Wedge pillow for a side/stomach sleeper?
January 16, 2013 8:33 AM   Subscribe

After any sort of cold/respiratory illness, I descend into a month or two of sore throat, raw/drippy/sneezy nose, and asthma-type-coughing and wheezing caused by post-nasal drip. In high school, I briefly used a wedge pillow to minimize this and I'm considering getting one again, but I'm not sure if my sleeping position is compatible with a wedge pillow. Any experiences and advice welcome.

I'm a side/stomach sleeper, pretty much hugging my pillow and doing a hanged-man/flamingo thing with my legs. I'm nervous that sleeping like this on a wedge pillow will torque my back in some weird way. Am I just being paranoid? (I plan on using the wedge pillow for elevation and then my normal pillow for normal pillow duties.)

Possibly relevant, but I don't think so: my tonsils are intact and really large, but have never been infected aside from a few tonsiloliths over the years.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I dunno about a wedge pillow, but you could try putting bricks under the top end of your bedframe, to raise the head of the bed a few inches- this is supposed to help for reflux, as well.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:41 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was also going to suggest raising the head of the bed by 2 to 4 inches.
posted by saradarlin at 8:43 AM on January 16, 2013

I've had the Cold From Hell for a week or so, in all its cruddy sinuses, post-nasal-drip, wake-up-coughing-in-the-middle-of-the-night glory.

Mostly, I'm a side-sleeper as well, but I've had some success in sleeping on my back with a bunch of pillows behind me, and also some success with making the pillows so that I'm elevated but can still sleep on my side (kind of). No back issues to report. Yet. Good luck.
posted by rtha at 9:06 AM on January 16, 2013

I have some of these respiratory issues as well - allergies and asthma. I also sleep mostly on my stomach and sometimes on my side. Recently I bought a new bed that has one of those adjustable platforms so the head and/or feet can be raised. It works great to help me breathe better BUT only if it's raised just a few inches. Anything more and my back is jacked up. So I think possibly a wedge pillow might be too high for sleeping as you describe, but definitely consider raising the head of the bed a small amount by some other means.
posted by marylynn at 9:08 AM on January 16, 2013

I tried a wedge pillow and it hurt my neck so badly, I could barely walk for a few days.
posted by goethean at 9:39 AM on January 16, 2013

Similar to pseudostrabismus' idea, you can try sticking something under the head end of the mattress - I remember a doctor recommending I put a dresser drawer under my mattress to elevate a hurt ankle. It's less precarious-seeming to me than propping up the whole bed. Of course both of these presume that if you're sharing the bed with someone, they don't mind being propped up too.
posted by mskyle at 10:06 AM on January 16, 2013

I am a side-sleeper with occasional sinus misery and very broad shoulders. I sleep on as many pillows as it takes, with compression, to support the distance between my shoulder (actually, my ribs) and my neck, with another pillow in front of those to make a step.

The problem with a wedge pillow is that it doesn't make any room for your protrusions, like shoulders. You're still laying on a flat surface, you're just elevated for drainage.

I also sleep with a body pillow to support my top arm and leg.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:21 AM on January 16, 2013

I've had some success with using a "back rest pillow" since the back rest pillow has "wings."
posted by oceano at 11:00 AM on January 16, 2013

After years of struggling with this myself and bouncing back between wedge/foam pillows and thin normal ones and having neither work out well, I finally found the happy medium over the holidays -- a wedge pillow meant for babies!

Sounds silly, but it's the best of all worlds for my breathing: wedge shape and firmness, but it's barely a third the size of a normal pillow. It's just small enough to rest my arm around it instead of under it, firm enough to let me head rest on the edge with my face hanging over "open" space, and neck-relaxing due to being much thinner and less slope-y than the adult wedge pillows are. I bought one just to try out, but ended up sleeping so much better that I've gone back out for a spare already. I still use my old pillows as my "cuddle pillows", your mileage might vary.

The only real negative -- needing to cut and sew my pillowcases into something that actually fits them better (which I've yet to do).
posted by Pufferish at 11:28 AM on January 16, 2013

I have sinus and minor apnea problems, and I've had pretty good success overcoming them using a pillow shaped like an inverted letter "J" that wraps over my shoulder with the long part running down my back, which helps to prevent me rolling over on my back. My ear falls at the bottom (top?) of the crook of the "J", and the short side of the "J" is short enough not to block my breathing. There are variations on this theme large enough to be "whole-body" pillows, and some of those look tempting. Googling "J-shaped pillow" will offer quite a few alternatives.
posted by TomBetz at 12:28 PM on January 16, 2013

I sleep on my side and use a wedge pillow with regular pillows on top of it (1 or 2). It only tweaks my neck once in a while if I end up in a weird position.
posted by getawaysticks at 9:03 AM on January 17, 2013

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