If you’re wondering whether it’s better to sleep with or without a pillow, the short answer is that it depends. If you’re currently dealing with discomfort in your sleeping arrangement, sleeping without one could provide a solution. Keep reading to find out whether you should try sleeping without a pillow or just switch to a more suitable kind.

Are you trying to decide whether or not you should use a pillow when you sleep? Curious about the health benefits of using a pillow versus not using one? Then you’ve come to the right place and this article should help you.

Pillows are used to prop up the neck or head to keep you comfortable and have been around in one form or another for centuries. While some of our ancestors often used wood blocks or stones as pillows, others eventually learned that using a soft surface is much more desirable.

Are there Benefits to Sleeping Without a Pillow?

The short answer is that if you have existing comfort issues with sleeping, your pillow could be contributing to them. If you’re going to use a pillow, it’s crucial to use the right type for your sleep position and needs. Here are some issues that could be fixed by sleeping without a pillow:

  • Back pain: Using a pillow with too much (or not enough) support can make your head tilt at an unnatural angle and contribute to back pain. If you wake up in the morning with a sore back, try sleeping with no pillow to see if it makes a difference.
  • Low-quality rest: If you find yourself waking up a lot in the night, or simply waking up feeling tired, your pillow could be to blame. When you use the wrong pillow, your back and neck muscles have to strain to try to find the right position. This can lead to tension in the body or subpar rest, which adds up night after night and contributes to exhaustion.
  • Skin problems: If you struggle with acne or persistent blemishes, you might want to try going pillowless. Sleeping with your face against a pillow can prevent airflow to your pores, which can lead to blackheads, especially if you go to sleep without washing your face. Of course, washing your pillow and pillowcase regularly can help with this, but you can also try sleeping without a pillow for a week or so to see if your face clears up.

Benefits of Sleeping with the Right Pillow

Pillows can be beneficial for your comfort and health, as long as you use the right kind for you. When you use them right, pillows can help with joint, neck, and back pain, helping your body to stay in alignment. You can even find pillows that help with snoring, body pain, and hot sleeping.

Knowing your favored sleep position will help determine the best type of pillow for you. Although these are helpful guidelines, remember that your own personal comfort and preference should be the ultimate deciding factor.

Pillows According to Sleep Position

Most people have one default sleep position they use at night. Find your favorite position below, so you can learn what type of pillow will most benefit you:

  • Back sleepers: Back sleepers should choose a pillow that keeps their head from tipping too far back, which can lead to shoulder and neck pain. In most cases, a thin or medium-thin pillow should do the trick for this sleep position.
  • Side sleepers: Side sleepers should use firm pillows that are either medium-thick or thick. People with wider shoulders should choose thicker pillows since the pillow should fill the space between the shoulder and ear for optimal alignment.
  • Stomach sleepers: People who sleep on their stomach should use a flat, thin, or soft pillow. Having a pillow that props the head up too much in this position can cause tension in the neck. It can also contribute to lower back pain, as having the head pointed upward while sleeping on your stomach can throw the whole spine out of alignment.

If you still aren’t sure about which type of pillow to select, you can try out a few different options. Give yourself a week before deciding whether or not a pillow is right for you.

Types of Pillows

There are countless pillows available on the market for every type of sleeper. Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular types, along with our top pick for each.

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam is a dense, supportive material that shapes itself to your neck and head. This type of pillow creates a “melting” and cradling sensation, potentially helping to ease pain and tension in the body.

Our Favorite Memory Foam Pillow- The Coop Home Goods Adjustable Loft Pillow

Last update on 2019-10-30 at 13:42  - More InfoProduct prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product." / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why We Like It:

  • Adjustable firmness
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Machine washable

The Coop Home Goods Adjustable Loft Pillow uses shredded memory foam, which is smaller pieces of foam instead of one solid piece. You can add or remove filling to create a custom firmness level and this material is hypoallergenic.

Down Pillows

Down is the gentlest and softest type of pillow you can get, as it comes from the fluffiest feathers of birds (usually geese). Often associated with luxury, down pillows are plush and breathable, making them a good potential solution for hot sleepers.

Our Favorite Down Pillow- The Egyptian Bedding Goose Down Pillow

Last update on 2019-10-30 at 20:55  - More InfoProduct prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product." / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why We Like It:

  • Supportive feel
  • Comfortable cover
  • Comes in a two-pack

The Egyptian Bedding Goose Down Pillow uses a high-quality (1200 thread count) material for its cover, creating a soft and comfortable feel. The down filling is hand-plucked and purified for a high-quality product and a plush sleep experience.

Feather Pillows

Feather pillows use feathers from the back and wings of geese or ducks. Feather pillows can vary in firmness according to how full of feathers they are, but usually provide a fairly soft sleep surface.

Our Favorite Feather Pillow- The Three Geese White Goose Feather Bed Pillow

Last update on 2019-10-31 at 15:43  - More InfoProduct prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product." / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why We Like It:

  • Comfortable and soft cover
  • Works for all sleep positions
  • Hypoallergenic

The Three Geese White Goose Feather Pillow is medium-firm, which means it should be comfortable for all sleep positions. The cover is made with soft Egyptian cotton and the filling is high-quality feathers for plush support.

Microbead Pillows

Microbead pillows are moldable and conform easily to your head. You may have seen this type of pillow in those popular U-shaped travel pillows.

Our Favorite Microbead Pillow- The Microbead Bolster Tube Pillow

Last update on 2019-11-02 at 19:03  - More InfoProduct prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product." / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why We Like It:

  • Removable cover
  • Relieves pressure points
  • Uses odorless microbeads

The Microbead Bolster Tube Pillow is a versatile pillow that you can use on the road or at home. It has a soft, stretchy, removable cover that you can take off to wash and the filling is comfortable and odorless.

Buckwheat Pillows

Buckwheat pillows use the hulls of buckwheat to create a soft, comfortable filling. This type of pillow might feel hard at first, but will gradually soften over time, conforming to your neck and head.

Our Favorite Buckwheat Pillow- The Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow

Last update on 2019-10-30 at 19:37  - More InfoProduct prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product." / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why We Like It:

  • Customizable firmness
  • Comfortable cover
  • No additives used

The Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow uses unbleached cotton in its cover and naturally adjusts to your head and neck. You can add or remove buckwheat hulls to reach your ideal level of firmness.

Sleep Apnea Pillows

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a sleeper to stop breathing while they’re sleeping. This condition can be extremely dangerous without treatment and the right pillow can potentially help ease the problem.

Our Favorite Pillow for Sleep Apnea- The InteVision Foam Bed Wedge Pillow

Last update on 2019-11-02 at 19:03  - More InfoProduct prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product." / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why We Like It:

  • Promotes airflow
  • Helps with snoring
  • Machine washable cover

The InteVison Foam Bed Wedge Pillow is a potential solution for sleep apnea symptoms. It uses both memory foam and a denser base foam with channels in between to encourage airflow. The position this pillow encourages can not only assist with sleep apnea symptoms but also potentially help with snoring or acid reflux.

Neck Pain Pillows

Neck pain pillows support your spine, encouraging alignment in the body and potentially easing tension and pain. The best option for this is a contouring pillow that keeps your head in a stable position, encouraging the natural curvature of your spine.

Our Favorite Pillow for Neck Pain- The Cervical Contour Pillow

Last update on 2019-11-02 at 19:03  - More InfoProduct prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product." / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why We Like It:

  • Mildew-resistant case
  • High-quality memory foam
  • Breathable surface

The Cervical Contour Pillow is made with high-quality foam that cradles the head while also providing firm support. It has a slope shape that keeps your head in a stable position and cutouts on the side, which keep your shoulder in a neutral position. Note that this pillow is best for side or back sleepers.

So, Should You Use a Pillow or Not?

If you’re struggling with discomfort that you believe is related to your pillow, you should try switching to a more suitable option. If your issues don’t clear up after this, try switching to sleeping without one. Give yourself at least seven days to try out a new pillow before deciding whether you like it, so you can adjust to it. In the end, you should choose what is most comfortable for you.

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