Many people have heard that sleeping with a pillow placed under their knees can help relieve back or neck pain. This has been an old wives’ tale for years, but is it actually true?
While this is not for everyone, some people have experienced relief from sleeping on their sides or backs while also placing pillows beneath their knees. This allows the pillow to support the natural curvature of your spine and take pressure off of anyone’s point in your back.
It doesn’t hurt to try out before you take medications or change your lifestyle in order to feel better. If this does work for you, natural remedies are always the best way to go because they are usually much cheaper and have less side effects than medication.
And it’s important to note that pillows aren’t always a great ally to our sleep. There are instances where pillows are actively harmful for us.
In this article, we are going to analyze the benefits of sleeping with a pillow under your knees, and if it works in all positions. We’ll also see what are the best pillows for the job.
The Science behind Sleeping with a Pillow under Your Knees
Editor’s note: This is specific to back sleepers. If you sleep on your side or your stomach, we suggest a different solution later on.
Our spine has a natural curvature. It looks like a squeezed S. By sleeping with a pillow under your knees; you help the body support this curvature.
The benefits of sleeping in a good position are:
- Natural position of the spine. Sleeping with a pillow under the knees has helped relieve many causes of back and neck pain. This position allows us to support our natural curvature, as well as take pressure off your back. Sleeping on your side is also very helpful for people who suffer from acid reflux or heartburn. It can also help with congestion if you have a cold.
- Better blood circulation because you’re not lying in a funny way for hours and your head is higher than other parts of your body (heart included). This also prevents any issues like night leg cramps or heartburn.
- It helps your body disperse weight. This prevents your muscles from overworking and thus becoming tense. If you sleep in a bad position, your muscles will have to work during the night to keep your body from falling apart. That’s what causes stiff muscles in the morning.
Lying on your back, the pillow is placed under one or both knees to support and align with the natural curvature of your lower back. This will help reduce any pressure points that you may experience while sleeping in this position.
Note: You should avoid sleeping with pillows under your knees if you are pregnant because it could cause discomfort and even alter your baby’s position, so talk to your doctor before trying this at home.
What about side and Stomach Sleepers?
Sleeping with a pillow between your legs when lying on either your right or left side is most beneficial because it will support the natural curvature of your spine.
When lying on your stomach, there is no need to place a pillow under either knee, as this position naturally aligns the spine and hips. However, if you prefer sleeping with pillows under both knees (which can be more comfortable), then it can help to keep the spine in a neutral position.
Best Practices to Sleep with a Pillow Under Knees
Finding the perfect position for you will take a couple of minutes. Start by laying on the bed, and place the pillow directly under your knees. Make sure your feet and rear are laying on the bed. You don’t want to create a bridge effect, as that will make your sleep uncomfortable and stiffen your muscles.
Thin pillows are the best for the job. Avoid thick ones, as they are likely to cause the bridge effect. They’ll also dislocate your spine, neutralizing the benefits of using pillows to sleep with your knees up.
To make the pillow support even more effective, I recommend you cover both of your knees and calves with a thin blanket or a duvet cover. This will keep your legs warm and heat the lower part of your body, helping blood circulation even further.
If you find your feet hanging from the bed, you can use a second pillow to support them.
Another great option is sleeping with a body pillow between your legs if you prefer sleeping on either side. This will help keep the natural curvature of your spine and take pressure off any one point in your back.
Last but not least, sleep on a comfortable mattress. It is the foundation of your bed and will affect how you feel in the morning. A high-quality, supportive mattress can help reduce back pain and pressure points caused by poor sleeping positions or aches that come with aging.
What Pillow Type is Best for Sleeping with Knees?
There are many pillows designed specifically to be placed under the knees, such as those with a cut out in order to support your lower back.
If you would prefer not using specialized pillows and only use what’s already available on your bed, that’s ok for the time being. If you feel like sleeping with a pillow under your knees is beneficial, you can always upgrade later.
Bedding has developed. Back in the days, choices were limited. Now, with all the options available on the market, finding the right one can feel challenging.
Here are the best materials for pillows that go under your knees.
- Memory Foam. They come in all shapes and sizes so you can find one that suits your needs. Try to get one with a cutout, or buy the cover separately
- Feathers pillow filled with both down feathers and synthetic fibers (so it’s hypoallergenic). It is very soft but also supportive because of its natural filling which
- Buckwheat Hulls. Another great option for those who want a firm pillow that will maintain its shape and support the spine during sleep.
Firm pillows are ideal, but be sure to check if they have been covered in dust mites, as this can lead to allergies or asthma attacks. You should also avoid polyester filled pillows because they are known to cause acne.
As you can see, there are many pillows that may benefit all kinds of sleepers in this way or the other. If you’re only going to get one type, though, we would recommend Memory Foam since it’s so versatile and easy to find.
You can use any of these pillows to keep your knees supported by placing them between, under or behind the legs. The only rule is that you need to try it for yourself and see what works best.
As you can see, there are many different types of pillows that may benefit all kinds of sleepers in this way or the other. If you’re only going to get one type though, we would recommend Memory Foam since it’s so versatile and easy to find.
A good pillow should be around the same weight as your head, or slightly heavier. Too light and it won’t offer enough support; too heavy and it will be uncomfortable. The sweet spot is at least three pounds per square foot.
The heavier the pillow, the better support it offers your knees, which in turn improves your sleeping position. Spine support is one of the big reasons we sleep with pillows under our knees. It is important to offer our knees the right amount of support.
When sleeping with pillows under your knees make sure that they are not too thick and high as this could cause hip and back pain.
Using a thin pillow is best, especially for stomach sleepers, since you don’t want to feel like your legs are being pushed together too much or that your hips aren’t aligned properly. You can also use two thin pillows instead of one thick one if need be.
Pillows on the market come in many shapes. Which ones are the best for you? It depends on your sleeping position.
Back sleepers should use rounded or cylindrical pillows to place the pillow beneath their knees. Hourglass and heart-shaped pillows are meant to fit between your legs as you sleep on your side. A body cushion is also an option for side sleepers.
You’ll want to consider your hip size when picking the right pillow to support a neutral alignment. Heart-shaped cushions are usually smaller than hourglass pillows, so individuals with narrower hips may find them more comfortable.
What about sleeping without pillows?
There are some people who dislike sleeping with pillows under their knees, or simply cannot.
If you prefer to sleep without a pillow at all, then try placing your legs on top of each other, as this will help maintain the natural curvature of your spine and avoid any added pressure points. Some may find that by doing this, they wake up with a bit of back pain, even if they prefer sleeping without pillows.
Sleepers who like to sleep on their stomach often find that by placing one pillow under the chest and another between the legs can help maintain proper alignment. If this isn’t comfortable for you, it is recommended to try using just one pillow instead.
Also Read: Should You Sleep Without Pillow?
Sleeping with a pillow under your knees offers many health benefits. If you sleep with one you should do it, there are no downsides to it and many upsides. That said, it is perfectly understandable if you feel like the pillow under your knees is hampering your sleep. Some people just prefer to lie down flat on their bed.
Before concerning yourself with things like blood circulation, make sure you sleep well. Poor sleep is associated with many health conditions, and it’s not worth losing it over a pillow placement.
Always prioritize sleep over everything else. If you aren’t feeling comfortable with a pillow under your knees, remove it. Though you should give it at least a week before taking a decision. It takes a bit for the body to get used to your new sleeping situation.