If you suffer from sleep apnea, do you know there are products that can help? Sleep apnea pillows have been created to reduce discomfort and provide a long time solution.
Depending on your sleeping position, there are many types of pillows to choose from. Without further ado, let’s have a look at these pillows and compare them for you to get a better idea.
What makes the best pillow for sleep apnea?
For a pillow to be considered good at relieving the symptoms of sleep apnea, it should meet most, if not all the criteria listed below.
A pillow that elevates the head, neck and shoulders is recommended for sleep apnea sufferers. Apnea is caused by the obstruction of the airways during sleep, and a slight lift of the upper area results in improved breathing all throughout the night.
These pillows have a specific length and provide support by distributing your torso weight evenly. With no tension present in the shoulders and neck, your spine will be aligned and your passages remain open. No matter what sleeping position you favor, all the specific pillows are designed to enhance comfort.
Neck Pain Relief
A bad sleeping position can cause neck and shoulder pain, and a sleep apnea pillow takes the shape of your body for better pressure point relief. These products are soft enough to allow a comfortable sleep, but also keep your head in place to avoid neck strain.
Wedge pillows generally have an elevation of 7 or 12 inches. The 12 inch elevation is indicated more to those with severe back problems or acid reflux. A wedge with an elevation of 7 inches is a better choice for sleep apnea.
Not many people know that a pillow that is too high or too low can cause neck stiffness and worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea. Proper pillow elevation is closely related with the next feature, size.
When shopping for a sleep apnea pillow, one must keep in mind two sizes: their own and that of the pillow. Many pillow models are designed as one size fits all, however some models are created in sizes to fit people in a more comfortable manner.
Based on your sleeping position, you should measure the distance between your neck and the mattress. For better results, have someone else take these measurements.
Wedge pillows are much larger than what you’re used to sleep on, while the cervical pillow can in some cases be much smaller.
The pillows designed to help with sleep apnea have a very unique design when compared to a traditional pillow. For instance, wedge pillows look like a triangle seen from a side, while cervical models look more like a brick with a wavy top.
What all these pillows have in common is they’re ergonomic and thus they fill well the gaps between your body and the bed.
Allergies and certain chemicals usually aggravate the symptoms of sleep apnea. It is important to discover exactly how the pillow was made to reduce the risks. Generally, manufacturers are careful as not to use dangerous materials in these specific pillows.
Additionally to the annoyance snoring can trigger in your bed partner, it is also an important factor in sleep apnea. A sleep apnea pillow is designed to tighten your throat muscles and reduce the chances of snoring.
Best Type Pillow For Sleep Apnea
There are 2 types of pillows good for sufferers of sleep apnea: positional and contoured pillows. The later type can be used with a CPAP machine.
These type of pillows are designed to keep your body in a position where the airway can’t easily be obstructed.
Generally, these products come in two designs: for side sleepers (cervical pillows) and for back sleepers (wedge pillows). The wedge pillow is much bigger than cervical model and is great at fighting acid reflux.
To be noted that either model can be used for both side or back sleeping. However, the cervical design is not recommended to back sleepers as it increases the chances of apnea.
Proper neck and head support
The pillow provides good support for your neck and head, resulting in an aligned spine and an open airway. An improper support from a standard pillow is what aggravates sleep apnea.
Positional pillows serve more than one purpose, especially wedge pillows as their main use is to help relieve acid reflux symptoms. Furthermore, doctors have been recommending these models to patients recovering from back or leg surgeries. Nursing mothers also found these pillows very useful and comfortable when nursing in bed.
With proper care, these pillows can last up to 10 years. This is mainly due to their specific foam filling that doesn’t lose its shape. Traditional pillows become deformed faster, and some models can even lose some of their filling in time.
Only for obstructive sleep apnea sufferers
Obstructive sleep apnea patients need their airways kept open through the night which is what these pillows do. Sufferers of other types of sleep apnea found these models ineffective.
They force one sleeping position
As the name suggests, a positional pillow forces you to sleep in one certain position, something that is not easy for many. A special mattress along with this pillow would be ideal to increase comfort and allow you to stay in the same position for longer.
This type of pillows are generally more firm, and might take a few nights to adjust to. Try not to give up after the first night despite the not so comfortable feeling.
Medslant Wedge Pillow for Acid Reflux
Acid reflux can cause sleep apnea, so this pillow serves two purposes from the start. It will support your entire torso, and large enough to move on. You can also add an extra pillow on top for more comfort.
Back sleepers benefit the most from using this pillow model, although side sleepers can find it comfortable to some degree. The upper side of this Medslant has a layer of memory foam that will improve comfort through the night.
The pillow is covered in a soft microfiber case that you can easily remove and wash. As a word of caution, you might receive a compressed product that takes a few days to straighten up.
- Free of heavy metals
- Free of chemicals
- Shipped folded and compressed
These pillows are specifically designed for sleepers who use a CPAP mask at night. They have special cutout channels and notches to allow the mask’s hose to pass and remain untangled. This way, the wearer won’t have to tighten their mask to ensure it stays in place. Users will also notice less air leaks.
The models are referred to as CPAP pillows. Although said to accommodate all sleeping positions, they are mostly recommended for back and side sleepers.
Minimize air leak
Most CPAP machines leak air due to the mask sliding off your face when sleeping. The CPAP pillow offers enough space for head movement, therefore the mask stays in place and air leaks decrease.
Most CPAP users complain of waking up with red marks on their face due to mask pressure. The special cutouts of these pillows reduce this issue as the mask is gentler on the skin compared to traditional models.
Your neck and head are well supported on CPAP pillows, thanks to their ergonomic design that keeps the spine and airways aligned. The risk of waking up stiff and in pain is therefore much reduced.
Just like with the positional pillows, you might need a few nights to get used to the new item. This is especially true for those with a recent diagnose, as the medical grade foam used in the design is quite firm.
These pillows have a unique shape, which means they need a special cover. Extra covers are not always available, so regular covers can be used instead. However, this solution can make the pillow less comfortable.
EnduriMed CPAP Pillow
The design of the EnduriMed CPAP Pillow allows you to sleep comfortably in any position, no matter if you need a breathing device or not. You can simply use it with any of the C-PAP, Bi-PAP, and APAP masks. Some shoppers reported they needed time to adjust to this particular model, due of its cutouts.
This item has a special design that allows your face mask to stay in place through the night, without any tightening. In addition, its users noticed less mask leaks.
The EnduriMed CPAP Pillow is especially useful to those experiencing neck pain. The pillow has two thickness levels, with one for each side. This feature makes it comfortable for an increased number of users, regardless of their neck support needs.
- Anyone can use it
- Stays cool
- Two thickness levels
- No replacement covers
Other Good Choices
InteVision Foam Wedge Pillow
This wedge pillow created by InteVision has a very similar built to many memory mattresses. It has a firm base with a 1.5 inch memory foam top. This special design makes it more comfortable, though you might need some time to adjust if you previously used another type of pillow.
You shouldn’t worry about this pillow becoming hot at night, as it has built-in channels between the two layers for improved air circulation. This model is comfortable for heavier people, while lighter weight folks could find it too firm.
Some users will find its 12 inch elevation too steep and therefore uncomfortable. This elevation level is ideal when you suffer from acid reflux, water retention in your feet, back and neck problems.
It’s recommended to use another cover on top as the original one piles up, therefore appearing dirty. The original case can be removed and washed in the laundry machine.
- 2 layer design
- Has multiple purposes
- Good for back sleepers
- Reduces neck soreness
- High rise
- The cover is difficult to remove
- Quite large
Sleep Innovations Contour Pillow
The pillow designed by Sleep Innovations is created for sleepers who need proper neck and head support for pain relief. This is also why sufferers of sleep apnea may want to give it a try. Its design was meant for side sleepers, although some back sleepers might find it comfortable enough.
If you’re using a CPAP machine, this model is not recommended, unless you generally sleep on your back. The pillow lacks cutouts for the hose, and the mask could easily get entangled on its corners.
The Sleep Innovations Contour pillow is made of memory foam for improved comfort during sleep. Each of its longer edges has a different height, therefore the pillow can accommodate a wider range of people.
The Sleep Innovations Contour Pillow is very light, despite being made of memory foam. It comes with a cotton cover that adds to coziness and keeps you cool at night.
- 2 height levels
- Relieves neck pain
- Limited warranty
- Best for side sleepers
- Not for CPAP users
Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow
Due to its curved neck shape, the pillow supports your head and shoulders if you are a side sleeper. It’s unusual design makes it a good choice for everyone regardless of their preferred sleeping position. Unlike many pillows, this product comes with instructions which are included in the package.
The pillow’s flat sides are designed to stay in place while you rest, which results in reduced neck and shoulder pain. Additionally, its ergonomic design and stability makes it a good choice for restless sleepers.
The product is made of non toxic solid foam, which minimizes risk of allergies. Keep in mind that its firmness might take some time getting used to when compared to softer pillows. With proper care, this pillow can last a decade, which benefits shoppers who are looking for durability.
If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, this product can be returned within 5 years. Additionally, this product has a long lifespan, making it a good investment.
You should know this pillow is available in five sizes, and thus you need to measure your body to find the right fit. Those used to sleep on softer pillows or are in between measurements, are advised to buy the smaller model.
- Neck and shoulder support
- Ergonomic design
- Non toxic
- Easily washable cover
- Reduces back and shoulder pain
- Needs some break in time
- Too firm
- More expensive
Based on user reviews, the Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow is the best one to get if you suffer from sleep apnea. This pillow received 4 stars out of 5. While it costs more than you’d be willing to pay for a pillow, this model really works and can be used by anyone.
It offers good support for proper spine and airway alignment, minimizes the risk of allergies and their symptoms. CPAP machine users can also safely use it as the product won’t interfere with the mask. Being able to use it for years to come, is another reason for Therapeutica’s popularity.