All pillows provide support and comfort during a night’s sleep, but body pillows take both features up a few notches. As their name suggests, these oversized pillows are designed to wrap around your entire body and cradle you in a supportive way that helps with proper rest, especially when you need a little extra (think: pregnancy, injury, surgical recovery).
A body pillow helps encourage spinal alignment, notes Peter Polos, MD, PhD, sleep medicine specialist and Sleep Number sleep expert.
“While your regular pillow supports your head and neck, a body pillow can be a good way to keep your head and spine aligned and keep you from tossing and turning to a less desirable sleeping position, like your stomach,” he says. “This will help avoid neck pain that results from sleeping.”
Hugging a body pillow also reduces and prevents lower back pain by allowing you to comfortably bend both knees all night in a fetal position, explains naturopathic doctor, clinical nutritionist and sleep specialist David Friedman, ND, DC.
“Most side sleepers have a tendency to bend one knee and keep the bottom one straight, placing strain on the sacroiliac joint (which connects the sacrum at the base of the spine with the hip bone),” he says. “Because one sacroiliac joint flexes while the other stays in a neutral position, this puts a torque on the lower back.”
An additional benefit of sleeping with a body pillow is the potential for reducing snoring.
“Those who snore or have sleep apnea are more likely to sleep on their back or stomach, causing the tongue and soft palate to collapse more easily and obstruct the airway,” says Sunjya Schweig, MD, an expert in complex chronic illnesses and founder and President of the California Center for Functional Medicine. “When sleeping on the side against a body pillow, the airways can remain open and clear.”
While many people can benefit from using a body pillow, those with sleep disorders, pregnant people and those recovering from surgery may find them especially useful.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up the best body pillows of the year.
The Best Body Pillows of 2022
We reached out to various sleep specialists to better understand the specific features that make a body pillow especially useful and how to find the perfect fit. We narrowed down our top picks based on the following criteria:
- Quality of materials
1. Best Overall: The Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Body Pillow
Dr. Schweig recommends this body pillow for all sorts of sleepers, thanks to its memory-foam fill that offers support for the hips, knees and abdomen.
It was developed by a chiropractor, so it can be useful for those in pain and is also temperature-regulated, which can come in handy for those who run hot or cold.
Another great feature is that it is both GreenGuard Gold Certified and Certi-PUR US certified, so you can feel confident that it is made with safe ingredients that won’t harm your health.
2. Best Adjustable: Coop Home Goods Original Body Pillow
Like the Snuggle-Pedic pick above, Coop’s body pillow is filled with supportive, shredded memory foam, but this pillow allows you to remove some of the fill in order to tailor the firmness of the pillow to your liking. This allows people of different body sizes and with different pain points to adjust the pillow to their preferred comfort level.
The pillow is also 54 inches long to accommodate taller sleepers, but make sure you have Cthe mattress space to sleep with it comfortably.
The bamboo-blend cover is machine-washable, and the pillow is both GreenGuard Gold and Certi-PUR US certified.
3. Best for Side Sleepers: Sleep Number No Shift Body Pillow
Side sleepers can seriously stand to benefit from a body pillow because it helps aid in proper alignment, notes Dr. polos.
This body pillow, in particular, features a unique tri-chamber design that holds the fill in place and prevents it from shifting through the night.
“Both the down alternative insert and cotton sateen removable cover are machine-washable for easy cleaning,” Dr. Polo’s adds.
Perhaps the best feature about this Sleep Number pillow is that you can try it out at home for 100 nights to make sure you love it. If not, you can easily return or exchange it.
4. Best for Back Pain: MedCline Therapeutic Body Pillow
This brand specializes in sleep products that are specifically designed for people with chronic aches and pains and can be especially helpful for those with back pain, according to Smita Patel, DO, MD, integrative neurologist, sleep medicine physician and founder of the iNeuro Institute.
“The pillow’s J-shape construction allows you to snuggle with the body pillow without feeling too much pressure in the shoulders,” she says. “You can also add or remove the shredded memory foam fill to customize the loft based on your needs and preferences.”
It comes in two sizes — the small, which is 45 inches long, and the medium/large, which is 50 inches long and a bit thicker. Both sizes feature the same polyester cover that’s easy to remove and is machine-washable.
5. Best for Pregnancy: The Leachco Snoogle Original Maternity Total Body Pillow
C-shaped body pillows like this one are one of the most common picks for pregnant people, according to Stephen Light, certified sleep science coach and CMO and co-owner of Nolah Mattress.
“These jumbo-sized body pillows give expecting mothers neck support, something to wrap their arms around and a divider between their knees for pressure relief,” he says. They also prevent you from turning on to your stomach or back if you naturally gravitate toward those positions, he adds.
Designed by a nurse and mother, this pillow supports the back, neck, stomach and hips. It also has an extra long section for mid-section support as well as temperature regulation.
6. Best U-Shaped Body Pillow: Coyuchi Organic Latex Body Pillow
Although this body pillow is certainly on the pricier side, Light says it’s worth it if you’re looking for an all-natural, sustainable, hypoallergenic, highly durable option that offers excellent pressure relief.
“This pillow also features a super-soft organic cotton sateen pillow cover that you can remove and machine wash,” he says. “Its cylinder profile makes it easier to wrap your arms around than a lot of other U-shaped pillows, and it’s great for the curvature of your neck.”
7. Best for Hip Pain: Zoma Body Pillow
The Zoma Body Pillow provides the kind of targeted pain and pressure relief that can benefit someone with hip pain, Dr. Patel says. It has a lightweight cover that allows for optimal airflow to keep you cool and comfortable while you sleep, along with a down-alternative fill that adapts to the body and alleviates discomfort related to poor spinal alignment.
“The down alternative doesn’t absorb much body heat — especially compared to authentic down or memory foam — and the lightweight cover is quite breathable,” adds Dr. patel
What to Look for in a Body Pillow
Before you set out to buy the best body pillow, here are some important factors to keep in mind to help guide your purchase.
Body pillows come in all sorts of different shapes, each designed to address a specific need, explains Dr. polos.
“A rectangular shape is one of the most common options for sleepers seeking ultimate comfort and support and is also ideal for sleepers who want to maximize their bed space.”
The U-shaped and C-shaped designs tend to provide more full-body cradling, notes Dr. patel
In terms of materials, it’s important to factor in both the filling and the external cover.
According to Light, shredded foam, especially latex foam, is the best pillow filler because it’s moldable, pressure-relieving and breathable, which helps keep the pillow cool.
For the cover, he recommends breathable, moisture-wicking materials that keep the pillow cool. “I’m a big fan of bamboo, which has these properties and is ultra-durable and naturally hypoallergenic,” he says.
The firmness of the body pillow affects its plushness and support and may also depend on your intended use, notes Dr. patel
“If you’re looking for a cushy body pillow to hug during the night, a soft pillow may be best, whereas if you want a body pillow to drape your leg over while sleeping on your side, a firmer option may better support your alignment ,” he says.
Having the ability to throw your body pillow — or at least its cover — into the washing machine will certainly come in handy, especially if you have kids or sleep with pets, notes Dr. polos.
“Look for a body pillow with a removable, machine-washable cover to make cleaning a breeze,” he says.
Temperature regulation is an important feature considering that the pillow is held against the body and, therefore, can affect your internal body temperature, notes Dr. Shut up. Be quiet.
“Memory foam tends to trap heat, while latex and down are on the more breathable side,” he adds.
Most body pillows measure between 48 and 54 inches in length. dr Patel recommends shorter pillows for sleepers who aren’t as tall or don’t feel they need cushioning between their ankles.
It’s also important to remember that larger sizes take up more space in the bed, so take your mattress size and sleeping situation (any bedmates?) into consideration.