These high-tech head rests promise to help your condition. So what do our experts say? 


Pillows with health benefits? Whether they claim to ease tinnitus or stop you from snoring, Adrian Monti asked experts to look at a selection. We then rated them. 

Snoring

PosiForm Anti-Snoring Pillow

£79.95, somnishop.co.uk

Claim: The ‘innovative design’ has a central ridge and ear recess to encourage the sleeper to keep their head turned to one side and so, the maker says, end snoring caused by sleeping on your back.

Expert verdict: Dr Ari Manuel, a respiratory, sleep and ventilation consultant at Spire Liverpool Hospital, says: ‘When you sleep on your back, your tongue can fall back, narrowing the airway and triggering a snoring sound.

‘A study at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London is looking into how wearing a vibrating device on the back of the neck will stop people with obstructive sleep apnoea [where breathing stops momentarily while asleep] from lying on their backs.

‘This pillow tries to achieve the same and might work for some.

‘I usually advise something much cheaper: sleep with a tennis ball behind the back, so if you roll on to it, you will return to your side. If sleeping on your side isn’t helping, do see a doctor because sleep apnoea can be life-threatening.’

6/10

PosiForm Anti-Snoring Pillow

Acid reflux

Anti-slip Zero Gravity Acid Reflux Bed Wedge

£188.17, putnams.co.uk

Claim: This is made up of three adjustable foam wedges (attached by Velcro). They support the back, knees and provide foot support. The maker says it can help with a range of conditions including acid reflux, back pain or recovery after surgery.

Expert verdict: Peter Whorwell, a professor of medicine and gastroenterology at the University Hospital of South Manchester, says: ‘Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach is not stopped by the sphincter valve and instead moves up the oesophagus, causing a burning sensation in the middle of the chest.

‘Heartburn can feel worse when lying down, and so I tell my patients to use pillows to prop themselves up.

‘This wedge would be more effective and could also mean you need less medication, which can help avoid side-effects. Another, cheaper, solution is to tilt the bed using blocks.’

Tim Allardyce, a physiotherapist at Surrey Physio, adds: ‘Some people with back pain do benefit from sleeping on their back with their knees bent but most find sleeping on their side better.’

7/10

Anti-slip Zero Gravity Acid Reflux Bed Wedge

Anti-slip Zero Gravity Acid Reflux Bed Wedge

Ageing

Sleep & Glow Omnia Pillow, £129, sleepandglow.co.uk

Claim: This memory foam pillow has indented sections designed to prevent your cheeks from touching it when sleeping on your side and so helps ‘fight sleep wrinkles’ by minimising ‘skin creasing and compression’.

Expert verdict: Dr Derrick Phillips, a consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, London, says: ‘Wrinkles are a major sign of ageing and, while mostly genetic, they can also be caused by distortion from resting your cheek on a pillow at night.

‘Young people’s skin is more elastic, so any creases will disappear in the morning. But in older people the skin is stiffer and the creases do not fade as easily and eventually become permanent wrinkles.

‘In theory, this pillow could work because it reduces the surface area of skin touching the pillow, but there is no data comparing it with a normal one.

‘Also, the creases caused by pillows are only one small factor behind wrinkles. Sun exposure is far more important.’

5/10

Sleep & Glow Omnia Pillow

Sleep & Glow Omnia Pillow

Sports injuries

Kally Sports Recovery Pillow

£54.99, kallysleep.com

Kally Sports Recovery Pillow

Kally Sports Recovery Pillow

Claim: A ‘full-length orthopaedic sport pillow’ designed to ‘align your head, neck and spine’. By encouraging side-sleeping, it ‘reduces pressure on key joints to reduce pain or discomfort, while speeding up muscle recovery’, says the maker.

Expert verdict: Tim Allardyce says: ‘The top of this pillow rests under your head and neck, while your arm hugs its middle, like a teddy bear, and its lower part fits snugly between your knees.

‘It does sound comfortable but there are no direct benefits to the spine that I can see of cuddling a large pillow.

‘Some therapists believe that having support between your knees can be useful for back or hip pain, but the jury is still out on this.

‘Of course, good sleep is important for all aspects of health and recovery of tired muscles — but suggesting that this pillow aids recovery is slightly pushing it.’

3/10

Sleep problems

Somnox Sleep Robot

£499, shop.somnox.com

Somnox Sleep Robot

Somnox Sleep Robot 

Claim: A ‘breathing’ bean-shaped pillow, this uses sensors to detect your breathing rate when cuddled. It then creates a pulsing rhythm to slow down your breathing. According to the maker, when 24 people used it for one month, 71 per cent saw their sleep improve.

Expert verdict: ‘This is an interesting device which I think works on the idea of how we respond to touch,’ says Dr Manuel. 

‘Cuddling it will feel nice and give some people a comforting sensation to help them sleep — perhaps by boosting levels of the “sleep hormone” melatonin.

‘Slower breathing alone, however, does not send someone to sleep. It may make muscles more relaxed, but a darkened room, reduced noise and a good temperature will all help.

‘This does seem very expensive and hugging something which feels nice to touch — such as a cuddly toy — might be worth trying first.’

5/10

Back pain

HoMedics rechargeable shiatsu pillow

£69.99, boots.com

Claim: Inspired by the Japanese massage technique shiatsu, this pillow contains two ‘nodes’ that work together to recreate this technique and has a ‘soothing heat option’.

The maker says the massaging device can be used anywhere on the body to relieve ‘tight knots’, ‘aching muscles’ and ‘loosen stiff tendons’.

Expert verdict: ‘This pillow can be placed under your neck, lower back or your legs,’ says Tim Allardyce. ‘Massage pillows are good for general relaxation as the gentle mechanical massage will make aches and pains feel a bit better. And heat can be beneficial for reducing pain.

‘But it will not feel like a conventional hands-on sports massage and I don’t think it will loosen stiff tendons either.

‘On the plus side, this will not cause any damage and so is worth a try.’

5/10

HoMedics rechargeable shiatsu pillow

HoMedics rechargeable shiatsu pillow

Tinnitus 

Sound Pillow

£32.99, puretone.net

Claim: This ‘looks and feels like a normal pillow but with undetectable built-in speakers’. These are used to play music discreetly to ease tinnitus — ringing or other noises in the ears.

Expert verdict: Kate Collet-Fenson, an audiologist at Aston Hearing in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, says: ‘Tinnitus is often worse at night because there are fewer environmental sounds to distract from it; once asleep, tinnitus is no longer a problem.

‘This pillow is helpful because it provides a distraction, and that can be enough to help someone with tinnitus fall asleep. It’s a clever concept and, although it will not cure tinnitus, it will make it more bearable. I would recommend it.’

9/10

Sound Pillow

Sound Pillow

Post-op recovery

Arthr U-Shaped Support Pillow, £54.99, shop.arthr.com

Claim: The maker of this U-shaped firm support pillow says it’s ‘ergonomically designed and can be used instead of a standard pillow’ for post-operative comfort or general relaxation.

Expert verdict: Tim Allardyce says: ‘This is a large, fairly flexible pillow which could help if you’re recovering from hip, knee or shoulder surgery by positioning it to help keep you sleeping on your “good” side.

‘It might also encourage you to stay on your side if you snore, and it would also help prop you up in bed if you were ill.

‘The unusual shape might help some with back pain find a comfortable position, but it would not work for everyone.’ 

6/10

Arthr U-Shaped Support Pillow

Arthr U-Shaped Support Pillow

…And a cooling pad for hot flushes

Moona Smart Cooling Pillow Pad

£290.05, en.getmoona.com

Claim: A clock radio-sized device, this is connected to a water-filled pad that slips inside your pillowcase. You use an app to select the desired temperature to give you ‘the sleep you deserve’. The maker’s research shows women aged 45-plus get 38 minutes more sleep a night when using this pad.

Expert verdict: ‘Up to 60 per cent of women who are going through or have been through the menopause have their sleep disturbed by hot flushes and night sweats,’ says Dr Ari Manuel, a respiratory, sleep and ventilation consultant at Spire Liverpool Hospital. ‘But what actually causes these is still little understood.

‘I’m not sure this device would help as, although it might make the pillow cold, it probably is not cold enough to lower the entire body’s core temperature and cool the body as a whole. If anything, a cold pillow could stop you from sleeping.

‘You could try having a warm shower before bed as this, counterintuitively, lowers the body temperature; and open the bedroom window slightly to keep the room cool as you sleep.’ 

2/10

Moona Smart Cooling Pillow Pad

Moona Smart Cooling Pillow Pad

 

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