Your sleep comfort and support are actually dependent upon the choice of pillow you make. Side, back, and stomach sleepers all require different thicknesses, and your body shape, size, and personal preferences surrounding material and construction are all a part of what makes you sleep well each night.
The size of your pillow is also an important factor, especially since there is truly no size fits all type pillow, and people really do vary in weight, width, height. Pillow type and size can also be incredibly influential on your comfort, especially if you have a pain of any sort, diseases, injuries, or other discomforts that you need aid in alleviating. Body pillows can be incredibly helpful in this regard and shouldn’t be brushed off as a luxury or an unnecessary addition to the bed simply due to their larger size.
Types of Pillows?
If you have ever been pillow shopping then you know that it doesn’t take long to be faced with a pretty large selection of different pillows to choose from. To simplify things, what we think of as pillows are generally categorized into a pillow or cushion type category with pillows being more specific to your nighttime comfort and cushions that are chosen more for aesthetic purposes.
What we are focused upon concerning body pillows is their size and how they lend themselves to your comfort in order to achieve a better night’s sleep. Although there is a standard, generally accepted body pillow size and shape, there are also a few more details you may want to take into account in order to determine if these are a type of pillow you should be considering. So, if you are asking yourself what is the standard size of a body pillow, you need to be aware that there is not a simple answer if you take into account the many varieties they are available in.
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What is a Body Pillow?
Technically, a body pillow is any pillow that is larger than the accepted dimensions of the standard pillows offered for head and neck support while you sleep. Whereas the correct standard pillow is highly influential upon cervical support and body posture, they don’t always address the other comfort needs you may have surrounding pressure points, joint pain, injury support, or other uncomfortable nighttime situations.
Due to the unique shapes of body pillows (explained below), these offer cushioning, support, and contouring against other parts of your body as you sleep. This can help hold your body in more relaxing positions, alleviate areas that cause issues, and provide what you need to avoid during a restless night (which can wreak havoc on your overall health over time).
Body pillows can come in different shapes and sizes to address specific needs, but the most acceptable size and what people think of when searching for a body pillow is the general 20 x 54 inches that define a straight, uncurved body pillow width and length that has a polyfiber filling.
I’ll explain below, however, that you don’t need to limit yourself to just one style- especially if you are in need of something specific to help get a better night’s rest.
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Body Pillows and Their Various Uses
Even if most people define a body pillow as a long, narrow pillow, that doesn’t mean you have to be constrained within those parameters. There are actually quite a few different shapes of body pillows available. Most of these pillows are heavily marketed as pregnancy pillows due to the added support the pregnant body often needs; this causes them to be overlooked and misunderstood by many who might take advantage of them.
However, body pillows are far from a product made for a specific time in a woman’s gestational period. Rather, those recovering from injury, pain, comfort disruption, or suffer from disease or deformations often turn to various types of body pillows in order to provide the comfort that no other pillow or sleep aid can render in order to allow them a peaceful night. They can support the spine through a leg and hip elevation, support a pregnant belly, alleviate discomfort from surgery to keep weight off specific body parts and provide a barrier to keep from rolling (to name just a few uses).
Take a look below at what various options exist:
Types of Body Pillows and Their Relative Sizes
Body pillows are mostly created with a side sleeper in mind and their loft reflects as such. Stomach sleepers looking to support a more healthy sleep position often turn to body pillows to better support their spinal health and begin to influence their body to sleep more comfortably on the side. Some include head and neck support, while others are specific to hip, knee, and back pain alleviation.
As mentioned, the straight body pillow is the most commonly sought after body pillow when the term is mentioned. These are almost always about 20 x 54 inches and can have a variety of fill. Polyfiber is the most popular for almost all body pillow types, and you may also come across buckwheat hull, microbead, down and feather, or shredded memory foam.
These are excellent choices when you want to use your own head and neck pillow- and are looking for knee joint pressure point relief, hip support, or even to lean back against. They also serve as an extra cushioning across the top of your bed to help provide a gentle upwards slope (that can help relieve snoring or conjunction).
L-shaped pillows can be used either as a head, neck, and body combo, or it can be placed down between the knees and legs to provide knee support and help keep the hips more level with one another. This can help alleviate stress along the lower back and keep the ligaments and tendons through the hips from stretching.
Typically, the dimensions of these pillows either have each side of the pillow equal to one another (an example is a 24-inch length for each side of the L and an 18-inch width of the pillow itself). You may also find one side of the pillow longer than the curved part, such as a 36-inch long length with a 24-inch short length.
C-shaped pillows are exactly shaped as they sound. These pillows have a gently curved length with two equally long curved arms that bend inwards and don’t quite touch. These can be used in a variety of ways as they also easily fold, plus they offer head, neck, and body support. As a full body pillow, you can take advantage of the long side of the specific head, shoulder, hip and knee support, or flip it around to lean into it.
These are often approximately 60+ inches in length with about a 24 to 30-inch width. As mentioned, they can usually fold or even be twisted around to take advantage of it in a sitting or lounging position, or you can create more of a J-shaped (described below) if desired.
U-shaped pillows are like joining two straight body pillows together with a gentle upper curve meant for your head and neck. These are most popular through pregnancy and those recovering from surgery due to how well they can be manipulated, twisted, folded, and placed in various positions for a variety of support options.
The arms are usually around 60 inches in length with the total width easily being 40 to 50+ inches wide. This takes up the better part of a twin size bed- or at least half of a queen or king-sized bed. These types of pillows are often overlooked due to their size but are probably more supportive than any other option when pain relief and comfort is needed.
Obviously, the letters that represent the names of these pillows more than represent the shape of the pillow. They also lend to the comfort, as seen with the J-shape body pillow- which is similar to the L-shape in that it can be used as a full body, combination support or more as a body pillow to use with your own head and neck pillow choice.
Unlike an L-shape, which may have equal arm lengths, the J-shape has a longer body than the hooked arm. Coming in approximately at 80+ inches in total length, the J-hook is often a gentle curvature and lends itself well to a head, neck, hip, and knee support or as a simple knee and lower body support.
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Obviously, the simple question of what size is a body pillow is not one that lends itself to a simple answer. Body pillows are varied in shapes, sizes, and material make, and it can be used for everything from pregnancy to surgery recovery and whatever falls in between. They are popular for pain alleviation of all types and as a simple comfort support- and it truly is a sleep aid product for all body shapes and sizes if you can find one that works for you.