Sleeping without a pillow

Is It Better To Sleep Without A Pillow?

Everyone has a friend that comes to them one lunchtime and make the claim that they now sleep without a pillow. In fact, it happened to me so often that I just had to investigate further. Is it a healthier choice to sleep without a pillow, for the mind and the body? And if so, what are the benefits?

There are a number of ideas when it comes to sleeping without a pillow. A common one is that sleeping with no pillow allows your back to extend and enables you to sleep in a more natural way. And in a sense, more natural generally means better for you. So if you suffer from neck and back pain pillowless sleep may be the way forward.

Alternatively, many people say that sleeping without a pillow is just unimaginable. They believe that the support is essential to getting a good nights rest and taking the pressure off there neck. But this notion may only arise from the fact that we are simply used to it this way. As humans, we don’t like change very much, do we?

sleeping without a pillow

Different sleeping positions and their effect on sleep without a pillow.

The effectiveness and usefulness of sleeping without a pillow will vary greatly depending on your preferred sleeping position. Now, we all have our favourite, but is a pillow adding or relieving stress from the body whilst we sleep?

Side sleepers

Side sleeping is widely considered to be the healthiest of sleeping positions. When you are side sleeping, the pillow provides good support to the head, allowing for a much straighter spine from the hip to the head.

If you sleep without a pillow in this position results in an awkward head position. The spine ill then becomes misaligned, putting avoidable stress on the shoulder and neck muscles. Sometimes this can even lead to pain and numbness.

If you absolutely must sleep without a pillow and you are a side sleeper, you can use your hands as a makeshift rest. Place both your hands in a flat position for the most comfort.

Back sleepers

Modern-day mattresses provide an excellent amount of comfort. They give support to the back and spine which means it can stay aligned easily. The neck, however, needs a bit more support, even with modern memory foam technology. This is due to the gap between the neck and shoulders when lying down.

Thin pillows are the way to go for back sleepers. If a pillow is thick, it pushes the head up to far and creates a place of pressure n the neck and shoulders. That is something you don’t want. If you so want, a cervical pillow or a pillow with neck support built-in. A thin pillow under the knees or lower spine can also be useful when used in tandem with a head pillow. It gives knee and lower spine support and reduces pressure where it is not wanted.

Sleeping on your back with no pillow can be useful in some cases. If you have lower back pain, sleeping without a pillow a delaying on your back can help to extend and straighten the spine, reducing pressure on painful areas and stretching the back, minimising back pain.

Stomach sleepers

More common than first thought, seeping on your stomach is very popular. A soft pillow s always best for sleeping in this position, as the neck is very resistant to bending I such a way.

People who sleep on their stomach may not even need a soft pillow. The natural position of the head sleeping this way means that your head naturally erst comfortably on the mattress, with the head tilted to one side. So if your mattress is of good quality, then it would be soft enough to make sleeping a breeze.

Are there any benefits to sleep without a pillow?

Sleep or lack thereof is a major factor upon our general health and well being. I am a true believer that eliminating any problems that affect our sleep should be very high on our priority lists.

Sleeping without a pillow will help your back extend and you will be able to rest in a more natural position without too many consequences or aches. We often are using pillows that are too soft. This has even been known to decrease blood flow to the head.

Without a pillow, your body will find an optimal position for rest. It means our body does not have to compensate for awkward sleeping positions and poor quality pillows.

Another benefit of sleeping without pillows is the reduction in wrinkle development on your face. Your hair will also remain fresher and dandruff free.

To top it all off, there will be much less oil build up around the face and fabric, going some way to help prevent skin issues such as acne.

How to sleep without a pillow

Firstly, you need to decide what position you sleep most, as this will affect what you should do next. Also, if you are facing sleeping problems, always consult a specialist.

The next step is to try and reduce your reliance on pillows slowly and steadily, as removing them altogether too fast will result in too much stress on your neck. Your body is a delicate thing and needs time to adjust.

For this, try using a think folded fabric or sheet to be your pillow for a few days. Something that is thinner and lower than your original pillow. This should help your head and neck get used to a harder, thinner surface.

Once you feel ready, you can remove the makeshift pillow and go fully pillowless. By now, your head and neck should have adjusted enough that this is not too much of a shock to the system.


The feedback from the many people that already sleep without a pillow is that once you make the change, you will never go back. In general, pillowless sleepers report an overall improvement in neck and back pain. I think we can safely say that occasionally sleeping pillowless can aid in this way. If you try this technique and find that it just isn’t for you, then not to worry. You can easily go back to using a pillow and your usual sleep routine.

The science bit.

My name is Matt and I am mad about sleep. I created ‘The Rest Investor’ from a belief that Britons just aren’t getting enough sleep. It’s becoming a national crisis.

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