Should You Sleep With a Pillow Between Your Knees?

Sleeping with a pillow between your knees can offer several benefits and improve sleep quality. When side sleeping, the weight of the legs can pull the pelvis and cause rotation, leading to lower back and sacroiliac joint pain. Placing a pillow between the knees can alleviate tension, improve spinal alignment, and prevent pain in these areas. It also relieves pressure on the hips and prevents discomfort that may arise from stretching soft tissue and muscles. Additionally, using a pillow between the knees helps avoid stomach sleeping, reduces knee tenderness, and eases pregnancy discomfort by providing support and stabilizing the spine.

While sleeping, if you can experience any little extra bit of comfort, it oftentimes can make all the difference. This is especially true if you experience back pain or other general discomfort while sleeping. As it turns out, sleeping with a pillow between your knees just might be the thing that reduces pain and transforms your sleep quality in a big way.

“Pain is an indicator that something is wrong, and a person’s body will naturally change position to avoid pain,” says Kevin Lees, doctor of chiropractic and director of chiropractic operations at The Joint Chiropractic. “If pain is occurring at night, this may lead to tossing and turning, never letting the person fully relax and recover. Pain also can elevate your stress hormones, which can prevent someone from sleeping well. A pillow between your knees can help with a variety of sleeping problems.”

If you’re wondering why sleeping with a pillow between your knees helps, ahead, we’ll walk through the top benefits of sleeping with a pillow between your knees and answer common questions.

Benefits of sleeping with a pillow between your knees

Prevent pain in the lower back and sacroiliac joints

Lees says when side sleeping, the pelvis can be pulled from the weight of a person’s legs. This can cause rotation that may aggravate the lower back and sacroiliac joints, which link the pelvis and lower spine.

Sleeping with a pillow between your knees can ease any tension that may build up in those areas and can help improve spinal alignment in the process.

Alleviate pressure on hips

“With the top leg bent and draped over the bottom leg, the soft tissue and muscle that runs down the outside of a person’s thigh can be stretched,” explains Lees. “After a long period of inactivity, this may develop into a tender area over the hip.”

That means that overnight, this pain can develop, leaving you with achy hips in the morning. A pillow between your knees can help stop this pain in its tracks before it even starts.

Avoid stomach sleeping

Since sleeping on your stomach is the least desirable sleeping position (it can cause strain on the spine), snoozing with a pillow between your knees can keep you in the ideal side-sleeping position instead.

“Having only the top leg bent can lead a person to turn onto their stomach, which may lead to low back and neck soreness,” Lees says.

Head off knee pain

“Bending both knees can cause tenderness where the knees touch,” Lees observes. He adds that a pillow between the knees when side sleeping can help prevent problems like this.

Ease pregnancy discomfort

When sleeping with a pillow between your knees, you may be able to alleviate pregnancy discomfort. It’s considered one of the preferred ways for pregnant people to sleep as it helps keep the belly comfortable and stabilize the spine as well.

How to sleep with a pillow between your knees

Lees shares the proper way to sleep with a pillow between your knees: “The knees should be slightly bent, and the pillow should be thin enough that it doesn’t cause the top leg to rise much from its natural position,” he says. It’s a particularly great way to support the side-sleeping position as well.

“While sleeping on your side, the pillow between the knees is the most beneficial,” Lees says. “Keeping the knees slightly bent allows more stability in the lower back and pelvis when side sleeping. This stops the person from rolling to their stomach or allowing their pelvis and lower back to twist.”

He also notes that some people may have hip or knee pain that prevents them from comfortably bending their knees while sleeping. Body pillows are usually thicker and can be used to lean on while sleeping on your side. The top leg can also be draped over the pillow, letting the bottom leg stay straight.

What type of pillow to use between your knees

“Pillows between the knees generally don’t need to be too thick,” says Lees. “A very thick pillow may cause the top leg to rest uncomfortably high.” As for the material, it really varies. “Some material is more stable and firmer, and others are softer but can clump and lose support.”

Lees adds that breathability is important. “If a pillow is very dense, it can feel hot and may cause sweating,” he says. Additionally, some pillows are made to fit your knees and legs, having indentations on each side. “This allows the pillow to be more stable in its position,” he says.

Find the right pillow to suit your needs at Saatva

Latex Pillow

A core of shredded natural latex, wrapped in a breathable organic cotton cover. Plush and responsive for the perfect head and neck support.

Down Alternative Pillow

Made from two types of hypoallergenic down alternative fibers, wrapped in 100% organic cotton. Soft, plush, and breathable for cool, comfortable sleep.


Is it OK to sleep with a pillow between your knees?

If you’re wondering if you can sleep with a pillow between your knees, the answer is yes. In fact, it’s a great way to support a side-sleeping position and can ease a variety of aches of pains so you don’t wake up sore in the morning.

Why do I sleep better with a pillow between my knees?

“Side sleeping with a pillow between the knees provides stability and comfort for the hips and lower back,” Lees says. This can, in turn, lead to improved Z’s.

Can placing a pillow between my knees help with back pain while I sleep?

“If you are a side sleeper and wake with a sore lower back or toss and turn due to lower back pain, using a pillow between your knees may be a good solution,” Lees says. “The pillow can help reduce pressure on your hips as well as provide stability to your pelvis to stop it from twisting and creating low back pressure.”

Is there ever a situation when you should skip the pillow altogether? Find out when sleeping without a pillow makes sense.

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