Sleeping With a Pillow Between Your Knees: 10 Benefits

December 15, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team

While it might look a little strange, sleeping with a pillow between your knees can be excellent for your sleep health. From back pain relief to better sleep posture, an extra pillow for your legs has tons of benefits for side sleepers. Plus, it’s downright comfortable. 

Read on for a full list of benefits, tips for this sleep position, and what to look for in the perfect leg pillow. 

Pile on the comfort with Casper’s Original, Foam, and Down pillows. No matter what sleep position you favor, our pillows are designed to support you.

Benefits of Sleeping With a Pillow Between Your Knees

There are several sleep health conditions — such as lower back pain at night — that warrant a doctor’s visit. However, you may also find that a knee pillow helps you sleep more comfortably at night. Here are all the potential benefits of placing a pillow between your legs before dozing off. 

1. Can Improve Spinal Alignment

If you sleep on your side, you might experience pressure on your hips or shoulders at night. To keep your spine aligned throughout the night and prevent discomfort, you can sandwich a pillow between your knees. Many side sleepers find that putting a pillow between their knees is super cozy, too. Who knows — it might even help you fall asleep faster.  

2. Can Alleviate Lower Back Pain 

Sleeping with back pain is no fun at all. If you sleep on your stomach and experience back pain, switching to side sleeping can protect against aches and stiffness in the morning. Side sleepers who place a pillow between their legs may find that it takes even more pressure off their lower back and further relieves aches.

3. May Improve Sleep Posture

Studies show that nonsymmetrical sleeping can negatively impact the structure of your spine over time. Better sleep posture can help. As the University of Rochester explains, for side sleepers, placing a pillow between your legs can help you keep your body naturally aligned and stay kind to your spine each night. 

4. Can Relieve Muscle Cramps

Around 6% of U.S. adults report suffering from nocturnal muscle cramps. An awkward sleep position with legs and hips askew can make nightly cramps even worse. Sleeping comfortably with a pillow between your legs may help. Imagine placing a soft cloud between your legs to keep them unstrained. 

5. Can Provide Support for Pregnant Women

When you’re pregnant, getting comfortable at night can be seriously tough. Doctors recommend that pregnant women avoid sleeping on their backs and instead favor sleeping on their sides. Pregnancy can also come with discomfort like restless legs syndrome, lower back pain, and joint pain in the knees. Pregnant women may find relief by snoozing with a pregnancy pillow or a pillow between their legs. A huggable pillow to wrap the arms and legs around can help release tension on the legs, knees, and lower back. 

6. Can Improve Blood Circulation

If you’ve woken up with tingling limbs, pins and needles, or swollen legs, you might have poor circulation to blame. Elevating your legs above the level of your heart can help facilitate blood circulation at night and help prevent varicose veins. A wedge pillow can be especially helpful to place between your legs or under your knees. 

7. May Open Up Airways

Bad news, back sleepers: Research has shown that supine snoozing can worsen sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, you may find that sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees will help open up your airways by keeping your body posture more aligned. 

8. Reduces Pressure on Hips

A leg pillow can keep your hips from twisting in the night. It can keep your knees neatly stacked on top of each other, preventing awkward spine curvature. This supports the natural alignment of your spine and reduces strain on your hips as you move in your sleep. 

9. Can Improve Herniated Disc Pain

A herniated disc can cause intense nerve pain and discomfort. If you’re suffering from a herniated disk or any form of sciatica (pain caused by injury or compression to the sciatic nerve), you might find some relief at night with a leg pillow. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, a leg pillow can prevent your hips from rotating and help the pelvis and lower back rest more comfortably at night. 

10. Can Keep You From Rolling Over

Say you’re a stomach sleeper trying to get better spinal alignment by training yourself to sleep on your side. Not only can sleeping with a leg pillow make side sleeping extra comfy, but it can also keep you from rolling over to another position in your sleep. 

Sleeping With a Pillow Under Your Knees

What if you sleep on your back, not your side? There’s another way to get some of the same benefits. If you want to elevate your legs and align your spine, try placing a pillow under both your knees. This position can also help reduce back pain by aligning your spine and reducing tension on the lower half of your body. 

How to Properly Sleep With a Pillow Between Your Knees

Now that we’ve gone over all the reasons to use that extra pillow, we’ll discuss how to properly sleep in this position so that you’re most likely to reap those benefits. This should be a comfortable sleep position that not only supports your spine and hips, but also encourages you to nod off cozily.

Sleeping With a Pillow Between Your Legs

Follow these steps to sleep with a pillow between your legs the right way:

  • Step 1: Lie on your side with knees bent.
  • Step 2: Place a supportive pillow between your knees. Your hips and knees should stack nicely on top of each other, and you should not feel any strain.
  • Step 3: If there’s a gap between your hips and the bed, add a pillow under your torso as well.

Sleeping With a Pillow Under Your Legs

If side sleeping isn’t your style, try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees. Here’s how: 

  • Step 1: Lie on your back.
  • Step 2: Bend your knees slightly upward.
  • Step 3: Place a pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees so that they rest comfortably at a slight bend. 

What to Consider When Choosing a Knee or Leg Pillow

Are you sold on sleeping with a leg pillow yet? The next step is to choose the perfect pillow. With so many different types out there, it can be a hard decision. Here are some things to look out for in the perfect leg pillow. 

Factor #1: Firmness

If you get a pillow that’s too soft, it won’t do much to elevate your leg and separate your knees. That said, your pillow should still be comfortable for you. Find a leg pillow that strikes the right balance between supportive and cloud-soft. 

If you’re on the hunt for the best of both worlds, the Casper Down Alternative Pillow is built with an innovative pillow-in-pillow design that combines a supportive inner pillow with a soft outer pillow, so you don’t have to pick one or the other.

Factor #2: Shape

Knee and leg pillows come in several different shapes and sizes. You can use a regular pillow, but depending on your body shape and sleep position, you may find that a special pillow works better. 

  • Back sleepers may want to consider a cylindrical pillow to easily place under their knees. 
  • Side sleepers can find hourglass-shaped pillows with a divot for the legs. 

For individuals with smaller hips, the compact size of heart-shaped pillows can be a great fit. 

A body pillow can also provide immense comfort for side sleepers. The Hug Body Pillow is our most huggable pillow yet. With pressure-relieving comfort and a unique ergonomic design, it promotes proper alignment and full-body relief throughout the night.

Factor #3: Material

For a leg pillow, search for a filling that’s soft yet supportive. When it comes to memory foam vs. down, it’s all up to personal preference. Memory foam is smooth and supportive, while down is soft and easy to wash

Our down pillow is our fluffiest pillow yet, filled with ethically sourced down feathers for luxurious comfort. For something on the firmer side, check out our hybrid pillow, made from an innovative foam and fiber design that’s marshmallowy soft and supremely supportive. 

Factor #4: Cooling Technology

For those who sleep hot, it’s especially important that a leg pillow doesn’t make the bed feel like a sauna under the covers. Thankfully, cooling technology can keep your pillows cool all night. Our cooling memory foam pillow is thoughtfully designed to prevent overheating, complete with AirScape® perforations that allow air to move out and away for your deepest, coolest sleep. 

If you wake up sweaty night after night, you’ll want a cooling mattress to pair with that pillow. Casper mattresses are made with 4D Sleep Technology™ that prioritizes alignment, temperature, touch, and time. When it comes to temperature, AirScape® technology increases airflow and pulls heat away from your body to keep you cool throughout the night. 

With these considerations in mind, you’ll be able to find and snuggle with the perfect leg pillow in no time.