Where to put pillows when sleeping on back?

The way you position your pillows while sleeping on your back can significantly impact your sleep quality and overall comfort. The strategic placement of pillows not only supports the natural alignment of your spine but also promotes relaxation and reduces the risk of developing aches or discomfort.

Whether you’re a dedicated back sleeper or occasionally switch to this position during the night, knowing how to position your pillows can make a noticeable difference in how you wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of properly arranging your pillows for optimal comfort and restfulness.

Guide: How to Position Pillows When Sleeping on Your Back:

  1. Head Pillow: The primary pillow you’ll need is the one for your head. Choose a pillow that provides adequate support for your neck and head without elevating them too much. The goal is to maintain a neutral alignment between your head, neck, and spine. Your pillow should neither be too thick nor too flat. Look for a pillow that contours to the natural curve of your neck while keeping your head comfortably aligned with your shoulders. Memory foam pillows or those with adjustable loft can work well for this purpose.
  2. Under-Knee Pillow: To further promote proper spinal alignment, consider placing a small pillow or cushion under your knees. This slight elevation can help alleviate pressure on your lower back and reduce tension in your legs. The pillow under your knees should be of a thickness that allows your legs to remain comfortably bent without creating strain on your lower back. This also helps in minimizing the risk of developing lower back pain.
  3. Arm Support Pillow: If you tend to wake up with numb or tingling arms, placing a thin pillow or rolled-up towel under each arm can help prevent this discomfort. This step is especially useful if you have a tendency to rest your arms above your head while sleeping. These pillows will provide a gentle support that can prevent nerve compression and promote better circulation.
  4. Pillow Placement: Ensure that your pillows are arranged in such a way that your head and neck are supported without being lifted too high off the mattress. The under-knee pillow should be positioned right under your knees, creating a slight bend in your legs. If you’re using arm support pillows, place them under your forearms, allowing your arms to rest naturally at your sides.
  5. Mattress Quality: Remember that the effectiveness of your pillow arrangement also depends on the quality of your mattress. An appropriate mattress for back sleepers should be firm enough to provide adequate support to your spine while still offering some level of comfort.
  6. Personal Adjustments: Everyone’s comfort preferences can differ slightly, so don’t hesitate to make minor adjustments to the pillow positions to suit your own needs. The goal is to find a setup that ensures you wake up feeling well-rested and without any discomfort.

The Benefits of Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping positions play a crucial role in determining the quality of our sleep and overall well-being. While there are several sleep positions to choose from, sleeping on your back, also known as the supine position, offers a variety of benefits that can positively impact your physical health, comfort, and even your appearance. Here are some of the key benefits of sleeping on your back:

  1. Spinal Alignment: Sleeping on your back naturally aligns your spine, allowing it to maintain its neutral, natural curve. This alignment can help prevent or alleviate issues such as back pain, stiffness, and discomfort that may arise from improper sleeping positions.
  2. Reduced Pressure on Joints: When you sleep on your back, your body’s weight is evenly distributed across the mattress. This reduces the pressure on your joints, minimizing the risk of joint pain and stiffness, particularly in areas like the hips, knees, and shoulders.
  3. Facial Skin Health: Sleeping on your back can contribute to better facial skin health. When you press your face against a pillow night after night, it can lead to the formation of wrinkles and creases over time. Sleeping on your back reduces this contact, helping to maintain smoother skin and potentially delaying the development of sleep-related wrinkles.
  4. Acid Reflux Prevention: If you’re prone to acid reflux or heartburn, sleeping on your back can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back into your esophagus. This position can reduce the likelihood of experiencing discomfort and help manage digestive issues.
  5. Reduced Risk of Sleep Apnea: For individuals with sleep apnea or those at risk of developing it, sleeping on the back might be beneficial. This position can prevent the collapse of the airway, reducing the frequency of sleep apnea events and improving breathing during sleep.
  6. Minimized Pressure Sores: Back sleeping can help reduce the occurrence of pressure sores that can develop when certain areas of the body are subjected to prolonged pressure against a surface. This is particularly relevant for individuals with limited mobility.
  7. Posture Support: Consistently sleeping on your back can contribute to better overall posture. By keeping your spine aligned during sleep, you’re promoting healthier posture habits during your waking hours as well.
  8. Facial Health: Sleeping on your back can also help prevent puffiness and dark circles under the eyes, as well as reduce the likelihood of acne breakouts. This is because your face comes into less contact with the pillow and your skin has better circulation and less irritation.
  9. Neck Support: Using an appropriate pillow while sleeping on your back can provide excellent neck support, aligning your head with your spine. This can help prevent neck pain and stiffness that might arise from improper pillow support.

While sleeping on your back offers numerous benefits, it’s important to note that individual comfort preferences and medical conditions may influence the most suitable sleep position for you. If you’re considering changing your sleep position, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice that takes your unique needs into account.

What Is the Best Sleeping Position?

The “best” sleeping position is often a subjective matter, as it depends on individual comfort, health considerations, and specific needs. However, sleeping on your back is generally considered one of the optimal positions for promoting overall well-being.

Back sleeping aligns the spine, reducing the risk of back and neck pain, and evenly distributes body weight, which can alleviate pressure on joints and minimize the likelihood of developing pressure sores.

It’s also associated with reducing acid reflux symptoms and facial wrinkles, as there’s minimal contact between the face and the pillow. Back sleeping can be particularly beneficial for those with sleep apnea, as it can help maintain open airways. However, it’s important to note that personal preferences and medical conditions may influence the choice of sleeping position.

Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide tailored advice to determine the most suitable position for an individual’s specific needs.


Mastering the art of pillow placement while sleeping on your back can lead to more restful nights and less likelihood of waking up with aches or pains. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a supportive and comfortable sleep environment that aligns your body properly and promotes optimal relaxation. Remember that finding the right pillow arrangement might take some trial and error, but the effort is well worth the improved sleep quality and overall well-being.

Leave a Comment