If you wake up with pain or soreness after what should’ve been a good night’s sleep, you’ve probably already run through a laundry list of possible solutions. Some of them might be huge expenses — maybe your mattress is too firm or too soft — and other suggestions might be smaller, like changing the firmness of the pillow you sleep on, or the number of pillows you sleep with, or earplugs if you live somewhere noisy.
The truth is, although we spend about one-third of our lives asleep (or trying to fall asleep), we don’t always know a lot about what actually makes up a good night’s sleep. As we get older, it seems harder and harder to wake up feeling energized and well-rested, no matter how early we went to bed the night before. But getting the right amount of real, restful sleep is so important because not getting it negatively impacts our health, energy levels, and even (or especially) our mood.
One thing that can contribute to not getting a good night’s sleep, or waking up with unpleasant aches and pains, is our sleeping posture. It’s hard to change the way you sleep, whether you’re a side sleeper, a back sleeper, or you prefer to rest on your stomach. But we can do things to improve our sleeping position regardless to make sure we’re getting the most out of our sleep cycle.
A small, simple, but super beneficial thing you can do to make sure your body is properly aligned when you rest — especially if you’re a side sleeper — is using a memory foam knee pillow. When you sleep on your side, in particular, your knees tend to rest on top of one another, and this can cause misalignment on your spine, leading to a less restful night’s sleep and hip pain and soreness the next day.
What Benefits Do Knee Pillows Provide?
Knee pillows improve your sleep in many different ways, primarily by adjusting your posture when you sleep. Using an orthopedic knee pillow can balance and stabilize your hip, which decreases the pressure on your spine and lower back. It can also perfect your spinal alignment by positioning your legs at a more ideal angle than they might naturally fall, bringing you instant pain relief.
When you sleep with a knee pillow between your legs, it can also reduce the strain otherwise caused by resting your knees on top of one another. It does this by more evenly distributing the pressure of your body weight throughout your thighs, hip, and spine and protecting your knee joints.
The improvement in your posture also helps to promote better blood circulation throughout your lower body. This alone can help reduce any tension or muscle soreness you might be waking up with.
Sleeping or even just relaxing with an ergonomic knee pillow can also help reduce the strain of a few different conditions or discomforts you might be dealing with and help you find a comfortable position for rest.
While pregnancy is an exciting time for anybody, it also comes with a lot of shifts and changes in your body. Often, these changes can lead to a wide variety of aches, pains, and soreness, especially when we talk about changes to your posture. As your body changes throughout your pregnancy, the resting position of your lower body shifts.
This can make it even more difficult to find an ideal spinal position while you sleep. Especially if you’re suffering from lower back pain throughout your pregnancy, sleeping with a knee pillow can help reduce the stress on your pressure points while you sleep. This, in turn, can help improve any lower back pain you might be experiencing!
Pressure or irritation around your sciatic nerve — the long nerve that runs from your lower back, down through your buttocks, and all the way down your legs to your feet — can lead to a painful and frustrating condition called sciatica. If you have poor posture while you sleep, especially around your lower body, it can increase the pressure on your sciatic nerve and exacerbate your sciatica.
Using a knee pillow can relieve some of this pressure. If you’re a side sleeper, using a knee pillow between your knees can help improve your body’s alignment while you sleep and relieve some of the stress on your sciatic nerve. If you sleep on your back, placing a triangular knee pillow beneath your knees can take the pressure off of the nerve endings in your lower back, making it easier for you to fall asleep if sciatica is keeping you up at night.
As we mentioned, sleeping with a knee pillow takes a lot of the stress off of your knees, legs, and overall lower body. If you’re a runner or other athlete who finds that as you get older, you’re feeling more soreness in your knees, sleeping with a knee pillow might help you get back to feeling comfortable on the track.
Knees are a crucial and complex joint and tend to be vulnerable to injury. Knee injuries are common in athletes, especially those who practice on hard surfaces or have to do a lot of jumping. While minor knee injuries can be treated with rest and physical therapy, serious knee injuries can require serious surgery and can sometimes throw a real wrench into your athletic goals. It’s important, especially as you get older, to make sure you’re taking the best possible care you can of your knees.
Sleeping with a knee pillow is a great way to give your knees a chance to rest and recover in a way they might not fully be able to if you sleep on your side and place pressure on them throughout the night.
What Kind Of Knee Pillow Should You Look For?
If you’re convinced that you need a knee pillow in your life, the next step might be figuring out what kind of knee pillow you should be looking for. Knee pillows come in a variety of different shapes, sizes and can also vary in firmness.
Which knee pillow will be best for you mostly depends on how you prefer to sleep.
If You Sleep On Your Side…
An hourglass-shaped pillow is probably best for you. It makes it easy to rest the pillow comfortably between your knees, giving you the support you need.
If You Sleep On Your Back…
You’ll likely benefit most from a half-moon pillow or a triangular pillow if you don’t mind a sharper angle. You’ll want to rest the pillow under the bend of your knees to give yourself the best possible spinal alignment.
If You Sleep On Your Stomach…
A knee pillow may not be for you! But if you’re struggling with any of the above challenges, we didn’t want to leave you out. A flatter pillow beneath your stomach and pelvis can help correct your spinal alignment.
What Other Features Should I Look For?
Once you’ve figured out which shape of pillow will work best for you, you probably still have a lot of options. In order to get the full benefits of a knee pillow, it’s important to make an informed decision. There are some features that you might want to consider before purchasing a knee pillow.
The best knee pillows are made from high-density memory foam so that you have a firm pillow that can stand up to your body weight. Some materials retain more body heat than others, so there are options infused with cooling gel to keep you cool. So when you’re selecting your knee pillow, it’s important to consider the material, not just for density, but also keep in mind whether you tend to run hot or cold and how your knee pillow might impact that.
Knee pillows from Everlasting Comfort come with machine-washable covers, which makes them easier to clean. For something that you’ll use on a nightly basis, this might be an important feature to look for. You can also find covers that are hypoallergenic and breathable.
Some knee pillows have adjustable leg straps. The leg straps are meant to ensure that your knee pillow stays in place while you sleep, moving with you throughout the night.
Size And Weight
If you travel often for work or pleasure and don’t want to sacrifice good sleep on the go, it might be worthwhile to look into the weight and dimensions of the knee pillow you’re considering. Will it fit in your luggage or carry-on? Will it be too heavy? Definitely worth checking! In this case, you should also consider the durability of your pillow.
Because it’s hard to know if a knee pillow is right for you off the bat, you might want to look into the return policy it comes with. Ideally, you’ll want a relaxed return policy that gives you some time to test out your new knee pillow before fully committing. Companies that offer a trial period also show a lot of confidence in their product.
Any Kind Of Warranty Or Lifetime Guarantee
You’ll use your pillow nightly, and if you love it, hopefully for many years to come. So it’s worth seeking out a knee pillow that comes with a warranty, or ideally a lifetime guarantee. This way, you’ll never have to worry about wearing out your knee pillow or about having yet another recurring expense in your budget.
Knee pillows are a really simple way to improve the quality of your sleep. Especially if you suffer from muscle pain or soreness, have knee problems, struggle with sciatica, or just aren’t getting as restful a night’s sleep as you’d like, sleeping with a knee pillow is a small thing that can make a big difference.