Best Body Pillows for Back Support
If you’re experiencing some problems with your back, it’s important to find the right kind of support. Pillows play a crucial role in promoting good posture and spinal cord health. Whether you’ve suffered an injury or dealing with discomfort while sleeping, having some kind of back support can help you immensely.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the best body pillows for back support and offering some handy tips on the best ways to use them.
What is a body pillow?
Body pillows are a long and narrow pillow style that is primarily designed to improve spinal alignment, relieve pressure points, and ultimately give you a better night's sleep. The style requires users to sleep on their sides and cradle the pillow between their legs.
Benefits of using a body pillow
Depending on the reason for your back pain, there are several benefits to using a body pillow:
- It alleviates back pain
One of the main benefits of using a body pillow is for back support. The structure of the pillow works to keep your spine in an optimal position which can, in turn, reduce pain for those with spinal cord issues or a herniated disk, for example.
- Improves posture
Because of how they consistently align your head, neck, and back in a natural position, body pillows can be an effective means of improving posture.
- Reduce snoring
Problems such as snoring and sleep apnea occur due to the soft palate and tongue collapsing, usually because of back or stomach sleeping. Body pillows put you on your side, which then helps keep the airway open and reduce the chances of snoring.
- Ease digestion
When you're positioned on your left side, stomach acid can be prevented from travelling up your food pipe, thus leaving your body in an ideal position to digest food and reduce heartburn. Sleeping with a body pillow can encourage you to stay in a particular position all night, helping with digestion.
- Recovery from surgery
If you've undergone an invasive medical procedure such as a knee or hip replacement, a body pillow can aid the recovery process by putting your body in a healthy sleep position.
- Helps during pregnancy
A body pillow is a great pregnancy pillow. Most pregnant women experience discomfort in certain sleeping positions after about 20 weeks, so body pillows can provide extra support for pregnant women sleeping on their side without having to buy extra pillows.
If you need any further advice on sleeping positions while pregnant, read our guide on how to use a pregnancy pillow.
Best back support body pillow options
Slumberdown Body Support Pillow
This rectangular body pillow is the giant hug you want and need. It provides levels of neck, leg, and back support that most body pillows simply can't. Another reason why this option is popular is because of how versatile it can be.
If you don't particularly enjoy spooning with it, you can use it as you would a regular pillow. It is also ideal for providing extra support when seated upright to rest or watch television.
The Slumberdown Body Support Pillow comes with a removable cover that is made from 100% cotton and is filled with hypoallergenic hollowfibre. It can be used by sleepers of all weight ranges and pregnant women.
Snuggledown V Shape Firm Support Pillow
The Snuggledown V Shape Firm support pillow is an orthopedically designed full-body hollowfibre pillow for those who regularly sit upright in bed. The Shape Firm Support pillow provides ample support for your neck and back to substantially reduce those aches and pains.
It's filled with hypoallergenic hollowfibre that conforms to your body's shape to provide unrivalled comfort and support. Pregnant women and nursing mothers will find this option to be highly beneficial.
Who should use a body pillow?
Body pillows aren't just for people with back problems. Here are some categories of people who can benefit from using one:
Because of their position of choice, side sleepers tend to experience pain in their knees, hips, and shoulders more often than non-side sleepers. In their case, using a body pillow can alleviate knee pressure, improve their spine alignment, and prevent upper shoulder slouching.
Explore our pillows for side sleepers for some great options to improve your sleep.
The added weight from a pregnant woman's midsection can cause a great deal of discomfort in their back. Because of this, doctors advise that they sleep on their side, a task which can be made easier through the use of a body pillow. The U-shaped variety tends to be the best body pillow for this.
Need any more advice on sleeping while pregnant? Check out our guide to pregnancy pillows, to make sure you and your baby are keeping safe and comfortable at night.
A body pillow can give a stomach sleeper a sensation that they would typically experience while in their preferred sleep position while significantly reducing the risk of them experiencing the negatives of stomach sleeping.
Explore our pillows for front sleepers for some great options to improve your sleep.
Those recovering from surgery
Extensive surgeries often leave people wanting to utilise their preferred sleeping position, despite it being potentially harmful to their recovery.
A doctor will encourage healthy sleep positions and full-body support after surgery. Body pillows can prevent potentially dangerous movement by keeping users in healthy sleep positions.
While recovering after surgery, you might also want to arrange your pillows to help you sleep upright, if that’s what your doctor recommends.
Those with back pain or chronic back pain
The best body pillows provide full-body support and keep the head, neck, and spine perfectly aligned throughout the sleep cycle.
While in deep sleep, sleepers occasionally tense their muscles which can cause pain. Body pillows keep the muscles relaxed and provide much-needed relief to those with back issues.
People with poor blood circulation
The full body support that many body pillows provide also serves to regulate blood circulation. When people use a pillow that is of an incorrect height, blood flow to the neck can be significantly hampered which can then lead to serious neurological disorders.
Different body pillow styles
Body support pillows come in a variety of shapes, fillings and styles that are designed to address specific needs. It’s important when shopping to browse carefully and decide which pillow will best suit you and your circumstances.
There is a wide range of body pillow shapes you can choose from - all offering different ways and levels of comfort.
A rectangular or straight body pillow is the most common shape. A simple description of one would be a standard rectangular pillow that has been stretched out. Side sleepers can use a straight body pillow behind their back for extra support or in front of their body so as to give them a place to rest and elevate a leg and an arm.
A U-shaped body support pillow is an ideal option for both pregnant women and those seeking robust back support. The U-shaped pillow shape cradles your body on either side, which can give you a very cosy sensation.
A cylindrical body pillow is ideal for those who don't have as much bed space to work with. Cylindrical pillows come in a wider range of sizes and work well in terms of alleviating shoulder pain by taking the pressure off them.
J-shaped pillows require less space but provide the same head, neck, and back support that you would get from your typical full-body pillow. For those with chronic back pain, the loop at the top of the J is perfect for keeping your head and spine aligned. A J-shaped pillow can also be used as a pregnancy pillow.
C-shaped body pillows provide ample back and front support. They are best for side sleepers who don't have enough bed real estate for a U-shaped body pillow. Pregnant women who experience aches and pains in their joints, neck, and back may also benefit well from this particular shape.
A V-shaped body pillow is effectively the same as a U-shaped body pillow with the exception of it having a sharper point. The V-shaped body pillow can be used in a similar manner to the U-shape one and can provide good comfort when sitting up in bed or in a chair.
Choosing what kind of material you put inside your pillow is just as important as finding the right shape.
Inflatable body pillows tend to have an attractive price tag but aren't the best option in terms of providing long-lasting support. Air options aren't recommended as they can leak air which causes sagging which, in turn, could lead to neck pain. Pillows with this fill are ideal for those who are travelling and thus planning short-term usage.
- Memory foam:
A memory foam pillow uses the heat your body gives off to soften and conform to your body shape. The structure of the foam is good for relieving pressure points and retaining heat. If you require a more breathable option, then shredded memory foam makes a fitting alternative.
Latex fill is eco-friendly and long-lasting. It provides a substantial bounce while still being able to mould to the shape of your head and neck. Additionally, latex is one of the more breathable options on the market, so it may be best for those who like to sleep in cooler conditions.
Polyester is one of the most common fibre fills out there. They are hypoallergenic and are well-suited to those who prefer warmer sleeping conditions and are looking for something that is breathable.
Down refers to the soft feathers found underneath the wings and around the bellies of birds. The feathers are typically very soft and warm but pillows made out of down are prone to being lumpy, protruding spikes, having distinct smells, and being noisy in relation to other fills, which could cause irritation. Down may also trigger allergic reactions in some. Sleepseeker stocks a range of duck down pillows and goose down pillows for those who want to try.
How to select a body pillow for back support
A body pillow will help back pain in one way or another, but the many options on offer can make choosing the best body pillow for you a difficult task. Ultimately, your choice will depend on which aspect you are looking to prioritise. To make the process easier, here are some factors to consider:
An easy way of filtering out options is by deciding how far down your wallet you're willing to reach. Pillows are typically priced according to their function, features, and the materials they use. Remember that the best body pillows are not necessarily the most expensive ones.
Selection should largely be made according to your individual needs, which can be met at various price points. There are many budget body pillow options out there, but they may not give you a complete body pillow experience or last as long as ones on the more costly end of the spectrum.
The material of your pillow can greatly affect your sleep experience. Pillows made of wool and cotton are good for regulating heat but are more susceptible to attracting dust mites and may need regular reshaping. Memory foam pillows do a good job of giving back or neck pain relief but might be better in the shredded memory foam form due to the heat they give off.
Feather-down pillows are not ideal for allergy sufferers or those with vegan lifestyles but are better at repelling dust mites. Latex options are generally more expensive but are more durable and hold their shape for longer. Microfibre pillows are more affordable and varied in terms of shape and size but may need replacing more frequently.
Lastly, choosing a material of higher quality may mean that you won't have to replace your body pillow as often as you would one of lower quality.
Body pillow or not, firmness is one of the main criteria scrutinised by those looking to maximise their sleep quality. A firm pillow is best for those seeking to let the pillow support most of their body weight. Softer pillows are better for people who like form-fitting pillows.
The three main shapes that a body pillow can come in aren't just for aesthetic purposes; they serve different functions. The more traditional rectangular-shaped body pillow provides one-sided support, whereas C and U-shaped body pillows support your entire body.
This may be somewhat obvious, but as a starting point, your body pillow needs to sit comfortably within your bed for it to be effective. The size that you select may also largely depend on your height.
Longer pillows may be more suitable for taller people or those who want more overall cushioning for their bodies. Shorter people or people who aren't seeking that extra cushioning may not require a pillow that is as lengthy.
If you're the type of person who quickly loses sleep over a change in temperature, then you should consider a body pillow that does a good job of regulating temperature. Since memory foam fillings tend to trap heat, they are best avoided by people who are bothered by excess heat. Fibre, on the other hand, generally gives a cooler experience.
How to sleep with a body pillow to support your back
To improve sleep quality and get optimal back support, you need to know the most effective ways to use your body pillow. How exactly you use your body pillow depends on how it's shaped, but here are the general steps that could help your quest to ease your back pain:
- Place the pillow lengthwise on your bed.
- Position yourself on the bed on your preferred side.
- Once on your side, cradle the pillow between your legs, making sure that your legs are stacked parallel to each other.
- Lastly, you can either put your hands in a T-rex position or hug the pillow, the latter of which is best to keep your hands feeling comfortable throughout the night.
When you reach the final step, be wary of putting your top leg too far over as this could create a twisted form which could then hamper your lower spinal alignment.
Can back sleepers use a body pillow?
A body pillow is not recommended for back sleepers; this is primarily because they wouldn't be able to put them in any healthy sleep positions. But if you are usually a back sleeper who is looking for comfortable ways to sleep on your side or front, a body pillow might be the answer.
Can fully body support pillows help with hip pain?
Osteopaths and doctors recommend placing a pillow between the knees during sleep to provide hip pain relief. So if one is to use their body pillow in a similar manner, one can expect to enjoy the same benefits.
Do you need a pillowcase for a body support pillow?
You generally don't need a pillowcase for any type of pillow, but pillowcases are recommended. Besides being pleasing to the eye, they serve to increase the lifespan of your pillow by functioning as a protective layer that can catch the oil, sweat, saliva, and dead skin cells that people tend to produce. Try to look out for one with a washable cover.
When should I replace my body pillow?
This can vary according to usage and the materials used to construct the pillow. Some materials are significantly more likely to become deformed and thus may mean you have to replace your pillow more frequently. As a general rule, you can replace your body pillow every 1 to 2 years or when it loses its shape and starts developing lumps.
Can you machine wash a body pillow?
The majority of body pillows out there are machine washable, but because of how big they can be, some more than likely won't fit into a home washing machine and thus need to be taken to a launderette. If you have a bathtub, a handwash with a moderate amount of detergent makes a good alternative.
Get a good night's sleep with Sleepseeker
A body pillow can cost significantly more than normal pillows but have many benefits and can significantly improve sleep. Those looking for more back support while they sleep will reap the rewards from body pillows that offer full body support.
For help finding the right pillow, read out guide on what is the best pillow for you.
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