions

Disadvantages

  • May not provide enough support for people who move around often
  • Can look tiny on king beds

Queen-Size Pillow Dimensions

At 20 x 30 inches, the queen-size pillow is a considerable step up from its standard counterpart. This slightly larger pillow offers more sleeping real estate for restless individuals who toss and turn at night while also making longer beds look more filled out. 

However, that's not all there is to these middle-of-the-pack cushions. Queen-size pillows can also be used with smaller twin beds while looking right at home on king mattresses. They can also fit in most standard-size pillowcases, so you won't need a new set of sheets just for your new pillow!

Best For

  • Restless sleepers who toss and turn often
  • Shoppers looking for a large yet relatively affordable pillow compared to king-size

Advantages

  • Perfect for all mattress sizes
  • Can be used with a standard pillowcase, eliminating the need for new sheets
  • Extra length provides more leeway for rolling around

Disadvantages

  • May be too lofty or firm when used with standard pillowcases

King-Size Pillow Dimensions

Like their mattress counterparts with the same name, the king-size pillow is one of the largest options available on the market. At 20 x 36 inches, these cushions are significantly longer than smaller options, making them the number-one pick for active sleepers. 

Moreover, these big cushions can be used during the day, too! If you're the kind of person who likes to sit up and read or watch TV in bed, the king-size pillow is perfect. Its size imitates a couch's breadth while offering a pillow's support.

Best For

  • Larger beds like queen, king, or California king
  • Back sleepers 
  • Active sleepers
  • Individuals with broader shoulders

Advantages

  • Can be used to relieve pressure at key points like knees, hips, or shoulders
  • Wide enough to accommodate very active sleepers
  • Great for sitting up in bed

Disadvantages

  • Takes up more space on mattresses
  • Can look out of place on smaller mattresses

Body-Size Pillow Dimensions

While generally considered a non-standard pillow size, body pillows have become increasingly popular as people build more comfortable sleeping environments. At a colossal 20 x 54 inches, these pillows are perfect for hugging or acting as a barrier between you and the edge of your bed. 

Body pillows are more malleable than standard cushions, curving and twisting to suit your specific needs. They’re often used by pregnant women who want to keep themselves from rolling over at night.

Best For

  • Pregnant women
  • Side sleepers
  • Individuals with back pain

Advantages

  • Perfect for hugging
  • Prevents unwanted rolling or adjusting

Disadvantages

  • Can make narrow beds feel very tight
  • Pillowcases may be harder to find

Other Specialty Sizes

Everyone wants to be comfortable everywhere they go, so many pillow manufacturers have started producing cushions in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few specialty pillow sizes and how they're used.

  • Travel pillows: Usually measuring a modest 12 x 16 inches, the travel pillow is designed to fit into luggage for use on planes, trains, and long car rides. These can come in different shapes, ranging from the neck pillow to more traditional rectangle cushions.
  • Throw pillows: Because throw pillows are meant more for fashion and not function, they can come in all sorts of non-standard sizes and shapes. That said, most square throw pillows measure 18 x 18 inches.
  • Euro sham pillows: Like their throw counterparts, Euro sham pillows are meant to visually enhance a bed or sofa area. They typically measure 26 x 26 inches.
  • Pregnancy pillows: Pregnant women need specific kinds of pillows to support their bodies as they sleep, from 10 x 10-inch C-shaped cushions to giant body-size bolsters.

How Many Pillows Do You Need?

While there are no hard and fast rules about choosing pillows for your sleeping area, having a simple guide can steer buyers on the right path. Here are a few suggestions about how many pillows you should have based on your mattress type.

Type of mattress

Bed width

Number/size pillows needed

Twin and twin XL

38 inches

1 standard pillow

Double/full

54 inches

2 standard or queen pillows

Queen

60 inches

2 queen or king pillows

King

76 inches

2-3 king pillows

California king

72 inches

2-3 king pillows

 

Ultimately, the best combination of pillows is the one that makes you feel supported and comfortable throughout the night.

Purchase Your Perfect Pillow At Purple

Deciding on the perfect pillow size is only half the battle when it comes to building the perfect sleeping area. You must also figure out the loft, firmness, and the filling you want. Luckily, Purple has a well-designed range of pillows that start from kid-size and go up to a standard king. 

Purple Harmony: The Purple Harmony is our best seller coming in standard and kin size. This also includes the option for a low, medium or tall height.

The Purple Harmony pillow features a layer of honeycomb grid which provides a cool, comforting sleep all night long.

Purple Pillow:  Our first pillow design in one of a kind.  Uses 3 inches of GelFlex Grid to cushion and cradle your head and neck. The Purple pillow comes with a booster that allows you to adjust for your preferred pillow height.

Purple Cloud Pillow: The Purple Cloud pillow comes in standard or king size. Features ultra fine fibers, with hypoallergenic materials that wont trap heat or flatten over time.  The result is comfort that supports your head an neck all night long. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Pillow Size

How do I measure a pillow?

Measure your pillow from end to end with a hard tool like a ruler or meter stick for accurate results. It may seem more intuitive to use something soft like a measuring tape, but this will usually result in warped measurements that could make it difficult to choose the right pillowcases and other bedding.

How much larger should a pillowcase be compared to the pillow?

Generally speaking, buyers should get pillowcases that are ½ to 1 inch longer and 2 to 4 inches wider than your cushion. This gives your pillow more space to expand and contract as you use and fluff it. The result is an even loft that won’t strain your neck.

What’s the best size pillow?

No one size suits everyone’s needs perfectly. Instead, note your mattress’ size and purchase a pillow accordingly. We also recommend factoring in how much you toss and turn at night.