Do you suffer from common sleep, spinal or leg pain issues? Could the use of a wedge pillow help improve your snoring, sleep apnea, acid reflux, back/neck/shoulder pain, leg pain or circulation issues or help you be better supported while sitting up in bed? Let’s look at How to Choose the Best Bed Wedge Pillow for Health Issues.
Who Do Wedge Pillows Benefit?
Wedge pillows can help alleviate pressure and symptoms of several medical conditions by elevating the head, shoulders, back, knees, legs or feet for a better spinal alignment. The size and type of pillow needed will vary depending on the condition you are trying to treat. Here are some common conditions where a wedge pillow may provide some comfort:
- Those who snore – a slight elevation of the head and shoulders could help those chronic snorers find some relief. It could also help those who have a medical condition such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). You should speak to your doctor about which type and height wedge pillow would help, especially if you need to work around a breathing machine, such as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
- Back sleepers – most back sleepers will find a low to medium incline (five to eight inches) supportive enough without compromising the support angle of their head, neck and shoulders. Some back sleepers may need higher wedges if they tend to have more complex breathing issues or sinus congestion, which should be reviewed by your doctor.
- People with heartburn – some people who suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux disease (GERD), which is the back-flow of stomach content into your esophagus, may find elevation helps prevent this back-flow from happening. Please talk to your doctor if you have persistent GERD symptoms.
- People with back, shoulder or neck pain – unsupportive pillows can cause harm to these areas by causing pressure point pain and alignment issues down your spinal column. A supportive wedge pillow can help alleviate these pressures and restore spinal alignment thus reducing pain while you rest or sleep. It will also help alleviate stiffness in the shoulders, neck and back many people feel when they rise in the morning.
- People with circulation problems – supportive wedges under the lower legs, knees and feet areas can help improve or alleviate impaired circulation problems. Elevation of these areas can be particularly helpful to those vascular or lymphatic problems, such as Lymphedema or Peripheral artery disease (PAD).
- People who read, watch TV, use a laptop or eat in bed – wedges with higher inclines or backrests can assist people who need to function in a reclined position sit more upright with support, especially if eating in bed.
- People who need back support when sitting – some of the smaller inclined wedges may be help with back support while sitting in a chair or on a couch. The smaller lightweight design makes them portable to move as people change seating locations.
- Pregnant women – some women find relief from back and abdominal pain by using a specially designed pregnancy wedge pillow that elevates the abdomen area.
Wedge Pillow Composition
Wedge pillow composition is an important consideration when considering a support solution. You need to know the construction design of the pillow to ensure you are getting the proper support or alignment needed. Wedge pillows can be constructed of:
- Polyurethane foam – provides a strong support base to most wedge pillows making them a firm solution for good spinal alignment. The foam may also have channels to aid in air circulation.
- Memory foam – which tends to cradle or mold to a person’s body, providing a level of comfort. This is good for side sleepers and those who find a firm people too painful.
- Polyester fiber fill – some pillows may use this material to create a very soft layer or be a standalone pillow. These pillows may be good for adding an extra layer on to an already firm foam pillow or standalone for minimum support as they are easy to transport.
- Covers – most wedge pillows come with or have fabric material covers that can be removed and washed. Other covers may be made of bamboo, latex or polyester and may offer an additional cover for protection. (Covers are recommended for easier cleaning as foam can only be lightly spot cleaned with causing deterioration of the product.)
Wedge Pillow Sizes and Weights
Wedge pillows come in varying lengths, widths and heights. Most are 20 inches square to provide adequate support to the back, neck and shoulder areas as well as the lower legs and feet region. You may need a larger wedge pillow people if you are a larger person or have larger legs and feet to be supported. (My wife has two very large legs with Lymphedema that require a larger sized pillow.)
You need to consider the bed size when choosing a wedge pillow. Smaller ones may work well for Twin or Full size beds. Larger wedge pillows may be needed for Queen and King size beds.
Wedge pillows also come in varying weights depending on the size, thickness and composition of the pillow. Smaller wedge pillow can be two to three pounds with larger ones weighing as much as ten pounds. Larger wedge pillows will tend to stay in place while smaller one may do some shifting under a person’s weight and movement. The weight and bulk of the wedge pillow could be a factor in choice depending on the abilities of the person using it.
Wedge Pillow Shape, Contour and Inclination
Normally wedge pillows are shaped like a wedge or a triangle to support a gradual inclination in size. However, there are some wedge pillow solutions that are a “pillow system” with components that can be folded into shapes to achieve a contoured effect. Some of these systems may even have pieces that are detachable when not needed.
Some wedge pillows are contoured to help align with the natural curves of the neck, shoulders, and spine, and may be suitable for side sleepers. Other contoured pillows are specifically designed for elevation of the knees or legs while resting on the back. There are also special wedge pillows designed to fit between your legs, usually at the knees, for support while side sleeping.
The inclination, or angle of the pillow slope, is an important factor when considering what type of problem you are trying to solve. If you need to elevate your head slightly for snoring or sleep apnea problems, you might need a wedge pillow with a more gradual slope that is only a couple inches high. However, if you plan to watch TV, work on a bed table, read or eat while reclined you will want a higher inclined pillow somewhere between 10 and 15 inches.
Wedge pillows can be used in two positions. For gentle support while sleeping or resting the pillow should be on face up with the tallest part at the back of your head and fit just under your shoulders. Test your new wedge pillow out alone for a short period of time to see how well it supports your body. Discontinue use if it gives you any pain. If it gives you consistent pain, return or exchange it for one that better suits your needs.
Once you have determined the firmness and fit of the pillow works for you, you may want or need to augment with an additional layer(s) of regular pillow for either support or comfort. Experiment on layering but do not create a situation where the extra layers are causing you discomfort or pain. Many times the right wedge pillow will be all you need to achieve your support goals.
If you need to sit upright in your bed or in a chair, place the pillow with the widest end at the base of the bed or chair with the narrowest end at the top. The straight flat side should be against your headboard, wall or chair/sofa back. You made need to add an extra layer of pillow at your lumbar area for greater support.
Wedge Pillow Longevity and Cost
How long can you expect a wedge pillow to last? It depends on how well it is made, cared for, used and stored. Much will depend on the quality of the foam used in the design and how frequently you use it. It will also depend if you use a protective cover and store it in a clean dry place without being impinged.
Some manufacturers provide a warranty on their product. We have seen a range of six months to three years for product defects.
You know the phrase “you get what you pay for” and that applies to wedge pillows. The cost of the pillow is tied to material quality, composition and durability. You can get good smaller wedge pillows for under $50. However, larger quality pillows and “pillow systems” could cost upwards of $100. (This does not include shipping charges.)
Things to Consider Before Purchasing
Now that you know more about wedge pillows and are considering one to solve one or more of your health issues, here are some things to consider before purchasing:
- Doctor consultation – Did you talk to your doctor about how a wedge pillow could help you with your health issue? Maybe they have a recommendation? Maybe elevated your head during sleep can replace taking daily medications for acid reflux (cost savings could easily be worth a good quality pillow)?
- Pillow size – Is the pillow large enough to appropriately fit my head, neck and shoulder areas down to my upper back? Or does it comfortably support one or both knees and legs to promote better circulation?
- Incline height – Is the incline too high or low to be effective for my condition? Does the slope end at a comfortable point or does it create a ledge at the end?
- Cost – what is my budget for a wedge pillow? Is it worth the price?
- Layering – will you need additional pillows for comfort or to reach an effective height/incline?
- Cover – does a cover come with the pillow or do I need to purchase a separate cover?
- Placement – will the headboard or wall support the pillow? Can it be used under the mattress for elevated support or only on top?
- Allergies – is the pillow made of any materials or chemicals that will provoke an allergic reaction? (Some pillow use a formaldehyde that could cause skin or allergic reactions.)
- Firmness – is the pillow firm enough for your needs or is it too firm?
- Weight – do you need the pillow to be portable? Is it too heavy or bulky for the person to move by themselves?
Tall/Large Wedge Pillows
Medium Wedge Pillows
Wedge Pillows Systems
Leg & Knee Wedge Pillows
Pregnancy Wedge Pillows
Check to see if you bed wedge pillow comes with its own cover. If not, you can purchase the covers separately. Note the measurements of your new pillow to ensure the correct fit of the cover (length x width x height). Covers are a great way to protect your investment and readily clean to keep your pillow area as hygienic as possible.
How to Choose the Best Bed Wedge Pillow for Health Issues Conclusion
Purchasing a wedge bed pillow can be a great option to help mitigate or alleviate common health issues such as snoring, sleep apnea and acid reflux (GERD). It can also help address spinal alignment issues with your head, neck and shoulder areas. Special leg and knee support wedge pillows can also provide significant relief from poor circulation issues or reducing edemas due to leg surgery or trauma.
Do your due diligence prior to pillow shopping to know what type of problem you are looking to address, the size of your mattress area, the height/inclination of the pillow needed and the firmness level required for support. Look for wedge pillows that are hypoallergenic or free from dyes and chemicals if you have allergies or skin sensitivities. Set a realistic budget and expect to pay a little more for a good quality wedge pillow that will provide lasting support for your health issues.
Please drop us a line below with a good wedge pillow you found or how a wedge pillow help solve your health problem. We would really love to hear your feedback on this topic.
To Your Improved Health!