What kind of pillow are you using? There are all kinds of different pillows available for different kinds of sleepers — firm, thick pillows for side sleepers; soft, downy pillows for stomach sleepers; memory foam pillows for everyone. And these days, pillow manufacturers are experimenting with a range of different shapes to suit different sleep styles.
But have you considered a wedge pillow? Wedge-shaped pillows are great for sitting up in bed to watch TV or work on a laptop, but they can also have a number of benefits for your health. Whether you’re looking for a solution to chronic back pain, or your partner is sick of your snoring, here’s what sleeping with a wedge pillow can do for you.
1) Snore Less and Control Sleep Apnea
Do you wake yourself up snoring or keep your bed partner awake while you blissfully saw logs all night? Do you suffer from sleep apnea? Your sleeping position could be part of the problem.
When you sleep in a horizontal position, your soft palate, tongue, and other tissues and muscles of the mouth relax, and they can actually obstruct your airway. If you tend to snore no matter what position you’re sleeping in, this could be what’s causing it. Sleeping on the gentle slope of a wedge pillow can help, because it allows gravity to pull those relaxed tissues in your mouth down out of your airways.
2) Relieve Back Pain
Sleeping in a horizontal position isn’t always the most supportive for your back, and many people find that lying all the way down to sleep causes pressure points and strains muscles in their back. A wedge pillow can help you keep your spine straight and your hips aligned as you sleep on your back or side. Point the narrow end of the wedge towards the bottom of the bed and rest your neck on the high end to keep your spine straight and supported as you sleep.
Sleeping with your upper body reclined on a wedge pillow can help a lot with back pain, but if you have lumbar pain, you might want to sleep with two wedge pillows to achieve what’s known as the zero gravity position. In this position, your upper body is gently elevated on one wedge pillow, and your legs are raised on a second wedge pillow placed under the calves. The zero gravity position takes a lot of the strain off your muscles and joints, especially in your lumbar spine and hips, and allows you to relax completely for deep, restful sleep.
3) Control GERD
When you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, acid from your stomach can back up into your esophagus, and even go all the way up to your throat or mouth, so that you wake up in the night choking, coughing, and feeling heartburn. Sleeping with your upper body slightly inclined can keep your stomach acids where they belong, through the power of gravity. A wedge pillow is perfect for alleviating GERD symptoms.
4) Release Sinus Pressure and Drain Sinuses
Sleeping on a wedge pillow can make it a lot easier to rest when you’re sick with a cold or flu, because it relieves pressure in your sinuses and allows your sinuses to drain more readily. Using a wedge pillow can also help with chronic post-nasal drip, since it allows mucus to drain fully instead of pooling in the back of your throat, where it has to be coughed up when you wake.
5) Ease Eye Pressure Due to Glaucoma
If you have glaucoma, you’re at risk for permanent damage to your optic nerves that could lead to blindness. Glaucoma causes increased pressure inside the eye that can irritate and damage the optic nerve, and pressure is more likely to build up inside your eye while you are lying completely flat in bed. Sleeping with your head and neck slightly elevated on a wedge pillow can help relieve some of this intraocular pressure, to reduce inflammation and irritation of the optic nerve and help preserve your eyesight.
Wedge pillows are getting more popular, especially among sleepers who can’t lie flat due to back pain, sinus problems, sleep apnea, or other health conditions. If you’re looking for a way to sleep more comfortably and also get more support when sitting up in bed, a wedge pillow could be for you. Stand it upright and it provides support for lounging; lay it flat and you can relax to sleep in an elevated position. You’ll never want to use a regular pillow again.