Growing market of specialty pillows

Published On: Nov 13 2012 06:56:09 AM EST   Updated On: Nov 13 2012 10:40:00 PM EST

Matthew Hall doesn't do it on purpose.  He doesn't even realize it's happening.  He snores and when he starts, his wife is sure to let him know it.

"When I get swatted I know that, uh, it's time to roll over," said Hall.

Now there's a growing market of specialty pillows to help people like Hall.

"Minimizing snoring or minimizing sleep apnea, pillows. Pillows that can supposedly provide better support for the neck for people who have things like neck strain," said Dr. Clete Kushida, a neurologist and sleep specialist.

The SONA pillow is designed to keep sleepers on their side.  It's contoured design claims to cradle the head to create optimal breathing alignment.  It promises to cut down on snoring and mild sleep apnea are FDA cleared.  We asked Kushida if this kind of technology could actually work.

“Pillows that kind of, you know, force a person to sleep on their side might provide some benefit,” said Kushida.

A model by Brookstone promotes a built-in support system to cradle your head and neck, promising to keep your chin out and airway open.  Hall put this one to the test for two weeks.

“Putting the head and neck in a CPR type position could help open up the airway to a degree,” said Kushida.

Both the SONA and Brookstone tout clinical tests to back up their claims, but Kushida points out, "Take it with a grain of salt because a lot of those studies are based on just a few patients.”

Another specialty pillow on the market is the Halsa pillow that uses more than 2,000 plastic spikes to apply acupressure, giving you a head message designed to help you relax.  Study results are pending on this pillow. 

Our sleep specialist says it's a matter of preference no matter which pillow you pick.  But he says if you have serious sleep issues, don't pin your hopes to a pillow.

“For a person that has a serious sleep disorder or medical disorder there are certainly a lot of different treatments that are more accepted,” said Kushida.

Hall's snoring didn't stop with the pillow he tested, though his wife did say it wasn't as loud as it was in the past.  So Hall's search for the perfect pillow continues.

“I’m willing to try something that would help,” he said.

When Brookstone was told the pillow didn't work for Hall, the company sent this statement:

The Brookstone Anti-Snore pillow was clinically tested and designed to help reduce snoring. The built-in support system positions the neck and jaw to help keep the airway more open. This design helps users sleep more comfortably while helping to reduce snoring.

There aren't just specialty pillows.  There are also specialty pillowcases that promise to do everything from cut down on allergies to reducing wrinkles.


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