How to Use a Wedge Pillow

A wedge pillow is a great way to add extra comfort and support to various parts of your body. It can also help with providing a better night's sleep. 

Learn more about wedge pillows, how to use them, their benefits,  the different types of wedge pillows, and the different factors for choosing a wedge pillow for you. 

What is a Wedge Pillow?

Kanjo Wedge Pillow

The wedge pillow is a triangular-shaped pillow that allows you to elevate certain portions of your body for comfort and pain relief. 

Wedge pillows can help with neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, acid reflux, sleep apnea, sleep discomfort, and more. Many pregnant women also enjoy wedge pillows for the support that the pillows give them. 

How to Use a Wedge Pillow

There are a variety of ways to use a wedge pillow, depending on what part of your body needs relief. You will want to choose a wedge pillow that fits your specific needs. 

Elevate Your Position for Back Sleeping

Woman Laying Down on Wedge Pillow

Elevating your back while sleeping will help relieve sleep apnea symptoms, snoring, and other sleep issues that arise from laying flat on your back. 

Sleep apnea is due to airway tissues in the throat collapsing and putting pressure on your trachea. This leads to interrupted breathing throughout the night.

Snoring comes from the same tissues collapsing during sleep, so when you exhale, the air tries to pass through the tissue, leading to the loud snoring noise.

Elevating your head and upper back slightly while sleeping will allow these tissues to relax and not collapse as much. That opens up your airways for you to breathe more easily and prevent snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. 

You can elevate your head and upper back by using a wedge pillow under your mattress. The top edge of the wedge pillow (the thinnest part) should be positioned toward the middle of your back. The thickest part is on the higher end. 

The elevated position will also help if you have acid reflux. Elevating your head and upper torso will keep stomach acids away from your esophagus. If you're prone to heartburn and the burning sensation, a wedge pillow may be helpful. 

Generally, choosing a wedge pillow with an incline angle of 35 to 45 degrees with a height of 8 to 10 inches will be good. Everyone's a little different, so you should test them out, if possible, before purchasing the triangular pillow. 

Slight Slope for Side Sleeping

Wedge pillows can also offer support for those who prefer sleeping on the side. The elevation while side sleeping will still help with acid reflux and sleep apnea. 

Sleeping on your side with a wedge pillow will also help keep your spine in a more neutral and natural position. That will reduce back pain and tension problems. 

Getting a wedge pillow with a 35 to 45-degree angle will be a good incline for sleeping on your side. 

Under the Knees

Placing pillows and cushions under the knees is a common way to get relief for those with lower back pain. A wedge pillow placed under your knees will provide additional support for your legs. 

Elevating the legs will help improve blood circulation, which helps with blood flow to the heart, and helps prevent swelling of the legs and feet while sleeping. Improved blood flow and circulation promotes recovery and healing.

As a Desk (on the Lap)

Wedge pillows are great as a desk for you to work while in bed. Place the thinnest edge of the pillow toward your stomach and the thickest edge toward your knees. Then place your laptop or tablet on top of the pillow.

The added height from the pillow will help ergonomically as well. Putting the laptop directly on your lap can put more strain on your neck and shoulders as you hunch down over the screen. The increased elevation will help give you better posture and alignment. 

Under Your Belly

For pregnant women sleeping on their side, placing a wedge pillow under the belly will support it from becoming uncomfortable due to gravity. 

Place the thin edge of the pillow toward the body and the thick edge facing outward. This will best support the belly and counter gravity's effects. 

8 Benefits of Using a Wedge Pillow

There are many benefits to using a wedge pillow. Here are some of the top benefits:

1. Improve Neck and Shoulder Pain

Sleeping with your head on an incline will help relieve muscle tension and promote proper alignment of your head, neck, shoulders, and back. 

That will help relieve neck and shoulder pain and help you rest and sleep. 

2. Improve Lower Back Pain 

If you suffer from lower back pain, sleeping on your back with a wedge pillow under your knees will help alleviate the discomfort in your lumbar region.

3. Reduce Acid Reflux

Acid reflux and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) symptoms will show when stomach acid comes back up the esophagus. 

Sleeping with a wedge pillow will keep your head and shoulders elevated and will reduce the chance of acid moving up to your throat. Gravity will keep the acid down.

4. Reduce Snoring / Sleep Apnea

Sleeping with your upper body in an elevated position with a wedge pillow will open up the airways to allow for easier breathing. 

That will reduce snoring due to obstructions, as well as reduce sleep apnea by helping to prevent your breath from starting and stopping. 

5. Pregnant Women

Wedge pillows can relieve a number of pains for pregnant women.

Swollen feet and legs are common during pregnancy. They're due to slow blood circulation. To reduce and prevent swelling, using the pillow to elevate the legs will help to improve circulation. 

Another common complaint is lower back pain. Putting the pillow under the knees for lumbar support while lying down will relieve the pressure and pain. 

For women who like to lie down on their side, placing the pillow under the belly will support it and reduce any discomfort from gravity pulling it down. 

6. Reading

Reading on the Bed with the Wedge Pillow Against the Wall

Wedge pillows aren't only helpful when sleeping. They can also be used if you want to sit up in bed and get some reading in before sleeping. 

Set the thick edge of the pillow on the bed with a flat side against the headboard or wall. Sit back against the pillow comfortably and start reading. 

7. Swelling

A wedge pillow can help reduce swelling and inflammation that can occur after surgery or injury. The most common treatment recommendation is to keep the injured portions elevated. 

The shape of the wedge pillow allows for easy elevation without having to lift the entire head and body off the mattress.

For example, if you have swollen ankles or feet, placing them on the thick part of a wedge pillow under them will provide relief. 

8. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease where fluid builds up in the eye. It causes damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness. 

Sleeping flat on your back can increase pressure inside your eyes, which may lead to further damage. When sleeping on a wedge pillow, the elevation will help reduce fluid build up and pressure.

4 Types of Wedge Pillows

There are a few different types of wedge pillows based on their shape, design, and material. Wedge pillows can be made of many different materials, including memory foam, polyfoam, and contoured. Some people prefer one over another depending on what they need.

Here's a look at each type:

1. Memory Foam

Memory foam is made from polyurethane. It's soft and moldable, so a memory foam wedge pillow conforms easily to the contours of your body.

It's great for those looking for a more comfortable night’s rest as it's customized to your body. After using memory foam, it will retain the contours. 

2. Polyfoam

Polyfoam is similar to memory foam but has a firmer feel. It won't mold to your body, but some will say that this offers better support than memory foam.

This will be better for people with temporary conditions and not wanting the pillow to remember certain contours. For example, people with swollen body parts or are pregnant and need temporary support. 

3. Contoured

Contoured wedge pillows are designed specifically for better neck and shoulder support for people who like to sleep on their slide. They offer greater comfort and support for the neck and shoulders, while helping maintain good spine alignment.

Some people prefer contoured pillows because they don't require much movement to adjust the position as they're already shaped. Contoured pillows can be helpful for acid reflux, snoring, and sleep apnea. 

4. Flat 

Flat wedge pillows are great for people who like to lie on their back to sleep. They're usually firmer and more supportive, so you can place them under your legs or lower back. 

Raising your legs with a flat wedge pillow will help maintain good spine alignment. This type of pillow is great for people who suffer from arthritis or other joint pain.

What to Look for When Getting a Wedge Pillow

When shopping for a wedge pillow, there are several things to consider one that's right for you. 

1. Size and Weight

Wedge pillows come in a variety of sizes and weights. You'll want to choose a size that fits well and feels right to you. You will also need to consider the size of your bed and if you have a partner you sleep with. 

The weight of the pillow should also be considered when choosing a wedge pillow. A heavier wedge pillow will be more stable and less likely to move around during the night. Larger pillows will be heavier, and weight will also depend on the material it's made with. 

Medium-sized pillows are usually the most versatile option for people. 

2. Incline Angle

Wedge Pillow on Bed

The incline angle of the wedge pillow is important too. The majority of pillows that you find are between 30 and 45 degrees as that will be best for sleeping and for most medical conditions when you need to elevate.

For example, higher incline angles are good when you want to sit up in bed and read, while lower incline angles are good for using between your legs when sleeping on your side. 

If you're sleeping on your side, you may want to go with a higher incline angle. This will allow you to roll onto your side without having to lift your head up.

3. Type of Pillow

There are type of pillow, the material it's made of, and its shape are important factors to consider when getting a wedge pillow. 

First consider what you plan to use a wedge pillow for and that will help determine which type would work best. For example, if you need a firmer pillow for support, a polyfoam pillow will be better for you.  

4. Firmness

Firmness is another factor to consider when buying a wedge pillow. There are different types of firmness for different needs. 

Firmer pillows are better for supporting the weight of legs, as well as back sleepers. Side sleepers will be better off with medium-firm pillows as they have a little give, while still being firm enough for support. 

5. Price 

Wedge pillows aren't cheap compared to regular pillows, but you do get what you pay for. When you consider the benefits they provide, the prices provide great value. 

Wedge pillows are generally $40 to $100 for high-quality ones. There are also sets of multiple pillows that are sold for up to $200. 

How to Use a Wedge Pillow FAQs

What Size Wedge Pillow Should I Get?

A medium-sized wedge pillow will be good to support your head, neck, and upper back. It's also a good size for the majority of people who want to use it to support and elevate their legs. Smaller wedge pillows are better to put under the knees and to support pregnant bellies. 

How Do You Keep a Wedge Pillow From Sliding?

To keep a wedge pillow from sliding, get a cover that's made of material that's not slippery, like cotton. Heavier pillows are also less likely to slide. 

Can Anyone Use Wedge Pillows?

Wedge pillows are safe for the majority of people. Babies should not use them though, they should sleep on their back. If you have any health issues or problems with your spine, neck, or shoulders, then you should also consult your doctor. 

Who Should Use a Wedge Pillow?

A wedge pillow is perfect for people who have trouble sleeping on their backs due to pain or discomfort. It is also ideal for people who suffer from neck, shoulder, and back pain. It's also great for people who have acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD.  

Why Do I Slide Down My Wedge Pillow?

Sliding down the wedge pillow is common and can happen due to slippery clothes or pillow cover, or because of gravity. If you don't move around when you sleep, you can try putting pillows under your knees to help prevent them from sliding down.  

How High Should a Wedge Pillow Be for Acid Reflux?

When getting a wedge pillow for acid reflux, look for a 35 to 45 degree angle and a height of 6 to 8 inches. Lower wedge pillows might not offer enough support to prevent stomach acids from coming back up into the esophagus. 

 

Sources: 

  • Amerisleep: https://amerisleep.com/blog/how-to-use-a-wedge-pillow/
  • Sleep Advisor: https://www.sleepadvisor.org/how-to-use-a-wedge-pillow/
  • Very Well Health: https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-a-sleeping-wedge-pillow-3015235
  • Dreamcloud: https://www.dreamcloudsleep.com/posts/wedge-pillow/
  • Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/best-wedge-pillows

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