Sleeping with your body elevated from the waist up can reduce symptoms of sleep apnea, heartburn and sinus congestion. Making this lifestyle change might also endear you to your partner -- sleeping in an elevated position can reduce snoring. Back wedges, also called sleep wedges or bed wedges, create a firm, angled surface for you to sleep on. Just lie back on the wedge, with the tapered point positioned just above your hips.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Under the Mattress
A Mayo Clinic website article about heartburn and home remedies recommends elevating the head of your bed 1. If you can't elevate the head of the bed frame itself, slide a sleeping wedge between your box spring and mattress. Place the long, straight side of the wedge flat on the bed. The short, straight side goes flush against the headboard or wall; this keeps the wedge from shifting. If you have a large mattress, you'll need at least two wedges to fully support it.
- A Mayo Clinic website article about heartburn and home remedies recommends elevating the head of your bed 1.
- If you can't elevate the head of the bed frame itself, slide a sleeping wedge between your box spring and mattress.
Over the Mattress
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If you want to use your back wedge only occasionally or if you have a partner that's not willing to sleep in an inclined bed, place the wedge on top of the mattress instead. As before, the short, flat side of the wedge goes flush against the headboard. If you feel like you might slide off the wedge, look for a wedge with a nonslip surface on both the long flat side and the long angled side. Some back wedges even come with a full-body nonslip mat to keep you from slipping around in bed.
- If you want to use your back wedge only occasionally or if you have a partner that's not willing to sleep in an inclined bed, place the wedge on top of the mattress instead.
- If you feel like you might slide off the wedge, look for a wedge with a nonslip surface on both the long flat side and the long angled side.
You can also use a back wedge to elevate your legs as you sleep. Situate the short, flat side of the wedge facing away from you, then rest your legs on the ramp the wedge creates. Never place the wedge with its short end toward you, directly behind your knees; this can impede your leg circulation, defeating the purpose of elevating your legs in the first place.
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- MayoClinic.com: Heartburn: Lifestyle and Home Remedies
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Sleep Apnea
- Khan BA, Sodhi JS, Zargar SA, et al. Effect of bed head elevation during sleep in symptomatic patients of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012;27(6):1078‐1082. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1746.2011.06968.x
- Zhu K, Bradley TD, Patel M, et al. Influence of head position on obstructive sleep apnea severity. Sleep Breath. 2017 Dec;21(4):821-828. doi:10.1007/s11325-017-1525-2
- National Sleep Foundation: Sleep.org. How to prevent snoring.
- Lazzaro EC, Mallick A, Singh M, et al. The effect of positional changes on intraocular pressure during sleep in patients with and without glaucoma. J Glaucoma. 2014;23(5):282‐287. doi:10.1097/01.ijg.0000435848.90957.fe
Lisa Maloney is a travel and outdoors writer based in Anchorage, Alaska. She's written four outdoors and travel guidebooks, including the award-winning "Moon Alaska," and regularly contributes to local and national publications. She also has a background in personal training, with more than 6,000 hours of hands-on experience.