Sleep with or without pillows – what is healthy and what is unhealthy depending on your sleeping position?
Some cannot without, others cannot – the pillow is a companion in bed, which is sometimes very questionable. Because some claim that it is better to sleep without a pillow, while others believe that a pillow is beneficial for the spine. But what's wrong now? Should you sleep with or without a pillow?
Sleeping without a pillow or with – a question of comfort and sleeping pose
As already mentioned, it is simply more comfortable for many people with a large, cozy pillow. Nevertheless, it turns out to be disadvantageous for some sleeping positions, while it is better for the spine in others. And that is exactly what the pillow also serves – to support the neck and especially the spine. The University of Rochester Medical Center conducted a study on this.
The result was that sleeping without pillows is healthier for stomach sleepers. This is because the spine takes on a relaxed shape in this position, with the vertebrae not pressing against the intervertebral discs. The spine is in a relatively normal position. Nevertheless, sleeping on your stomach is not recommended, because in this pose the neck is turned to the side, which in turn strains him.
But if you can't do without sleeping on your stomach, you should at least leave out the pillow. Just imagine this: if the head lies prone on a pillow, no matter how flat, the neck is also raised again and is bent backwards, which means an unnatural position for the spine. Tendons, muscles and joints are stretched and pulled. Instead, you'd better use a pillow to slightly lift your stomach and hips. This relieves the spine.
Sleep without pillows – side sleepers and back sleepers
And is it unhealthy to sleep without a pillow if you prefer a different sleeping position? The rule here is that sleeping without a pillow is healthier, Not, Especially those who sleep on the side need a support for the neck, otherwise it will bend slightly downwards and this can even lead to neck pain. Instead, a pillow with a suitable height ensures that your spine is in a natural (S-shaped) and, above all, relaxed position. So here it is important not to choose a pillow that is too high or too low.
If you have neck pain, sleep with or without a pillow?
If you suffer from neck pain and mostly sleep on your stomach, it could be related to the pillow. If you sleep without a pillow, you may be able to relieve the discomfort. But the position itself can also cause neck pain. As already mentioned, the muscles are pulled through the lateral position of the head.
Likewise, the wrong pillow can cause pain in other positions. If the neck is not properly supported, the muscles cannot relax, which can lead to pain in the long run. However, since there are no adequate studies on this (so far only the right pillow types for each sleeping position have been examined, but not whether sleeping without a pillow is unhealthy or healthy), you should seek advice from your doctor before you decide to remove the pillow banish the bedroom.
Sleep without pillows on your stomach – tips
If you have decided not to use the pillow in the future, you should gradually get used to it. This is especially true if you've always used a pillow. You should pay attention to this, so as not to put unnecessary strain on the spine, including the neck and back:
Reduce the height step by step
Don't suddenly leave the pillow off overnight, just because you finally want to sleep without a pillow. Instead, take a blanket or a towel and fold it several times. Now you sleep on it for a few nights, after which you gradually unfold it in smaller intervals. This way, the sudden difference will not disturb your night's sleep.
Sleep healthy without a pillow or not quite?
As already mentioned, a pillow is also recommended in the prone position – not just under the head, but under the pelvis and stomach. In your supine position, you again benefit from not only supporting your head, but also placing another under your knees. On the other hand, if you sleep on the side, it is best to add another pillow in addition to the pillow. Place this between your legs at knee level. You will immediately notice the difference!
The mattress also plays a role
A comfortable and restful sleep cannot depend on the pillow alone. Especially when you sleep on your stomach (but not only), the mattress should not be too soft, because then the spine will sag and this is an unnatural position. So get professional advice when buying a mattress.
So sleeping without a pillow is not recommended, even if that means that the pillow is used in a different position. While you benefit from the pillow on your side and on your back, the head and neck should not be lifted by a pillow in the stomach position. In all cases, depending on the sleeping position, pillows under the stomach, pelvis and knees or between the legs are recommended.
Pain in the neck or back can be caused by the improper use of pillows, but it can also have another cause. In some cases, sleeping without a pillow could not only prove to be unhealthy, but even dangerous (among other things, with spinal disorders). It is therefore important to talk to your doctor before banishing the pillow.
The University of Rochester Medical Center study is available here.
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