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Is It Better to Sleep With or Without a Pillow?

You probably know that the quality of your sleep has significant impact on your general health. If you often wake up during the night, you’ll feel sleep deprived in the morning. And over time, this can start disrupting different functions of your body. Two significant factors that contribute to the quality of your sleep are pillow and mattress. They both play a role in supporting proper spinal alignment while you sleep. However, you’ve probably also heard about the benefits of sleeping without a pillow. So, if you’re wondering is it better to sleep with or without a pillow, our guide will explain why and when it’s better to sleep without one.

Should You Sleep Without a Pillow Depending on Your Sleep Position?

is it better to sleep with or without a pillow

The answer to the question if it’s better without a pillow is not a simple yes or no. It all depends on your sleep position. It’s important to keep proper spinal alignment during sleep and some positions do need a pillow for that, while others can do without. So, depending on your sleep position, sleeping without a pillow will either help or hurt you.

Side Sleepers

Side sleepers can definitely benefit from using a pillow. Sleeping on your side is considered healthy but all that goes out of the window if you don’t have proper pillow support. Unlike the back sleeping position, sleeping on your side doesn’t support the natural curve of your spine. For that, you need a proper pillow and mattress to work together in order to keep your spine straight.

First of all, you need a good mattress that will conform to your body’s natural shape and support your body’s pressure points. And secondly, you need a good pillow that will help to keep the neck in alignment with the rest of the spine.

Without a pillow, your neck will bend downwards, pushing your spine out of the alignment. On top of that, you’ll put undue pressure on the shoulder and this can cause pain and numbness.

So, you want a pillow to fill up the space between your shoulder and head. And to keep the neck straight and aligned, choose a pillow that is thick and supportive. It should be thick enough to keep your neck straight but not too high or too low, which would tilt your neck out of alignment.

Memory foam pillows are a great choice for this sleeping position as it contours to your neck and head, providing lower loft beneath the head and higher beneath the neck.

Back Sleepers

Back sleeping position is considered to be the healthiest because it supports the natural curve of the spine. Especially if you have a memory foam or a contouring mattress, it will hug the unique shape of your body and provide proper support. With that being said, it does leave a space between your neck and the mattress. If you don’t have a pillow, your head will sink down into the mattress and strain your neck in an uncomfortable position.

Back sleepers do need a pillow to fill the gap between the head and shoulders. Choose a thin, contouring pillow that will keep your head level with the shoulders. Make sure that it’s not too thin or too soft and that it doesn’t make your head tilt too far back. At the same time, make sure that it’s not too thick and that it doesn’t make your head lean forward.

Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleepers are the ones that can benefit the most from sleeping without pillow. This position is generally considered to be the most unhealthy position for your neck and spine. However, to make it less unhealthy, it’s better to sleep without a pillow.

When you sleep on your stomach, you have to twist your neck and head, which puts your head out of alignment with your spine. If you put a pillow under your head, you compromise your spine even more. Without a pillow, you can keep the head on the same level as the mattress. It will take the strain of your neck, shoulders and lower back.

If you can’t sleep without a pillow due to comfort preferences, choose a pillow that is very thin and soft, which will keep your head as close to the mattress as possible.

Benefits of Sleeping Without a Pillow

1. Neck and Back Pain Relief

benefits of sleeping without a pillow

If you often wake up with neck or back pain, try sleeping a night without a pillow. Sleeping without a pillow will help your back extend and rest in a natural position. Stacking too many pillows under your head or using one that is too thick can deform the position of your spine and result in aches and pains. Over time, this can cause chronic back pain and muscle strain.

2. Improves Quality of Sleep

should you sleep without a pillow

Sleeping with a pillow that doesn’t provide adequate support makes our body compensate by engaging neck or back muscles. This results in more muscle strain at a time when your body is supposed to be resting after a stressful day. The added pressure will accumulate over time and can lead to chronic pain. To prevent this, you can change your sleeping habits and try sleeping without a pillow.

3. Prevents Acne and Wrinkles

advantages of sleeping without a pillow

Your face will also thank you for ditching the pillow. If you sleep with your face pressed into the pillow, you prevent it from being able to breath. With no access to air, the pores on your facial skin increase perspiration. The creates more grease and oil on your face and can increase the growth of acne. On top of that, pillow surface collects dirt, bacteria and dust. When using a pillow, all those impurities come in contact with your skin, which can also lead to acne.

Using a pillow can also lead to early wrinkles since you put pressure on the skin for hours at a time.

Final Words

There are definitely advantages to sleeping without a pillow. However, before you ditch your pillow, consider your sleeping position. Your preferred sleeping position will determine if sleeping without a pillow is really in your best interest. So choosing how many pillows to sleep on is up to you.

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