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Achieving maximum comfort while you’re in bed is important for a good night’s sleep. Not only is sleep important for your health and wellbeing, but the right position and accessories can aid in pressure relief. In this article, we’re answering the following question: what is a body pillow?
What Is a Body Pillow?
Body pillows are long, large pillows that are designed to be cradled between your legs if you like to sleep on your side. If you know how to use a body pillow, it can help improve spinal alignment and provides pressure point relief in your body.
The Benefits of Body Pillows
So what’s the big deal with body pillows, and why’s it worth investing your money in one? Below are some of the main benefits of regularly using a body pillow while you sleep.
The comfort that a body pillow brings you can help to lower your heart rate, helping you fall asleep quicker. The hugging action used with a body pillow releases a hormone called oxytocin, the body’s natural hormone for calming the nervous system and feeling stress-free.
If you live with someone who snores every night, a body pillow is a must-have for them because these pillows can significantly reduce snoring—a benefit to everyone at home.
Great for Pregnant Women
You can also use body pillows as pregnancy pillows, providing comfort, support, and relief for pregnant women sleeping on their sides. These pregnancy pillows work by allowing you to sleep on your side and balance your stomach and back to create a more comfortable position.
Help With Back Pain
Many back pain sufferers struggle to sleep at night because the aches and pains can keep them up all night. If you experience back pain regularly, place a body pillow between your knees to adjust the spine and limbs in a more natural position to bring relief from lower back pain and even sciatica.
But you don’t have to be in immense pain to use a body pillow; instead, they can provide long relaxation while you’re in bed. A body pillow helps create the sensation of hugging someone, which produces more oxygen in your cells and tissues, helping to support healthy blood circulation.
The Different Types of Body Pillows
Below is a list of the different types of body pillows you can use, depending on your needs and preference.
An I-shaped body pillow is long and used to support your knees, thus, offering relief from back and neck pain. These body pillows also help increase muscle relaxation and are great for those who sleep in a small bed.
One of the most common body pillows is a U-shaped pillow. These easily wrap around the body and allow your head to rest on the top. While you’re sleeping, place one arm of the body pillow along your front with the other arm down your back.
A U-shaped pillow allows you to sleep on your back and on your right and left sides. A huge benefit of a U-shaped body pillow is not fidgeting around as much in bed while also having a convenient sitting position while you’re reading upright in bed. They’re also very large, so you might need to consider if your bed is large enough to accommodate this larger size.
A C-shaped pillow supports both your knees and neck. They fit perfectly between the knees and are used to provide relief from back pain. Best of all, this type of body pillow is great for various-sized and shaped beds.
J-shaped body pillows provide a comfortable place to rest your head on one side while wrapping your arms on another side, helping to keep your body aligned. This might also be the right body pillow for you if you snore, as it encourages you to sleep on your side.
Things to Consider When Buying a Body Pillow
Now that you’re aware of the different types of body pillows available on the market, it’s time to consider the most important factors during the buying process. Below are the main features to keep in mind.
The first thing you’ll want to know is the type of body pillow (based on the ones we mentioned earlier) that you’ll want to buy. For example, a U- and C-shaped body pillow provides full-body support, whereas rectangular pillows offer more cushioning and one-sided support.
There are many fill materials to bear in mind that can make a difference in your body pillow’s quality and comfort level. In particular, the materials affect the breathability, support, and feel. Throughout the buying process, you’ll discover several types of filling: foam, latex, polyester, and down. Furthermore, there is even a shredded memory foam option too.
Once you’ve decided on the body pillow design and fill material for your body pillow, it’s time to consider the right size for your bed and your needs. Most organic body pillows measure around 48 to 54 inches in length. If you’re short, you might want to consider a shorter, natural pillow, whereas taller people or those looking for cushioning and support around their knees will want to choose a thicker body pillow.
Additionally, the width makes a big difference to your comfort levels. A narrow pillow, for example, is great for a sleeper who wants to use a body pillow to wrap their arm around it. On the other hand, a wider design might be the right pillow for sleepers who prefer to sleep more elevated.
Most pillows weigh between 5 and 7 pounds, but you might be able to find lighter and heavier options on the market. What weight is best for you? Well, if you want to use the pillow for just one arm or leg, a lightweight option will be appropriate and maybe even more comfortable. Lighter designs are also easier to move around the bed, making them great for fidget sleepers.
Alternatively, a heavier body pillow is preferred if you want the sensation of more security and to feel like you’re being protected. Most body pillows on the heavier end of the spectrum remain firmly in place, so there are no issues about them shifting towards the end of the bed throughout the night.
Aside from the fill material and weight, you’ll also want to consider the best body pillow for you based on firmness. Some people might prefer a more supportive body pillow, whereas others might wish for a softer, more plush design that’s softer on the skin.
Consider your personal preference and comfort levels when making this choice while also keeping in mind the level of support you’re looking for. In particular, you can’t expect a great amount of back support if the pillow isn’t memory foam or firm.
Additionally, if you prefer having a pillow sleep by your side for you to wrap your arms around, similar to hugging a person, we recommend a firmer option. Alternatively, choose a cushy pillow if you’d prefer to feel like your body is melting in the fabric.
Pressure Point Relief
Finally, keep in mind how much pressure you have in your body—including your joints. Body pillows are excellent for improving spinal alignment and reducing pain in the hips, shoulders, and neck. If these factors are essential for you—rather than searching for a pillow that you can cradle at night—then opt for one with pressure point relief that presses your knees together while you sleep.
Do You Own a Body Pillow?
What is a body pillow? The answer to the question is simple. A body pillow is a larger type of pillow that offers pressure relief while adhering to various sleep positions. Once you learn how to use one and which shape to get, we are sure you will enjoy a great night’s sleep with one in your bed.
If you have any experience using a body pillow, including recommended models, share your feedback in the comments!
Amy is a U.K.-based writer and editor with a penchant for helping consumers find the best home products for their needs, as well as providing easily digestible guides for living better at home. Her dedication to her work means she can usually be found elbow-deep in research or hunting down samples of the latest and greatest on behalf of her readers.
An avid DIYer herself, Amy’s passion lies in teaching others how they too can achieve their dream homes by tackling some of those pesky projects themselves! Whether it’s building furniture from scratch or turning an old dresser into a coffee table, Amy is always happy to share what she knows about making your house feel like home without spending a fortune.