Sleeping with wedge pillow

Hi I have tried sleeping with s wedge pillow but I just slide down the bed and keep waking up with reflux/heartburn which irritates my throat so cough a lot too....I tried doing without the wedge using 3 pillows but with same problems  I always lay flat before my Ivor Lewis so do find sleeping elevated difficult has anyone got any advice please? 



28 Replies

  • I start off propped up with three pillows but slide down the bed while asleep, I don't think you can stop that, if I over do it with food and drink near bedtime I get a bile reflux in my sleep which is extremely unpleasant , so I think the answer is watch what you consume late in the day

  • I sleep with head of bed elevated about 6 inches as well as the wedge pillows. and a firm pillow at my feet  Also no late nite feeds  almost 7 years now Cheers 

  • I have a support pillow with a duvet folded in four over the top which provides a longer, softer incline with a soft pillow on top. I don't usually eat much later in the evening, but I will occasionally take a chewable Gaviscon if needed.

    Another thing you could try is a pillow wrapped in a sheet with the ends of the sheet tucked under the mattress, towards the end of the bed to stop your feet sliding down.

    This works for me and I can go for several months with no problems. The problems occur when I've eaten the wrong thing too late.

      Anything is worth a try sally



  • I like the tip from sally about a pillow secured by a sheet .And the folded duvet +pillow behind you to make a gentler incline .Plus I think you'd sink into the duvet rather than slide down as you do with a pillow .

    I used to put a pillow under each thigh to stop me slipping down .I currently have a fairly thin foam pillow that I sit on and this seems to help keep me from slipping down .

    I couldn't do it myself but it would be great to have a thread where we could all post pics of our pillow soloutions ! 

  • Thank you and it's a great idea to post pics it really would help me x

  •  Great idea thank you 

    I don't eat after 7pm and I am careful what I eat but I find that I also get rheartburn etc when I don't eat for long periods 

  • Is it possible to send pics? How do we do it? I've got the pics, but I don't know how to send them.

  • I'm not sure but I'm going to try send you a pic of my dog to see if it works lol 

  • I've tried but I can't attach the pics think you  have to send pics via email or text x

  • Get a free Dropbox account and copy a link to the photo here maybe!

  • Hi Margie

    Alternatively try raising the bed with blocks under the head end - also as others suggest no late meals or fluids

    good luck


  • Thank you I never thought about not having fluids ! I don't eat late but do have a coffee or tea before bed !! Oops 

  • Now you mention it , if I have a milky coffee late on it will cause reflux

  • My husband tried the wedge pillow but had the same problem.  He's really scared of reflux so eventually we threw money at it and bought an electric bed (zero VAT for medical need) which raises both head and foot end so that you don't slide down the bed. When we go away he sleeps on 3 pillows and another stuffed under the bottom sheet below the hips -  not so good as the electric bed but okay. 

  • I have an electric bed and find this is the only answer. I am almost 11years post op and still get some reflux but keep peppermints by the bed.

  • Hello there,

    I started off with wedge pillows and had the same problem I purchased a metal frame which fits at the head of the bed and is adjustable for height, this works a treat. As for slipping down the bed you need something under your bottom to stop the slip!

    I f you are wearing shiny smooth nightclothes they will slip. I find that apart from the pillows on my frame, I also have one pillow in my lumber region and another pillow underneath my knees. I know it sounds like a palava, but it does stop me from slipping down the bed. In the main it's a practice thing or trial and error, it took me quite a while to get it right for me.

    Anyway Good luck with it all

  • the backmax body wedge set has solved this problem for my husband. We ordered it from The 28inch model is more expensive but worth it for comfort. It is connected pillows that keeps you from slipping. He uses a regular pillow for his head. 

  • I have finally invested in an adjustable bed, fabulous,  but when I am away I have a pile of pillows forming a gentle incline and then another under my knees and ankles lengthways to stop me sliding down the bed, I have drinking yoghurt next to the bed which I find helps with reflux at night.  

  • Thank you I will try the pillows and the yogurt will make a change instead of Gaviscon lol

  • Have you tried putting a pillow under your knees? That might make you less likely to slip down the bed.

  • Am I the only person who slips diagonally off the pillows? I have a pillow under my bottom, which stops me sliding down the bed, but my head moves sideways and falls off the end of the pillows and I end up jammed diagonally in a corner, coughing and choking and very uncomfortable.

    So now I put pillows beside my head as well, and it seems to be working. I'll try to send pics, if my granddaughter will show me how.

  • Patchworker thank you I truly appreciate your advice and the photo's would be great if possible :) thank you and hope you are doing well


  • This is a copy of something I wrote three years ago -

    "It is alarming that only chris_usa has got a proper grasp of this VERY serious subject.

    As he says there are two issues -

    1) Acid "burning" feelings , plus bitter Bile--whilst nasty this has a protective effect in that generally it will wake you up before inhalation.

    2) Inhalation or just overflow into the lungs of any liquid whether or not the acid content has been reduced by Proton inhibitor, acid neutralizers, when you ate, what you ate or whatever.

    IE: You are in more danger if you don't feel and are warned by the discomfort.

    I am 22 years post Ivor Lewis Eosophago-gastrectomy.The problems we are all familiar with were in my case exacerbated by a simultaneous Cholecystectomy (removal of Gall Bladder )which meant that I had continuous free-flow of un-concentrated Bile. Four years ago, despite taking Omeprazole, I got Aspiration Pneumonia (AP) on a Friday and was listed in surgery for Pneumonectomy

    ( removal of Lung ) the following Monday.

    Fortunately a very conscientious Physio devoted Sat & Sunday to a 'Cystic Fibrosis' like regime of massage and exercises, the Lung was cleared and I avoided what would have also been my third Thoracotomy.

    More IL Post Ops die of AP than any other cause !

    Since that time I have slept on a slope. A brick is not high enough ,you should aim for about six (6) inches at the head legs. It is simple hydraulics, the Neck needs to be sufficiently elevated so that no amount of tossing and turning will result in discharge back up into the throat (and thence into the lungs).

    By the same token pillows are DANGEROUS. As noted above you slip down or sideways. But even worse, by bending the body at the waist they act to compress and kink the pulled-up Stomach Tube causing it's contents to block and/or flow the wrong way.

    It was not an accident that when born Nature had equipped each of us with three non-return valves - the Upper and Lower Esophageal and the Pyloric Sphincters. Most of us have lost or lost the use of all these three, hence our lungs are in real peril.

    Its 1000 PM and I am going to eat a Chicken Vindaloo with a generous glass of red wine secure in the knowledge that I will sleep soundly on my smoothly sloping platform. Tempting fate ? You bet ! "

  • Thank you for this I didn't know how serious it was no one at the hospital has told me anything about this ! 


  • I am 18 months post op. I have found similar problems with wedge pillows and currently am using two normal pillows and two big square pillows. Get soft pillows and find that it helps.

    However, I find that not eating two hours before bed or, if you have to have something some Icecream means there is less in my stomach.

    My Ivor lewis has left my stomach up very high on the right side of my torso, i find that lying on my right side with my head on at leat two pillows works for me.

    It does get better... I slept an average of 3.5 hours a night for the first 9 months.

  • I found sleeping propped up after IL really difficult as I used to sleep with just one pillow. I now sleep using 3 fattish pillows but I also have a largish  memory foam pillow which I place between bottom pillow and second pillow,  allowing this pillow to protrude out for half its breadth. I find that this supports my chest and gives a nice slope to the pile of pillows. I hope I have explained this for folks to understand.

    I am 6 months post IL and have found this site invaluable, thanks to all the posts helping me to know that my problems were "normal". 

    I  finished my post op chemo one month ago and I feel really well. Can't believe how poorly I was when came home after op, never thought that I would be well again.

    Just having to watch how much I eat at each meal, and getting to grips with some dumping syndrome issues.

    Good luck to everyone, just hang in there don't rush, just go with the flow and listen to your body, you will feel well again.


  • The wedge pillow is used at the time of pregnancy. It is good if you sleep on your side. It is beneficial to support the weight of your baby and pain of your tummy.

  • At home shortly after the operation I asked the district nurses about a back rest. The NHS supplied one within 48 hours. Adjustable, steel tube frame.

    There are several tricks.

    1. The bed must have a headboard otherwise the backrest will move.

    2. Put cloth or towelling around the backrest frame where it meets the headboard otherwise it will squeak when you move.

    3. Sleep on a large rough towel (whatever) where this is trapped under the headrest. This is for friction.

    4. Put a firm / robust pillow / cushion / roll, crossways *underneath* the towel so your bottom hits this if you start to slide. This is close to the backrest (which has pillow(s) on it). Since it is underneath it is resistant to being slide along.

    To some degree I can if I wish lie sideways and still not slide down significantly. Many of us were side or tummy sleepers, no longer safe. Curling up the legs is possible too.

    An electric bed... one day. Much the same thing, make a trough for your bum.

    All done with a double bed, missus is not disturbed.

    The above is not unique, no intent of taking away from other posters.

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