Woman side sleeping on bed without pillow

Should you sleep without a pillow? If you’ve been waking up with shoulder and neck pain, maybe you should try sleeping without any cushions. Would it work for you? Depending on your sleeping positions and body aches, your type of pillow should dictate those issues.

As you know, pillows generally help on the spinal alignment and contouring of your neck and shoulders. But if it gives you any problems, it’s better off without it.

Vector art showing different sleeping positions

Pillows based on sleeping positions

Knowing your bed routine or sleeping habits will help you determine if you need to sleep without a cushion. Are you a side sleeper or a back sleeper? Here are guidelines when it comes to sleeping positions and pillows.

Stomach sleepers

Stomach sleeping is generally viewed unhealthy by sleep experts because it twists your body in an unusual position. One needs a firm mattress to prevent the stomach from sinking in. with that, it needs a thin pillow or none at all to keep the head at mattress level with the rest of the body. But, you can place the pillow at hip level to even out your spine alignment.

Verdict: Stomach sleepers need thin pillows. Or, they can sleep without a pillow

Back sleepers

While back sleepers lie down in a firm mattress, it leaves a small gap between the head and shoulders, chest and hips, and lower back. To sleep without a pillow places the user in an uncomfortable position on the neck area. If you want to keep the body properly aligned, back sleepers need a contouring pillow to fill the gaps and build support on your lumbar spine.

However, if you suffer from back pain, you need little contouring as possible. So, the possibility of sleeping without pillows is necessary, if your doctor advised it.

Verdict: Back sleepers should sleep with a pillow. Unless they have back pain and as doctors advised, they can sleep without a pillow.

Side sleepers

Side sleeping is the healthiest position for people to provide better circulation and conformity within the body. When people side sleep, they create levels and gaps between the head and shoulders, thereby needing a pillow to even out their spine alignment against the mattress.

A soft, contouring mattress is necessary to support their position, but without a pillow, it’ll wring their necks from the weight, pain, and misalignment. Meanwhile, a thick, contouring pillow might do well to support the gaps between your head and shoulders. One should not invest in soft pillows as it can tilt your head down.

Verdict: Side sleepers need a pillow to support their lumbar spine. A thick and contouring cushion is enough to carry weight and fill the gaps between the head and shoulders.

Family sleeping together

Pros of people who sleep without a pillow

This might be true for back and stomach sleepers only. There are times when your pillow can be your worst enemy because it disrupts your sleep and spine. You can avoid going through the pain by removing your pillow and reap the following benefits:

Lessens acne breakout. Your pillows gather dirt and bacteria that can stick to your skin. This buildup can increase acne breakout and the possibility of getting wrinkles. When your face is down on the pillow, all the dirt can latch on your skin.

Reduces caught-up allergies. Dust mites can clasp on your pillow which makes your allergies even worse. You can catch itchiness, rashes, and sneeze in the next morning. Ditching your pillow can reduce caught-up allergens sticking on your cushions.

Straightens spinal alignment. People who stomach sleep can keep their heads at mattress surface level along with the rest of their bodies. An elevated head can twist their lumbar spine upwards which creates neck pain or upper back pain on the next day. They’re the ones who benefit most when sleeping without a pillow.

What’s more, if you suffer from back pain, and are a back sleeper, ditching your pillow lets your spine rest in its regular curve.

Improves quality of sleep. People who have problems with their pillow can dump it and sleep through the night better. Your body tends to find a sleeping position comfortable to your spine and pressure points which results in better sleeping quality.

Prevents stress. Sleeping painfully through the night can also lead to stress and headaches in the morning. If you’re uncomfortable with a pillow, it’s best to rid of it to get that sleep quality you want.

Woman hugging a pillow with knees while side sleeping

When to sleep with a pillow

Getting rid of your pillow might have benefits, but there are times you actually need it. These are health conditions and cases you should sleep with a pillow.

Acid reflux. An elevated head prevents acid reflux and heartburn for people suffering from it. Placing your head a little higher eases your esophagus, thus, keeping everything in at bay.

Severe back pain. Sleeping with back pain is great without a pillow, but if this issue persists, it’s best to talk to a doctor and prop up a pillow tonight.

Neck and shoulder pain. If the gaps between your head and shoulders are giving you a problem, using a pillow can relieve you from that ache as it evens out your lumbar spine.

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