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How to Sleep with a Body Pillow

Sleeping with a body pillow offers a variety of health benefits but knowing how to use a body pillow properly is important to make the most of it.

Body pillows offer crucial support for your head, neck, shoulders, back and legs. However, if you have never used a body pillow before, knowing how to sleep with a body pillow, position your body and rest your limbs around it may seem complicated at first.

These special pillows are more than simple bedding accessories; in fact, their custom designs for different needs of sleepers make them incredibly easy to get used to.

How to Sleep with Different Type of Body Pillows

There are different ways you can use a body pillow. Learning how to comfortably sleep with your body pillow can help you reap its vast amount of health and lifestyle benefits. Body pillows come in different sizes and shapes. The various shapes of body pillows are meant to fit individual needs, medical conditions, body types, height, and bed sizes.

Identifying the best body pillow shape and size for your body is ideal for the ultimate sleeping experience. The most common types of body pillows are rectangular and cylindrical. Other types include ones that are shaped like C, J or U. Each of these are aimed at different types of sleepers and some are bigger than others, ensuring support for your whole body while sleeping.

U-Shaped

U-shaped body pillows, also known as pregnancy pillows, offer excellent cushioning for head, shoulders, neck and back. They are especially popular with pregnant women as they provide ample support for the body, preventing it from rolling to the back sleeping position which is harmful during pregnancy.

With an expanding uterus and excessive weight, sleeping on your back becomes difficult during pregnancy. This position may exacerbate back pain, low blood pressure, digestive issues and poor circulation. For this reason, experts encourage sleeping on the side for pregnant women. U-shaped pillows offer terrific support for a restful night’s sleep for pregnant women.

Simply rest your head on the curve of the U and wrap your arms around one of its arms, while the other arm shields your back from rolling into a back sleeping position. It is the perfect combination of a bed pillow and two long body pillows joined together for absolute ease and blissful comfort.

U shaped body pillow is large and may spread across an entire single bed, but it provides the perfect curves to cushion sensitive areas around the body during pregnancy.

C-Shaped

Perfect for side sleepers, C-shaped pillows offer front and back support while taking up minimum space on the bed. These are a perfect fit for those who suffer from persistent back aches. Even pregnant women can benefit from them if there is not enough space on the bed for a U-shaped pillow.

To sleep comfortably on a C-shaped pillow, simply rest your back against the curve of the C so the top part supports your head, shoulders, and neck. Tuck the bottom portion between your thighs so your torso does not weigh entirely on your spine. The C-shaped body pillow is ideal for a side sleeper, providing enough support for the back, as well as neck comfort.

The curve of the pillow allows for sleepers to cuddle the soft end by placing one arm underneath the pillow and the other over it when changing sides.

J-Shaped

The shape of this body pillow is like that of a candy cane. J-shaped body pillows take up less space on the bed as compared to U and C shaped pillows and are ideal for those who sleep on smaller mattresses but desire the same support.

Ideal for back, head and neck support, the J-shaped pillow is like the U-shaped pillow. The only difference is that it is smaller and has only 1 arm. It works well for smaller beds or for people who sleep with a partner. While this pillow may not be as versatile as the U-shaped pillow, it still caters to a wide variety of sleeping positions and people looking for pain and pressure point relief.

It is up to you how you want to place the J-shaped pillow as there are so many possibilities. You can place and tuck the long side of the pillow against your belly or your back. You can also place the curve of the J either under your head for neck support and shoulder alignment, or squeeze it between your legs for better body alignment and relieve sciatica, back or leg pain.

Rectangular

One of the most common types of body pillows is the rectangular pillow. It is suitable for most adults with an average height and weight and can easily be purchased online or from your local bedding stores.

The standard size for rectangular body pillows is 20 inches by 54 inches. These pillows aim to provide an overall relaxation and tranquility that suits the needs of any sleeper.

Custom rectangular pillows can be longer or thicker, depending on sleeper needs. Rectangular body pillows provide support for the back and front, depending on the sleep position. They ease pressure off the shoulders and spine when sleeping.

Simply wrap your arm around the pillow to relieve pressure from the shoulder. You can also tuck the length of it between your legs to ensure proper spinal alignment and keep your knees from aching later during the day. You can place it behind your back for support or hug it on the front for better weight distribution and blood circulation.

Cylindrical

Cylindrical body pillows are designed much like rectangular pillows, but thinner. This enables them to fit snugly on single, small beds whilst providing the same benefits as rectangular body pillows.

The main benefit of cylindrical body pillows is that they erase excessive pressure off the shoulders when sleeping on your side. If you wake up in the morning or during the middle of the night with your arm and shoulder sore with pins and needles, it is because you have a habit of sleeping on a particular side. This puts severe pressure on the pressed shoulder, cutting off proper blood supply.

By wrapping your arm around the cylindrical pillow and placing it snugly between your knees, you can ease the stress off your shoulders and enjoy a more comfortable sleep while sleeping on your side.

Body Pillow Uses

pregnant woman sleeping with a body pillow

There are a variety of ways you can use a body pillow depending on the pillow size, shape and the sleeper’s requirements. Though the general uses and benefits of body pillows remain the same and the result is improved sleep quality and less aches around the body.

You can use a body pillow to relieve any pressure points around the body which are often a result of mattresses that are too firm or if you have pre-existing conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia.

They are specifically designed to relieve excess pressure off your hips, spine and shoulders when sleeping at night. By placing a body pillow between your knees at night, the spine is naturally aligned and is not being pressed down by the weight of the torso.

Body pillows are used to significantly reduce sleep apnea and back aches. Resting your head on an elevated, soft surface clears your throat and airways, reducing sleep apnea and snoring.

Having the pillow between your knees also keeps your entire body in a relaxed state, supporting spinal alignment to relieve dull or severe backaches. It also helps sleepers suffering from sciatica or herniated discs. If you are a back pain sufferer, you can start sleeping with a body pillow for excellent pressure point relief.

Additionally, body pillows can be great stress relievers! They can be used to release the ‘trust hormone’, otherwise known as oxytocin which induces feelings of calm and tranquility. Hugging a body pillow reduces blood pressure and makes you feel protected and safe.

Overthinking about work, financial troubles or relationship anxieties can be eased with a body pillow, helping you sleep peacefully at night.

Sleepers who have a habit of tossing and turning in bed due to worrying thoughts or anxiety can find comfort by hugging a body pillow which can hold you in place and prevent you from rolling on to your stomach which may exacerbate discomfort and aches.

If you are pregnant, you can use your body pillow as a pregnancy pillow to cushion that growing belly and your lower back.

Body Pillow Positioning

Body pillows can be positioned in a variety of ways to increase comfort and relaxation levels. Pillows positioned in a lateral way can help keep your body in a more secure position and this is especially handy for sleepers who suffer from respiratory issues. Positioning your body pillow in a lateral way means that it is under your shoulder blades, as well as your neck.

When using a body pillow, you can also position it for sleeping semi-prone. This is when you line up your body pillow next to you in a vertical position and roll on top of it but only halfway. You can place your top leg and arm over the pillow for better weight distribution. This position helps sleepers who prefer sleeping on the side, but the pressure may cause pain.

You can also position your body pillow between your knees to relieve pressure off your spine. This is another great strategy if you are a side sleeper as it helps prevent the downward pull on your hips, keeping the knee and ankle in line with the hip. You can do this if you have recently undergone knee or hip surgery as it keeps you from rolling over into an uncomfortable position.

Alternatively, you can position the body pillow under your knees. Some sleepers prefer sleeping on their stomach due to back aches. You may like sleeping on your stomach with one leg bent up to the side, but this position may worsen back aches. You can place your body pillow along its length under your knees and ankles to offload the spine while sleeping on your stomach.

If you have recently undergone shoulder surgery, you may find it hard to lie on your back at night without adequate support as it causes the arm to fall back with the pull of gravity. This can be prevented by using a body pillow and positioning it under your arm or behind your arm to support your recovering shoulder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it good to sleep with a body pillow?

It is great to sleep with a body pillow because of its several health and lifestyle benefits. Body pillows can significantly help in reducing back aches, neck and shoulder pain, sleep apnea and snoring and even stress levels.

Depending on the shape and size of your body pillow and how you position it, you can notice several positive changes in your sleep cycles with a body pillow by your side, most notably better-quality sleep!

How to use a body pillow for back pain?

To relieve back pain, you can sleep with your body pillow by wrapping your arm around it to relieve pressure off your shoulder.

Alternatively, you can place it between your knees when sleeping on the side to maintain your spine’s alignment. Sleeping on the side can press the spine and hip down from the weight of the torso, but this position can help relieve it by offering adequate back support.

Avoid draping your entire leg over the body pillow as this may disturb the even weight distribution of the body and elevate the pain in your back.

Are body pillows good for side sleepers?

Body pillows are extremely helpful for side sleepers as they increase comfort levels without pressing hard on your shoulder. This reduces pain or chances of numbness and soreness in your shoulder.

Side sleepers may also experience pain in their hips and knees due to this sleeping position. A body pillow can prevent the upper shoulder from slouching during the night and keeps the pelvis in a more secure position by separating the knees to limit pressure. This can make a monumental difference in sleep quality and reduce dull aches around the shoulder and hip.

Jacob Rollings
Jacob is a pillow and bedding enthusiast who loves experimenting with new pillows and mattresses to help our readers make informed decisions. He possesses broad knowledge of quality bedding including comforters, bedsheets, mattresses, pillows, etc. Jacob experiments and tests new bedding accessories with meticulously researched and detailed, unbiased reviews to ensure that consumers get the most out of their investment. Having tested a variety of bedding items from mattress toppers, unique pillow fillings to comforters and more, Jacob’s know-how of the bedding industry runs deep and continues to expand.
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