Do you toss and turn at night, trying to find a comfortable position in which to sleep? Before you head to the mattress store to purchase a costly new mattress or go to the pharmacy to try an over-the-counter sleep aid, consider a less expensive fix and buy a body pillow.

Should you use a body pillow for sleep?

Many women’s first experience with a body pillow comes when they are trying to adjust to sleeping while pregnant. Since pregnant women are unable to sleep on their stomachs, doctors often suggest purchasing a body pillow to help women improve their sleeping position. Sleeping alongside a body pillow while pregnant helps support the mother’s growing abdomen. Body pillows also provide pressure point relief –,, especially for those aching knees and hips.

But body pillows are not just for mothers-to-be. Everyone who sleeps can benefit from using a body pillow. Placing the pillow between the knees helps improve the body’s spinal alignment. If your body is well aligned, you are more likely to have a restful night’s sleep. This is especially true for those suffering from chronic back issues.

Body pillows can be used to help provide relief from specific sleep issues. Snoring and sleep apnea worsens with sleeping on your back. A body pillow encourages you to sleep on your side – a much better position for those suffering from those issues.

Those suffering pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraines also report some relief from using a body pillow. These claims may seem grandiose, but if a body pillow increases muscle relaxation and improves circulation, it may not be too unusual of a claim. Some even report a reduction in symptoms that cause acid reflux. Sleeping with a body pillow under your knees can help alleviate pain from varicose veins and swollen feet.

Others, especially children, find comfort in the larger size of body pillows. Children who have a difficult time sleeping on their own can hug a body pillow instead of calling out for a parent in the middle of the night. Children are not the only ones who can benefit from this sense of comfort. A body pillow can provide a sense of security to adults as well. Think of a body pillow as a replacement to a favorite stuffed Teddy bear.

Just like regular bed pillows, body pillows are stuffed with a variety of materials – (down, down alternative, polyester.) One can purchase pillowcases for the 20 x 48 pillows, or some come already sewn into a decorative case. Some teenagers are using these decorative body pillows along the length of their twin beds to create faux couches in their bedrooms. This works great for dorm rooms as well.

And just like regular pillows, most body pillows are machine washable. Down body pillows may require dry cleaning. Check the pillow’s care tag for specific instructions, and be careful not to overload your washer.

What are the disadvantages of sleeping without a pillow?

Even though there may be some advantages of sleeping without a pillow, there are also disadvantages.

Neck Pain

For most sleeping positions, skipping the pillow can cause or inflame neck pain. Sleeping on your side or back overextends your neck, and your neck will remain in this position all night without a pillow.

If you sleep on your stomach, ditching the pillow may help your neck remain in a more natural position. But, you still need to turn your head when you sleep in this position, which can strain your muscles and neck joints, causing discomfort.

Sleeping without a pillow, the pressure on your neck muscles will be spread unevenly. If you don’t use a pillow, you’ll be more likely to experience stiffness, headaches, and neck pain.

Poor Posture

If you are a stomach sleeper, sleeping without a pillow can improve your alignment. Because most of your weight is in the center of your body when you sleep on your stomach, it will be difficult for your spine to be natural.

Put a pillow under your pelvis and stomach to improve your posture while sleeping on your stomach. The pillow will lift the midsection of your body and reduce pressure on your spine, even if there is no pillow under your head.

In any other sleep position, sleeping without a pillow isn’t the best. No pillow can strain your muscles and joints and puts your spine in an unnatural posture. If you sleep on your side or back, it’s best to use a pillow.

Is it better to sleep without a pillow?

Pillows help to keep your spine in a natural position while you sleep. They are used to align your neck with the rest of your body. Pillows support good posture. No studies are focusing on the best type of pillow for posture. We don’t know the harmful effects of sleeping without a pillow.

If you sleep on your stomach, you might want to experiment with ditching the pillow. A study conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center, sleeping on your stomach may put your spine in an unnatural position. That’s because when you sleep on your stomach, the bulk of your weight is in the middle of your body.

Can you reduce neck pain if you sleep without a pillow?

For stomach sleepers, sleeping without a pillow may reduce neck pain. Sleeping on your stomach, your head is turned to the side. Your neck is extended backward at the same time. The result is an awkward angle, causing discomfort and pain.

If you used a pillow in this sleeping position, it would worsen the awkward angle of your neck. Sleeping without a pillow can reduce the unnatural position while minimizing strain on your spine.

Unfortunately, a lot more research is needed to find definitive answers. Most commonly, studies about pillows and neck pain concentrate on the best type of pillow to alleviate pain. If your neck hurts after sleeping, talk to your physician before you get rid of your pillow.

Is sleeping without a pillow improve your alignment?

When you sleep without a pillow, your head remains flat, which could reduce stress on your neck and improve your alignment. Although this is true for when sleeping on your stomach, it doesn’t apply in other sleeping positions. If you sleep on your side or back, sleeping pillowless may do more harm than good. Use a pillow when you sleep to keep your spine natural.

Before trying more expensive solutions to a better night’s sleep, purchase a body pillow. You’ll be sure to be sleeping like a baby in no time.

Is sleeping without a pillow good for your hair?

I haven’t found any correlation between hair health and using a pillow. As far as I know, there are no studies on how sleeping without a pillow affects the hair. The pillow material might affect your hair. Some people think that a silk sleep surface may be better for your hair than cotton. It’s unlikely that your pillow would have a significant impact on your hair health.

Tips for starting to sleep without a pillow

Most of us have always slept with a pillow. It will take time to get comfortable sleeping without a pillow. Consider the following tips to start sleeping without a pillow:

  • Carefully choose the right mattress. The quality of your mattress is especially important if you want to sleep without a pillow. Choose a mattress with enough support. Avoid soft mattresses because they could result in back pain.
  • Transition to a smaller pillow first. It is best to make gradual changes. Instead of immediately removing your pillow, try sleeping with a smaller pillow first. Another option is to use a folded blanket or a large folded towel under your head. Unfold the blanket over time until you are ready to sleep without it.
  • Support the rest of your body with pillows. You can put a pillow under your stomach if you are a stomach sleeper. Body pillows are also very effective in reducing stress on your body. When you are on your back, place a pillow under your knees or in between your knees when you are sleeping on your side.

Although sleeping without a pillow may be a good option for some, for most of us, a pillow will remain part of our sleep routine. If you sleep on your back, a pillow is recommended. What’s more important is that you are pain-free and comfortable in bed. If you have back or neck pain, sleeping without a pillow may be unsafe. Talk to your doctor before you give up on your pillow.