Is It Better To Sleep With Or Without Pillow At Night?

benefits of ditching your pillow

Are pillows necessary? How many do you really need? It is something that we don’t give a lot of thought to; something that most people think of as good common sense.

Most say something like this: Use a good pillow that adequately supports your head and neck when sleeping. After all, people have been using some kind of headrest since ancient times, haven’t they?

Examples have been found in the tombs in Ancient Egypt, and who knows, maybe your neighborhood caveman also snuggled up to his favorite rock at bedtime.

Thank goodness we have more pillow options in today’s world. However, some people are asking, “Are pillows bad for your neck and overall sleep health?” It seems like a crazy question to ask, but we’re here to investigate so you can achieve peace of mind, once and for all.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, around 80% of us will have a back problem in our lives. In addition, the report claims that approximately about half of all Americans say that they experience back issues every year.

They go on to say that most cases “are mechanical or non-organic” in origin – i.e., not related to a disease. Now, if our pillows were doing such a stand-up job, why is that figure so high?

5 Health Benefits of Sleeping With No Pillow

When you start to analyze things, you do have to wonder, “Are pillows really necessary?” If you could corner Mother Nature at your local grocery store, what would she say?

I think we all know the answer to that but, in case you need a little more convincing, let’s have a look at the five health benefits of sleeping without a pillow.


Are you sitting down? This is a big one. Dust mites live off the dead skin cells that flake off our bodies. They especially like areas where the skin cells accumulate regularly. Like your bedding. In fact, if you are reading this in bed, you might want to get up.

There are millions of dust mites in your bedding and, according to the Washington Post, they accumulate in your pillow with great ease.  And here’s the gross part – the less you wash your pillow, the heavier it gets.

What makes it heavy? Left-over dead skin cells and dust mites. Welcome to your allergic nightmare.

Facial Features and Hair

Your pillow might be comfy, but it is not doing your skin or hair any great favors. The friction that builds up can hasten the development of fine lines and wrinkles, knot your hair, and also cause your hair to break.

The cover can also harbor bacteria that inflame and irritate acne-prone skin. Using a pure satin cover can help reduce this issue, but it is very hot to sleep on.

a woman with curly hair laughs

Spinal Health

If you are a side sleeper, it feels natural to want some support for your neck and so sleeping without support might feel uncomfortable. However, if you look at the way the body is designed, sleeping with your head elevated pulls your spine out of its correct alignment.

This is more pronounced if you sleep on your back and an absolute nightmare if you sleep on your stomach.

Neck Pain Prevention

Sleeping with your head elevated stretches the neck into an unnatural position. You can help to ease this problem by resting with your head as close to the bed as possible. If you are a side sleeper, this could take some getting used to, but you will adapt quite quickly.

You might think that I am being a pain in the neck about this, but you’ll thank me once you see the benefits for yourself.


We slouch around and generally don’t pay much attention to the way our bodies are meant to be carried. We carry this poor posture over to our sleep and exacerbate the problem.

Sleeping with your head as close to the mattress as possible is an excellent way to start improving your posture because it helps the muscles in the neck and shoulder strengthen naturally.

woman stretches to improve her posture

How to Sleep Without Pillow Support

Are you ready to make the change and start sleeping more naturally? In this section, I’ll explain how you can do that. To start off with, you need to know that this is something that must be done in stages. If you switch over too suddenly, you’re guaranteed an uncomfortable night’s sleep.

Switching over will require patience, but it’s not that hard. Start out with a towel that you can fold to make it level with your pillow. When you are used to sleeping on the towel, unfold it once, so that it is lower.

When you get used to that, unfold the towel again, and carry on doing so until you can do away with it altogether.

To help this process along, try lying in different positions. Your ideal position is where your spine can stay aligned with the head and in its natural curved position.

Every night before you sleep, and again when you wake up, you can do some gentle neck stretches to help restore the natural flexibility in your neck. These exercises will also help to strengthen your neck and make it easier to adjust to your bedtime position.

couple with baby sleeps


Sleeping without a pillow reduces back pain and keeps your spine stronger. It may fly in the face of conventional wisdom to do so, but it makes sense when you look at the way our bodies were designed.

We like to live our lives in comfort, and we think that what we do improves our health. But if sleeping with your neck out of alignment with your spine was the “right” way to do things, why do so many of us still wake up with a sore neck or back?

Next time you need to tell someone your neck is sore because you “slept funny” you will see the wisdom in adopting a much more natural sleeping position. And, yes, initially it’s going to feel a little uncomfortable, but that’s because you are changing a habit of a lifetime.

Imagine the joy of never having to find the “right” pillow again and being comfortable every time you put your head down. Sweet dreams!

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