What Can Be the Benefits of Sleeping Without a Pillow?

Updated on December 18th, 2019
sleeping without a pillow

The concept of sleeping without a pillow might sound a little bizarre to you, given that pillows have become such an integral part of our sleep routine. But, think about all the times you woke up with a sore neck or horrific back pain. Sleeping with pillows is a major cause of this discomfort. So how is sleeping without a pillow beneficial?

Benefits of Sleeping Without a Pillow

1. Back Pain

Firstly, sleeping without pillows prevents back pain. Many people suffer from back pains and the main reason is bad posture while sleeping. Sleeping with a pillow induces bad posture.

People generally sleep on pillows that work against the natural curve of their spine thereby providing more curvature to the spine resulting in severe back pains.

2. Neck Pain

neck pain acupuncture

A natural sleeping posture requires your head to be parallel to the mattress, whereas when your head on a pillow it is either pointing up for drooping down. This is the cause of the sore neck pain(1) you get.

Sleeping with a wrong pillow is the worst thing for your neck, sleeping without a pillow lets your headrest in a natural position and prevents nerve damage.

[ Read: Neck Pain from Sleeping Wrong ]

3. Bone Structure Alignment

When you sleep without a pillow, you are resting in a more natural position. Hence your bone structure is more aligned. This reduces the risk of a bad sleeping posture and thereby the risk of getting a back, neck and shoulder pain. Sleeping on a wrong pillow worsens your sleep in a way that you may keep changing sides and position to reduce the discomfort.

This prevents you from getting a peaceful and stress-free sleep. When you start sleeping without a pillow it naturally improves the quality of your sleep. If you are an insomniac, sleeping without a pillow will help you drift off to sleep easily.

Tips for Starting Sleeping Without a Pillow

If you are used to sleeping with a pillow giving it up at once will be very difficult. The transition has to be gradual. You can start with these tips to get accustomed.

  • The first thing you should try is removing the pillow gradually. This means you should remove the pillow but use something like a folded blanket to replace it. Keep reducing the height gradually. Keep unfolding the blanket each week till you are ok without the blanket.
  • The idea is to keep a neutral spine position while you sleep. So if you sleep on your stomach, put a pillow under your abdomen and pelvic region to provide your spine a neutral position. Similarly, put a pillow under your knees when you are lying on your back and put in between your knees when you are lying sideways.
  • Without the support of a pillow, it is not essential that you have the right kind of mattress. The wrong type of mattress can also disrupt a good night’s sleep. A soft mattress will make your spinal cord sag resulting in a faulty sleeping posture and hence a back pain.

[ Read: Benefits of Sleeping On The Floor ]

Different Sleeping Positions

Most people have their own preferred sleeping positions. But beware, your favorite sleeping posture could be affecting the quality of your sleep. WebMD reported Idzikowski saying “If you sleep in a bad position, you’re more likely to be grumpy the next day”. In his research, Idzikowski identifies 6 common sleep postures:

1. The Fetus Posture

Fetus Posture

This is the most common sleep posture and in Idzikowski’s study, 41% of participants had slept in this posture. This is when a person sleeps with their knees curled up towards their bodies. This posture is beneficial for pregnant women but not for people with back pain.

2. The Rod Posture

The rod posture is the second most common posture and in this, the person sleeps on their side with their arms down. This posture will help people with back pain as it keeps the spine straight.

3. The Yearner Posture

Yearner posture is when a person sleeps on their side with both arms out. It is the third commonest sleep posture. Similar to the fetus posture, this posture too can have negative health impacts.

[ Read: Sleeping Positions for Back Pain ]

4. The Soldier Posture

Soldier Position Sleeping

People sleeping in the soldier position sleep on their back with both their arms on the side. This is the best sleep posture medically as it helps reduce back and neck pain and prevents acid reflux.

5. The Freefall Posture

People who sleep on their stomach with their arms wrapped around a pillow sleep in this posture. Sleeping on your stomach is beneficial for people who suffer from snoring(2), it also promotes good digestion. But it is a bad alignment of the spine.

6. The Starfish

The most unpopular sleeping posture this position is when people sleep on their back with both their arms upwards. This like the soldier posture helps reduce back and neck pain.

Sleep without a pillow might sound far fetched but it is beneficial. Pillows are meant to correct your posture while sleeping. Proper research about spine alignment and when to use pillows will help you sleep better.

If you already suffer from neck or back pains, consult a doctor before losing the pillow altogether. Practicing sleeping-without-pillow postures will help you get a full night’s rest when you do decide to sleep without one.

[ Read: Sleep Position Affects Your Health ]


1. How to sleep without a pillow?

You can start with practicing to sleep on folded blankets and sheets and gradually keep lowering the height until when you are comfortable to sleep without any pillows or blankets.

2. Is sleeping without a pillow bad?

Sleeping without a pillow reduces neck pain and back discomfort. It helps to align your spine in a neutral position thus giving you quality sleep. It is in no way a bad idea.

3. Are pillows bad for you?

Pillows aren’t completely bad. Sometimes they rupture your spine’s neutral posture while you sleep. Pillows are helpful for people sleeping on their stomach, they can put the pillow under the pelvic region to support the spine’s neutral form.

4. Are pillows bad for your neck?

Sleeping on a pillow puts stress on your back and neck and disrupts your natural spine position. Sleeping without a pillow will help you adopt a better alignment and hence reduce risks of a sore neck or back pain.

5. Does sleeping without a pillow make you taller?

No, there isn’t any scientific study proving that you grow taller when you sleep without a pillow. It simply enhances your sleeping posture and helps you sleep better.

6. Is it better for your neck to sleep without a pillow?

Sleeping without a pillow reduces stress from your neck and prevents a sore neck and neck pain.

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