It’s no secret that many people sleep with a pillow over their head. While it might seem weird to those who have never done it, it’s great for improving sleep for some people.
Why would you sleep with a pillow over your head?
To block out noise, to avoid waking up in the middle of the night, and for comfort reasons are some of the common reasons given. But what is really going on here? Is sleeping with a pillow over your head good or bad for you?
There are some people who think it’s risky. They aren’t entirely wrong. Analyze your situation before rushing to trying this technique.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of sleeping with a pillow over your head and what you should do if it’s not working for you.
Benefits of Sleeping with a Pillow Over Your Head
We can separate the benefits provided by sleeping with a pillow over your head into 3 categories:
Depending on your situation, you’ll find some of these more influential than others.
These are the objective benefits. You’ll improve your sleep’s quality if any of these issues plague you at night.
- It’s a great way to block out noise. While there are other solutions for this issue, such as earplugs, using a pillow is a viable alternative.
- It also blocks out the light. Light can wake us up, even if we’re sleeping with our eyes shut. Again, there are alternative solutions to this, like sleep masks, but pillows are also excellent for the job.
- It’s a great way to avoid waking up in the middle of the night. Why? If you have a habit of waking up in the middle of the night, it’s because your brain is sending signals that something is happening. With a pillow over your head, these signals are blocked out and so you sleep more deeply (and awaken less).
- It provides comfort. This really depends on what type of sleeper you are, but for some people, a pillow over the head provides much needed comfort.
- Keeps heat from escaping out of your head and losing body temperature as you sleep.
Some people need emotional support, even during their sleep. There is a plethora of reasons for this. Here are the emotional benefits of sleeping with a pillow over your head:
- The first and most obvious benefit is that some people find it very comforting to sleep with a pillow over their head. If you are someone who tosses and turns in bed, this might be the solution for you! For others, having something on top of your head can help them feel like they’re not.
- It feels like you’re cocooned in warmth and security. This might be because it’s reminiscent of when we were in our mothers’ wombs.
- It helps concentrate on your breathing. Again, this might be because it has something to do with being in the womb but if you’re someone who suffers from anxiety or other sleep disturbances such as insomnia, focusing on deep breaths can help calm you down and get back into a state of relaxation.
- Sleeping with your head covered is an empowering position that means you are taking charge of your sleep and life.
Sleeping with a pillow over your head improves your health, particularly if you suffer from sinus pain or sleep apnea. Here are the benefits:
- A pillow over your head can help with snoring and sleep apnea. How? By preventing air from being pushed into the nose and throat.
- It can relieve sinus pain or pressure by reducing congestion in your nasal cavity.
- A pillow over the head provides extra warmth, which is great for people who suffer from colds and flus, because it helps them maintain their body temperature during sleep.
- Extra blood flow to the brain, which is good for people with headaches.
Warning: Your pillow could also be hurting your health. Always use the right pillow for you.
Drawbacks of Sleeping with a Pillow Over Your Head
Sleep on your back, which can lead to sore muscles. How? If you’re on your side, the weight of the pillow will put pressure on one shoulder and force it to stick out. Plus, some people prefer to sleep on their side.
- If you suffer from panic attacks, avoid sleeping with a pillow over your head.
- You can’t see what’s happening in your room. If you need to get up during the night and there’s something happening in your room, you’re going to be slightly less aware of it.
- It can lead to a stuffy nose because while sleeping with a pillow over your head is good for snoring or sleep apnea, it might cause congestion if air gets trapped inside the nasal cavity.
- It takes a while for the body to adjust. As with everything concerning sleep, the first few nights will probably be problematic. You won’t sleep much, if at all, because your face isn’t used to being blocked while you sleep. Your body will adjust.
- It can be uncomfortable if the pillow is too heavy. It’s important to pick the right pillow if you want to place one over your head during sleep. You want a pillow that is soft and light, so that it doesn’t weigh on your face while you sleep.
- It sometimes gives you a headache because there’s pressure on your forehead from pressing against the pillow or because of light coming in from under it.
- You might sweat and get hot. Temperature is a big factor in sleeping well. Our body is colder while we sleep, and excessive heat can easily wake us up. Since the pillow blocks fresh air from coming into contact with our face, we’ll be hotter. Which is a problem for some people. It’s easy to wake up in a cold sweat if the temperature suddenly changes.
Warning: The pillow could carve an indent into your face, which can lead to wrinkles and drooling (this is also a concern when sleeping with the head down)
The Best Pillows to Put Over Your Head
Here are the characteristics of the perfect pillow to put over your head:
- Soft and light. You can use pillows that aren’t specifically made to be slept on. Just use something comfortable.
- Doesn’t weigh on face while you sleep. It’s going to stay there for the entire night. While you’ll be hard pressed to find a heavy pillow, some exist. Avoid them for this use case.
- Doesn’t cover you completely. Why? You won’t be able to see what’s happening in the room, which could lead to accidents and injuries.
- Blocks light from coming through. You want a pillow that blocks both air and light coming into contact with your face while you sleep.
- Has an opening for breathing on one side of it. This will help prevent congestion because fresh air can come in and out of it more easily.
- Doesn’t smell bad or have a weird texture to the fabric.
Note: The best pillows to put over your head are in down. It makes them perfect for blocking light without being too heavy. A pillow like this one would be optimal, because it’s also treated to not make it get too hot while it’s in contact with your body.
How to Sleep with a Pillow Over Your Head
Here are the best practices for sleeping with a pillow over your head:
- Experiment with different pillow positions.
- Place the pillow over your head and adjust it so that there’s some room for breathing. You should be able to see a little around you, but not much.
- Sleep with your head raised or tilted slightly upward. The risk of snoring and apnea decreases when sleeping in this position because gravity won’t pull the airways shut.
- Keep the pillow over your head for as many hours of sleep as possible, at least two to four hours out of every eight you spend in bed. You want to keep your face covered most of the time because it’ll protect against light and noise pollution, which can disturb a good night’s rest.
- Don’t sleep with the pillow over your head for over eight hours, especially if you are already prone to congestion. It can cause problems such as a stuffy nose or even asthma attacks.
- Put something soft under the neck if needed, such as a blanket or two (you could also put one on top of the pillow, too).
- Put a folded pillow case over the headrest of your bed to protect it from any oil or sweat that might be there.
Editor’s note: As for where to place the pillow, it depends on your preference. Some people like it when the pillow is on their forehead, while others use it as a neck support and place it lengthwise under the chin or behind their head. The one thing that’s important is that you don’t cover your head completely.
Sleeping with a pillow over your head is a good option for those looking for something to put over their heads at night. It’s soft, lightweight, and blocks light from coming in contact with your face. The best option is a memory foam pillow.
However, there are clear drawbacks in doing so. The biggest disqualifying factor would be if you suffer from panic attacks during sleep. It’s already hard enough to regain control with an untroubled face, don’t make it harder on yourself.
On the flip side, some people who suffer from these attacks find solace in sleeping with a pillow over your head. While I don’t know if I would try it myself, it could solve your sleep-related issues. It’s worth a try.
Ultimately, what matters is your comfort. As long as you find your pillow comfortable, you’re good to go.