Best Wedge Pillows for Sleep Apnea
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health. Unfortunately, that’s often difficult, especially if you are dealing with a condition like sleep apnea. If you have trouble sleeping, there are several things you can do to help. One of the easiest and most cost-effective is to change your pillow.
Having the head slightly elevated can help reduce the severity of sleep apnea. You can do this with an adjustable bed, but those are often quite expensive. A wedge sleep apnea pillow is a more affordable solution.
How Does a Wedge Pillow Help With Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing frequently stops and starts during sleep. One form of this condition, obstructive sleep apnea, happens when the throat muscles relax too much during sleep, causing the airway to become narrow or even to close during inhalation.
Obstructive sleep apnea affects between 2% and 9% of adults, and it can significantly reduce the quality of sleep and lead to other health problems. There are several types of devices, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines and oral appliances, that are designed to help keep the airway open during sleep. However, these devices may not be accessible for everyone, and not all people can sleep well with them.
When the head is elevated, however, gravity helps keep the airway open. So sleeping with your head a slight incline can help reduce the severity of obstructive sleep apnea. The triangular shape of a wedge pillow allows you to sleep with your head and neck elevated, which can keep the airway open and improve sleep quality.
How We Chose the Best Wedge Pillows for Sleep Apnea
A wedge pillow can help with obstructive sleep apnea by elevating your head so that gravity helps keep your air passages open. There are countless sleep apnea pillows available in many different materials, sizes, shapes, and slopes. Choosing the best pillow often requires a bit of trial and error, but this can be a frustrating process when you are dealing with sleep apnea.
When we researched sleep apnea pillows, we looked at several different factors. We considered price, of course, but also brand and material. We used wedge pillow reviews to find information about durability.
The exact shape of a wedge pillow is vital when it comes to sleep apnea symptoms. Some are designed to be comfortable for side and stomach sleepers, which are the recommended sleeping positions for people with sleep apnea. We also wanted to see if there were any adjustable sleep apnea pillows. With an adjustable pillow, it’s easier to create a comfortable sleeping position that fits your preferences.
The 5 Best Wedge Pillows for Sleep Apnea
Ready to choose a wedge pillow for sleep apnea? Use our guide to find a high-quality option that works best for your needs.
Comfort Wedge Pillow
Available in two different heights for affordable prices, the Comfort Wedge Pillow is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a memory foam wedge pillow. While the taller 12-inch size can work well for people who sleep on their backs or those who experience acid reflux, the shorter 9-inch model may be ideal to address sleep apnea.
The pillow is made of three types of certified memory foam. The core of the pillow provides a sturdy base and great lower back support. The top of the pillow features a 2-inch layer of egg-carton memory foam with proprietary cooling technology. This foam layer is a blend of two different types of memory foam and has an attractive blue swirl pattern. A machine-washable cover makes cleaning easy.
Bottom Line: Blending multiple types of memory foam and featuring proprietary cooling technology, this wedge pillow provides excellent value for a modest price and is a great choice for sleep apnea patients.
RELAX SUPPORT 3-in-1 Wedge Pillow
This adjustable wedge pillow offers three different configurations, making it easy to find the right one to address sleep apnea, acid reflux, or other sleeping problems. The triangular wedge is made up of two smaller wedge pillows, one that’s 4.5 inches tall and another one that is 7.5 inches tall. You can use either one separately or combine them for a total height of 12 inches.
This adjustable memory foam pillow also comes with a half-cylinder accessory pillow that can provide extra head or neck support on top of the wedge. The removable polyester cover is machine washable.
Bottom Line: With its easy-clean cover and a three-in-one design that provides a range of configurations with different slopes, this memory foam pillow is a great choice if you aren’t sure which height or incline would be most comfortable for you.
Xtreme Comforts Wedge Pillow
This memory foam pillow is shorter than many other models, providing a gentle slope that may be better for side sleepers and shorter individuals. The high side is 7 inches tall, and the pillow is a full 27 inches long from front to back. This shallow incline can be a good choice for a first wedge pillow, especially if you haven’t ever slept in an elevated position before.
The pillow is made of firm memory foam and features a breathable bamboo cover. The cover zips on and off and is machine washable.
Bottom Line: Featuring a gentle slope, a cooling bamboo cover, and a very attractive price, this simple memory foam wedge pillow is a great choice for someone who doesn’t want a severe incline, but it might be too warm for hot sleepers.
Perfect Cloud Memory Foam Wedge Pillow
Made of premium memory foam inside a plush knit cover, this wedge pillow is available in 12-inch or 7.5-inch heights. The 7.5-inch size provides a gentle slope that may be best for sleep apnea, while the taller model could be perfect for sleepers experiencing acid reflux. Both sizes can be propped up sideways against a wall or headboard for comfortable reading or TV watching.
The knit cover features an attractive textured design that looks like a premium mattress. The sides are gray and the top is white. It has a zipper for easy removal and can be cleaned in the washing machine. This memory foam wedge is 25 inches wide, which offers plenty of space for sleepers who change positions often while sleeping.
Bottom Line: This solid memory foam pillow has a textured knit cover that recalls the look and feel of luxury bedding, but the extra-firm memory foam may not be comfortable for side sleepers.
Flexicomfort Folding Wedge Pillow
With two attached triangular wedges, this pillow can be folded several ways to provide different levels of incline and support. The adjustable design allows you to choose a higher or lower level of elevation and to change the length of the incline. Velcro straps and buttons keep the wedges secure in whichever position you choose.
This foldable pillow comes with a half-moon neck pillow that also features velcro straps that keep it in place wherever you put it. There is also a convenient carrying handle, and the removable cover can be machine washed.
Bottom Line: This adjustable pillow can be folded and configured in several different ways, so it provides great flexibility and makes it easy to find the best configuration for help with sleep apnea. However, its weight may make it difficult for some users to move and adjust.
What Is a Wedge Pillow?
A wedge pillow is shaped like a triangle with an elevated side. Most are made of soft and supportive foam. While most wedge pillows are a single piece, there are also some that are segmented so they can be folded into different shapes.
How Do Wedge Pillows Work?
The inclined shape of a wedge pillow is designed to allow you to sleep with your head and neck in an elevated position. Wedge pillows can also go under the knees or feet. Elevating the lower half of the body can help reduce lower back pain and improve circulation.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are three different types of sleep apnea. This condition is often caused by physiology, and there are several different risk factors. Parkinson’s disease, asthma, polycystic ovary syndrome, stroke, and heart disorders are some examples of conditions that can increase the risk of sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea
In obstructive sleep apnea, the airways become partially or completely blocked by the tongue and other parts of the back of the throat. This happens when the muscles in the back of the throat relax too much during sleep. Common risk factors include obesity, age, family history, nasal congestion, smoking, and alcohol use. Males are at higher risk than females.
Central sleep apnea
Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the brain stops transmitting the correct breathing signals to your body during sleep. Central sleep apnea is more common in older people and men, like obstructive sleep apnea. Other risk factors include congestive heart failure, history of stroke, and use of certain pain medications, especially narcotics.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome
This condition is also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea. It means that the individual has both obstructive and central sleep apnea. Additional factors that can contribute to all forms of sleep apnea include overly large tonsils, some neuromuscular disorders, and kidney failure. Individuals born prematurely have a higher risk of breathing disorders, including sleep apnea.
Other Uses for Wedge Pillows
While wedge pillows are beneficial for sleep apnea and related symptoms, they can also help with other conditions you might be dealing with, such as GERD, back pain, or glaucoma. They are also great for back sleepers having a hard time sleeping on their side (the recommended sleeping position for sleep apnea patients.)
If you struggle with acid reflux or GERD, you likely already know that your symptoms worsen at night. Laying down flat can increase the severity of your condition as stomach acid leaks back into the esophagus. Wedge pillows can alleviate some of those symptoms by elevating your head, shoulders, and torso, preventing stomach acid from traveling up your esophagus.
However, wedge pillows are only helpful in preventing GERD if you sleep on your side or back. Using a wedge pillow as a stomach sleeper will likely worsen your problem and increase the frequency of acid reflux episodes. The ideal position for sleeping with acid reflux is on your side and at an incline.
As a more compact and affordable style of a pregnancy pillow, wedge pillows are one of the best ways to relieve pregnancy joint pain and pressure. Perfect for supporting your stomach or hips, wedge pillows can provide relief to pregnant women dealing with hip or back pain from the added weight.
During pregnancy, it can also be hard to get into a comfortable position to sleep in that is safe for you and the baby. Side sleeping is the most recommended sleeping position for mothers-to-be, and wedge pillows allow for additional support to keep women laying on their sides throughout the night.
Since wedge pillows are designed to relieve pressure from the lower back, neck, and shoulders, they work great for those dealing with chronic back pain. Whether the back pain is caused by muscle strain, osteoporosis, or poor posture, wedge pillows can be beneficial in alleviating your lower and upper back pain.
Sleeping with an elevated head can help to promote sinus drainage and prevent sinusitis from developing. Wedge pillows are recommended for people struggling with chronic allergies or sinus inflammation, and they can even help alleviate that stuffy nose that won’t go away.
Studies have shown that elevating your head when sleeping can relieve pressure from your eyes and ultimately reduce the risk of glaucoma or glaucoma-related vision problems. You can achieve the suggested elevation of 30° with a standard wedge pillow, which makes these pillows great options for managing internal eye pressure.
How To Choose a Wedge Pillow for Sleep Apnea
When you are choosing a wedge pillow for sleep apnea, consider your personal preferences. Do you like softer or firmer pillows? Also think about the position you prefer to sleep in and whether you need to accommodate a continuous positive airway pressure machine.
What To Consider When Purchasing a Wedge Pillow
There are several things to think about when you are looking for a wedge pillow to help with sleep apnea. Use this list to compare the products you’re considering.
Quality and cost
While a wedge pillow is far more affordable than an adjustable bed, you will still need to invest some money. You can find wedge pillows that cost anywhere between $40 and $120, depending on the materials, construction, and brand. Pillows designed to accommodate CPAP masks may be more expensive. Larger wedge pillows tend to cost more than smaller ones.
In most cases, the cost is somewhat tied to the quality of the pillow. More expensive pillows tend to be made of better materials and/or come from a more reliable brand. However, you can find high-quality pillows that are closer to the middle than the top of the price range.
Weight and width
Because they’re made of foam and tend to have a larger overall volume than traditional pillows, wedge pillows tend to weigh more. Those made of denser foam are usually heavier. Weight is an important consideration because a pillow that is too light may move around or fall off the bed if you change positions at night. However, a very heavy pillow can be difficult to move around.
Most wedge pillows tend to be around two feet wide, but there are larger and smaller options too. A wider pillow is best for queen or king beds, and it’s a good choice if you change positions often during sleep.
Slope and height
The height and the depth of the pillow together determine the overall slope. Some of the tallest pillows are a foot higher at one end than the other. If you’re looking for a gentler slope, you can find pillows that are only about 6 inches tall.
To choose the best wedge pillow, think about your personal comfort and the conditions you’re trying to address. Side sleepers are usually more comfortable on shallower inclines. A shorter wedge pillow is also better for sleep apnea. Look for a more aggressive slope if you sleep on your back or experience acid reflux.
Comfort and firmness
Most wedge pillows are fairly firm in order to help you maintain an elevated position while you sleep. The most common options on the market are medium-firm or firm, and they’re made of memory foam or polyfoam. If you get an exceptionally firm wedge pillow, you can make it more comfortable by placing a soft traditional pillow on top.
Generally, it’s a good idea to choose a firmer pillow if you sleep on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or side, look for something with more give to help reduce pressure points and allow your spine to stay in the correct alignment.
What Are the Benefits of Wedge Pillows?
Wedge pillows can help you find a comfortable sleeping position with healthy spinal alignment and minimal pressure points. They can also help reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, acid reflux, and other sleeping challenges.
If you often wake up feeling sore or uncomfortable, it could be due to poor sleeping posture. A memory foam wedge pillow can help with this because it conforms to your unique curves and provides support without creating painful pressure points. Most people experience less neck pain with a wedge pillow that keeps the neck and shoulders in proper alignment.
Wedge pillows also reduce pain associated with heartburn and acid reflux. A wedge pillow can be placed under your knees, legs, or feet. Using a pillow to elevate the lower part of your body can help with lumbar spinal alignment and reduce hip pain. This position can also be good for people with poor circulation.
Improved sleep quality
A wedge pillow can significantly improve your sleep, especially if you are dealing with a condition that affects your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Sleep apnea usually results in poor sleep because your brain jolts you awake every time your breathing is disrupted. Even if you don’t remember these wake-ups in the morning, they can reduce the overall quality of your sleep and cause you to feel tired all the time.
A wedge pillow can help keep your airways open and reduce disruptions to your breathing. The elevated head position that a wedge pillow gives you can allow gravity to work in your favor, reducing snoring and acid reflux.
While you may decide to get a wedge pillow to improve sleep quality and reduce the symptoms of some common medical conditions, there are also other uses. A wedge pillow can create a very comfortable surface for sitting up in bed to read or watch TV. You can also use a wedge pillow to keep yourself in an upright sleeping position during recovery from surgery.
If you get an adjustable pillow, you can change its shape depending on whether you are using it for sitting, lounging, or sleeping. Remember that you can also place wedges under your feet or knees if you have lower back pain due to poor sleep posture.
What Types of Wedge Pillows Are Best for Sleep Apnea?
Most wedge pillows are made of foam. But there are different shapes and features to consider when choosing one for sleep apnea.
Memory foam is the most popular material for these types of pillows. This material adapts to both heat and pressure, so when you lay your head on it, the foam contours to your exact shape to create a very supportive but comfortable surface. Memory foam tends to avoid pressure points, making it a fantastic material for pillows and beds.
You can also find some wedge pillows that are made of polyfoam. This type of foam is less dense than memory foam, so it usually has more give. It also tends to weigh less. Look for a polyfoam pillow if you are concerned about price or if you want something that is easy to move around to different parts of the house.
While most wedge pillows are triangular shaped and have a flat sleeping surface, there are models with contours or cutouts too. These modified wedge pillows are often designed to accommodate people who sleep exclusively on their sides. For example, this type of pillow may have a cutout that allows you to keep your hands or arms under your head. Some wedge pillows have an opening to allow stomach sleepers to breathe easily.
You can also find a CPAP pillow designed to accommodate this type of equipment. These usually have cutouts on the side so that there is space for the mask hardware. This can prevent the CPAP mask from becoming uncomfortable and from leaking.
Where Can I Buy a Wedge Pillow?
Like other types of pillows, wedge pillows are available in traditional stores and on the internet. You may buy from an online retailer or directly from the manufacturer.
How To Use a Wedge Pillow for Sleep Apnea
Elevating the head slightly can help some people experience less-severe sleep apnea symptoms, resulting in better sleep quality. If you have sleep apnea, try using a wedge pillow to elevate your head, neck, and shoulders.
You might need to try different sleeping positions (on your back, side, or stomach) to find the best one for you. You can increase or decrease the elevation of your head by moving the bottom of the sleep apnea pillow higher or lower on your back.
What Are Some Other Ways To Improve Sleep Apnea?
While changing your pillow should be one of the first things you do if you are struggling with sleep apnea, there are some other beneficial lifestyle changes you might want to try, too.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight can also improve your sleep apnea symptoms. Being overweight can narrow your air passages and lead to a decrease in muscle activity near your airways. These factors can lead to or even exacerbate existing sleep apnea.
Your sleeping position also plays a role in the severity of your sleep apnea symptoms. Sleeping on the left side is the best position for sleep apnea because it increases blood flow and decreases the frequency of events. If the left side is uncomfortable, though, the right side is also recommended for oversleeping on your back or stomach.
You should not sleep on your back or stomach unless you are using a wedge pillow to elevate your head and torso.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
Alcohol consumption greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea, and medical professionals suggest eliminating alcohol from your diet, if possible. Alcohol use can also worsen your sleep apnea by increasing the time between when you stop breathing and when you wake up.
While this is scary enough as it is, the longer episodes can also lead to hypercapnia, a potentially fatal condition in which the carbon dioxide levels in your blood become too high.
According to a 2001 sleep apnea study, current smokers were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea than non-smokers. Reasons include airway inflammation from smoking, stimulation in the upper airway muscles, and sleep disturbances caused by nighttime nicotine withdrawal. In general, smoking contributes to overall health issues like worsening sleep apnea.
Although putting your cigarette away will not cure your sleep apnea, it will help make it milder.
Commonly Asked Questions About Wedge Pillows
Wedge pillows can help people with sleep apnea get better rest, and there are many different options on the market. Choosing a pillow is an individualized process, but here are some answers to the questions we see the most.
What size wedge pillow is best for sleep apnea?
A narrow wedge pillow can work well for back sleepers or those with smaller beds. However, if you have a queen or king bed, or if you tend to switch positions often when sleeping, a wider wedge pillow is best.
Will a wedge pillow help with sleep apnea?
A wedge pillow may help improve sleep quality and reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. With a wedge pillow, the head is elevated slightly above the rest of the body. This position seems especially effective for back sleepers in reducing the severity of sleep apnea.
Does sleeping with your head elevated help sleep apnea?
As described in this scientific study, an elevated head position significantly improves sleep quality for many people with sleep apnea. A wedge pillow can provide the correct elevation and costs less than an adjustable bed.
Can a neck pillow help sleep apnea?
A neck (cervical) pillow has an ergonomic design that usually has an indent for the head. It’s designed to relieve neck pressure while also cradling the head. These pillows can work well for people with sleep apnea who sleep on their backs or who switch between back and side sleeping.
How much do wedge pillows cost?
The cost of a wedge pillow depends on how big it is, which manufacturer it comes from, and what it’s made of. Most wedge pillows cost between $40 and $120 dollars, and most memory foam models cost more than those made of polyfoam.
Can I use a regular pillow instead of a wedge pillow?
You could try elevating your head by folding a regular pillow or stacking several of them on top of one another, but these solutions are often uncomfortable. Waking up to readjust your pillow significantly reduces sleep quality. A wedge pillow is a simpler and more effective solution.
How do I clean a wedge pillow?
It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your pillow. Foam shouldn’t be soaked in water, but can usually be spot cleaned. Some pillows come with removable covers that are machine-washable.
What is the best height for a wedge pillow?
The recommended elevated sleeping position depends on which conditions you’re addressing. For example, a taller pillow (12 inches) can be best for acid reflux, but a pillow closer to 6 inches tall may be better for people with sleep apnea.
What is a wedge pillow good for?
A wedge pillow makes it easier to sleep in an elevated position, which can provide relief from a variety of issues including acid reflux, sleep apnea, and snoring. Sleeping with your head elevated can also improve circulation and reduce back pain.
How long do wedge pillows last?
A wedge pillow’s longevity will depend on how much it’s used and what it’s made of. Most memory foam pillows should be replaced every few years. Lower-quality polyfoam may lose its shape earlier.
Are wedge pillows adjustable?
Most wedge pillows can’t be folded or adjusted, but there are some models that can be. Adjustable pillows may have a couple of triangular wedges that can stack in different ways to create a different shape or slope.
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