If you can’t lie flat for whatever reason, the softest most comfortable bed might as well be made of bare bricks, and trying to sleep with a pile of lumpy, uncomfortable, pillows propped up is just gonna make you feel worse.
If like me, you suffer from GERD (gastric reflux), propping up your pillows is the worst thing you can do, it’ll put your head, neck and back at an angle that’ll increase pressure on your stomach and make your reflux worse.
One wedge pillow is so much better than a ton of regular pillows piled up. If you think about it, it’s effectively altering the angle of your mattress without the expense of going all out and buying an adjustable bed.
But what if you’re a side sleeper?
These wedge pillows are often quite steep which is perfectly fine if you’re chilling in bed reading or if you’ll happily sleep on your back, but not so great if you’re a side sleeper and you’re trying to grab a few zzz’s.
What it comes down to is how much of a slope do you need to feel comfortable enough to sleep?
Well, there’s actually an answer to that:
‘The height of the bed head elevation is critical and it must be at least 6–8 inches to be at least minimally effective to prevent reflux of gastric contents’ according to a study in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Now it turns out that a 7-inch height is around a 15 ° angle of slope. And that’s really good news because 15 ° is a nice gentle slope, a perfect angle for sleeping on your side.
We’ll now take a look at our top picks:
- The Best Folding Wedge Pillow for Side Sleepers
- The Best Extra Large Wedge Pillow for Side Sleepers
- Is a Wedge Pillow Good For Side Sleepers?
- Is Sleeping on your Side Good for You?
- How to Reduce Symptoms of GERD
Our Top Picks for the Best Wedge Pillows for Side Sleepers
The Best Folding Wedge Pillow for Side Sleepers: Folding Wedge Pillow by Medslan
The 7″ rise of this one will elevate the whole upper half of your body to that magical 15 ° angle.
But that’s not why it’s our top pick.
You see what this one has that most others don’t, is that 32″ long length.
Now that’s important because when you think about it, you’ll get a much more gradual slope with this one than you do with a regular shorter one and so it’ll give you a much more natural sleeping position.
But the defining factor of our top choice is that because it’s US-made, what you’re getting is a product that’s made from 100% CertiPUR-US certified hypoallergenic and eco-friendly soy/poly-foam.
And what that means is that it conforms to the most stringent of guidelines and testing and is certified to not contain formaldehyde, phthalates, PBDEs, TDCPP, TCEP, flame retardants, ozone depleters, mercury, lead or any other heavy metals.
The other great thing about this one is that it’s foldable and even comes with its own handy and discreet, carry case.
That’s great because you don’t only need a wedge pillow when you’re at home, you’re going to need to take it with you when you travel too because the last thing you want it to ruin a vacation.
What We Like:
- Long Gradual Slope – You’ll get a much more gradual slope with this one, allowing for a more natural sleeping position.
- Foldable – That makes it great for traveling with and it comes with its own convenient carry-case.
- Removable Washable Cover- The pillow cover is removable and washable in warm water, and can be tumble dried on low.
Things To Consider:
- Firm – Like all wedge bed pillows, don’t expect to sink into it, think of it more as if your mattress had a natural incline and you should add a pillow for head support.
- No Spare Pillowcases – There aren’t any spare pillowcases for this one, though as we’ve said, the cover is removable and washable, and there is a washable, zippered inner cover over the wedge itself.
- Width – At 2 feet wide it is wide enough for most side sleepers to turn over in the night, without risking falling off it, and considering it’s meant for travel, you wouldn’t want one any bigger than that. But if you want one just for home, and you have the room, you might prefer to go for our next pick which is a little wider.
The Best Extra Large Wedge Pillow for Side Sleepers: InteVision Extra-Large Foam Wedge Bed Pillow
At 33″ long and 30.5″ wide this wedge gives you a much larger surface area that any of the standard wedge bed pillows out there. To give you an idea of its size, it will take up half of a Queen Size bed. This will allow plenty of room for side sleepers to turn over in the night while its 7.5″ incline is perfect for keeping acid reflux at bay.
What makes this foam wedge stand out in terms of comfort, though, is its 2″ memory foam top layer which will add a layer of softness to the pillow.
However, it does have a firm base made from highly resilient polyurethane foam and so the wedge will still, overall, feel medium-firm to lie on.
So don’t expect to sink right into it. As with all wedge bed pillows, you should think of them more as an extension of your mattress and add a pillow for head support.
Now that’s the thing, the fact that this one comes with its own slimline head-rest pillow that’s got a removable insert so that you can adjust the height of it, is a huge advantage in that you’re going to get comfortable support for your head without adding any more extra height than you need to.
What We Like:
- Extra Roomy – This wedge pillow is as big as they get. So there’s no chance you’ll turn over in the night and roll off it.
- Bamboo Pillow Case – This wedge pillow comes with a removable, washable classical bamboo pillowcase. You may be wondering why bamboo? Well, it’s good for regulating temperature, it has a very soft smooth feel to it and it’s much less likely to stain. It is also eco-friendly in that bamboo grows in abundance, so unlike cotton, it doesn’t require the use of pesticides or even much water to grow.
- Option to Buy Spare Pillow Cases – The InteVision Extra-Large Foam Wedge Bed Pillow comes with a machine-washable white cover. However, spare optional 400 thread count, 100% Egyptian cotton pillowcases are also available in both white and dark blue.
Things To Consider:
- Size – This wedge is extra large but InteVision also do a 26″ x 25″ x 7.5″ version. So if you like this choice but think it’ll be too big for you, then the standard size may be your best choice.
Is a Wedge Pillow Good For Side Sleepers?
Well yes and no. Those steeper sloping ones are only really practical if you sleep on your back. Let’s think about why that’s so.
You’ll notice it’s much more comfortable to bend forward at the waist than to bend to the side, and with a wedge pillow that’s pretty much what you’ll be doing lying down. If you sleep on your back a steeper angle isn’t as noticeable as it would be for a side sleeper.
So you’ll need to get one that’s effective without being too steep. And that sweet spot is 6- 8″.
But choose a wedge pillow that’s too short and you will just end up hunched over, putting unnecessary pressure in your stomach and making you feel worse.
The longer the length of the wedge, the gentler the incline will be and that’s the key.
If you suffer from gastric reflux frequently – even if you only have mild symptoms – a bed wedge is going to make a huge difference to your comfort and digestive health.
The gentle slope of any of wedge bed pillows we have looked at above are ideal for use on a regular nightly basis, and once you get used to sleeping on a slope you are much less likely, having gone to bed feeling fine, to wake up at 3 a.m. feeling miserable. So get yourself a wedge pillow, to give your stomach some peace and you’ll get a restful night’s sleep.
Is Sleeping on your Side Good for You?
In a recent study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers found that sleeping on your side, in what’s known as the “lateral position”, may help to remove the waste products which build up in the brain, contributing towards neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Now that makes a refreshing change, doesn’t it? Because usually studies come out and tell you what you’ve been doing all your life is all wrong.
How to Reduce Symptoms of GERD
I have actually said to my son, “If I ever need to go into a care home and have lost all my faculties, please remember to tell them not to feed me after 7.30 pm”. I realize this may sound an odd request but one late-night snack and I’m guaranteed to be up half the night with raging acid indigestion.
Acid reflux is usually worse at night, firstly because not only is the concentration of acid in the stomach higher but lying flat makes it easier for acid to seep through into the esophagus. What makes matters worse is that when we sleep we don’t swallow. Saliva contains bicarbonate, which neutralizes this acid and since we don’t swallow, the acid just sits there in the esophagus causing pain and discomfort.
The fact that GERD is common is no consolation, especially when your best friend claims to not know what indigestion actually feels like as she’s never had it – thank you for that, Debbie, that’s really helpful.
We have previously looked at some of the steeper wedge bed pillows which will keep your upper body supported at an angle that will ease the symptoms of reflux at night.
Now here are some extra steps you can take to reduce your symptoms:
Try eating your largest meal at breakfast or lunch and keep the evening meal light – You can do this right? Easy.
Don’t eat, or drink alcohol within three or four hours of going to bed – Just have a cut off time and stick to it – mine is 8 pm, max. What’s the point of late-night snacking if it makes you feel so bad?
Look out for trigger foods to avoid – These will probably be acidic foods such as caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, mint, tomato, onion, and garlic as these loosen the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus. Fatty foods also have this effect. You could try keeping a simple food diary to see what agrees and disagrees with you. Some acid reflux friendly foods include; ginger, oatmeal, banana, melon, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, parsley, and brown rice.
Don’t wear tight clothing – Ladies, learn to embrace the low rise jean.
Try some relaxation techniques – There is evidence to suggest that stress can make your symptoms worse. Meditation is amazing for this. If you don’t know how don’t worry, 1 minute is enough for you to learn. A really good place to start, so you get the hang of it, is to go outside, close your eyes, breathe slowly and listen, don’t internally comment or label anything, just listen to every single sound around you. Feel the air, temperature, sun or rain on your skin. By neither grasping nor pushing anything away, you will start to see what was already there, to begin with, that you are it and it is you. – Now, you can do that anywhere!
Maintain a healthy weight – Don’t feel you have to crash diet, just cut out the junk and start to eat a more plant-based, whole food diet- it can work wonders for you and remember if you cook it yourself you know what’s going into it.
Stop smoking – Smoke can irritate your digestive system making your symptoms worse. I mean is there anything that smoking doesn’t make worse? If nicotine lozenges, patches, chewing gum, and other methods haven’t helped, don’t give up. Ask your doctor if hypnosis is an option for you. Some studies have shown that hypnosis may help people quit smoking.
Don’t have a large drink with your evening meal – You may stretch and put extra strain on your stomach. Avoid milky drinks at night too. Milk, contrary to what you might think is slightly acid and the fats in it make it similar to food to digest, try chamomile tea instead.
Don’t let this list get you down! – If you make these changes, you could save yourself hours of discomfort and just look at this list! – follow it and you’ll be way healthier in general – a healthier you equals a happier you.
A Note About Gassing Off
As with all new foam products, there is going to be some degree of ‘gassing off’ (that chemical smell that dissipates over a period of hours to days). Though the wedges we’ve reviewed here and unlikely to have any noticeable odor, it is advisable to let the wedge air, preferably outside on a dry day or at least in a ventilated area or room for 24 hrs.