Should I Be Sleeping Without a Pillow?
Few things on this planet are more satisfying that plopping your head down on a nice fluffy pillow after an exhausting day, but should you consider sleeping without a pillow?
Your pillow may be doing you more harm, than good. Depending on how you sleep, there may be a good reason to ditch your pillow altogether – or maybe switch to a different type.
If you’re pressing your face into your pillow every night, common for side and stomach sleepers, you’re perspiring and blocking off the pores to your face. This means you are not allowing your pores to breathe.
When you wake up, this could leave your face feeling greasy. If dust gets into those pores from your pillow, it can lead to the development of blackheads.
Many back and neck problems stem directly from poor sleeping habits. In some cases, we’re not supporting our back or our neck, and it’s causing us problems.
Sometimes, sleeping without a pillow can actually help to alleviate back issues. In other situations, sleeping without a pillow may even worsen any pre-existing issues.
Sleeping Positions Without a Pillow
Of course, people sleep in a wide variety of different ways. We have back sleepers, side sleepers, stomach sleepers, and virtually everything in between.
On top of that, some people sleep without a box spring, or frame, some sleep directly on the floor. Basically, sleeping without a pillow will affect every type of sleeper differently, but depending on your situation, it may prove to be beneficial.
Drawbacks to Sleeping with no Pillow
There are a couple basic downsides we should cover first, some have nothing to do with your regular sleeping position.
First up, it’s awkward. If you’re accustomed to sleeping with a pillow, then suddenly sleeping without one won’t necessarily be a walk in the park. Sure, you can get used to it, but until that happens, expect to have a few restless nights.
You can also expect to have trouble figuring out what to do with your head as you start trying to fall asleep. You may even feel the urge to use your arms to hopefully emulate some of the support that a pillow would otherwise provide, but if we’re removing that from the equation, then supporting your head with your arms is a little ill-advised.
Glaucoma and Pillowless Sleeping
Then we have Glaucoma. Whenever you’re laying down, the liquid in your eyes is under more pressure, and the straighter your laying position, the higher that pressure can be.
It’s not an issue for most of us, but since Glaucoma is a disease in which there’s more pressure in your eyes from excess fluid, sleeping without a pillow can actually aggravate the situation.
If you’re still interested in giving it a shot then you could potentially try a wedge pillow or a high-quality pillow that offers great support. Sometimes upgrading your pillow can prove a worthwhile investment.
The rest of us, however, are free to try sleeping without a pillow all night long (or day), and for that, we need to break it down into how you sleep, or at least the three main types – back, side, or stomach.
Unfortunately, if you’re sleeping on your side, really the best advice we can give is to simply stick with your pillow. When you sleep on your side – and forgo a pillow altogether – your head will be dropping far more than it typically does, with or without your arms there to support you.
If you do sleep on your shoulder/arm, this may create some undue stress on these muscles, which in time can lead to numbness and soreness.
If you are a side sleeper, you are best off sleeping with a nice wide pillow, this way you’ll have plenty of support for your neck. If you sleep on your side and still want to try sleeping in a different position without a pillow, perhaps think again.
Sleeping on your side is actually believed to be the best way to sleep. So, if you’re already sleeping this way, then there’s probably no need to rock the boat, but do consider slipping a nice thin pillow between your knees. That can help with any strain down there.
People Who Sleep on Their Backs
Back sleepers probably shouldn’t bother trying to sleep without a pillow, either, but there are a few situations where it might not be such a bad idea. Typically, though, when you’re sleeping on your back, your head position will fall too far without a pillow, and this can cause misalignment.
The severity of this will depend a lot on the type of mattress you have. If it’s just right, then you might be able to sleep soundly without a pillow behind your head, but if it’s too firm, your back will be in a subtle arch as you sleep.
The Type of Pillow You Use when Sleeping on Your Back
The pillow itself can affect how well you are sleeping on your back. If the pillow is too firm or thick, you may be pushing your head too far up. Not only can this be uncomfortable, but it can also give you neck issues (if you sleep like that all night long).
If the pillow is too soft, your head could be sinking, and with this, you could have the opposite issue. If your head and neck bend too far back in either direction, you can end up with breathing or respiratory issues.
Ultimately, if you sleep on your back you’ll need a nice pillow with plenty of support. Your best bet will be a memory foam pillow that contours to your head and neck. I have recently reviewed a pillow that does just this if you are interested to have a read of this purple pillow review.
Their pillow uses hyper-elastic polymers arranged into a grid pattern to perfectly contour to your head. The Purple Pillow might be one of the best pillows for all you combination sleepers and don’t worry if this is you, a lot of us end up sleeping in various positions.
Stomach Sleepers without a Pillow
Let’s end with the type of sleeper who benefits most from forgoing the pillow – those who sleep on their stomach. Be warned, though, since you sleep with your head turned to either direction (because face down would just be unpleasant), sleeping on your stomach is ill-advised by most professionals.
Sleeping this way can cause you to twist your neck throughout the night, so it’s no surprise that the best pillow for stomach sleepers may actually be no pillow at all.
Sleeping without a pillow will keep everything nice and aligned, but if you find that this is too uncomfortable, then consider buying a thin pillow. Be sure to consider the stress you’ll be putting on your neck, if this is you, you might want to consider transitioning to the side sleeping position.
Sleeping With No Pillow
Ultimately, there are a few situations where sleeping without a pillow may come in handy, but in most circumstances, the lack of sufficient neck and back support can result in future issues.
In most circumstances, all you really need is a suitable, high-quality pillow, one that will contour perfectly to your head and neck. If you are interested in a pillow like this I’d highly recommend reading the purple pillow review mentioned earlier.