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How to Choose the Best Pillow for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a multi-faceted disorder that affects millions of people all across the world.  This condition makes it hard for people to get a good night’s sleep.In this article, you will learn how a sleep apnea pillow works and the factors you need to consider before buying a sleep apnea pillow.

Finding the right pillow can alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea, whether by opening the airways through gravity or allowing for adjustment to meet your specific support needs.

sleep apnea pillow

Tips to Select a Pillow for Sleep Apnea

How a pillow can help sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is often caused by the collapse or loosening of the throat muscles, which results in blockages in the throat.  When your brain signals that you’re not receiving enough oxygen, you will wake briefly to restore normal breathing.

A sleep apnea pillow will help to support the natural curve of your neck when you sleep. This way your airways remain open and facilitate breathing throughout the night.

Most sleep apnea pillows use memory foam, which reduces the pressure on your neck, permitting your body to fully rest and relax.  As a result, you’ll experience reduced tossing and turning when sleeping.

Unlike standard pillows, sleep apnea pillows are designed to work with CPAP sleep masks and the accessories that might come along with them.  A CPAP mask can sometimes be uncomfortable, but a pillow can accommodate this and mold to the shape of your face.  These pillows make it possible to sleep comfortably with a CPA mask.

Even those that don’t support CPAP equipment can still help to ease the symptoms of sleep apnea. They incline your head in a comfortable position to reduce airway blockage. They also help to prevent your tongue from falling back to your throat when you’re sleeping, resulting in breathing problems.

Most sleep apnea pillows also create an elevated posture, which is beneficial for your spine, stops acid reflux, and relieves pain.

Although a pillow is essential for getting the best sleep when suffering from sleep apnea, there are other few lifestyle changes you can make to help you.  Including:

  • Losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding sleeping pills
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Keeping a regular sleeping schedule

How to choose the best pillow for sleep apnea

Selecting the right sleep apnea pillow can seem like a daunting task. There several styles, shapes, and materials choose from.

Luckily, several factors can help you select the right pillow. Below we’ve mentioned some of the factors to help you identify which sleep apnea pillow will best meet your needs.


The shapes of sleep apnea pillows vary depending on the brand. The most common shapes are cervical, and wedges.

Wedges help to elevate your head above your neck and shoulders.   These pillows use gravity to open your airways.  Wedge pillows are mostly used by back and side sleepers. However, some individuals might find it difficult to adopt a wedge pillow.

Apart from easing sleep apnea, wedge pillows will ease acid reflux besides cold symptoms, like snoring and congestions.

Cervical pillows have an indention in the middle for your head to keep your airways open as you sleep.  The additional stuffing on the sides of the pillow helps to support your shoulders and neck positions. Cervical pillows are good for side and back sleepers, and those experiencing neck pain.


Firmer pillows often provide a longer support period as compared to soft pillows.  Softer pillows collapse easily and lose shape, while firmer ones hold its shape.  Firmer pillows are ideal for people suffering from sleep apnea.

If you’re purchasing a memory foam pillow for the first time, select a medium-firm pillow.  Too much softness in the pillow means that your neck and head will sink. Besides, if you’re using a CPAP equipment, the tubes might get twisted or it can put more pressure on the mask, making it lose its tension.

Too soft pillows can lead to further blockage of the airways and other painful symptoms.  Too firm pillows will exert too much pressure on your neck, resulting in pain and ache. Even though firmness is crucial, some softness will help to encourage comfort and support.


A good sleep apnea pillow should provide support to your head, neck, and jawbone. This will help in preventing your tongue from falling back through your throat.  As a result, your airway will remain open and you won’t experience any apnea events.

Also, a quality sleep apnea pillow should provide shoulder support. Shoulder support helps to open your airways at a deeper level.  Nonetheless, the pillow shouldn’t raise your shoulder too high or you’ll end up feeling like you’re sleeping on a flat surface.


If you want to receive a good night’s sleep, you need to select a sleep apnea pillow you’re comfortable with.  Many people find memory foam pillows comfortable, since they’re firmer and conform to the user’s unique body shape easily.

However, they often become hot after being used for a few hours.  A wedge pillow made from memory foam also offers great support and contouring for your body.

Sleeping Position

Your sleeping position determines which sleep apnea pillow you’ll select.  Back sleepers snore a lot and experience more sleep apnea episodes than other sleepers. Although there are sleep apnea pillows designed for back sleepers, it’s wise to change your sleeping position, since it’s harmful to your health.  Sleeping on your side or stomach is much healthier.


Lastly, if your skin is sensitive, don’t select a pillow with restricted airflow. This could result in unnecessary complications.  Select a pillow with more hypo allergic covers or natural fabrics, as well as covers that can be removed and washed.

Final Thoughts

Since sleep apnea pillows come in many styles and shapes. It’s therefore important to determine the factors you want your pillow to meet, before proceeding with the purchase.

The right sleep apnea pillow will not only boost your comfort levels but potentially assist in keeping your airway open during the night.

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