Do you spend a lot of time sitting up in bed? Maybe you like catching up on your favourite TV show before sleeping, love to snuggle up with a warm cup of tea on a chilly day, or like taking a book to bed with you.

Perhaps you work from home and often find yourself gravitating towards your warm, comfortable bed. Whichever your reason, it’s important to know how to arrange your pillows properly when you sit up in bed. Read on to find out how to go about this and why it’s crucial.

Why is the arrangement of your pillows important?

[Image above - Picture of some pillows arranged on a bed]

Many people know that a bad sitting posture when working at their desks for long periods daily can cause lower back pain. As a result, they opt for ergonomic chairs with ample support for their back. Adequate back support helps alleviate fatigue and prevent lower back, neck, and shoulder pain from sitting at a desk all day long.

While many are conscious about sitting posture at a desk, most don’t worry too much about posture when sitting in bed. After all, when soft and warm bedding surrounds you, it’s easy to feel extra comfortable and forget about things like spine alignment. 

Neglecting your posture when sitting in bed places you at risk of the adverse effects you try so hard to avoid when working at a desk.

Just like when sitting at a desk, paying attention to your posture when sitting up in bed is essential. Since your bed is not made for sitting, this is where the arrangement of your pillows comes in.

When you’re sitting in an ergonomic chair, the hard surface and features such as lumbar support ensure that your spine remains aligned. But when you’re sitting on your bed, there are no such features to ensure proper alignment.

Only with a pillow arrangement can you create a surface that protects your spine, hips, head, shoulders, and neck from resting at unnatural angles.

Here are three reasons a proper pillow arrangement when sitting up in bed is crucial:

Maintain natural alignment

The spine has three curves which should always be in good alignment to prevent harmful effects of bad posture.

The first curve is the lumbar curve found on the lower back. Then there’s the thoracic curve in the middle and the cervical curve on the upper spine. You should maintain the curves’ natural alignment when sitting, standing, or lying down to stay healthy.

Sitting positions that throw any of these curves out of balance pave the way for back pain, neck pain, headaches, digestion problems, and a host of other health problems. A proper pillow arrangement on a bed allows each of these curves to maintain their natural shape and align with the rest of the spine.

Prevent muscle strain

When your sitting posture goes against your spine’s natural alignment, the spinal curves work hard to keep the spine in position. As a result, you end up with strained muscles, joints, and ligaments. Such strain leads to tensed shoulders, back, and even headaches.

The right pillow arrangement ensures that your spine doesn’t need to work too hard to keep your body in balance, saving you from feeling tired or stiff when you sit up in bed.

Improve circulation

One of the significant effects of bad posture is bad circulation. When you sit improperly, you put pressure on your muscles, joints, and internal body organs. In turn, these organs and tissues apply pressure on arteries, restricting blood flow to various body parts.

Also, misaligned vertebrae bones can put pressure on spinal nerves, affecting their communication with the circulatory system.

Reduced blood flow due to poor posture commonly affects the brain, legs, feet, and lungs. The result could include high blood pressure, reduced lung performance, and limb stiffness.

These potential effects of bad posture make pillow arrangements when sitting in bed very important. With no strain or misalignment in your bones and muscles, your circulatory system can work optimally. Optimal blood circulation makes you more productive and improves sleep quality when it’s time for bed.

5 pillow arranging tips for sitting comfortably in bed

[Image above - Ideally one example of one of the 5 pillow arrangement tips below]

So, how do you arrange your pillows to ensure you reap the benefits of good posture? Below, find five tips on how to arrange pillows to sit up in bed:

1 - Place a pillow between your legs

You might not notice it, but when you sit for long periods with your legs lying straight on the bed, you apply excess pressure on your hips. The effect extends to your lower spine, which might rotate to support the increased pressure from your legs.

Crossing or folding your legs with one lying on top of the other also presents further posture problems. When your legs lie against each other, it cramps up circulation, leading to stiffness and soreness.

The best way to avoid extra pressure on your spine or reduced blood flow due to your legs’ position is by placing a pillow between them.

First, a pillow between the legs keeps them apart, so they don’t apply circulation-restricting pressure on each other. Second, a pillow can help elevate your knees a bit, reducing the pressure applied on the lower back when your legs are lying straight on the bed.

2 - Choose the correct pillow

Choosing the right pillow is crucial because it ensures proper support. Otherwise, even the best arrangement with low-quality pillows will bear no fruits.

When selecting a pillow, pay attention to the filling material, size, and shape. Common pillow fillings are down and feather, memory foam, cotton, and wool. The pillow can be soft and squishy or soft yet stiff, depending on the material used.

To achieve the ideal pillow arrangement when sitting in bed, you’ll need both soft and firm varieties. There are lots of different pillows to opt for, including soft pillows, medium pillows and firm pillows.

A soft pillow that’s mildly squishy placed behind your lower back allows your lumbar spine to maintain its natural curve, while a firmer pillow on the upper back provides support similar to that of a chair.

Regarding size, choose multiple pillows with different dimensions. Most manufacturers provide pillows in standard, queen, king, and Euro sizes. Their width x length dimensions are:

  • Standard pillows: 74cm x 48cm
  • Queen pillows: 76cm x 50cm
  • King pillows: 91cm x 50cm
  • Euro pillows: 66cm x 66cm

You’ll need the longer king or queen pillows to form a base against your headboard when arranging your pillows. Also, consider a v-shaped pillow which is specifically designed for anyone who regularly sits upright in bed. Body support pillows can also be used to support your body while sitting upright in bed.

Next, you can pile up the Euro and standard pillows to form an angle where you can recline. In terms of shape, it’ll help to consider wedge pillows. A wedge pillow has a triangular surface that allows you to recline naturally, offering support for your lower and upper back.

3 - Provide appropriate head support

If you’re reading a book or using your phone or laptop in bed, it’s easy to end up with your head bent forward.

Such a posture places considerable strain on your upper spine, and the effect spreads to the rest of your back. As a result, you might experience neck soreness, headaches, and shoulder stiffness. 

Using a pillow arrangement that provides enough support for your head will keep all these issues at bay.

A soft but firm pillow, preferably a feather pillow, is an excellent option to stack behind your head. It cushions your head without allowing it to bend backwards or forcing it forwards. If you shift to your side when sitting in bed, make sure to keep the pillow in its position to avoid straining your neck muscles.

4 - Relieve pressure sores

A firm mattress is the best for resting your body for long periods. Its firm structure supports your spine, unlike one that gives way when you lie on it. While this firmness is a good thing, it can present problems when sitting in the same position for an extended period.

The stiff mattress surface against your hips and legs can lead to pressure sores. A pressure sore occurs when the skin or underlying tissue is exposed to consistent pressure for too long.

Arranging pillows to provide cushioning between the hard mattress and your body will prevent the formation of pressure sores. Besides using pillows, it’ll also help to change positions frequently and leave your bed after every 30-45 minutes.

5 - Adjust the pillows at your back

There are many types of pillow arrangements that can work when you’re sitting up in bed. The correct arrangement depends on what sitting position you assume on the bed.

Even when you have a favourite position, note that it might be crucial to switch it once in a while to prevent stiffness.

After you’ve arranged your pillows against the headboard and on the lower and upper back, it’ll be essential to adjust them when you need to change position. Always move the supportive pillows to ensure they’re providing maximum support to your lumbar and thoracic spines.

Stay comfortable in bed

Sitting up in bed reading, browsing the internet, playing video games, or watching television is a good way to pass the time before sleeping. 

Arranging your pillows correctly will ensure that your me-time does not turn into a source of health problems. Remember to get the right pillow for the job for maximum support and comfort.

We offer a range of bedding from duvets and pillows to mattress toppers and electric blankets. Our wellbeing bedding range is ideal for improving sleep quality and includes everything from weighted blankets to v-shaped pillows.