Sleeping Without a Pillow [Benefits & Disadvantages]

lady lying in bed with no pillow

Pillows are a must-have in bed or are they? While millions of people lie down on one type of pillow or the other,  going pillow-free is a new trend that is fast catching on especially among Millennials and the younger generation.

Many people swear by sleeping without pillows even after spending many years propping up their heads with pillows in the past.

Is sleeping without a pillow bad? The answer is maybe. There are many benefits and drawbacks available on each side of the pillow vs no pillow debate. Often, your circumstances and preferences can determine which option is more suitable.

Benefits of Sleeping without a Pillow

If you have been lying down on a pillow all your life, it is hard to find any respite from ditching them. Hence, it is only logical that you’re wondering whether there’s anything to gain by resting your head on a flat sleeping surface.

Here are some of the advantages available when you ditch the pillows in favor of lying flat on your mattress.

Improved Posture for Stomach Sleepers

Do you get the most sleep when you lie down on your front? If the answer is yes, kicking the pillow habit can be lifesaving for your posture. Many studies have revealed the detrimental effects of pillows on stomach sleepers.

This is because sleeping on your stomach places the spine in an unnatural position by default so propping up your head with a pillow aggravates this position.

Thus, lying flat on your tummy enables the spine to align neutrally with the rest of your body. You can sleep tight and wake up with no neck pain and stiffness across various joints and muscles.

If you’re a stomach sleeper who wants to avoid walking with a slouch especially when you get older, it is time to sleep without pillows.

I now walk straighter, sit up, and sleep with a better posture ever since I started wearing the Posture Corrector for Men and Women 3 Months ago. My friends and family say I no longer walk around with a slouch.

Neck Pain Alleviation 

Pillows can put a huge strain on the health of tummy sleepers. Many people with a preference for that sleeping position report staggering improvements in their neck pain after sleeping flat on their beds.

Note that lying down on your front forces you to overstretch your neck backward. This complicates your neck angle and can put it in an awkward position when propped up on a pillow. The result is neck stiffness, pain, and discomfort.

The good news is that lying down flat reduces the neck’s angle and diminishes the pressure on your spine.

This can eliminate all sorts of neck pain and discomfort.

I found the EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow on Amazon with tons of positive customer reviews. It allows you to sleep and wake up without neck pain regardless of your preferred position and sleeping surface.

Healthier Skin

lady with clear skin and curly hair

Tired of waking up to frequent acne breakouts despite all your efforts to prevent it? It is time to kick your pillows to the curb. Many studies have proven that sleeping on a pillow can increase the chances of suffering acne and other skin blemishes.

Thanks to the mix of skin oils, dead skin tissues, and left-over fragments from other skin products, pillows can be thriving environments for bacteria. This bacteria causes not only acne but other unpleasant skin infections such as Folliculitis and Impetigo.

Sleeping pillowless can save you from the unpleasant experiences of these infections. It can also save you the discomfort and shame of walking around with these skin issues.

Additionally, the strain of pillows can cause all sorts of wrinkles and aging signs not only in back sleepers but those who predominantly lie down on their sides too.

Thus, sleeping without pillows can be a good way to slow down the aging process and save you the cost of botox injections in the future.

Have you seen the article we wrote on sleeping after botox injections? It reveals everything you need to know to get a comfortable shut-eye after the procedure. Check it out here.

Sleep Anywhere with Ease

Mastering the art of hitting the hay without pillows can make your life much easier. Many of us work and travel so much that we do not always have the benefit of sleeping in our beds. Once you’re able to lie down flat on your back comfortably, you should have no problems sleeping whether you’re on the bus, flight, or car.

Pillowless sleeping can make it easy for your body to achieve satisfying rest in a wide variety of surroundings. It can make you more flexible which can be an asset to getting the necessary level of rest wherever you may be.

Have you read the article we wrote on the 23 tips to sleep safely and comfortably on the bus? Click here to read it.

More Natural Sleep

Did you know that our ancestors slept flat on their sides, backs, and stomachs without any form of head support? Lying down flat is a more natural position because our bodies were not created for any sort of head support during sleep.

Thus, pillows are nothing more than an acquired taste.

In cultures where people live without pillows, they report deeper shut-eyes and more energy in the morning. Many Westerners say they now sleep better and have fewer aches and pains after getting rid of their pillows.

Flat Head Syndrome in Babies

Did you know that pillows can deform the head shape of your baby? Well, one of the major causes of the flat head syndrome is placing your child’s delicate skull on one type of pillow or the other.

This is why doctors recommend that you avoid any sort of pillow within the first 6 months of the baby’s life.

Flouting this recommendation can lead to undesirable effects on the appearance of your baby’s head shape.

Click here to check out the article we wrote on the best pillows for the flat head syndrome. It is a must-read that can provide valuable insights into molding the perfect head shape for your adorable bundle of joy.

Disadvantages of Sleeping Pillowless

Sleeping without pillows does not come without a few disadvantages. Here are some of the drawbacks of eliminating pillows from your sleeping routine.

Painful for Side Sleepers

Are you a dedicated side sleeper? Joining the pillowless bandwagon can be more harmful than beneficial for you.

Lying on your sides places your head and neck in an awkward angle that can lead to the risk of hanging. Fortunately, propping up your head with a pillow can correct this angle and prevent you from waking up with severe neck and shoulder pain in the morning.

Pillows can also ease the pressure on the knees while you snuggle up on one side or the other. This is why many sleep experts recommend not just head support but knee support for side sleepers for maximum comfort.

Have you discovered the detailed article we wrote on the best pillows for hip and shoulder pain? You can read it here now.

Higher Risk of Glaucoma

image of a person's eye up close

Have you been diagnosed with glaucoma? If the answer is yes, supportive pillows are your best friends. Note that excessive eyeball pressure is the cause of glaucoma, a devastating eye disease that cannot only cause worsened vision but complete sight loss too.

Sleeping with a pillow reduces some of the pressure on the eyeball which can be handy for patients.

Even if you have healthy eyes now, sleeping on pillows reduces the risk of glaucoma in the future. We recommend paying attention to this if there’s a history of the eye condition in your family.

Acid Reflux

Do you experience acid reflux frequently? If yes, ditching pillows can be a bad idea. The elevation pillows offer for the head can be efficient for preventing heartburns. It can provide the right gravity to block digestive acids from flowing into the esophagus and cause heartburns.

For the best results, we recommend that you lie down on wedge cushions instead of regular pillows. These wedges provide better angles to draw the sleeper’s head away from the stomach.

You could finally be free from acid reflux and its uncomfortable symptoms even if you’ve been suffering the condition for a long time.

After suffering heart burns all my life, the Brentwood Home Zuma Therapeutic Wedge Pillow now allows me to sleep without acid reflux. It has changed my life since I ordered it 2 months ago and my friends who bought it have reported similar benefits.

Reduced Coziness

The right pillow can be extremely cozy. If you’ve been sleeping with pillows all your life, you’re probably used to snuggling up to them during cold nights. To wake up in the middle of the night with no pillows in sight can be heartbreaking.

It can even affect the ability to go back to sleep.

How to Start Sleeping without Pillows

Do you have a desire to switch from sleeping with pillows to laying down flat on your bed? If yes, here are the best steps to make the transition as easy as possible.

1. Reduce Pillow Support Slowly

Are you thinking about getting rid of your pillows cold turkey and sleeping flat? You’re setting yourself up for many sleepless nights. Instead, try to reduce the level of support your head enjoys slowly but steadily over time.

If you currently sleep on pillows that are big and firm, it is time to switch to smaller and softer ones. Sofa cushions can even be a great idea as your body gets used to the lower amount of head support.

Over time, you can introduce small piles of clothes in favor of the sofa cushions and work your way down until you can sleep flat on your bed comfortably without a need for extra head support.

2. Use Body Pillows

lady at her window hugging a body pillow

Body pillows can be a great option to achieve healthy positions when lying down flat on your bed. They’re especially recommended for stomach sleepers who need some form of support between the pelvis and tummy to align the spine with the rest of the body correctly.

Knee pillows can be beneficial for side sleepers as placing one between the knees can ease the pressure of one leg resting on the other throughout the night.

Back sleepers can also benefit from propping their knees with pillows to enhance spinal support.

Have you come across the comprehensive buying guide we wrote for stomach sleepers looking for the best memory foam pillows? it is available here.

3. Choose a Weight-Appropriate Mattress

When your body already sinks into your mattress excessively, propping up your head with pillows can be one of the best ways to reduce body pains.

Lying down flat on such a mattress can aggravate the unnatural positioning of your neck and other body parts. This can result in unbearable levels of discomfort.

This is why you should always choose a mattress that is firm enough to support your body weight. Even if you’ve piled on the pounds, there’s a mattress out there that can suit your support needs.

We recommend that you read the article we wrote on finding the best mattress for overweight people. We reveal hidden secrets and tricks which are definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

Frequently Asked Questions?

Here are the most popular questions about sleeping without pillows and the right answers for them.

Does sleeping without pillows make you taller?

Ditching your pillows can improve your posture. Since the right posture makes you appear taller, we can safely say that the lack of pillows can indirectly make you taller.

Will sleeping make you taller?

The right sleeping time and the right posture are essential for your body’s health and overall growth. Since you need to grow to become taller, one can say that there are benefits available for your height when you sleep well especially in your teen and early adulthood years where growth spurts are common.

How should I sleep to avoid neck pain?

If you’re a stomach sleeper, napping without a pillow can prevent neck pain. Other types of sleeping positions may require pillows of perfect firmness. This means any pillow chosen shouldn’t be too soft or too firm to avoid neck pain.

Should shoulders be on the pillow when sleeping?

No. your pillow should bridge the gap between your neck and shoulders and nothing more. Placing your shoulders on the pillow can rob your spine of achieving the right alignment with the rest of your body.

What is the healthiest sleeping position?

Back sleeping is the healthiest position followed by side sleeping. The worst position is to lie down on your stomach, according to experts.


While sleeping without a pillow can be immensely beneficial for your posture, skin, and sleep satisfaction, it is not for everyone.

Thus, it is up to you to decide whether to go down that route or stick to your pillows. Whichever way you choose, make sure to observe other practices that can improve your sleep. Have a great night!

Gabriel Smith

Hello, my name is Gabriel and I LOVE to sleep. Okay, you’re right, a lot of people do like sleep. But my passion is actually not sleeping. My interest lies in the “theoretical part”. What to do before bedtime. What a good night’s sleep is. etc. In short, how to sleep well. I hope you share the same interest as me, and enjoy reading everything about sleep.

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