A good night’s rest is vital for overall health and well-being, but it’s not always easy to get comfortable enough to drift off to sleep. Cradling your lower limbs on a quality knee pillow, however, can help reduce pressure on your legs and relieve body pain.
A knee pillow works best for side sleepers but can also help relieve pain for back sleepers. When shopping for the best knee pillow, you’ll want to consider the pillow’s material, size and weight, shape, support, and firmness level that will best suit your sleep preferences.
- BEST OVERALL: COOP HOME GOODS Fully Adjustable Knee Pillow
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Contour Legacy Leg & Knee Foam Support Pillow
- BEST PAIN RELIEF: ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow for Sciatica Relief
- BEST WEDGE: BeautifulLife Back Pain Relief Memory Foam Pillow
- BEST COOLING: iDOO Knee Pillow for Back Pain with Cooling Gel
- BEST ADJUSTABLE SUPPORT: CT Compact Technologies Knee Pillow w/ Strap
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Knee Pillow
The best knee pillows come in a variety of materials, sizes, shapes, and support levels to suit users’ sizes and preferences. This guide reviews important shopping considerations to keep in mind as you browse so you can choose the knee pillow that suits you best.
When shopping for an item designed for extended contact with our bodies, material matters. A knee pillow’s construction and contents will dictate how soft, breathable, and cooling it is. When choosing a knee pillow, the fabrics from which the cover and the insert are made are important.
A pillow protector or cover made with natural fibers like cotton or bamboo will provide high breathability and natural antimicrobial properties. Polyester adds softness and helps wick away moisture, keeping the pillow dry to the touch. For these reasons, the most comfortable pillow covers are often made of a blend of natural and synthetic materials—it’s the best of both worlds.
The knee pillow’s insert material is also crucial because it’s what supports the user while sleeping. Knee pillows often feature inserts made of memory foam, but there are some knee pillows out there that have fills of down feathers, latex, polyfoam, and other materials. For the most support, firmness, and body contouring, memory foam tends to work best for knee pillows.
Size and Weight
Most knee pillows weigh less than a pound and are 4 to 8 inches thick. The reason one uses a knee pillow is to align the spine and achieve an optimal posture while sleeping; it would therefore stand to reason that a larger person needs a thicker or wider pillow to achieve alignment. When shopping for the best knee pillow, potential buyers should seek out those that are appropriately sized to accommodate their bodies.
In the end, though, there isn’t really a “wrong” knee pillow. The right size and weight knee pillow is the one that feels most comfortable to the user. The good news is that some knee pillows are adjustable, ensuring a comfortable position for just about anyone who purchases them.
Unlike standard bed pillows, knee pillows come in a variety of shapes, the most common of which are hourglass, wedge, and body. If you’ve reached the point of shopping for a specialized knee pillow, you probably already know that it’s also possible to use a standard pillow between the knees while sleeping. Regular pillows, however, do not offer the same benefits as knee pillows. Here are the various types of knee pillows and the types of sleepers they suit best.
- Hourglass knee pillows are the most common shape and are designed with a curved center and higher edges to hold knees in place. This shape is the most comfortable one for side sleepers.
- Wedge knee pillows (which are sometimes more half-moon-shaped than wedges) should be placed under the knees while sleeping. This shape works best for back sleepers. A wedge knee pillow slightly elevates the legs for increased circulation.
- Body pillows are long and narrow and typically extend from the torso to the feet. A body pillow not only fits between the knees but also cushions between the feet and the arms for added comfort and pain relief. Nestling a pillow between the feet can be beneficial for foot injuries or bunion pain.
- Strapped knee pillows come with an adjustable strap that keeps the pillow in place while sleeping. It is often a narrow piece of soft fabric that extends across the leg and is secured with a hook-and-loop closure.
Most knee pillows offer high support—in other words, they are super structured and ergonomically designed to support natural body shapes and positions. The support comes from the curved shape and material of the pillow.
The extra support provided by knee pillows is key to relieving body pain and promoting spine and limb alignment. Not everyone is comfortable with high support, so be sure to think through your preferences as you narrow down the best knee pillow for your needs.
A knee pillow’s firmness, much like its level of support, is a matter of personal preference. Pillows range from soft to extra firm, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each degree of firmness.
A firm knee pillow adequately fills the gap between the knees and will not collapse or change shape as much as a softer pillow will. A softer, squishier pillow does not change body posture as dramatically as a firmer pillow does. Pillows with medium firmness provide an excellent middle ground between soft and firm.
The curved shape and ergonomic design of knee pillows are designed to relieve pain. When you sleep on your side without a knee pillow, your top leg is typically out of alignment with the spine, which can cause back pain and discomfort. The top leg can also apply uncomfortable pressure to the bottom leg and knee joint.
A knee pillow separates the legs and places them in an optimal spinal alignment. It also helps eliminate the pressure that misalignment puts on joints and relieves everyday pressure and soreness.
Knee pillows can help regulate body temperature in a couple of ways. First, they separate the legs, which improves blood flow and increases air circulation around the body. When sleeping with a knee pillow, there is also limited skin contact between the legs which can significantly decrease overheating and sweating.
Second, some knee pillows are specially designed cooling pillows. They’re designed with breathable natural fibers, ventilating holes, or gel-infused memory foam. These features reduce heat retention and regulate temperature for a more comfortable sleep.
Our Top Picks
If you’re ready for a properly aligned, comfortable sleep, read on. These top picks represent some of the best knee pillows on the market in their respective categories. Whether you’re a side sleeper or back sleeper, there’s bound to be one that suits your needs.
Coop Home Goods’ hourglass-shaped knee pillow has a memory foam base and a removable foam core that allows for easy customization. If it’s a little too thick for your needs, simply unzip the side zipper to remove the 1-inch-thick piece of foam.
Another one of this firm pillow’s best features is its removable and machine-washable cover, which is a breathable blend of bamboo-derived viscose and polyester that keeps hot sleepers cool at night.
This firm pillow measures 12.6 inches long by 7 inches tall by 8 inches deep (7 inches without the insert) and weighs nearly 15 ounces. It is designed with a curve that keeps the spine, legs, and hips in alignment to reduce soreness.
Contour’s Legacy leg and knee support pillow eases sciatica, back, and joint pain for an affordable price. The hourglass pillow insert is made from ventilated, firm memory foam that promotes air circulation for a cool night’s rest.
The pillow cover is stitched with a thick blend of materials that are soft, stretchy, and safe to put in the washer and dryer. What’s unique about the Legacy pillow is that it is crescent shaped, rather than block shaped, and contours to the shape of the legs.
It provides comfortable support for all body shapes, for men and women alike. This knee pillow is 10 inches long by 6 inches high by 9.5 inches wide, and it weighs only 7 ounces.
Whether you’re experiencing pain from pregnancy, sciatica, joint problems, or poor posture, this orthopedic knee pillow may help. ComfiLife’s hourglass-shaped pillow has a high-density memory foam insert for superior support and comfort. The pillow’s contour aligns the legs, hips, and spine while promoting blood circulation to alleviate pain.
This product comes with a breathable, machine-washable pillowcase made from a cotton-polyester blend and has a zipper enclosure. The pillow measures 9.8 inches long by 7.9 inches wide by 6.3 inches tall and weighs about 12 ounces.
BeautifulLife’s memory foam pillow is an excellent option for those who switch between sleeping on their side and on their back. The pillow’s memory foam core offers firm support and aligns the spine and hips.
One of the best things about this product is its supreme versatility: the pillow is comfortable when used under knees or ankles, between legs, behind the lumbar spine, or wherever support is needed most.
This half-moon-shaped pillow is 20.5 inches long with an 8-inch diameter and a 4.5-inch radius. The inside is made with 100 percent visco-elastic memory foam that is also hypoallergenic. The organic cotton cover is breathable, and can be removed for washing.
If you need support and body alignment when sleeping but are easily overheated under piles of pillows and blankets, iDOO’s firm hourglass knee pillow with cooling gel is worth investigating. The gel reduces heat retention and feels cool to the touch.
Under the gel layer is a high-density memory foam contoured to fit the body, align the spine, and reduce morning soreness. Another of the iDOO’s knee pillow’s benefits is that it has an adjustable strap sewn into its machine-washable cotton cover, which keeps the pillow in place while sleeping.
The pillow can be used in multiple positions such as between the knees or the calves, or it can be used under the knees or legs. It measures 7.9 inches high by 9.8 inches long by 5.9 inches wide and weighs about 1.4 pounds.
This ingenious pillow from CT Compact Technologies is a Goldilocks solution for those who have tried other pillows only to find them too thick or too thin. This memory foam knee pillow has two separate memory foam layers—one medium-density and one thin—that can be used individually for light or moderate support, or they can be attached together for ultimate support and utmost comfort.
The inserts are enveloped in soft, breathable gray covers featuring stay-put straps that keep the pillow in place even when tossing and turning. When both pillows are together, they measure 10 inches long by 8 inches high by 8 inches wide and weigh 1.1 pounds. The medium-density base layer alone measures 10 inches long by 8 inches wide by 6 inches high; the top layer is 2 inches thick.
The Advantages of Owning the Best Knee Pillow
Knee pillows can help you wake up feeling well-rested and pain-free. They are best used in a side-sleeping position and keep your legs perfectly spaced in order to align the spine and improve blood flow and circulation. If you’re thinking about purchasing a knee pillow, consider these advantages:
- It may improve blood circulation to promote healing and overall health.
- A knee pillow can help relieve sciatica, back, joint, hip, and pregnancy pain by aligning the spine into a proper sleeping posture.
- Knee pillows can alleviate pressure and pull on the neck, spine, joints, and knees to prevent morning soreness and stiffness.
FAQs About Knee Pillows
If you’d like to know more about shopping and caring for the best knee pillows, consider the answers to these frequently asked questions.
Q. How thick should a knee pillow be?
When determining the thickness of a pillow, consider your weight and body type. Larger people tend to need a thicker pillow to achieve a comfortable knee position and spine alignment.
Q. Should I place a knee pillow under or between the legs?
Side sleepers often find placing the knee pillow between the legs to be the most comfortable, whereas back sleepers may find it more comfortable to place the pillow underneath the legs.
Q. How do I clean a knee pillow?
Most knee pillows are made with a form insert that should not be machine washed. Instead, remove the pillow’s cover and wash it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Q. How long do knee pillows last?
Knee pillows typically last from 1 year to several years depending on the frequency of use and how often the cover is washed.