Body pillows are extra long pillows designed to support sensitive areas of the body. People use body pillows to improve spinal alignment and for more pressure point relief.
Generally, these pillows are an excellent choice for side sleepers and pregnant women. However, a body pillow is still a good investment for all kinds of sleepers because they mold to your curves. In this article, we take a look at different types of body pillows available for purchase.
Types of Body Pillows
A standard body pillow measures 20 inches by 54 inches and is available in different shapes and sizes. Body pillows provide support in sensitive areas like your shoulders, neck, and back.
Body pillows may be as long as 6 feet and weigh up to ten pounds. Your pillow size and weight are determined by its shape and fill type.
The most common body pillow shapes are rectangular or cylindrical. These pillows are usually standard size, while U and J-shaped pillows offer full body comfort.
Some pillows are larger than average and might take up a lot of space. It’s best to do extensive research to ensure the pillow meets your sleep needs and fits comfortably on your bed.
You can find rectangular body pillows in bedding stores or online. They are average-sized and don’t take up too much space, making them suitable for most adults.
Wrapping your arms around a rectangular pillow reduces tension on your shoulders. Sleepers can also place these pillows between their knees to maintain the spine’s neutral alignment.
Cylindrical pillows require less space than rectangular pillows, but they offer the same comforts. They are narrow and make an excellent option for sleepers who share a bed or have limited space. Some cylindrical pillows can be as long as 60 inches long, so they may offer full body support.
U-shaped pillows offer full-body support, providing cushioning for your neck, shoulders, back. They are a favorite among pregnant women because they prevent rolling into the back. U-shaped pillows are usually larger than cylindrical or rectangular pillows and are better suited for queen or king beds.
J-shaped pillows are another type of full body pillow, but they are much smaller than a U-shaped pillow. They are also another excellent choice for pregnant women since they provide maximum pressure relief and keep your body aligned.
While you’re browsing for a body pillow, you will probably notice the different fill materials available. The fill material inside the pillow determines its firmness, breathability, and price.
Natural materials like down feathers with a higher price tag, while the polyester blend is more budget-friendly options and hypoallergenic.
Down refers to the soft feathers beneath the underbelly of ducks or geese. This filing is the warmest and softest fill type but is also the most expensive. Purchasing down or feather pillows may not be the best for people prone to allergies. Sometimes dust particles cling to down and trigger an allergic reaction.
Down Alternatives and Polyester
Polyester blends are an alternative to natural fills. They are a better choice for allergy sufferers since they are manufactured with synthetic material. Additionally, they are a more affordable option if your budget is tight.
Memory foam use body heat to soften your pillow and conform to your shape. These pillows have a dense structure that provides pressure relief for more zoned support. The downside of memory foam is it can cause sleepers to overheat at night.
Memory foam traps heat and moisture in your pillow and isn’t as breathable as other fill options. Hot sleepers should try shredded memory foam, gel-infused memory foam, or latex to stay cool.
Latex pillows are a soft, eco-friendly choice. Natural latex is made from rubber tree sap and goes through a low-waste and sustainable manufacturing process. This material is bouncy, and it might even last longer than memory foam. The structure of latex is firmer than memory foam and can last up to 15 years.
Who Should Sleep With a Body Pillow?
Body pillows help all types of sleepers achieve restorative sleep. Typically, side sleepers and pregnant women benefit from using body pillows since they provide cushioning to help you sleep more comfortably. Other individuals look to body pillows for maximum pressure point relief.
Side sleepers place a lot of pressure on their shoulders and hips, which may cause tension in these areas. Placing a body pillow between the knees keeps the pelvis aligned with your spine. This reduces the chances of lower back pain or muscle tension.
Wrapping your arms around a body pillow eases the pressure off of your shoulders by providing more cushioning. Body pillows curve to fit the shape of your body, providing appropriate support in sensitive regions of your body. Sleeping with a body pillow can eliminate a few risks of side sleeping, joint, and lower back pain.
It’s common for side sleepers to sleep on their right side or tightly curled up. Body pillows make it easier to transition to the left side and promote healthier sleep.
Most body pillows are created with moms-to-be in mind. During pregnancy, there is a higher concentration of weight in the midsection. Back sleeping is not recommended for pregnant women because it compresses major blood vessels and disrupts blood flow.
Side sleeping is encouraged after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy since this position eases pressure points and promotes better blood circulation. Body Pillows for pregnancy help support the weight of a growing belly and alleviate pressure on the lower back.
Back Pain Sufferers
Placing a body pillow between your legs maintains spinal alignment and potentially eases back pain. Back pain stems from many things such as aging, medical conditions, and poor sleeping positions. C- and U-Shaped body pillows offer extra support for your back to prevent pain.
Snorers and Sleep Apnea Patients
Side sleep is a healthy position because it lessens the symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side or back might aggravate your breathing problems, making it harder to receive restorative rest. Pillows for sleep apnea may help you get used to sleeping on your side.
Do body pillows help with anxiety?
Some researchers believe body pillows help with anxiety, particularly when you hug your pillow. According to the National Library of Medicine, studies show hugging reduces blood cortisol levels, providing relief from stress and anxiety.
When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol commonly referred to as a stress hormone. As your cortisol levels rise, it increases your blood pressure and heart rate, making it difficult for you to fall asleep. So, there is a possibility hugging your body pillow will decrease levels of cortisol, thus making you feel more relaxed.
How do you wash a body pillow?
Body pillows are difficult to wash due to their size. Large body pillows may be too big for your washer and dryer, so it might be better to take them to a laundromat.
Another option is to hand wash your body pillows in a bathtub with warm water and a mild detergent. Memory foam and latex mattresses should always be hand washed because washing machines tend to damage these materials.
Before washing your body pillow, carefully read the instructions on the pillow’s tag. This tag will let you know what materials make up the product and filling and how you should wash your pillow. It’s best to wash your body pillow once every three or four months. We also suggest using a pillow cover to protect your pillow from sweat, debris, and other oils to reduce frequent washing.
What is the best body pillow for pregnant women?
The best pregnancy pillows are U-shaped or J-shaped. U-shaped pillows prevent pregnant women from rolling on their backs. J-shapes offer the same comfort, but they are smaller in size and fit on your bed easier. Ultimately, your personal preference will determine which item is the best for your sleep needs.
What material is best for a pillowcase?
Cotton pillowcases are the best choice because this material is soft and made from natural fibers. These pillow cases are usually affordable and do not contain harsh chemicals, making them a great option for allergy sufferers. There are also organic cotton options available to accommodate green-conscious shoppers.
If I am pregnant, when should I start sleeping on my side?
At around 20 weeks of pregnancy, the belly starts to expand, causing pain in the ligaments and other parts of the body due to the increase in weight. This is a good time to start side sleeping, which is easier with a body pillow. You can even try sleeping on your side during the early stages of your pregnancy to make the transition easier.
While you are browsing for a new body pillow, you’ll want to consider a couple of factors before you make a purchase. If you are a hotter sleeper, it’s best to avoid pillows with down or polyster fillings. These fill types retain a lot of heat and cause sleepers to wake up feeling sweaty.
You’ll also want to keep the length of the pillow in mind. Some pillows are longer than others, and your sleeping space might be a bit crowded if you purchase an extra large one. Smaller pillows are a better choice because they provide comfort without falling off your bed.
Chris was a psychiatrist and neurologist with board certification in sleep medicine Clinical Associate Professor at the University of California. For over 10 years, he served and helped patients at Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital with their sleeping disorders.
After suffered from sleep disorders for years, Chris has been passionate about sleep health ever since. He wants to help others sleep better and wanted to make the world of sleep easy to understand for everyday people.