Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by frequent pauses in breathing during sleep. Three types of sleep apnea exist: central, obstructive and mixed. Obstructive is the most common, resulting from over-relaxation of throat muscles, causing the windpipe to collapse and block the airway. Treatments for sleep apnea range from simple lifestyle changes to surgery. One of the most common non-invasive treatments is the sleep apnea pillow.
A sleep apnea pillow is a pillow that is designed for snorers, since snoring is one of the most common indicators of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea pillows are designed to support the neck, to prevent patients from rolling onto their backs (where snoring and sleep apnea can worsen), to cradle the head, to elongate the neck and keep the tongue from blocking the airway, and to assist side sleepers by relieving pressure on shoulders and arms.
Several different manufacturers claim their sleep apnea pillows achieve the above objectives, but SONA pillow is the only sleep apnea pillow approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an over-the counter treatment.
The SONA sleep apnea pillow at first looks rather odd. A two-layered triangle instead of a solid rectangle, this sleep apnea pillow resembles a padded boomerang more than a pillow. The angular design, though, is what makes this pillow helpful in treating sleep apnea. The shape is intended to maintain sleep in the side position. Two inclined surfaces make up the primary sleeping surface, with a flatter lower surface in the center.
Each lower part of the triangle of the sleep apnea pillow has a training arm sling. To properly use the pillow lie on either side, extend your arm in the open space under the pillow. Your arm should be kept extended while sleeping and the head should be maintained on the same side as the extended hand.
Initially, you may use the training arm sling to maintain this position by placing the arm in the space between the pillow and the sling. For additional sleep compliance, you can use a body pillow to hug over, or to put between the legs to help maintain the side sleeping position. Using the sleep apnea pillow in this manner allows the jaw to be pulled forward, preventing the tongue from falling backward and obstructing the throat.
Certain portions of the populations are not candidates for the SONA sleep apnea pillow. People with severe sleep apnea do not benefit from using the SONA sleep apnea pillow as a solo therapy. Obese individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 will not get the snoring relief obtained by thinner members of the population.
The SONA sleep apnea pillow, like all pillows, undergoes normal wear and tear, and should be periodically fluffed. The makers of SONA pillow also recommend replacing the sleep apnea pillow annually.
Before purchasing the SONA sleep apnea pillow, or any sleep apnea pillow, consult your physician.
SONA Pillow is a registered trademark of Sleep Devices, Inc.