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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.

A quick look at 5 of the best pillows for sleep apnea

Investing in an appropriate pillow can help alleviate symptoms associated with sleep apnea, such as snoring and breathing difficulties.

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 article explores 5 of the best pillows for sleep apnea, discusses some alternative remedies, and answers some frequently asked questions.

If you’re curious to learn more evidence-based information about the fascinating world of sleep, visit our dedicated hub.

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MNT chooses mattresses, sheets, pillows, and other bedding that meet the following criteria:

  • Certifications: MNT will choose products that have CertiPUR-US or other certifications. This means that the products are low in pollutants and free from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
  • Size: MNT chooses products that are available in various sizes.
  • Materials and fill: MNT selects products made from different materials and fills, such as memory foam and latex, to suit a range of sleep and lifestyles.
  • Budget: MNT features products to suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Firmness: MNT selects mattresses that are available in a range of firmness options to suit most people’s sleeping styles.
  • Sleep trials: MNT chooses companies that offer a sleep trial.
  • Shipping: Where possible, MNT will include shipping information, such as where the company delivers to and whether shipping is free.
  • Warranties and return policies: MNT will include products that carry warranties and clear returns policies.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Below is a range of pillow options that may help alleviate sleep apnea symptoms and lead to a better night’s sleep.

Best for side sleeping: PureComfort Side Sleeping Pillow

  • Price: $79.99

According to an older 2013 review, a person with sleep apnea should avoid sleeping on their back and sleep on their side instead.

The PureComfort Side Sleeping Pillow claims to make 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 relieve overall facial pressure.

A person can also use the height inserts to set the pillow at the right elevation and open the airway.

Overall this pillow has positive reviews from Amazon customers, who mention it is comfortable to sleep on. More negative reviews mention splits in the foam and sinking during use.

Best for use with CPAP machine: EnduriMed CPAP Pillow

  • Price: $69.99

Some people with sleep apnea may require continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP). This is a machine that helps a person with sleep apnea breathe.

The EnduriMed CPAP pillow contains contours designed to allow people to sleep more comfortably in their CPAP masks. It is adjustable so that a person can add or remove the foam pad inside to find the right elevation and comfort level.

According to the manufacturer, 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 risking the wires from their mask becoming tangled.

Positive reviews mention that it is a comfortable pillow that helps keep a person’s CPAP mask in place. Negative reviews mention it does not offer enough support for the head or neck.

Best for mild sleep apnea: MARNUR Contour Memory Foam Pillow

  • Price: $39.99

According to the manufacturers, the shape of the MARNUR Contour Memory Foam Pillow helps a person breathe better by supporting their neck.

Positive reviews mention it is a comfortable pillow that can help relieve pressure on the neck and spine.

The manufacturer states it is suitable for back, front, and side sleepers.

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.

Best for neck pressure relief: TEMPUR-Neck Pillow

  • Price: $109–149

In some instances, issues 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 TEMPUR, its Neck Pillow relieves pressure on the neck through its contoured design and extra-firm TEMPUR material. The company claims that a person’s neck and shoulder muscles will be able to relax while being supported by the pillow.

A person can choose between three sizes: small, medium, and large, ensuring they get the best fit for their needs and sleep preferences.

Best for mild elevation: Helix Wedge Pillow

  • Price: $95

A 2017 study suggests that mild head elevation 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 Helix Wedge Pillow may be suitable for people who wish to try elevating their heads during sleep to improve their sleep apnea.

It consists of cooling gel memory foam. The company claims that this pillow can help with neck pain and will contour to the curves of a person’s body to increase comfort.

The company also states that the elevation of this pillow may help reduce snoring and acid reflux.

The table below compares the products included in this article.

Pure ComfortEnduriMedMARNURTEMPUR-Neck PillowHelix Wedge Pillow
Materialmemory foammemory foammemory foammemory foamgel memory foam
Sleep positionsidefront, back, sidefront, back, sidenot specifiednot specified
Compatible with CPAP machineyesyesnoyesyes

A few factors a person may wish to consider when purchasing a pillow for sleep apnea include:

  • Sleeping position: Some pillows are better suited to side sleepers, while others are suitable for sleepers of all positions. A person should consider their preferred sleeping position and the support their chosen pillow offers for that position.
  • CPAP machines: If a person uses a CPAP machine, they should choose a pillow that accommodates this. Some people find sleeping on their side most comfortable when using a CPAP machine, and they may wish to choose a pillow that is suitable for side sleepers.
  • Pillow height: Some people may prefer an elevated pillow to help keep their airways clear while sleeping. A person should check the height of a pillow before committing to a purchase.
  • Pressure relief: Some pillows also promote optimal spinal alignment. If a person is living with neck pain, they may wish to consider how supportive or firm the materials in their chosen pillow will be. Additionally, a person can also choose brands that offer sleep trials to test their pillow and see if it relieves pressure where needed and improves neck pain.
  • Firmness: How firm a person likes their pillow is an individual preference. Some may need firmer support to keep their cervical spine aligned and their head in a good position for improving sleep apnea, whereas others may prefer a softer pillow for more comfort.

Although people with sleep apnea may benefit from using an appropriate pillow, there are other remedies they can consider. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) suggests:

  • 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 older article in Chest suggests that scientists need to conduct further research to explore this claim. However, reducing or quitting smoking is likely to be beneficial for a person’s breathing and lung health.
  • Reducing alcohol: A 2018 systematic review highlights that alcohol consumption is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea.
  • Increasing exercise: A 2016 study examining the potential benefits of aerobic exercise with sleep apnea found that it decreased the severity of sleep apnea.

Learn more about home remedies for sleep apnea.

A person should contact a doctor if they think they have sleep apnea.

Symptoms of sleep apnea may include:

Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about sleep apnea pillows.

Can a pillow stop sleep apnea?

A pillow cannot cure or stop sleep apnea completely. However, a 2018 study discovered that the positioning of pillows can help relieve sleep apnea symptoms.

What is the best head position for sleep apnea?

People with sleep apnea should try to sleep on their side with their head slightly elevated.

Does sleeping on an incline help sleep apnea?

A 2017 study suggests that sleeping on a slight incline may help control sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is when 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.

People 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.