Sleeping Without A Pillow: To Use or Not to Use?

sleeping without pillow
Sleeping Without A Pillow

Waking up with neck pain is not a good way to start the day. This is frequently caused by insufficient head and neck support while sleeping. This could be due to your mattress, but most of the time, a change in your pillow is all that is required to help solve the problem.

Many people do not have the appropriate type for their sleeping habits, or theirs has simply worn out. Others may benefit from not using a pillow at all.

Read – A Comprehensive Guide to Get More Deep Sleep

Is a Pillow Necessary?

There has recently been a lot of debate about whether or not using a pillow is the best health option. Some people find that sleeping without one is more comfortable for them.

This could be due to the fact that theirs is old or simply not the right type for their needs. Alternatively, they may prefer not to have it due to their preferred sleeping position.[1]

So, what is the purpose of using pillows? The truth is that many people find it helps them sleep better, especially if it is the right one. While you sleep, they can provide support and promote healthy spinal alignment.

So, are pillows harmful to your neck? No, they are specifically designed to be good for you, but not for all positions.

Should You Sleep With a Pillow in Different Positions?

Your preferred sleeping position heavily influences how you feel about pillows. They are more effective in certain positions than others. This helps to explain why there is such a wide range of opinions on the subject. Is it healthier to sleep without a pillow? In the end, it comes down to your preferred sleeping position.

Is it bad to sleep on your side without a pillow?

foetal position

While not everyone agrees on the benefits of using pillows in all positions, most people can agree that sleeping on your side without one is bad. Why do the majority of people agree on this? Let’s take a closer look.

Sleepers on their sides

Many people believe that this is the best sleeping position, especially if you snore. However, this is only true if you use pillows with adequate support. If you sleep on your side, the right one will help align your spine from your head to your hips.

Certain pressure points sink into the mattress while sleeping this way, allowing you to maintain comfort. There is a significant gap between your neck and the mattress if you do not use a pillow. This causes it to angle downward, causing neck and shoulder strain, stiff muscles, and spinal misalignment.

In this situation, using your shoulder as an alternative is not a viable option. This places additional pressure on your shoulder and arm, causing temporary numbness, stiffness, and lingering pain throughout the day.

Sleeping in this position is most beneficial when accompanied by a pillow that is roughly the same thickness as the distance between your shoulder and your neck. [2]

This will keep your head and neck straight and aligned, as well as the rest of your spine. Your head will angle upwards if it is too thick or firm, causing spinal misalignment.

If it is too thin or soft, your head will continue to angle downward, causing spinal misalignment and eventually neck pain. As a result, it’s critical to figure out what works best for you.


Neck pain is common for people who prefer to sleep on their side when sleeping without a pillow. Sleeping without a pillow is neither recommended nor healthy if you are a side sleeper.

Cervical pillows, which have a dip where your head rests to provide extra support for your neck, are made by some companies for side and back sleepers. This could be a good option for people who are having difficulty finding the right one for their specific needs.

Side sleepers may benefit from a pillow placed between their knees as well. By relieving pressure on the hips and knees, the pillow can help to maintain proper spinal alignment throughout the night.

Is it bad to sleep without a pillow if you sleep on your back?

People generally agree that using a pillow while sleeping on your back is beneficial. Why do the majority of sleep experts agree on this? Let’s take a closer look.

Sleepers on their backs

Prevention of Insomnia

Many people believe that sleeping on your back is the best sleep position if you do not snore. With the right mattress and pillow, your back will naturally align overnight, promoting spinal health and recovery from any stress you may have experienced during the day.

When it comes to comfort and quality sleep, the right pillow can make all the difference for these sleepers.

When you sleep supine, the gap between your neck and the mattress is less noticeable and defined than when you sleep on your side, but it still exists.

You may also notice a small gap between your lower back and the mattress, depending on the type of mattress you have.

An innerspring mattress does not conform well to the body, and if you sleep supine, you will most likely notice gaps under your lower back and under your neck.

Newer hybrid and specialty memory foam mattresses contour your body more effectively than innerspring mattresses, allowing your hips to sink deeper into the material. This can relieve pressure and close the gap in the lower back but not in the neck.

To sleep on your back most comfortably, use a soft, thin pillow. By closing the gap between your neck and the mattress, you should be able to keep your head in line with your spine.

Without it, your head will sink too far back, causing your neck to bend at an unusual and uncomfortable angle. If it is too thick or firm, your head will tilt forward at an uncomfortable angle. In severe cases, this can even press the chin into the chest, adding to the discomfort.


If you sleep on your back, the general consensus is that using a pillow that is both thin and soft is beneficial. If you have lower back pain or own a firm mattress, sleeping without a pillow may also be recommended.

If you don’t have a firm mattress, this article will show you how to firm up a soft mattress. A good mattress that contours to your body, combined with a thin pillow, is often a better solution.

Cervical pillows, which were previously mentioned for side sleepers, are also a good option for supine sleepers. They support the neck without pushing the head forward or allowing it to fall too far back.

These sleepers may benefit from a thin pillow or rolled-up towel placed beneath their knees. This can help relieve lower back strain while also promoting healthy spine realignment while sleeping.

Is Sleeping Without a Pillow Bad for Stomach Sleepers?

couch sleeping

The only sleeping position that benefits from not using a pillow is on your stomach. Let’s look at why this is different and what the advantages of sleeping without a pillow can be for those who prefer it.

Sleepers on their stomachs

This is widely regarded as the least healthy sleeping position. It’s because you have to twist your neck to the right or left a long way. It shifts your neck out of alignment with your spine, allowing you to rest your head.

That is, unless you press your face directly into the material, which causes constricted breathing. Not to mention how uncomfortable it is to smash your face into the bed all night.

However, this can be advantageous in terms of preventing snoring and sleep apnea. If you prefer sleeping prone for any of these reasons, or any other, you should definitely try it without a pillow at all, or with a very thin one.

Because you turn your face to the right or left while sleeping prone, there is no gap between your neck and the mattress. Your spine and neck are naturally level on the mattress, eliminating the need for a pillow.

This is especially true if you have a mattress that conforms well to your body, such as a hybrid or memory foam mattress. Firm innerspring mattresses will not perform as well in this regard. A soft innerspring mattress may also cause your head to be at an uneven angle.

To promote spinal health, these sleepers should try sleeping without a pillow. A too-thick one will force your neck into an unnatural angle, causing pain and discomfort throughout the night and into the next day.

For many, avoiding it entirely is the best option for long-term comfort in this position. For those who do not feel truly comfortable, try very thin pillows to provide the desired comforting sensation.


Sleeping without a pillow is widely agreed upon and accepted to be very beneficial for stomach sleepers. Many people recommend it, and the effects are felt almost immediately.

Whether a stomach sleeper uses a pillow or not, the benefit of placing a thin one beneath the hips is worth a try. This can aid in the evening out and realignment of the spine while they sleep.

Also Read – Melatonin Overdose: Is It Possible?

The Advantages of Sleeping Without a Pillow

Of course, we can’t all agree, but here are some of the advantages so you can decide which option is best for you.

Old Pillows

Our pillows are frequently old and worn out. They breed bacteria over time, which is harmful to our health. They become clogged with dead skin cells and, in some cases, dried drool.

People, interestingly, do not place as much emphasis on their pillows as they do on their mattresses, which results in poor quality and, ultimately, less comfortable sleep.

Correct Assistance

If your pillow does not provide adequate support, it can cause muscle strain in your neck, shoulders, and back. They will try to compensate for the lack of it by muscularly levelling your spine. This can result in a more restless night’s sleep, lingering pain throughout the day, sleep deprivation, or even insomnia.

Some argue that it allows your neck and back to naturally extend. However, many people experience this type of discomfort, especially depending on their sleeping position.

Skin Care

Others claim it is beneficial to the skin on your face. It promotes better air circulation throughout the night, allowing your skin to breathe and rejuvenate.

Pillows can cause increased heat retention in your face, resulting in perspiration and, in the worst-case scenario, pimples or blackheads. It is also said to aid in the prevention of wrinkles.

Putting It to the Test

If you’re wondering how to sleep without a pillow, the answer is simple: try it out for a night. You might notice that you wake up the next day feeling more rested and free of neck and back pain. If that’s the case, keep it up.

If quitting cold turkey does not work for you, but you still want to give it a shot, replace it with a folded piece of cloth. Basically, any piece of clothing will suffice.

The goal is to make a smooth transition that does not appear abrupt. You may be able to decide if it will work for you after easing yourself into the transition.

What should you remember after reading this article?

Is it worth a shot to sleep without a pillow? Are pillows harmful to your health? Let’s go over what we’ve learned so far:

  • Side sleepers should never go to bed without a pillow. They should use one that is thick and supportive and fills the large gap created by sleeping on their side.
  • Back sleepers should use a pillow as well. To avoid creating an awkward angle and to provide adequate neck support, a thinner, softer one is recommended.
  • To maintain a level spine, stomach sleepers should sleep without a pillow. If this is too tight for them, they should try a very thin and soft one.
  • Sleeping without a pillow may provide less muscle strain and a more comfortable stretching sensation for some people.
  • It may be time to purchase a new pillow in order to optimise or improve your sleeping experience. Or maybe it’s time to just toss yours out so you can get a good night’s sleep.

In the end, the decision is based on your personal preferences and level of comfort. What matters most is that you discover what works best for you. You want to go with the option that will keep you comfortable for many more nights.