People sleep an average of seven to eight hours each day. This means that we roughly spend almost a quarter of our entire lives in bed. Considering how much time we spend dreaming, it only makes sense that we make our sleeping space as comfortable as possible and for a lot of people that association lies with more pillows. That said, getting quality sleep isn’t always a simple matter. Find out here fi sleeping without a pillow is good or bad for your body.
Even if you don’t raise your home to luxury hotel standards, you still need to ensure optimal sleep health. To that end, the presence or absence of different types of pillows at bedtime influences sleep quality. For you to avoid sleep deprivation or obstructive sleep apnea, knowing what your body needs is essential.
Ultimately, whether you choose to use pillows or do without depends not only on the comfort of your pillows but also on your preferred sleep positions. To help you make the best decision, we’ve researched the potential benefits of pillow and pillowless sleeping on your physical health and overall sleep quality.
Potential Benefits of Pillowless Sleeping
While the impact of sleeping without any type of pillow covers various areas, we’ll be focusing on three of the most important here.
Impact on Body Posture
The use of a supportive pillow in bed is favored because it’s known to alleviate bad posture, and in some cases, even help correct poor posture.
Due to this, significant effort has gone into understanding how a high-quality pillow can minimize sleep disturbance. That being said, the average stomach sleeper may be better served going to bed without memory foam pillows, latex pillows, or feather pillows.
For these sleepers, the traditional way of using head pillows only further pushes spinal alignment into an unnatural position. The longer this awkward angle is maintained, thanks to the use of high or low-level pillows, the higher the risk of sleep deprivation.
Depending on your preferred sleep position or sleep style, you may actually need comfortable pillows for proper spinal alignment during sleep. This is because if your spine isn’t in a neutral position, you could hurt your backbone during sleep.
Impact on Neck Pain
For stomach sleepers, using a head pillow the conventional way is also one of the fastest ways to get neck pain. Because you’re on your stomach, your head falls in a side-lying position, extending your neck backward. The result is neck pain and discomfort.
In this case, using contouring pillows or soft pillows won’t do you much good. However, not using head pillows can make the effect of being in this unnatural position less severe, increasing your quality of sleep.
On the whole, pillowless sleeping keeps your head flat and reduces the stress on your strained neck muscles. This promotes neck and spine alignment and is only a logical deduction as more concrete research needs to be conducted ongoing pillowless as a stomach sleeper.
Impact on Impact on Hair Health
It’s believed that the type of pillow you use can cause some hair trouble like frizzy hair. The general thought is that the material the pillow is made of can react with your hair negatively or positively.
For example, a cotton pillow or pillow cover can absorb the natural oils in your hair, causing frizzy hair. On the other hand, some people think silk interacts much better with your hair, helping it maintain its luster.
In the end, using a pillow that is rough on your hair may be worse than not using one at all.
Side Effects of Pillowless Sleeping
If you’re still wondering if sleeping without a pillow is good or bad, there are some side effects that you should keep in mind.
It’s possible to get quality sleep without using pillows, but in some cases, going pillowless can also hurt sleep quality.
Poor Posture in Bed
Even though sleeping without a quality pillow may be beneficial for a stomach sleeper, this sleep style is still bad posture. This is because your spine can’t get in a neutral position this way.
Putting a thicker pillow under your stomach and pelvis can drastically relieve the pressure on your spine and backbone during sleep if you decide not to use a pillow for your head.
For people that use any other sleeping position, sleeping without a quality pillow is untenable as it compromises spine alignment and often leads to strained neck muscles and joints. It’s advisable to get a supportive pillow for your back or side.
Increased Risk of Neck Pain
While there are health benefits to not using a pillow for stomach sleepers, even these types of sleepers can’t completely go without head pillows. This is because, even without those seemingly uncomfortable pillows, you still need to turn your head at some point during sleep.
A thin pillow beneath the head and a thicker pillow under the pelvis can improve body alignment for these types of sleepers. So, simply doing without isn’t entirely in their favor.
This can cause neck discomfort or make neck pain worse, and this goes double for back and side sleepers.
Even if you use gel mattresses or medium-firm mattresses, these other sleep styles will still cause your neck to overextend. Without the ideal pillow to compensate for this, your neck stays stiff and you could even get headaches as a result.
How Do I Know Whether Sleeping Without a Pillow Is Good or Bad for Me?
The first and most important thing is to note your preferred sleep position.
If you’re a stomach sleeper, then going pillowless is an option you can consider, though we recommend that you consult with your doctor before you decide to throw out all of your pillows.
For side and back sleepers, it gets a lot more technical as it’s highly unlikely you can avoid poor-quality sleep without pillows.
However, if you feel you absolutely must do away with comfortable and uncomfortable pillows, there’s a way for you to do this.
How to Improve Sleep Health Without Pillows
If you want to go pillowless without getting a stiff or sore neck, try out the following steps to see if they work for you.
Step One: Reduce Your Head Support Slowly
Start by replacing your pillows with a folded towel or blanket. You’ll then unfold these gradually over time until you can completely do without them.
Step Two: Use Pillows for the Rest of Your Body
Depending on the sleeping positions you prefer, you’ll need to support the rest of your body with comfortable pillows.
For stomach sleepers, try placing a pillow between your stomach and pelvis.
For side sleepers, put a pillow between your knees for better support.
For back sleepers, put a firm pillow under your knees.
Step Three: Pick the Right Type of Mattress
Using the right type of mattress becomes more important now as you need to properly support your body in its pillowless position. Medium-firm mattresses are preferable here as those won’t sag and impair your spinal health.
In the end, sleeping without a pillow is good or bad, depending on your preferred sleeping positions and other factors like your mattress choice. That being said, sleep experts believe that there’s a strong association between pillow comfort and sleep quality.
Ultimately, the choice of using a pillow is dependent on what you decide is best for your body, so be sure you pick the right products for a good night’s sleep.
Table of Contents
- Potential Benefits of Pillowless Sleeping
- Side Effects of Pillowless Sleeping
- How Do I Know Whether Sleeping Without a Pillow Is Good or Bad for Me?
- How to Improve Sleep Health Without Pillows
- Bottom Line