How To Use A Wedge Pillow Seat Cushion

Last Updated on by Artem

In this article I explain how to use a wedge pillow seat cushion which is a part of our best orthopedic cushion list.

While nobody likes staying in the hospital for days on end, the comfortable in-patient beds are something to go by.

They are pretty versatile. You can adjust them to give either head or leg elevation.

The pillows also come in handy in relieving the difficulties associated with various health conditions, including sleep apnea, lower back pain, gastroesophageal acid reflux, and many others.

Interestingly, you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy similar benefits in your home. Now with a wedge pillow, you can adopt a comfortable sleeping position regardless of whether you are aside sleeper or a back sleeper.

In this article, we guide you on how to use a wedge pillow to enhance the quality of your sleep.

What is a wedge pillow seat cushion?

Unlike the best seat cushion for hemorrhoids, a wedge pillow refers to a triangle-shaped orthopaedic seat cushion uniquely designed to make sleeping or bed rest much more comfortable for anyone.

Its tapered incline that can be anywhere between 30-450, provides head and leg articulation helping to reduce the discomfort of congestion, acid reflux, obstructive sleep apnea, and the pain of lower back injury.

Typically, wedge pillows raise the body or the legs (depending on what you’re using them for) by around 6 to 12 inches, and they measure 20-25 inches by 20-25 inches. Memory foam and polyurethane foam are the primary materials used in making premium-quality wedge foam pillows that you can even use as a backrest if you want to sit upright.

The technique of placing the wedge pillow is vital in relieving pain or pressure and giving you a good rest throughout the night.

Who can use a wedge pillow?

Wedge pillows will grant an easy night rest to anyone who invests and correctly uses one. However, it would be of much more significant benefit to individuals with particular health conditions such as poor circulation, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), chronic pain, and poor circulation, including varicose veins.

How do you use a wedge seat cushion?

Having mentioned the different groups of people who may benefit from sleeping on wedge pillows, we now delve into how each category can effectively utilize these foam pillows in their daily lives.
How to use a wedge pillow if you have poor circulation.

For individuals with poor venous circulation, placing a wedge pillow under the legs for elevation promotes the venous return to the heart. Leg swelling is one characteristic of poor circulation, and the wedges help to avert this problem by preventing the pooling of blood in the lower limb.

The elevation given by the wedge is the primary contributor in alleviating leg swelling and enhancing circulation from the lower extremities to the heart. Consequently, the risk of blood clots that would lead to catastrophic deep venous thrombosis is reduced.

Noteworthy, for the wedge to produce noticeable results, its incline should be high enough to ensure the legs are above the plane of the heart.

How to use wedge pillow if you have shoulder, neck, or back pain

A wedge pillow is an excellent non-medical technique for relieving your back or shoulder of chronic pain. But before we go to the details of placing the wedge, the first consideration is the foam a wedge pillow is made of. For a chronically painful neck or shoulder, a memory foam pillow will be of immense value as it has the capacity of conforming to the shape of different body regions, thereby alleviating pressure.

If lower back pain can’t let you have an easy night rest, place a wedge pillow under your knees while sleeping. The pillow should be of a low incline so that it fits well below the slightly bent knee. This positioning promotes natural alignment of the spine and relieves pressures on the lumbar area.

Donut seat cushion can also do this and you can buy orthopedic donut cushion as well.

How to use a wedge pillow if you have acid reflux disorder

The burning sensation you feel around the chest results from stomach acid moving upwards to the esophagus. Medically, it is termed acid reflux. Sleeping with the whole body in the same plane or using a regular pillow while sleeping on the back is a significant contributor to this nighttime gastric acid reflux. Therefore, a wedge pillow placed below the back would be essential in maintaining the head, neck, and shoulder at the angle necessary and, therefore, keeping the acid in the stomach. With inclination, gravity is responsible for preventing gastric acid from going up the esophagus.

For the best results, you need a pillow that can reach the hips from the head to keep the whole torso elevated.

How to use a wedge pillow to relieve sleep apnea

Snoring, an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea and congestion often worsens when one sleeps on the back. During sleep, the soft tissue plus the muscles surrounding the windpipe normally relax and collapse, causing partial airway obstruction. When the sleeper breathes out, the pressurized air forcefully passes through the tissue causing a noisy vibration heard as snoring. Individuals with sleep apnea have an exaggerated version of this occurrence and often experience periodic cessation of breathing while sleeping.

To prevent the apneic episodes, place a wedge pillow below the torso with the narrowest part of the incline sitting at the middle of the back and the other part reaching the head. Such inclination opens up the upper respiratory tract and encourages forward falling of the tongue instead of backward fall that causes obstruction, breathing, therefore, becomes much easier and efficient.

In case of sinus congestion leading to snoring, similarly positioning the wedge pillow also promotes drainage of the sinuses and prevents nighttime congestion. A wedge pillow with an incline of 35-450 is highly recommended in these instances.
How to use a wedge pillow if you are a side sleeper.

Side sleeping is the recommended position for pregnant mothers, but there are also natural side sleepers. While it can be comfortable for some individuals, side sleeping poses an increased risk of developing back pain plus GERD and sleep apnea. Using a wedge pillow will therefore ensure that spinal alignment is maintained and back muscles remain relaxed, thereby reducing the pain.

For cushioning of the shoulders and preventing the development of pressure points, a memory foam wedge pillow that has a moderate-firm feel is preferred.

Similar to back sleepers with snoring or sleep apnea, side sleepers should also use pillows with 35-450 inclines. You need to keep the shoulders, neck, and head well-aligned to avoid exertion of undue tension on the spine.

Pregnant Women using wedge pillows for sleeping

The primary reason pregnant ladies are encouraged to use wedge pillows is to prevent rolling to their backs which would have various ramifications, including acid reflux. Pregnant women with lower back pain and restless leg syndrome can also utilize the foam pillow by placing it under their legs while sleeping to alleviate the symptoms.

What are the other uses of wedge pillows?

Above, we have discussed how wedge pillows can alleviate the symptoms of different health conditions. But for those who just want extra comfort, you can use the foam pillow during:

Lap Placement

Medical personnel are against working in bed, but when it is the only feasible option, you can use a wedge pillow as a desk to help you work more comfortably. Place the thinnest section of the pillow on your lap with the broader part around the needs. The wedge can now act as a desk for your portable computer or tablet, and you work without much strain on your back and wrist.

Upright incline

If you prefer reading in bed or just relaxing while sitting upright in the bed, a wedge pillow will be of great significance to you. It’s more comfortable compared to stacking several standard pillows for back support.

Place the pillow on the mattress with the wide end down and the flat surface resting against the wall. This allows you to recline upright without exerting excessive pressure on the upper spine or neck. A wedge pillow with an incline of 43-45 degrees is recommended for upright recline.

What are the benefits of a wedge pillow?

From relieving constant back pain to providing a more comfortable lounging position, wedge pillows have several benefits that can be explored by those with different health conditions and healthy individuals. Here are the merits of these foam pillows:

Alleviates back pain

Sleeping on the back without a pillow can be pretty uncomfortable, even for perfectly healthy individuals causing back pains. Wedge pillows provide an inclination that can keep the upper back, or the knees elevated to prevent undue stress on the spine when back sleeping.

For people with chronic back pain, the wedge pillow helps align the spine and station the hip in the anatomical position to reduce the pain. Generally, those with upper back pain get more relief compared to individuals with lumbar pain.

Maximum body relaxation

With wedge pillows, you can assume the so-called zero gravity position for optimal relaxation of the body. This position is achieved by lying on the back with the upper body slightly raised by placing a low incline wedge pillow below the torso while the legs are flexed and supported by another wedge pillow.

‘Zero-gravity position’ takes off a significant amount of strain and aches from the body, allowing one to have a quiet, sweet sleep.

Reduces snoring

While snoring has varied causes which require different forms of management, some reasons can be averted by assuming a proper sleeping posture. For sleepers who only snore when they lie on their backs, it is most likely due to the effect of soft tissue and throat muscle relaxation that occurs during sleeping combined with the pulling effect of gravity that leads to obstruction of the airway hence snoring.

In such cases, sleeping at an inclination with the help of a wedge pillow repositions the trunk to prevent the falling back of the tissues and averts snoring.

Minimizes Leg Swelling

Pregnancy, standing for long and deep vein thrombosis are among the most typical causes of leg swelling. While some are medical emergencies, others like pregnancy can be dealt with non-medically unless complications arise. Using a wedge pillow to elevate your feet as you sleep goes a long way in lessening the swelling and consequently reducing the associated pain, as may be the case with DVT.

Prevents post-nasal drip

Post-nasal drip refers to the dripping of nasal mucus into the back of the throat and down to the airways evoking a cough. Such coughs are usually chronic and may lead to other complications, including infection. A wedge pillow helps prevent post-nasal drip by elevating the upper body, thereby stopping mucus from collecting near the back of the throat. With no drip, you have better airway health as there are no irritations and inflammations.

Averts nighttime asthmatic attack

Nighttime asthma is thought to be facilitated by blood pooling in the lungs secondary to gravitational effects. Wedge pillows counter the impact of gravity on blood within the lungs leading to the reduced collection and lower risk of asthmatic attack.

Reduces acid reflux

If you have ever experienced heartburn, you might be aware that sitting up is a common way of ending the pain. However, maintaining an upright posture while sleeping is virtually impossible. So, how would you relieve yourself of the reflux? A wedge pillow will help you sleep in a raised position that prevents stomach acid from rising to the esophagus.

What should you look for in a wedge pillow?

Just like standard pillows, wedge pillows come in different sizes, colors, shapes, firmness, and foams. While this article is for informational purposes, you must seek medical advice to determine whether a wedge pillow is right for you to manage your condition. With that in mind, let’s look at what factors to consider when choosing a wedge pillow:


Averagely, wedge pillows measure 20-25 inches long by 20-25 inches wide though the incline may vary widely. When buying a wedge, consider the pillow size relative to your bed size. If you have a twin mattress, a smaller wedge pillow of 20 inches long and wide would fit better than a more oversized pillow built for king-size mattresses.

Level of firmness

A typical wedge pillow is made from solid foam that gives a medium-firm to a firm feel. The firmness is responsible for maintaining the shape of the pillow while supporting sleepers throughout the night. Firm pillows are preferred by back sleepers, while side sleepers prefer medium-firm wedge pillows that seem more comfortable.


The incline of a foam wedge pillow is measured either in degrees or inches. For instance, most pillows have an angle of 30-45 degrees, which is expressed as 6-12 inches in the other way. The incline you use is determined by the intended wedge pillow use. A low incline is the most suitable; for sleep apnea and acid reflux relief, a mid-level incline is used, while upright recliners should choose high incline pillows of 43-45 degrees.


Wedge pillows vary in weight according to the density of foam they are made of. Pillows made from a low-density type of foam are generally lighter and can quickly move from one place to another on the bed even when being used.


It is now basic knowledge that wedge pillows have a generally triangular shape. But not all pillows are similar. Some have contoured surfaces designed to fit specific body parts like the shoulder and reduce pressure on particular targets. On the other hand, some wedge pillows are flat on both sides.

Pressure relief ability

Wedge pillows have different abilities to relieve pressure depending on the foam used in their construction. Memory foam pillows can contour to the shape of the body, giving an unmatched pressure relief. Considering the foam and size are essential in ensuring your pillow provides maximum body relaxation on the intended parts.


Generally, wedge pillows will cost anything between $50-100. In most instances, price is a significant indicator of the overall quality of the pillow, with costlier items being made with more long-lasting materials.

Frequently Asked Questions on the use of Wedge Pillows

Should you use a regular pillow with a wedge pillow?

A wedge pillow is designed to be used alone. Attempts to pair it with a regular pillow will only make its use uncomfortable. Placing a standard pillow on the top or below a wedge pillow will make it unstable, which increases the likelihood of the sleeper rolling off the triangular orthopedic pillow.

Is it wrong to sleep on the stomach?

Sleeping on the stomach causes a forceful upward bowing of the spine that exerts excessive pressure on the back, leading to clenching muscles. Repeated stomach sleeping results in chronic pain around the back and the neck.

On this note, we advise you to avoid sleeping on the stomach as long as it is feasible. If you cannot assume any other sleeping position, ensure you rest on a stable flat surface such as a medium-firm mattress.

Bottom Line

Slight elevation of the upper body and the legs has tremendous effects on relieving symptoms of various health conditions, including obstructive sleep apnea and acid reflux.

The gentle slope of a bed wedge gives you maximum pressure relief on your back muscles and takes off the chronic lumbar pain.

A wedge seat cushion is the most affordable way of achieving comfortable resting positions and improving your circulation if you have blood flow or heart issues.