A body pillow is an oversized pillow designed to cradle and support the body during sleep and rest. They come in many different designs and fillings intended to meet different physical needs, and stores that specialize in pillows and sleep accessories usually carry a variety of options.
If possible, people should test out a body pillow before buying it, since different people prefer different levels of softness and unique pillow styles. Feeling the pillow first ensures that the best possible option is selected. For people who often wake up with strange pains, the support a good one offers can make it a useful acquisition, although consulting with a chiropractor or other medical professional first is a good idea.
The most basic design is roughly rectangular, and about the length of the body. A person can lie against the pillow for extra back support, or use it as a prop to sit against. Regular pillows could be used to fill the same function, but they tend to shift and compress during sleep, ultimately not providing the same support.
Other body pillows are designed to surround the whole body, like a nest. These are useful for relieving tension and pressure during sleep, especially for restless sleepers. One can help to keep the body in place while providing support to the neck and front of the body as well as the back. Some adjustment may be required in the beginning to get used to a pillow designed in this style, but some sleepers ultimately find them very relaxing and pleasant.
Different types of fillings are used, ranging from firm memory foam to soft down. In some cases, a body pillow may have compartments with different fillings, designed to address different areas of the body. In all instances, the pillow should have a washable cover to keep it clean and sweet smelling, as regular washing can deform the filling and make it less effective.
Some companies sell body pillows designed for more specific functions. For people recovering from certain injuries, for example, one can make sleeping more comfortable by redistributing the body's weight and reliving painful pressure associated with the injury. In addition, pregnant women often benefit from using this type of pillow, which accommodates the bodily changes that accompany pregnancy. A pregnancy pillow usually includes back support and a specialized pillow for a woman's growing belly, allowing her to sleep on her side in comfort.