Sleeping Without A Pillow: What Is The Take?

28th May , 2023

Sleeping with a pillow is generally considered essential for most people to have a good night’s sleep. However, there is a growing interest in the concept of sleeping without a pillow, especially for those who wake up with an annoying stiff neck or shoulder.

But is there validity in this concept? Or are you better off simply switching out your current pillow for a more suitable one? Well, let’s explore the potential benefits of sleeping without a pillow and their concerns.


  • Alignment and Support for the Spine – The wrong pillows can sometimes disrupt spinal alignment, leading to discomfort and pain. Sleeping without a pillow can allow the spine to adopt a more neutral position, promoting proper alignment and reducing strain on the neck and back.
  • Neck and Shoulder Relief – For some individuals, pillows can contribute to neck and shoulder pain by causing unnatural angles and pressure points. Sleeping without a pillow can alleviate these issues and relieve tension and discomfort in these areas.
  • Enhanced Airflow and Breathing – Pillows, especially those too high or firm, can obstruct airflow and contribute to snoring or sleep apnea. Sleeping without a pillow promotes better airflow, potentially improving breathing patterns and reducing sleep-related breathing issues.

What To Expect When Sleeping Without A Pillow

  • Discomfort during the Adjustment Period – For individuals accustomed to using a pillow for a long time, transitioning to sleeping without one may initially feel uncomfortable. Your body needs time to adapt to a new sleeping position, and you may experience temporary discomfort, especially in the neck and shoulder areas. Gradually transitioning to pillow-less sleep and experimenting with alternative head and neck support options, such as rolled towels or specialised cushions placed on your mattress, can help ease the adjustment period.
  • Lack of Head and Neck Support – Pillows are designed to support the head and neck, especially when sleeping on your side or back. Sleeping without a pillow eliminates this support, which may leave some individuals feeling unsupported or experiencing strain in the neck and upper back.
  • Different Sleeping Positions – Sleeping without a pillow may be more suitable for certain sleeping positions, such as back or stomach sleeping, than for others. Side sleepers, in particular, may find it challenging to maintain proper spinal alignment without the support of a pillow.
  • Individual Variability – What works for one person may not work for another. While some individuals may find great comfort and benefits from sleeping without a pillow, others may find it less suitable or even uncomfortable.

No Pillow Or New Pillow?

While sleeping without a pillow can alleviate certain issues, they could also be alleviated by using a different type of pillow. Remember that, over time, pillows can lose their shape and become less supportive. Therefore, replacing your pillow every one to two years or as soon as you notice signs of wear and tear is recommended. So before you try and relieve your pain with a new sleeping style, it may benefit you to find a pillow using these guidelines:

  • Proper Support – Just like an orthopaedic mattress that is designed to support the body’s musculoskeletal system, you can also find specially designed orthopaedic pillows to support the neck and shoulders, promoting proper spine alignment. It helps maintain a neutral position, preventing strain or stress on these areas during sleep.
  • Material and Construction – Different materials in pillows offer different results. Memory foam pillows work by contouring to the shape of your head and neck, providing targeted support and pressure relief. Latex pillows are known for their responsiveness and ability to maintain shape. Feather or down pillows offer a plush and moldable feel. Consider your personal preferences and any specific requirements you may have.
  • Sleep Position Considerations – Different sleep positions can impact the amount of support your neck and shoulders require. For example, side sleepers benefit from a thicker pillow with firm support to fill the space between the shoulder and ear, aligning the spine properly. Back sleepers may prefer a medium loft pillow that supports the neck and its natural curve. Stomach sleepers generally benefit from a thinner, softer pillow to prevent excessive neck extension.

Additionally, a good mattress can also help provide you with sufficient support, such that you do not find yourself struggling with the discomfort of not having a pillow. So make sure you take the time to find the best mattress for you, before you try and switch to sleeping without a pillow.

Should You Sleep Without a Pillow?

Sleeping without a pillow is a personal choice that depends on individual preferences and needs. While it offers potential benefits, there may also be certain limitations along with discomfort during the adjustment period.

However, since there is a risk of causing more discomfort, it is often better to try your luck with a different pillow before you jump into pillowless sleep. And as always, it is recommended to consult with healthcare professionals or sleep experts before you make any changes to your sleep setup, especially if you have pre-existing neck or spinal conditions.

After all, it is essential to prioritise comfort and listen to your body when exploring alternative sleep options. Whether you decide to embrace pillow-less sleep or opt for the best mattress and pillow combination, the best thing for you is to always prioritise your sleep quality.

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