Many acid reflux pillow advertisements show models positioned completely wrong on their reflux pillows. This is detrimental to you, the customer, because if you go home and sleep on your reflux pillow how the model is demonstrating, you could wake up stiff, sore, and still have reflux.
As a physical therapist, this kind of advertising really bothers me because sleeping incorrectly can hurt your body. Here are some mistakes you can look for to tell if a company truly has the knowledge required to help you find comfort, or if they are just trying to sell you a reflux pillow.
Mistake # 1: Don’t sleep sideways on a triangle wedge pillow
Sleeping sideways on an acid reflux pillow that is triangular in shape is a big mistake. A big mistake that leads to back and hip pain. If you see a company advertising this, run! You should always sleep on your back on a triangle wedge pillow, and here is why:
As pictured above, sleeping sideways on a straight wedge contorts your spine all night. This contortion compresses and strains the joints that move your spine, leading to inflammation and stiffness in the morning.
Instead, if you prefer to sleep on your side, look for an acid reflux pillow that is made especially for side sleepers. This contoured reflux wedge pillow is perfect for side sleepers. The contours conform to your body’s curves and fully support your spine. Combine this contoured reflux pillow with a leg separator pillow to maximize hip and back support, and get ready for some comfortable and reflux-free side sleeping!
Mistake #2: Sleeping on your acid reflux pillow without a neck pillow
You cannot sleep on an acid reflux pillow without a neck pillow. When you try to sleep flat on a triangle wedge pillow, the angle of the force of gravity will cause your neck to extend back into the wedge pillow. Sleeping in this extended position all night can lead to neck stiffness, soreness, headaches, and pain.
Instead, use your regular neck pillow on top of your triangle wedge pillow. Sleeping on a neck pillow will support the natural curve of your neck. This support decreases strain on your cervical muscles, ligaments, and joints, so you wake up without neck pain.
Mistake #3: Not Using Any Sort of Leg Pillow
Sleeping on your back on a triangle shaped acid reflux pillow increases the amount of force on your lower back. The triangle shape of the wedge naturally makes the tailbone take the brunt of the force of gravity.
To decrease the strain on your lower back, use a knee wedge pillow. A knee wedge pillow takes away gravity’s pull on your back and instead, disperses gravity’s force evenly on your whole body. When gravity is dispersed evenly on all parts of your body, your muscles, joints, and ligaments fully relax. This leads to deep and rejuvenating sleep.
Additionally, not using a leg pillow can cause you to slide off of your triangle wedge pillow during the night. This again has to do with gravity and you can learn more about why you may be sliding off your acid reflux wedge pillow here. The bottom line is…using a knee wedge pillow will stop you from sliding down your wedge.
Mistake #4: Positioning your torso incorrectly on the wedge
To sleep correctly on an acid reflux pillow, your glutes should be lying on the mattress, and your torso and low back should be lying on the reflux wedge. Sometimes, the pillow ends somewhere in your mid-back area. This means you have slidden down too far on the wedge. If your glutes are on the wedge pillow, then you are positioned too high.
If you have been using your acid reflux pillow incorrectly, it’s not your fault, you were probably shown wrong! Start implementing these tips and you will be sleeping comfortably in no time!
-Bryan Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy