If you're a side-sleeper (or love one), you must read this - design experts love this trick to get the best rest possible

These special pillows help align your spine by supporting your whole body, not just your head

A bedroom with a striped duvet cover on the bed
(Image credit: Future)

Just as we all have different tastes when it comes to design, we all prefer different sleeping positions when getting a good night's rest. From tummy sleepers and star fishers to back resters and side snoozers, all of us are different. What you might not realize, however, is each position has its own separate needs when it comes to supporting your body, and a great deal of that comes down to which pillow you choose. 

The primary function of a pillow is to support your head while you sleep in order to keep your head, neck, and spine aligned. The benefits are three-way: it promotes better posture, allows for easy breathing, and prevents cramps and aches such as neck pain during the day. Meanwhile, the rest of your body is supported by your mattress, but in certain positions (namely side sleeping) your weight isn't evenly distributed, which means more pressure on certain points of the body (typically the hips and shoulders). 

If you're a side sleeper - and that applies to 74 percent of us, according to bedding brand Casper - you'll want to know how best to support your posture while you sleep, and according to experts, a body pillow is the best pillow for the job. Here's why. 

Should side sleepers sleep with a body pillow? 

A long body pillow on a bed

(Image credit: Amazon)

The vast majority of us sleep on our side during some stage at night. For the most part, it's a safe position to sleep in (there's good reason we're so naturally inclined towards it, after all), but even if it doesn't cause you any discomfort, your spine is unlikely to be well-aligned while you sleep with your weight on one shoulder. 

For this reason, a medium-soft mattress is usually recommended for side sleepers to relieve pressure from their shoulders and hips, however, some experts say this isn't enough. Instead, they recommend a body pillow. 

'Side sleepers should sleep with a firm pillow to align their neck and spine and a pillow between their knees to take pressure off of their joints, and a body pillow offers both of these in one,' explains Alex Olsen, a sleep expert at Pillow Cube. 'Sleeping with a body pillow (or a combination of a head and knee pillow) helps you maintain proper posture, reduces snoring, and helps you sleep better.'

How do you choose the right body pillow?

You might be instantly sold on a body pillow, but you'll want to know how to choose the perfect pillow before you go ahead and buy. As with our regular pillows, these larger sleep supports come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. These not only correspond with your height and body shape but with the specific areas where you need extra cushioning.

'Side sleepers can benefit from a variety of styles, including a traditional rectangular body pillow, U-shapes, J-shapes, and C-shapes,' explains Amelia Jerden, a sleep accessories expert at Sleepopolis. Rectangular-shaped body pillows are the more basic yet versatile variety. They're essentially a regular pillow, but elongated. You can put them between your knees and hug the top half (which helps maintain the natural curve of your spine), use them beneath your shoulders and hips for extra cushioning, and double it up as a bolster pillow when you're sitting up in bed.

Meanwhile, U, J, and C-shaped pillows are designed to wrap around your whole body. The idea is that you tuck the length of the pillow between your bent legs and arms and, depending on the shape, the upper portion acts as a headrest. They do of course take up more space in your bed, however, so they might not be the best idea if you share with a partner. 

According to Alex, it's important to consider the length of the pillow, too. 'Most body pillows measure between 48 and 54 inches in length (the longer it is, the more supportive it will be),' he says. 'Memory foam is also recommended because it provides the most support.'

Ready to invest in a body pillow? Try these for size... 

Lilith Hudson
News Editor

Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.