Sleeping Without a Pillow - The Benefits and How to Make the Transition (2019)

Do you hate sleeping in the bed without pillows? If so, why do you always use pillows? Is it because they make your sleep comfortable or just because you believe one should sleep on a pillow?

While for some people putting their head on the headrest when sleeping adds some comfort, for many others they only use one because they think it is necessary.

From a very early age, many parents will introduce a pillow to their kids believing that it makes sleep more comfortable for them. Most of these individuals will grow with a habit of always sleeping with a pillow. But what most do not know is that there are many benefits for both adults and babies for sleeping without one.

Sounds odd, but is it?

No, there are many merits of sleeping without a pillow and also enough research to support them.

So what are some of these benefits of sleeping without a pillow?

Benefits of Sleeping Without Pillow For Adults

Let’s jump straight into the benefits that you should expect to get from snoozing without a pillow. But, before we begin it is crucial to note that the benefits that you get might differ from one person to the other.

Also, some individual might have medical conditions that necessitate the use of pillows when sleeping. Here are the benefits of sleeping without a headrest for adults and babies.

  • It Is Good For the Spine

Sleeping without a pillow ensures that your body maintains a more natural posture. One of the parts that will benefit most from this is the spine. By keeping your spine in a natural curve or position, you are less likely to develop any back issues.

Years of sleeping on thick pillows may lead to different spinal problems for many people. And so you can avoid all this by merely losing the head support.

  • Prevent Neck Pain

Do you always wake up with a painful and stiff neck every other day? If yes, do you know what causes it?

For many people, the neck problem is a result of a wrong sleep posture or position, but for many others, it is because they use a pillow. Raising your head as you sleep is not always a good thing because it can strain your neck or keep it in a natural position and hence make it painful the following day.

  • Improving the Quality of Sleep

Sleeping without a pillow can improve the quality of sleep that you get. And although there is still no reliable research information to back this up, most people that sleep with the head directly on the mattress admit that they get restorative rest.

Many things might be responsible for this, but the fact that your body maintains a natural posture is the key one. Also, your head is less likely to sweat excessively and interfere with your sleep when you do not use a pillow.

  • Facial Benefits

Imagine this, you go to bed with a face full of acne and wake up the next day with a soft and acne-free face? Wouldn't this be just fantastic?

Well, sleeping without a pillow can do this, but it will not happen overnight. And to make things even better, it can help to slow down the aging process and make you look young. If you sleep without your pillow, you will get better quality sleep which is very beneficial for your skin.

Also, your face will not have anything pressing against it all night which can create folds that lead to the formation of wrinkles.

  • Prevents Stress

Wrong sleep position means that you will not get the rest that your body requires and this, in turn, causes stress. And so sleeping without a pillow can be a simple but still useful way of keeping stress levels in check.

Sounds strange, doesn't it?

But it is not, and most people that sleep without a pillow will notice a significant reduction in their stress levels. And this is more so for those individuals always anxious and stressed.

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Benefits of Sleeping Without Pillow For Babies

  • Keeps Allergies at Bay

Babies tend to be more sensitive to allergies, and even that soft pillow that you buy for the infant can trigger an allergic reaction.

Feathers, dust and other material on the headrest can trigger a severe allergic reaction. Just putting your infant in the crib without any headrest can help to prevent all this.

  • Can Prevent Flat Head Syndrome

Flat Head Syndrome is where a child’s head becomes flat on one side. If your baby is using a pillow for too long, it can change the shape of his head. And in most instances, the change in the head shape can be permanent.

Sad, isn't it?

But, taking away the pillow from your little one's crib can prevent the Flat Head syndrome.

  • Prevents Overheating

Are you always trying to make your infant as warm as possible?

The chances are this is one of your top priorities as a parent. But, do you know that too much heat can even be worse than cold? It is a fact that any excessive heat or cold will harm your baby.

A pillow can lead to excessive sweating in infants and cause heat rashes and even other more severe problems. Baby pillows with materials like polyester are not very breathable, and they tend to get very hot. Sleeping without a pillow can help to prevent the infant from overheating.

  • Prevents Neck Sprains

When babies sleep on a pillow for a long time, it is possible for them to develop neck sprains. Although this is an infrequent occurrence since most baby pillows have an exclusive design that is safe for infants, it is still a possibility.

But are you willing to take chances with your little angel?

And so until they are at least two years old you should avoid giving them a pillow.

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Steps of Transitioning to Pillow Free Sleep

Let me guess; you have been using a pillow for longer than you can remember and you probably slept on one as an infant.

That's right because most other people have also been using these pads all their life. And so you cannot just decide one day that you will no longer be using a pillow and start implementing the decision the next night. Instead, it should be a gradual process that follows the steps below.

  • Step #1: Start With a Folded Towel/Bedsheet

So you have decided to sleep without a pillow, but where do you start. The first step should always be to start the transition by using a folded bedsheet or towel. Doing this ensures that you still maintain the same head height you are used to for a few nights. You should then Reduce the height by unfolding your towel or sheet gradually.

  • Step #2: Continue Reducing the Height

Keep reducing the height of your headrest by unfolding the bedsheet or towel. But, make sure you do it gradually so that your body can get used to the new height slowly. You can reduce the height in intervals of one week until there is nothing left and you can sleep without any headrest.

  • Step #3: Do Some Stretches

When using a pillow some of the muscles in the neck and back will become tight and strained. And so when you are making the transition it will be essential to stretch them out.

A few basic stretches when you wake up and during the day can make the change to pillow less sleep smooth for you. Exercising the neck and shoulder can do wonders, and you will be able to sleep without any headrest sooner than you think.

  • Step #4: Remain Consistent

Consistency is the key to success when making the transition. Even if at first it feels odd to sleep without raising your head you will get used to the situation after a while. Keep at it and make sure that you do not switch back and forth because this will not only make things hard for you but can also result in neck and back pains.

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Good Sleep Position Without a Pillow

There are no specific sleep positions that you should go for when you are not using a pillow. The most critical thing is to ensure that you sleep well and that your body maintains a natural posture. However, make sure that the sleep position that you pick will make you feel comfortable and relaxed.

It is also necessary to try not to sleep on any other body part when you are not using a pillow. Many people will be tempted to rest on one or both of their hands, but this is never a good idea. If you make this sleep position a habit, you will always be waking up with painful hands and neck.

If you are back sleeper try using Yogabed back & shoulder posture cushion or a little towel to align your spine properly.

Ensuring that you have a mattress that is not hard is another way of guaranteeing that you get a good sleep position when not using a pillow. A soft and comfortable bed will ensure that you sleep well no matter what sleep position you prefer.


It's a no-brainer that sleeping without a pillow can have many benefits for both adults and babies. But whether you choose to do it or not will all be about your personal preferences.

What works for you will not work for the next person, and so the best course of action is to try snoozing without any headrest for some time, and if you like the effects or find it more comfortable, you can make the transition. All in all, the most important thing is always to go for what has the most significant benefits for your overall health and sleep.

What's the Best Way to Sleep? With or Without a Pillow?

Video about What's the Best Way to Sleep? With or Without a Pillow?

1 Comment
  1. Reply
    Sunil March 17, 2018 at 1:15 am

    Amazing Article. 😊 I was aware sleeping without pillow is the best way to sleep. I slept without pillow today, I kind of have neck pain, but yes I will survive and will be consistent. Thanks to your article for making me more positive.

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