Why does sleeping with a pillow between the knees help?

For many, a good night’s sleep is a nightly struggle. Whether it’s due to discomfort, pain, or alignment issues, it can be a challenge to find a comfortable sleeping position that allows us to wake up refreshed and pain-free.

An increasingly popular remedy for some of these problems is the practice of sleeping with a pillow placed between the knees. But what exactly does this practice do, and why has it garnered so much attention? In this guide, we will delve deep into the reasons behind the benefits of this simple yet effective sleep hack.

Why does sleeping with a pillow between knees help – A guide

  1. Spinal Alignment:
    • One of the primary reasons to sleep with a pillow between your knees is to maintain the natural curve of your spine. When you lie on your side without support, your top leg may drop forward, pulling the spine out of alignment. A pillow helps to keep the top leg raised and aligned with the hip, which can reduce the stress on your lower back and hips.
  2. Reduction of Hip and Knee Pain:
    • For individuals with hip or knee problems, the added pressure of one leg on top of the other can exacerbate discomfort. A pillow provides cushioning, reducing the pressure and potentially alleviating some of the pain.
  3. Improved Circulation:
    • Pressure between the knees, especially for those who might have varicose veins or are prone to leg swelling, can restrict blood flow. A pillow can help alleviate this pressure, promoting better circulation throughout the night.
  4. Prevents Leg Rotation:
    • Placing a pillow between the knees can help prevent the upper leg from rotating downwards, which can cause twisting of the pelvis and lower back. This twisting can contribute to conditions like sciatica. By maintaining a straighter leg position, the chances of rotation are minimized.
  5. Pressure Point Relief:
    • Just as a mattress can relieve pressure points on the broader areas of your body (like your back), a pillow between your knees can serve a similar function for your legs. This can be especially beneficial for side sleepers who feel discomfort or numbness during the night.
  6. Supports Pregnant Women:
    • Many pregnant women find that sleeping becomes more challenging as their belly grows. Sleeping with a pillow between the knees can not only support the belly but also help reduce strain on the back, which is common during pregnancy.

Sleep is essential for our overall health and wellbeing, and finding ways to enhance its quality can have profound effects on our daily life. While sleeping with a pillow between the knees might seem like a minor adjustment, its impact on spinal alignment, circulation, and pain relief can be significant for many. If you’re seeking a simple solution to improve your sleep quality, it might be worth giving this method a try. As with any change, always consult with a medical professional or physical therapist to ensure it’s the best fit for your unique needs.

Can sleeping with a pillow between your legs be bad for you?

Sleeping with a pillow between your legs can be beneficial for many, especially when considering spinal alignment and reducing joint strain. However, as with most things, there can be potential drawbacks or situations where it may not be suitable. Here are some scenarios where using a pillow between the legs might not be ideal or could pose issues:

  1. Wrong Pillow Size or Firmness:
    • If the pillow is too large or too firm, it can raise the upper leg too much, potentially causing misalignment of the spine or hips. Conversely, a pillow that’s too soft may not provide the necessary support.
  2. Restricted Movement:
    • Some people may feel restricted by having a pillow between their legs, especially if they tend to move around a lot during sleep. This could lead to disrupted sleep or discomfort.
  3. Allergies or Skin Irritations:
    • Pillows, especially if they are not regularly cleaned, can harbor allergens or irritants. If the pillow is made of materials or contains fillers that the person is allergic to, it can cause allergic reactions or skin irritations.
  4. Dependency:
    • Some individuals might become overly reliant on the pillow for sleep, feeling discomfort or difficulty sleeping without it. Over-reliance can be problematic if you’re in a situation where you can’t have a pillow between your legs.
  5. Not Addressing the Root Issue:
    • Using a pillow as a remedy might mask underlying issues that need attention, such as poor mattress quality, bad sleeping habits, or undiagnosed medical conditions.
  6. Worsening Certain Conditions:
    • For people with certain medical conditions or injuries, using a pillow might exacerbate the problem or cause discomfort. Always consult with a healthcare professional if you have underlying health concerns.
  7. Temperature Regulation:
    • If the pillow is made of non-breathable material or is too thick, it might trap heat and make some sleepers too warm during the night.

While many people find relief and better sleep quality by placing a pillow between their knees or legs, it’s essential to consider individual needs and preferences. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to sleep solutions. Listen to your body, experiment with different pillows and positions, and, if in doubt, consult with a healthcare or sleep professional.

How to sleep with a pillow between your legs properly?

Sleeping with a pillow between your legs can provide numerous benefits, such as relieving pressure on your hips and spine. To reap the full benefits, it’s essential to ensure that the pillow is positioned correctly. Here’s a guide to help you sleep with a pillow between your legs properly:

  1. Choose the Right Pillow:
    • Type: Opt for a body or knee pillow specifically designed for this purpose. They tend to have the right firmness and size to offer support.
    • Size: Ensure the pillow isn’t too thick or thin. The goal is to keep your knees and hips aligned. Your top leg should not be lifted too high or left unsupported.
    • Material: Breathable materials will help prevent overheating. Memory foam is a popular choice since it contours to the shape of your legs, offering better support.
  2. Starting Position:
    • Lie on your side in a comfortable position. Ensure your head and neck are supported by a head pillow to keep your spine aligned from top to bottom.
    • If you’re trying this for lower back relief, ensure your back is in a straight, neutral position.
  3. Place the Pillow:
    • Bend your knees slightly.
    • Position the pillow between your knees. Ensure it extends from above the knee to below the knee, supporting the entire length of the leg that’s on top.
    • Adjust the pillow so that it’s comfortable and supports your top leg, preventing it from falling forward or backward.
  4. Check Your Alignment:
    • Your hips should be stacked, one over the other, to prevent any twisting in the pelvic area.
    • Your legs should be slightly bent in a relaxed position, not pulled up too close to your chest or stretched out too straight.
    • Ensure your top leg is parallel or aligned with your bottom leg.
  5. Adjust as Needed:
    • It might take a few nights to get used to this new sleeping arrangement. Feel free to adjust the position, pillow size, or firmness to find what’s most comfortable for you.
    • Listen to your body. If you feel any new aches or strains, reposition yourself or reconsider the type of pillow you’re using.
  6. Consider Variations:
    • For Pregnant Women: A longer body pillow might be more beneficial, supporting not just the knees but also the belly.
    • For Back Sleepers: Although it’s most commonly recommended for side sleepers, back sleepers might benefit from placing a pillow beneath their knees to relieve pressure on the lower back.
  7. Maintain the Pillow:
    • Keep the pillow clean by washing it or its cover regularly.
    • Over time, the pillow may lose its firmness or shape. Replace it when it no longer offers adequate support.

Sleeping with a pillow between your legs can enhance sleep quality and alleviate various physical discomforts. Proper placement and the right pillow are crucial. Don’t be discouraged if it feels a bit unusual initially; with a bit of time and adjustment, many find this to be a beneficial addition to their sleep routine. If persistent discomfort arises, consider consulting a physical therapist or medical professional for personalized guidance.


Why is sleeping with a pillow between the knees recommended for side sleepers in particular?

Side sleepers often experience a misalignment of the spine when their top leg falls over the bottom leg, causing the pelvis to rotate. By placing a pillow between the knees, it helps in maintaining a straight line from the hips through the knees, ensuring that the spine and pelvis remain in a neutral position. This can reduce stress on the lower back and hips, leading to a more comfortable sleep.

I’m pregnant. Can I still benefit from sleeping with a pillow between my knees?

Absolutely! In fact, many pregnant women find this practice especially helpful. As the belly grows, the added weight and size can pull on the spine and create discomfort. Placing a pillow between the knees (or using a full-length body pillow) can provide support to the belly, reduce back strain, and improve overall comfort during sleep.

Are there specific pillows designed for placing between the knees?

Yes, there are specially designed knee pillows available in the market. These are typically contoured to fit comfortably between the knees and made of materials that offer adequate support, such as memory foam. While any pillow can provide some level of benefit, a dedicated knee pillow might offer better ergonomic support and be more durable for this specific use.


The practice of sleeping with a pillow between the knees has gained attention for its myriad of benefits, especially for side sleepers. From maintaining spinal and pelvic alignment to reducing joint and back strain, it’s a simple yet effective solution for many.

While it’s not a one-size-fits-all remedy, those experiencing discomfort during sleep or seeking to improve their nighttime posture might find this an invaluable addition to their bedtime routine. If you’re considering adopting this practice, it’s worth trying out for a few nights and observing any changes in your sleep quality or comfort level. As always, personal needs and comfort should guide your choices, and consulting with a healthcare professional for tailored advice is beneficial.

Leave a Comment