Wedge Pillow Articles

Proper Pillow Position for Sleeping

Proper Pillow Position for Sleeping 

Learning proper pillow position for sleeping will completely alter the course of your sleep journey. Correct pillow position helps you wake up revived rather than stiff or sore!

Proper head position on a pillow

The correct pillow position for your neck and head involves supporting your spine so that it is parallel to the mattress. If your pillow is too tall or too short, your neck will be bent. This can cause or contribute to neck stiffness, soreness, and pain.

Additionally, the space between your ear and shoulder should be filled in and fully supported. If there is even a small gap between your pillow and your shoulder, gravity will put strain on the joints and the discs in your spine.

For side and back sleepers, a neck wedge pillow is an easy way to ensure that proper pillow position is accomplished. The contours in the pillow maintain your spine in a position parallel to the bed. A neck wedge pillow also fills in the gap between your shoulder and neck.

Proper pillow position for sleeping on your back

If back sleepers sleep flat on their back with their legs straight, the hip flexors can pull on the spine and arch the back. This can cause compression on joints and nerves. Compressing the joints and nerves in the low back during the night makes back and hip pain worse.

The correct pillow position for back sleepers involves placing a wedge pillow under the knees. It is essential that back sleepers sleep with a slight bend in the hips and knees to allow the low back joints, muscles, and ligaments to relax. When your back can fully relax, sleep will come much easier.

Proper pillow placement for side sleepers

When sleeping on your side, it is important to support your back and hips so that your joints and muscles are resting in a neutral position. This means there shouldn’t be any major bending taking place in your spine. 

To accomplish this, use a side sleeper wedge to fill in the space between the top of your pelvis and your lower ribs. This small wedge pillow fills in the contour of your waist in between where your ribs end and your hip bone starts. The purpose of this wedge is to prevent your lower spine from sinking down unsupported while you sleep.

In addition, support your top leg so that it is as close to parallel to the bed as possible. This prevents the weight of your leg from pulling your lower back into a rotated position. A supportive leg separator pillow will help side sleepers accomplish this goal. 

The proper pillow position for sleeping takes some strategy and effort, but it can be very rewarding. Better sleep, improved pain, and decreased stiffness CAN be the end result if you can follow these simple principles.

-Bryan Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy


The Best Way to Sleep With Occipital Neuralgia

The Best Way to Sleep With Occipital Neuralgia 

Are you looking for the best way to sleep with occipital neuralgia? Occipital neuralgia is a condition that can severely affect your ability to sleep. The good news is, once you learn the best sleeping position for occipital neuralgia, you can finally get a good night’s rest.

What is occipital neuralgia?

Your occipital bone or occiput is also known as the base of your skull. You have nerves called occipital nerves that come out of your neck and into the suboccipital muscles located on the back of your head. These nerves can become injured and if they do, it can lead to occipital neuralgia. Occipital neuralgia causes symptoms such as a headache, migraine, numbness, tingling, tenderness, blurry vision, vertigo, or neck tightness.

How to sleep with occipital neuralgia

The key to sleeping with occipital neuralgia is to sleep in a relaxed posture with neutral spinal alignment. This is easy to do with the help of wedge pillows. The best news is, you can support your spine correctly whether you like to sleep on your side or on your back.

Sleeping on your back

When you sleep on your back with occipital neuralgia, you’ve got to sleep with a pillow that cradles your occiput. Remember, your occiput is the back of your head where your occipital nerves are inflamed.

You don’t want a pillow that is going to put additional pressure on the back of your head. Rather, find a contoured orthopedic neck wedge pillow that will remove pressure from the back of your skull. Not only will the contours alleviate pressure from your occiput, they will keep your neck in perfect alignment while you sleep.

Additionally, patients with occipital neuralgia need to sleep with a knee wedge pillow to ensure total alignment of their spine. When you sleep flat on your back without your legs elevated, your lower spine is arched. This can increase tension in your already inflamed occipital nerves.

Elevating your legs relaxes the middle and lower portions of your spine. Supporting your upper and middle spine with an orthopedic neck wedge pillow will relax the upper portions of your spine. With your entire spine in alignment, you are perfectly primed for a good night’s sleep.

If you are having severe migraines, blurry vision, or vertigo due to occipital neuralgia, consider sleeping at a slight incline. Sleeping inclined on a wedge pillow can improve circulation throughout your head and neck. This promotes healing and prevents gravity from allowing pressure to build up in your head overnight- which can happen when sleeping flat.

If you decide that sleeping elevated would benefit you, place your orthopedic neck pillow on top of your triangle pillow. Your legs will continue to rest on a leg wedge to ensure your spine is fully supported. This creates a position that completely supports your spine and lets your muscles rest in a relaxed state.

Sleeping on your side

What if you like to sleep on your side? Sleeping on your side with occipital neuralgia can be done in two ways: sleeping on an incline or sleeping flat.

To sleep on a slight incline, which would be a good idea if you are suffering from headaches, migraines, blurry vision, or vertigo, use a contoured incline wedge designed especially for side sleepers. The contours will support your spine in a neutral position so that your nerves and muscles are able to relax.

Use an orthopedic neck wedge pillow to support your head and neck. To support your middle and lower spine in a neutral position, use a leg separator pillow that can hold your hip, leg and ankle parallel to the bed. This position ensures that any tight leg muscles won’t be pulling on your spine which could cause tension on your spinal nerves.

If you would be more comfortable sleeping flat and on your side, use an orthopedic neck wedge pillow, a side sleeper wedge, and a leg separator pillow to support your spine. A side sleeper wedge is a small wedge that fills in the contour of your waist. This small wedge makes a big difference by supporting your lower spine and spinal nerves. This is important so that they are not experiencing any tension while you sleep. The leg separator pillow will ensure that your lower body muscles are relaxed and not pulling on your spine.

The best way to sleep with occipital neuralgia is to fully support your spine. This allows your nerves to heal and rejuvenate overnight and happens when you strategically use wedge pillows to align your body.

-Bryan Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy

Looking for A Pillow to Raise Legs?

Looking for A Pillow to Raise Legs? 

A pillow to raise legs can come in different shapes and sizes. How do you know which type you need? Today let’s learn about the two main types of leg raise pillows and which one would work best for you.

Contoured pillow to raise legs

The first option we will discuss is elevating your legs on a contoured leg wedge pillow. A contoured leg pillow is made with specially designed “cutouts” or “contours” that cradle your legs. Because it is designed to support the curves and shape of your legs, there is no pressure build up on the back of your legs while you elevate.

This design is especially important for anyone with any sort of tenderness or pain on the back of their legs. Specific diagnoses that would benefit from this type of leg raising pillow are those with diabetes, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, varicose veins, or DVT.

This type of leg raise support pillow is also ideal for those with any lower body swelling. The pillow holds your feet at the highest point which improves circulation and uses gravity to help eliminate swelling and excess fluid build-up.

An angled leg raising cushion

What if you are looking for a pillow to raise your legs in bed while you are sleeping? If your primary goal is leg support while sleeping, an angled leg raising cushion may just be for you. When you use an angled pillow to raise your legs, it provides a greater knee bend. Sleeping with your knees bent at this angle is the ideal position for your knees to rest and rejuvenate overnight.

It also provides the perfect amount of support for your lower back. As you may well know, sleeping flat on your back is not a good way to sleep. Sleeping flat causes your lower back to arch. Overtime, this can exacerbate or contribute to lower back pain and stiffness. Solve this problem immediately by elevating your legs on an angled leg raising cushion.

What if I am looking for a leg pillow to sleep with, but also think I need a contoured leg pillow for a medical condition?

If you are looking for a pillow to raise your legs at night while you sleep, and you have a medical condition like varicose veins, excessive swelling, etc., choose the contoured leg wedge! You can absolutely sleep comfortably with a contoured leg wedge. The contours just may not be absolutely necessary for someone who does not have any leg tenderness or swelling issues.

Just to summarize: choose a contoured pillow to raise legs that have any sort of tenderness or swelling. Choose an angled leg pillow to raise legs that have no medical complications but need to be supported at night while you sleep. But ultimately, choose whichever wedge you think will be the most comfortable for YOU!

-Hillary Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy


How to Use A Wedge Pillow for Legs

How to Use A Wedge Pillow for Legs 

You can easily learn how to use a wedge pillow for your legs with just a few tips! As a physical therapist, I have extensive practice and knowledge in the use of leg wedges and am going to help you learn how to use one correctly.

Picking out a leg wedge

First, to know how to use a wedge pillow for legs, you must know what type of leg wedge you need. To figure that out, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you have trouble with your feet or legs swelling?

2. Do you have pressure points, trigger points, or tender points on the backs of your legs?

3. Do you have varicose veins, diabetes, neuropathy, or congestive heart failure?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you would benefit from daily use of a contoured leg wedge pillow. A contoured wedge pillow for legs is angled so that your feet are at the highest point of the wedge. Elevating on this wedge for 20 minutes a day allows for an optimal increase in circulation and is the most effective way to reduce leg swelling.

The contours also provide comfort for even the most tender legs by taking pressure off of any tender spots or pressure points. The contours cradle your legs and calves in a way that supports them without causing any pain. 

If you have none of the medical conditions listed above and are looking for a leg wedge pillow with the primary purpose to help you sleep with your legs elevated, choose a knee wedge pillow. A knee wedge pillow helps with circulation and keeps your knees in a position ideal for them to rejuvenate overnight.

A knee wedge pillow is also ideal if you have any back pain issues. It positions your legs in a way where your back and hip muscles are at an ideal resting position. It also positions your lower back so that it is completely relaxed.

Always remember, above all else, this is YOUR leg wedge. Use these tips as guidelines, but ultimately choose which wedge to get based on your body and what you are going to find comfortable! For example, you may have varicose veins but find a regular knee wedge pillow works better for you. And that is great! Choose what works best for YOU!

How to use a wedge pillow for your legs

When learning how to use a wedge pillow for your legs, be sure to learn how to position it correctly. A correctly positioned leg wedge will look like the following:

1. Your heels should be hanging off the end of the wedge

2. If the wedge is contoured, position the back of your knee on the highest point of the first contour. Your calf should be resting in the dip in between the two “peaks.”

3. If the wedge is a flat leg wedge pillow, position the back of your knee on the bend of the wedge.

Additionally, be sure to use your leg wedge consistently. Whether you are using it to combat swelling or to relieve back pain, consistent use is key to progress. To combat swelling, use your wedge 15-20 minutes each day. To relieve back pain, sleep with it each night.

Learning how to use a wedge pillow for legs is critical for you to have a good experience with your wedge pillow! Take these tips and enjoy your new leg wedge!

-Hillary Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy


Best Sleeping Position for A Pregnant Woman

Best Sleeping Position for A Pregnant Woman 

Learning the best sleeping position for a pregnant woman is vital for both mom and baby. Sleep during pregnancy is critical as a mother’s body works to create a new life! Keep reading to learn the best sleep position for pregnancy.

Best sleep position during pregnancy

Generally speaking, the best sleep position for a pregnant woman is lying on the left side. Why is this the case? It’s because there is a large blood vessel that runs up the right side of the spine. This blood vessel is called the inferior vena cava. Its job is to circulate blood to mom’s heart! Sleeping on your left side ensures that this vessel is not compressed by baby and will keep that blood flowing.

Another reason lying on the left side is considered the best sleeping position for a pregnant woman is because it may help decrease swelling. Left side lying can decrease swelling by relieving pressure off of the liver and the kidneys. This is especially the best sleeping position in the third trimester as baby is growing rapidly and due to its growing size, can more easily compress mom’s organs.

Don't forget this crucial component!

There is another important component to sleep positioning while pregnant! Simply lying on your left side is good, but when you add slight elevation, you not only combat acid reflux (which almost all mothers face during pregnancy) but you improve circulation throughout your body!

When a mom uses a memory foam, contoured, incline pillow to sleep, she supports her lower back and hips, positions her stomach and esophagus strategically to avoid reflux, and improves full body circulation. Adding a leg separator pillow is key to support her hips, back, knees, and ankles. It's also an important component to avoid common maternal sleep complications like SI joint pain, hip bursitis or IT Band syndrome.

What if a mom just can’t sleep on her side? Do not worry. There is a safe way to sleep on your back while pregnant. Use a 12” triangle foam wedge pillow to support your upper body in a position safe for baby and comfortable for mom. Then, elevate your legs on a knee wedge pillow to prevent sliding off your foam wedge pillow and to increase circulation throughout your lower body.

As always, check with your OBGYN or midwife if you have any concerns regarding sleeping while pregnant.

The best sleeping position for a pregnant woman is the key to a well-rested mom. Mom’s bodies are working hard to grow healthy babies, and they deserve a comfortable night’s sleep!

Hillary Blare- Doctor of Physical Therapy

Best Position to Sleep With a Cold

Best Position to Sleep With a Cold 

Choosing the best position to sleep with a cold can make the difference between waking up feeling better or waking up feeling worse. How many people take a cough suppressant or cold medicine at night to sleep, just to hinder the work of the medicine by sleeping in the wrong sleep position? Don’t let this be you!

Avoid sleeping flat

When you have a cold, do not sleep in a flat sleeping position. Sleeping flat on your back increases sinus pressure. This position inhibits your sinus’s ability to naturally drain, and can lead to a sinus headache, cranial pressure, and breathing difficulties.

Sleeping flat with a cold can also cause drainage to irritate the back of your throat. This not only results in worse sleep but can also create a sore throat to wake up to in the morning. Sleeping on your side is slightly better because it changes the angle of gravity on your mucus. But, because you are still flat, this position can stop your mucus from drainage from draining correctly.

The best position to sleep with a cold

Sleeping with your head elevated 20-30 degrees (or 10-12 inches) on an incline wedge pillow gives you the best shot at waking up and feeling relief from your cold. Sleeping in a slightly inclined sleeping position aligns your sinuses for the most efficient drainage. When your sinuses are draining effectively, your chances of developing a sinus infection decrease.

If you are a side sleeper or are suffering from drainage down the back of your throat, sleep elevated and on your side. This sleeping position minimizes postnasal drip, letting your throat rest and heal overnight. It also keeps your sinuses draining so that mucus doesn’t pool in your sinuses. The goal with sleeping with a cold is to sleep so those sinuses can drain!

The best position to sleep for a cold utilizes an elevated head position to enhance drainage, decrease throat irritation, and decrease sinus pressure. Start sleeping better with a cold today!

-Bryan Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy