If you find yourself consistently waking up with a sore back, it may be time to think about changing the way you sleep. One sleeping position that many people say helps them find pain relief is putting a pillow between their legs while sleeping on their side.

Putting a pillow between your legs keeps your pelvis neutral and prevents your spine from rotating during the night. Maintaining good alignment can relieve some of the stress from the tissues in your back and may potentially reduce pain caused by a herniated disc or sciatica.

Let’s dig deeper into the benefits of sleeping with a pillow between your legs. We’ll also walk you through the best way to get comfortable at bedtime.

Putting a pillow between your knees helps keep your knees on top of each other during the night. Without a pillow, your hips and back tend to twist.

Using a pillow to align your sleeping posture may have the following benefits.

Reduces back and hip pain

It’s estimated that up to 23 percent of the world’s adult population lives with chronic back pain. Correcting your sleeping position is one easy way to reduce back pain caused by poor posture.

Putting a pillow between your knees or thighs has the potential to help you maintain the natural alignment of your hips and pelvis while you sleep. This improved alignment may help take the strain off inflamed ligaments or muscles that are causing your discomfort.

May reduce sciatica pain

Sciatica is an impingement of your sciatica nerve that usually leads to pain in your buttocks and down the back of your leg. Sleeping in positions that cause twisting of your lower back and hips may make sciatica pain worse by further compressing the nerve.

Sleeping with a pillow between your knees may help you reduce compression by keeping your spine aligned.

May reduce herniated disc pain

If you’re dealing with a herniated disc, any excessive rotation of your spine may cause pain from pressure on your spinal nerves. Choosing a sleeping position that minimizes rotation of your spine, like sleeping with a pillow between your legs, may help relieve your discomfort.

May improve posture

Research has found that sleeping in nonsymmetrical postures can cause negative structural changes to your spine. Improving your sleep posture by putting a pillow between your legs may help you maintain your spinal health and overall posture.

Doctors usually recommend sleeping on your side while pregnant. Your left side is often referred to as your ideal position. People believe that sleeping on your left side allows for optimal blood circulation and keeps your uterus from sitting on your liver.

However, a 2019 review of studies found that sleeping on either side seems equally safe for you and the baby.

No matter which side you’re sleeping on, putting a pillow between your legs may make sleeping on your side more comfortable and reduce back pain by keeping your spine neutral.

Many companies make U- or C-shaped pregnancy pillows designed to make sleeping on your side more comfortable. These pillows hug your body and also have a piece that you can fit between your knees.

Putting a pillow under your knees while you sleep on your back is another potential way to reduce back and hip pain. If you’re someone who prefers sleeping on your back, or if you have pain on both sides of your body, you may prefer this position over sleeping on your side.

Here are a few of the specific benefits of this position.

Keeps your back neutral

Putting a pillow under your knees helps keep your spine neutral and supports the curvature of your back. You may also find it helpful to put a small pillow or towel under your lower back for extra support.

Evenly distributes your weight

Sleeping on your back keeps your weight evenly distributed against the widest part of your body. You may find this helps take the stress off your spine compared to sleeping on your side, especially if you have issues on both sides.

Keeps you from rolling over

Putting a pillow beneath your knees can reduce the likelihood that you’ll roll over into a less ideal position in the middle of the night.

Sleeping with a pillow between your legs is generally safe. If you find it hurts, you should avoid sleeping in this position.

If you have hip or back pain on both sides, you may find it difficult to sleep on your side and may want to try sleeping in a different position, like on your back with a pillow under your legs.

Here’s how you can optimally set up with a pillow between your knees.

  1. Lie down with your knees slightly bent toward your chest.
  2. Put a firm pillow between your knees so that your upper thigh is elevated enough to keep your hip neutral.
  3. If you’re using a thin pillow, or if you like to sleep with your top leg slightly in front, you may want to use two pillows.
  4. If there’s a space between your waist and your mattress, you may want to put another small pillow in the gap to keep your spine from bending.

Putting a pillow between your knees helps keep your pelvis and spine neutral while you sleep. You may find that it helps reduce your back or hip pain.

If you’re dealing with back pain on both sides, or if you prefer to sleep on your back, you can try sleeping on your back with a pillow beneath your knees.