What is a Wedge Pillow?
A person can alleviate most of their pain by resting or sleeping in a comfortable alignment. Using a wedge pillow is one of the best way to provide your body with enough comfort. The sloping or angled orthopedic pillows lets you relax shoulders, torso, head at a specific inclined angle.
This relaxing position can reduce discomforts and symptoms caused by some medical concerns like acid reflux, sleep apnea and poor blood circulation. By using these wedge pillows, you can remove the stress and strain on the pressure points present around your spine and neck.
They are available in different sizes and thickness to accommodate every kind of sleeper. And they are available in different price range as well.
How to Choose a Wedge Pillow?
With so many options, you can be a little bit confused which one to use. So, we have come up with the below buying guide for wedge pillows – which has all the required information for shoppers to choose the right one.
As already mentioned, they are available in different sizes. Some manufacturers provide size details corresponding to bed size like twin, queen and king. Some manufacturers mention it as small, medium, large or extra-large. So, if you want you to choose the right one that fits your bed, we recommend to consider dimensions of the wedge pillow.
- Standard – Usually, the dimensions of the size are 20 inches wide and 20 inches long. This size is good enough for accommodating head, shoulders, neck and upper back. If you want to use to for feet, then it can accommodate, calves, feet, and knees.
- Small – These pillows are perfect for smaller mattresses like twin and full bed size.
- Large – They are suitable for king and queen sized mattresses.
Finally, you should also consider your sleeping position and shoulder width to know how high and wide the pillow has to be.
Most of the wedge pillows come in a triangle shape. However, some of them are designed slightly different. Based on the shape, the pillow surface can be either flat or contoured.
Some wedge pillows are designed ergonomically to contour according to the curves of your neck, shoulder and spine. These are perfect for people who sleep on their sides. Some contoured pillows are specially designed for legs and knee elevation – so it suitable for people who rest on back.
Few special wedge pillows are available who are designed to perfectly fit between the legs, especially at the knees. They provide amazing support for side sleepers.
Some wedge pillows have a pillow system which has separate components that can be folded into designed shape for customized contoured support. If needed, you can also remove few pieces.
3. Height and Inclination
This is an important factor to consider, particularly for people who want to wedge pillow for medical conditions like acid reflux. To know which suits you perfectly, read the below information carefully…
- Low Wedge Pillows – Their typical height is around 6 to 8 inches. It suits perfectly for people dealing with sleep apnea, acid reflux and others medical concerns.
- Medium Wedge Pillows – Their average height is around 10 to 12 inches. This pillow is not suitable for relieving medical ailments. They are good for people who have to sleep at higher inclination to prevent sore muscles and pain in the morning.
- Tall Wedge Pillows – They are 15 inches high which makes them unsuitable for medical conditions like acid reflux. You can use them while reading, watching television or as a prop in the bed.
When it comes to elevation angle or inclination, sleep position plays an important factor. For back sleepers, a firm wedge pillow is the right choice as it provides enough support to spine and shoulders. Firm and thin wedge pillows are suitable for side sleepers. If the inclination is too high, then it can cause pain during sleep. So, ideal inclination angle range is considered between 30 to 45 degrees.
Some foam wedge pillows weigh just 1 to 2 Kgs which makes them perfect for children and adults who want to keep them under their legs. But some of them may weight around 4 to 5 kgs which are perfect for combination sleepers or who turn a lot during sleep.
Most of the wedge pillows are made up of foam. Memory foam and polyurethane foam are the common types used.
- Polyurethane Foam – Being a firm material, they provide adequate support and goof spine alignment. They also have some channels which helps in air circulation.
- Memory foam – This material contours according to the user’s body curves to provide adequate comfort. They are perfect for people who sleep to their sides. And also for those who find firm pillows uncomfortable and painful.
Some memory foam pillows use polyester fiber fill material – either as an additional soft layer or standalone. They can be used as an extra layer to a firm pillow. Or else you can use it as standalone if looking for minimum support because of their travel-friendliness.
Mostly, all the memory foam pillows in India are either medium firm or firm feel. The firmness may be different on different sides of the pillow, which makes it easy to turn, spin or rotate the pillow according to your comfort. If you don’t like a firm feel, then it is better go for a contoured pillow.
7. Removable Cover
Due to angled shape, it is difficult to use regular pillowcases to maintain proper hygiene of a wedge pillow. So, we recommend purchasing a wedge pillow that comes with removable cover which is easy to wash.
Usually, wedge pillow covers are made up of hypoallergenic materials like microfiber, bamboo or Tencel. These materials are known to prevent heat retention which is a common issue with wedge pillows. As these pillows are not machine washable, having removable zipped covers will help you keep them in proper condition and hygienic.
Some wedge pillows are carved from a single piece of foam. But some of them can be built with multiple layers of foam – while the top layers are usually softer with low-density foam.
9. Foam Density
Density represents firmness of a pillow. Lower density foam pillows are actually comfortable soft but they lose their shape within few months. If want steep inclined wedge pillow, then we recommend to go with higher density foam option. For extra comfort, you can just add additional soft pillow over it. But make sure you don’t sink into them as it can disrupt your breathing. Usually, manufacturers don’t mention exact density details on them. But they usually mention as high, medium or low.
As wedge pillows are made up of memory foam, cleaning them in a washing machine is not possible. Foam material is much similar to sponge so washing them, especially in machine can make water logged and the process can even tear it up. If there are any stain, we recommend spot cleaning. You can use either gently laundry detergent or vinegar and water (50/50) solution.
If your wedge pillow comes with washable removable cover, then you can machine wash it. Air-dry the cover completely before putting it back on the pillow.
For regular travelers, detachable and foldable wedge pillows can be easy to store and quite handy as well. Some manufacturers also provide travel-size case to carry the pillow without any hassle.
Slippery pillows are not only uncomfortable but also interrupt your sleep. So, we recommend you to purchase a wedge pillow that is made up of non-slippery items and has less slope angle. Usually high gradient pillows come with pillowcase which ensures you don’t slip off while sleeping.
Durability of a product mostly depends on quality of materials used, regular wear and tear, storage and maintenance. If you want the pillow to last longer, then make sure you choose the one with protective cover. And make sure to store and use it properly according to the manufacturer instructions.
Actually, wedge pillows are quite expensive. But lighter and smaller models usually cost with Rs. 1500 range. But high-end and large models with detachable parts or additional foam layers can range more than Rs. 5000. So, analyze your requirements and budget before choosing a wedge pillow.
Whatever might be the product, it is always better to choose a one with good warranty period. Some manufacturers provide 6 months to few years of warranty. While some of them provide lifetime or satisfaction guarantee. But some don’t provide warranties or returns, even if the product is defective. It is better stay away from such brands.
Who Can Use a Wedge Pillow?
Wedge pillows are not recommended for everyone because they are different from regular pillows. They have similar shape and firmness. So, if you want plunge, plush and soft pillow, then it is not recommended for you. Below, we have provided detail explanation on who can use a wedge pillow based on sleeping positions.
1. Side Sleepers
Wedge pillows with contouring or ergonomics are specially designed to support the natural curves of the spine. So, they are considered perfect for side sleepers because of their ability to support pressure points in neck and shoulders. Medium or medium firmness will be helpful in side sleepers. And built-in headrest will provide additional pressure relief and you don’t have to constantly adjust your position during sleep.
2. Back Sleepers
People who sleep on back and have snoring problem should consider using a wedge pillow. Because the head elevation will keep the airways unobstructed. However, it is important to choose a pillow with lower incline around 7 to 8 inches. Because higher inclines can pain and strain to the back muscles.
3. Stomach Sleepers
For stomach sleeper, it is important to maintain flat position during sleep to maintain their back and spine in a neutral position. Using a wedge pillow will incline the head upwards causing an unnatural and uncomfortable position, which can lead to additional pain. So, wedge pillows are not suitable for people sleeping on their stomach.
4. Combination Sleeper
For combination sleeper, it is a bit difficult to conclude whether wedge pillow is beneficial or not – because it depends on how much the user will turn around and if they like to hug a pillow during sleep. Combo sleepers dealing with any medical concerns can benefit from wedge pillows but they should carefully consider weight, height, length and inclination of the pillow.
Advantages of a Wedge Pillow
A wedge pillow aligns the spine position properly by elevating head, shoulders, back or knees, legs and feet. This process will reduce pressure and discomforts caused by several medical conditions. Size, type and inclination of the pillow will depend on which health condition you are dealing with. Below are some of the medical issues that can be dealt with a wedge pillow.
1. Better Breathing
Slight inclination of wedge pillow maintain your airways open which reduces the chances of sleep apnea and snoring. People who sleep on their backs are more prone to snoring. Because in this position, tongue may fall back on the soft palate, creating an obstruction to the airway.
People dealing with respiratory allergies, congestion and post-nasal dripping can also find relief with a wedge pillow. Most of the breathing issues are commonly caused due to congestion in the nasal passages – which can be caused due to cold or bad allergies. The slope of the wedge pillows allows the sinuses to drain quickly which further reduces the inflammation and congestion.
Even asthma patients can use a wedge pillow to soothe the inflamed air ways and decrease the pressure of the lungs.
2. Gastro Intestinal Issues
Almost all the problems related to digestion can caused when stomach acid travels back into esophagus. This can lead to a lot of discomfort, pain and even disrupt your sleep. Medication can be helpful for these issues but using a wedge pillow will provide quick relief. Because the gravity effect will keep the stomach acid down and lets you sleep without any discomfort.
3. Relieves Back Pain
Wedge pillows made up of memory foam material are perfect for reducing back pain. They properly support the hips and vertebrae to align the spine and reduce the pain. Some people even prefer placing the wedge pillow below their legs for more support.
People dealing with chronic pain should choose a wedge pillow very carefully. It has to be long enough to support the body until torso without any breaks or gaps. If the lower back is not supported properly or using a small wedge pillow can worsen back pain.
4. Post-Surgery Care
Wedge pillow can be beneficial for people recovering from surgery. Placing it under head or legs will improve blood circulation and rehabilitation. The inclination will also help in reducing swelling and tension throughout the body.
5. Support During Pregnancy
Side sleeping is the most comfortable position for pregnant women. Because it maintains the hips, spine, and pelvis the natural position, reducing any chances of pain and discomfort. A lofty pillow may maintain proper posture but it will not be helpful for reducing acid reflux and heartburn which are common pregnancy issues. So, a wedge pillow can be very helpful than other regular pillows. It also better to purchase a wedge pillow with breathable cover to prevent any heat retention.
5. Varicose Veins
This common medical issue is often observed in all ages of women and sometime men as well. It is caused when veins swell and bulge over the skin surface. They are commonly observed on legs, leading a lot of pain.
Wedge pillow can be helpful in dealing with varicose veins. Placing it as a leg support will prevent any extremities and improve blood circulation through veins.
6. Blood Circulation Issues
Placing a wedge pillow under feet, legs, and knees will increase blood circulation. The angle of inclination or elevation will be helpful for dealing with lymphatic or vascular issues like Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) or Lymphedema.
7. Watching TV or Using Laptop in Bed
The inclination or elevation of a wedge pillow helps people function properly and sit more upright, particularly while eating in bed.
8. Back Support While Sitting
While sitting in chair or couch, maintaining proper position for long time can be difficult. But using a small lightweight wedge pillow will help you with the same.
Drawbacks of Using a Wedge Pillow
As most of the wedge pillows are made up of foam which has the capability of retaining heat. So, it can lead to heat retention, leading to discomfort throughout night. If this is happening with you, then we recommend choosing a wedge pillow with breathable cover as it will increase the air circulation. Or else purchase wedge pillow made with cooling foams as extra comfort layers.
If you mostly sleep on your stomach, then wedge pillow is not for you. We recommend you to check out for a low-loft pillow in order to maintain proper spine, neck and head alignment during sleep. If you are combination sleeper, then purchase a heavy pillow that doesn’t slide away easily.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most of the people who have the habit of using traditional flat pillows can take some time to get used to a wedge pillow as it can have an impact on your sleeping position. However, the adjustment period will be 1 or 2 nights to get comfortable with the pillow. If you are worried about the switch, then take naps using the wedge pillow until you get used to the inclination.
Hotel pillows may not provide enough comfort while sleeping, even if you are not dealing with any health issues. That is why, it is important to pack your wedge pillow as well with you. As large wedge pillows are difficult to pack, it is better to go for a small one. It is also better to purchase a travel friendly bag for the pillow to protect it from stains and dirt. Some manufacturers provide a travel case for free along with the wedge pillow.
Most of the wedge pillow are made up of memory foam which is hypoallergenic. So, they work for all people, even they have allergy issues. However, we recommend to make sure the pillow you choose doesn’t have formaldehyde or phthalates – as they can trigger allergic reactions and cause sensitive skin.
Flat pillow provides even support to shoulders, neck and head. While countered pillows provide customized support according the user’s natural curves of shoulders, spine, neck and head. This makes them perfect for side sleepers as they require targeted support for those areas.
Wedge pillows that are light in weight and have high inclinations, often slide away during night, especially for people who move a lot during their sleep. So, heavier pillows are perfect for such people.
Both these medications require a wedge pillow with high elevation degrees. The inclination will prevent any obstruction to the air ways and also prevents stomach acid from crawling into the throat.
People may experience most of the circulation issues in the lower body and rarely in the upper body. So, placing a pillow under the legs and knees or feet will improve the air circulation to those areas.
Low inclination pillows don’t provide enough support to your upper body while doing these activities. We recommend going for higher inclination models.
In most of the cases, wedge pillows can be placed in two positions. While sleeping or resting, the tallest part of the pillow should be at the back of your head and fit perfectly under the shoulders. However, if you have to sit upright in a chair or bed, place the widest part of the pillow at base with narrowest on the top. The straight part of the pillow should face against the headboard or wall. For lumbar area, we recommend adding an extra layer for good support.
It is better to not wash a wedge pillow as washing will hinder the quality of the material. Usually, these wedge pillows come with a cover that protects the material. Also, if it has become too dirty, you can just wipe it with a wet cloth.
It depends on the quality of the material used but on average, it takes around 1-2 weeks of time.
Yes, you can but you will have to find the one which is thinner than the usual ones.