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Is Sleeping Without a Pillow Good for The Health?

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It might seem crazy to throw your pillow out. I mean, since you were little you’ve always slept with one. When you think of a bedspread it’s almost certainly with big fluffy pillows at the top. Not to mention how can you get comfortable without something extra soft at your head.

But, there are some in the medical industry who believe sleeping without a pillow can be beneficial. Beneficial to your posture, sleeping position and comfort. But not only that, some doctor’s believe sleeping without a pillow can improve your quality of sleep.

So, what are the benefits of sleeping without a pillow? Read on to find out.

1. Spinal Alignment

It’s no secret that keeping your spine in its natural position has health benefits. It lowers the risk of muscular aches by reducing the amount of work your muscles are doing during the night. It also encourages a health, upright posture during the day. A thick pillow can push your head above your spine. This has a knock-on effect on your spines natural curvature putting it out of alignment.

If you’re a stomach sleeper it’s especially important to try sleeping without a pillow. Pillows, prop your head backwards, raising it above your spine. In order to balance itself, muscles in your neck, upper and lower back will try to compensate. Maintaining this position for a full night will wear your muscles down, causing aches and making you feel like you haven’t slept at all.

2. Facial Benefits

There’s a hundred and one ways to reduce wrinkles. From expensive creams to going under the knife. One promising development in anti-wrinkle methods is a preventative one. Squishing your face against a pillow will cause your skin to wrinkle up. Removing the pillow reduces the risk.

3. Sleep Quality

Keeping a straight spine is crucial to getting a healthy sleep. Sleep cycles work in stages, so ensuring your spine remains flat and neutral by sleeping without a pillow can help to improve your overall sleep quality. Ensuring you move through all 5 stages of sleep in each cycle is crucial to feeling well rested.

Pillows can actually prevent you getting a proper sleep cycle. This is because they raise the temperature of your head, push your spine out of alignment and stretch your muscles.

4. Neck Pain Relief

If you’re pillow is too firm or too soft it can cause neck and shoulder ache over time. It’s an oft-overlooked impact of sleeping consistently with the wrong type of pillow. Doing away with your pillow will lower muscular stress. If you find it comfortable go without, if you need a pillow, make sure you buy the right one for you.

5. Reducing The Risk Of Disease

Two of the chemicals are brain releases for sleep are melatonin and cortisol. High-levels of cortisol, in particular, have significant health benefits including reducing the risk of cancer. If you’re not getting enough quality sleep your levels of cortisol can be significantly reduced.

So how does this relate to pillows? Well, stomach and back sleepers in particular will put their spine out of alignment by using a high-profile pillow. The extra work this puts on your muscles will reduce the amount of quality sleep you’re getting. Not only that, you won’t feel relaxed or refreshed even after a long-night’s sleep.

6. Prevents Insomnia

The primary causes of insomnia are largely unknown. It’s most likely that insomnia is caused by different reasons for different people. Getting as comfortable as possible, in a healthy sleeping position can be as easy as sleeping without a pillow.

7. Aligns Bone Structure

It’s believed that doing away with your pillow aligns your bone structure. This will result in a better posture as well as better quality of sleep. But how does it work? Simple, raising your head is not natural. Your muscles must stretch to do that.

Even though most of the heavy lifting is done by your pillow, stretching neck muscles will cause them to ache. To ensure you’re not stretching, you need to make sure your spine is in natural alignment. This won’t put any extra-work on your muscles. Sleeping without a pillow means you’re sleeping closer to your body’s natural alignment.

If you’re having trouble with either muscles or posture, go one week without a pillow. The results will surprise you.

8. Reduces Acne

We’ve all heard about ‘beauty sleep’. Although, not many of us would believe that its actually a real thing. A dirty, or old pillow case will become a breeding ground for dust mites. Close contact with the skin has been noted to have adverse effects on conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.

Not only that, sinking into a pillow raises the temperature of your skin. Without access to airflow this will, over time, worsen pre-existing skin conditions. So long as you’re sleeping on a firm mattress, you should get better circulation sleeping without a pillow.

9. Feel Fit And Refreshed

Given there’s a direct link to sleep quality and healthiness. As well as a direct link between sleeping without a pillow and better sleep quality. It makes sense to put two and two together.

Sleeping isn’t solely about the amount of time you’re asleep. It’s about the type of sleep you’re getting. Sleeping in the most natural way, e.g. without a pillow, will help you to get more quality sleep rather than just more sleep.

10. Prevent Inflammation

According to a recent study, those who sleep for six hours or less have higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood- in particular C reactive protein. These particular proteins increase the risk of heart-attacks. For some sufferers of insomnia or sleep apnea, sleeping without a pillow can have beneficial effects.

How To Sleep Without A Pillow

So, you’ve spent your entire life sleeping with a pillow. Chances are, you’re going to feel uncomfortable without it. Rather than ‘taking the plunge’ and throwing your pillow away, it’s best to slowly get used to sleeping without. Any change in your sleeping habits takes time to get used to, but it’s often time well spent. Here’s a few tips to make sleeping without a pillow that much easier.

If you’re preference is large, fluffy pillows this is going to take a little bit longer. Try weaning yourself off by investing in a thinner, low profile pillow. This will help you get used to sleeping without. If you sleep on your stomach or back a lower profile pillow will be beneficial to your spine.

Don’t want to invest in a new pillow just yet? Fine, there’s other ways you can prepare. Try sleeping on a folded towel. This lowers the profile of your head support, plus you can lower it each week by reducing the amount of folds. A cheap alternative, but an effective one.

The real benefit of sleeping on a towel is that it allows your neck muscles to gradually adapt. Sudden changes can easily put unwanted strain on your muscles; lowering sleep quality and increasing aches.

Since you’re looking for the opposite effect, take it slow and let your muscles get used to the fresh style.

Keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all for sleep quality or spinal health. Sleeping without a pillow has been beneficial for a lot of people, but it might not be beneficial for you. When you’re sleeping make sure your sleeping in a natural position without discomfort. Try to avoid twisting your spine or shoulders awkwardly. With a little practice, training yourself can pay dividends.

If you find you’re suffering from neck pain, start a light routine of stretches. This isn’t about being able to twist your neck as far as possible. It’s not a competition. Simply rotate your neck, roll it and stretch it from side to side whilst your brushing your teeth or getting ready for bed. Five minutes is enough to have some real health advantages.

There’s a few more stretches you can do which will really make a difference:

Corner Stretch

As the name suggests, you’ll need to be standing in the corner of the room to complete these. Stand about 2 feet from each wall. Put your feet side by side. Now, reach out your shoulders and gently lean forwards using your hands to prevent you from falling. This shouldn’t be enough to hurt but enough to feel it. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.

Levator Scapula Stretch

This stretch refers to the muscle which starts at the neck and runs down underneath your shoulder blade. Locking this muscle by sleeping with a pillow causes a cricked neck. Raise your elbow against the wall. It should be above your shoulder. Then, turn your head in the opposite direction bending it downwards. Use your other hand to maintain balance. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds on each side.

Restless sleepers should seriously consider removing their pillow when sleeping. That’s because the sharp twists can turn your pillow into a lever, pressuring your neck-muscles, your spine and your shoulder blades. Without a pillow, your head will naturally turn to maintain alignment with your spine.

Finally, neck pain has been linked to stress or anxiety. The links are not definitive and there are some question marks over which of the two is the cause. Suffice it to say, that those with chronic neck pain tend to suffer from prominent levels of stress or anxiety. There’s more than a few ways to help you deal with this so make sure you do your research.