Last Updated on December 4, 2023 by Louise Carter
Many consider pillowcases essential, even if it’s just for aesthetic reasons. Pillowcases form a protective barrier over a pillow, protecting the skin and hair from bacteria and mold.
Removing pillowcases from your bed will result in less laundry, potentially improve your skin due to reduced overnight friction, and may remove allergens from your bedroom.
However, sleeping without a pillowcase will leave your pillow exposed to sweat, dirt, skin and hair oils, and environmental dust and grime.
Removing a pillowcase may reduce the lifespan of the pillows. Most average-quality pillows can be used for at least 2 years, while superior pillows last longer.
A pillow that lacks a protective cover will likely need to be replaced every few months.
Use pillowcases when possible. If they’re uncomfortable or causing problems with your sleep, abandon using pillows altogether or upgrade to a more suitable pillowcase material.
Why Sleep Without a Pillowcase?
The reasons you may consider removing pillowcases include:
- The pillowcases are moldy, wet, or stained.
- You experience allergic reactions to the material.
- You’re economizing on energy bills and don’t want to launder pillowcases regularly.
- The pillowcase has grown bumpy or feels scratchy against the skin.
- You’re keen to avoid friction on the skin that causes wrinkles.
If you want these benefits, find out what happens if you sleep without a pillowcase.
Is it Okay to Sleep Without a Pillowcase?
Sleeping without a pillowcase has pros and cons.
Advantages of Sleeping Without a Pillowcase
While sleeping without a pillowcase isn’t a decision to take lightly, there are some benefits:
You should launder your bedsheets and pillowcases around once a week to protect yourself from dirt, grime, sweat, and skin oils that would otherwise sink into the fabric.
Regular laundry can be problematic if you live in a building with limited washing and drying facilities or are trying to keep your utility bills low.
Washing pillowcases can also impact the quality of the pillowcase if made from cotton.
The more a pillowcase is laundered, the bobblier the fabric will become, which can feel uncomfortable when your cheek is pressed against a pillow.
You can still sleep with a pillowcase and reduce your laundry loads. However, this is risky as the pillowcases will gather bacteria and mold and attract dust mites.
If you’re uncomfortable at night, struggling to breathe easily, or waking with a rash or other skin concern, you likely have an allergic reaction to something in your bedroom environment.
Understanding what causes an allergic reaction is often a process of elimination. You must remove potential triggers from your sleeping space until the symptoms subside.
Reduced Friction on The Skin
Nobody likes the idea of wrinkles, but they’re a fact of life. Our bodies produce less collagen as we age, and elasticity in the skin is significantly reduced.
Sleeping without a pillowcase may go some way to slowing down the aesthetic signs of ages.
Pillowcases, especially those made from cotton, cause friction against the skin. As you toss and turn, the face will rub against the material.
Removing a pillowcase may create less friction, especially if the pillow is smooth. You may wake up with fewer wrinkles and sleep lines on your face, as your skin isn’t meeting resistance.
Some people may consider a coverless pillow more comfortable.
If you get a memory foam pillow, you may prefer the physical sensation without a pillowcase. Alternatively, you may sleep more soundly if you get a goose or duck pillow with a large ‘loft.’
Cheap pillows may lack quality, feeling uncomfortable and scratchy against the skin.
Pillows can also regulate temperature if you don’t use a pillowcase. For example, a bamboo pillow and bed sheets assist with thermal conduction and moisture wicking.
Disadvantages of Sleeping Without a Pillowcase
If you’re considering removing your pillowcases, some notable disadvantages must be considered:
No Protection for The Pillow
Sleeping without a pillowcase doesn’t offer protection for the pillow.
Every bead of sweat, every piece of dead skin, the make-up or sunscreen you forget to remove at night, and every stray hair that falls from your head will land directly on your pillow.
Over time, this will cause dampness, mold, and yellow staining of the pillow.
You must also be mindful of spillages. Pillowcases can be laundered if you spill coffee in bed, but cleaning the pillow will be significantly more challenging.
Dead skin, oils, dirt, and dandruff can rub onto your pillows, regardless of your skincare regime. Add environmental dust, and your pillow will gather foreign bodies.
These will be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, which you risk breathing in at night. This can have negative implications for the respiratory system.
A pillow that isn’t regularly cleaned will attract dust mites, ants, spiders, and other bugs. While they’d prefer to leave you alone while you sleep, the risk of allergic reactions and bites increases.
If you use a pillowcase, periodic laundering will resolve these concerns.
Extending A Pillow’s Lifespan
If you have expensive pillows, you’ll want them to last. Most pillows should be replaced every other year, but quality alternatives may have a longer lifespan.
Pillowcases are a protective shield for pillows, extending the usefulness of the pillows.
If you sleep without pillowcases, you must replace the pillows every few months. This expenditure may offset any savings made on your energy bills.
Alternatives to Sleeping Without a Pillowcase
You have two options if you want to sleep without a pillowcase cover:
Sleeping Without a Pillow
If you oppose sleeping with a pillowcase, why not sleep without a pillow? Some people find sleeping on their hands comfortable or even preferable to cushioning their heads.
Sleeping without a pillow works if you prefer to take up the prone position in bed – lying on your front, with your head to one side. Not elevating your neck will keep the body and spine in alignment.
If you prefer to sleep on your back or side, using pillows to elevate your head is advisable. This will reduce back or neck pain upon waking and minimize the risk of snoring, especially if you’re overweight.
Change The Pillowcase Material
A standard pillowcase will usually be made from cotton.
Many of the issues we associate with pillowcases are caused by this fabric. Cotton welcomes bacteria, often feels rough against the skin once aged, and can grow too warm.
Alternatives to a cotton pillowcase include:
- Viscose. With a feeling similar to cotton but a lighter touch and higher moisture-wicking capability, viscose pillowcases are for hot sleepers who otherwise like cotton.
- Polyester. This material is very lightweight, rarely wrinkles, and is low-cost. However, it often gets hot, meaning you may sweat in your sleep.
- Silk and satin. These materials are light and kind to the skin, causing little friction and helping regulate temperature. Silk and satin are expensive and easily damaged.
While sleeping without a pillowcase comes down to personal preference, covering your pillows is recommended. Sleeping without a pillowcase can have adverse health repercussions.