Have you ever woken up with neck pain and wondered if it’s caused by your pillow? Maybe you thought that if you had a different kind of pillow or just eliminated the pillow completely that your neck wouldn’t hurt in the morning sometimes.
Perhaps your experience has been completely the opposite. Maybe you tried sleeping without a pillow or simply didn’t have a pillow available at one time and regretted its absence when you woke up. Your neck felt stiff, and your head was uncomfortable, and maybe you didn’t sleep well during the night because you didn’t have a pillow.
Is it good to sleep without a pillow? There are both pros and cons to sleeping with pillows, and there are reasons why people may choose to go without a pillow as well.
Sleeping without a pillow can be helpful in some situations, but it’s not something you should always do. It’s typically only beneficial to sleep without a pillow in certain positions.
How to Find the Right Pillow for Neck Pain
Is it good to sleep with or without a pillow to help with neck pain? If you wake up with neck pain regularly, you may want to consider the position you sleep in and how you’re using your pillow. For someone who sleeps on their stomach, foregoing the pillow can be helpful. It can help to align your spine and neck, reducing strain on your neck in minimizing neck pain. Many sleep experts recommend sleeping without a pillow if you tend to sleep on your stomach.
It’s simply not a very natural position for your neck to be in when your stomach is facing down into the bed and your head is elevated. For a lot of people, they can’t even lay in this position for long. Some people get used to it over time, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy for your neck, your posture, and your spinal health.
Usually, when you lay on your stomach, your head is going to be turned somewhat to the side so you can breathe. That’s kind of an essential position to be in for a stomach sleeper in order to get some air into their lungs. This extends your neck backward, creating an uncomfortable angle and leading to neck pain.
Is it good on your neck to sleep without a pillow? Sleeping on your stomach without a pillow can minimize the awkwardness of the position and reduce strain on your neck and spine. It may take some getting used to at first to sleep without a pillow, but it could make a difference. Keep in mind, however, that there is not conclusive research as to whether this will make a significant difference in your neck pain.
You can find plenty of anecdotal evidence to support going pillow-less while sleeping on your stomach, but you may want to talk to your doctor before you give up the pillow if you regularly experience neck pain.
Does Sleep Position Affect Whether you Need a Pillow
At the beginning of the article, I said that your sleeping position may determine whether you should go without a pillow. It’s generally advised to sleep with a pillow if you sleep on your side. Anyone who sleeps in a fetal position or lays on their side where they sleep should have a pillow, according to sleep experts.
In this sleep position, the pillow helps to support the neck and benefits your posture. Is it good to sleep on your back without a pillow? That should be fine, if it feels comfortable for you. Sleeping on your side without a pillow is not advisable, though. You could go without a pillow when sleeping on your stomach as well, but you need to consider your sleep position before you go without a pillow.
Some people will toss and turn during the night and may change positions regularly. If that is you, then you may want to consider keeping a pillow nearby. If you turn over on your side during the night, you should have a pillow nearby to support you.
Is it good to sleep without a pillow? That depends heavily on your sleeping position.
Does Sleeping Without a Pillow Help Back Pain
If you suffer from back pain, you may wonder if going without a pillow can help the back pain. Conversely, you might be concerned if removing the pillow from your bed will hurt your back or cause your back pain to get worse.
Is it a good idea to sleep without a pillow if you have back pain? Think about the position you should sleep in if you have back pain. We talked about how sleeping on your stomach can put extra pressure on your neck. That can make the back pain worse and make you have to contort yourself to get comfortable. Sleeping without the pillow in this position may help your back pain somewhat. You can try it out and see how it affects you.
It’s not a good idea to sleep on your back if you have back pain. This places extra pressure on your spine, and the force of gravity will take the weight of your body and put it onto your back, causing extra back pain, many times.
Is it good for your back to sleep without a pillow? It likely is not, as the best position for back pain tends to be on your side. This helps to minimize the amount of pressure placed on your spine and can help relieve some of the pain throughout the night as you try to sleep. Most people who have back pain find that sleeping on their side is the most comfortable position for them.
Another comfortable position to help relieve back pain and minimize pressure on the spine may be an elevated head position. Putting multiple pillows or a wedge under your head can raise your back off the bed, placing most pressure on your buttocks and legs as you sleep rather than your back.
You definitely need pillows for this position, so it’s safe to say that trying to sleep without a pillow for back pain is probably not a good idea.
Keep in mind that the verdict is still out as far as medical proof that sleeping without a pillow is going to make a huge difference. There simply haven’t been enough long-term studies to show how effective sleeping without a pillow is and its effects on neck pain, back pain, and overall posture. Sleep studies have shown that using a pillow in specific positions can help relieve all of these problems.
If you suffer from regular back pain or neck pain, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about treatment and about how you should sleep. Before you give up your pillow to try to deal with neck or back pain, you may want to talk to your doctor to get expert medical advice.
It may also help to change positions and try to sleep on your stomach or side, if you’re not used to those positions. You can also try adjusting the position of the pillow or adding another pillow for extra support and lift.
Also consider the kind of mattress that you are using, as that can make a big difference as to how well supported your back and neck are. The right kind of mattress can improve your posture and help you to wake up in the morning without pain. In many cases, the mattress you use makes far more of an impact on your back pain than using or not using a pillow.
My name is Ellis Francis and I have been a personal fitness trainer, sports nutritionalist and health and fitness advisor for over 25 years. I am the lead health and fitness advisor at https://awellnessbody.com.