Home / Blog September 09, 2022

5 min read

How To Use a Body Pillow for a Better Night’s Sleep

To use a body pillow, move onto your side and tuck the length of the pillow between your bent legs and arms. Depending on the shape, you may be able to use the upper portion of your body pillow as a head rest. Some can even be wrapped in a U-shape, supporting both the front and back of your body.

how to use a body pillow


There are 4 main body pillow shapes: I, J, C, and U. The type you choose mostly depends on your individual needs

If you’re side sleeping, you can place one end of your body pillow between your knees and the other between your arms no matter what shape it is.

Using your body pillow to sleep on your left side can improve your digestion 

Did you know?
Using a body pillow during pregnancy can help support your limbs and belly while you sleep, reducing back pain while keeping your baby safe.

Have you heard of body pillows and their benefits but aren’t sure what on earth to do with one? Confused by how this pillar of plush is supposed to help your back?

Figuring out how to use a body pillow can be a challenge at first, especially when you start to encounter different shapes. But for side sleepers (and anyone struggling to get a good night’s sleep), they can be invaluable.

The different types of body pillows have many uses, allowing you to get creative. However, getting the most out of a body pillow is often simply a matter of giving it a big hug and enjoying your rest.

What Is a Body Pillow Used For?

Before getting into the how of body pillow sleeping positions, it’s important to think about what they’re used for. Hint: they’re more than just swanky decorations for your bedroom.

A Norwegian and Danish study published in 2017 monitored over 1,100 male and female participants from Danish companies, keeping track of their sleeping positions and movements.

They found that, on average, participants slept on their sides 54.1% of the time. This number rose alongside factors like age and body mass index (BMI), making side sleeping by far the most popular sleeping position, with back-sleepers making up roughly another third of total sleep.

The trouble with spending all of that time on your side is that it’s not ideal for the natural shape of your spine. Luckily, body pillows have your back!

When used properly, body pillows have all sorts of health benefits.

For example, a 2021 study found that use of a cylindrical body pillow relieved pressure on the hips, back, and shoulders. That same study also found that body pillow users had their slow wave sleep interrupted much less.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can use your body pillow to its full potential.

how to use body billow - bearaby

How To Sleep on a Body Pillow

The basics of using a body pillow are easy to remember. You place it between your arms and legs like you’re giving it a hug.

But there are some nuances to be aware of if you’re wondering about how to use a body pillow for back pain.

Most importantly, there should be a slight bend in your knees because if your legs are stretched out too far it can be uncomfortable and start to strain your back over the course of a night.

Another way to sleep on body pillows involves padding your back to discourage rolling over.

You can get even more creative from there, depending on the shape you’re dealing with.

I-Shaped Body Pillows

The most common shape of the bunch is the I-shaped body pillow. This shape is also the most versatile – long body pillows made of responsive materials (like our comfy Cuddler) can be used in any of the other classic body pillow shapes.

Typically, I-shaped body pillows appear in cylindrical form, but they can also look flatter and more rectangular.

These pillows have been used for a long time in physiotherapy circles as a way of treating back pain, and there are two main ways of using them.

First, you can slide it between your legs and arms, gently draping your top limbs over it. This gives your hips and shoulders some relief as they won’t be pulled down as much while you sleep.

As always, remember to keep a slight bend in your knees to best support your spine.

The second way of using the I-shaped pillow is by wedging it behind you for extra support. If accidentally rolling over during sleep is a problem for you, this could be the solution.

J-Shaped Body Pillows

The natural extension of the I-shaped pillow is the J-shape, and you can use it in similar ways.

The first, standard way of using the J-shape is to point the bend toward the bottom of your bed. That way, you can rest in the bend almost like it’s a little saddle.

From there, bend your knees slightly and hug the pillow with your arms and legs.

The advantage of this method is that the pillow is less likely to get dislodged and wake you up.

Another way to use the J-shaped body pillow is to put the bend at the top of the bed and rest your head on it.

If you have a J-shaped pillow, play around and see what style works best for you.

how to use a body pillow for side sleeper

C-Shaped Body Pillows

Bend the straight end of a J around and what do you get? A C!

C-shaped pillows offer an all-in-one solution for those who like both of the J-shaped positions equally.

To get the most out of this type of body pillow, tuck your body inside the C facing out.. The end result should leave the left side of the C hugging your back while you sit on the lower bend and rest your head on the upper one.

You may find that you need to try your C-shaped body pillow in person to make sure that it fits properly. It’s possible that one size fits all, but buying a pillow that’s too small for your body isn’t worth the gamble.

U-Shaped Body Pillows

The last common type of Bearaby body pillow is the U-shape. Some of these pillows are big enough to stretch all the way from head to toes, and some come with slight variations to the shape, such as a tiny hump on the insides of the arms.

One advantage of a U-shaped pillows is that it offers maximum security for those who want to prevent back pain but tend to roll around a lot.

Put the bend at the top of the bed and place your head on it while hugging one of the arms. Then, take the opposite arm and fit it snug to your back.

Do this, and you may be able to reap all of the pain-relieving benefits of a body pillow while making sure you don’t roll onto your back.

Using a Body Pillow While Sleeping on Your Back

What about those of us who just can’t stop rolling over onto our backs? Should we give up on body pillows altogether?

Cuddler are great for those who naturally prefer sleeping on their sides, but if you’re someone who prefers sleeping on your back, there’s no need to force it.

As it turns out, sleeping on your back can actually be good for you – if your back is healthy.

The problem is that for some people who are dealing with back problems like herniated discs or sciatica, lying flat can be painful.

If you’re wondering how to use a body pillow for back pain when you’re a back sleeper, the solution is simple. Place the pillow under your knees.

As mentioned earlier, keeping a slight bend in your knees is good for your spine, and you may find that the extra support of a body pillow helps relieve some of the pain you’re dealing with – even if you prefer sleeping on your back.

Which Side Should I Sleep On?

If you’re thinking of sticking with side sleeping, your next question might be whether to go left or right.

Which side you should sleep on should ultimately be decided by personal preference, but if you’re looking for a change, you might want to consider rolling to the left.

Because your stomach is on the left side of your body, sleeping on that side can aid digestion.

Add the pressure-relieving benefits and the fact that they can keep you on your side for longer, and you may find your body pillow leaves you feeling lighter from head to toe.


Body pillows can be a great tool for side sleepers looking for back pain relief and higher quality rest. They come in different shapes like I, J, C, and U, each one providing unique ways to get creative with your sleep regimen. You can also choose a more versatile body pillow that can be used in several shapes, such as our ergonomically-designed Cuddler.

Whatever body pillow sleeping position you choose, you can’t go wrong if you remember the basics. Hold the upper end between your arms and the lower end between your legs, and bend your knees slightly for maximum benefit to your back.