Home / Blog April 25, 2023 Updated on June 15, 2023

4 min read

What Is a Bolster Pillow Used For – And How Can You Benefit?

A bolster pillow can be used for improved sleep, relaxation, or even yoga poses. Its cylindrical design makes it ideal for lounging or as a prop for your legs or arms. Slipping it under or between your limbs may help to relieve stress on shoulder joints, hip joints, and your lower back.

what is a bolster pillow used for


Bolster pillows can support your arms and legs during sleep or yoga routines.

They can also be a great decorative tool that also works as a physiotherapy device.

Some of the benefits from these uses include improved sleep and less pain in the joints and back. 

Did you know?
In certain countries, bolster pillows were made with bamboo for better airflow. This ensured that the user could stay cool while hugging them on hot summer nights.

When you lay down to sleep at night, does it feel like something’s not quite right? Like there’s a piece to your bedding puzzle that’s missing?

For some people, the tossing and turning never stops. And for those people, a bolster pillow may help.

A bolster pillow is used for many things, most of which involve providing extra support in one way or another. If you use them properly, they can help everything from your sleep to your exercise routine.

Different Uses For a Bolster Pillow

Since they’re fairly new on the scene, many people may not have heard of these wonder-cushions. If you’re looking to shed some more light, read on to know more about what bolster pillows are

To sum it up, they’re a short, cylindrical pillow that's usually a little longer than a head pillow. They’re also a little firmer than your typical head pillow.

As bolster pillow materials are as varied as any other cushion, they can make a lovely addition to your home décor. But their firmness also means that they have many practical and supportive uses.

Comforting Tool

Traditionally, one of the most common ways of using a bolster pillow was hugging it close to the chest. This mimics the feeling of cuddling which has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, making you feel less stressed. It’s one of the reasons that these pillows also have the nickname ‘Dutch wife.’

Lounging Tool

All over South and Southeast Asia you’ll find bolster pillows on beds and sofas. That’s because they make a cozy support when lounging or the ideal base under a pile of pillows and blankets. That extra bit of firmness could take your comfort factor up a notch as you kick back with a good book.

Sleeping Tool

Since bolsters can make reading in bed more comfy, it makes sense that they could improve your sleep, too. In particular, if you’re the type who gets aches and pains in your back and joints, using one of these pillows could help. That might involve some of the same methods that make body pillows like our Cuddler so helpful.

For side sleepers, that could involve sleeping with it between your legs, arms, or even as a taller head pillow. For back sleepers, bolster pillows often find their way under the knees. Sometimes even the lower back or neck if it’s small enough.

Yoga Block

Finally, one of the most popular bolster pillow uses is in the yoga studio. They can make a great yoga block, adding support to the most challenging power and balance poses. You can also get creative and use them as a comforting tool during more calming positions.

Physiotherapy Tool

Along similar lines, you can also use bolster pillows to aid your physiotherapy regimen. If you have lower back or neck pain from a herniated disc you can try placing it across the affected area laying down. Some even have clips on each end to wrap around your waist.

You can also use the pillow like a foam roller, lining it up with your spine or other areas for posture stretches. Of course, if you want to try anything like that, it’s important to get advice from a medical professional first.

Benefits of a Bolster Pillow

Benefits of a Bolster Pillow

With all of those uses, there have to be some benefits, right?

While scientific studies are lacking on bolster pillows specifically, it functions in similar ways to orthopedic and body pillows. You can read more about that in a previous article on the benefits of body pillows.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Physiological benefits from sleeping with a bolster pillow such as improved shoulder joint, hip joint, and lower back pain symptoms, depending on the use.
  • Increased time in slow wave sleep for side sleepers and reduced discomfort leading to better overall sleep.
  • Bolster pillows offer some orthopedic function that could help with posture-related issues, such as support for the lumbar and cervical curves.
  • They may also provide psychological benefits, the same way that hugging or cuddling can.
  • If you’re a side sleeper, bolsters could keep you on your left side for longer, aiding digestion

To put it all into one sentence, bolster pillows can help you by supporting your body in optimal positions, whether that’s during a snooze or while awake.


Cuddling cta

Ergonomically designed

Soothing travel pillow

Cooling linen covers

Cuddle up
Cuddling cta

Cocoonable, couchworthy perfection

Sleep tips for restful nights

Unveil the secrets to restful sleep and join the Napperhood for a chance to win our perfect weighted blanket, the Cotton Napper. Get expert tips and insights delivered to your inbox.

Cotton Napper cta


Want to learn more about bolster pillows? Here are a few common questions.

1. Why Use a Bolster Pillow?

Every pillow serves a purpose, and it just so happens that bolster pillows serve many. You can use the bolster pillow to improve overall comfort during sleep, you can use it as an orthopedic tool to reinforce the natural curves of your spine, and you can even use it as a comfort and support tool during yoga.

On top of all of that, bolster pillows also make great decorations for the bedroom or living room. They come in different materials and patterns and have the potential to fit right in with any type of home décor.

2. Is it Good to Sleep With a Bolster?

Sleeping with a bolster can be good for your posture and overall comfort levels during sleep depending on how you use it. Putting one under your knees, for example, keeps your spine in a more neutral position that many people find more comfortable.

However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. As with any sleeping tool, it can be a good idea to monitor the results to see if it’s making your time in bed overall more restful.

3. What is the Best Sleeping Position For a Bolster?

You can get creative with a bolster pillow, so there is no ‘best’ best sleeping position when using one. Instead, the optimal bolster pillow sleeping position is whichever you tend to sleep in the most.

For those who like to sleep on their backs, that might be laying on your back with the pillow under your knees. For side sleepers, it could mean sliding the pillow between your thighs or even hugGing it.

If you want to learn more about topic, have a look at our separate article on the different sleeping positions and the benefits of each one.

4. Are Bolster Pillows Good For the Neck?

Bolster pillows may be good for the neck depending on the size and the position you’re sleeping in. If you’re using the pillow while on your back, the pillow should be a little on the smaller side, because if it’s too big it can push your head forward, throwing your spine out of place.

However, larger pillows are great for side sleepers as it keeps the spine in a straight line when viewing posture from the back.

The key is to bear in mind the neck’s natural curve and try your best to maintain that position during sleep.


A bolster pillow can be a useful tool, improving overall comfort levels during sleep by supporting the limbs and keeping the spine in line. They work similarly to how our Cuddler body pillow works, but are usually much smaller.

If you’re looking for a stylish tool that even has uses in the workout room, the bolster pillow could prove helpful. Rest your limbs, and feel the pressure start to fade away.