Are bolster pillows good for sleeping?

Bolster pillows, characterized by their cylindrical shape, have been a staple in many cultures for centuries. They’re not just decorative pieces for beds or sofas; many people swear by their utility in providing a comfortable and restful sleep. But what makes them different from standard pillows, and are they truly effective for sleeping? Let’s dive into the world of bolster pillows and explore their potential benefits.

What is a bolster pillow and its uses?


A bolster pillow is a long, narrow pillow or cushion filled with cotton, down, or foam. It’s cylindrical in shape and can vary in length and thickness. Unlike regular rectangular pillows, bolster pillows maintain a consistent form throughout their length, resembling a rolled-up cylinder or tube.


  1. Supportive Sleep:
    • Back Sleepers: By placing a bolster pillow under the knees, it can alleviate pressure from the lower back, providing more comfort.
    • Side Sleepers: A bolster pillow can be hugged, offering comfort to the upper arm and ensuring proper alignment of the shoulders. Additionally, placing one between the knees can align the hips and spine.
    • Stomach Sleepers: Using a bolster pillow under the pelvis can reduce strain on the lower back and neck.
  2. Yoga and Exercise:
    • Bolster pillows are often used in yoga practices for support during certain poses or for relaxation during restorative postures.
    • They can be used for stretches or exercises that require elevation or support of a specific body part.
  3. Therapeutic Uses:
    • Bolsters can be used in physical therapy and massage therapy to position clients comfortably and optimize the therapeutic process.
    • They can provide support to injured or strained areas, elevating and relieving pressure.
  4. Pregnancy and Postpartum Comfort:
    • A bolster pillow can be of great relief when placed between the knees or under the belly during pregnancy.
    • Postpartum, they can be used for support during breastfeeding or simply for comfort.
  5. Home Decor:
    • Apart from functional uses, bolster pillows are also used decoratively. They can be placed on sofas, chairs, or beds, adding a touch of elegance and style.
  6. Travel:
    • Smaller bolster pillows can be great travel companions, providing neck or lumbar support during long journeys.
  7. Reading or Relaxing:
    • When propped up in bed or on the floor, a bolster can provide back or neck support, making reading or simply relaxing more comfortable.

In essence, bolster pillows are versatile tools that offer both functional and aesthetic benefits. Whether used for therapeutic purposes, comfort, exercise, or decoration, they have proven their value across different cultures and contexts.

Guide: Are Bolster Pillows Good for Sleeping?

  1. Lumbar and Back Support:
  • For those who sleep on their back, placing a bolster pillow under the knees can help relieve pressure on the lower back, promoting a more neutral spine position.
  • Sitting up in bed? A bolster can act as a supportive cushion for your lower back.
  1. Side Sleepers’ Companion:
  • Bolster pillows can be hugged by side sleepers, which not only provides comfort but can also ensure proper shoulder alignment and reduce strain.
  • Placing a bolster between the knees can also align the hips and spine, reducing discomfort.
  1. Stomach Sleepers’ Aid:
  • Sleeping on the stomach can sometimes strain the neck. However, using a bolster pillow under the pelvis can elevate the lower body slightly, making this position more comfortable for some individuals.
  1. Neck Support:
  • Some people find that bolster pillows, especially the softer ones, provide gentle neck support when used as a primary pillow.
  1. Pregnancy Comfort:
  • During pregnancy, comfort and support become crucial for sleep. A bolster pillow can be placed between the knees or under the belly to provide relief and support.
  1. Versatility:
  • Bolsters aren’t just for nighttime sleep. They can be useful for daybeds, reading nooks, or even meditation spaces, given their flexible shape and function.
  1. Breathability:
  • Owing to their shape and often less dense filling, bolster pillows can be more breathable than some standard pillows, which can be advantageous for hot sleepers.
  1. Durability:
  • Bolster pillows tend to maintain their shape longer than traditional pillows because they have a uniform shape and distribution of filling.
  1. Aesthetics and Tradition:
  • In many cultures, especially in Asian countries, bolster pillows are traditional sleeping aids, believed to provide security and comfort. Their elongated shape also adds a touch of elegance to bed setups.

While bolster pillows can be an excellent addition to your sleeping routine, it’s essential to understand your specific needs. Whether you’re seeking support, alignment, or simply a comforting hug, a bolster might be the answer. As always, personal comfort and preference play significant roles, so trying one out might be the best way to discover its benefits for yourself.


Can a bolster pillow replace my regular pillow for nightly sleep?

It depends on individual preferences. Some people find bolster pillows comfortable for neck support, while others prefer them for supplemental use, such as placing them under the knees or hugging them. It’s essential to ensure that any pillow, bolster or otherwise, maintains a neutral alignment for your spine and neck while sleeping.

How do I choose the right size and firmness for a bolster pillow?

Consider your primary use. If it’s for yoga or therapeutic practices, you might want a firmer bolster for support. For hugging or neck support during sleep, a softer, medium-sized bolster might be more appropriate. It’s always a good idea to test a bolster pillow before committing, ensuring it meets your needs.

How do I clean and care for my bolster pillow?

Care instructions vary based on the pillow’s material. Many bolster pillows come with removable covers that can be machine washed. For the inner filling, it’s generally advised to spot clean and air dry. Always check the manufacturer’s care instructions to ensure longevity.


Bolster pillows, with their unique shape and multifunctional design, cater to a range of needs, from therapeutic support to decorative flair. When considering adding one to your home or daily routine, it’s crucial to understand its varied applications and select one that aligns with your requirements. Whether it’s for a night of restful sleep, a yoga session, or simply an aesthetic touch to your space, bolster pillows undoubtedly hold a special place in the world of cushions.

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