This TikToker Has Been Sleeping On Her Pillow Wrong— Have You?

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Waking up with a crick in your neck or constantly trying to find the perfect placement for your pillow? This might be a sign you’re sleeping on your pillow wrong, but don’t worry you’re not alone. 

Gaining 1.3 million views, real estate agent Erika Strong-Rodriguez recently posted a TikTok of her experience going to a pillow fitting. She explained she hasn’t been able to find a good pillow for 10 years, but the pillow might not have been the problem. (1)

Within seconds of laying down, the pillow fitter tells her, “put just your head on it.” Turns out,  Strong-Rodriguez has been sleeping with her head and shoulders on the pillow. But why is this a problem? 

Pillows are used to provide support for your neck, keeping it aligned while you sleep. If you’re sleeping with your shoulders on a pillow it can cause a misalignment, which could ultimately cause you to wake up with neck pain.   


Why have i been laying on pillows incorrectly? Finally found an amazing pillow and mattress though.

♬ original sound – erikastrongrodri_

In a follow up video, her husband demonstrates how she’s been incorrectly using her pillow. Strong-Rodriquez asked him, “doesn’t that feel comfy though?” To which he immediately responded with a no. (2)

Don’t worry, she was able to leave her fitting with a pillow that works for her and newfound pillow knowledge, but the comment section was full of fellow shoulder pillow sleepers. 

One commenter wrote, “Slowly scoots down so my back’s off my pillow,” another saying, “If I slept with my shoulders off my pillow I would wake up looking like the bent lady Haunting of Hill House.” (1

To ensure you understand all of the common pillow dos and don’ts, we talked with some experts.

How to Choose a Pillow

Whether you’re realizing it’s time for a new pillow or you’re tired of everyday sleeping discomfort, it’s important to choose a pillow that works with your sleeping position. 

Sleepopolis’ resident pillow expert and senior staff writer, Amelia Jerden, breaks down what to look for in a new pillow. 

Jerden explains the first thing to consider when choosing a pillow is its firmness saying, “We recommend a firmer pillow for side sleepers, a medium pillow for back sleepers, and a softer pillow for stomach sleepers.” 

Next consider the pillow’s loft or height. She said, “A higher loft is best for side sleepers, a medium loft is best for back sleepers, and a lower loft is best for stomach sleepers. We consider two to three inches low, four to five inches medium, and over five inches to be high.” 

Martin Seeley, sleep expert and CEO of MattressNextDay, told Sleepopolis it’s recommended to replace your pillow every two years to have a hygienic sleeping space, but there are exceptions to this. He said, “If you’re waking up with aches in your neck and shoulders, your pillows may not be giving you the support you need. It’s time to buy a new one.” 

If you’re finding your new pillow uncomfortable and stiff, there’s some things you can do. Seeley suggests throwing on a pillow case and putting it in a tumble dryer with a couple of tennis balls for about five minutes. “This should soften up the structure a little without damaging the shape of the pillow,” he explains. This won’t work with memory foam or down pillows, only fiber pillows. 

Ultimately if you’re experiencing no discomfort with your current set up, just keep doing what you’re doing. However, if you’ve been experiencing discomfort or have long been on the quest for the perfect pillow, it might be time to look at how you’re sleeping and what you’re sleeping on. 

  • Jerden, Amelia. Personal Interview. August 2024


  • Seeley, Martin. Personal Interview. August 2024

    1. Strong-Rodriguez, Erika. TikTok. July 24, 2024.
  • 2. Strong-Rodriguez, Erika. TikTok. July 26, 2024.

Julia Medina

Julia Medina

Julia is a Staff News Writer for Sleepopolis. From sleep news and education to the latest sleep trends, her goal is to keep you informed about what's going on in the world of sleep, dreams, mattresses, and more. Julia graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in communications and minors in film and sociology. In her free time she loves exploring new cities, relaxing with a good tv show, and getting some good quality sleep.

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