- How Sleep Works
- Sleep Disorders
- Sleep Resources
- Sleep Health
- Sleep Medicine
Positive air pressure therapy, or PAP therapy, is commonly prescribed to patients with sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by temporary loss of breath during the night. This form of therapy involves a ventilation system that delivers airflow to the sleeper’s mouth via a connective hose; by improving circulation in the breathing passages, the sleeper becomes less susceptible to apnea episodes. The most common form of this therapy is continuous positive air pressure (CPAP), which is normally prescribed for patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This form of sleep apnea occurs when a physical obstruction restricts the sleeper’s airflow.
CPAP therapy can be highly beneficial for apnea patients, particularly those who snore heavily as a result of their condition. However, because CPAP requires a face mask linked to the connective hose, this form of therapy can also be fairly uncomfortable. Many CPAP users rely on specialized pillows to get a good night’s rest. These pillows are often dimpled or recessed in order to account for the mask and hose. CPAP bed pillows are also made to accommodate side sleepers, since back sleeping often leads to more frequent apnea episodes.
This guide will explore how CPAP therapy affects sleep, discuss some common features and characteristics of CPAP bed pillows, provide tips for first-time buyers, and list our picks for the best CPAP bed pillows sold today.
CPAP therapy involves the following components:
|Mask Type||Design||Target Sleeper|
|Full Face||The mask fits snugly over the nose to cover the entire nose and mouth area||People who sleep with their mouths open Back or side sleepers|
|Nasal Cradle||The mask forms a triangular seal that covers the nose and extends to the lips without covering the mouth||People who primarily breathe through their noses and/or sleep with their mouths open Back or side sleepers|
|Nasal Pillow||The mask forms a seal over each nare (nostril opening) without covering other parts of the nose, and connects to headgear at the sides||People who primarily breathe through their noses and/or prefer mid-level or low airflow delivery All sleep positions|
|Nasal Prong||The mask forms a seal over each nare without covering other parts of the nose, and connects to headgear at the sides and forehead||People who primarily breathe through their noses and/or prefer mid-level or low airflow delivery All sleep positions|
CPAP machines can be highly beneficial for sleepers with OSA. However, standard sleeping pillows may cause certain complications for individuals who rely on CPAP therapy. These include the following:
For these reasons, CPAP bed pillows can be a highly beneficial alternative to standard pillows. In the next section we’ll look at the designs and features of CPAP bed pillows.
The term ‘CPAP bed pillow’ refers to any pillow that is designed and shaped to specifically accommodate CPAP users. It’s important to note that many pillows are advertised as being ‘CPAP-friendly,’ but are not specially designed for these sleepers. This guide will focus on dedicated CPAP bed pillows.
CPAP bed pillows are designed for side sleepers, even though CPAP masks may be suitable for all sleep positions. This is because back sleeping can lead to more frequent apnea episodes; the tongue relaxes during sleep, and may impede airflow if it falls back into the throat (a common occurrence for back sleepers). Most CPAP users do not sleep on their stomachs due to mask interference; this position is also widely discouraged due to its high pain and pressure potential.
While designs vary by model, most CPAP bed pillows share the following features:
Other defining factors of most CPAP bed pillows include:
When properly used, CPAP bed pillows can provide the following benefits for sleepers:
In terms of price-point, most CPAP bed pillows are sold for $70 or less. The average price range of products we reviewed was $45 to $50.
As stated above, most CPAP bed pillows cost $70 or less. Material fill composition does not appear to play a significant role in pricing.
The full face mask, which is considered the largest mask type, may require a pillow with deeper side cutouts. Nasal masks do not usually carry the same requirement.
Generally speaking, memory foam and polyfoam pillows typically provide more support and pressure relief that polyester microfiber pillows. In terms of cover composition, cotton tends to be cooler and more breathable than polyester.
This consideration typically comes down to personal preference, as well as available bed space. It’s important to note that CPAP bed pillows are generally smaller than standard sleeping pillows.
CPAP bed pillows tend to be on the lighter than standard pillow options. The average weight is roughly two pounds.
Most side sleepers prefer medium to high loft pillows, and the majority of CPAP bed pillows sold today meet this criteria. However, those with shifting loft preferences may find that an adjustable-loft pillow is their best option.
People with wider, broader shoulders may feel more comfortable on CPAP bed pillows with recessed bottoms. This may be less of an issue for those with narrower shoulders.
If you move around during the night, then a pillow with a hose stabilizer attachment may be useful for securing the hose and preventing air leakage.
Keep in mind that most CPAP bed pillows are spot clean only, and may require more time and energy to clean than standard pillows; however, their covers are usually machine washable.
Warranty coverage varies for CPAP bed pillows. Most carry little to no warranty coverage, but some come with warranties of up to 10 years.
Now, let’s look at the top CPAP bed pillows according to people who use them. The following five pillows earned the top satisfaction ratings from customers and owners. To ensure accurate rankings, we only considered pillows for which we’ve verified at least 80 reviews. To learn more about purchasing these pillows, please visit the link in the bottom row of the table. Please note the following ranges for the ‘Average Price’ category:
|Brand||Bicor Processing||Contour Products||Contour Products||EnduriMed||Hudson Medical Products|
|Model||Breathe-Free Hypoallergenic CPAP Pillow||Contour CPAP Pillow 2.0||Contour CPAPMax Pillow 2.0||Large CPAP Comfort Pillow||SleePAP CPAP Pillow|
|Fill Material||Polyester microfiber||Polyfoam||Polyfoam||Memory foam||Polyester microfiber|
|Cover Material||Cotton and polyester blend||Cotton and polyester blend||Polyester||Polyester||Polyester|
|Recessed Sides?||Both sides||Both sides||Both sides||Both sides||Both sides|
|Weight||2.0 lbs.||2.1 lbs.||2.3 lbs.||2.0 lbs.||2.9 lbs.|
|Dimensions||20W" x 26L"||13.5W" x 19.8L"||13W" x 20L"||14.6W" x 22.4L"||17W" x 26L"|
|Loft Options||5.5"||4"||Adjustable 2.25" 3" 4.5" 5.25"||4.5"||7"|
|Mask Compatibility||All mask types||All mask types||All mask types||All mask types||All mask types|
|Care Instructions||Spot clean and air dry pillow Cover is machine washable||Spot clean and air dry pillow Cover is machine washable||Spot clean and air dry pillow Cover is machine washable||Spot clean and air dry pillow Cover is machine washable||Spot clean and air dry pillow Cover is machine washable|