▷ How to Choose the Best Pillow for Sleep Apnea (2018 Update)
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Choosing the Best Pillow for Sleep Apnea

Written by Sabrina Wilson and updated on September 24, 2018
Best Pillow for Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a kind of sleep disorder in which breathing is suddenly interrupted during sleep. When this happens, the rest of the body and brain is being starved of oxygen. And we’re not just talking one single time every now and then. Some people who suffer from severe cases of sleep apnea stop breathing several hundred times per night.

This disorder is thought to affect more than 20 million Americans alone, with more than 80% of cases left undiagnosed. And if left untreated, sleep apnea will increase the risk of death considerably. If you’re someone who suffers from sleep apnea, don’t suffer in silence as there are a number of things that can help.

Aside from seeking proper medical attention, many sleep apnea sufferers use aids to ease their symptoms and help them get a better (and safer) night’s sleep. One of those items is a decent pillow. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the things to consider when buying a sleep apnea pillow as well as share with you 5 of the best (in our opinion) available to buy at the moment.  

What to Consider When Buying a Pillow for Sleep Apnea

As you can probably imagine, sleep apnea can be a very traumatizing experience for the individual suffering from it. But hopefully, with the help of the right pillow, that experience will happen a lot less. The following are a few of the main things to bear in mind when shopping for the right sleep apnea pillow for you:

Style

While all pillows essentially do the same thing, they do come in different shapes, sizes, and styles. And what may be really comfortable for one person, could be completely uncomfortable for another.

So, one thing to bear in mind when it comes to the best style of pillow for you is what kind of sleeper you are. If you’re a side sleeper you may want to consider a pillow that elevates your head yet still allows them to place their arm underneath their head while they slumber.

Wedge pillows are great for those who sleep on their back. These pillows are very commonly used and the way they work is by creating a wedge under the sleeper’s back in which to help elevate the head, increasing air flow as a result. They also work wonders at keeping both the jaw and tongue in the correct position.

Another style of sleep apnea pillow you are likely to come across is the cervical pillow. These pillows are quite firm and provide a lot of neck support. And, they’re suitable for most types of sleepers.

Size

Sleep apnea pillows vary in size, particularly across different styles. While there’s no real ideal size to aim for, make sure the pillow you do choose is wide enough for you to lay your head when sleeping on either your back, side or stomach. You also want to ensure that if using a CPAP machine it won’t interfere with it in any way. 

CPAP machines 

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. And quite often, people who suffer from sleep apnea use these machines to ensure they receive an adequate amount of oxygen while they slumber.

Thankfully, manufacturers have recognized the need for pillows that are effective when used with these machines, and there are many different designs available especially for this purpose.

So, before you make your purchase, if you are going to use a CPAP machine, make sure that the pillow is one that’s ok to be used with it and will not hinder the performance of the machine in any way.

Traction 

A good sleep apnea pillow is one that doesn’t move around too much while you sleep. This will ensure your body remains properly aligned while sleeping. If you have a pillow that has weak traction you are likely to move around a lot while sleeping, disturbing your sleeping posture.

Foam or Filling

As a general rule of thumb, foam sleep apnea pillows are the better option for people who are overweight as they tend to be more firm and can support heavier weights than filled pillows.

Memory foam pillows work well as they’re soft enough to mold to your head, yet firm enough to spring back when not in use. And, most are hypoallergenic, meaning you won’t have to worry breathing in any allergens either.   

Latex foam pillows are also a good choice as they too support the relevant pressure points and help keep your body nice and aligned. They also mold to your head like memory foam pillows. 

  • Q: How does a sleep apnea pillow work?

    A: The simple answer is that these pillows work by helping to open up your airways by getting your head and body in the correct sleeping position. They also help to keep the neck and spine in an aligned position.
  • Q: Can people who don’t suffer from sleep apnea still benefit from using these pillows?

    A: Absolutely. As well as helping to reduce breathing problems, sleep apnea pillows help to improve one’s sleeping posture by aligning the back and neck correctly. They also align the stomach, helping to reduce both heartburn and acid reflux.
  • Q: How do I know if a sleep apnea pillow is doing its job?

    A: You should feel the benefits of the pillow almost immediately. The following day after using it, you should feel more rested as the pillow should reduce the number of sleep apnea events.

Best Sleep Apnea Pillow Reviews

If you’re someone who uses a CPAP machine then it’s definitely worth checking this pillow. Made from EnduriMed, this CPAP pillow is a great product for many reasons. Not only is it soft and comfy, but it’s also very supportive.

The unique patent-pending design of this pillow stops your ears and face from being pressured by the CPAP mask and straps, meaning less sore pressure points. And, being made with high-quality memory foam ensures you get lasting support throughout the lifetime of this product.

CPAP Pillow - Memory Foam Contour Design Reduces Face Mask Pressure & Air Leaks - 2 Head & Neck Rests For Max Comfort - CPAP, BiPAP & APAP User Supplies - For Stomach, Back, Side Sleepers

While the pillow itself can only be spot cleaned, the removable cover is completely machine washable. I found there to be no leakage when using the mask and it’s suitable for back, stomach, or side sleepers.

The only slight issue I have with this pillow is that although it’s made with high-quality memory foam, it’s still a little on the thin side. Aside from that, it’s a great product. Even though it could be a little thicker, it’s still comfortable to lay your head on and doesn’t cost a fortune.  

Pros
  • Made with high-quality memory foam
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    Good value for money
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    Decent size
Cons
  • Could be a little thicker

Wedge pillows are simple yet effective products when it comes to easing the symptoms of sleep apnea, and this one on offer from Cushy Form is no different.

Made from a high-quality, high-density memory foam, the Cushy Form Bed Wedge Pillow ensures your body is kept properly aligned while you sleep. It molds to your neck, head, and shoulders and will not collapse underneath you.

Bed Wedge Pillow 1.5 Inch Memory Foam Top, Cushy Form (25 x 24 x 12 Inches) Best for Sleeping, Reading, Rest or Elevation - Breathable and Washable Cover (12 Inch Wedge, White)

Measuring in at 25 x 24 x  12 inches, this wedge pillow is more than big enough to rest your head comfortably. And the fully removable cover is both breathable and machine washable. The other really good thing about this product is that if for any reason, you aren’t 100% satisfied, you can simply return the product and get a full refund - no questions asked.

If you’re someone who likes a really squishy soft pillow to slumber down with, this may not be the product for you as it is a little on the firm side. Because of the 45 degrees angle this pillow sits at, you may also want to consider using your own pillow underneath for extra support for the head and neck.

Pros
  • Made from high-density memory foam
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    Machine washable cover
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    100% money-back guarantee
Cons
  • Quite firm
  • May be best used alongside your regular pillow

If you’re looking for a helpful aid for your sleep apnea when you’re away from home, then be sure to check out the Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour Pillow. Available in a standard, queen, and travel option, this is a great pillow for anyone on the move.

Because it’s made from memory foam, as soon as your head hits the pillow, it begins to adapt to the shape of your head, giving your neck and back the support it needs. The way it’s been designed, you can choose between the higher and lower contours to give you just the right support.

Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour Pillow with Cotton Cover, Made in the USA with a 5-Year Warranty - Standard Size

Another thing I really like about this product is that, unlike some of the other sleep apnea pillows out there, this one is great value for money. It’s comfy, well-made, and likely to last quite some time.

The only thing that lets it down, as far as I’m concerned, is the pillow does have a slight smell when you first pull it out of the packaging. However, after a day or so left to air, it’s perfectly fine. Other than that, it’s a great product.   

Pros
  • 3 size options
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    Choice of contours
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    Molds easily
Cons
  • A slight smell upon unpacking

When you know you need a sleep apnea pillow but are not really sure of the exact one you that’s best for you, you don’t really want to spend a lot of money, to begin with. And that’s where the UTTU Sandwich Pillow comes in handy.

There are many other similar products on the market, but one thing that makes this pillow stand out for me is that it has a total of 4 adjustable heights. So as well as being suitable for side and back sleepers, it’s also comfortable for stomach sleepers too.

UTTU Sandwich Pillow, Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow, Bamboo Pillow for Sleeping, Cervical Pillow for Neck Pain, Neck Support for Back, Stomach, Side Sleepers, Orthopedic Contour Pillow, CertiPUR-US

The other thing I really like about it is that it’s made using UTTU Dynamic Foam which never hardens, unlike many memory foam pillows. It has a cover that’s made from 60% polyester and 40% bamboo, meaning not only is it hypoallergenic, but it’s also highly breathable. And, it’s fully machine washable. 

What I will say is that for anyone looking for a super stiff pillow, this may not be the product for you. In my opinion, it’s much softer than standard memory foam, and may not give quite as much support.

Pros
  • Made from UTTU Dynamic Foam
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    Great price
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    Hypoallergenic
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    Suitable for all kinds of sleepers
Cons
  • Quite firm
  • Less supporting than standard memory foam

If you’re someone who suffers from sleep apnea but loves their creature comforts, then the Xtra-Comfort Bed Wedge Pillow may be the perfect product for you.

Made using high-density memory foam, topped with a super soft polyester cover, this is by far, one of the comfiest pillows I’ve ever had the pleasure of sleeping on. It’s also one of the most versatile. Not only is it suitable to use as a bed pillow, because of its compact design and convenient carry handle, it also makes for a great travel pillow.

Xtra-Comfort Bed Wedge Pillow - Folding Memory Foam Incline Cushion System for Back and Legs - Triangle Shaped for Reading, Support - Washable

The cover that comes with the pillow is made from a soft polyester material that’s both breathable and machine washable. So, when it’s time to wash the cover, simply unzip it and throw it in the washing machine with the rest of your laundry.

All-in-all, it’s a pretty good pillow to use if you suffer from sleep apnea. It’s versatile, comfortable, and looks pretty good too. Sure, it may be a little more expensive than many others on this list, but it’s a great investment that will hopefully have you sleeping like a baby once again.   

Pros
  • Very comfy
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    Can be used as a travel pillow
Cons
  • A little expensive

Suffering from sleep apnea is no fun, but as you can see from the above, there are products that have been specifically designed to help ease the symptoms. And for just a few dollars more than a regular pillow, it has to be worth a try, right? Just remember that not all sleep apnea pillows are suitable for all kinds of sleepers, so be sure to check this out before making your purchase.

About the author

Sabrina Wilson

Sabrina Wilson is an author and homemaker who is passionate about a holistic approach to health. When she is not writing she can be found tooling around in her garden with the help of her appropriately named dog Digby, bicycling in the park, and occasionally rock climbing…badly. Sabrina is a staff writer for the Organic Daily Post.

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