5

votes

No Pillow, a good Paleo idea?

Answered on November 17, 2014
Created July 23, 2010 at 10:16 PM

I was recently recommended to drop my pillow(s) to help my neck/spine

Evolutionarily we didn't have them so I figure I'll give it a shot.

Anyone have opinions?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on October 28, 2012
at 05:59 PM

see: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21428604.300-chimp-beds-hint-how-early-humans-ditched-treesleeping.html

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 15, 2012
at 11:11 PM

Haha, that is cute about the dog @Ken , my puppy totally does that with stuffed animals and plush toys! Also, I noticed when one of my pet rats passed away, his lonely partner started crawling into my lap and using my hand as a pillow, like he used to use his partner. Totally adorable.

Af842c68e3d07fa0e35b4274f3acaeec

on September 23, 2010
at 05:54 AM

Chimps' anatomy is far different from ours in many aspects. Their pelvis is much different than ours, with the blades rotated further behind and the angle of the femur-hip joint is different which doesn't allow them to walk efficiently on two legs(it's kind of like us walking on our hands). Our shoulders are much different, as is our upper back and skull attachment as well. The best data you're going to get is going to be from tribes, not chimps. P.S. Yay anthropology class!...

424563ee2575f0620ea221badabb40d7

(272)

on July 25, 2010
at 02:39 PM

@Eva I don't quite see how much arm length, finger strength or toe dexterity have to do with head-neck-spine :) Btw, once I had a dog that often used the wooden base of a table leg for a pillow. So it seems that at least the *desire* for head support isn't limited to humans - whether it's beneficial or not.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on July 25, 2010
at 06:01 AM

Hmm, well really, I don't think I look enough like a chimp to assume I should sleep like they do. For instance, my knuckles do not drag on the ground and I can easily walk upright. Plus I totally suck and swinging through trees with my fingers. Heck, I can't even peel a banana with my toes! I think I'll give up on any attempts to copy chimps.

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14 Answers

10
5437163ddf70d4532f196bfb4333753e

(3614)

on March 15, 2012
at 08:40 PM

Okay, folks. We have to stop using the "Evolutionarily, we didn't have X so X must not be a good idea."

This is not sound scientific reasoning.

Evolutionarily (if that's even a word) we didn't have toilet paper, bicycles, or toothbrushes.

But I think they're a good idea. Pillows are, too.

If you sleep on your back or side, you need a pillow. Period. If you sleep on your stomach, you are turning your head to one side for almost a third of your life. This causes muscle imbalance and pain down the road. Paleo is not a re-enactment. Use a pillow.

4
3a966a805e09d88b0f223f2985392e4f

(836)

on July 24, 2010
at 01:04 AM

In Esther Gokhale's book she recommends using a pillow (placed under the shoulders all the way up to the head) and her posture method is based on looking at traditional cultures around the world. I would look up the Authors@Google video of her talk.

Researching the sleep habits of most cultures, I've come to conclude that sleeping a full 8 hours over night with no naps is a relatively recent, industrial revolution type phenomenon. Many cultures are biphasic and the sleep habits of hunter-gatherer cultures like the !Kung are polyphasic. Having shorter sleeps might help with your stiffening up.

2
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 15, 2012
at 11:10 PM

I sleep on my side always so MUST have a pillow between my knees. Otherwise, I wake up feeling like my hips have caved in. I don't actually really use a pillow for my head (not on purpose- I just only have one pillow, and it ends up between my knees), but I use my upper arm for a pillow, so it's pretty much functioning in the exact same way. Through this self testing of pillowlessness, I have also found that if I move around off my side, I just end up using various parts (arm, shoulder, neck) of my partner as a pillow. So, in my opinion? Ain't nothing wrong with a pillow.

2
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on July 24, 2010
at 06:06 AM

I don't think we know what we did evolutionarily. If Grok had animal skins, he could have stuffed one under his head. Might have to wait for science to answer this one. I have looked and looked for good data on this kind of thing, ie the healthiest sleeping positions and types of bedding, but have found it rather sparse. So far, all I have heard have been advertisements for products and theories with a bit of logic but no real scientific data backing them. -Eva

1
C60a723853b4b7a6a33ef57bd1d21fec

on August 06, 2012
at 03:14 PM

I just recently stopped sleeping without a pillow and I no longer get the neck pain that ran up the back of my head. My pillow also made me hot. I have had pillows from $3 to the $70 My Pillow. All horrible. One thing I do is put an empty pillowcase where my head goes to keep the sheets cleaner. Also, if I place my hand under my neck when I sleep on my side, I slide it under the pillowcase. It's more comfortable. I only discovered sleeping without a pillow a few weeks ago, but so far, so good.

1
B61f6513a155cd874b42efdad55312f6

(231)

on March 15, 2012
at 06:33 PM

If I sleep on my stomach, I can get away with minimal/no pillow, but lately I've been sleeping on my side, so a pillow is almost a necessity.

1
424563ee2575f0620ea221badabb40d7

(272)

on July 24, 2010
at 06:04 PM

I wonder what chimps do, since they're anatomically similar. Web pages I've seen talk about "curling up in a nest". That would seem to imply sleeping on their side but what else?

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on July 25, 2010
at 06:01 AM

Hmm, well really, I don't think I look enough like a chimp to assume I should sleep like they do. For instance, my knuckles do not drag on the ground and I can easily walk upright. Plus I totally suck and swinging through trees with my fingers. Heck, I can't even peel a banana with my toes! I think I'll give up on any attempts to copy chimps.

424563ee2575f0620ea221badabb40d7

(272)

on July 25, 2010
at 02:39 PM

@Eva I don't quite see how much arm length, finger strength or toe dexterity have to do with head-neck-spine :) Btw, once I had a dog that often used the wooden base of a table leg for a pillow. So it seems that at least the *desire* for head support isn't limited to humans - whether it's beneficial or not.

Af842c68e3d07fa0e35b4274f3acaeec

on September 23, 2010
at 05:54 AM

Chimps' anatomy is far different from ours in many aspects. Their pelvis is much different than ours, with the blades rotated further behind and the angle of the femur-hip joint is different which doesn't allow them to walk efficiently on two legs(it's kind of like us walking on our hands). Our shoulders are much different, as is our upper back and skull attachment as well. The best data you're going to get is going to be from tribes, not chimps. P.S. Yay anthropology class!...

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 15, 2012
at 11:11 PM

Haha, that is cute about the dog @Ken , my puppy totally does that with stuffed animals and plush toys! Also, I noticed when one of my pet rats passed away, his lonely partner started crawling into my lap and using my hand as a pillow, like he used to use his partner. Totally adorable.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on October 28, 2012
at 05:59 PM

see: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21428604.300-chimp-beds-hint-how-early-humans-ditched-treesleeping.html

1
016d898536232b3f4afeec4ad8e05115

on July 24, 2010
at 05:51 PM

After reading an article on instinctual sleep habits of primitive tribes cited by Marc Sisson's Daily Apple, I gave up my favorite buckwheat husk pillow and have never slept better. I no longer have the problems with my neck and shoulders that plagued me when I tried all types of pillows through the years.

0
11529f4f6c804b65709f0cba666619be

on November 17, 2014
at 02:36 PM

Been back and forth with this myself.  If you look at pic's of instinctive sleeping positions, an arm is typically tucked under the head for support, so I don't see much difference between using an arm and using a pillow.  A pillow will be more comfortable.  However, if I sometimes experience back pain, a couple of nights on the floor with no pillow really seems to help correct the problem, so there's something to be said for that.

0
Af49bced416926d9f88e47a7e705d99d

on October 28, 2012
at 03:37 PM

recently i was having some soreness on the back of my neck and head and found that my pillow was exacerbating it, (and it is one of these ergonomic, relatively low wool pillows) so i took the pillow out and it feels much better. now i sleep half and half with and w/o a pillow, sometimes i wake up in the night and grab it. if i am sleeping on my back i definitely go without it, and i'd probably go with it if on my side. stomach, i'm not sure which, i think it's more of a toss up.

but i was glad this was something i figured out worked for me, not something i did because it was recommended to me. though i have pondered the health of sleeping with/without a pillow before. i had tried it before and just couldn't get comfortable, but now it really works for me.

it seems most of us have problems sticking our heads out in front of us, when we should keep it aligned with our spine. so going without a pillow, at least while sleeping on your back, seems natural. though when on your side, it might be better to use one.

0
782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

on August 06, 2012
at 05:08 PM

I sleep with a contour pillow. I find that sleeping without a pillow gives no support to my neck at all and sleeping with a regular pillow puts my neck in too high of a position. I have heard that when sleeping you want to keep the neck in alignment with the spine, so some sort of a pillow is necessary.

0
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 15, 2012
at 05:50 PM

I think it's fine with or without a pillow based on what's comfortable for you. From pictues, I know that some people who go without pillows sleep on their side with their head on their upper arm.

I've had a cervical fusion and it's painful to sleep without a pillow. I can rest my head on my upper arm, but the arm soon protests the weight. And, I like to sleep with one knee sharply bent and on my side but leaning over toward the bent knee.

I use buckwheat pillows. I didn't like them until I realized the duh! that they are hard if pushed down from above but fluffy and mold-able when lifted from below. Ahh, that felt so good once I figured out how to create a low-but-perfectly-shaped buckwheat resting place.

I get 6-7 hours of restful sleep.

0
22d1e1fe3acb424696c81b523502b984

(80)

on March 15, 2012
at 05:42 PM

You know, when I visited South Korea I slept on a giant stone bed with a 1 inch thick cotton pad under me for two weeks. I got used to it very quickly (although I could sleep just about anywhere). In my two weeks there, I lost about 5-7 lbs. My two theories are that I burned more calories through the night sleeping on a hard surface and that the diet there was pretty awesome. Aside from the white rice, the food could definitely be characterized as paleo-- fantastic fish, meats, shellfish, pickled veggies.

0
29e2bf6b555322d39d022126e12b08cd

(370)

on July 23, 2010
at 10:30 PM

I stopped sleeping with a pillow (lying flat on my back) and it definitely helped with lessening those little aches and pains in my neck that I used to wake up with sometimes. I still use a pillow when I sleep on my side though to keep the neck in alignment.

I also tend to transfer myself to the floor in the middle of the night. Again, sleeping on my back, it keeps my shoulders from hunching forward (my mattress is too soft). I sleep best with a bit of padding on the floor, like a down comforter, underneath me.

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