11 Benefits of Sleeping With a Pillow Between Your Knees

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

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Last Updated On January 29th, 2024
11 Benefits of Sleeping With a Pillow Between Your Knees

Many people use leg pillows to improve their sleeping experience. A leg pillow is a little cushion that fits between or beneath the knees. A side sleeper frequently places an orthopedic leg pillow between their knees. In contrast, back sleepers typically place them beneath the knees.

“One of the underlying causes for sleep disturbances at night is a poor sleep posture,” says Dr. Nayantara Santhi. “Having a good sleeping posture is as important as having a good sitting posture during the day. A good sleeping position can help relieve pain, including that of the lower back, and in turn, help you sleep better.”

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“This is because sleep posture may influence the load applied to spinal tissues when sleeping. A knee pillow can help with this, by facilitating appropriate alignment of the spine while sleeping.”

In side sleepers, a leg pillow enhances spin alignment for correct sleeping posture. Without a leg pillow, the upper knee rests on the lower knee. This sleep position configuration can cause spinal misalignment, hip pain, and discomfort.

Many knee pillows are ergonomically constructed to sit between the legs, aiding with hip pressure relief and keeping the spine aligned to help keep you sleeping comfortably through the night. Knee discomfort can be alleviated by placing a leg pillow between your legs when sleeping on your side or beneath your knees while sleeping on your back to improve sleep health.

The Proper Sleeping Position for Side Sleepers

The most common sleeping position for quality sleep is side sleeping. 74% of people sleep on the side. If you sleep on your side, be sure you have the correct mattress and keep your knees aligned in an ergonomic shape and in a neutral position.

Side sleepers want a softer mattress since their position can cause their hips and shoulders to accumulate pressure points. A quality knee pillow helps with pressure relief for better sleep quality, though it’s still important to have the right mattress for side sleeping to experience true comfort.

Here’s how you should posture your body to ensure you sleep comfortably:

  • Ensure that the supportive pillow beneath your head is substantial enough to raise your neck to the same level as your spine for better spinal alignment. Having the right pillow for neck pain can ensure you get a restful night’s sleep.
  • Place a firm pillow between your knees and bend your legs to support your lower back. Check that the orthopedic knee pillow stretches from your knees to your ankles so your knees and ankles are parallel, keeping your spine aligned.
  • To help your spine relieve pressure in a neutral posture, stack your hip bones directly on top of each other. Consider your hip bones to be in a forward sleep position.

What Is an Orthopedic Knee Pillow?

A knee pillow helps to improve a person’s sleeping comfort. They accomplish this by promoting spinal alignment, relieving pressure, and assisting the body in maintaining a comfortable sleep position for a good night’s sleep.

Many people benefit or could benefit, from using a knee pillow while sleeping. Side sleepers and pregnant women, for example, frequently use knee pillows. Some pillows that make sleeping with pregnancy more comfortable even go beyond the knees, supporting the whole body.

Regular bed pillows are used by some persons beneath or between their knees. While this may provide some relief, even the best pillows simply weren’t designed to be used like this. A specially designed knee pillow is likely to offer more comfort while being less bulky. Knee pillows are significantly smaller than standard bed pillows and are frequently ergonomically designed to fit between a person’s legs.

Side sleepers typically use knee pillows, which they place between their legs. On the other hand, back sleepers frequently use knee cushions beneath their knees. Knee pillows are unlikely to be used or required by stomach sleepers.

A side sleeper who does not use a knee pillow may find their spine out of alignment, resulting in hip, knee, or lower back pain. A knee pillow can help to correct that alignment, reducing joint pressure and making it easier to sleep with back pain.

Advantages of a Leg Pillow Between the Knees

Sleeping on your side without sufficient support can cause the spine to bend or twist. If it remains like that all night, the joint may get strained. Here are several advantages of sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs:

  • Keeping the knees on top of one another increases comfort and relieves pressure. This keeps your hips and pelvic region aligned.
  • It relieves hip discomfort by preventing it from twisting and dragging the spine out of alignment.
  • It’s ideal for persons sleeping with lower back discomfort or leg pain, particularly sciatica. If you sleep on your side, your upper leg may roll forward to rest on the mattress. The sciatic nerve might be irritated by this twisting strain on the lower back, even if you have a suitable mattress for sciatica.
  • Side sleeping is particularly beneficial for people with breathing problems, such as sleep apnea. Your airways are more stable and less prone to obstruct airflow in this sleeping posture. Maintaining spinal alignment decreases neck and back discomfort, lessening sleep apnea risk.
  • It helps to increase blood circulation. Placing a pillow between your legs will promote blood flow through the vena cava, the central vein that transports blood to the heart and back.

Several sleep health problems, such as lower back discomfort, should be handled by a doctor. However, a knee pillow may help improve sleep at night. Here are some of the many possible advantages of using a pillow between your legs in bed.

Help with Spinal Alignment

If you sleep on your side, you may wake up with pressure on your hips and shoulders. You can place a pillow between your knees to keep the spine straight and minimize pain at night. Many side sleepers also find that laying a pillow between their knees is comfortable. It might even help you sleep more quickly.

Reduce Varicose Veins

Varicose veins Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source are swollen or twisted veins most commonly found in the legs. Placing a pillow beneath your knees can improve blood circulation and help prevent visible veins.

Help With Lower Back Pain

Sleeping with lower back pain is a nightmare. Moving to side sleeping can help prevent morning pains and stiffness if you like sleeping on your stomach and end up having back discomfort. Side sleepers who position a pillow between their legs may find that it relieves pain and lowers the strain on their back.

Improving Sleep Posture

According to research, nonsymmetrical sleeping might harm your spine over time. Improved sleeping position can assist. According to studies, placing a pillow between legs can help you maintain your body in a more naturally oriented position and be better on your back at night if you sleep on your side.

It can Help With Muscle Cramps

Roughly 6% of individuals in the USA Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source report having nocturnal muscular cramps. These cramps can be made worse by sleeping in an uncomfortable posture with your legs and hips twisted. Sleeping with a pillow between your legs may be beneficial. Consider putting a soft pillow between your legs to keep them loose.

Can Offer Pregnant Women Assistance

Getting comfy at sleep may be pretty tricky when pregnant. Doctors advise pregnant women to avoid resting on their backs and to rather sleep on their sides, using a softer mattress for pregnancy if needed.

Pregnancy can also cause discomfort, such as lower back pain, restless legs syndrome, and knee joint pain. Pregnant women who sleep with a pregnancy cushion or a body pillow between their legs may experience comfort. A huggable pillow around which to wrap the arms and legs can relieve stress in the knees, legs, and lower back.

Potentially Improves Blood Circulation

If you wake with tingling arms, pins and needles, or swelling legs, poor circulation might be to blame. Elevating your legs above the level of your heart can assist improve circulation at night. Using a wedge pillow, placed between your legs or beneath your knees, might be highly beneficial.

Airways Could Reopen

Back sleepers, bad news: According to studies, supine dozing might aggravate sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees may help open up your airways by keeping your body posture more straight if you have sleep apnea.

Reduces Hip Pressure

A leg pillow might help prevent your hips from rotating at night, which can avoid abnormal spine curvature by keeping your knees squarely positioned on each other. In other words, it promotes the natural alignment of your spine and relieves tension on your hips as you sleep. Paired with a mattress for hip pain, it can ensure you wake up refreshed and rested.

Helps with Herniated Disc Pain Relief

A herniated disc can cause excruciating nerve agony. Suppose you have a herniated disk or sciatica (pain caused by damage or compression of the sciatic nerve). In that case, a leg pillow may provide some comfort at night, though you may also want to look at mattresses for a herniated disc.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Verified Source Cleveland Clinic Ranked #2 hospital by U.S. News & World Report and one of the largest academic medical centers in America. The Cleveland Clinic serves patients from all over the world. View source , a leg pillow can keep your hips from moving and help your pelvis and lower back rest more easily in sleep.

Can Prevent You From Rolling Over

Are you a stomach sleeper seeking to improve your spinal alignment by sleeping on your side? Sleeping with a leg pillow can not only make side sleeping more comfortable, but it can also help you from turning over in your sleep. Just make sure you switch from a mattress for stomach sleeping to one for side sleepers, as otherwise, your bed might feel too firm.

How to Select a Knee Pillow

Although different manufacturers’ knee pillows may appear identical at first glance, they differ in terms of materials, structure, and features. Because of these variances, some people feel greater comfort in different knee pillows than others.

Keep your wants and qualities in mind when shopping for a knee pillow. Which type of pillow is ideal for you depends on your sleeping position, body weight, and money.

What to Look for When Buying a Knee Pillow

When purchasing a knee cushion, there are several variables to choose from. Knowing what to look for can save time and help to choose the finest knee cushion.

Unfortunately, several sleep product firms describe their sleep items, especially knee pillows, in glowing, complex language. They may make their knee cushions seem impressive with flowery prose without offering many facts about them.

We recommend you go beyond broad advertising promises and focus on particular aspects of knee pillows. Your body type and personal preferences will determine the ideal cushion for you.

This section delves into the numerous variables to consider while shopping for knee pillows. You will be better equipped to try out the different knee pillow alternatives in stores if you have a better awareness of form, support, hardness level, and more factors.


Most knee pillows are made to fit snugly between a person’s legs. The best knee cushion for a side sleeper provides support between the thighs or along a person’s calves. There are also knee pillows in the shape of cylinders or wedges that are useful for back sleepers who put a pillow between their knees.


The degree of support supplied by knee pillows is strongly related to the pillow’s hardness and thickness level. Thicker, firmer pillows often give more support. Larger persons most likely require the support of a firm pillow, while lighter ones can get by with thinner or softer cushions.

Firmness Level

Knee pillows do not usually have a firmness rating like mattresses do. Instead, manufacturers often define their knee pillows’ stiffness in words that can be subjective. The most straightforward approach in deciding if a knee pillow’s firmness is appropriate is to try it out. Also, reading customer evaluations from knee pillow owners with similar build types to you is also beneficial.

Pressure Relieving

Knee cushions give indirect pressure reduction by encouraging proper support for spine alignment. The pressure builds up in the spinal and hip areas when the spine is not positioned correctly or in poor alignment. Knee cushions also reduce stress on the knees directly by maintaining a neutral position. The thickness and stiffness of the knee cushion influence its ability to relieve pressure.


Knee pillows are expensive, with the least expensive costing as little as $5 and up to more than $100. However, most knee pillows cost $20-$60. Prices can fluctuate based on the materials and quality of the goods as well as the brand’s reputation.

High-Quality Materials

Most knee pillows are made of memory foam and have a breathable fabric cover. High-density memory foam is usually of higher quality than low-density memory foam. Regrettably, not all manufacturers disclose information about the memory foam they use. Reading customer reviews could be more helpful in determining product quality.


People who travel or sleep while traveling should consider the size and weight of a knee pillow. Some knee pillows are small and perfect for staying well-rested while traveling, while others are nearly the size of standard pillows. Knee pillow weights vary as well. Manufacturers usually list the size of their knee pillows on their websites.

Temperature Control

The temperature regulation of a pillow refers to how warm it becomes in response to body heat for those who sleep hot. A temperature-regulating knee pillow with a breathable cover stays relatively cool. Most knee pillows are made out of memory foam, which is known to trap heat. To counteract this tendency, a washable cover made of breathable fabrics for a memory foam pillow will help keep your pillows cool.

Who Should Make Use of a Knee Pillow?

A knee pillow is more likely to aid side sleepers as well as pregnant women. A knee pillow can also help people who sleep on their backs or have back and hip problems.

Side Sleepers: Knee pillows can help side sleepers maintain spinal alignment while alleviating strain on their hips and lower back. Side sleepers who do not use a knee cushion frequently find their spine out of alignment. Their weight is distributed to their lower leg by their highest limb without an accompanying pillow for side sleeping. As a result, their hips move, and tension increases. Side sleepers might benefit from using a knee pillow to alleviate hip and back pain.

Pregnant Individuals: Leg cramps at night and back discomfort are common symptoms of pregnancy. A body cushion or tiny knee pillow may be beneficial in promoting proper spinal alignment.

People with Back Pain: Those suffering from back or hip discomfort may find relief by including a knee pillow in their sleep regimen. Overnight, an incorrect spinal position can create or worsen the pain. Using a cushion to provide more pressure reduction and support might be beneficial.

Back Sleepers: They can benefit the most from a knee cushion placed under rather than in between the knees. A pillow beneath a back sleeper’s knees enhances the spine’s natural bend. Such a pillow for back sleeping also alleviates strain on the lower back.

Who Should Stay Away from Knee Pillows

Sleepers Who Move Too Much: Some people move too much to keep a knee pillow in place overnight. They could try a velcro-strapped knee pillow, but more is needed to hold the cushion in place all night.

Stomach Sleepers: They do not require knee pillows since their sleep posture affects spinal alignment in different ways than back or side sleeping. Instead, they may place a cushion beneath their hips to minimize gravity’s effects on their torso.


How can I stop waking up with knee pain?

Try using a cushion to support your knees at night, thereby relieving knee pain. You can also take a warm bath to relieve pain, apply ice or heat, and massage your knee. Try also to stay active throughout the day. Regular exercise and stretching can help you manage knee pain and fall asleep faster at night. We recommend speaking with your doctor if you want further ideas on how you can manage knee pain.

Can I slip a body pillow between my knees?

A body pillow is long enough for most people to sleep with their heads on end and the other end between their knees. When sleeping with a body pillow, position a rectangular body pillow so that your arms and knees can hug the pillow tightly. However, please don’t put your leg so far over the pad that it causes additional discomfort. Even an extra cushion for the floor, a regular pillow, or heart-shaped pillows for decoration can be helpful.

Can I use a wedge pillow underneath my knees?

A wedge pillow, placed between your legs or beneath your knees, might be highly beneficial. Elevating your knees above the level of your heart can assist improve blood circulation and avoid varicose veins at night. It is essential to use the right pillow for proper alignment.

Why put a pillow between your legs?

A pillow between your knees assists in keeping your pelvis and spine neutral while sleeping. It might also relieve your back or hip pain. If you have back pain on both sides and prefer to sleep on your back, try sleeping on your back with a pillow beneath your knees.

How thick should a knee pillow be?

The optimal thickness of a knee cushion is 4 to 6 inches to allow your legs to align. A thick cushion spreads the legs too far apart. Meanwhile, a too-thin knee cushion won’t relieve pressure.

Can a pillow between my knees help with back pain when I sleep?

A cushion between your knees can keep your pelvis and spine neutral when sleeping. Using one can relieve your back or hip aches. If you experience back discomfort when lying on both sides, consider resting on your back with a cushion beneath your knees.


A full night’s sleep is critical for reviving your energy and mental clarity. It can not only improve your mood and get you ready for the day, but it can also help you recover from illness or injury. So, check your sleeping posture if you wake up with pins and needles. It should be your top priority every night so you can wake up feeling great the following day!

About the author

Eric Ridenour is a health and wellness writer with a strong focus on sleep and nutrition. With a background in health science and psychology, Eric has a deep understanding of the connection between sleep and overall well-being. His expertise has been sought by various businesses and individuals, and his work has been featured in reputable publications such as Thrive Global, Drug Report, and Authority Magazine. Eric's commitment to promoting better sleep and comprehensive wellness is evident in his writing and consultations. He is a published author working on his second book.

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