There are a lot of benefits of sleeping with a knee pillow. For side sleepers, it helps keep knees, hips and spine aligned to help prevent waking up stiff and sore. A lumbar knee pillow can also be very helpful for pregnant women with back problems who struggle to find a comfortable position to sleep. A knee bed pillow between the knees can reduce back pain, relaxing hips and lower back especially useful for post hip replacement or knee surgery.
To sleep with a pillow between your knees you can just fold a standard pillow in half. But these tend to slip and slide, and often you are likely to end up not sleeping in a tangled mess of pillows and bedsheets. It needs to be a special orthopedic designed lumbar knee pillow to be truly effective.
This article will give you a short introduction to the different knee pillows out there. Then we’ll review the best ones on the market today.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Aeris Knee Pillow
- ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow
- Cushy Form Knee Pillow
- Cushy Form Half Moon Bolster Pillow
- Best for Heavier Sleepers: Abcosport Cooling Knee Pillow
What is a Knee Pillow?
A knee sleeping pillow is a specially shaped, relatively small, pillow that is ergonomically designed to be placed between the knees right before you go to sleep and stay there. They can help prevent tossing and turning as well as provide a better night’s sleep.
Benefits of Knee and Leg Pillows
As anyone who suffers with frequent or chronic pain knows, there are a lot of things out there that claim they can help relieve pain but really don’t help much at all, so wondering if knee pillows really help, or are just another ‘gadget’ that promises a lot but delivers very little is perfectly natural.
Orthopedic pillows such as these keeps the body in the proper position for your spine to be aligned correctly throughout the night. And if your body is kept in alignment while sleeping on your side you will be less likely to wake up in pain. It can even help those with ‘bad knees’ as it quite literally prevents their knees rubbing together and causing more pain.
Knee pillows can’t solve pain problems completely, and they may not help everyone. Many people feel they do help a lot, and there is some science to back up their efficacy.
If you sleep on your side, a firm pillow between your knees will prevent your upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment and reduce stress on your hips and lower back.
The Best Knee Pillows
Now that we’ve gone over the benefits of getting a knee support pillow, we’ll review the best of the different options available. Not all knee pillows are the same!
You’ll quickly discover there are a lot of them out there to choose from. They are offered in different sizes, different shapes, in different materials and, of course, at different price points.
So, which of the many knee orthopedic pillows out there are really worth buying? That’s what we set out to find out. Thanks to our own tests, and the reviews and opinions of others who have tried these pillows, we offer you a look at 5 great lumbar knee pillows available today that you should give serious consideration when shopping.
1. Best Overall Knee Pillow: Aeris
What we love about it: This versatile knee pillow offers something for everyone and yet is very reasonably priced.
The Aeris knee pillow is a memory foam pillow that will, over time, change it’s already very thoughtfully deigned shape to match the curves of your own lower body. It’s well constructed and, somewhat unusually for memory foam, does not become hot and sticky after a few hours, thanks to the easy to care for, naturally antibacterial bamboo fabric cover. Users loved this and mentioned how ‘cool’ the pillow slept often.
In terms of shaping the bed pillow is rectangular with a gentle dip added at the middle to better accommodate your knees. The pillow even emits a rather pleasant lemon scent, instead of that rather nasty chemical smell that standard memory foam tends to give off – a process known as off-gassing – for some time after purchase.
Finally, there is the detachable bamboo fabric strap. Very few people sleep the whole night without moving a bit, which often dislodges a knee pillow. The Aeris pillow comes with a detachable strap crafted from the same bamboo fabric as its cover that can be used to secure the pillow to one of your legs so that it stays in place better even when you shift sleeping positions.
PROS: sleeps cool – and stays in better condition – thanks to an included bamboo cover, very reasonably priced for a high-quality pillow, detachable strap helps keep the pillow in place, no nasty off-gassing smell to contend with
CONS: Not the cheapest option available on our list, may not provide enough support for heavier people.
2. ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow
What we love: This is a well-made orthopedic pillow that stays put, meaning it keeps doing its job all night long.
As mentioned earlier, a knee pillow can be very helpful for those who suffer with knee and lower joint pain, and, according to the manufacturers, this pillow is especially designed to help relieve pain while also keeping your lower body properly aligned.
This memory foam pillow’s wedge shape certainly makes it very easy to slip between your knees, and it can withstand some shifting without becoming completely displaced, which is bonus for those who naturally shift quite a bit in their sleep.
Testers – and others who have tried and reviewed it – found the ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow did indeed stay in place rather well, and many felt that they noticed a difference in the level of waking joint pain when they slept with the pillow in place all night.
The only complaint commonly stated by users was that the cover – a polyester blend – can be very hard to get on and off and is prone to some slight shrinkage when washed.
PROS: foam conforms to your unique body shaped, accommodates sleepers of different heights, notable positive difference in waking up pain-free
CONS: cover is difficult to get on and off, may not suit taller sleepers
3. Cushy Form Knee Pillow
Why We Love This: The wedge shape and extra height makes this knee pillow a great choice for side sleepers.
Just because a pillow has the term ‘side sleeper’ in its name does not mean it is the perfect choice for people who do tend to sleep on their side, but it’s a good sign.
We mentioned earlier that knee pillows come in several different shapes. This is a wedge pillow, and is slightly higher than many other options, something that a number of users found helped to encourage better knee position when they were sleeping. Crafted form viscose memory foam it shapes to your body with use, but a washable bamboo and polyester helps it stay cool, unlike some memory foam pillows that can run hot after a few hours.
Users liked almost everything about this pillow, but for heavier people it lost its shape – and therefore the support it could offer – more quickly than they would have expected.
PROS: extra height encourages better body positioning while you sleep, stays cool thanks to the included bamboo/polyester cover, memory foam shapes to your unique body shape well.
CONS: may not be suitable for heavier people, some may not like the ‘fluffy’ cover.
4. Cushy Form Half Moon Bolster Pillow
What we loved: Super versatile, you can use this pillow as a back support pillow too.
Lots of knee pillows are either rectangular or wedge shaped, and for some that is just too angular too be truly comfortable. For those people there are crescent (moon) shaped knee pillows, and one of the best of them comes from Cushy Forms.
Not only did our testers – and many user reviews – state that the shape was very comfortable a number said that they used the pillow both as a knee pillow and a back support pillow, as it is shaped perfectly to be used either way. Some even reported this pillow was with them all day; as a back support at work and as a knee support at night.
PROS: rounded shape is more comfortable than an angled wedge for some, multi-purpose, sleeps very cool
CONS: may not meet the needs of heavier sleepers.
5. Best Knee Pillow for Heavier Sleepers: Abcosport
Why We Like It: A pillow suited to heavier people that still offers a lot of comfort and support.
You will have noticed that one of the cons attached to a few of our picks is that the pillow did not seem to work well for heavier people. Taking note of this we set out to find one that really was, and the Abcosport Knee Pillow seems to fit the bill very well.
The pillow is crafted from a higher density memory foam than many others and is slightly longer as well. Our testers – persons over 230lbs – and a number of online reviewers found that the Abcosport Knee Pillow felt ‘more stable’ when in use and maintained its shape better over a longer period of time. The extra weight did not seem to detract from the comfort though, which is certainly a plus.
As an added bonus this knee pillow comes with a cooling gel strip attached to the indented portion, something that many reviewers found to be an extra they really appreciated.
PROS: designed for heavier people and less likely to lose its shape quickly, cooling gel strip helps assure comfortable, cool sleeping
CONS: none that we could find.
Knee Pillow Buying Considerations
Our top five knee pillows offers, we think, something for everyone, but they are far from the only options out there. However, whichever pillow you eventually purchase, there are some things to keep in mind as you do:
Is The Knee Pillow Right For Your Weight?
As a general rule a thicker, slightly higher knee pillow is the best choice for a person who is heavier while thinner options may be very comfortable for a while they are likely to lose their shape faster.
What’s Your Sleep Style?
Everyone has a sleep style, so as far as possible, your new knee pillow should match it. For example, side sleepers may want to look for an option that’s specifically designed for that sleeping style, like the Cushy Form Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers on our top five list.
Are You a Hot Sleeper?
Most of the knee pillows on the market today are made using memory foam – including all the pillows on our top five list. As great as memory foam is, it can heat up quickly and lead to sweaty, hot sleeping conditions. Some memory foam pillows however -including some on our list – either have special gel coolants -like the Abcosport Cooling Knee Pillow or a removable cover crafted from a cooling material like bamboo, as the case for our top pick, the Aeris Knee Pillow.
Is the Pillow Guaranteed or Returnable?
Bedding in general can be hard to shop for both online or in person. Things like mattresses and pillows – including knee pillows – need to be slept on for a least a few nights before you can really tell if they are right for you. If the knee cushion you purchase cannot be returned, and it turns out that you didn’t make the right choice after all, then you are left out of pocket and frustrated.
One of the reasons that the Aeris Knee Pillow earned our top pick over what was some excellent competition is that previous purchasers reported they were able to return an unsuitable pillow easily.
How Does a Knee Pillow Work?
Here’s a quick video from Sammy Margo, a sleep expert and qualified chartered physiotherapist going over how a knee pillow works.
Keep It High
Lumbar knee and leg pillows are not a fix all, of course.
However, if you suffer from serious knee or back pain, or are struggling to sleep while pregnant, or recovering from knee or hip surgery – a bolster knee pillow will help relieve some of the pain and are certainly worth a try.
All of the options on our list boast a price tag that’s under $30 – just a little more than a higher quality standard pillow – and several, including my personal favorite, the Aeris Knee Pillow– can be returned or exchanged if they don’t prove to be right for you.