When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Products or services may be offered by an affiliated entity. Learn more.
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.
Bicor Products CPAP Pillow for Side Sleeping
Fill:Down alternative fibers
- Down alternative fibers give the pillow a plush, lofty feel
- Wide cutouts on each side accommodate your mask’s tubing
- Affordable pricing
- Soft fill may not provide enough support
- Not sold with a pillowcase or protector
Contour CPAPmax 2.0 Pillow
Fill:Memory foam with fiber fill, support polyfoam
- Memory foam inserts can be added or removed to optimize the loft
- Tether stabilizes the tube and helps prevent rainout
- Mesh-paneled cover promotes airflow and offsets heat retention
- Foam layers emit strong off-gassing odor when the pillow is new
- Design may not accommodate masks with top-of-head tubing
Medline CPAP Pillow with Memory Foam
Fill:High-density memory foam
- Unique shape accommodates CPAP masks
- High-density memory foam balances contouring and support
- Foam composition helps relieve pressure buildup
- High potential for strong initial odor
- Foam may trap and absorb heat
Vive CPAP Pillow
- Solid memory foam offers excellent pressure relief
- Cutout design prevents mask from pushing against the face
- Polyester shell is removable and machine-washable
- Low-loft design may not provide enough cushioning for side sleepers
- Foam may emit bothersome off-gassing odor after unboxing
Best Travel CPAP Pillow
Core Products Mini CPAP Pillow
- Crescent-shaped design accommodates all sleep positions
- Fiber filling is lightweight for travel
- Excellent temperature regulation
- Down alternative fill offers less neck support than solid foam
- Pillow can only be hand washed
How to Choose a CPAP Pillow
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.
What to Consider When Purchasing a CPAP Pillow
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. Some categories may be more important to you than other categories, 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.
“Side sleepers tend to need a high-loft pillow for support and to fill the space beneath the head and neck to promote proper spinal alignment. Keep your head and neck in alignment at around 30 degrees with the help of a good pillow so your airway stays open during the night, allowing air to flow from your nose to your lungs without obstruction.”
– Sarah Silverman, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist and holistic sleep wellness consultant who treats patients in New York and Florida.
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 may prefer 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.
Frequently Asked Questions About CPAP Pillows
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.