What Is The Best Pillow For Sleep Apnea?

What does your bedtime routine look or feel like?  Some of us have special blankets, pillows, fans or even a pet or two that make us feel cozy in bed.  All these items provide our optimal level of comfort so we can have the best night’s sleep, but for Sleep Apnea patients getting comfortable may not be that easy. Sleep Apnea therapies are meant to open your airway while resting to ensure a quality night’s sleep. Part of your night routine as a Sleep Apnea patient can include setting up your freshly cleaned CPAP machine, putting in a dental device or lying-in bed appropriately.  Even though you set yourself up for a good night’s sleep you may find that your mask presses into the pillow, causing leaks and leading to discomfort. Additionally, your sleeping position affects your airway, so having a pillow that improves breathing is essential to getting a good night’s sleep.

A good pillow can help improve comfort for sleep apnea patients, while also reducing the risk of air leaks from their face mask.   With this concept in mind, certain pillows have been designed for those who use CPAP devices, and several different types are available to fit individual’s needs.

Pillow Type Considerations:

When looking for the best pillow to use with your CPAP you will want to take into consideration the size, shape, and material as well as one that can accommodate your mask and tubing.

CPAP Compatible

With Sleep Apnea awareness rising, specialty pillows are hitting the market with unique designs to accommodate masks and tubing. Many have contours where with mask can rest and straps to keep tubing in place.

CPAP Contoured Pillow: When using a CPAP at night, you are probably familiar with how frustrating it can be to sleep comfortably without air leaks or kinked tubing. A contoured pillow has four built-in ergonomic mask cutouts. The memory foam base is designed to cradle your head and neck, while the contours provide space for your mask and tubing to freely lay.

Butterfly Shaped CPAP Pillow: A butterfly-shaped cushion has a contoured shape with side cutouts that provide space for the mask to rest freely while reducing pressure and preventing air leaks. Some butterfly pillows may include an integrated hose straps to provide a place to secure tubing, so you have one less thing to worry about.

Cervical Pillows: Cervical pillows have a contoured shape to keep the head and neck straight, preventing the airways from collapsing. They also work well for relieving pain and tension. In most cases, this design works best for side sleeping.

Cervical Contour Pillow: Ergonomic designs are popular for alleviating neck and back pain because they keep the cervical spine at an optimal position. Not only does this work well for pain relief, but it can also prevent the airway from becoming compromised. Cervical cushions have an “M” shape with one end slightly higher, offering two levels of contour to choose from. This design is meant to gently cradle the head in the middle, with an arch to support the neck.   This position helps to keep the head and neck straight and to promote open airways.

Foam / Memory Foam: If you are not quite ready to use contoured pillows, you may want to start off with a traditional foam pillow. Most foam pillows have the benefit of relieving pressure and providing support to help with proper neck and spinal alignment. Foam makes a great material for side sleeping and conforming to the shape of a CPAP mask.

Wedge Pillow: When your head and neck are kinked or in an unnatural position, the airway extending from the mouth to the lungs can become blocked, leading to Sleep Apnea symptoms. Sleeping with your head elevated may improve breathing and reduce snoring by promoting an open airway. Not only can you use a wedge pillow for sleeping, but you can also place this cushion upright behind you for support while you are relaxing, or use it under your legs to improve circulation. Wedges can be a good choice for back sleepers who are reluctant to change sleep positions.

Feather/Down Pillow: Many people love the feel of sleeping on a feather or down pillow, but these are not the best choice for sleep apnea. This material is very squishy and does not provide adequate support for your head and neck.

There are many options to consider when picking the right pillow for you. We all know that a pillow can make a big difference in the quality of our sleep and how we feel when we wake up. Adding a new pillow to your bed for sleep apnea may be beneficial, but it is not a replacement for medical care as it should act as a complement to your existing treatment plan. You should consult with your doctor and DME company to see which pillow would be the best for your care.

Sleep Tight!