What is a Body Pillow?

December 21, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team

When you get on your mattress at night, you’re probably aiming to wake up refreshed and rested the next morning. So if you rise to find yourself achy and stiff instead, it can be disappointing—not to mention confusing.

If you have soft bed pillows and a comfortable memory foam mattress that you like, why are you starting the day with neck and back pain?

The answer may be that your body’s spinal alignment is off. Your current bed pillows may not be doing enough to keep your head and spine correctly aligned at night.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to this issue: the body pillow. A body pillow is an oversized cushion typically used by side-sleepers during the night for comfort and pain relief. But what are body pillows for? And what are the benefits? We’ll answer these questions and more in this 101 on all things body pillow.

What is a Body Pillow Used For?

How can a super-sized cushion help you catch better ZZZ’s? It’s simple: a long body pillow is designed to provide you with better alignment while sleeping and take the pressure off sensitive areas of your body. 

Long body pillows are usually narrow and rectangular, so you can easily cradle one between your legs as you sleep. As a result, these rectangular body pillows:

  • Stabilize your head at a proper height
  • Keep your spine and neck aligned
  • Stop you from rolling into a less advantageous sleeping position

To use yours and experience the benefits of body pillows, put it on your bed next to you. Cuddle up beside it, placing the puffy body pillow between your knees so that your legs are stacked on top of each other. Finally, cradle the large body pillow. 

It’s that simple.

The only issue to be mindful of when you sleep with a body pillow is leg placement. Put your leg too far over, and you could be twisting your spine and throwing off your lower back alignment.

Body Pillow vs. Regular Pillow

Now that we’ve answered the question “what is a body pillow” and covered the basics, we can measure how they stack up against the typical pillow you’re probably using now. When compared to standard pillows, body pillows are:

  • Larger – While a typical pillow can offer neck support, a body pillow is designed to align your full body properly, better alleviating any neck or back pain you might experience. This extra-large pillow size means that they fit best on a queen or king sized bed (especially if you share it with a partner).
  • Helpful for certain conditions – If you suffer from sleep apnea or acid reflux, a large body pillow can help you in many ways. Sleep apnea worsens when you lie on your back, and a body pillow stops you from rolling over at night. Those who suffer from acid reflux may find similar relief in a body pillow. Sleeping on your left side will help reduce the severity of your symptoms, and a body pillow can make sure you stay there.1
  • More relaxing – Hugging something causes your body to release oxytocin—a hormone that helps relieve stress. So holding onto your body pillow while you sleep can help you relax better, often meaning you’ll wake up feeling restored.

So using a body pillow comes with a lot of pluses. But they work best in concert with regular pillows, which also have their own set of strengths. 

Our regular pillows include options that are:

  • Customizable – Casper makes different types of pillows that fit your individual needs. We offer pillows of varying firmness and compressed height that tailor to your sleep position to give you the best sleep possible. You can also choose from a variety of fills—from down to foam to down-alternative, you’ll find a fill you love.
  • Cooling – There are few things less pleasant than waking up in a sweat in the middle of the night. But you can solve this problem by using a pillow with built-in cooling technology. Our pillows can have cooling properties in both the fill and the weave so that you can enjoy the cool side of the pillow all night long.
  • More space efficient – Some body pillows can only fit on king or queen-sized beds when you lay them flat. Regular pillows are much smaller and can fit on any size bed, so standard pillows might be a more space-efficient option if you have a twin. Just cuddle with yours like you would a body pillow!

There are lots of benefits to both regular and body pillows, so experiment to find a combo tailored to suit your personal needs.

Types of Body Pillows

Just like regular pillows, body pillows can come in all kinds of shapes. And each different shape comes with unique benefits. The different types of body pillows are:

  • Rectangular – The classic body pillow design. Long and skinny, rectangular body pillows usually measure about 20 x 54 inches. It’s the perfect size for you to hold it how you want to get a comfortable night’s sleep.
  • Cylindrical – A cylindrical body pillow is usually thinner and smaller than a rectangular one. So if you have a small bed that can’t fit a full-size body pillow, or you’re on the shorter end of the height spectrum, this pillow will suit your needs.
  • J-Shaped – If you suffer from back and neck pain, listen up because this pillow is here to solve your problems! A J-shaped body pillow is the best type for you because of its loop at the top. Resting your ear in the loop will keep your spinal alignment correct while the rest of the pillow supports your lower body, offering pain relief from your backaches.2
  • U-Shaped – These kinds of pillows are the best pregnancy body pillow. The gap in the middle will cradle your body, letting you comfortably hug one of the arms. And the other arm will support your back, keeping you from rolling onto it during the night (since that’s a bad sleep position for pregnant people).

Be sure to consider the different shapes when shopping for body pillows to make sure you’re getting all the specialized benefits you want.

Body Pillow Filling

Your body pillow’s fill can also impact your quality of sleep. The main filling types to be aware of are:

  • Down – Those who enjoy a soft, luxurious pillow experience will probably get the sleep they want from a down pillow—and if you buy from Casper, you don’t have to feel guilty. All our down is ethically sourced. Just keep in mind that down can be more easily compressed than other options. Likewise, it’s not ideal for people with allergies.
  • Memory foam – Want to cuddle with something a little bit firmer? If you need more support, go for a body pillow filled with foam to provide that sense of comfort and alignment. 
  • Down alternative –  If you’re allergic to down, a down-alternative pillow with polyester filling is a better bet since it won’t keep you up all night sneezing. You’ll enjoy the same soft feel, but with additional support for your joints.

Who Should Use a Body Pillow?

Almost every kind of sleeper can benefit from using a body pillow in some way because of the numerous benefits they offer. But you might be especially interested in one if you: 

  • Are pregnant – As mentioned earlier, body pillows are great for pregnancy since sleeping on your back is a no-go. Using a body pillow will help keep you on your side through the night and provide additional support for your belly.
  • Have sleep apnea – If you’re a back-sleeper, sleep apnea can cause you serious problems. This is because it makes you much more likely to snore and thus more likely to experience sleep apnea. The recommended solution is to adjust your sleeping habits and learn not to sleep on your back anymore, but it’s hard to break a familiar pattern. 3Fortunately, using a body pillow makes retraining yourself easier.
  • Are a restless sleeper – If you’re sick of tossing and turning all night, it’s time for you to invest in a body pillow. Cuddling it will keep you in the same position and improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Suffer from chronic back pain – If you regularly experience backaches, you know that sleeping improperly can make them so much worse. Using a body pillow is a great way to make sure your spine stays correctly aligned at night to help alleviate some of your discomforts.

While body pillows can help with a number of diverse issues, you don’t need to have a concrete reason to use one. Wanting something to hug at night is justification enough!

Find Your Perfect Pillow with Casper

The ability to improve your sleep is at your fingertips, so stop waking up sore and start waking up happy and refreshed instead.

Our Hug Body Pillow is designed to adjust itself to your body, so no matter what, you get ergonomic comfort that will take the weight and pressure off sensitive areas of your body. 

Casper cares about making sure that our sleep products work for you. Our body pillow is made to fit on several types of beds and is always the perfect size to be hugged. And to make it easier for you to take the plunge, we give you thirty days to try it out and see the difference for yourself. Let Casper help you take control of your sleep again and give you the rest that you deserve.


  1. SleepScore Labs. Best Sleeping Position For Acid Reflux: Sleeping with GERD. https://www.sleepscore.com/blog/the-one-sleeping-position-to-avoid-for-acid-reflux/
  2. Spine-health. Different Types of Pillows. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/different-types-pillows
  3. Cpap.com. Best Sleeping Position for Sleep Apnea. https://www.cpap.com/blog/best-sleeping-positions-sleep-apnea/