Sleep experts reveal that it is essential to sleep with a pillow. However, some people hold that they sleep better when not using a pillow. But is it always a good idea to ditch your pillow during sleep, and why do some people prefer it?
The pros of sleeping without a pillow include spinal alignment, reduced neck pain for stomach sleepers, and lesser wrinkles. However, its cons are spinal misalignment, back pain, and difficulty breathing.
Sleepers with different sleeping positions have different arrangements that work for them. For instance, even when using a pillow, back sleepers opt for medium-loft pillows, while stomach sleepers prefer low loft. Today, we reveal the pros and cons of sleeping without a pillow.
Pros Of Sleeping Without A Pillow;
Sleeping without a pillow is only helpful to stomach sleepers. Here are its benefits;
Improved Spinal Alignment For Stomach Sleepers
Most stomach sleepers struggle to find pillows suitable for their sleeping position. Sleeping on your stomach with a pillow is naturally detrimental to your posture since it sinks your spine. Besides, it also forces the sleepers to turn their neck during sleep, affecting their spinal alignment.
Most pillows in the market are firm and with a high loft. Stomach sleepers often experience back pain from their lower back's forceful 'bowing.' It often pushes your spine out of its normal curvature, leading to spine issues and back posture.
Thankfully, ditching the pillow allows the spine of a stomach sleeper to move towards a more natural position. The head sinking lower relieves pain caused by the unnatural alignment, leading to improved spinal alignment.
Still, stomach sleepers can register excellent spinal health when sleeping on a quality mattress with excellent support without a pillow. Sleep experts recommend soft pillows with a low loft if they must sleep on a pillow. Such sinks their head and promotes natural spinal alignment.
Reduced Neck And Shoulder Pain For Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleeping puts too much pressure on your neck. It is even worse when sleeping on a firm and high-loft pillow. Doing so raises your neck above its natural position and adds tension to your neck and shoulder muscles.
Besides, most pillows fail to cradle the space between your head and shoulders. This often strains your neck and leaves your shoulders uncomfortable, resulting in poor sleep quality.
However, sleeping without a pillow reduces the tension and allows the stomach sleeper ease of movement during sleep. Such reduces neck and shoulder pain in stomach sleepers, leading to restful sleep and improved health.
Reduced Back Pain For Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleepers experience lower back pain more often than back and side sleepers due to their spinal alignment during sleep. Stomach sleeping adds pressure to your spine and keeps it in an unnatural alignment.
Therefore, adding a pillow worsens the unnatural spinal alignment, which leads to chronic back pain. It does so by raising the neck and further sinking the lower back, straining your back muscles.
However, ditching the pillow allows the spine of stomach sleepers to move to a more natural position. Here, the head and neck sink to a more leveled position, relieving the strain on your lower back. Such reduces back pain in back sleepers, resulting in improved health and better sleep quality.
Could Reduce The Formation Of Wrinkles
According to some studies, sleeping on a pillow fastens the rate at which wrinkles form, making you look older. The studies hold that the constant compression and rubbing of your face on the pillow cause more wrinkles to form.
No studies at the moment prove whether or not the inverse is true. However, it could be beneficial for stomach sleepers to ditch the pillows altogether since it reduces facial friction. Such could slow down the formation of wrinkles, slowing down skin aging.
Less Frizzy Hair
Most people report having frizzy, tangled, and dull-looking hair after sleeping on a pillow. Most pillows contain cotton covers that absorb the moisture and oils from your hair, stripping them dry. Such promotes hair dullness and could lead to weak hair and breakage.
In addition, most people report that the pillow rubs their hair while they toss and turn during sleep. Such leads to dry, frizzy hair and tangled hair knots which are a nightmare to comb out. Besides, combing them out could lead to hair weakening and breakage, resulting in hair loss.
Cons Of Sleeping Without A Pillow
As we mentioned earlier, sleeping without a pillow only benefits stomach sleepers. Most back and side sleepers suffer when sleeping without a pillow. Here are the disadvantages of ditching your pillow during sleep;
For side sleepers, a pillow is vital in cradling the space between their necks and shoulders. Failure to sleep with a pillow means no support to cradle this space. Such forces the downward arching of your neck, leading to spinal misalignment and poor posture.
Back sleepers need a pillow to prevent the backward tilting of their heads during sleep. Sleeping without a pillow forces the neck to stretch and their heads to fall back. Such interferes with the natural spinal alignment, leading to poor posture.
Therefore, sleep experts advise side sleepers to use a thick pillow that offers comfort and ample cradling. However, they recommend a medium-firm pillow for a back sleeper.
Numbness In Pressure Points
A pillow works by promoting even distribution of weight and promoting support and pressure point relief. Failing to use a pillow during sleep enables uneven weight distribution, which falls more on pressure points.
Sleeping without a pillow for side sleepers puts excessive pressure on their arms, shoulders, and hip joints. In addition, the reduced mobility forces them to maintain one sleeping position for long. Such extreme pressure leads to the numbing of pressure points.
Similarly, while it may be beneficial for stomach sleepers to sleep without a pillow, it limits neck mobility during sleep. Such results in stiff shoulders or numbness around their arms and neck.
Neck And Shoulder Pain
Appropriate sleep posture is vital in preventing shoulder and neck musculoskeletal pain. The failure of back and side sleepers to use a pillow during sleep forces their neck to overstretch, resulting in neck and shoulder pain.
Stomach sleepers also experience neck pain due to reduced mobility, forcing them to maintain one sleeping position for hours.
Besides providing comfort and softness, most pillows support your body weight and promote spinal alignment. However, failure to use a pillow keeps your spine in its unnatural form, which strains your back muscles, leading to chronic back pain.
A pillow promotes the slight and adequate elevation of your head above your body level during sleep. Such opens up your airways and promotes ease of breathing. However, ditching the pillow misaligns your head, constricting airways and blood vessels, leading to difficulty breathing.
Back sleepers should sleep on a pillow to align their neck and head for easy breathing. It also prevents their head from tilting back and choking. So, apart from breathing, a pillow is vital in promoting safety by preventing back sleepers from choking during sleep.
On the other hand, side sleepers risk blocking their airways when they toss and turn. Failing to sleep on a pillow could sink their head and cause breathing problems. Besides, sleepers with sleep apnea require head elevation during sleep to breathe correctly.
The pillow aligns your head and promotes ease of breathing during sleep. Failure to sleep on a pillow could lead to breathing problems which limit the oxygen reach to your brain. Such could make you wake up light-headed and with headaches.
Besides, it is easy for your head to fall and sink when a pillow does not support it. Such could result in waking up with a headache.
Pillows are vital during sleep since they promote spinal alignment, pressure point relief, and improved breathing. However, stomach sleepers report benefits like improved posture, and reduced back, shoulder, and neck pain when sleeping without a pillow.
However, sleeping without a pillow is dangerous to back and side sleepers since it has effects like spinal misalignment and breathing problems.
Feruza is a mom and a blogger. She had a neck pain for 15 years, which made her interested in everything about pillows.
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