The name says it all. Anti-snoring pillows are pillows that are designed to stop people from snoring. If you are reading this page, you obviously want to learn more about this popular snoring solution so you can decide if an anti-snoring pillow is the best option for you.
You may also be wondering if anti-snoring pillows work. The quick answer is yes.
What Will I Learn?
However, there are several different types on the market and some options work better for certain people than other options do.
Pillows of this type are popular with snorers because they are less invasive than most other anti-snoring products.
Instead of spending your nights with a device in your mouth or over your lips, all you have to do is change your pillow. If you don’t like the sound of some of the other snoring solutions, an anti-snoring pillow can seem like a pretty good deal.
Instead of drawing your jaw forward like a MAD, pulling on your tongue like a TSD, or doing other things that may initially feel unnatural and/or uncomfortable, most anti-snoring pillows encourage you to sleep in a different position.
Above all else, they generally discourage you from sleeping on your back because doing so makes you more likely to snore.
When you sleep on your back, your tongue can drop backward and obstruct the airway. This causes air turbulence that makes the relaxed tissues at the back of the throat vibrate. When this happens it creates the sound anti-snoring pillows aim to stop.
Although most snoring pillows work due to their shape, the more advanced versions monitor for snoring and then begin to move. Pillows of this nature are known as smart pillows.
How Many Types of Anti-Snoring Pillows are There?
Most popular anti-snoring pillows fall into one of five categories:
- Pillows that encourage you to sleep on your side
- Foam wedge pillows that force you to sleep in a more upright position
- CPAP pillows that are designed to provide extra comfort to people who sleep with CPAP masks
- Body Alignment pillows that reposition your airways
- Smart pillows that detect snoring and begin moving
Although they work well for many people, anti-snoring pillows don’t work for everyone. They are a particularly poor option for people who have sleep apnea unless it is only a mild to moderate form.
Let’s take a look at the five pillow options one by one.
1. Anti-Snoring Pillows That Encourage You to Sleep on Your Side
Depending on their design, anti-snoring pillows that encourage side sleeping may achieve their aim in one of several different ways.
Some of them have strategically-placed ridges that encourage you to roll onto your side. You may be surprised to learn there is clinical evidence that suggests they may work well for normal-weight people.
However, the study results suggest this type of pillow offers a lesser level of support to overweight individuals.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who don’t normally sleep on their sides find anti-snoring pillows of this type can be uncomfortable to use.
Some manufacturers have responded to customer feedback by creating triangular pillows that encourage side sleeping. Others have come up with pillow designs that allow you to place your arm through the pillow via an inbuilt hole.
Perhaps taking inspiration from the old trick of sewing tennis balls to the back of your sleep garments, some manufacturers have come up with a different kind of anti-snoring pillow. Instead of placing the pillow under your head, you strap it to your back and wear it like a backpack.
Body pillows like this are quite a clever idea because you still get to lay your head on your normal pillow but are unlikely to turn over onto your back.
2. Foam Wedge Pillows
Foam wedge pillows aim to control snoring in a slightly different way. Due to the shape of the pillow, some people find they can still sleep on their back but still reduce their snoring.
The triangle shape prevents you from being flat on your back. In reality, what the pillow does is provide a slight elevation to the head and shoulders. By doing this, it reduces the likelihood of the airway becoming obstructed.
Research shows even a slight elevation of the head may significantly reduce snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
This led the researchers to conclude, “Mild HOBE (Head-Of-Bed Elevation) significantly improves OSA severity without interfering in sleep architecture and therefore is a simple alternative treatment to ameliorate OSA.”
It’s important to bear in mind the elevation was achieved by placing a 15-cm-high piece of wood under the legs at the head-of-bed. This produced a 7.5º tilt.
However, although the study did not involve the use of anti-snoring pillows the effects should be the same, and research from Germany further supports using pillows in this way.
The study was done in two phases. During the first phase, the participants slept on the special pillows at home. The second phase was completed in a sleep laboratory.
After the completion of the study, the researchers concluded: “This study shows that by using a pillow to change the head position, it is possible to reduce both subjective and objective snoring severity.”
3. CPAP Pillows
This type of pillow is actually in a class of its own because it doesn’t aim to prevent snoring. The CPAP machine is responsible for that job.
However, the pillows help provide a better night’s sleep by making the CPAP face mask less uncomfortable to wear.
The pillows have a contour on either side. When viewed from above, they look like they have a waist. When you rest your head near either side of the waist, you can sleep on your side easily without your sleeping position causing the CPAP to become misaligned or start applying pressure to your face.
If you’ve ever seen a mask of this kind you will probably be able to appreciate how easy it is for the air pipe to get in the way.
CPAP pillows are a great option for anyone who uses CPAP and does not wish to spend their nights sleeping flat on their backs.
4. Body Alignment Pillows
Sleeping with a normal pillow can cause your head to become too high or too low in comparison to the rest of your body. Apart from possibly causing you to wake up with a stiff neck, this type of misalignment of the spine during sleep can cause an airway obstruction and snoring.
Not surprisingly, many anti-snoring pillows aim to control snoring by helping keep the head and neck in line with the rest of the spine.
Pillows of this type are available in a variety of designs and each manufacturer will present plenty of theories about why their particular anti-snoring pillows are supposedly the best.
Pillows that force you to sleep on your side are also often designed to encourage correct spine alignment as well. Some CPAP pillows are designed to do this too. So the main design feature for certain anti-snoring pillows is only an additional benefit with others.
5. Smart pillows
Smart pillows are more futuristic than the aforementioned types of pillow. Instead of relying on clever design features, they utilize microchips and other electronic technology.
Smart pillows are activated by sensors and microchip technology that detect snoring and then take action to stop it.
Some of them can also track and record the duration and quality of your sleep. Others have inbuilt Bluetooth speakers that can lull you off to sleep by playing white noise recording or relaxing music.
So, how do smart pillows stop snoring? If you are reading an article like this, that’s the thing you really want to know.
Some smart pillows contain small vibrating motors that fire-up at the first signs of snoring and encourage you to reposition your head.
Other types have airbags inside that inflate or deflate to tilt your head into a better sleeping position.
The Bottom Line
Certain sleeping positions are more likely to make you snore. That’s a fact and there is plenty of research to prove it.
Most people are aware sleeping on your back is one of the things that can do it. That’s old news. It’s unclear when the practice started but women have been sewing tennis balls to the back of their husband’s pajamas for a long time. It’s certainly a practice that predates the Second World War.
When you think about the way a bent neck may affect airflow at the back of the throat, it should be easy to appreciate how this may contribute to snoring as well.
The various anti-snoring pillow designs aim to prevent the sleep posture issues that lead to snoring. Like any other good snoring solution, these pillows tackle the problem of snoring by addressing the cause.
Will an anti-snoring pillow be the best option for you? It’s certainly an option you may want to explore. One of the best things about going this route is, once you have your pillow, you can go on using it for a long time. If you try to control your snoring with a MAD, you may have to invest in a new device one or two times a year. Possibly more.
In the end, you are the only person who can decide if this kind of pillow is the right option for you. Hopefully, this article has provided you with enough information to help you make up your mind.