The Health Benefits of Sleeping Without a Pillow: What You Need to Know

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The Health Benefits of Sleeping Without a Pillow: What You Need to Know

by Eric Delloye — Posted in Luminette

Many people unquestionably use pillows as part of their sleep routine, but did you know that sleeping without a pillow could lead to a better night’s sleep?

The benefits of sleeping without a pillow go deeper than preventing frequent back and neck pain. Other health benefits may include better posture and skin health. While the approach is not universally beneficial and will depend on your sleeping position, it presents advantages worth considering.

This article will discuss the benefits and flaws of this approach and offer insights if you are interested in exploring a pillow-free lifestyle!

Advantages of sleeping without a pillow

While not using a pillow when sleeping might seem unconventional, it offers several benefits that may enhance your sleep quality and overall health. Some of the benefits include:

Improved spinal alignment and posture

The position in which you sleep might affect your posture. For instance, if you sleep on your stomach, you need to turn your head to one side, leading to stress on your neck.

Traditional pillows elevate your head too much, increasing the pillow-neck angle, causing the neck to bend unnaturally, and putting undue pressure on your spine.

This misalignment can lead to discomfort and changes in your posture. When you sleep without a pillow, your spine rests in a more neutral position, reducing the stress on your neck.

Improved spinal alignment and posture

If you sleep on your sides or the back, you need a thin pillow to maintain your spine in a neutral position. If you are a side sleeper, you might need a higher pillow to bridge the gap between your head and shoulders.

Sleeping on your back creates a smaller gap between your head and the mattress; thus, you need a very thin pillow.

Back sleepers also can develop obstructive sleep apnea if they use an especially thicker pillow.

So, does sleeping without a pillow help posture? While it might be beneficial if you sleep on your stomach, not so much if you sleep on your sides or back.

Reduction in neck and back pain

If you sleep in an improper position or tend to sleep in the same position for a long time, it can stress your spine, causing neck pain.

While pillows are supposed to alleviate this stress by putting your spine in a neutral position, they might have opposite effects in some situations.

Sleeping without a pillow benefits people who are stomach sleepers. A pillow can create an awkward angle between your spine and head when you sleep on your stomach, increasing the chances of sprains and pain.

Reduction in neck and back pain

If you sleep on a plushier mattress that allows your body to settle into a more neutral position, you might want to sleep without a pillow, even if you sleep on your back.

As a rule of thumb, see how your head is positioned compared to your spine when lying on your back. If your head and neck are slightly above your spine, you don't need a pillow.

So, are pillows bad for your neck? Yes and no. If you sleep on your stomach, you are better off without a pillow, but if you sleep on your back or sides, a thinner pillow might prevent neck and back issues.

You may also like: How to Get More REM Sleep.

Improved skin and hair

Another advantage of not using a pillow might be improved skin and hair. While the scientific evidence is limited, there is a case to be made about pillows increasing facial wrinkles.

If you sleep on your stomach or sides, your face is pressed against the pillow, exacerbating wrinkle formation.

When you sleep on a pillow, it creates more skin impressions, as a pillow is much softer than a mattress. It might lead to increased facial wrinkles.

Some people present anecdotal evidence that sleeping on a pillow might damage hair, although no scientific study proves this.

The leading theory is that cotton pillows create friction and absorb the natural oils from hair, leaving it brittle and prone to breakage.

If you move a lot and see a lot of hair sticking to your pillow in the morning, you might be better off without using a pillow.

If you do use soft pillows, make sure that you frequently wash the pillow cover. It can be a breeding ground for bacteria and can worsen your acne. Also, a silk pillowcase might be a better option than a cotton one.

So, is sleeping without a pillow bad for your skin and hair? Well, the answer depends on how you sleep. For stomach and side sleepers, ditching the pillow might be a better option.

Disadvantages of sleeping without a pillow

Pillows are designed to support your neck and head and keep your spine neutral. Thus, sleeping without them or using the wrong pillow might be counterproductive for some people.

Here are some of the cons of sleeping without a pillow:

Poor spinal alignment

If you sleep on your sides or back, you need a pillow to keep your spine neutral, as there is a gap between the weight-bearing midsection and your head.

If this gap is not supported by a pillow, your cervical spine might have to bear the brunt of it.

So, are pillows bad for your neck? Yes, but only for stomach sleepers.

Increased back pain

When your spine is not in the natural position during sleep, it creates points of intense pressure in your back, causing pain. So, if you ask, should I sleep without a pillow? The answer is yes, especially for stomach and back sleepers who wake up with a painful back.

Increased back pain

Increased neck pain

If you sleep on your side or back, not using a pillow might cause your neck muscles to hyperextend, increasing your chances of neck pain and discomfort.

Some people might also get tension headaches if they spend much time sleeping on their sides without a pillow.

So, is it safe to sleep without a pillow? If it causes spinal misalignment, then it’s definitely not. The decision to use or not use a pillow depends on how you sleep. Assess your sleeping pattern before abandoning your pillow or starting to use one.

How to start sleeping without a pillow

It can be difficult to suddenly stop using a pillow if you have been using it for a long time. The best way to embrace pillow-free sleep is to take it slow. Here are a few steps that might help you make the transition.

Start slowly

Rather than abruptly stopping using a pillow, make a smoother transition. Replace your pillow with a soft folded blanket or a bedsheet.

Once you get used to the new position, you can remove it to go completely pillow-free.

Assess your sleeping positions

Sleeping without a pillow is not a great idea for everyone. For instance, if you are a stomach sleeper, ditching the pillow is good.

You require minimal neck support in this position, and using a pillow might only cause problems. So, is it better to sleep without a pillow, especially for stomach sleepers? Absolutely!

The story is quite different if you sleep on your sides or back. You should not ditch the pillow completely because you need more support for your head and neck muscles in these positions.

However, using the right pillow is crucial. Pick a pillow that is neither too thick nor too thin. An ideal pillow is one that will keep your spine perfectly aligned with your neck and in a neutral position.

Read alsoHow to Design the Ideal Bedroom for Sleep.

Improve sleep quality with Luminette light therapy glasses

The quality of sleep you get is essential in maintaining your mental and physical health. Seasonal changes affect how well and deep you sleep.

Poor sleep quality can cause decreased productivity, winter blues, and a feeling of deep sadness, which are common during the winter months.

Light therapy with blue-enriched white light can help prevent these issues by triggering your body’s positive response to sunlight.

While you can find stationary light boxes for phototherapy, they are inconvenient and clunky. Luminette® 3 glasses are an innovative solution that provides all the benefits of light therapy without interfering with your daily routines.

Luminette® glasses are a patented, innovative light therapy system that you wear like glasses. They produce a blue-enriched white light beam that enters your eyes naturally, just like the sun.

The glasses are designed to emit a safe blue light at 468 nm wavelength, which has been proven most effective in triggering a response in your brain.

A 20-30-minute session once a day can significantly improve your sleep quality and help you feel energetic during the day.

Takeaway: Sleeping without a pillow can change your life

The pillow is integrated into our sleep routines to such an extent that the thought of not using one might initially seem absurd. However, given the potential benefits, is it better to sleep without a pillow? Yes, especially if you sleep on your tummy.

Ditching the pillow might help you maintain proper spinal alignment, improve your sleep posture, and relieve back and neck pain.

While going pillow-free might not benefit everyone, if you sleep on your stomach, it might be helpful.

You need quality sleep to stay fit, both mentally and physically. Besides your bed or pillow, light also plays a crucial role in regulating your sleep cycle.

Luminette® offers various light therapy devices, from Luminette® 3 glasses to light therapy lamp Drive.

Ready to boost your sleep quality with light therapy? Order our Luminette® 3 glasses today!


How can I gradually reduce my head support?

Rather than suddenly quitting using a pillow, gradually reduce your head support. Start with a folded blanket or a bedsheet. Once you are comfortable, decrease the height by unfolding the blanket until you can go pillow-free.

How can I support the rest of my body with pillows?

Keeping your spine in a neutral position is the key to problem-free sleep. If you sleep on your stomach, use a pillow under your stomach or pelvis to maintain a neutral alignment of your spine. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees, and if you sleep on your sides, keep it between your knees. Doing this will support your body while you sleep.

How do I choose the right mattress?

Choosing the right mattress is crucial, especially if you decide to ditch your pillow. If the mattress is too soft, it might not offer enough support to your spine, causing it to sag. If it happens for a prolonged time, it can result in back pain. Pick a mattress that is neither too soft nor too hard.