Many of us have experienced a bout of acid reflux at one time or another. That burning sensation in your throat can happen while lying down after having a big meal. Some factors, like being pregnant or taking certain medications, may make you more likely to experience chronic acid reflux.
Frequent acid reflux can make it tough to sleep comfortably. Additionally, your usual pillow might make your reflux worse. Lifestyle moves, like elevating your head while sleeping, can help you better manage symptoms.
Some companies sell wedge-style pillows specifically designed to elevate the head and help minimize the uncomfortable symptoms of acid reflux. But are they comfortable and worth the high price tag?
Below, we’ll look at one particular brand of acid reflux pillow called MedCline. The MedCline Reflux Relief System claims to help with multiple symptoms of acid reflux, including heartburn, coughing, and nausea.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the pros and cons of the MedCline pillow.
- Wedge shape helps elevate the head. The inclined pillow prevents esophageal reflux by keeping the head in a more upright position.
- Built-in body pillow. For added comfort, the system also features a body pillow that helps raise the head and supports the rest of the body.
- Soft exterior. The pillow features a velour-style cover for added comfort.
- Supportive. The reasonably firm wedge is ideal for side sleepers.
- Price. Expect to pay over $200 for the MedCline sleep system — way more than you’d pay for a run-of-the-mill bed pillow.
- Not for stomach or back sleepers. If you sleep on your stomach or back, you might find the MedCline too supportive for your needs.
The MedCline Reflux Relief System is a wedge pillow with a built-in body pillow. It elevates the head to prevent symptoms of acid reflux and is available in three sizes.
The MedCline contains four types of CertiPUR-US memory foam, including gel-infused foam. Once you unpack it, you may need to air it out for a few days to get rid of off-gassing odors and allow the materials to decompress.
The wedge portion is firm and supportive while the body pillow contains an adjustable fill. Each pillow has a removable, washable cover.
So, what will all this set you back? Pricing varies depending on where you buy from, but you can expect to spend around $250, a mighty high price tag in the world of pillows.
The MedCline Reflux Relief System’s design is pretty specific to side sleepers. The body pillow and arm crook accommodate left or right side sleepers.
You can sleep on your stomach with this pillow, but it might take some adjustment to find a comfortable position.
You technically don’t have to sleep with the body pillow since it detaches from the wedge portion. But, if you want a wedge-only pillow, you’re better off buying a separate pillow instead of a system like the MedCline to save some cash.
The MedCline Reflux Relief System has a few different uses.
The pillow’s main purpose is to help with nighttime acid reflux. By elevating your head, the pillow helps prevent stomach acids from flowing back up into the esophagus and causing symptoms like heartburn.
Should stomach acid escape, gravity is able to return it to your stomach quicker than when on your right side or on your back which is why the left is usually the best side to sleep on to avoid acid reflux.
You could technically stack pillows on top of each other to raise your head, but they’re likely to slip around during the night. A wedge shape provides an incline that won’t shift while you sleep. It’s also gentler on your neck and spine than pillows stacked on top of one another.
MedCline also says that the pillow is helpful for people who snore. This is because the pillow encourages sleepers to stay on their side. Sleeping on your back may make you more likely to snore.
Obstructive sleep apnea
According to a few small clinical trials, the MedCline Reflux Relief System significantly reduces nighttime reflux symptoms. The studies were primarily conducted on middle-aged and older adults, with one study exclusively including pregnant people.
You can find a list of MedCline trials here. Though the MedCline shopping page says their claims are backed by seven trials, results from only five are posted on the results page.
Beyond the research, comfort is another ballgame entirely. Even the priciest, fanciest pillow can feel uncomfortable to some people. What works for you depends on your personal taste along with your sleep style.
Given that, it makes sense that customer reviews for the MedCline Reflux Relief System are mixed.
Unsurprisingly, many side sleepers find the pillow quite comfortable. They also say that it helped them with acid reflux symptoms and snoring.
However, even customers with positive things to say caution that the pillow takes up a lot of room. It’s also not ideal for people who toss and turn. Once you’ve found a comfy fit, it can be tough to switch positions. Some customers suggest that people might have better luck if they use the pillow with a softer mattress.
Most people who gave the pillow a negative review had issues with comfort. Some complaints include that the:
- pillow was too elevated despite choosing the correct size
- armhole positioning doesn’t feel natural
- design causes arms to fall asleep
Some people also note that the pillow is very expensive. Several unhappy customers conclude that the pillow is not worth the high price tag.
If you buy directly from MedCline, expect your order to ship via UPS within 1 to 2 business days.
MedCline doesn’t accept returns on opened, decompressed pillows. There’s no trial period, so do your research before ordering. If you know someone who uses a MedCline pillow, you may want to try it out to see if the design works for you before you buy one.
You can return pillows if they’re sealed, but you’ll have to pay a $25 restocking fee. MedCline also has a team available to help people who are having issues getting adjusted to the pillow.
The pillow comes with a limited 1-year warranty. Details are available on the MedCline website.
MedCline, also called Amenity Health, has been around for 10 years. The San Diego-based business has a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of F.
In January 2021, BBB requested that MedCline discontinue or change their advertisement claiming a “100-night relief guarantee.” Some customers complained that when contacting the company to return the pillow after a trial period of 100 nights, they were told that no such guarantee exists.
According to the BBB, as of February 2021, MedCline has still not responded to the request.
Additionally, some customers who filed complaints on the BBB website say it’s impossible to reach customer service. People also complain of significant shipping delays.
If acid reflux keeps you up at night and causes you to lose sleep, a wedge pillow, like the one from MedCline, might help relieve irritating symptoms.
Due to gravity, stomach shape, and the angle of the connection between your stomach and esophagus, sleeping on your left side canalso reduce reflux.
However, the MedCline pillow might not work for you if you’re a back, stomach, or combo sleeper.
While clinical trials suggest the incline pillow provides relief for acid reflux, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find it comfortable.
Because MedCline doesn’t accept returns for opened products, make sure to weigh the pros and cons before spending your hard-earned money.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.