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Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the frontline treatment for sleep apnea, a breathing condition which affects millions of Americans. While CPAP is a very effective treatment, some people struggle to adjust to the mask they must use every night. Accessories can make treatment more comfortable, and CPAP pillows are one of the most popular accessories for ensuring a good night’s sleep while using a CPAP machine.
CPAP pillows — not to be confused with CPAP nasal pillows, which are a type of low-profile mask — are pillows designed to accommodate a CPAP mask. They vary in design, but most have cut-outs or curves so that CPAP users can sleep on their side without their mask digging into their face. Other designs may be adjustable or stabilizing rather than accommodating. A CPAP pillow may also improve treatment efficacy by making it less likely for an active sleeper to dislodge their mask.
Choosing the right CPAP pillow depends on your personal preferences and budget, as well as what type of mask you use and your preferred sleep position. We’ll introduce you to our favorite models, then walk you through the most important factors to consider before making a purchase.
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While the Contour Cloud cervical pillow was not created with CPAP users in mind, we’ve found that its design offers CPAP users the support, comfort, and mask accommodation they need. The Contour Cloud has a classic two-hump cervical pillow shape to support both side and back sleepers, with a large neck roll for side-sleepers and a lower neck roll — with a cut-out for the tops of the shoulders — to support people who sleep on their back.
Most memory foam pillows are made of a single block of foam, but this model is similar in design to a memory foam mattress. It features a memory foam core consisting of three layers, including a pressure relieving top layer and two firmer support layers. Our testing has also shown that this construction allows the Contour Cloud to keep its shape over time, improving its durability and lifespan.
The Contour Cloud is best suited for CPAP users who use a nasal or nasal pillow mask, though it also works well for full-face mask wearers who sleep on their back. It comes with a zippered velour cover and is supported by a 1-year warranty covering manufacturing defects or flaws.
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The EnduriMed CPAP pillow is one of the most durable options we’ve found, offering customers both comfort and strong cervical support over its long lifespan. While some other memory foam pillows can compress over time, our testing has shown that this pillow holds its shape well without becoming firm or brittle. The pillows design also features a removable pad to allow users to adjust the pillow’s loft as needed.
Despite featuring mask accommodation for side sleepers, this pillow is best for people who sleep on their back. It features a lower loft to allow for the natural curve of the spine, with a shoulder cut-out and molded cervical support. This design gently encourages proper cervical alignment while also stabilizing the position of your head on the pillow. Some people end up in an uncomfortable position during the night due to the extra weight of a CPAP mask and hose, but this pillow’s molded support should help prevent this from happening.
All CPAP users who sleep on their back should find the Endurimed CPAP pillow works well for them, regardless of what type of mask they use. If you sleep on your side and still choose this model, it accommodates nasal and nasal pillow masks the best. It comes with a removable cotton cover and is backed by a 30-day manufacturer’s warranty.
Best Travel CPAP Pillow
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Unlike most of the other CPAP pillows on the market, the Core Mini CPAP pillow has a fairly simple design and a down alternative filling. The Core Mini provides surprisingly robust support to CPAP users regardless of their mask type or preferred sleeping position. Its lightweight design also makes it a great choice for frequent travellers, including for use while traveling by air.
While molded foam pillows are now the most popular form of CPAP pillow, the Core Mini’s crescent shape is one of the original CPAP pillow designs. The pillow is shaped to fit against the body without any excess, leaving plenty of room for whatever type of mask you use. It is effective for both side and back sleepers, although its design may be an adjustment for side sleepers accustomed to a larger pillow. Active side sleepers may also dislodge the pillow, as it requires fairly precise positioning.
The Core Mini features a down alternative filling with a cotton cover that cannot be removed, though pillow cases can be purchased through the official Core website. The manufacturer stands behind their pillow with a 1-year warranty covering common manufacturing defects and flaws.
Choosing the right CPAP pillow can be confusing. There is a wide range of pillows specifically designed for CPAP users, and other types of pillows — particularly wedge, cervical, and adjustable pillows — can also be helpful for CPAP users. We’ll walk you through the details you should know and factors to consider before making a purchase. By focusing on your own needs and arming yourself with information, it’s possible to choose a CPAP pillow that provides you with personalized comfort.
CPAP pillows are often advertised with many marketing terms that have little concrete meaning. Comfort, for example, is highly personal — the “most comfortable” CPAP pillow might be perfect for one person and less than ideal for another.
To help our readers cut through the marketing talk, we’ll examine 11 critical factors to keep in mind when choosing a CPAP pillow. These categories may be more or less important to you, but considering each of them will allow you to accurately judge what pillow might work for your needs.
Your preferred sleeping position is one of the most significant factors to consider when buying a CPAP pillow. Side sleepers should look for a pillow with cut-outs or curves to provide space for their mask, while people who sleep on their back often find that cervical pillows provide the stability and comfort they need. Some pillows are also shaped differently at the top and bottom so that combination sleepers can turn them as required. Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, usually find a nasal pillow mask most comfortable when paired with an adjustable memory foam or gel pillow.
A pillow’s loft refers to its height. While traditional pillows usually have one height, pillows designed for CPAP users often have dips and curves to provide cervical support or space for a CPAP mask. The ideal pillow loft also depends on your preferred sleep position, with side sleepers requiring a thicker neck support than back or stomach sleepers.
There are several types of CPAP masks, with the most common varieties being full-face, nasal, and nasal pillow masks. Bulkier masks like full-face and nasal models require more accommodation, particularly for side sleepers, while nasal pillow masks tend to work well with most CPAP pillows. Before deciding on a CPAP pillow, consider whether the cut-outs or curves will allow enough space for your mask in your usual sleeping position.
Most high-quality CPAP pillows offer excellent support through the cervical spine. This is thanks to their design, but also their materials — most CPAP pillows are made from memory foam, which provides soft comfort while still supporting the neck better than a traditional feather pillow. However, customers should make sure to choose a pillow with the right loft for their sleeping position in order to receive full support.
CPAP pillows tend to range from medium to very firm. Most are intended to provide excellent cervical support while accommodating a CPAP mask, which requires firmer construction than a feather or down pillow. While softer options are available, most people quickly adjust to a firmer model and appreciate the additional support.
“Firm” doesn’t have to mean uncomfortable. A well-made CPAP pillow will contour against the head, allowing for a buoyant feeling with a supportive core. CPAP pillows made from memory foam tend to offer the best pressure relief, though latex and polyfoam options also provide gentle contouring.
CPAP pillows are available in a range of shapes meant to support the cervical spine and provide space for a CPAP mask. Different shapes may be more or less effective for the type of mask you have or for support in your preferred sleeping position. For example, a back sleeper looking for cervical stability should look for deeply curved support around their neck, while a side sleeper mostly interested in space for their full-face mask may require a thinner central support with generous cut-outs at the sides.
CPAP pillows are considered “non-essential” and are therefore not covered by insurance providers. Most cost between $30 and $75, though some models may be available for less and luxury versions can cost significantly more. As with other CPAP accessories, it’s crucial to choose the right pillow rather than the least expensive one. Pillows need to be replaced far less often than many other CPAP accessories, making them worth the investment.
As with any other piece of bedding, a CPAP pillow should be made of high-quality materials. Most models use memory foam or polyfoam for support, both of which are synthetic materials that work extremely well for this use. However, latex options are available for people who prefer naturally derived materials for their bedding. A high-quality CPAP pillow will also have a soft, comfortable cover that can be washed.
Some CPAP pillows are made from shredded memory foam that can be molded and adjusted for the right amount of support and mask space. Most CPAP pillows cannot be adjusted this way, so customers should decide on their adjustability preferences before narrowing down their options.
Although memory foam and polyfoam are the ideal choice for most CPAP users, they do tend to retain heat throughout the night and can be uncomfortably warm for some people. Different manufacturers approach temperature regulation in different ways, with features like improved airflow and the use of gel memory foam.
Purchasing a CPAP pillow is similar to buying any other pillow, but there are enough unique factors to overwhelm and confuse many people. In this section, we’ll answer some of the most common questions our readers have about buying and caring for a CPAP pillow.
CPAP pillows usually cost between $30 and $75, with an average price point of around $50. A CPAP pillow that doesn’t fit your needs can lead to neck pain, as well as making it more likely for you to dislodge your mask during the night. Because of this, it’s crucial to buy the right pillow rather than the least expensive one. CPAP pillows aren’t covered by insurance providers, but a high-quality pillow can be bought on a budget by comparison shopping or waiting for a sale.
CPAP pillows are considered an accessory item and do not require a prescription. Thanks to this, they can be purchased from many online and brick-and-mortar retailers who do not specialize in CPAP items. However, specialized CPAP retailers are likely to offer a wider selection at better prices than general retailers.
Most foam CPAP pillows can be washed in the bathtub with warm water and a small amount of mild soap, but using and regularly washing a pillowcase is a better way of keeping it clean day-to-day. Some CPAP pillows come with a pillowcase or cover that hugs their cut-outs and curves, which can make for a more comfortable experience. If your CPAP pillow does not have a pillowcase, an oversized ordinary pillowcase made of a soft, stretchy material like cotton jersey is the best option. When washing the foam core of your pillow, squeeze out the excess water and leave it to dry rather than wringing it out or otherwise compressing the foam.
In addition to cervical pillows and those with cut-out accommodation for masks, CPAP users may find that wedge-shaped pillows and adjustable shredded foam pillows work well for their needs. Different types of sleep apnea pillows fit different needs, so we recommend you speak to your sleep specialist about what design might work best for you. Wedge pillows, for example, can reduce gravity-related airway compression and therefore improve the effect of CPAP treatment in some people.
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