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Sleep apnea is a condition where a person’s breathing stops and starts while they are sleeping. A person may have mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea. People with this condition may benefit from a particular type of pillow.
Obstructive and central sleep apnea are the two main types.
Central sleep apnea happens when brain signals do not tell the muscles to breathe, and people who have this type may find that pillows do not help.
The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, occurs when the muscles in the throat relax, and using an appropriate pillow may provide benefits.
This review is based on research as opposed to personal product testing. We suggest that individuals conduct their own research before purchasing any product.
This article explores pillows that can help with sleep apnea, as well as some potential alternative remedies.
Below are a few pillow options that may help alleviate sleep apnea symptoms and lead to a better night’s sleep.
Please note that the statements below are research-based. No one at Medical News Today, including the writer, has tried these products.
According to a review in Sleep Medicine Reviews, a person with sleep apnea should avoid sleeping on their back and sleep on their side instead.
The PureComfort -– Side Sleeping Pillow claims to makes sleeping on the side more comfortable, particularly if a person is more familiar with sleeping on their back.
This pillow’s defining feature is the ear cutouts, which the manufacturer says relieves overall facial pressure.
A person can also use the height inserts to set the pillow at the perfect elevation for them and open the airway.
Overall this pillow has positive reviews, particularly about how comfortable it is.
Some people with sleep apnea may require continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP). This is a machine that helps a person with sleep apnea to breathe.
The Endurimed CPAP pillow contains contours allowing people to sleep comfortably in their CPAP mask. It also provides a large and small size to adapt to the size of the mask.
The design is suitable for front, back, and side sleepers. This pillow’s shape also allows people to move more freely in the night without causing the wires from the mask to become tangled.
The anecdotal evidence from the reviews suggests it is comfortable and practical.
According to the manufacturers, the shape of the MARNUR Contour Memory Foam Pillow helps a person breathe better by supporting their neck.
It is suitable for back, front, and side sleepers. The reviews of this pillow suggest it is an extremely comfortable pillow and helps relieve neck and spinal pressure.
There is no evidence or information to suggest that this pillow is appropriate for people who require CPAP machines. It may, therefore, be more suitable for individuals who have a milder form of sleep apnea.
In some instances, problems with the cervical spine may trigger sleep apnea. The cervical spine refers mainly to the neck area. Reducing pressure in the neck may help alleviate pain in the neck area and improve sleep apnea.
According to the manufacturers, the VISCO LOVE Silver Sleep Pillow’s unique shape relieves the pressure on the neck. They claim that this, combined with the Visco-elastic memory foam, provides a comfortable sleep, particularly for those who prefer to lie on their back.
A person can also use this pillow with a CPAP machine. Therefore, it may be useful for people with both milder and more severe forms of sleep apnea.
A 2017 study suggests that mild elevation of the head may reduce the severity of sleep apnea symptoms. This is because it can help open the airway and improve breathing.
Although not specifically designed for sleep apnea, the 30-degree elevation of the Winner 2020 Premium Bed Wedge Pillow may improve sleep apnea.
It also contains gel memory foam, which means it is comfortable on the head and upper back.
As well as potentially helping with sleep apnea, the elevation may help reduce snoring and acid reflux.
Although people with sleep apnea may benefit from using an appropriate pillow, there are other remedies. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) suggest:
Weight loss: According to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, weight loss interventions may improve sleep apnea severity.
Limiting smoking: Although there is some evidence to suggest that smoking may adversely affect sleep apnea, an article in Chest suggests that scientists need to carry out further research to explore this claim. However, reducing or quitting smoking is likely to be beneficial for breathing and lung health.
Reducing alcohol: A 2018 systematic review highlights that alcohol consumption is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing for a short period during sleep and then restarts. Some people with more severe forms of sleep apnea may use a CPAP machine while others may not.
A person with sleep apnea may consider a pillow that elevates the head and reduces pressure on their cervical spine. This may help open the airway and alleviate instances of sleep apnea, as well as its symptoms.
As well as using an appropriate pillow to improve sleep apnea, a person may also consider lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, reducing alcohol intake, quitting smoking, and increasing exercise.