Sleep deprivation is no joke. If you wake up with pain in your neck and shoulders, you’ve probably done the research and found one thousand different pieces of advice about how to choose a pillow and a mattress.
You need your mattress, but you wonder if getting rid of your pillow altogether could help you sleep better. We’re going to take a look at some reasons you may want to consider sleeping without a pillow, and some reasons why you should keep a pillow. Let’s break it all down.
Do I Need A Pillow?
Pillows help you adjust your spine so that it’s straight. If you don’t need any adjustments, then no. A pillow would be redundant. Here are some drawbacks of sleeping without a pillow.
It’s nearly impossible to sleep on your side without a pillow. Your head isn’t supported, and your shoulders compress. If you’re an exclusive side sleeper, there isn’t much you can do about getting rid of your pillow.
Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, are perfect candidates to go pillow-less. Stomach sleepers need very little underneath the head and can cause more damage with an improper pillow by forcing the head back.
Back sleepers need to assess mattress type and any existing aches and pains before deciding to go pillow-less. You might be able to get away without something to support your head if your mattress is the right level of contouring.
If you suffer from snoring or allergies, having a pillow to elevate your head to the right position could be critical. When your head tips too far back, it encourages your jaw to hang open, causing you to breathe through your mouth. Breathe through your mouth enough and you’ll end up with a tense jaw, dry mouth, sore throat, and a host of other issues.
If you have existing eye issues such as glaucoma, you may be putting yourself at a much higher risk of sleeping without a pillow. You put a lot of pressure on your eyes the flatter you sleep. Raising the head onto a pillow can help relieve that pressure.
You’re also at a higher risk of headaches due to tension and sinus pressure. That same eye pressure can irritate your sinuses and trigger headaches. When the head is elevated correctly, you may not experience these symptoms at all.
Sleeping flat may also make any heartburn issues you have worse. Pillows elevate the head above the stomach, helping lift the esophagus and discourage stomach acid from reaching up through the opening to the esophagus.
Why Should I Sleep Without A Pillow?
There are a handful of reasons you may want to get rid of your pillow altogether. Let’s take a look at the benefits of sleeping without a pillow.
You’re A Stomach Sleeper
This is the only position where a pillow can be hurtful. For most other positions, the pillow helps alleviate pressure and keep your spine aligned even though your body isn’t a straight line.
Sleeping on your stomach puts your head in greater alignment with the rest of your body. If you put a pillow underneath, it could tip your head back and create a lot of tension. It can also interfere with your airway by blocking the free flow of air into your nasal passages.
Make sure you have a mattress that’s fully supportive, yet contouring enough to allow your body to sink at its broadest points. Otherwise, you may not feel all the benefits of getting rid of your pillow.
You Have Skin Issues
Pillows are notorious for holding on to dirt and grime. Oils from your face can redistribute during the night causing clogged pores. You can’t wash your pillow every night, so getting rid of it altogether can help your skin get a little clearer.
If you still need a little support, fold a piece of cloth or a towel underneath your head. You can wash it every morning, so your sleep surface is always clean without having to wait forever for a pillow to dry all the way to the middle.
You Want To Improve Your Posture
You may be able to improve posture by sleeping without a pillow. The body relaxes and naturally falls into a better position to sleep, uncurling your spine and lengthening your back. While it won’t make you taller as some websites suggest, it can alleviate back problems associated with poor posture.
The Verdict: Get A Pillow
Overall, the benefits of sleeping with a pillow outweigh the downsides. Unless you fall into one of those two categories above, it’s going to be better for your sleep positioning to find the right kind of pillow instead of getting rid of your pillow.
Check the loft of your pillow based on your sleep position. Side sleepers should have the deepest pillows, followed by back sleepers and then stomach sleepers. Make sure your head and spine are aligned and that your neck meets your body straight on instead of at an angle.
Signs You Need To Rethink Your Pillow
Whether you go for a new pillow or no pillow, you’ll know something needs to be done by a few different signs. Once you figure out how to fix them, your sleep quality will skyrocket.
Tension And Pain
Is a pillow good for neck pain? If you wake up every morning with a headache, neck pain, or shoulder pain, you’re probably sleeping on the wrong pillow. Your pillow should be deep enough to support your head and remove pressure from the muscles at your neck and shoulders, but not so deep that it pushes your head at an angle.
Put a mirror next to your bed and check the position of your head with any new pillow. Is your spine completely straight? If it isn’t, you need to adjust.
Snoring can be a sign of an unsupportive pillow. When your head tips back, it can encourage the jaw to fall open and the soft palate to relax, forcing air through your mouth instead of your nose. Chronic snoring prevents you from sleeping well and causes issues with the environment of your mouth (bad breath, sore throat, and more cavities).
Breakouts And Allergies
Pillows get dirty. If you’re experiencing a higher number of breakouts than you usually would, it may not be your hormones. It could be dirt, oil, and allergens causing your skin to react. You could wash your pillow, but there’s only so many times you can do that before your pillow begins to break down.
Likewise, if you’re experiencing more sinus issues or itchy eyes than you’d typically see this time of year, your pillow may also be the culprit. Reducing allergens in your home could mean replacing that old pillow you’re using.
A New Mattress
If you’ve gone to the trouble of purchasing a new mattress, you’d be disappointed to find out that your old pillow is ruining all the benefits. Consider upgrading your pillow when you upgrade your mattress to reap all the rewards of a completely supportive sleep system.
I Want to Nix My Pillow. What’s The Best Mattress?
If you decide that getting rid of your pillow is the best course of action, you may want to consider investing in a mattress that can adequately support you. Here are our recommendations for a good mattress sans pillow.
DreamCloud is one of our favorite mattresses. It uses eight different layers of materials to produce a mattress that’s highly supportive but feels a lot softer than it is. The quilted top layers contour to your body while the middle latex layers help transition the body to the support system and provide excellent response.
Hundreds of individually pocketed coils support your body underneath the contouring layers, pushing back against your weight to keep your spine aligned. You shouldn’t have any sweet spots in the mattress, and you won’t ever feel the full impact of the springs.
DreamCloud offers you a lifetime warranty and 365 days to try the mattress out before deciding if it’s the right one for you. Make sure you give it a full month or so before deciding, so you have time to adjust to the mattress and sleeping without a pillow before making your decision.
Puffy’s mattress uses a material that wicks heat and moisture away from the body for a more refreshing night’s sleep. The top layers are highly contouring, but you don’t ever feel like you’re sinking. The layers keep you cooler but bring your spine into full alignment. It’s hypoallergenic and shouldn’t cause any skin issues.
The dense support foam underneath pushes back against your weight to keep your spine aligned and your body fully supported. Overall, it’s a simple design with amazing materials similar to performance athletic gear. You can also upgrade your pillow, mattress pad, and other parts of your sleep collection.
You can try out the Puffy mattress for 101 nights before deciding if it’s the right one for you. It’s guaranteed by a lifetime warranty against mattress defects.
We still think you would benefit from sleeping with a pillow in most cases. The right pillow can keep you from straining your neck and shoulders, putting pressure on your eyes, and making breathing issues worse. If you’re having problems with your current pillow, it’s far more likely that you’re in need of a better pillow instead of no pillow at all. Consider all your options carefully to make the right choice for your sleep health.
Do you sleep without a pillow? Tell us how it’s going in the comments below.