How To Sleep With A Body Pillow
This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support , Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support , Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee in 2006.There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 86,043 times.
Body pillows are a great way for side sleepers to get a good nights sleep and feel comfortable while they do so! They are excellent items for anyone who has trouble sleeping on their side, has lower back issues, or for women who are pregnant. From extra back support, to total body alignment, learn how the right body pillow shape can give you ultimate comfort.
Supporting The Natural Spine Curve
While you sleep, the Proper Pillow helps support the natural curve of your neck called cervical lordosis. Ideally, this lies within 20â40 degrees when measured. The Proper Pillow serves as an additional tool to support the proper cervical alignment. In this example, the image shows a beautiful curve within this range.
How To Sleep Propped Up On Pillows
Take a large beach towel, roll it up and place it in the base of your pillow. The roll will provide a great place to rest the groove of your neck, keeping your spine in alignment. This roll will work if you are lying on your back or if you lay on your side and often works very well for people with neck pain.
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What To Consider When Purchasing A Pillow
You should consider many factors when pillow shopping. First, your personal sleep position preference heavily influences which pillows best fit your body. Of course, many shoppers are limited by a budget. Keep these factors at the forefront of your mind while examining your pillow options.
Learn each pillows loft and firmness level to determine if its a good option for you. Identify the materials each pillow is made of, if it has cooling properties, and if it will relieve pressure in your neck and shoulders.
In this section, we provide more information about the factors to consider when pillow shopping.
Best Pillow Sprays To Try
Looking for the best pillow sprays to try? Select a product from the list below.
- Thisworks Deep Sleep Pillow Spray : Made with lavender, chamomile, and vetivert , 98 percent of users surveyed felt more refreshed in the morning after using this spray.
- Asutra Lavender & Chamomile Aromatherapy Spray : Asutras pillow spray comes in multiple scent options and is made with vegan, nontoxic ingredients designed to help you relax and unwind.
- Moonlight Skincare Sleepy Spritzzz Facial Toner & Sleep Mist : This two-in-one product works for your face and your pillow. The witch hazel and aloe vera are great for acne-prone skin, while the chamomile and lavender essences create a calming fragrance for your pillow.
- DRMTLGY Linen Spray Lavender : Add this lavender pillow spray to your pillows and bedding each night to help relieve stress as you fall asleep. Other ingredients include chamomile, witch hazel, and jojoba oil.
- : Sephoras lavender and chamomile spray creates the perfect atmosphere for some shuteye.
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Who Could Best Benefit From A Contour Memory Foam Pillow
Contour is a popular choice of pillow for people with neck problems or people who sleep on their back. The pillow is a block of foam with a dipping groove in the middle. The groove makes two ridges on either side, and serves as a headrest and allows the ridges to support the neck while sleeping on your back.
Memory foam pillows work based on the heat from your body, softening into the ideal shape to support your head and neck. Its especially beneficial to those suffering pain in particular parts of the body.
One Pillow For Stomach Sleepers
This sleeping position is never recommended, but youll ultimately fall asleep and stay asleep in the position that is most comfortable for you. If you happen to be a stomach sleeper, then one thin pillow is the best option . The less angled your neck and back are, the better for your overall health.
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What Pillow Sizes Are Available
Pillows come in a variety of sizes to fit beds of different sizes and people of different body weights and sleeping habits. Pillow size can be as important as firmness and loft when it comes to finding the pillow that best fits you.
- Standard: Standard pillows measure 20 inches wide by 26 inches long. Standard pillows are the smallest, and therefore the least expensive, pillows on the market today. They are also the most commonly sold pillows.
- Super Standard: Super Standard pillows measure 20 inches wide by 28 inches long. Like standard pillows, they are usually used one per twin or full bed, and two per larger bed. Super Standard pillows provide 2 more inches of length for sleepers who need it due to head size, body weight, or propensity to move during the night.
- Queen: Queen pillows measure 20 inches wide by 30 inches long, 2 inches longer than Super Standard pillows. Queen pillows give extra room to sleepers who tend to toss and turn throughout the night or find themselves slipping off of smaller pillows.
- King: King pillows measure 20 inches wide by 36 inches long. King pillows are much larger than most pillows, measuring 10 inches longer than standard pillows and 6 inches longer than queen pillows. King pillows work well with king beds and larger sleepers.
- Body Pillow: Body pillow dimensions vary, though 48 or 54 inches wide by 20 inches long are common sizes. Body pillows are meant to be hugged. Side sleepers and pregnant women tend to most enjoy them.
Why Is Back Sleeping Uncomfortable For Some
Some people find back sleeping to be uncomfortable, and they would rather sleep on their side or stomach. Sleep position choices are a matter of personal preference, but they can also result from the type of mattress and pillow a person owns.
If you have an old mattress and pillow, that might contribute to discomfort while back sleeping. Choosing a mattress that properly supports back sleeping may make this position more comfortable for you. Additionally, if your pillows are old or unsupportive, there is a good chance that your neck is not in alignment with your spine when you are lying on your back. Using a pillow ideal for back sleepers helps keep your spine aligned while you sleep.
However, back sleeping may increase pain for some sleepers. Experimenting with sleeping positions can help you find what works for you.
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How Do You Sleep On A Contour Pillow
This will vary according to your sleeping position. If you sleep on your stomach, it is not recommended that you use a contour pillow. This is because you may not be able to breathe correctly through the night. If you do decide to use a contour pillow, you should sleep with the lower ridge towards your chest. This helps to keep your head close to the mattress and keep your spine in alignment. This also helps to reduce the pressure that is put onto your lower back.
If you sleep on your back then a contour pillow is good to provide neck support. You are aiming to fill the gap between your neck and the mattress. This will support your upper back and neck. The higher ridge should be as close to your shoulder as possible, and you should try to keep your back relatively straight.
If you sleep on your side, this is the ideal pillow for you. Rest your neck on the lower ridge of the pillow, ensuring the side touches your shoulder. This helps to keep your neck in a natural position and reduces the spinal stress you encounter while sleeping.
You can also purchase contour pillows for your legs. These are placed in between your calves and knees. They have been shown to reduce lower back pain and muscular tension, reduce stress on your hips, and also provide cushioning for your joints. They force your pelvis and spine into alignment and are ideal for people who sleep on their side.
Benefits Of Sleeping On Your Back
Many people experience benefits from sleeping on their back. Sleeping on your back can promote spinal alignment, as long as your mattress and pillow are supportive. If you struggle with heartburn or acid reflux, sleeping on your back with your head elevated can reduce symptoms.
Sleeping on your back has not been shown to contribute to wrinkles like other sleep positions might. When side or stomach sleeping, your face presses against your pillow. This pressure can lead to fine lines and wrinkles.
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Pillows For Each Sleep Position
Ones sleep position will dictate how a traditional mattress top pillow can be used to provide the appropriate support.
- Using a pillow while sleeping on ones back. When lying on the back, a pillow should support the natural curvature of the cervical spine, with adequate support under the head, neck, and shoulders. When sleeping on the back, the height of the pillow should be lower than in the sideways position. Placing a pillow or two beneath the knees further alleviates any back strain, and is the gentlest position on the back.
- Using a pillow while sleeping on ones side. When lying on ones side, a pillow should support the head and neck such that the spine maintains a straight and natural horizontal line. Weight should be evenly distributed so as not to create unnatural bending or pressure. Some people may prefer placing a small pillow or rolled up towel under their waist while lying on the side for additional support.
- Using a pillow while sleeping on ones stomach. If sleeping or resting on the stomach is preferred, the pillow should be relatively flat, or the head should rest directly on the mattress, so that the head and neck arent turned unnaturally to either side. In this position, it is often best to place another relatively flat pillow under the stomach to help the spine keep its natural alignment.
View Our Pillow Selection and choose the right pillow for you.
What Are The Potential Pros Of Sleeping Without A Pillow
Pillows help cushion your head and support the natural curvature of your neck. Most sleepers need a pillow to maintain neutral spine alignment.
However, some sleepers find that a pillow negatively affects their posture and overall comfort. For stomach sleepers, a lofty pillow can force the neck into an unnatural angle that can cause neck pain and interfere with quality sleep. Research on this topic is limited, but anecdotal reports suggest sleeping without a pillow may benefit some stomach sleepers.
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Benefits & Disadvantages Of Stomach Sleeping
Stomach sleeping has pros and cons you should consider before committing to this posture. The first benefit of stomach sleeping is the ability to reduce snoring. While on your belly, your airways stay open, which could help reduce snoring. This way, sleeping on your stomach may also help manage mild sleep apnea.
With regards to disadvantages, you should remember that stomach sleeping is bad for your back. This position makes it harder to maintain good spine alignment because your midsection is more apt to sink into your bed. However, a highly supportive mattress can help with this, which is why firmer beds are usually recommended for stomach sleepers. Another con to this sleep style is potential neck pain because your head must always be turned to the side, rather than aligned with the rest of your spine. Furthermore, if you have a pillow with a higher loft, this could worsen neck pain. Last, stomach sleeping is uncomfortable during pregnancy. Sleeping on your belly may not be dangerous for the baby, but youll find it harder on the spine as your stomach grows.
What’s The Best Pillow For Stomach Sleepers
The best pillow for stomach sleepers is one that’s soft and thin. Or, you can go without a pillow. Stomach sleeping can put unnecessary strain on your neck and backand a thick, firm pillow can put even more strain on your neck.
As a stomach sleeper, you may want to place a pillow under your pelvis to help keep your back in a more neutral position and take pressure off your spine.
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What Is The Best Type Of Pillow For Stomach Sleepers
Some experts suggest avoiding stomach sleeping altogether, as it tends to position the upper cervical spine at end-range rotation or extension. However, for stomach sleepers who can’t sleep any other way it is recommended you find a pillow with low loft, soft support and a compressible fill like feathers or down alternatives
Are Soft Or Hard Pillows Better For Sleeping
You might prefer your pillow to have a specific feel but dont forget to take your sleeping position into account. Soft pillows are ideal for stomach sleepers, while side sleepers typically do better with firmer pillows. Back sleepers may want to consider medium-firm pillows for the best support.
When shopping for the right pillow, youll want to consider more than just size and type. Keep these important elements in mind:
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Pillows Placed Under The Knees:
Some people who have back pain feel best laying on their stomach, some on their stomach with one leg bent up to the side, and some people feel best on their back with the legs elevated. Placing pillows the long way under your knees and ankles can offload the spine, when laying on your back, providing good pain relief. This is also a good position for those who are told they have to sleep on their back after a variety of surgeries.
The Benefits Of Sleeping On Your Back
As discussed there are so many benefits to sleeping face-up. Its considered one of the healthiest ways to sleep based on the below.
- Great for spine health: Sleeping on your back keeps your head, neck, and spine in a neutral position. This creates less pressure in those areas and will result in you waking up in less pain .
- Reduces acid reflux: If you experience acid reflux, sleeping on your back can prevent this. Just make sure you are elevating your head enough you want your esophagus to be above your stomach.
- Avoids wrinkles and fine lines: While there is minimal evidence, some studies have identified a link between the way you sleep and wrinkles. When you sleep on your side or stomach, your face ends up smashed into a pillow which can cause you to develop wrinkles over time. Sleeping face-up can prevent you from tossing and turning all night and could lower your chances of developing fine lines.
- Less puffy eyes: Sleeping on your back will prevent too much blood from pooling under your eyes while you sleep, resulting in you waking up with less puffy eyes.
- Relieves sinus buildup: If youre sick and are experiencing sinus pain and congestion, sleeping face-up can help with congestion relief. Sleeping on your back with your head above your heart can decrease mucus build-up and will prevent a large amount of blood flow from gathering in your nose.
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Sleeping In The Fetal Position
This position may benefit pregnant women since it promotes circulation for both the mother and the fetus.
If sleeping like this bothers your hips, try putting a cushion between your knees to reduce strain.
It is crucial to remember, however, that the fetal position is not encouraged. Even though the body is positioned on the side, the spines excessive curvature can create tension and discomfort in the neck and back.
Pillow cuddling has the same physiological effect as embracing a significant someone. It causes the release of oxytocin in the brain, which can relieve pain, improve the immune system, and reduce stress.
The fetal position offers several advantages. Sleeping in the fetal position is not only beneficial for lower back discomfort or pregnancy, but it can also assist reduce snoring.
If you wish to make the fetal position more comfortable, curl up with a loose and relaxed posture. You may even try sleeping with a pillow between your knees if you keep your legs moderately stretched.
Should You Sleep With Head And Feet Elevated
To get the best benefits of sleeping with the head elevated, experts suggest you should aim to sleep with your head raised about six to nine inches above your heart. This might feel very odd at first, which could result in you being unable to get to sleep until your body adjusts to the new position.
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A Good Pillow Is Designed To Keep The Spine In Natural Alignment
The human neck curves slightly forward , and it is very important to maintain this curve when in a resting position. If the height of the pillow is too high when sleeping sideways or on the back, the neck is bent abnormally forward or to the side, causing muscle strain on the back of the neck and shoulders. This type of position may also cause narrowing of the air pipe, resulting in obstructed breathing, and sometimes snoring, which can hinder sleep. Conversely, if the height of the pillow is too low, the neck muscles can also be strained.
Based on the bodys measurements and personal preference, the pillow should maintain a height of 4 to 6 inches, properly supporting the head and neck .