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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the most common sleep disorders, affecting millions of Americans every year. Choosing the right pillow can make the difference in OSA treatment, whether by making it easier to adhere to CPAP therapy, by opening the airway through gravity, or by allowing for adjustments to suit your particular support needs.
However, with so many sleep apnea pillow options on the market, choosing the right one can be time-consuming and frustrating. By selecting a recommended sleep apnea pillow based on your needs, the process becomes easier. Some higher-end models even allow for sleep trials, giving you the opportunity to ensure that the pillow will work properly for you.
Whether you’re looking for a CPAP-friendly pillow which will work with your sleep position, a wedge pillow for head elevation, or an adjustable pillow, you’ll find a range of options to choose from.
Our Editor’s Pick is the CPAP pillow from EnduriMed. It’s easy to see why most Amazon customers have rated it five stars, as this memory foam pillow provides a wealth of features at a price comparable to many non-CPAP memory foam pillows on the market.
To begin with, the high-quality memory foam is molded to provide stability and comfort regardless of your preferred sleeping position. Stomach sleepers who struggle with other pillows should be particularly pleased with EnduriMed’s design. The top and bottom of the pillow are also molded in different thicknesses, providing better neck support and comfort for lighter or heavier sleepers, depending on which side they choose.
While the pillow does not come with a case, these are available (in regular and cooling mesh) as product bundles on Amazon.
Many care teams advise their sleep apnea patients to sleep on their side, and the Contour CPAPMax 2.0 Pillow makes that a more achievable goal. With two ways to customize your sleeping experience, Contour’s offering allows for a comfortable and secure sleep.
One side of the pillow features vented memory foam (for cooling and close contouring), while the other has a more traditional microfiber filling. Within the pillow, high-density and charcoal-infused foam layers can be removed to change the pillow’s loft and help support your neck. The pillow also features an extended hose tether, allowing sleepers to move during the night without dislodging their mask or causing air leaks.
People who prefer softer pillows should be aware that the orthopedic molding means that this pillow is rated as ‘firm’.
Despite not having been designed for CPAP users, the Coisum Back Sleeper Cervical Pillow is our best choice for back-sleeping CPAP users. The pillow combines orthopedic support with deep curves, providing a good night’s rest with less chance for movement while asleep. If you do roll onto your side, the curved edges make it less likely that you will dislodge your mask.
Medium-firm, slow-rebounding memory foam is more comfortable than some firmer varieties, while still offering the benefits of molded foam. The outer edges are shaped to fit over the shoulders, further reducing movement and allowing for stability.
Other features include two loft heights, a breathable and washable pillowcase, and a 30-day money-back guarantee through Amazon. This last offering allows you to ensure that the pillow will work for you and your CPAP mask.
Wedge pillows are ideal for sleep apnea sufferers, as an incline opens the airway through gravity and reduces apnea events. Our favorite choice is the Helix Wedge Pillow, which offers supportive polyfoam construction with a gel foam layer to allow for a cooler sleep.
As a medium-firm foam pillow, the Helix Wedge is a good combination of contouring and resiliency. Its 10-inch loft (at the highest end) is significant, but the gradual incline allows users to choose where they want to sleep. Broad-shouldered sleepers will also appreciate the generous 24-inch width, which provides comfortable support for the neck and shoulders.
Not all sleep apnea sufferers respond well to wedge pillows, and adjustment can take time, but Helix’s 100-night sleep trial allows for risk-free experimentation.
Adjustable pillows offer users the opportunity to choose their own loft, as well as the ability to create pockets of space or unique pillow shapes. These qualities make them ideal for sleep apnea sufferers, and the Brooklyn Bedding Shredded Foam Pillow is our choice for the best adjustable pillow for sleep apnea.
The pillow’s removable, washable cover can be unzipped to find an inner section which is overstuffed with pieces of high-quality memory foam. These pieces have been treated with gel, creating a cooler sleep than traditional memory foam.
To lower the loft, simply remove some of the filling. Once some filling has been removed, you can create pockets of space for your CPAP mask. It is also possible to make a slightly wedge-shaped pillow for added relief.
Buying and caring for a sleep apnea pillow can sometimes be significantly different than an ordinary pillow. Learning more about the different varieties available, how they are constructed, and what to look for can make the entire process easier and less stressful. Once you purchase your pillow, caring for it correctly will ensure it works properly throughout the whole of its lifespan.
If you’ve ever tried to sleep on an ordinary pillow with a CPAP mask or attempted to create a wedge by stacking pillows, you’ll understand the appeal of sleep apnea pillows. These are pillows that make it easier to treat sleep apnea, whether by providing room for CPAP masks, stabilizing position, lifting the head, or allowing for adjustments.
Some sleep apnea pillows are designed with sufferers in mind, while others work well for sleep apnea patients despite being designed for general use. Most have a base of memory foam, though many include additional materials, such as cooling gel foam.
As with other memory foam pillows, most sleep apnea pillows have a lifespan of approximately two years. Prices can be higher than ordinary pillows, particularly for specialty designs like CPAP and wedge pillows, but many have a price-point comparable to ordinary memory foam options.
There are four types of pillows which are commonly suggested for OSA sufferers.
These pillows are molded from memory foam to position the head correctly. They also offer cut-outs for CPAP masks, which decrease the likelihood of leaks and allow for a comfortable sleep.
These often offer the same features of CPAP pillows — such as deep spine support — without cut-outs. If you’re a back-sleeper or use a low-impact mask, these pillows may work for you.
Some cases of sleep apnea can be alleviated by sleeping on an incline, which uses gravity to open the airways. However, some people may find it difficult to adjust to a wedge pillow.
While some other pillows allow for small changes, adjustable pillows make it easy to change the loft, filling positioning, and other details. They are usually made from shredded foam.
As mentioned previously, most sleep apnea pillows are made from memory foam or another foam type. The density is usually firm or medium-firm, though sleepers who usually prefer softer pillows may find that firm pillows with deep molding are still very comfortable.
Since memory foam can sleep quite warm, some manufacturers include vents or cooling gel foam.
Most memory foam pillows arrive with a slight odor, though this almost always dissipates quickly once the pillow is aired out. Although sometimes unpleasant, this off-gassing is non-toxic and nothing to be concerned about.
It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s care directions in order to keep your sleep apnea pillow in good condition throughout its lifetime. (This is particularly true for people whose sleep apnea is triggered by allergens, such as dust mites, which like to make pillows their home.)
Most memory foam pillows can only be spot-cleaned, not machine-washed. This makes a pillowcase essential for proper pillow maintenance, preferably one which is easy to unzip and wash. Not all sleep apnea pillows include a pillowcase, but when they do not, the manufacturer usually offers them for sale separately.
In addition to pillowcases, some sleep apnea pillows have add-on products (such as tethers or cooling cases) available for purchase. In some cases, these can be bought as part of a bundle for additional savings.
Everyone has their own sleep quirks, and not every pillow will work for every sleeper. Before choosing a pillow, make sure to read through some of the reviews and frequently asked questions.
Finally, consider whether you’re interested in a sleep trial or warranty. While not available for every pillow type, these allow for greater peace of mind and less risk in the long run.