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Last updated: October 24, 2022
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Sufferers of sleep apnea will know how infuriating and concerning it can be. Disturbed sleep and worrying symptoms including blocked airways can be really bad for your health and medical treatment should always be sought in these situations. However, many people have also found that along with medical treatment there are some other changes they can make to lifestyle and sleep habits that can help tackle the issues associated with apnea. One of these is a specifically designed pillow which can help with breathing and keeping the airways open. The best pillow for sleep apnea has been discussed in this article to help you make your decision.
We’ve looked at the important features of pillows for sleep apnea and how they may help. Key features include the shape of the pillow such as whether they are a wedge or customizable shape, as well as the filling, the cover and whether it is replaceable, and even the exact size of the pillow to work out if it is suitable for you and your bed.
As always, our team has invested a huge amount of time researching what products are most suitable for this title, and we have discussed this with manufacturers, consulted reviews and reviewers and of course looked into the companies producing the pillows. Our guide is presented as an overview table, detailed reviews of multiple products which we have picked out as being the very best available on the market, and then a handy buying guide to help you to make the decision of which may be most suitable for you and your unique needs.
Pillow cover material: bamboo-derived rayon and polyester
Dimensions: 25 x 25 x 12 inches (other sizes available)
Extra features: two-layer design; machine-washable and hypoallergenic cover; lifetime warranty
The Relax Home Life Wedge Pillow is our editors choice, a clever pillow made out of a bamboo rayon and polyester blend which feels fantastic. This is in the very popular wedge design, and in fact this is the best wedge pillow for sleep apnea sufferers.
The memory foam around the outside allows this to adjust to the contours of your body and mean a comfortable sleeping experience no matter what sleeping style you have. Front, back and side sleepers have all reported their airways being more open.
The cover that this ships with is washable and hypoallergenic, so in tackling your apnea you’re not going to trigger any allergies. Having a washable cover is great as these pillows can be awkward sizes.
You can purchase this in four different sizes and with different inclines on the wedges, this means it is far more likely you will end up with a pillow suitable for your body type. It has also had benefits for people who snore (naturally, this goes hand in hand with apnea) and also other issues like acid reflux. All-in-all, it is the best pillow on the market in terms of a mix of comfort and reliability.
What are our favorite features?
Great for sleep apnea but also acid reflux and other issues
Springs back into position even after being used by bigger built people
If you’re not a fan of materials such as bamboo and polyester then you can get a model made totally out of foam. If you’ve decided that this wedged design is the best type of pillow for sleep apnea then this can create far better posture for all sleepers. Naturally, the Cushy Form Bed Wedge Pillow provides a lot of help for sufferers of sleep apnea.
The memory foam topping means that it can adjust to your body and feel comfortable no matter what shape and size you are. Unfortunately, it is only available in one size but as this is a pretty versatile pillow this isn’t too much of an issue for most people.
The posture this promotes can also be good for your muscles such as shoulders and neck, and also help sufferers of acid reflux.
Like many of the best options out there the Cushy Form pillow offers a machine washable case which means you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to get it clean after a while of use.
Many users have said this is great for back and shoulder pain but arguably a different shape or incline might help slightly more with sleep apnea, depending on your body type and the way you like to sleep.
Extra features: Certi-PUR US certified; hypoallergenic
12 inch pillows can be a great choice for those looking to seriously improve their posture. They provide a good basis for back sleepers and also side sleepers to reduce the impact sleep apnea can have. This product, the Chemica Products Bed Wedge Pillow for Sleeping, has been produced by consulting with nurses. It is totally hypoallergenic and the memory foam is 1.5 inches thick in order to keep you more comfortable.
The pillow is designed to be very versatile. As well as putting it behind your back, you can experiment with other positions which may help with your ailments. You can put it under your torso or even under your legs if this will help you to open up airways and sleep with less disturbance.
The cover is great quality and breathable so it won’t get clammy. It is washable so you can just throw it in the machine with the rest of your washing.
Most reviews speak highly about the comfort offered here. If you are looking for a steep incline then the 30 degrees offered by this pillow should do the job perfectly.
What makes it special?
Hypoallergenic and eco-friendly materials used
Designed with nurses consulting the process
Versatile and can be used in different positions
What cons did we find?
Not suited to using instantly as will need 48 hours to take perfect shape
Extra features: cooling effect; fits standard pillow cases; 2 neck support options and heights incorporated in the design; can be used with or without a CPAP mask
While a lot of the other pillows to make this list have been created due to the fact they are great for a variety of issues such as acid reflux and joint pains, this product has been made specifically for sleep apnea sufferers.
The EnduriMed CPAP Pillow has considered the fact that most people who suffer badly from sleep apnea will be prescribed a CPAP mask to help with their breathing. Some of the wedge pillows aren’t completely comfortable for use with these masks, but the EnduriMed is. It allows you to sleep comfortably with your mask no matter what style of sleeper you are. Front, side or back sleepers can all find a space to lay where their mask is out of the way.
This also has two different options for thickness, neck support and height so no matter what size you are you will have a suitable choice.
A clever cooling effect is also in place, perfect for those who live in hotter climates, and another way to help you to get a good nights sleep.
Another benefit people really like about this pillow is the fact that it can be used with normal pillowcases, so you don’t have to buy specific ones in awkward shapes when the time comes to replace the pillowcase.
What stands out?
Great for use with a CPAP mask
Can be used with normal pillowcases
Also works great for regular use without a CPAP machine
Extra features: reshapes after use and does not sag over time; eliminates neck pain; can be used with a CPAP mask; perforated for extra ventilation
This is a pillow which is great for snoring and can greatly reduce the snoring effect that many people experience when they are diagnosed with sleep apnea.
As well as being the top option for snoring, we’ve also found this to be the best cervical pillow for sleep apnea. The cervical design means a dip in the center. This contoured shape is very popular among sleepers who have suffered with snoring, neck pain or other difficulties sleeping.
This is quite a high-tech product as pillows for sleep apnea go. It reacts to the heat of your body to adjust and adapt to the shape of your neck and head. This means ultimately that you will have a comfortable experience with memory foam.
Though it is definitely one of the most ergonomic and comfortable pillows on our list, there is some debate about whether it opens up the airways quite as well as the wedge shape designs and other sleep apnea pillows.
Like many of the other options on this list, it has a washable and zippable cover to make your life much easier.
If you are using this with a CPAP mask, the fact that it is so malleable and will adjust to the shape of your head and neck can mean it is comfortable even with a mask strapped around your head.
Why is it special?
Extremely ergonomic and comfortable
Great for use with a CPAP mask.
What are the flaws?
May not open up airways as well as some other options such as wedge pillows
Extra features: hypoallergenic, breathable, and machine-washable cover
The Xtreme Comforts Memory Foam wedge pillow has made our list as it is not only one of the best on the market but also the fact that it is such an affordable option.
We’ve already discussed the merits of wedge pillows for sleep apnea and a range of other pillows. The Xtreme Comforts option is made up of memory foam and an excellent bamboo material which has become very popular among affordable and unusual pillows. Bamboo is often used because it is breathable and excellent for air circulation and keeping users cool.
This is a great option if you have other issues with sleeping, too. It can relieve a variety of sleep-related aches and pains as well as being good for sleep apnea.
The wedge design is at a 30-degree angle which many health professionals have said is the optimum angle to sleep at.
Like most of the wedge pillows out there, this has a removable, machine washable cover perfect for keeping things simple.
A memory foam topping can make this feel more comfortable and shape to the contour of your neck and head. It can also be used in other positions such as under the legs.
Generally, reviews of this product are good, and if you have a few different sleep issues and are on a tight budget then it could be worth considering.
What are our favorite features?
2-inch memory foam topping
30-degree angle great for optimal sleep
What could be better?
Not the best for use with a CPAP machine
Things to Consider
Our buying guide is designed to help you to make sure you’re purchasing the very best pillow for your own needs. People are all sorts of different shapes and sizes and have different preferences. The important thing is to educate yourself so you can choose the best sleep apnea pillow for you.
Benefits of a pillow for sleep apnea
Putting it simply, a pillow can help a huge amount with sleep apnea by improving your sleeping position and posture. For instance, if you are a back sleeper then a normal pillow may lead to your tongue falling back into your throat while you are sleeping, causing breathing problems. The correct posture can be achieved by a wedge pillow which can prevent this from happening, counteracting gravity.
CPAP design pillows such as the EnduriMed CPAP Pillow are great for side and front sleepers who may experience sleep issues if using a normal pillow. Using a CPAP mask can be really uncomfortable, but a pillow with space to accommodate this and which can mold to the shape of your face is hugely beneficial.
There are schools of thought which say that all sorts of benefits come from using elevated pillows such as wedge pillows. The posture this creates can be better for your spine, relieve pain, stop acid reflux and more.
Features to consider when choosing a sleep apnea pillow
The following are the features we’ve used to evaluate the models of pillow for sleep apnea on the list. Understanding these features and which type of sleeper you are can lead to a better decision of which pillow to purchase. There are a surprising amount of different features to consider, and it isn’t just the shape and size of the pillow you need to think about, as we explore below.
Shape is undeniably a vital component of any pillow. The whole point of a sleep apnea pillow is often to provide a different shape, and in doing so give your body a different angle while you are sleeping to encourage free breathing throughout. Common shapes include:
Moldable CPAP designs which can alter to suit the mask you may be wearing. This will make your face more comfortable as well as your neck and help avoid nasty marks appearing from the mask.
Wedge pillows, which have a shape which is pretty self-explanatory. Wedges can be at different angles, with some having a fifteen-degree slope and others having 30-degrees. 30 is said to be the optimum amount for sleep apnea sufferers.
Cervical pillows which have a lowered area in the middle, good for back or side sleepers, and those who experience neck pain along with sleep apnea sufferers.
Materials – filling and pillow case/cover
There are a few common materials which are found again and again in the market for sleep apnea pillows. Consider what you need from your pillow and the affordability, as well as what sort of texture you prefer.
The majority of pillows for sleep apnea have some level of memory foam. This can be throughout or just for a couple of inches on the top. Some, such as the Cushy Form Bed Wedge Pillow, are made entirely out of different types of foam.
Bamboo is also a popular material for the pillows, as the fibers from within can be used to create affordable yet good quality and flexible pillows. These also tend to be breathable. Pillows can become clammy and overly hot, and some materials are designed to have a more breathable, cooling effect.
Hypoallergenic covers and materials are always wise. Even if you don’t suffer particularly with allergies it is better to be safe, especially if sharing a bed.
Dimensions and size options
This is quite self-explanatory. Compare the size to your existing pillow and see what might work for your own needs. Most pillows are only available in one specific size, but our editor’s choice, the Relax Home Life Wedge Pillow, allow you to choose different sizes. Think about your own build, but also what you have room for within the bed.
If you are looking to purchase a wedge style of sleep apnea pillow then you will also have to choose the height, which will impact the incline. You can usually find choices of either 12 inch or 7.5 inch heights.
Will you be using a CPAP machine while you sleep?
The most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea is to wear a CPAP machine while sleeping. This attaches to your head via a mask, which you can probably imagine is not a very comfortable way to sleep. This is especially true if you are just using the same pillow as you always have used.
Many of the best sleep apnea pillows have been modified to account for CPAP machines. For instance, the EnduriMed CPAP Pillow is designed to fit to the contours of your face even when the mask has been fitted. Some wedge pillows do not do quite as good a job at accommodating your mask.
Tips on getting a good night’s sleep if you have sleep apnea
A pillow is vital to getting the best possible sleep if you have apnea, but there are a few other things you can do, and lifestyle changes you can make which should help.
Avoid alcohol. This can contribute to the soft tissues relaxing and causing the snoring and breathing issues associated with sleep apnea.
Keep regular sleeping hours. This is usually a good idea for a variety of reasons, and has been shown to decrease the effects of sleep apnea.
Quit smoking. Smokers often suffer more severely with sleep apnea.
Lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. These are two more lifestyle changes shown to have a huge impact on your experience with sleep apnea.
Don’t use sleeping pills. These can also relax the muscles which we’re trying not to! This can mean that blockages of the throat are more likely.
It can often be the case that it is not one simple product or alteration to your life which makes every issue with sleep apnea go away, but combining new products such as a CPAP mask and a pillow for sleep apnea with a few lifestyle alterations.
Though there is some debate on the subject of inclines, for sleep apnea, a 30-degree incline (often provided by the 12-inch tall pillows) is great for opening up the airways and avoiding the blockages of apnea.
It is highly unlikely. Most are in agreement that wedge pillows are a very natural way to sleep and generally improve posture. If you are a back sleeper or side sleeper it is especially unlikely that you will experience any issues.
Not always, check with the manufacturer description of a product to see whether or not it is washable. However, the vast majority of the pillows on this list at least have a case which is washable, and often machine washable for a huge level of convenience.
Our editor’s choice, the Relax Home Life Wedge Pillow gets a very high rating of 9.8. It is available in multiple different sizes and even different inclines. The bamboo and polyester mix feels great and this has a machine washable cover.
Closely behind with a rating of 9.7 we have a very similar product, the Cushy Form Bed Wedge Pillow. This is another wedge design but this time with a foam finish which some find more comfortable.
The third best pillow for sleep apnea on our list is the Chemica Products Bed Wedge Pillow for Sleeping which was designed with health professionals and provides a perfect 30-degree incline great for sufferers of sleep apnea. We’ve rated it 9.6.
That sums up our review of the best pillows for sleep apnea – we hope we’ve helped you pick the right one for your needs!