Alaska Sleep Education Center

Picking the Perfect Pillow Pt. 2: Snoring, Pain, Allergies & Pregnancy

Posted by Kayla LeFevre on May 22, 2017 8:31:18 AM


A perfect pillow can make a world of difference in anyone’s quality of sleep.  But while finding an everyday pillow for everyday sleep dilemmas is easy enough, what about when your slumber problems go beyond just tossing a couple of times? Luckily, there are some pillows that are specifically designed for those who suffer issues like snoring, back pain, allergies or pregnancy-caused discomfort to get better sleep.

When you’re out shopping for a new pillow, consider some of the options below.  Remember to test the pillow between your head in its natural sleep position and a wall to determine the right thickness.   

If you want to relieve snoring, there are plenty of pillows in the market that can open your airways and improve your nightly breathing, thus reducing your snoring.  If your spouse seems close to their limit, then start looking for some of these styles:

  • CPAP: CPAP pillows are specifically designed for those who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and sleep with an oxygen max.  A crevice on each side allows the mask to nestle comfortably without raising or twisting your neck during the night. 
  • Wedge: A wedge pillow will lift your upper body and align your neck perfectly with your spine, opening your airways along with eliminating acid reflux among other things.  
  • Latex Foam: Latex foam pillows are most beneficial for light snoring problems.  A sturdier fabrication than memory foam, latex foam will keep your head and neck supported and open your airways yet still contour to natural curves.  Plus, the firm yet plush construction can contribute to less tossing, which can also lead to snoring. AdobeStock_66781242.jpeg
  • Contour: The raised edges of a contour pillow fills the gap between the base of your head to your shoulders.  This design keeps your neck perfectly aligned and eliminates any chin tilting that can restrict airways.  

If you want to relieve pain, then finding the right pillow can make or break your time spent awake.  If stretching and drinking enough water aren’t doing it but you don’t want to see your doctor every week, then consider these options:

  • Lumbar Wedge: If your back pain is related to having a desk job, then a smaller wedge pillow can be used during office hours to provide all-day lumbar support.  Simply place the pillow between you and the back of your desk chair.  For nightly relief, use a larger wedge pillow to gently lift your upper body and take the pressure off your lower back and buttocks. 
  • Cylinder: Often filled with foam or beads, a cylinder pillow is another lumbar-support option for the office as the smaller shape can be placed behind your back while you sit.  For nightly relief, these pillows can be placed directly beneath your neck to help lift and support.
  • Curved: The soft curve in the center of this design can help to relieve pain by supporting your head and neck throughout the night, especially for side sleepers.
  • Oversized Cushion as a Foot Rest: By lifting your feet or placing an oversized cushion between your knees, your spine can stay aligned all night long – correcting pinched nerves and muscle aches. 
  • Facedown: Just like going to the chiropractor’s office (wouldn’t it be nice to not know what that was like?), a facedown pillow features an open cutout to allow stomach-sleepers plenty of breathing room.  It’s common to find this design with a slight wedge design, as this can help straighten your entire back from neck to hip. 
  • Travel: If you’re suffering from back pain but travel too often to take a large, specialized pillow, then make sure to always pack a travel-sized pillow to ensure proper support whenever and wherever you catch some ZZZs. 
  • Chambered Down: Just as the name suggests, one design of a chambered down pillow will have squared stitching like a down comforter that keeps the filling from pilling on one side or another.  Another option combines the best of both firm and soft worlds with an inner padding surrounded with a plush filling. Allergies.jpeg

If you suffer from allergies, make sure to invest in hypoallergenic materials that prohibit the growth of bacteria and won’t break down after various washes.  Luckily, these types of materials tend to be the most luxurious:    

  • Memory Foam: This flexible material not only feels great to rest a tired head on, its long-lasting design can better retain its shape night after night.
  • Gel: Not only a malleable and soft filling, gel pillows reduce exposure to natural allergen irritants and dust mites.  Plus, the soothing design is refreshing during warm nights. 
  • Down Alternative: Don’t worry, just because you have allergies doesn’t mean you can enjoy the finer things in life.  The synthetic construction of down alternative is a perfect substitute for natural down, as it helps to avoid any vulnerabilities to dirt or animal allergens.    


If you are pregnant, then finding a supportive pillow is essential for nighttime comfort, especially during your later months.  A growing belly means that no matter your previous sleep habits, you are now a side sleeper.  Consider these options when deciding how to adjust to your new sleep pattern:  

  • Body Pillow: A full-sized body pillow can help you lay on your side while lifting and protecting your belly, and keep your hips from tilting downward during the night and lead to pressure on your lower spine. 
  • Wedge: A wedge pillow can be a great alternative to an over-sized body pillow.  You can prop a wedge under your back for a slight tilt and to help take pressure off your hips, or you can also place at the head of your bed to relieve nightly heartburn, another joy of pregnancy. 
  • Letter-Shape: These versatile pillows can suit several needs.  Pick a U-shaped design and switch between your right or left side throughout the night; “J” shapes are easy to move around and provide great head support during the night; for hip support, use a C-shaped pillow with the lower curve between your knees, the upper curve below your head and your belly facing outward in the open gap.  C-shaped pillows can also provide support for your back and hips while sitting up on a couch or chair. 

Sometimes, the slightest change in habits can make leaps of improvement to the quality of our sleep.  But while specialized pillows may help, they are not guaranteed to be a complete solution.  Talk to your doctor about your allergies, ask your chiropractor is there’s anything more you need to do, and check with your physician if you pillow choices are safe if you’re pregnant. 

But while being comfortable at night is essential to get a good night’s sleep, all the pillows in the world won’t cure sleep apnea.  Only a trained professional can help you with that, and luckily ours are well experienced in aiding patients with severe sleep disorders.  If you live in the Alaska area and worry you may be showing signs of sleep apnea after taking our quick quiz, then call today for a free 10-minute consultation. 


Topics: Sleep, pillow, get better sleep

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