Pillows for Sleep Apnea [5 That Actually Help]
Your sleeping position has a direct effect on your airway. And for people with sleep apnea, things as simple as a pillow can make all the difference between getting a good night's sleep or one spent gasping for air. If you or a loved one struggles with getting quality sleep because of sleep apnea, keep reading. We’ve found the best types of pillows for sleep apnea that give back hours of restful sleep and reduce negative symptoms from this sleeping disorder.
Why take our word for it? At Pillow Cube, we are sleep experts. Our customers report better sleep, wake up pain-free, and are full of energy. As seen in The New York Times, Tuck, and all over TikTok–you could say we know our stuff(ing). So, let’s get into it!
Pillows for Sleep Apnea: 5 Best Styles
Most doctors agree that sleeping on your side is the best position for alleviating sleep apnea. That’s because sleeping on your side reduces pressure on your throat compared to sleeping on your back. But not all pillows are side-sleeping pillows. You want one specifically made for side sleepers that aligns your spine, perfectly filling your shoulder gap. A great side sleeping pillow will be super comfortable, supportive, and hold you in the perfect position for optimal breathing.
Things to look for in a side sleeping pillow for sleep apnea:
- Temperature regulating
- 90-degree shoulder gap design
- Breathable cover
Our Side Cube Pillow was designed by side sleepers, for side sleepers, to solve common sleeping issues like sleep apnea. Fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, breathe better, and wake up happier. With 2,533 happy reviews, there’s a reason why people love the Side Cube.
What people are saying: “Honestly I'm very picky with pillows, all my family members have loved really soft pillows but I always went for firm ones because otherwise my neck hurt every morning. But then in early 2021 I saw an ad on Instagram and bought a pillow cube soon after. Now I've had it for over 2 years, much longer than I've been satisfied with any other pillow. Now I'm considering buying another one for when I stay overnight at my boyfriend's place cause he likes soft pillows just like everyone else in my life.”
2. Wedge Pillow
The wedge pillow is another option that stands out in the sleep apnea world. This unique pillow is specifically designed to elevate your head while you sleep. When you sleep at an elevation, it helps relieve the pressure on the back of your throat and open up your airway to promote better breathing throughout the night. Wedge pillows are great at helping reduce snoring, increase oxygen, and improve overall sleep quality.
Things to look for in a wedge pillow for sleep apnea:
- A 35- to 45-degree incline
- Memory foam material
- Medium or medium-firm feel
3. Contour CPAP Pillow
More than 8 million people in the US with sleep apnea use a CPAP machine. And if you’re one of them, you know it’s not the easiest–or that comfortable. This is where contour CPAP pillows come in handy. Designed explicitly for sleepers who use a CPAP machine, this perfectly shaped cut-out pillow offers unique features to enhance comfort and support during sleep. The contour shape of the pillow also helps to align the head, neck, and spine while making room for your breathing mask. If you use a CPAP machine, you need to give this type of pillow a try.
Things to look for in a contour CPAP pillow for sleep apnea:
- Shape that accommodates for CPAP masks
- High-density foam material
- Temperature regulation
4. Knee Pillow
We learned earlier that the best sleeping position for people with sleep apnea is on their side. With less pressure applied on the back of the throat, side sleeping makes breathing easier. But what if sleeping on your side isn’t comfortable? Should you sacrifice great sleep? We don’t think so–enter knee pillows. These unique-shaped pillows alleviate pressure on your hips, knees, and ankles so that side sleeping can be a breeze. You really can have the best of both worlds.
Things to look for in a knee pillow for sleep apnea:
- Multiple leg angle options
- Soft microfiber case
- Supportive memory foam
- Temperature regulation
Our Knee Cube Deluxe is unlike any other leg pillow. You don’t have to worry about sweaty legs touching during the night thanks to its design, which runs the entire length of your shins. Plus, our three different leg contour placement options let you choose the most comfortable position while keeping your pillow in place all night.
What people are saying: “If I was on a deserted island (with a stream) and could only bring 3 items it would be, this knee pillow, my epipen, and one of those straws that filters water so you can drink from a stream—in that order.”
5. Foam Pillow
Quality foam pillows overall offer excellent support and help alleviate symptoms associated with sleep apnea. Designed to conform to the unique shape of your head and neck, these types of pillows allow the body to rest in an optimal position aligning the spine and neck. This creates an environment for effortless and free-flowing breathing–aka a more restful night's sleep.
Things to look for in a foam pillow for sleep apnea:
- Made from high-quality memory foam
- User-adjustable fill level
- Removable cover for washing
Pillows for Sleep Apnea Not Helping? It’s Time to Seek Medical Help
Sometimes pillows can’t solve all sleep apnea issues. Sleep apnea can wreak havoc on your health. That’s why catching worsening symptoms soon is the best thing you can do to support your well-being. If you’re constantly gasping for air, snoring loudly, waking up with a headache, and struggling to stay awake during the day, it’s probably time to call your doctor. They will assess what’s going on and come up with a personalized plan to get you back on track.