Looking for the best sleeping pillow for your knees? In this buyer’s guide, we’ll cover all the best affordable options currently available for purchase so that you can finally sleep better. Understanding the distinction between different varieties will be invaluable to the decision-making process. We’ll address a plethora of factors to consider when shopping, different types, form factors, and styles of knee pillows, their benefits, and limitations, as well as review the TOP 5 Best Knee Pillows we’ve seen on the market.
- What is a knee pillow and how it works?
- How to use a knee pillow?
- Types of knee pillows & form factor: what’s the difference?
- What to look for when shopping?
- Who will benefit, according to science
- TOP 5 Best Knee Pillows
The first time I’ve ever heard of benefits of knee pillows was when I was pregnant and had a particularly hard time sleeping. Before that, I was completely oblivious as to what a wonderful addition to sleep a knee pillow might be! If you have not yet used it then it’s about time! Knee pillows are particularly beneficial for people suffering from back, hip, and knee pain, and arthritis. But if you don’t have any of those conditions, you can still benefit from adding a knee pillow to your bedding. The further discussion explains how and why the added comfort can improve the quality of your sleep and your life.
A knee pillow is a type of pillow that has to be tucked in between or underneath the knees of a sleeping person for added comfort and a better sleeping alignment. You can actually use any type of pillow as a knee support, but the specialty knee pillows are always better because they are designed to match the natural contours of a person’s body and that is exactly why they are considered more effective and thus, preferred.
The place where you put a pillow mainly depends on what type of sleeper you are and if you suffer from any particular condition.
Where to place a knee pillow properly?
The general rule and common sense suggest you put your pillow in between your legs when you side-sleep, thus preventing your upper leg from going forward and twisting your pelvis or knees from touching one another. It’s generally not advised to sleep on a stomach, and the best thing you can do for your spine is to actually lie down and sleep on your back. That said if you’re a back sleeper, put a knee pillow underneath your knees, since they need to be bent to take pressure off the lower back.
Organic vs orthopedic knee pillow: what’s better?
Having a natural affinity for organic materials, it’s difficult for me to admit, that although being a natural alternative to industrial foam, it might not be the best solution for a knee pillow. For example, if we’re taking millet or buckwheat pillows, the hulls inside will definitely provide more air circulation that would keep you cool and comfortable throughout the night, but they might not be the best solution for knee support. And while the hulls won’t compress under pressure reducing the stress off vital points on your spine, the pillow can move around when you turn during your sleep, change its shape, and become less supportive. Thus, foam orthopedic pillows might be preferred because of the relatively stable structure and form factor, the issues we address below.
There are several types of knee pillows that are currently available for purchase:
Hourglass knee pillow, as its name gives away, is beautifully shaped in the form of an hourglass, and which has to be sandwiched in between your legs when you side-sleep.
Wedged-shaped pillow, as you may have already guessed, is shaped like a wedge and is intended for those who sleep on their backs.
Adds-on for better comfort and support:
Straps on knee pillows. Some pillows will come with an additional strap for the pillow to stay perfectly in place whenever and wherever you decide to move during your sleep. This is a fantastic addition if you happen to toss and turn a lot while you sleep. You slip the knee pillow and a strap on and over your leg and it just stays there. The strap is usually elastic and would fit anyone.
Velcros on knee pillows. Other pillows will come with a velcro strap, so when you put a knee pillow in between your legs, you just put the velcro strap on top to keep your legs attached to a pillow so it won’t migrate during your sleep.
There are a few things to consider when shopping for a pillow. First of all, if you suffer from a medical condition, it’s best to opt for a durable and effective orthopedic pillow advised by your doctor. Second of all, the choice greatly depends on what type of sleeper are you: if you’re a side sleeper, then choose an hour-shaped glass knee pillow, if you’re sleeping on a back, then opt for a wedge or a half-moon bolster, if you prefer sleeping on a stomach, then it might be best to avoid the knee pillow altogether or choose a very flat one and put in underneath your belly and pelvis instead.
Other criteria to look for:
Cooling effect: if you’re concerned with cooling properties of your pillow, then choose organic materials for the pillow’s cover or see if there are any cooling gel inserts available for a pillow of your choice.
Comfort: see how comfortable the pillow is and if you happen to be in a store, then put it between your legs and see if it fits, some pillows can be too huge for petite individuals, while others won’t incorporate large legs.
Support: look how firm the pillow is and see if you’re okay with the support it promises to provide. Some people do not like it very firm, so again, this is a matter of personal choice.
Now, let’s look at who’ll benefit from having such a wonderful addition to their “healthy bedding kit”.
First off, sleeping posture and position are very important for the overall well-being of an individual. Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center share the following tips for maintaining a good sleeping posture with the help of the pillows:
- If you’re a back sleeper, a knee pillow is essential for better alignment of the spine and support of your lower back. A pillow under your head should repeat the natural curve of your neck and provide the sufficient support for your head.
- If you’re a stomach sleeper, then choose a flat pillow for your head, and place another flat pillow under your stomach and pelvis to try and keep the spine in better alignment.
- If you’re a side sleeper, choose a firm knee pillow and sandwich it between your legs to prevent the upper leg from pulling your spine forward. Look for a pillow for your head that would keep your spine straight.
- When turning in bed, try to move your whole body in alignment into the desired direction, rather than twist your body at the waist.
Now let’s look at the benefits per specific medical conditions
Knee pillow for hip & knee pain & hip replacement
Harvard Medical School published a fantastically informative and educating article and a troubleshooting guide for people with knee and hip pain, where the researchers advised using knee pillows practically for every medical condition they mentioned in the guide: treating tendinitis, in recovery after hip replacement procedure, and even in nonsurgical treatments for knees and hips.
Knee pillow for arthritis
The scientists from Washington State University gave several recommendations for people living and coping with arthritis:
- Sit correctly with a rolled-up pillow to support the lower back
- When lying on your back, use a cervical pillow under your neck, avoid using a pillow under your knees
- When lying on a side, use several pillows, including a knee pillow for support of your legs
Knee pillow for back pain
Elizabeth Yu, MD, from the Wexner Medical Center of the Ohio State University, recommends sleeping on a back in case you suffer from back pain with a knee pillow underneath and a little roll behind the neck. And while sleeping on the stomach and side for back pain is not recommended, if you happen to be one of those people who doesn’t find it very easy to change habits, then (for side sleeping) put a knee pillow between your legs and flex your hips a little to make them closer to your face but not as close as to bend your spine. Try to stay away from sleeping on your stomach anyway, it’s hard but it can be achieved.
Knee pillow for pregnancy
Michael Cackovic, MD, from the same Wexner Medical Center of the OSU, advises pregnant women to sleep on their sides after 20 weeks into pregnancy. And to ensure greater comfort and support for the growing body, he advises slipping a pillow between the knees and under the belly.
Now let’s review the knee pillows that made it to our TOP list: we’ll cover bestselling wedge, half-moon shaped, and hourglass pillows that are all well-worth recommending.
Half-Moon Bolster/Wedge Support Pillow | Coop Home Goods
This is a versatile half-moon bolster that can be used for various purposes and in different ways: for the neck, lower back, under the knees or ankles, both for back and side sleepers. This pillow can also be used for massage and physical therapy, as well as a bed spacer to prevent a child (or even a grown-up) from rolling over. The pillow is adjustable because of the removable layer of foam that comes within the zippered cover (made of bamboo-derived rayon).
Many customers were genuinely happy with their purchases, some even purchased several of them. Those who complained said it was too hard. But this might be exactly what you would want in a pillow like that, the harder it is, the more support it provides.
Coop Home Goods: Check the current price
Back Pain Relief Half-Moon Bolster/Wedge | Cushy Form
This is a bestselling item from Cushy Form that is just as versatile as the previously described pillow from Coop Home Goods. It’s also shaped like a wedge and can be used for a variety of purposes and is designed both for back and side sleepers. It’s also of the same size and falls into the same affordable price category. The difference is in the material of a zipper cover, which in this case, is made of organic cotton. Other than that, it shares similar characteristics and qualities with the option described above.
The majority of testers confirmed the versatility of the pillow and its ability to deliver both comfort and support in various circumstances: some used it after hip surgery, for sciatica problems, and for physical therapy. The few unhappy testers complained of the average quality of the pillow which unfortunately didn’t meet their high expectations.
Half-Moon Bolster from Cushy Form: Check the current price
Orthopedic Knee Pillow Memory Foam HourGlass Contour | ComfiLife
This is yet another bestseller on our list but with much more happy consumers who often praised the item for durability, quality, comfort, support, and relief it provided. This is a definite recommendation and a must-have for anyone suffering from back and hip pain. The pillow’s ergonomically designed to ideally fit between your knees and provide maximum support and comfort at night and relieve pressure on the lower back. The manufacturer also claims that the 100% premium quality durable cut memory foam will provide long-lasting comfort for hours and is much more superior to other pillows that will go flat over time. Again, judging by an overwhelmingly positive consumer response this pillow obviously delivers as advertised.
ComfiLife: Check the current price
Orthopedic HourGlass Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers | Cushy Form
This is another product by Cushy Form, which is, however, shaped like an hourglass. This pillow is specifically designed for side sleeper as it ergonomically repeats the contours of the legs and knees. Just as other items on our list, it also provides sciatica, ankle, hip, joint pain relief, and would be beneficial for pregnant women or any other consumer who has trouble sleeping without added support in the knee area. Cushy Form is made of hypo-allergenic 100% visco-elastic memory foam.
There were many happy consumers who genuinely recommended the product, however, those who didn’t, often left complaints about the size of the pillow being too big if you’re a petite or a rather slim person. In any case, this pillow is, indeed, a little bit bigger than the one sold by ComfiLife, so if you’re a rather lightweight individual, then you’d find the ComfiLife pillow much more comfortable.
Hourglass Knee Pillow from Cushy Form: Check the current price
Knee Pillow w/ Adjustable & Removable Strap & Ear Plugs - Leg Pillow for Sleeping | Everlasting Comfort
This is my favorite hourglass shaped pillow on the list because it looks pretty sleek, modern, and cool, and, of course, comes with a few additional perks, like an adjustable and removable strap and bonus earplugs. A complete package for a better night sleep!
The pillow is made of 100% pure memory foam. It’s beautifully and ergonomically shaped and would repeat the curvatures of your body. Its orthopedic contour would keep your knees separated with ideal spacing and support to align your legs, hips, and spine. As mentioned earlier, the adjustable strap is a must-have if you’re chaotic in your sleep to prevent a pillow from migrating. No more hassle with readjusting your pillow! The pillow also comes with two pairs of premium quality memory foam earplugs with an industry leading noise reduction rating of 33. Hopefully, all of these features would convince you to buy this fantastic pillow.
Consumers were so happy, it’s hard to describe, many praised the “everlasting comfort” of the pillow, the durability, and support it provided.
Everlasting Comfort: Check the current price
How thick should a knee pillow be?
The knee pillows are usually from 4 to 8 inches thick, and the right size would depend on what type of body you have, if you have a few extra pounds, then look for a thicker pillow, if you’re underweight, then probably the least thick would be your best bet.
Is there a knee pillow for yoga or exercise?
Yes, there is. However, they don’t look anything like the pillows we described here, which are intended for the bedroom. Yoga knee pads, mats, or pillows would be rather flat, like these ones from SukhaMat, and would serve as a cushion for your knees or elbows to prevent injuries or make the exercise more comfortable.
Comparative chart of Knee Pillows
Having covered all the best options, we are pretty confident you’ll end up with a fantastic pillow that would serve as a great prop for your back and hips. If choosing between the pillows above, I’d go for ComfiLife or Everlasting hourglass pillow for side-sleeping, and a wedge-shaped one from Coop Home Goods for sleeping on a back. Enjoy your peaceful night!