Selecting a Pillow to Help with Sleep Apnea

There are a few ways in which obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be treated -- and the use of a PAP (positive airway pressure) device is by far the most common, and typically the most effective. 

While these devices can indeed provide an incredible amount of relief, they may only represent part of the equation.

Did you know that the type of pillow you use can equally affect your ability to sleep soundly? Let's look at the common problems associated with standard pillows, then discuss some cutting-edge solutions – and their advantages.

If you’re tired of being tired, this information can help. 

Why are Some Pillows Unsuitable for People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Many people struggle to find a comfortable pillow, even if they don’t have a medical condition like sleep apnea. So, it only stands to reason that OSA sufferers will have an even more challenging time. Here are a handful of problems that might not be addressed by typical pillows:

  • A single pillow may be unable to provide adequate neck support, resulting in stiffness and sleep difficulty. 
  • Most pillows tend to become flat after repeated use.
  • Stacking more than one pillow can likewise result in discomfort while you’re trying to sleep. 

Pillows play a pivotal role in the treatment of sleep apnea. But there are a few more issues to consider.

What About Sleeping on Your Side?

Many experts feel that side-sleepers often struggle less with the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea – due to simple body mechanics. When you sleep on your side, you place less stress on the soft tissues in the throat, mouth and nose. Not only can this lessen your OSA symptoms, it may also help quiet heavy snoring. 

The majority of pillows have been manufactured with a "one-size-fits-all" approach. In other words, they are not designed for those who regularly sleep on their side. 

The good news is – brands like Contour engineer their pillows specifically for OSA patients. Let’s look at the basic principles of sleep apnea pillows, then highlight your options. 

What Makes a Sleep Apnea Pillow Different?

These pillows have been specifically engineered to accommodate those who prefer to sleep on their side. Other sleep apnea pillows offer superior levels of support for your head and neck – and are designed to accommodate CPAP accessories (such as hoses and face masks). 

Let's now briefly review a handful of the most effective sleep apnea pillows that are currently on the market. 

The Oxygen Pillow

This design is all about personalization. Oxygen pillows are available in a multitude of sizes and firmness levels – so you can select one that fits your preference. Standard pillows do not offer this flexibility. 

Also, Oxygen pillows are created with three layers which also provides superior levels of support, an obvious concern for side sleepers. 

The Oxygen pillow is thicker than normal designs, so users will no longer be forced to stack other pillows atop one another to get the height they need. 

A carrying case is also provided at no additional chargem a nice touch for frequent travelers. 

The CPAP Max 2.0 Pillow

Some CPAP pillows have been created to accommodate the CPAP mask. The CPAP Max 2.0 is a perfect example of what users can expect from such a marriage of form and function. 

The CPAP Max 2.0 has been molded to provide space for a face mask, which means they are less likely to awaken out of discomfort. The cut-out design of this pillow also decreases the chances that the mask will become dislodged or otherwise leak while asleep. 

Here are some additional qualities which have allowed this pillow to stand out from other pillows:

  • Two paddings (plush fiber and memory foam) are available.
  • Users can modify the height of this pillow by removing internal layers (the pillow has a total of four layers).
  • An 18-inch hose tether that can be connected to your CPAP mask.
  • The core will not lose its shape with continuous usage.

Keep in mind that this pillow also represents an excellent option for individuals who are prone to sleep on their backs. 

The CPAP Cool Flex

This next pillow is all about versatility. Its unique shape is combined with the option to bend a lower section for better support to the head and neck. 

Furthermore, the Cool Flex uses a unique gel known as a "Phase Change Material". Without delving into overly technical aspects, the main intention here is to ensure that the pillow stays at an agreeable temperature throughout the night. Once again, users will be less likely to awaken thanks to these features. 

Which Pillow is the Best Choice?

If you are reading this article, the chances are high that your standard pillow is not working with your sleep apnea equipment. 

You can get excellent results with any of these pillows, although one may accommodate your situation better than the others. 

The best way to make an informed decision is to examine their features in greater detail. Also, take some time to consult with a doctor or a sleep specialist. These professionals will be able to provide further advice and to make recommendations based on your unique requirements.