Sleeping Without a Pillow: Does it Help with Neck Pain?

November 14, 2021
pillow, Upper neck pain

Upper neck pain can stem from a long list of things that you can readily avoid or control. One of which is the pillow you use to support your neck while you lay in bed. Some argue that it's better to sleep without a pillow because it’s tricky to pick the right kind. At the same time, others dispute the claims saying that it can potentially cause worse problems for your cervical spine. Let’s uncover the truth by looking a bit closer at the upper neck anatomy.


The Role of Pillow in Maintaining Your Spinal Alignment

Pillows trace their roots to ancient Mesopotamia, where the affluent families used them to prevent bugs from crawling inside the ears. However, the pillows back then did not feel as comfortable because they used stone to make them. Other civilizations soon picked up the trend but used different materials like porcelain, bronze, bamboo, cotton, and straw. Fast forward to the present day, and you can now find pillows suited for different types of sleepers.

Like in the old days, pillows help you get a good night's rest by supporting your head and neck. They also ensure that your neck muscles stay relaxed even when you turn from side to side. 

Because each person has varying sleeping positions and pre-existing health conditions, finding the right kind of pillow to not get upper neck pain requires a bit of technical know-how. Here are some tips you can use when you shop for yours: 

  • Make sure you know your sleeping position because it can tell you what sort of pillow might work better for you. 
    • Extra firm pillows for side sleepers
    • Medium firmness for those who sleep on their backs
    • Pillows made from a combination of materials for people who sleep in various positions
  • Consider the breathability of the material, especially if you live in a warm area
  • Match its texture and firmness with the bed, so you get enough back and neck support


Should You Ditch Your Pillows for Better Sleep and Improved Neck Pain?

Notably, some people sleep better without one because they lay on their stomachs. This position doesn't require additional head or neck support because the low angle alone keeps the spine in the correct alignment and prevents the onset of neck pain. If you follow the same position when you lay on the bed, you can try sleeping without a pillow and see if your neck pain improves. 

However, if you sleep on your side, we strongly discourage ditching your pillows. It will mostly result in worse and more excruciating pain when you wake up in the morning. Instead of getting rid of your favorite pillows, we suggest doing the following:

  • Checking if you’re using the right kind of pillow for your neck
  • Ensuring your bed also provides ample neck and back support
  • Working with an upper cervical care practitioner to check and address cervical subluxations


How To Transition Into A Pillowless Sleep

Once you confirm that you sleep on your stomach, you can readily shift to a pillowless sleep. However, it may take some time to get used to the new setup, so we suggest doing the following: 

  • Start by making small changes - Instead of immediately getting rid of your pillow, you can use a folded blanket until your body adapts to the bed's flat surface.
  • Place your pillow in other parts of the bed - You can also put the pillow between your hips to help straighten your spine while you lay on the bed. 
  • Switch to a better mattress - Having a bed that works well with your body type and sleeping style can help you quickly transition to a pillowless sleep.

Goodbye Upper Neck Pain with the Help of Upper Cervical Care

Poor quality pillows and upper neck pain definitely share quite a strong connection. That’s why it may help to consider the type of pillow you pair with the mattress you have in your room. If the neck aching lingers despite making the necessary adjustments, you should consider getting your cervical spine alignment assessed. 

Unknowingly, you might have misaligned neck bones pressing on nearby tissues like muscles and nerves. Until you correct the problem with the help of upper cervical care, the pain will most likely stay and wreak havoc in your daily life. In addition, the damage to your affected nerve roots and other tissues can worsen and lead to more severe health problems. 

Upper cervical chiropractic adjustments make a practical approach to lingering neck pain because it helps fix misalignments in your spine. It also restores brain signal transmission, which can contribute to the healing process of your body. 

The procedure is simple and involves making minor adjustments to your C1 and C2 bones. It also takes time to complete fully restore the bones to help your body heal independently. Once everything goes back to its proper place, the searing sensation from the compressed nerves and the intense pain from the stiff muscles start to disappear. 

It’s a good idea to talk to a neck chiropractor as soon as possible so you can start your procedure and receive adjustments. Thanks to upper cervical care, thousands of ailing patients with chronic neck pains now lead a healthy and pain-free life. 

You can also experience relief from your recurring upper neck pain. To find out more about how you can proceed, you can schedule your first appointment with an upper cervical chiropractic doctor near you today!


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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.