Sleep is kind of like a choose your own adventure novel: Where one person feels most comfortable lying on their sides, another may prefer lying flat out on their stomachs. Others still may simply flop down on their back and call it a day. But each sleeping position has its downfalls — at least without a body pillow on hand to alleviate potential pain points.
What is a body pillow?
A body pillow, also known as a dakimakura in Japan, is an oversized pillow that’s designed to improve your spinal alignment and relieve tension from pressure as you sleep. Depending on the model you choose to sleep with, your spine, neck, legs, knees, back, and stomach can all benefit from its support.
Body Pillow Benefits
With the right body pillow, you can alleviate some of the pressure points that may cause you pain as you doze. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center suggest that people who sleep on their backs should place a pillow under their knees to lessen stress on the spine, while stomach-sleepers may benefit from a body pillow that’s placed under the stomach and pelvis to prevent pain in the neck, back, or joints. Side-sleepers, meanwhile, can use the support between their knees to take tension off of the hips.
A good rule of thumb? Anywhere there’s a gap between your body and the mattress is a good place to put some cushion.
The benefits of these pillows are more than physical, however. While most of us remember hugging a favorite stuffed animal to sleep, we tend to let our teddy bears fall to the wayside as we age. But that instinct to wrap our arms around something soft never really goes away — especially for the estimated 40 million adults in the US who suffer from anxiety, for which hugging a pillow can be very soothing, according to Stephanie Silberman, a clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep.
“People are very routine-oriented,” Silberman told Vice in 2017. “If they do things in a typical way and they grab a pillow every night, it’s very comforting to them.”
The Best Body Pillow for You
Want to add a body pillow but your nighttime routine, but not sure which one is best for you? We’ve got you covered with nine different options that are bound to work for you, no matter preferred sleeping position. Keep scrolling to see FIRST for Women’s picks for the best body pillows around.
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Best Memory Foam Body Pillow
Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Body Pillow
Where to buy: $69.99, Amazon
This top-rated body pillow, which has close to 5,000 ratings on Amazon, is made with breathable, hypoallergenic fabric on the outside to keep you cool, while shredded memory foam on the inside ensures it won't go flat. It also provides extra support through the hips, knees, or stomach, making it a great choice to ease a variety of aches and pains. Better yet, with a 120-night "love it or send it back" policy and a 20-year warranty, you can be sure it's built to last.
Best Luxury Body Pillow
REMarkable Cashmere Memory Foam Body Pillow
Where to buy: $396, Macy's
Splurge on this luxe pillow that comes covered in buttery cashmere. Made with memory foam, it reduces pressure on joints, while also cradling your head for a peaceful night's sleep. You can turn it over to be left- or right-facing — it will evenly distribute heat to keep you comfortable no matter which side you choose. Even better? Unlike your favorite cashmere sweater, it's fully machine washable.
Best Heated Body Pillow
Sunbeam Heated Body Pillow
Where to buy: From $69.99, Amazon
Aches and pains keeping you up at night? This quilted pillow from Sunbeam will act like a heating pad for your whole body, easing tension with its three different gentle heat settings while supporting your body through the lower back and hips. It's perfect for side- and stomach-sleepers and has a super-soft 200 thread count. A pillow case not included, but at 54 X 20 inches, it will fit most standard body pillow cases.
Best Pregnancy Body Pillow
Leachco Snoogle Body Pillow
Where to buy: $72.99, Amazon
Designed by a mother who is also a nurse, this pillow's curve gives you a place to rest your head while also supporting your stomach, hips, and knees that makes it perfect for pregnancy. It will also provide support long after the postpartum period has ended.
Raved one happy reviewer, "I love the way you can turn to one side for back support and then to other if you need leg support and it cradles you so nicely."
Best Body Pillow for Lounging
Pom Pom at Home Montauk Body Pillow
Where to buy: From $279, Nordstrom
Like to curl up on the couch and binge the new season of your favorite series, but have trouble getting comfy? This linen body pillow is perfect for the sofa and adds a pop of color to any room. Machine-washable, like most of our picks, it comes in terra cotta or charcoal hues.
Best Latex Body Pillow
Organic Shredded Latex Body Pillow with Plush Bamboo Cover
Where to buy: $129.95, Amazon
If you prefer a latex body pillow, this one is made of organic, spiral-shaped pieces that lend it a feather-light feeling while still responding to your body like memory foam. Better yet, its bamboo cover is antimicrobial and hypoallergenic, keeping it free from germs and allergens that could otherwise interrupt your slumber.
Best Microbead Body Pillow
Mooshi Microbead Body Pillow
Where to buy: From $47.47 (Originally $62.19), Walmart
Available in a rainbow of fun colors, this squishy body pillow is especially great for kids. It feels like a bean bag, so it's lightweight, flexible, and offers support for sleeping, reading, or watching TV.
Best Body Pillow for Knees
Where to buy: From $19.99, Amazon
OK, this one's technically not a full-on body pillow, but hear us out: If you're a side-sleeper who suffers from sciatic nerve pain, this pillow will be a lifesaver. It's meant to keep your legs and knees aligned and supported, taking the pressure off of sore spots. If you've had a hip or knee replacement, this physical therapist-endorsed pillow is a must-have item.
Best Walmart Body Pillow
Cozy Classics Quilted Body Pillow
Where to buy: $41 (Originally $66.99), Walmart
Gusseting sets this body pillow apart, keeping its 100 percent hypo-allergenic gel-fiber fill from bunching up or shifting to offer next level comfort and durability.
One reviewer wrote that it helped her stop tossing and turning so much at night and sleep more soundly. Sounds good to us!