Getting comfortable is the first step to falling asleep, but what if you just can't seem to find that perfect position? If you've been struggling to get the healthy, restorative sleep you need, your sleep environment may be the culprit. Is it time for a new mattress? Maybe you need to replace your flattened pillows?
If your mattress and pillows are in tip-top shape, you may get the relief – and rest! – you need by investing in a body pillow. But before you dive in and make a purchase, let's take a closer look at how body pillows can improve your sleep and who can benefit from them.
What Is a Body Pillow?
Essentially, a body pillow is an oversized pillow. Although some are as long as six feet, typically body pillows are not the complete length an adult’s body On average, a full body pillow is between 48 and 54 inches long. Think of it as a giant, huggable pillow that you can snuggle up with in bed.
Body pillows are great for side sleepers who want to align their spine, pregnant people who need extra support or anyone who simply wants to wrap themselves in a cozy embrace while they sleep. The possibilities are endless!
To that end, body pillows come in a variety of shapes. They can be straight, cylindrical, or shaped like alphabet letters and candy canes. The straight, or I-shaped, design is the standard model and offers a lot of versatility.
What Are the Best Body Pillow Materials?
What’s inside your body pillow and what it’s encased in will determine how firm, supportive, moldable, durable, breathable or expensive it is. Body pillows can be filled with a variety of materials, but some common fill materials include:
- Memory foam: Memory foam is a popular fill material known for its ability to conform to the body's shape and provide personalized support. However, it’s highly flammable and usually comes doused in flame retardant chemicals. It can also make you feel hot and sweaty.
- Down feathers: Down feathers are soft and lightweight, providing a plush feel. They offer a gentle cushioning effect and can create a cozy sleeping experience. Keep in mind, it's important to ensure the down is responsibly sourced and, for some, down may pose allergenic concerns.
- Polyester: Polyester is a synthetic material that is often used as a cost-effective fill option. It provides a medium level of support and can retain its shape well. But, be aware that polyester traps heat, making it a poor choice for hot sleepers, and it’s environmental impact is not to great, either.
- Latex: Natural latex, derived from the sap of rubber trees, is a resilient and supportive fill material. It offers a responsive feel and can help maintain proper spinal alignment, but make sure to look it’s important to look for latex with GOLS or FSC® certifications. Latex is also a known allergen, however, so it’s not for everyone.
At Naturepedic, we’ve hit on an excellent combination for our body pillow. We use an ultra-resilient PLA batting made from non-GMO sugarcane for clean comfort and support with only the best of the best for our body pillow encasement – GOTS certified, silky-soft, breathable organic cotton, of course! This allows for a healthier, certified non-toxic body pillow that’s allergy-friendly and vegan-friendly, too.
5 Sleepers Who Benefit From a Full Body Pillow
Almost anyone can find comfort and support from a body pillow, even if you’re just using it while you binge watch your favorite TV show. However, body pillows can be more beneficial to certain people. Take a look:
1. Side Sleepers
Full body pillows offer proper support for side sleepers. You can hug your body pillow in front and between your knees while adding a second body pillow behind for even more comfort and support if you wish. This keeps the spine aligned and also relieves pressure points for side sleepers. Get more tips for side sleepers here.
2. Back Sleepers
People tend so associate body pillows with side sleepers, but they can be a useful sleep accessory for back sleepers, too. If sleeping on your back, try placing your body pillow under your knees or under your lumbar region. This can provide extra support and help maintain the natural curvature of the spine. You may need to adjust the pillow’s placement until you find a comfortable position that supports your lower back.
3. Those Searching for Pain Relief
Like we said, body pillows help ensure proper spine alignment. This is important because, when your spine is out of alignment for eight hours a night, it can cause all sorts of pain, whether it be back, neck, shoulders or hips. Body pillows can also help with muscle relaxation along the spine and nervous system support for a deep, restorative sleep.
4. Pregnant Sleepers
During pregnancy, expectant parents often have a difficult time getting comfortable. Sleeping can be a challenge, and a body pillow is a must. Body pillows can help relieve pressure, evenly distribute weight and increase blood flow. Sleep is especially important during pregnancy, and if you’re struggling, a body pillow certainly worth a try! Learn more about sleep and pregnancy here.
5. Those With Certain Health Needs or Conditions
Anyone recovering from a leg, hip or back injury in need of added elevation and support or relief from pressure can benefit from a body pillow. Placing the pillow under the legs or arms can reduce swelling, provide comfort and aid in healing. Those with sleep-disordered breathing, sleep apnea or acid reflux may also benefit from the extra elevation a full body pillow can provide.
Body Pillows Can Help With Mental Health, too
There is a powerful connection between sleep and mental health. First and foremost, body pillows contribute to improved sleep quality, which is crucial for maintaining your mental health. Here are a few more ways a body pillow may provide another kind of support:
- Hugging a pillow can release oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” which can help alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and promote feelings of safety and contentment.
- Body pillows can provide a sense of physical and emotional support, acting as a soothing presence, which can be particularly helpful for those dealing with depression, anxiety or PTSD.
- Body pillows can be used as a coping tool for individuals dealing grief, providing a source of comfort and emotional support during a difficult time.
- Body pillows can tap into the mind-body connection – when the body feels comfortable and well-supported, it can enhance feelings of self-care and overall well-being!
It's important to note that while body pillows can be a helpful complement to mental health support, they are not a substitute for professional care. If you're experiencing mental health concerns, it's essential to seek guidance from a qualified healthcare professional or therapist.
If you came into this thinking body pillows were just for side sleepers, hopefully we’ve helped open your eyes to the many ways that a body pillow can help you get the sleep you need. Plus, we weren’t kidding about the Netflix binging – they are great for that, too!
Interested in learning more about Naturepedic’s organic pillow line-up? From old favorites to new releases, we have a pillow for everyone. Browse our pillow collection.