If you’re new to the world of body pillows, we may have to clarify that these long, jumbo-sized pillows are a lot more than a snuggle partner for when your bae is out of town. These pillows are remarkable tools for pressure relief, especially after surgery or during injury recovery. They can help relieve back pain, offer body support and alleviate joint strain during pregnancy, and provide extra cushioning for general comfort.
Body pillows come in different shapes, sizes, and densities, and the type that is most suitable for you will depend on what you need it for. We’ve sussed out the leading body pillows in 2022 for varying needs, so whether you’re buying one for yourself, a friend, or a family member, this guide will help you get the perfect match. Here, we’ll tell you exactly why we love them and what to consider before making your purchase.
While regular pillows usually come in a standard size and shape, body pillows are a little different. Most are long and narrow, but you also get shapes that wrap around your body. Your choice will depend on whether you want to prop yourself up while reading in bed, need help to alleviate back pain, or want to promote better spinal alignment. In the same way, a regular pillow supports your head, neck, and shoulders, a body pillow provides support for almost any part of your body. Besides the shape of the pillow, the fabric will also play a significant role in your comfort level and posture alignment.
If choosing a body pillow has suddenly become a more complicated matter than you anticipated, this guide is just for you. Here’s everything you need to know, from size and shape to firmness and temperature control.
Who Should Use Body Pillows
The extra weight around the midsection during pregnancy can cause back discomfort. Pregnant women are usually advised to sleep on their side to minimize strain; as such, C-shape and U-shape body pillows can provide additional joint support due to their cradling design. The extra support alleviates pressure and, therefore, reduces pain.
Back pain sufferers
Body pillows can be a great spinal support tool. By keeping the head, neck, and spine well-aligned there is less muscular strain and more postural stability. This minimizes muscle tension, allows the user to relax fully, and helps relieve back pain.
People recovering from surgery
Post-surgery discomfort can make it difficult to lie in your regular sleeping position. Certain recovery recommendations also include keeping a leg or limb elevated to prevent blood pooling and relieve pressure. A body pillow can provide elevation or prop you up in a way that makes lying more comfortable.
Chronic pain sufferers
People suffering from chronic pain may need to change sleeping positions regularly. Using a body pillow will give you more options in terms of how you can support your body while maintaining good alignment and remaining comfortable.
Body pillows are great for side sleepers since they can help keep the pelvis and spine better aligned, prevent shoulders from slouching, and separate the knees to ease pressure.
Since sleeping on your stomach can lead to neck and shoulder strain, it is not commonly recommended. People who suffer from sleep apnea may sometimes be advised to try sleeping on their stomachs. A body pillow can prop stomach sleepers up slightly to relieve some of the neck tension, and can also be used to transition to side sleeping more regularly.
How To Choose the Right Body Pillow
The majority of body pillows are between 48 and 54 inches long. Shorter pillows will suffice for individuals who don’t need cushioning between their ankles, while longer pillows are best for tall individuals or those who want to cushion their entire body. Narrower pillows let you wrap your arms and legs around the entire pillow, and wide pillows keep your limbs elevated in a more uniform position.
Rectangular body pillows are versatile, affordable, and fairly easy to find. They look like regular sleeping pillows that have been stretched out. You can place this type against your back while sitting in bed to read, keep it at the bottom of the bed to keep your calves, ankles, or feet elevated, or have it next to you lengthwise to rest your arm or separate your knees for better hip and spinal alignment.
U-shaped pillows are one of the most popular designs for pregnant women since they offer support for your head, neck, spine, midsection, hips, back, and legs in the front and back. They follow the natural shape of the body and may also help ease discomfort for those suffering from sciatica, fibromyalgia, and lower back pain.
C-shaped body pillows fit underneath your head, along the front of the body, and between your knees. This improves spinal alignment and provides support for the head, neck, and knees, which helps relieve pressure and pain in joints and the back.
Body pillow fill materials
If you prefer moderate to firm support, a good memory foam body pillow is the best option for you. Solid memory foam designs provide a denser structure with less give, while shredded foam offers better airflow and moderate support. If you sleep hot, opt for a shredded foam pillow.
Both shredded and solid memory foam conform to your body shape, as they respond to pressure and temperature. They also bounce back to the original shape once the pressure is removed.
Latex comes in both natural and synthetic forms, and has good temperature regulation properties, which makes it ideal for people who sleep hot. It also has a buoyant feel making it a bouncy and moldable option for people who don’t like firm support pillows.
Some product descriptions may indicate that fillings are fiber fill. Although this can indicate various materials, polyester is one of the most common types used. Polyester is popular since it is breathable, hypoallergenic, and can be washed without damaging the fibers.
If you need a body pillow mainly to prop up a knee, leg, or place behind your back while sitting up, a firm one will offer the structure and lift you require without losing its shape or sinking in. On the other hand, if you want something cushy and comforting to hug or sink into, go for a soft support pillow.
Adjustable memory foam pillows allow you to add or remove shredded foam stuffing to customize the height and firmness exactly as you like it.
The Snuggle-Pedic Body Pillow is not just a long stuffed pillowcase. This pillow’s designers have taken into account exactly what consumers need and delivered on all aspects, including safety, support, easy cleaning, breathability, comfort, and design.
This shredded memory foam body pillow offers medium to firm support, and its foam conforms to your body for optimal pressure relief exactly where you need it. And, since the foam is shredded, airflow is enhanced to help keep you cool. The pillow also comes with a breathable bamboo cover which further assists with temperature regulation and helps keep your snuggle buddy clean. Because of its breathability, comfort, and overall high quality, we’ve picked this body pillow as the best on our list.
This rectangular body pillow from Utopia Bedding is ideal for side sleepers as well as for maternity support. Since it is made with a polyester filling it has a soft plush feel, while offering good cushioning. It’s also available in white, beige, purple, and gray, so you’re sure to find one that matches your bedroom.
Unlike solid memory foam, which cannot be bent or molded into different forms, this polyester design is easy to fold and maneuver. Although the pillow is not machine washable, you can place it in the dryer for just a couple of minutes on low heat to fluff it up so it’ll look as good as new.
A body pillow that’s entirely machine washable? Yes, please! Keeping your down alternative pillow from Oubonun looking, smelling, and feeling as good as new is super easy since you can simply pop it into the washing machine. The polyester fill is light, plush, and breathable, yet still offers enough support to cushion your joints, relieve pressure, and enhance spinal alignment.
Even more, its quilted pillow cover is made from cotton fabric, which is breathable and skin-friendly. And, since the body pillow is loft adjustable, it is a suitable option for side and stomach sleepers as well as pregnancy support and post-op recovery.
With a soft and comforting faux fur cover, you’ll find it hard to detach yourself from the luxurious Milliard Body Pillow. Whether you need extra-firm support or want something soft and squishy — you can have it all. Additionally, the shredded memory foam stuffing can be removed for a softer pillow or added in for firm support. This makes it suitable for side or stomach sleepers, pregnancy support, and post-op or injury recovery. Meanwhile, the CertiPUR-certified memory foam contours to your shape and position, optimizing cushioning exactly where you need it. When not in use, the foam will spring back to its original form.
This moderate support large body pillow from Coop Home Goods is meticulously designed with your comfort in mind. The pillow fill is a blend of cross-cut memory foam and microfiber to enhance breathability and comfort without sacrificing support, and it’s housed in a 100% polyester cover which allows good airflow. The breathable Lulltra outer cover is a blend of 40% viscose-rayon and 60% polyester, keeping it soft and very huggable.
Even better, the pillow provides pressure point relief from your head down to your knees or ankles. Since the inner foam filling is adjustable you can customize the loft and softness to your preference and position. And, because this body pillow is both CertiPUR-US and GreenGuard Gold certified, you can feel confident about its safety.
CertiPUR-US and GreenGuard Gold Certified
Removable machine-washable cover
Supports healthy spinal alignment
Too big for small kids to use
People Also Asked
Q: Can I wash my body pillow?
A: In general, body pillows should not be washed. You do, however, get some brands that manufacture machine-washable pillows, so always check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions. Memory foam, for example, will lose some of its supportive quality if submerged in water, even if you dry it well afterward. It is also hard to get the interior of the pillows completely dry and mold can quickly form, causing allergies and breathing difficulty. Spot clean your body pillow lightly and don’t place a cover over the damp areas until they are fully dry. It’s always advised to get a pillow with a removable and machine-washable cover or pillowcase.
Q: How long does a body pillow last?
A: Body pillows can last between two and three years when kept in good condition; however, this largely depends on the material type and quality. Using a washable cover over your pillow and a pillow protector will also promote a longer lifespan.
Q: Are there adjustable body pillows?
A: There are a few brands that design body pillows with zippers that allow you to remove and add filling to adjust the loft. If you want an adjustable pillow, make sure this is clearly stated in the product description and check whether any extra stuffing is included.
Q: Can back sleepers use a body pillow?
A: Body pillows are not recommended for back sleepers unless used as a head pillow.
Q: Are memory foam pillows safe?
A: Choosing a pillow that is CertiPUR-US and OEKO-Tex certified will help ensure that it meets the necessary safety standards. Safety certifications are only valid for a year, so they need to be current to be reliable.
The Old House Journal Review Team’s product reviews and in-depth guides are here to help you restore, repair, update, and decorate your home. The content is created by The Old House Journal Review Team. The Old House Journal editorial staff is not involved. Old House Journal is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.