While there are many reasons someone may develop chronic lower back, hip, or knee pain, numerous studies point to how you sleep as a possible culprit.
Most experts agree that sleeping on your back is best for back health, as this position encourages a neutral spine and neck.
Side sleeping, on the other hand, has been associated with a number of chronic conditions, including low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, and knee pain.
So what if, like most American adults, you sleep on your side?
The good news is that you don’t have to change your sleeping position in order to minimize the negative effects associated with side sleeping.
In fact, sleeping on your side with your neck, hips, and knees properly supported can be just as gentle on the spine as sleeping on your back.
According to experts, one of the best ways to ensure proper alignment of the lower body when sleeping on your side is to use a knee pillow.
Sleeping with a knee pillow can help people with poor circulation as well as offering pain relief from a number of conditions.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the benefits of using knee pillows and offer a few tips for the first-time buyer.
We’ll then review the 7 best knee pillows currently being sold and make a final recommendation as to which is the best knee pillow out of them all.
Why Use a Knee Pillow?
Knee pillows provide extra cushioning between the knees in order to prevent the knee joints from rubbing together.
They also encourage optimal alignment of the lower back, hips and knees while you sleep. A quality knee pillow will also help keep your spine aligned during the night.
Knee pillows are particularly beneficial for side sleepers, but they are also recommended for:
While supine sleep is thought to be the best position for managing lower back pain, many back sleepers can benefit from using knee pillows.
A pillow placed under each knee, for example, can help alleviate tension and pressure in the lower back.
This position also elevates the lower body, thereby increasing blood circulation in the legs.
Individuals with hip, knee, or back pain
Sleeping on your side, with one leg stacked on top of the other, throws the lumbar spine out of alignment and increases pressure on the lower back.
Over time, this can lead to chronic hip, knee, and lower back pain.
Knee pillows keep the knees, hip, and lower back aligned in order to reduce pressure on the spine. This can dramatically help with pain relief.
Using a knee pillow can help pregnant women alleviate the extra pressure placed on the pelvis and hips as their bodies change.
For pregnant women the full body type of knee pillow works best.
Types of Knee Pillows
Knee pillows come in many different shapes, but the most common ones are hourglass, wedge, and half-moon.
There are also body pillows which, while not specifically designed for the knee, can provide whole-body support for side sleepers.
This is the most popular knee pillow shape.
This type of pillow features contouring along the sides that fits against the natural contours of the knees for maximum comfort and stability.
These pillows have a triangular shape.
They are ideal for use under the knees when sleeping on your back, but they can also be used between the knees for extra cushioning when sleeping on your side.
These pillows resemble a cylinder that has been cut in half lengthwise.
Like wedge pillows, half-moon pillows are most suitable for back sleepers, but side sleepers can benefit from using them as well.
This versatile support pillow can be used to support the head, neck, hips knees, and legs while you sleep.
Body pillows are also ideal for pregnant women who need extra support for the abdominal region.
Body pillows come in a variety of shapes, including a “U” and “C” shape, which is designed to keep the head in proper alignment with the spine.
What to Look for When Buying a Knee Pillow
Below are a few features to look for when comparing the best knee pillows for sleeping.
The right shape knee pillow for you depends on your sleep position.
In general, hourglass-shaped pillows are best suited to stomach and side sleepers, while back sleepers may prefer a half-moon or wedge shape.
The thickness of the knee pillow will determine how much cushioning it provides.
There are no set guidelines for choosing a pillow’s thickness, but many experts recommend using your body weight as a benchmark.
Generally speaking, heavier people will benefit from the extra cushioning and support provided by thicker pillows, while lighter people may find a thinner knee pillow to be more comfortable.
Knee pillows are usually filled with a single piece of high-density memory foam, but you’ll find plenty of body pillows on the market that are filled with down, down alternative, shredded foam, and even water.
Another filling that is growing in popularity is buckwheat hull.
While more research needs to be done on the benefits of this natural pillow filling, it is thought that buckwheat helps distribute the body weight more evenly, thereby relieving the lower back pressure that contributes to chronic pain .
Cool vs. Warm
Another important consideration when choosing a knee pillow is whether you’re a “warm” sleeper or a “cool” sleeper.
If you tend to feel cold at night, you may prefer a pillow made from a material that traps body heat.
If, on the other hand, you tend to feel hot at night, you’ll want to consider a knee pillow made with cooling gel and/or covered with a breathable material.
The material used on the outside of the knee pillow will not only determine the comfort of the pillow, but also its breathability.
Common materials used for knee pillow coverings are cotton, polyester, nylon, and rayon.
There is also a growing number of knee pillows on the market that feature covers made from bamboo fibre, which is naturally antimicrobial.
A quality knee pillow should cost you no more than $30, but there are some “speciality” pillows that carry a much higher price tag.
Do your homework before purchasing a pillow, and remember that the price of a pillow does not necessarily reflect its quality.
The Best Knee Pillows for Sleeping
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of using knee pillows and what you should be looking for when buying one, we’ll review the best knee pillows for sleeping that are currently being sold.
We’ve based our selections on comfort, durability, price, and overall customer satisfaction.
1. ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow
Like many knee pillows, the ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow is filled with 100 per cent high-density memory foam.
Weighing only 12 ounces, however, this hourglass-shaped pillow is much lighter than other memory foam knee pillows on the market.
The ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow features a breathable, removable cover that is machine washable.
This pillow provides firm support, but some customers have complained that it is too small and thin.
Fortunately, the pillow is backed by a 100-per cent customer satisfaction guarantee, allowing you to try it out before buying it.
Pros: Made from high-density memory foam, lightweight construction, breathable and removable cover, washable cover, backed by a customer satisfaction guarantee
Cons: May be too small and thin for some
2. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow
The Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow shares the same hourglass-shaped design as the ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow, with the addition of a removable knee strap that can be used to hold the pillow in place as you sleep.
This convenient feature makes the pillow ideal for side sleepers, pregnant women, and others who may have difficulty keeping their knee pillow in place throughout the night.
Reviews for the Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow pillow are overwhelmingly positive, but those with heavier legs may find the pillow too thin.
A few customers have also complained that the pillow tends to lose its shape over time, but this minor fault is covered by a generous lifetime replacement warranty.
Pros: Inexpensive, carrying case included with purchase, comes with two pairs of memory foam earplugs, backed by lifetime replacement warranty, removable strap to hold the pillow in position
Cons: May be too thin for some, tends to flatten over time
3. ComfiLife Half Moon Pillow
The ComfiLife Bolster Pillow is a versatile support pillow that can be used on various parts of the body.
Tuck the pillow between your knees, under your knees, or under your neck while sleeping to reduce strain on the joints and boost circulation.
During the day, the pillow can be used as a lumbar support pillow while you work or watch TV.
The ComfiLife Bolster Pillow features a memory-foam core wrapped in two soft cotton covers that are removable and machine washable.
This pillow provides very soft support, which some may too soft.
The ComfiLife Bolster Pillow appears to be on the shorter side so people who want a longer pillow should look at other options.
The product is backed by a 100-per cent money-back satisfaction guarantee, however, so you can try the knee pillow out for a few nights before deciding whether you want to buy it.
Pros: Breathable cover, removable and washable cover, can be used on other parts of the body, durable design, backed by a risk-free money-back guarantee
Cons: May be too soft for some, the pillow is slightly on the shorter side
4. NATUMAX Knee Pillow
The NATUMAX Knee Pillow’s design is similar in concept to the Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow, but the leg strap on the NATUMAX pillow is not removable.
Although there aren’t too many complaints about the strap from reviewers the only downside is it can be quite cumbersome to remove the pillow if you need to go to the bathroom during the night.
However, the built-in leg strap provides a lot more stability than removable leg straps which can unknowingly detach during the night.
The pillow features an hourglass shape, which helps distribute leg pressure more evenly, and is covered with a luxurious shearing cover that is removable and machine washable.
The other added benefits of the pillow is that it comes with a free sleep mask and ear plugs.
Pros: Built-in leg strap for added stability, soft shearing cover, backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee, comes with bonus sleep mask and ear plugs
Cons: Doesn’t have a removable strap option like Everlasting Comfort pillow
5. Contour Legacy Knee Foam Support Pillow
The Contour Legacy knee pillow features an extended design that provides extra support in the thigh and calf areas.
The pillow is made with 100-per cent pure memory foam and wrapped in a thick cotton cover that is removable and machine washable.
This memory foam pillow is ideal for side sleepers, as it encourages optimal alignment of the spine, hips, and legs as you sleep.
Some may find the pillow difficult to keep in place throughout the night, however, as it does not have any leg straps.
Pros: Ventilated memory foam for cooler feel, washable cover, ideal if you are a side sleeper
Cons: Doesn’t stay in place throughout the night
6. Modvel Orthopedic Knee Pillow
This hourglass-shaped knee pillow is made with physician-approved memory foam, so you can be sure it will retain its shape with repeated use.
The pillow is covered with a breathable, hypoallergenic cover to ensure maximum comfort throughout the night.
This pillow is a great choice for heavier individuals, as it is quite thick.
Lighter and thinner individuals may find the pillow uncomfortable.
Pros: Available in packs of 2, made with professional-grade memory foam, covered with breathable, hypoallergenic material, backed by a lifetime replacement warranty
Cons: May be too big and thick for some
7. Half-Moon Bolster Support Pillow
The 4 Position Half-Moon Bolster by Coop Home Goods is similar to the Abco Tech bolster in that it features a half-cylinder shape and consists of a high-density memory-foam core.
What makes the 4 Position Half-Moon Bolster unique is its removable foam insert, which can be used to adjust the thickness of the pillow for different body parts and sleep positions.
This pillow is only moderately firm, so some may not find it supportive enough.
A few customers have also complained that the pillow tends to lose its shape after a few weeks.
The pillow is backed by a 30 -day money-back guarantee, though, so if you are not satisfied with the product, you can return it for a full refund.
Pros: Bamboo fibre cover, adjustable design, backed by 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons: Tends to lose its shape, may not be firm enough for some due to high density foam
The Best Knee Pillow: Top Recommendation
We’ve chosen the Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow as the best knee pillow based on the pillow’s versatility, comfort, ease of maintenance, and budget-friendly price.
We also like that the manufacturer stands behind its product with a lifetime replacement guarantee.
The knee pillow comes with earbuds, which turn the Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow into a complete sleep “kit.”
It is estimated that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, so supporting the spine at night is crucial.
Consider using a knee pillow to reduce pressure on the lower back and prevent the development or worsening of chronic pain.
However, please note that a high-quality knee pillow may not be the solution to all your pain and discomfort while you sleep.
If you have any kind of persistent body or joint pain, make sure to seek professional help.