The 10 Best Wedge Pillows
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in February of 2015. These wedge pillows can offer relief from acid reflux, snoring, back pain, leg discomfort, poor circulation, and several other issues. Our selections took into account effectiveness, durability, and how easy each is to clean. While many models out there are quite basic and similar to one another, we've assembled a varied bunch of options that should cover every individual's needs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 28, 2021:
One of our main goals during this update was to further increase the variety of designs in our recommendations. Rather than winding up with a bunch of very similar pillows, we thought it important to include ones made from a range of materials and in a range of shapes to ensure there would be something here to fit every individual's needs.
With the above in mind, we eliminated our old Malouf recommendation in favor of the Malouf Z Gel-Infused. The addition of this one, along with the Zenesse Luxelift that we had previously included, means that there are now two gel-infused ones for our readers to choose from. Both of these are well-suited to people who tend to get hot while sleeping.
Another model making its debut is the Circa Air Medium. Being inflatable, it is the only one you can realistically take along when traveling, unless you are driving to your destination. While it definitely isn't as plush as most others, and you probably won't want to use it at home, it is ideal for those whose acid reflux or orthopedic issues are severe enough that they don't want to go even short periods of time without an elevated and supported sleeping position.
The final new addition is the Kӧlbs Memory Foam. Though it does suffer from some issues, mainly expansion problems, it, along with the aforementioned Malouf Z Gel-Infused, are some of the most aesthetically pleasing options. We also like that it comes in several heights, shapes, and widths.
December 02, 2019:
At this time, after some consideration, we have elected to remove the Boppy Pregnancy. This particular model can have a strong smell at first, and although there is some argument as to the degree of risk polyurethane poses to pregnant women, there's no debate that strong chemical smells can be unpleasant. We've also removed the Science of Sleep and PharMeDoc Elevating over availability issues. But the Brentwood Home Therapeutic continues to come out on top, thanks to its CertiPUR-US foam and soft bamboo cover. And because it comes in three sizes, there's one for all needs. The Mabis DMI remains a good alternative for those who don't mind a very hard feel, while the Zenesse Luxelift will accommodate those who'd like to have both a taller and shorter pillow in one model.
Finally, we added the Contour Products 10-in-1. It lives up to its name by offering plenty of positioning, much like a top-notch sit-up pillow. It isn't as stiff as some other wedges, however, so if you need heavy-duty support, it may not be the best option. In such a case, you might consider the Drive Medical Folding or Avana Back Rest instead.
MedCline Reflux Relief System The MedCline Reflux Relief System is an investment, but for many, the comfortable sleep it offers is more than worth it. You'll receive both a body pillow and a wedge, the latter of which has an arm pocket that keeps pressure off the arm and shoulder of a side sleeper. medcline.com
MediWedge 4-Inch The MediWedge 4-Inch isn't a pillow per se; rather, it is an under-mattress bed wedge that provides a 4-inch incline many find perfect for easing GERD. It's not exactly inexpensive, but if you often find yourself sliding off a pillow while sleeping, then it could be a boon. mediwedge.com
What Is A Wedge Pillow?
You can find models with a gradual incline and ones with very steep inclines.
A wedge pillow is a triangular-shaped orthopedic pillow that is usually made out of moderately firm foam. Some may have an upper layer of a softer gel foam or memory foam to enhance their comfort. They are designed to provide a healthier and more comfortable sleep for people suffering from a range of medical issues.
Wedge pillows come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all feature a slope of some kind. You can find models with a gradual incline and ones with very steep inclines. Some may have a curve on one of the sides and others may fold in half for easier storage when not in use. The right one for you will depend on the type of health problem you are trying to address.
Most wedge pillows are multi-purpose and can be used in different ways depending on which side of the pillow is against the bed. When the short side of the wedge is placed against the bed, it creates a very upright cushion that is ideal for watching TV or reading a book, while still allowing you to relax in a comfortable reclined position. Alternately, you can place the long side of the wedge against the bed to create a more gradual incline that is designed for sleeping.
Since wedge pillows have a nontraditional shape, they will often come with a cover that can be removed and machine washed. It is usually best to purchase one of these models otherwise you may have trouble finding a cover that fits your model, which will make caring for it and maintaining it in a sanitary way difficult.
How Wedge Pillows Can Help
Wedge pillows are used to address a wide range of health issues. Gravity is the main factor working against you when sleeping, especially when lying on your back. It can collapse the lungs and upper airways, which can lead to interruptions in breathing. People with sleep apnea often find that using a wedge pillow can significantly improve their breathing and reduce their reliance on CPAP machines.
The same goes for pregnant women who may need additional support as they get used to new and unfamiliar sleeping positions.
Another issue many people have when lying completely flat is stomach acid moving up into their esophagus. This can lead to minor heartburn, esophagitis, or a more serious condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If left untreated, GERD can cause damage to the esophageal lining and cause esophageal ulcers. Since a wedge pillow slightly elevates your head, it puts you in a position that allows gravity to help keep the contents of your stomach from raising into the esophagus.
People with back pain often find that the cervical spine and lumbar support offered by a wedge pillow results in greatly reduced back pain upon waking. The same goes for pregnant women who may need additional support as they get used to new and unfamiliar sleeping positions.
Those who suffer from swollen legs can place a wedge pillow below their legs when sleeping to keep them slightly elevated and help prevent the pooling of liquids. They even sell specially design wedge pillows for under-the-leg use.
Another less common use for a wedge pillow is to reduce nasal blockage, whether from allergies or a cold or flu. A slightly elevated position enables sinuses to drain more easily and allows a person to sleep more peacefully without less restricted breathing.
What To Consider When Buying A Wedge Pillow
The different kinds of wedge pillows each have different therapeutic uses. If you are trying to relieve the symptoms of sinus congestion, sleep apnea, acid reflux, or heartburn, a standard wedge pillow will most likely be the best choice.
They are often made from polyurethane foam or memory foam, but there are plastic inflatable models designed for travel and ones stuffed with polyester fill available too.
A larger wedge pillow with a steeper incline is best for addressing back pain issues and avoiding spinal misalignment. For leg use, they have specially designed options that typically have a slight curve or flat area in the middle to rest your calf without affecting circulation. Pregnant women may find that all they need is a slight incline and one with a gradual slope may serve them best.
Another consideration when picking out the right wedge pillow for you is the size. Getting the correct size for your bed can be beneficial for both comfort and aesthetic reasons. If you have a small bed, larger wedge pillows may not fit. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have a large king size bed and move around a lot when sleeping, you may prefer a wide wedge pillow that allows you to toss and turn without worry of rolling off.
Take note of the material and firmness when choosing a wedge pillow as well. They are often made from polyurethane foam or memory foam, but there are plastic inflatable models designed for travel and ones stuffed with polyester fill available too.
If you prefer a firmer pillow, go with one made from polyurethane, but for those who prefer a softer option, one with a gel foam upper layer may be more comfortable. You may also want to consider if it comes with a machine-washable cover and if it is made with hypoallergenic materials.