We need different kinds of bedding to get a comfortable night’s sleep. We need a pillow, a mattress, blankets, and top sheets, and sometimes leg and shoulder pillows too. But despite all the comfort that we have during sleep, a large number of people suffer from sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality. Around the world, the number of people who don’t get proper sleep every night has been growing rapidly. Animals and birds do not have sleep issues. They sleep whenever it’s time to sleep and have the energy to go about their day without needing a caffeine fix. It’s humans who always remain tired and sleepy despite having had the entire night and the comfort of the bed.
But wait. Can too much comfort possibly ruin sleep? Certain sleep experts believe that people need to ditch some items of bedding for better sleep, and one of them is the pillow.
That’s right. There is a great debate about whether the pillow is a necessary or a non-essential item of bedding, which people use for nothing but comfort. But unfortunately, the pillow is often behind neck and shoulder pain that deprives people of proper sleep quality. And without quality sleep, you can hardly function like a normal person.
Of course, sleeping without a pillow is not unusual. There are many people who sleep without a pillow and a mattress, and they do just fine. In fact, they enjoy better sleep quality and feel more refreshed during the day. But is it for everyone?
Functions of A Pillow
Everyone needs a certain amount of sleep every night. The amount of sleep required by the average adult is 7 to 9 hours, but hardly anyone sleeps that long. Most people get by with only five or six hours, and even if that isn’t the required amount, once you form a habit, you can do without the mandated number of hours.
And then there are those who might go to bed every night but are unable to get proper sleep. This can be because of sleep disorders, stress, environmental distractions, or uncomfortable bedding. Given how important sleep is to our daily functioning, going without proper sleep for a long time can result in various health disorders. Lack of sleep has a connection with elevated stress levels, poor productivity, unhealthy appetite, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Besides, daytime sleepiness can hinder your progress at work, make your memory foggy, and ruin your social life. Drowsy driving can also be fatal.
For most of us, our bedding is synonymous with comfort. We need the plush mattress, the down pillows, and the fur comforters to be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep. And to some extent, they are also responsible for our posture and spinal health.
The main function of the pillow is to provide support to the head and neck. The head can often be significantly heavier than any other part of the body. The average human head weighs around 17 pounds, which is a staggering weight for the neck to carry around. Only when the head is upright, it is easy for the neck to carry the head. Whenever the head is not upright, it puts excessive strain on the neck and causes pain and inflammation.
That is the reason why we need a pillow for support when we lie down. An infant or a baby doesn’t need a pillow because their heads are smaller. But as they grow older, their heads grow in size and become heavier for the neck to carry. That’s why they start to require pillows.
We need this support during sleep because the naturally curved spine needs proper alignment when lying on a flat surface. Sleeping without support not only has a negative impact on your sleep but also results in stiffness of the neck, shoulders, and back.
The comfort that the pillow provides is subjective. What is comfortable for one person may not be as comfortable to another. The comfort factor of the pillow is dependent on body size, sleep position, and health conditions. For most people, it certainly feels comfortable to have a soft and supportive pillow under their heads.
Is It Better To Sleep Without A Pillow?
If you suffer from neck stiffness and soreness every morning, it could probably be because of your pillow. That’s why there are people who shun the pillow altogether and sleep without it. But how good is sleeping without a pillow? According to sleep experts, there are plenty of benefits of sleeping without a pillow.
Neck and Back Health
Sleeping without pillows helps extend your back, keeping you in a natural position without undue stress or strain. Using a pillow that is too soft strains, your neck muscles and reduces blood flow to the brain. If the pillow makes your head tilt downwards, airflow is significantly reduced, and you wake up with a headache in the morning. On the other hand, a thick pillow or a stack of multiple pillows deforms your spinal position and causes back pain. If you are experiencing any of these issues, it’s time to put your pillows away and sleep without head or neck support. Will Feel Well Rested In the Morning
Better Quality of Sleep
If you have a good mattress, pillows are negligible. When you don’t have pillows, your body easily finds an optimal position for rest, without the pillow getting in the way. When we use pillows that do not offer proper support, our body has to keep engaging the neck or back muscles, preventing your body from healing and recovering during the night. Muscles and tendons work overtime when they are supposed to rest and heal, and all that pressure manifests as pain. When this goes on for days, the pain becomes chronic. Instead of letting this happen, simply stop using pillows at night when you sleep. Your body will have a better position, and you will enjoy better sleep quality.
We have often heard that the pillow is bad for the skin. It causes wrinkles, excessive oil secretion, and makes the skin impure. How? Well, when we use a pillow, our faces are often pressed into it when we sleep at night. It causes sweating and also blocks the pores, preventing the skin from breathing. Excessive sweating through the night makes your face greasy and impure, causing breakouts, blackheads, and other infections. Besides, pillows cannot be washed, and this results in dirt and dust getting accumulated in it. Dust mites that live in your pillows attack the skin and cause breakouts. Your skin will thank you when you stop using pillows for sleep.
How to Sleep Without Pillow?
Before you throw out your pillows, remember that not everyone should sleep without a pillow. Depending on your sleeping position, you should consider if you continue using pillows or not use them.
Side Sleepers: Although one of the healthiest sleeping positions, side sleepers must always use a pillow. That’s because in the side sleeping position, there’s a significant gap between the neck and shoulders, and it should be filled with the right pillow. Otherwise, it can cause pain and soreness.
Back Sleepers: It is recommended that back sleepers use a thin pillow to keep their heads supported and fill the gap between the neck and the shoulders. The pillow must not be too thick.
Stomach Sleepers: This is the only sleep position where you can do without pillows. Using a pillow in the stomach sleeping position causes undue stress on the neck and spine. If you’re a stomach sleeper, try not using a pillow or use a thin pillow to see if your rest gets better.
Instead of stopping to use a pillow at once, you should try to transition to it gradually. This makes it easier for your body to get used to a new sleeping position. Try using a thin layer of cloth under your head in the beginning and then slowly decrease using it so you can sleep without a pillow.