How to Sleep on a Wedge Pillow – A Guide Through the Specifics

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When it comes to improving your sleep environment, the right accessory can make a world of difference and help you rest better. The bedding industry continues to develop innovative materials and products to enhance your bed space, and one such item is the multi-functional wedge pillow.

These triangular-shaped orthopedic pillows are designed to provide both comfort and health advantages. They aren’t your standard headrest, though, so if you’re not sure how to use a wedge pillow, we’ll guide you through the specifics. You’ll discover the correct way to use this product, plus the variety of benefits that can come from wedge pillows.

A Hidden Hero During Covid19 Pandemic

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, many companies had to implement work-from-home strategies to protect employees from virus exposure. Employees who spent years in a traditional office environment had to adapt to their new surroundings.

Folks soon discovered that working from home also meant you could get the job done from the comfort of your bed. Wedge pillows became a valuable investment for those who needed to accommodate their new workspace and not cause pain to develop or worsen. These multi-functional pillows could be placed behind the worker for good support throughout the back or even serve as an eye-level desk to avoid straining in the shoulders and neck.

Wedge Pillow Uses

The great advantage of these pillows is that the ways in which they can be beneficial feel almost endless.

Upright Recline

For those who enjoy using their bed as a regular workspace or a cozy environment to watch television, read books, or journal, you can place the pillow vertically upright behind you. To correctly set this position, you’ll place the wide end of the pillow onto your mattress and then have the flat side lean up against the head of your bed or the wall. You’ll then be able to comfortably recline in an upright position without putting pressure on your back, shoulders, or neck.

Illustration of a Woman Reading On a Couch With a Wedge Pillows Behind Her Back and Under Her Knees

A Gentle Slope For Back Sleeping

For back sleepers, you can use the wedge to create a slight incline for your back which, as we will discuss later in this article, could help several health-related issues. You’ll place the wide end up against your headboard or wall, while the flat side should lay level with the mattress so that the gentle slope is facing up.

A Gentle Slope For Side Sleeping

Like those who rest on their back, side sleepers should see health benefits from a bit of height as well. Further, the modest incline will allow your spine to rest in a more neutral position. You will place the wedge in the same position for back sleepers, and then you’ll be able to lay on your side comfortably.

Under the Knees

These cushions should also help minimize pressure on the lumbar  – or lower back – region by placing the wedge underneath your knees with the wide edge facing you as your legs fall onto the slope. For those with sore muscles or swollen feet, elevating the legs improves circulation, which should alleviate these issues.

Want more info? Read more about the benefits of sleeping with legs elevated.

On the Lap

Who needs a desk when you have a wedge pillow? These cushions can be a convenient surface for your laptop while working in bed. Lay the flat edge of the pillow on your lap and place your computer on the slope side.

While some at-home workers put their computer directly on their lap, this could strain your shoulders and neck since you’re continually looking downward at your screen. The elevation from the pillow reduces this, thus improving the alignment of your neck and shoulders.

Under the Belly

For women who are pregnant and sleep on their side, placing the cushion under your belly could prove helpful since the product can counteract the uncomfortable effects of gravity pulling the weight of the belly down. To support your stomach, place the thinnest part of the pillow under your belly.

Read More: How to Sleep Better During the First Trimester

Wedge Pillow Benefits

As mentioned earlier, this bedding product could deliver many benefits for your overall health and wellness.

Pregnant Women Will Love It

Pregnancy may cause your legs and feet to swell from lower limb edema. This occurs when the uterus puts pressure on the pelvis, causing the blood to return more slowly from the legs and feet and eventually collecting into leg tissues.

To reduce your risk, use the pillow to elevate your legs and improve circulation, and for those women who experience lower back pain, this position should also help minimize that.

Looking to learn more? See our full guide for pregnancy pillows here.

Illustration of a Pregnant Lady Sleeping with a Wedge Pillow under Her Baby Bump

Alleviates the Symptoms of Acid Reflux and GERD

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease – or GERD – is a health condition in which acid reflux from your stomach moves upward into the esophagus, which can be painful and irritating. Sleeping with your upper body in an elevated position could help prevent that acid from making its way up.

Find Out More: Benefits of Sleeping with Head Elevated

Relieves Pressure on Your Back, Shoulder, and Neck

For those seeking to minimize pressure in their back, shoulders, and neck, this product’s versatility to treat all these areas is worth consideration.

As we covered, placing the cushion underneath your knees should alleviate lower back pressure, while sleeping on the moderate incline places your spine in a neutral position to reduce pressure in the upper back, shoulders, and neck.

Decreases Sleep Apnea and Snoring Problems

Sleep Apnea is a disorder in which your breathing repeatedly starts and stops while you’re asleep. By resting on the incline of the pillow, you’re allowing your airways to open up more efficiently, which should improve your breathing. These open airways should also help minimize those pesky snoring habits as well.

Want to read more? Check out our best pillows for sleep apnea guide.

illustration of a woman using earplugs for blocking husbands snoring

Lowers the Risk of Glaucoma

According to the CDC, 3 million Americans have glaucoma, the second-leading cause of blindness. The most common glaucoma results from eye pressure, and lying flat on a bed can put added strain on the eyes. Utilizing the incline of the wedge cushion could help reduce pressure and slow down the progression of glaucoma.

Helps with Sinus Drainage

This product could also prove useful when you’re dealing with a sinus infection, which occurs when the mucus in our sinuses cannot properly drain. Along with other remedies that include drinking water and inhaling steam, experts recommend sleeping on an incline to prevent mucus from building up while also promoting sinus drainage.

illlustration of a woman strugling with allergy symptoms

Reduces Asthma Triggers

Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow, which can lead to difficulty breathing and mucus build-up. For those who experience asthma symptoms during the night, sleeping on an incline could help stave off asthma triggers by keeping your airways more open and less susceptible to mucus build-up.

Improves Your Posture

If we’re not careful, our poor posture habits can exacerbate over time. Whether you’re working from home or in an office, you may start to find yourself hunching over on a regular basis. This pillow can help improve your posture by providing solid support for your entire back to keep you upright.

Good for Post-Operative Care

For those who have recently had surgery, this product could help make the transition from the adjustable hospital bed easier since you can use it to modify yourself to similar positions. However, it is best to check with your doctor before using one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best height for a wedge pillow?

These products are available in different sizes, allowing you the flexibility to select the one that best fits your individual needs. Most cushions range from 6 to 12 inches in height.

For those who primarily want to use their pillow for lower back pain and better circulation, you should opt for the 6-inch size. A 7 to 9-inch pillow is best for those who need the product for health conditions such as GERD, sleep apnea, snoring, glaucoma, asthma, and sinusitis (sinus infection).

Pillows 10 inches or higher are ideal if you plan to mainly use the device for assistance sitting upright while you work, read, or watch television.

Should you use a wedge with a regular pillow?

More than likely, you already have regular pillows for your bed space and might wonder if you can use a wedge with your traditional ones. These products are designed to be used on their own against your mattress and headboard or wall. Regular pillows could cause the wedge to become unstable while also diminishing the helpful capabilities that they can provide.

After you try this product for a while and see some significant improvement, it’s possible you may decide to throw out your regular pillows altogether, and considering how many different groups of people these can help, purchasing one would be considered a wise investment choice.

Content Writer | + posts

Jill Zwarensteyn is a content writer for Sleep Advisor and is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.

She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.

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