A good night’s sleep recharges our bodies and minds for the next day.
Good, quality sleep gives our brains and muscles exactly what they need to recover from everything they may have gone through throughout the day, and it keeps us healthy and ready to go full-speed ahead in anything we have to take on the next day.
This is a good thing because the average person spends one-third (26 years) of their lifetime sleeping. Isn’t it good to know your body spends so much time in recovery mode?
But recovery is not always guaranteed. Not if we’re not using the proper things we need to help get a good night’s sleep. That’s why body pillows are so important.
What is a Body Pillow?
Body pillows are extra-long and narrow pillows that align with the length of the upper body. Body pillows come in different sizes, lengths, and are filled with different materials.
Depending on how you sleep, there are various ways to use a body pillow. When held against the body’s length and between the knees, body pillows can improve spinal alignment and prevent collapsing.
What Are The Benefits of Using a Body Pillow?
Spinal alignment is not the only benefit of using a body pillow. There are so many benefits to using a body pillow.
1. Pressure Point Relief
When your mattress just isn’t right or too firm, you may not feel properly supported. This leads to discomfort and sometimes pain.
Your body responds to this pain shifting your sleep position, so your body ends up positioned in a way that has your body twisted. Your arm could be squished underneath in the process, and this position causes more pain. This automatically leads to improper spinal alignment, and you’re probably in pain when you wake up.
The body pillow can help alleviate the pain by placing it along your body and in between your knees. The body pillow takes the pressure off of other parts of your body, helps you relax, and keeps your body aligned during the night.
2. Lessens Tossing and Turning
There’s nothing worse than trying to fall asleep at night, only to be left tossing and turning for most of the night. When this happens, your body is uncomfortable, and it becomes restless.
Finding the right sleeping position for your body seems like a lost cause. But a body pillow can help alleviate the tossing and turning.
When you’re holding on to something supportive, like a body pillow, there’s less tendency for movement. The pillow is a cool, comfortable, and cozy safe haven.
3. Accesses the Benefits of Hugging
Remember when you used to hug that favorite stuffed animal all night when you were a kid? Well, the body pillow can bring those moments of comfort right back.
We all love hugs because they provide an instant comforting effect. There’s just something about a hug. It makes us feel good and provides us with an element of safety. Holding on to a body pillow can replicate those feelings and create that sense of peace you need to drift off into la la land.
The emotional element associated with hugging a body pillow allows your mind to stop being all over the place and focus on quiet and relaxation.
4. Improves Spinal Alignment
Most of us are side sleepers, and when you’re lying on your side, your body weight pushes on your hips; this can bring discomfort and sometimes pain. Your leg slides forward, causing you to twist, and this puts additional pressure on your back.
A body pillow can help relax your muscles and keep everything in proper alignment. By placing the body pillow between your knees and hugging it while you sleep, your body won’t feel a need to twist, and your body weight will be evenly distributed.
5. Optimizes Body Performance
If you’re an athlete, you can appreciate the awesome wonders of what a body pillow can do for your body. An athlete’s body is taxed regularly. Yes, the body benefits from regular exercise and movement, but it can also feel beat up from it, and we know the human body needs significant restoration to recover from the physical toll of athleticism.
Athletes can gain a competitive edge when fully rested. With careful and accurate sleep alignment a body pillow brings, athletes not only have an opportunity to have their bodies recover, but it will also bring comfort and relaxation for optimized performance the next day.
6. Alleviates Discomfort During Pregnancy
Body pillows are great for alleviating pain and discomfort during pregnancy by supporting the back, hips, legs, and abdomen. Since it’s so much larger than a regular pillow, it keeps the entire body aligned from the shoulders to the ankles.
A lot of women usually have multiple regular pillows to provide this comfort during pregnancy. But when you use a body pillow, you only need one. Also, a woman’s stomach gets larger during pregnancy, and this puts a strain on the stomach ligaments and the lower back.
There may also be pain around the hips, swelling of the ankles, and it’s so hard to find a comfortable sleeping position with the pregnancy. To alleviate discomfort during pregnancy, it’s recommended to cradle the upper part of the body pillow with both arms, allow the stomach to rest on the pillow, and the bottom part of the pillow to rest between the knees.
Body pillows are very similar to pregnancy pillows, which you can read more about here.
7. Reduces Snoring
How a person sleeps, impacts their snoring. Back sleepers snore the most because, during sleep, the airways relax and narrow. The tongue falls to the back, and breathing causes the walls of the throat to vibrate and causes snoring.
A body pillow can alleviate this by placing it along the front or the back. Doing this will help keep the sleeper in a side position which will reduce or eliminate the snoring.
How do You Use A Body Pillow?
All of us sleep differently. The majority of us are slide sleepers, but others are back sleepers or may even sleep on our stomachs. Depending on how you sleep, there is a way that’s best to use a body pillow.
Since it is never good to sleep on your stomach, we’ll look at how to sleep with a body pillow if you sleep on your side or back.
Body pillows also come in a variety of shapes. We’ll look at how you can use the body pillow based on its shape.
Using a Body Pillow as a Slide Sleeper
Regardless of which slide you prefer to sleep on, sleeping on your side usually reduces sleep apnea and limits lower back pain. But for slide sleepers, their knees often roll forward, pulling their back, hips, and shoulders out of alignment and causes a strain on the back muscles.
A body pillow can help with this. Lie on your side with knees slightly bent and position the body pillow under your chin to below your knees. Wrap your arms around the upper part of the body pillow and place the lower section between your knees. This will help keep everything in alignment while your sleep.
Using a Body Pillow as a Back Sleeper
If you’re a back sleeper, place the body pillow under your knees while on your back. This position will keep your spine at ease and take the pressure off your lower back. It will help in other ways also — it will keep the neck in the most open position and lessen snoring.
U-Shaped Body Pillows
U-shaped body pillows are most ideal for pregnant women because they provide such great head, neck, and back support. U-shaped pillows can actually wrap around the body for a snug fit.
To use a U-shaped body pillow, place the curve of the pillow at the top of the bed. When you do this, it will look like an upside-down U.
Place yourself between the arms of the pillow and lay your head on the top curve of it. You can sleep facing either direction or on your back. If you sleep on your side, hug one of the arms of the pillow and place it between your thigh. The other arm will support your back.
C-Shaped Body Pillows
A C-shaped body pillow is also great for pregnancy to help reduce back pain and provide support to the legs, head, and neck.
To use a C-shaped body pillow, place yourself in the center of it with your back against the length of the C and your head on the upper curve of the pillow. Hug the top hook of the pillow with your arms and rest your knees between the bottom hook.
J-Shaped Body Pillows
J-Shaped body pillows are candy-cane-looking pillows that are great for sleeping on your side. They provide excellent head and leg support and keep your spine aligned.
To use a J-shaped body pillow, place the pillow with the hook at the top of your bed and lay facing its arm. Rest your head and arms on the pillow’s hook and wrap your legs around the pillow’s arm.
Rectangular-Shaped Body Pillow
This is a common shape for body pillows, and it has great head and knee support for side sleepers. You can use the rectangular-shaped body pillow either horizontally or vertically.
If you lay it vertically, lay it beside you in the bed and rest your head on the top portion of the pillow, while wrapping your arms around the middle of the pillow.
Place your knees on the bottom portion of the pillow. If you use it horizontally, use it as a large head pillow or for lower back support while sitting up in bed.
Cylindrical-Shaped Body Pillows
Cylindrical-shaped body pillows are similar to rectangular-shaped body pillows, but fuller and shaped like a cylinder. This pillow should be in a vertical position on your bed.
Place your head on the top part of the pillow and wrap your arms around the center of the pillow. Place the bottom half of the pillow between your knees.
You can see all of the benefits provided by having a body pillow. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are great for so many reasons.
If your sleep has been a little sketchy and needs improvement, and you’ve never tried a body pillow, you may want to try one out. Consider all your options and decide which type of body pillow would be the best fit for your needs.