How to Elevate Your Legs While Sleeping on Your Side

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There are a lot of things these days that can help us get a good and solid sleep. The sound of slow and smooth music in a dark environment is just one common solution. Another solution that many are unaware of is sleeping on the side while having the legs elevated.

But how exactly do you sleep on your side while elevating your legs? Place a pillow between your legs while lying on your side. This can help eliminate muscular tension and pressure, and also keep the spine aligned. This position also helps your entire body to relax much quicker.

If you suffer from back pain, swelling from injuries, or just plain struggle to close your eyes, then this article contains all that you need to know about the beneficial effects of sleeping on your side and with elevated legs.

Woman Sleeping on Her Side

Why You Should Sleep with Elevated Legs

I’m sure you’ve noticed from all the sleepovers you’ve had when you were young that everyone liked to sleep with a cuddled pillow between their legs. This is because humans tend to respond positively to things that are soft. When we feel something soft or see things that are soft, we automatically feel comforted or reassured. This can help us feel more mentally relaxed.

Sleeping with a pillow (view on Amazon) or blanket in between our legs has proven to be psychologically beneficial, especially for children. This feeling we have of comfort longing doesn’t go away when we become adults. In fact, to some, it is something desired. Having a pillow in between the legs can provide a wide range of mental and also physical benefits.

Regardless of what position you’re in while laying down, having your legs elevated above ground level is very beneficial, provided they’re not raised above your head. Its main benefit is improved blood flow. Blood flow in the legs mostly happens from muscle movement. Because you’re fast asleep during the night, the flow here is slowed down.

Having your legs elevated will allow gravity to take over as the means of getting your blood flowing smoothly while you sleep. In turn, this will allow your body to be more fully nourished during the night.

Of course, having your legs elevated is different when in different laying positions. The usual way when you’re on your back is to put your legs over some pillows or folded blankets underneath the calves. You just need to make sure your legs are high enough that they’re either above or at the same level as your heart. Too high can result in blood rush or even numbness.

Why You Should Sleep on Your Side

If you have slept on your side, you might have experienced “pins and needles”. This is when you have the feeling that your leg or legs feel completely numb. This is due to having too much pressure on a nerve or the lack of blood flow in that area. Having your legs properly elevated can prevent this from happening.

The advantage of side sleeping, accompanied with elevated legs, is related to your physiology. When you sleep in this position, you can keep your spine in a neutral position. By elongating your spine, it can alleviate any back or neck pain. There are even studies that show side sleeping may have benefits to brain health, such as reduced risk to neurodegenerative diseases.

Additionally, lifting your legs higher than they would usually be can be a way of relaxing your body in a different way. Most people do this during the day, but you can also do this at nighttime too.

By sleeping on your side combined with your legs elevated, you can take advantage of even more health benefits. Just as the recovery position as a first aid treatment is crucial to saving lives, so can side sleeping with elevated legs.

Benefits of Sleeping with a Pillow Between Your Legs

Pillow Between Knees
Image Credit: The Sleep Judge

Obviously, pillows are mostly used for the head. But, thanks to human evolution, we can now use pillows for other parts of our body. Here are some of the benefits of sleeping with a pillow between the knees.

Adds Comfort and Reduces Muscle Tension

By placing a pillow between your legs while on your side, you can eliminate plenty of muscle tension. The pillow can ensure that your legs and spine are in their proper and natural state. It also means that you can sleep with less pain and stress on your back when you wake up in the morning.

Avoids Muscle Cramps

By putting a pillow between the legs, you can save yourselves from the pain of muscle cramps. Muscle cramps can often happen at night and can be due to a lack of nourishment to the muscles, thus resulting in involuntary spasms. In addition, lifting the legs this way reduces the swelling in the lower back.

Prevents the Hips from Rotating

The spine often becomes unaligned when your hips rotate. It usually happens many times throughout the day. When you sleep, though, you must make sure to keep your spine aligned to avoid further pain. By elevating your legs, you can keep the pelvis and legs at the same level. When the spine is aligned, the pressure on the nerves is taken off, allowing you to have a more peaceful rest.

Keeps You Asleep in a Straight Position

If your back is hurting, it can be painful and incredibly awkward to sleep. This is especially true if you have to lay in a straight position. When you place a pillow between or under your legs, you can help your back to remain in a neutral position. This way, your back is neither arched nor flat.

Comforting for Pregnant Women

Sleeping with a pillow between the legs (view on Amazon) is great for pregnant women. Sleeping on their back is often uncomfortable, especially when they are far into their pregnancy. By side sleeping with legs elevated, they can have better posture and enjoy a more restful sleep without worrying about the unnecessary and sometimes painful feeling that comes from the baby.

Tips on Sleeping with a Pillow Between Your Legs

Several factors can affect your ability to sleep well with a pillow between the legs. It mostly comes down to the kind of pillow you use, as not all regular pillows do well between the knees.

You will want a pillow that is firm enough to keep your hips and spine aligned. At the same time, it has to be soft enough that you can avoid feeling any stiffness. Here are some tips for finding the right pillow and for you to get the most out of the side sleeping position.

Contoured Pillow

Pick a contoured pillow (view on Amazon) designed specifically for placing between the knees. These are usually a one-size-fits-all pillow that comes with shaped cut-outs. The advantage of this is they are better at staying in place when you sleep so you can stay in a proper position.

Down Filled Pillow

Although it’s been said before that a firmer pillow is ideal for side sleeping, one with down filling is excellent too. The main benefit of a down-filled pillow (view on Amazon) is adjustability. It makes it easy for you to rearrange the pillow’s contents so that it matches exactly how you want it for the night.

Body Pillow

A body pillow (view on Amazon) is ideal for the side position as it gives your body full support. It provides side sleepers with extra comfort, ensuring a far better time slumbering. It can even help in pressure relief, which is one of the benefits you want to experience in sleeping sideways.

Customized Pillow

When you want to have the best results from side sleeping and elevating your legs, having a customized pillow that will fit your body specifically will be worth it. This is especially the case if you have severe or major back, muscle, or sleeping problems.

Related Questions

Do you have more questions on how to elevate your legs while sleeping sideways? Here are some answers that might satisfy your thirst for knowledge.

  • Can sleeping sideways with a pillow between the legs help from lifting accidents?” – Most lifting injuries affect the back and hip. If you suffer from this, even the smallest changes in your sleeping position put pressure on your hip and back muscles. When you lie on your side without a pillow, your hips, knees, and ankles don’t have enough support that can directly affect the spine. Having a pillow between the legs can provide enough support and avoid lying in a stressful position.
  • What health conditions can side sleeping with elevated legs help treat?” – Side sleeping can help the treatment of many health conditions, mostly muscle related. For one, it can alleviate neck and back pains. It may also help reduce your risk with Alzheimer’s disease. This particular sleep position was also found to help with sciatica, varicose veins, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle spasms.
  • What are the drawbacks of sleeping sideways without pillows?” – If you sleep in the wrong position all night, you will certainly feel it in the morning. It is especially true when you sleep sideways. You will be left feeling numb and stiff because of the pressure to the one side you sleep on. Sleeping on your side without a pillow can be more damaging than regular sleeping positions.

Conclusion – How to Elevate Your Legs While Sleeping on Your Side

There’s a saying that goes, “It won’t hurt to try”. In this case, it is very true. In fact, as you begin sleeping on your side with a pillow, you will definitely start to notice a considerable positive difference in your overall health.

So, if you want to take advantage of the benefits of elevating your legs while sleeping on your side, grab the most comfortable pillow, tuck it between your knees, then trust that you’ll not only get a more reasonable sleep but also gain a wide range of health benefits.

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