What is a Sleep Apnea Pillow?
Sleep Apnea pillows are also often referred to as orthopedic pillows. Sleep Apnea pillows are designed specifically to prevent and treat Sleep Apnea. Average, everyday pillows were not designed to accommodate Sleep Apnea victims that use CPAP machines; they are always either too fluffy, or too flat. When sleeping on a regular pillow, it can be extremely difficult to keep the mask on during the night. The mask can rub against the pillow and slip out of place; these unfortunate side effects of regular pillows can result in the leaking of your pressurized air out into the open. When CPAP masks fall off during sleep, the user is often awakened. For this very reason, many people have stopped using CPAP machines altogether; they are too much of a hassle. This is a serious problem because Sleep Apnea is a very dangerous disorder that can lead to very serious complications.
Sleep Apnea pillows are designed for one specific purpose: to provide contours and head support that help you to use your CPAP machine comfortably. These pillows are made to accommodate the unique features of a CPAP machine, the mask and the tubing. Pillows that are designed to be used with CPAP therapy are generally multi-positional; this feature allows you to sleep either on your back or your side. They cradle the neck and head; this takes excess pressure off of the arms and shoulders during sleep.
Many of these pillows are also made to support the chin and the jay. The pillow keeps the chin from tucking into the chest. Keeping the chin up and elevated helps keep the airway open and free of obstruction. Sleep Apnea pillows come in a range of different styles and fillings. The Sleep Apnea victim will be able to pick the pillow that meets their individual needs so that they can get the most out of their CPAP/Pillow therapy.
What are the Different Styles of Sleep Apnea Pillows?
- Neck Pillow: Neck pillows are more recognizably known as travel pillows. They are in the shape of a horseshoe, and are meant to contour around the neck. Most people use neck pillows when they travel to keep their neck up straight during long journeys.
- Cervical Pillow: Cervical Pillows are also called contour pillows. Cervical pillows come in a curved design that is meant to support the shoulders, neck, and head. This style of pillow can help relieve pain in the neck, stiffness in the shoulder, and reduce morning headaches. The contours of the pillow help open the upper airways and reduce the obstruction that causes snoring.
- Lumbar Pillow: A lumbar pillow is used at the lower back to help the user stay sitting down correctly while removing pain the lumbar. The pillow is shaped like a half-moon and can also be used under the knees to elevate them. Also, it can be used to support the neck.
- Knee Pillow: Knee pillows can also be called contour leg pillows. They are shaped like an hourglass and are placed between the legs to help the lower body elevated and in a straight sleeping position on the side. Many apnea patients unfold the knee pillow and turn it into a spacer for their legs; this trick will help boost blood circulation throughout your legs.
- Body Pillow: A body pillow is meant designed to support the whole body. The long curved pillow offers support to the neck, head, legs, knees, shoulders, back and lower back. Unlike regular pillows the body pillow offers total comfort to the user.
- Wedge Pillow: The wedge pillow is a triangular shaped pillow that places the body in a diagonal position by creating a slope. This is a great Sleep Apnea pillow because it can be used in the downright or upright positions. Although the wedge pillow is a pillow with many uses, the main goal of the wedge pillow is to combat the painful symptoms of GERD, or acid reflux, while the user is sleeping.
What are the Different Sleeping Positions?
The following three positions are the most commonly slept in positions.
- Back Sleeping: People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea most commonly sleep in this position. The flatness of this position can easily cause loosely toned muscles to become lax and restrict airflow. If you’re going to sleep on your back, then you need to have the three main curves of the body supported. There should be support behind the lower back, the middle of the back, and right behind the neck. Using a pillow with a contour for the neck as well as a wedge under the knees will help the sleeper lie comfortably and safely.
- Side Sleeping: According to a study conducted by the Sleep Assessment and Advisory service, two out of three people sleep in the lateral position, or on their side. When it comes to Sleep Apnea, this position is considered the best one to sleep in; sleeping on your side helps reduce incidences of snoring and helps release constriction in the upper airway. The problem with this position, however, is that the majority of the body’s pressure is placed on the arms and shoulders. All of the pressure placed on the shoulder can cause frozen shoulder and neck stiffness. Women who are pregnant are usually advised to sleep in this position to decrease the risk of placing unnecessary pressure on the womb. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to sleep in this position. The best pillow for side sleepers would be a side sleeper pillow that helps you find the correct placement for your arms, shoulders, and neck.
- Stomach Sleeping: Sleeping on your stomach is considered damaging to the neck. Especially in babies and infants, sleeping on the stomach can cause pain and stiffness in the neck, neck strain, and in severe cases, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Sleep Apnea pillows are one of the most useful forms of Sleep Apnea treatment. Not only do they help prevent against the occurrence of apneas during the night, they make CPAP therapy comfortable and easy to get accustomed to.