The Best Wedge Pillows
Read about our favorite wedge pillows and why you might need one
Jul 13th, 2023 •
The occasional stuffy nose or heartburn from a late-night meal can find you reaching for a second pillow to prop up your head while you sleep. And while the elevation may help relieve those problems, the steep incline of your pillow stack may leave you with a stiff neck, headache, and back pain. How can you get the height you need without putting unnecessary strain on your neck and back? A wedge pillow is your solution. The gradual slope of a wedge pillow elevates your head the way a second pillow does without forcing your neck into an unnatural position.
Sleeping with a wedge pillow under your head:
- Relieves strain on your back
- Keeps your airways clear for easier breathing
- Improves circulation
- Keeps stomach acid where it belongs
Propping up your knees and legs with a wedge pillow:
- Relieves lower back pain
- Improves circulation
- Makes sleeping on your back more comfortable
Keep reading to learn if a wedge pillow is the best pillow for you and see our top picks.
Our Top Picks for Best Wedge Pillows
Crystal Cove Wedge Pillow by Brentwood Home
Brentwood Home makes several different models of wedge pillows but if you’re looking for a premium sleep experience, we recommend the Crystal Cove Wedge. Handmade in the USA, this luxurious pillow boasts a 1.5-inch layer of cooling Activated Charcoal-Infused Memory Foam that will not only keep you cool and comfortable but will cradle your head and shoulders. You can breathe easy knowing that the base layer is made from Certi-PUR-US certified memory foams that are made without ozone depleters, PBDE flame retardants, mercury, lead, heavy metals, formaldehyde or phthalates. The soft, 4-way stretch-knit cover is washable and easy to reinstall. At 10 inches high, this pillow is suitable for either upper body or lower leg use. If you are not satisfied with your Brentwood Home wedge pillow, you may return it within 30 days of placing your order for a full refund.
- Size: 24″ x 24″ x 10″
- Price: $85
- Rating: 4.8/5 stars with 23 reviews
FitPlus Premium Wedge Pillow
This wedge pillow features 1.5 inches of contouring memory foam layered on top of a premium-grade polyurethane foam base. The memory foam comfort layer cradles your head and shoulders allowing you to relax completely while you sleep and awake without shoulder and neck pain. At 7.5″ high, it is suitable for elevating either your upper body or your legs. In addition to the soft, breathable, machine washable cover included with your pillow, FitPlus offers additional pillowcases to use when one is in the wash.
- Size: 24″ x 28″ x 7.5″
- Price: $33.95
- Rating: 4/5 stars with 1,715 reviews
InteVision Foam Bed Wedge Pillow
With a 2″ memory foam comfort layer set atop a firmer foam base, this wedge pillow will stabilize your head and shoulders with plenty of soothing contouring. Channels between the two layers of foam allow for greater air circulation keeping you cool and comfortable. The cover is made of 400-thread count, 100% Egyptian cotton and is easily removed and machine washable. And three different sizes allow a customized fit for your bed, your body type, and your intended use. The highest wedge (12″) results in a 45-degree angle, so it may not be suitable for upper body elevation. (See How to Choose the Right Wedge Pillow below.) Replacement pillowcases are also available from InteVision.
- Sizes and Prices:
- 26″ x 25″ x 7.5″: $31.95
- 25″ x 24″ x 12″: $49.95
- 33″ x 30.5″ x 7.5″: $65.95
- Rating: 4/5 stars with 182 reviews
How to Choose the Right Wedge Pillow
When you set out to buy a wedge pillow, keep in mind that the way you intend to use your pillow will help determine what size and shape to choose. Also, it’s a good idea to know what features distinguish one model from another so you can make the best choice for your needs. Here are some features to consider:
Most wedge pillows are Medium Firm or Firm, but some models can be softer. Unfortunately, the firmness may be difficult to determine without sleeping on it first. Look for wedge pillows that offer a trial period and have a simple return policy.
Incline height can range from 7 to 12 inches. Lower heights are better for sleeping with it under your upper body unless your goal is to reduce acid reflux or snoring. Sleeping with your upper body elevated by a higher wedge pillow will help keep stomach acids in their proper place as well as keep airways open to reduce snoring. Higher wedges (10 or 12 inches) are best for use under your knees and legs. In this position, a higher wedge can increase circulation, relieve strain on your lower back, and allow you to sleep comfortably on your back all night long if necessary. A higher wedge is also comfortable as a backrest when sitting up in bed to read, write, or watch TV.
Most wedge pillows are made of high-density foam with a softer memory foam top layer, which helps them conform to the shape of your body and allow you to relax into the pillow. The downside of all the contouring is that it occurs in response to your body heat. That’s why memory foam has a reputation for heat retention. If you tend to sleep hot, make sure your wedge pillow foam incorporates cooling gel, charcoal, or perforations that allow for air to circulate and dissipate heat.
The pillow’s cover should be made of a soft, comfortable, and breathable fabric that can be removed easily for machine washing and drying.
Many high-quality memory foam wedge pillows can be purchased for under $50, but prices can go as high as $100 or more. Higher-priced models are often more durable, made with organic materials, or include some kind of cooling technology.
Can a Wedge Pillow Help You Sleep Better?
Many people struggle to get a good night’s sleep occasionally, and others have chronic conditions that making sleeping difficult. People with the following health issues may find that sleeping with a wedge pillow reduces or eliminates their issues, allowing them to get the rest they need.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the passage that connects your throat and your stomach called the esophagus. It can lead to heartburn, inflammation of the esophagus, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic and severe form of acid reflux. People who suffer from acid reflux often feel symptoms while lying flat in bed. Elevating your upper body with a wedge pillow lets gravity help keep stomach acids in your stomach and away from your esophagus where they can do serious damage, not to mention interfere with your sleep.
Snoring and sleep apnea
People who sleep on their backs are more prone to snoring than those who prefer other sleep positions. That’s because the soft tissues in your throat succumb to the pull of gravity and sag toward the back of your throat, obstructing your airways. When you try to inhale or exhale through the constricted opening, the obstructing tissues vibrate, making that awful grating the snorers and their partners know all too well. Sometimes snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a serious condition that makes it impossible to breathe without waking up. Elevating your head with a wedge pillow can help reduce snoring and the effects of sleep apnea by preventing gravity from pulling your soft tissues to the back of your throat.
Cold, flu, or allergies
Seasonal allergies and upper respiratory viruses all cause nasal congestion that can make it difficult to breathe, especially at night while lying flat on your back. An elevated sleeping position can help nasal congestion drain and nasal passages stay clearer. For the 26 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies and millions of others who endure colds and flu, sleeping with a wedge pillow can make breathing easier and prevent post-nasal drip that can lead to sore throats and coughing.
The medical necessity to sleep on your back
Recovering from certain surgeries or injuries may require you to sleep on your back until you are fully healed. Unfortunately, only 8% of sleepers prefer sleeping on their backs, so they may need some help with this doctor’s order. Adding a little height to your upper body with a wedge pillow can make sleeping in this position more comfortable, especially for side sleepers or people who prefer sleeping on their stomachs. If you’re a side sleeper, make sure to check out our best mattress for side sleepers guide as well.
Lower back pain
Sleeping flat on your back can put a strain on your back causing or exacerbating lower back pain. A wedge pillow under your knees while sleeping on your back relieves that strain, allows your back muscles to relax, and reduces pain while you sleep and the following day.
Lying on your left side is the best sleep position when you are pregnant, especially after 20 weeks or so. Smaller wedge pillows can mean the difference between tossing and turning all night and getting a solid night’s sleep for mamas-to-be sleeping on their sides.
Here are different ways a wedge pillow can be beneficial if you’re pregnant:
- Tucked under your belly. Eventually, your growing belly will sag towards your mattress causing discomfort around your middle all the way to your back. Supporting the extra weight with a small wedge will relieve this strain.
- Tucked behind the small of your back. Trying to balance on your side can prevent you from relaxing completely while you sleep. With a wedge tucked under your belly and behind your back, your position is stabilized, allowing your core muscles to relax and rejuvenate.
- Sandwiched between your knees. Your widening hips can put extra pressure on your knees and make your top leg tend to slide down onto your bed, causing twisting and strain on your back. You can stabilize your hips and keep your back in a neutral position with a small wedge between your knees.
Even if you have none of these conditions, you may just want a little extra height to help you get comfortable, prop your head up for reading, or use as a backrest while watching TV in bed.
If you have the right mattress, the right pillow, and the right sheets but still have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, a wedge pillow may be the missing piece of your bedding puzzle. If you have concerns about your sleep challenges, be sure to consult with your doctor who may prescribe a sleep study to help determine the cause of your sleep disturbances.
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