Snoring – How Pillows Can Help Those Who Snore With Proper Head And Neck Posture
Snoring is the term we use for obstructive breathing during sleep and affects 60% of men and 40% of women by age 60. Obstructive sleep apnea, where breathing actually stops more than five times per hour of sleep, affects 4-9% of people.
While snoring may involve anything from minor annoyance to disruption of family life, obstructive sleep apnea can be a more serious condition.
Obstruction of the upper airway during sleep can be a serious medical condition often associated with severe daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and even heart and lung complications. Gasping for air or choking when sleeping and very loud snoring are signs that you may suffer from sleep apnea. Those suffering sleep apnea may have to use a cpap mask at night and a special pillow that helps to manage the mask and tubes while maintaining comfort and good posture.
- A 2023 review in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation indicated snoring is associated with higher probabilities of obstructive sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and headaches.
The use of ergonomically designed pillows can be an important snoring remedy for some people. The sounds of snoring emanate from the collapsible part of the upper airway where there is no rigid support. The use of pillows is for local airway compromise and not a central type of apnea, which is neurological or cardiopulmonary.
So, What’s With Anti-Snore Pillows?
“Ant-Snore”? I guess it’s a pillow that takes a firm stance against snoring. A pillow that argues vehemently against anyone sleeping on it that would be so bold as to snore in a loud and highly audible manner. Do they really get annoyed? Well, you’ve heard the term pillow talk. Pillows that protest their use by people who snore? Pillows that seek retribution from those uncaring humans that snore so loud they vibrate every fiber of their being…. unless they are made of foam. Ever get a water pillow mad at you?
Now, we know pillows don’t talk, they whistle! Well, that’s what I thought until I realized it was my tinnitus. If I could snore before I fall asleep, would it help mask tinnitus symptoms?
So, what is an anti-snore pillow? You don’t hear of an anti-neck pain pillow, or an anti-headache pillow. How about an anti-insomnia pillow? That’s what I need! But, everyone makes claims about pillows helping neck pain, alleviating headaches, and promoting better sleep, so why not?
Seriously, I think an anti-snore pillow is one that allows sleeping in all 3 positions, back, side and stomach, in a posture that best maximizes correct posture, therefore, maximizing air flow and minimizing air flow obstruction in any position – that simple!
Is there a pillow that does that? I’ll give you a hint, look at the picture! The one flashing a man sleeping on it in all 3 positions, comfortably. Do you hear him snoring? OK, we’ve established that it works!
But, the first thing to do is make sure there is not a more serious underlying condition. See your doctor if you are not sure. People do suffer. They spend a lot of money purchasing the latest gadgets, and some have surgical procedures done. It can affect relationships.
How Can A Pillow Help Reduce Or Stop Snoring?
Snoring from upper airway obstruction is made worse when the head and neck moves forward (chin towards chest) while sleeping on the back as seen when using a traditional pillow. Use of a properly designed neck pillow produces an extension of the head and neck (chin-up) and assists in opening the airway when in the back sleeping position.
The back sleeping position is typically the posture that causes the most snoring. The side and stomach positions are best for reducing snoring, but stomach sleeping can be harmful, so the right pillow is very important. In order to help reduce snoring while sleeping on your back, a cervical pillow that maintains proper positioning is crucial.
Technically, airway obstruction leading to snoring from bad neck posture involves bending forward of the head and neck, which compresses the tissues in the throat.
A typical flat pillow, or using more than one pillow, sets the stage for snoring from this airway obstruction. Proper positioning of the neck can help improve airway obstruction, causing the throat to open the airway passage and reduce snoring. A good pillow maintains an open position of the airway by helping to establish a correct curve in the neck, helping to maintain a better head position.
Its known that the head tilting and chin lifting techniques used during CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a quick and effective means of opening the airway. This moves the tongue away from the back of the throat, opening the airway. A properly designed neck pillow has a similar effect on the airway when sleeping on the back, yet maintains comfort.
Neck stiffness may prevent extension into the posture necessary to prevent snoring, therefore, it is important to perform some effective neck exercising and stretching and other helpful methods which may help restore normal motion of the joints, relax tense muscles, therapeutic heat and massage to assist a cervical pillow in effectively opening the airway and prevent snoring.
Individuals who must sleep in a raised head, neck and shoulder posture (orthopneic position) for medical reasons should raise the top of the bed and avoid the use of several pillows. In this way, they too can benefit from some snoring relief with a good pillow that is anti-snore.
- A 1997 paper published in the journal Cranio presented scientific and clinical evidence recommending the use of cervical pillows as an adjunctive treatment in patients suffering from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
- A 2017 study in the journal Sleep & Breathing 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.”