Oesophageal Patients Association
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Sleeping propped up ,getting comfortable,any tips ?

I thought I had this cracked but i had to replace a V shaped pillow and now it's all gone to pot !

I'm even getting a pressure sore on my left buttock .I I sleep sitting up as much as possible but slightly on my left hand side ,so that I can rest my head .Feels v uncomfortable to have my head positioned directly back ,stretches my throat .

What do others do ?

12 Replies

You must deal with the pressure sore straight away. They can be very difficult to shift. Try Sudacrem or E45 and do not hesitate to get the doctor's / nurse's advice

The local Mobility shop may have some ideas, but you can get mattress toppers to stop yourself slipping down the bed; an adjustable bed (try Ikea for a good price); and perhaps inflatable pillows to try and get comfortable. People do try bricks under the feet of the bed, pillow wedges, or pillows / blankets under the mattress to find the right angle to combat the reflux, but, as you know only too well, you have to find a way that does not exert so much pressure on the buttocks. Pillows under your knees might help (or if an adjustable bed, raising the section under the knees). Would having the bed against a wall help with resting your head more easily? Or another V-shaped pillow with a slightly different profile? A water mattress? Or putting an extra pillow to shift the angle of the mattress? Or a different bed head to support your head?

If you are positioning yourself awkwardly I am wondering whether a physiotherapist might help in some way?


Thanks Alan .Yes I'll be careful about my bottom - it's only very sore ,no skin broken .

Maybe a mattress topper might help . I think it's the slipping down ,I'll just have to keep trying


I've tried several ways, and devices to help me find a comfortable position and am currently using an adjustable back rest plus 2 memory foam pillows and three feather pillows. Initially I was trying to sleep in a upright postition and like you was feeling the pressure, I was also sliding down during the night and getting reflux but it was affecting my posture as well because my head seemed to slump forward as I slid down and I'd wake up with neck and shoulders aching. I now sleep in a more reclined position - the back rest is on a lower setting with the very firm memory foam pillows on top and the feather pillows on top of them. It's difficult to describe the 'arrangement' but basically the incline begins at the base of my spine but I lay back instead of trying to remain upright so I don't slide, or slump. The backrest cost about £30, and I think I bought it from Easycare.

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Yes that makes sense - more of a recline than upright =less pressure on bottom !

I've been thinking of getting a backrest like you describe .I actually picked one up in a charity shop ( hooray) but I got it for sleeping in a tent and it's down in Devon with my camping stuff .

And memory foam + feather pillows sounds good . I've got an awful lot of pillows on my bed but it's just not working .

Thanks for your post .It is hard to describe isn't it ,but helps to explore options I think .

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Hi there,

I think there are an awful lot of us who have suffered this same problem.

I too purchased the metal frame arrangement which is brilliant, but what I added after a fair degree of sore bottom and slipping down the bed etc was one of those pump up rings.

My arrangement is five pillows on the metal frame, two deep one above the other horizontally and a third single pillow in the lumber position. Directly below the lumber position I have the inflatable ring underneath my bottom and I have a further firm pillow which I position under my knees and this stops me from sliding down the bed. Since I adopted this sleeping position night time reflux and aspiration has become a thing of the past.

I purchased my frame on the internet for £15 which I think was a bargain for the improved sleep I get.

One other thing I think the pillows need to be firm Good luck I hope you can sort it out to suit you



I have found a duvet folded in four over a support pillow, and a pillow on top, provides a softer incline to sleep on.

Cavilan cream, prescribed by G.P. seems to be the current cream for treating broken skin. A sheepskin can also be a help. Good luck sally

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Great suggestions here ,thanks so much .

Can I ask if the inflatable ring is like a Polo miny with hole in the middle .Guess it must be ,am suffereing from some dreadful lurgy ( must be at least swine flu ! ) and can't think .V many thanks for suggestions - all welcome .

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It would be good to have professional input into this ,really about how to avoid pressure on the bottom .What the principles are - I presume spreading weight so it's not all concentrated on a small area.

I have a vague idea that Polo type rings have fallen out of favour


Suggest you contact your local occupational health team who have access to the supports to put on beds to relieve pressure areas. Usually these are mattresses that

are blown up with air to take away the pressure of lying on an area for too long, reducing the blood supply. The old "polo type" cushion can be very uncomfortable. They are usually at the hospital and could give you up to date advice.

Just a thought from a professional who retired from nursing many years ago.

good luck sally


My husband had a foam bed wedge which avoided having loads of pillows on the bed, but he kept on slipping down during the night. We eventually got an adjustable bed which has helped a lot, because he can raise his knees as well as his head. If you can't get an adjustable bed, you probably do need a pillow under your knees. We were told by district nurses that the polo type cushion is out of favour for sitting on chairs, so the same might apply for use in bed. I agree you should approach your GP about this problem and get some help from community nurses etc. Best wishes


I have an old memory foam mattress topper folded several times and put into a pillow case. I put this under my thighs, the tops of my legs, and it takes some of the pressure off my bottom. It also stops me from sliding down the bed.


I need the upper part of me raised for reflux and the legs also raised for vein issues so after trying everything i just started sleeping in a recliner chair. Just moved my regular old lazy boy from the living room to the bedroom and pushed it next to the bed my husband sleeps in. We are still right next to one another so that is nice. I use a bone shaped neck pillow for a bit of neck support. It's way more comfortable that trying to sleep in a bed with several medical gadgets and cheaper too.


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