Do you wake up with a sore neck or back and blame your pillow, perhaps going as far as tossing it against the wall while your partner looks on in disdain?
If this sounds like you, you're not alone.
A percentage of the population struggles to find the right pillow to support their sleeping style and body type.
And some folks don't sleep with any pillow (I know, sounds crazy, doesn't it?). Could it be because they have never found the right pillow, or do they enjoy sleeping without one?
Instead of taking guesses into others’ sleeping habits, let's look to science to discover whether it’s better to sleep with or without a pillow.
Potential Benefits of Sleeping Without a Pillow
Reduced Neck and Back Pain
Is it better for your neck to sleep without a pillow? There is minimal research on the impact of sleeping without a pillow. However, one study by the University of Rochester Medical Center suggests that a flat pillow or none should be used if you are sleeping on your stomach. This is likely because of the stress a pillow can put on your neck when turning your head side to side.
Some stomach sleepers also claim that sleeping without a pillow can reduce the risk of back pain because you are sleeping on a more aligned, flat surface.
No More Wrinkles
There is even some evidence that sleeping without a pillow can reduce wrinkle formation. If you’re pressing your beautifully smooth face into a pillow every night it’s possible that you’re adding stress lines to your skin.
Improved Hair Health
Okay, this one is a bit out there. And there is no objective evidence to support it. But theories abound that sleeping without a pillow can improve the health of your hair (huh?).
The argument goes: cotton pillow cases in particular create more friction and therefore can create more frizz! We don’t quite buy this one, and would be surprised if you’ve found frizzy hair to be an issue after trying any of our organic cotton products.
Potential Disadvantages to Sleeping Without a Pillow
Despite the limited clinical data on sleeping with vs. without a pillow, there are a couple of potential disadvantages, especially for those in the crowd that tend towards back or side sleeping.
Specifically, these are poor posture and back pain.
Sleeping on your side or back without a pillow can create poor sleeping posture. The space left between your head and the mattress is bigger when you sleep on your side. So without a pillow, this results in an unhealthy alignment of the body as the spine is naturally curved.
This is why the right pillow can help your body align and support your neck to minimize the stress placed on your joints.
Back pain can also be triggered by sleeping in the wrong position. For back and side sleepers, pillows help support the neck during sleep and reduce neck and back pain. How is this the case? According to one study, the spinal cord is usually curved, and adding a pillow will place your body in a neutral position, reducing pressure on the cervical area. This is why for back and side sleepers who prefer not to use a pillow, you might suffer soreness with neck pain causing tension headaches.
Although there is some limited evidence to suggest that sleeping without a pillow can have benefits, at Resthouse we recommend a high quality pillow that fits your particular body type. That’s why our pillows are customizable and designed to fit your unique body and sleep style.
If you have questions about what pillow to choose, give us a call, we’d love to chat.