Is Sleeping Without A Pillow Good Or Bad For You?

Published Categorized as Pillows, Bedding

Some people claim that “sleeping without a pillow changed my life!” Is it possible to sleep more comfortably without a pillow? In this article, you’ll discover the pros and cons.

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There are various types of pillows on the market that promise a better night’s sleep. 

The main reason why we sleep on a pillow is to support the head and neck to keep the neck and back aligned.

A neutral spine means good posture, which leads to fewer aches and pains.

Sleeping without a pillow may be beneficial for stomach sleepers, but it is not recommended for everyone. If you’ve tried various pillows but are still experiencing back or neck pain, sleeping without a pillow might be for you. Remember to consult your doctor before you decide to sleep without a pillow.

It may be better for your health to sleep with a pillow under your head if you suffer from chronic back or neck pain, IBS, acid reflux or sleep apnea.  

sleeping without a pillow

Although sleeping without a pillow has some key benefits, there are also some important drawbacks you need to consider.

Below we discuss some of the benefits of sleeping without a pillow, and some of the disadvantages.

Benefits of Sleeping Without A Pillow

The main potential benefits of sleeping without a pillow are:

Prevents Neck & Back Pain

Sleeping without a pillow can be beneficial if you sleep on your stomach. This is because your head can rest directly on the mattress and still maintain a natural curve in your spine. 

neck pain

Improves Posture

You can get a permanent curve in your neck if you sleep on a thick pillow, affecting your posture. So if you sleep without a pillow, you might be able to improve your posture.

Alleviates Insomnia

If sleeping without a pillow alleviates pain in your back or neck, you will get a better night’s sleep, helping insomnia.

Alleviates Stress

When your back and neck are aligned, you will sleep better, giving your body time to heal and recover. This will lead to better mood, lower stress, and increased productivity. Read more about the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

stress

Prevents Acne

When you press your face on a pillow all night long, then your pillowcase will accumulate dirt over time. This means that your pillow will transfer oil, dirt, and bacteria to your skin. The dirt can clog pores and bacteria can cause acne. 

Prevents Wrinkles

Pillows can compress skin during sleep, especially for people who sleep on their stomachs or their sides. The resulting sleep wrinkles can lead to visible aging signs over time.

Below are some of the common sleep wrinkles caused by sleeping on a pillow:

Reduces Allergies

If you have dust allergies, then sleeping on a pillow with dust mites can worsen the allergy. If you sleep without a pillow then this might lead to a reduction in allergy symptoms.

Reduces Headaches

Neck pain and tension are often associated with headaches. The base of the neck contains a group of muscles called suboccipital muscles. These muscles can become tense while sleeping due to poor alignment, resulting in tension headaches. Sleeping without a pillow might help you avoid these symptoms and wake up feeling fresh.

headaches

Improves Hair Health

Although there is no research to support this, some believe that pillows can damage your hair. The theory is that pillowcases, specifically those made of cotton, cause more friction and absorb oils that protect your hair. If you feel your pillow is causing dry and frizzy hair, then you might want to try sleeping on a silk pillowcase or without a pillow at all.

Disadvantages Of Sleeping Without Pillow

Those who sleep on their stomachs may find that sleeping without a pillow is beneficial, but it is not ideal for everyone.

Sleeping without a pillow can put pressure on your neck if you sleep on your side or back. As a result, you may suffer from neck and back pain and poor sleep quality.

Sleeping Without A Pillow Can Result In Poor Posture

Pillows were designed to align your spine, and by not using one, you’re missing out on their benefits. So sleeping without a pillow is generally not recommended for good posture. 

However, sleeping on a very thin pillow or with no pillow is advised for stomach sleepers.

It is important to note that sleeping on your stomach is considered unhealthy for spine alignment because you need to turn your head. This forces your head and neck to twist to one side, which means your spine may be out of alignment.

If you must sleep on your stomach, try putting a pillow under your pelvis and stomach instead. By doing this, you’ll raise your midsection so it’s more aligned with your head. By placing your spine in a neutral position, you can alleviate pressure on your neck. 

Remember to sleep with a pillow if you’re a back or side sleeper to keep your spine neutral and avoid straining your joints and muscles.

Sleeping Without A Pillow Can Cause Neck Pain

Sleeping without a pillow does not fix the negatives of sleeping on your stomach.

Remember that sleeping on your stomach is considered unhealthy for spine alignment because you need to turn your head. 

If you’re a stomach sleeper, then sleeping without a pillow can help your neck stay in a more neutral position, but you’ll still need to turn your head. This can throw off your spine alignment and cause neck pain. 

If you sleep on your side or back without a pillow, then you’ll overextend your neck. If your neck stays in this position all night, then you’re very likely to wake up with neck pain, stiffness, or a headache.

Pillow Or No Pillow – A Doctor’s Perspective

In the video below, Dr. Mandell discusses this controversial topic:

Tips For Sleeping Without a Pillow

If you’re unsure about sleeping without a pillow, then remember to consult your doctor first.

Sleeping without a pillow will take some getting used to, especially if you’ve slept with a pillow your whole life. 

Below are some tips that might make the transition to sleeping without a pillow a bit easier: 

Start Slowly

Start sleeping on a folded towel or blanket first. This will allow you to adjust the height over time and will give your body time to adjust.

Another option you can try is the neck pillow below. It has a zipper so that you can easily remove filling to adjust the height over time:

Best Adjustable Neck Pillow
Buckwheat Cylinder Neck Pillow

  • The cylindrical shape easily contours around your neck and shoulders.
  • You can adjust the loft of your pillow by removing or adding hulls.
  • Hull filled pillows are renowned for their FIRM and supportive properties.
  • Air circulates easily through the pillow.

Use Pillows For Body Support

If you are a stomach sleeper, try putting a thin pillow below under your hips or stomach. 

The pillow below is made specifically for stomach sleepers:

Best Thin Memory Foam Pillow
BLISSBURY Thin 2.6" Stomach Sleeping Memory Foam Pillow. Slim, Flat, Cooling Sleep for Belly or Back with Soft Bamboo Washable Cover, Neck and Head Support for Men and Women Bedding Accessories

These slim pillows reduce strain on the neck and back, soothing pain and stiffness. The moldable memory foam cradles your head, providing stability, and can help with breathing and snoring.

If you are a back sleeper, try putting a pillow under your neck, back, or knees.

The pillow below is perfect for use under knees:

Best Multi-functional Pillow
Everlasting Comfort Bolster Pillow for Legs and Back - Pure Memory Foam Half Moon Sleeping Pillow

Multifunctional Design makes this pillow usable as an under knee pillow, half moon neck pillow, leg pillow for lower back pain, and lower back pillow for sleeping.

The half moon shape mimics the natural curve of your neck, back, knees, and legs to provide ideal support and pressure relief to these areas.

If you are a side sleeper, try putting a pillow between your knees.

The pillow below is perfect for use between or under knees:

Best Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow for Sleeping - Hip, Lower Back, and Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief

  • Adapts to Your Body for a Customized Fit
  • Prevents Knee Clashing and Discomfort
  • Pressure Relief for Your Lower Body
  • No Longer Wake with Back Pain

The support pillow below is great for various applications:

Best Support Pillow
Gentle Living | Adjustable Lumbar Support Pillow with Memory Foam | Lumbar Support Pillow for Bed, Lumbar Pillow for Sleeping, Bed Lumbar Support Pillow for Sleeping, Lower Back Pillow for Sleeping

This pillow is designed to provide you relief as quickly as possible:

  • Sleeping on your side
  • Sleeping on your back
  • Sleeping on your stomach
  • Back support at work
  • Support behind your legs

When you use a pillow for body support it’ll raise the lower parts of your body to keep your spine straighter and more neutrally aligned.

Try A Bed Wedge

If you’ve tried everything but still experience morning discomfort, you might need to sleep at an incline

You can try a bed wedge pillow like the one below:

Best Wedge Pillow
Bed Wedge Pillow - Adjustable 9&12 Inch Folding Memory Foam Incline Cushion System for Legs and Back Support Pillow - Acid Reflux, Anti Snoring, Heartburn, Reading – Machine Washable

This pillow features a foldable design which can support usage for the head, back, or as the perfect leg wedge pillow. A wedge pillow increases blood flow, promotes breathing, reduces snoring and heartburn. Can reduce the effects of knee pain, back pain, varicose veins, and edema.

Some folks prefer to sleep in a recliner chair or on an adjustable bed to maintain healthy spine support. Don’t worry, you’ll adjust to the slant over time.

Choose A Good Mattress

A good mattress will provide the best support to your body, neck and head when sleeping without a pillow. If your mattress is too soft, it’ll allow your body to sag, resulting in poor sleep posture.

Getting quality sleep might not be a problem with your pillow, but with your mattress. If you have an old mattress, it is advisable to shop for a new one every 5-10 years. 

The mattress below is extremely popular due to its comfortable design:

Best Pressure Relieving Mattress
Zinus 12 Inch Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress / CertiPUR-US Certified / Bed-in-a-Box / Pressure Relieving, Queen

  • 3 inches plush & conforming memory foam
  • 2 inches soft airflow enhancing comfort foam
  • 7 inches durable, high density base support foam
  • Extra comfort under areas that need it most, like the shoulders, hips and knees

Monitor Progress

If you continue to wake up with aches and pains, then sleeping without a pillow may not be the best option for you.

Sleeping Without a Pillow FAQs

Is sleeping without a pillow good for side sleepers?

Side sleepers should not sleep without a pillow but rather with a higher, thicker pillow to fill the space between their neck and shoulders. The pillow should be just thick enough to hold their head and neck level while easing pressure on the shoulders. A second, thinner pillow tucked between the knees can help to keep your spine in neutral alignment and may ease back pain.

Is sleeping without a pillow good for back sleepers?

Back sleepers should not sleep without a pillow but rather a medium-high pillow that will support the head and neck. While sleeping on your back is considered the healthiest sleeping position; too much elevation in this position can cause strain on the neck.

Is sleeping without a pillow good for stomach sleepers?

Stomach sleepers can sleep without a pillow because their head can rest directly on the mattress and still maintain a natural curve in their spine. However, when you sleep on your stomach, your head is turned to the side. Due to the risk of neck strain, sleeping on your stomach should be avoided, if possible.

Does sleeping without a pillow increase height?

Sleeping without a pillow can increase your height if you are a stomach sleeper. Stomach sleepers generally have poor posture due to unhealthy spine alignment while sleeping with an overextended neck and spine. When you correct your posture then you can gain up to 1.5 inches in height.

Can sleeping without a pillow improve posture?

Stomach sleepers generally have poor posture due to a lack of proper spinal alignment when lying on their stomach. So sleeping without a pillow can improve your posture if you are a stomach sleeper. However, sleeping on your back with a pillow is the best option for correct spine alignment and posture.

Is sleeping without a pillow good for hair growth?

Sleeping without a pillow may be good for hair growth because cotton pillowcases can cause more friction and absorb oils that protect your hair. However, there is no evidence that pillows cause or contribute to hair loss. If you have excessive hair on your pillow, try sleeping on a silk pillowcase or without a pillow.

Is sleeping without a pillow good for your neck?

Sleeping without a pillow will make it hard for your spine to maintain its natural curve. However, sleeping without a pillow can help stomach sleepers keep their head flat, resulting in neutral spine alignment, which may ease neck pain.

Does sleeping without a pillow cause thoracic pain?

Sleeping without a pillow can cause thoracic pain if your spine is not in a neutral position while asleep. The optimal sleeping position to keep your spine aligned is on your back with a pillow to correctly support the head and neck. The back position keeps your spine aligned, minimizes pressure points, and ensures the correct alignment of your internal organs. 

Does sleeping without a pillow cure sleep deprivation?

Sleeping without a pillow can cure sleep deprivation if it allows you to sleep more comfortably. Your main goal when sleeping is to keep your spine in a neutral position. Sleeping without a pillow only helps stomach sleepers with spine alignment, while side and back sleepers sleep better with a pillow.

Does sleeping without a pillow reduce snoring?

Sleeping without a pillow can reduce snoring if you are a stomach sleeper; however, sleeping in this position can cause discomfort and neck pain. You can also try sleeping on your side or back in an elevated position to prevent the tongue from falling back and the throat muscles from relaxing too much.

Will sleeping without a pillow lower your blood pressure?

Sleeping without a pillow is generally only recommended for stomach sleepers. The best position for high blood pressure is your left side because this position relieves pressure on blood vessels that return blood to the heart. Sleeping in an elevated position can decrease the amount of blood returning to the heart, decreasing blood pressure.

Does sleeping without a pillow help with apnea?

Sleeping without a pillow might alleviate apnea if you are a stomach sleeper; however, sleeping in this position can cause discomfort and neck pain. To prevent your tongue from falling back and the throat muscles from relaxing too much, it is a good idea to sleep on your side or back with a pillow in an elevated position.

Does sleeping without a pillow help neck hump?

Sleeping without a pillow is unlikely to help neck hump because it adds stress on your back and neck, making it hard for your spine to maintain its natural curve. The optimal sleeping position to keep your spine aligned is on your back with a pillow to correctly support the head and neck. This position will minimize pressure points on your back and fully support the natural curvature of your spine.

Can sleeping without a pillow improve buffalo hump?

Sleeping without a pillow is unlikely to improve buffalo hump because it adds stress on your back and neck, making it hard for your spine to maintain its natural curve. The optimal sleeping position to keep your spine aligned is on your back with a pillow to correctly support the head and neck. This position will minimize pressure points on your back and fully support the natural curvature of your spine.

Does sleeping without a pillow improve kyphosis?

Sleeping without a pillow is unlikely to improve kyphosis because it adds stress on your back and neck, making it hard for your spine to maintain its natural curve. The optimal sleeping position to keep your spine aligned is on your back with a pillow to correctly support the head and neck. This position will minimize pressure points on your back and fully support the natural curvature of your spine.

Does sleeping on a pillow without a pillow case throat issues?

Sleeping without a pillow can cause neck issues if your spine is not aligned and your neck is overextended. The optimal sleeping position to keep your spine aligned is on your back with a pillow to correctly support the head and neck.

Does sleeping without a pillow hinder oxygen to the brain?

Sleeping without a pillow can hinder oxygen to the brain if you sleep on your back or side and your neck is overextended. The optimal sleeping position to keep your spine aligned is on your back with a pillow to correctly support the head and neck.