Sleeping Without A Pillow

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Sleeping Without A Pillow: A Complete Guide

When one thinks of the traditional sleeping position, it is common to lay your head down on one or two pillows. Pillow use has become so common in our society that many people are unaware of the advantages of sleeping without a pillow. Sleeping with or without a pillow can be traced back to the Egyptians depicted with pads in their artwork dating around 3000 B.C.

Ancient Egyptians believed that using a pillow during sleep was necessary to comfort and prevent illness and death. However, the use of pads wasn’t adopted by Europeans until about 400 A.D. When royals and the upper class primarily used them. During this period, roosters were also used as pillows, but they didn’t last long.

Pillow-like items have been evident in the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, where pillows were typically decorated with ornate carvings and embroidery made from gems and gold threads. Materials included leather, jewels, teak, ebony, ivory, alabaster, or copper that were then placed on top of a wooden board that was padded with straw or cotton stuffing material. 

Some pillows had animal skin sewn together for the pillowcase covering, while some carved stone examples are seen with human figures. The rope was also used to help hold the stuffed pillow materials together.

The modern-day use of pillows is evident in every household, which can be traced back to the Renaissance, where decorative pillows became popular accessories. 

It was also common for people to utilize natural items such as leaves and grasses when they could not obtain a pad. There is even evidence that suggests that pillows were used by animals such as turtles and elephants who would lift their heads high while napping.


Not everyone can sleep with a pillow due to various reasons, but there are several advantages when you don’t use one at all:

1. Better Posture

Sleeping without a pillow will help your body maintain proper posture throughout the night without aggravating any muscles or joints. When we sleep on our sides, we must choose a flat pillow that does not raise our heads too high, as it won’t strain any muscles. If you tend to sleep on your stomach and find it hard to breathe, look for a thin pillow or none at all, so you don’t suffocate yourself throughout the night.

2. Reduce Neck Pain

Laying your head down on a pillow can irritate muscles and joints in your neck as well as cause headaches depending on how you lay your head down. In addition, sleeping with a thick pillow under your neck makes it difficult to move your spine, which causes stiffness upon waking. Sleeping without a pad will help reduce those painful symptoms.

3. Avoid Temporomandibular Jaw Disorder

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder(TMJD) is a type of disorder that affects the joints in your jaw that can become irritated when you lay your head down to sleep at night. This condition is often caused by teeth grinding during sleep, which may be triggered by sleeping with a pillow.

4. Eliminate Skin Irritation

When you are laying your head on something all night, it could cause whatever material the pillow is made from to rub up against your skin which could irritate some people’s skin throughout the night. Sleeping without a pillow will eliminate this problem.

5. Reduce Snoring

Some pillows are too thick or firm, while others are just not right for you, which can trigger snoring if they shift while you sleep. Snoring can also be caused by sleeping on your back and choosing a too-high pillow, which can push your head up while you sleep. But, again, sleeping without a pillow will reduce the amount of snoring you do throughout the night.

6. Improve Blood Circulation

When we lay our head down to go to sleep at night, it forces blood to rush straight downward instead of flowing easily, which can strain muscles and cause pain when we wake up in the morning. Not using a pillow will improve blood circulation throughout your body and help you feel more refreshed when you get up.

7. Eliminate Bad Posture

Laying your head down on a pillow while sleeping puts you in an unnatural position, affecting your neck, spine, and upper back. When you sleep without a pillow, your body is resting where it should be when you are asleep, which can prevent any problems caused by bad posture while you sleep.

8. More Comfortable During Hot Weather

Sleeping without a pillow can help keep cool, especially during hot summer nights. Many pillows are filled with something artificial like foam or feather, which traps heat instead of allowing your head to stay calm. If it is too warm for you at night, sleeping without a pillow will keep your head much more relaxed than if you were lying down on one.

9. Reduce Allergies

Pillows can become home to dust mites, pollen, and other allergens throughout the year and night that can cause allergies or asthma to flare up. When you sleep without a pillow, you will reduce the number of allergens in your room and not be breathing them all night.

10. Improved Circulation

One of the leading causes for those who suffer from restless leg syndrome is poor blood flow throughout their body, which worsens when lying down with a pillow under their head. Sleeping without a pillow helps improve blood circulation and prevents this condition from worsening at night. If you feel like kicking or moving your legs at night, look into getting yourself a thinner or none at all pillow to sleep on.

11. No Need to Rotate Pillows

Many people like myself will flip their pillows over during the night to make sure the opposite side is the one that is touching your face and head. This is unnecessary when you do not use a pillow at all. Sleeping without a pillow will eliminate this problem and save you some money if you ever need to buy new ones.

12. Prevents Wrinkles

When we lay our head down on a pillow, it causes the wrinkles in our skin to deepen throughout the night, which looks unattractive when we wake up. Sleeping without a pillow can help prevent those from aggravating as much throughout the night, so they are less noticeable in the morning.

13. Helps Reverse Osteoporosis

Using thick pillows while laying down under your head at night puts pressure on your neck, back and spine, which can cause osteoporosis to develop over time. Sleeping without a pillow will help reverse this condition by keeping your body in the correct alignment that it needs to be in when you sleep.

14. Prevent Flattening of Your Face

When we lay down with a pillow under our head at night, it causes us to look older than we are because it will push our face out of shape while we’re asleep. For some people who have had cosmetic surgery or dermal fillers, sleeping without a pillow is essential, so these procedures are not negatively affected while sleeping. A good trick is to use one pillow between your knees if you are uncomfortable sleeping without one.

15. Less Pressure on Your Skin

When you sleep without a pillow, you will put less pressure on your face and the rest of your body which can help prevent wrinkles from forming over time. Sleeping without a pillow also helps reduce those who suffer from back and neck acne since nothing is pushing against their skin while trying to get some shut-eye.

16. Helps Fight Motion Sickness

People who suffer from motion sickness may find it worse when lying down with a pillow under their head because it makes them feel more nauseous than sleeping without one. Therefore, during plane trips or car rides, always try to lay down in your seat as straight as possible without any pillows under your head to minimize motion sickness.

17. Prevents Sore Throats

When we fall asleep with a pillow under our head, it causes our throat to be exposed and put pressure on it, which can cause us to wake up in the middle of the night feeling like we have a sore throat. Sleeping without a pillow will prevent this from happening because your neck and throat are kept in alignment at all times during sleep.

18. Easier for Staff To Make Up Your Room

Hotel staff members need less time when they’re making up their room if you ask them not to bring a pillow with you since there is nothing else they need to do other than throw the sheets over your body. Sleeping without a pillow is easier on them and you.

19. Retain More Dandruff

Excessive dryness can cause more dandruff to build up in your hair at night when you fall asleep with a pillow under your head. Your pillow will pull away some of the moisture previously trapped throughout your hair which helps prevent this condition from happening so often.

20. Less Sweat Build-Up

Pillows absorb all of our sweat while sleeping underneath them with our face against it, so by the time we wake up, most of it has gotten sucked into the fabric or feathers inside most pillows. We would recommend getting yourself a new one every year or two to avoid any sweat build-up while you’re sleeping.

21. Prevents Neck and Shoulder Pain

If you sleep with a pillow under your head at night, it will cause your neck and shoulder muscles to tense up, which can cause pain when you wake up in the morning. Try sleeping without a pillow for one night to tell if this is causing your soreness before it gets too bad. Sleeping without a pillow takes some getting used to, but once you fall into a routine, it’s easy-going from there.

22. Prevents Disruptive Dreams

Sometimes, when we have unpleasant dreams, they can be disruptive when we wake up because our brain doesn’t recognize that we’re no longer dreaming. And, we might think that the events in our sleep are happening. If you sleep without a pillow, nothing is lying underneath your head, which will help stop these dreams from happening.

23. Less Sweaty Hair

Often, when people get overheated while they are sleeping, their hair gets full of sweat, leading to it being oily and matted down throughout the next day. Sleeping without a pillow will cause less sweating around your scalp because less heat escapes from your body when it’s not covered with something like a pillow.

24. More Focused Vision

Sometimes, our vision can be blurred when we wake up from sleeplessness or sleep with a pillow under our head which is where almost all of our facial pressure points are. Sleeping without any pillows will help you wake up with better vision so that everything is more transparent throughout the day.

Is it okay for me to sleep without a pillow?

Sleeping without a pillow might result in a flattened head. This may help to relieve neck tension and improve alignment. However, sleeping on your back or side without a buffer may be more harmful than beneficial. To keep your spine in a neutral position, use a pillow.

Sleeping without a pillow has the following disadvantages

Your neck is overextended while you sleep on your back or side. Your neck will stay in this posture overnight if you don’t use a pillow. Furthermore, if you don’t utilize a cushion, the strain on your neck muscles will be uneven. As a result, neck discomfort, stiffness, and headaches are more likely to occur.

Is sleeping with or without a pillow preferable?

While research is sparse, anecdotal accounts suggest that sleeping without a pillow can assist some sleepers in relieving neck and back pain. Because the lower angle of the neck fosters better spinal alignment in this posture, stomach sleepers are often the most outstanding candidates for going pillowless.

Without pillows, how did cavemen sleep?

Humans used to sleep on homemade sleeping surfaces like straw mounds before the days of Tempur-Pedic and other pillows. Primitive mattresses were made of stuffed materials as society progressed, and down was introduced. Bed Frames were invented considerably later, yet they have been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians.


Sleeping without a pillow is not only good for your skin, hair, throat, and eyes, but it is excellent for your back and spine too, which helps with any pain you might be experiencing in those areas.


Ameer is the content director of Sleepingmentor, which means he not only reviews new mattresses, bedsheets, pillows, and mattress toppers every week, but also curates all the comparisons, best of pages, reviews pages, and vs pages on the site. He takes a straightforward, honest approach to his reviews. He covers sleep science by researching a lot on Google and finding meaningful content which entertains his users.

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