Lately, you’ve been wondering about the benefits of sleeping on the floor. You’ve probably heard here and there about people who have made the transition to the floor, ditched their bed, and haven’t looked back. Or maybe you haven’t. Perhaps the whole idea is new to you, and you really can’t wrap your mind around it.
Over the last few years, sleeping on the floor has become more than just a whisper of an idea as more and more people are considering the various benefits – both for their health and economically. Floor dwellers are beginning to build up a trend that goes against an even more significant trend: the mattress.
Why A Mattress?
When you stop to think about it, you begin to wonder when this whole bed trend started and why. After all, surely our ancestors weren’t sleeping on Tempur-
So, how did the mattress come about in the first place? The general idea of comfort with the modern mattress didn’t make its way into homes until the early 18th century. Prior to this, people slept on not much more than bags made of coarse cotton filled with materials such as leaves. The main reasons beds were created and lifted from the ground was to avoid pests of that time and the coldness of the floor.
Since the 18th century, the mattress has evolved into the comfortable luxury we now know and don’t think much about. However, there are still some people in countries such as Korea and Japan who do happily and willingly continue to sleep on a floor rather than a mattress any day.
What Are the benefits of Sleeping On the Floor?
1. It Can Help to Reduce Acute Back Pain
If you are one of the countless people around the world who suffer from pain in your lower back, especially when you wake up in the morning, sleeping on the floor may be a good option for you. Similar to claims that firm mattresses are better for back pain, the firmness of the ground is ideal for helping to minimize the painful effects of a low quality or soft mattress.
In general, the comfort that mattresses aim to achieve can have adverse effects on our back if they are too soft or once they become old. While many people may not experience, or even notice, the sagging that a mattress can obtain from the weight of our bodies, a person with persistent back problems will suffer through many sleepless nights due to the misalignment.
Keep in mind that the long-term effects are not a complete elimination of all pain. As a short-term solution, however, it would be an excellent option to help alleviate the pain. If you are curious about whether or not sleeping on the floor would be ideal for your particular back pain, such as an injury, speak to a chiropractor to find out what sleeping arrangement is best for you.
2. Improve Your Posture
Because the extra padding and cushion of the mattress will not be there, your body will be allowed to keep its natural alignment. Even though some beds do conform to your body, it is impossible for the structure of the mattress not to lose its firmness over time. A sagging mattress will not only have consequences for your comfort, but also the alignment of your spine.
A cause of poor posture can also stem from back pain itself due to overcompensation. Meaning that if you are able to reduce the pain you are in, your body will no longer need to compensate by tweaking the way you sit, walk, or stand. Regardless of age, ensuring that you maintain good spinal health can help prevent future injuries and improper posture.
By keeping your neck and back in alignment, you are also re-training the muscles that keep you upright by showing them how your body should be when you are standing (if you are laying on your back). If you decide to try sleeping on the floor for a few nights, you might notice that your body will try to mimic the straightness you feel while laying down because this correct posture will begin to feel more comfortable and natural.
3. It Can Help With Insomnia
One of the main reasons people struggle to stay asleep at night is discomfort. Your bed could be what’s to blame for your constant tossing and turning, especially if it is too soft or sagging. Nightly insomnia can have many different contributions, such as illness, poor mattress quality, and pain. Eliminating your bed can help remove some of those factors.
Another thought to consider is a partner who tosses and turns in their sleep or wakes up frequently for trips to the bathroom. If someone tends to wake easily, they will notice any slight movement or shift of the bed, especially if they have acute insomnia. By sleeping on the floor, you can also give yourself the freedom of not waking up just because your sleeping partner does.
As long as you continue with your other insomnia remedies (medication, meditation, exercising, or anything else that helps you), sleeping on the floor might be a helpful addition. If you suffer from long-term insomnia, be sure to consult your doctor prior to changing your sleeping habits.
4. It Prevents Overheating
During those warm summer months, it is easy to lose sleep due to being too hot. In order to have a restful sleep, our body needs to be able to keep its core temperature lowered throughout the night. A mattress with materials such as memory foam is likely to make you a little warmer than your body needs to be, further preventing sleep. Similarly, the fabric of your sheets, like flannel, can also keep you too warm.
Sleeping on the floor can provide a coolness that you may not achieve by merely removing a few blankets. As we have learned, one of the main reasons for elevating modern beds in the first place was to avoid the draft of the floor. The history of lifting beds for warmth would be a good indication that if you are trying to cool down, you should try lowering yourself back down into the draft.
Lowering your bed to the floor can be especially helpful if you are the type of person who runs a little warmer than the rest of us even on a cold night. While you will still have some padding, the chill from tiles or even hardwood flooring can be enough to make the floor your summer sleeping place.
5. For More Energy When Getting Up In the Morning
People who have adjusted their bodies for sleeping on the floor have reported that they often wake up feeling more energized. They note feeling ready to get going and begin their day as compared to bed sleeping. The incentive to get up could be thanks to not having an ultra-plush mattress convincing them to stay in bed for just a few minutes longer.
Thanks to the ability to eliminate certain sleep obstructions, such as overheating and pain, you’ll be able to have a more restful sleep. Even though you might technically be asleep when you drift away on your mattress, you may not be achieving a decent amount of quality sleep, which you need in order to feel sufficiently rested the next morning. You may find that you require fewer hours in bed because you can fall into a deep sleep faster and stay there longer.
Some people who have spent a significant amount of time sleeping this way have mentioned that they don’t feel the need to linger in bed or even try to get more sleep, most likely because there’s no reason to continue to lay on the floor. May as well get the day started!
6. You’ll Learn to Be Able to Sleep Anywhere
The initial thought of sleeping on the floor is that it sounds uncomfortable. In reality, most people have learned that they don’t find it to be awkward at all. Think back to sleepovers as a child, or even more recently when you may have felt some discomfort while laying on your own couch, so you moved down to the floor for a few minutes. If you’ve ever been a guest in a home with no real guest bed, you will have had to do so without thinking much of it.
Once your body learns to adapt to the firmness of the floor, you’ll never be without a place to sleep, for example – when you are traveling. You won’t have to worry about camping or an uncomfortable hotel bed ever again. There are probably times when you have had to sleep somewhere where the floor was absolutely better than the alternative, so you’ll be better prepared for anything that comes up in the future.
In these modern days, we have become so accustomed to everything being comfortable – from chairs, to couches, to beds. This makes it more difficult to adjust on the occasion that you do need to sit on a public bench or someone’s couch that isn’t as comfortable as your own. By training your body to learn to achieve comfort without the need for additional padding, you can ultimately be comfortable nearly anywhere!
7. Cleaning is Easier
The upkeep and maintenance benefits may not exactly be health-related, but they also cannot be ignored. As we all know – mattresses are expensive, and they need to be replaced after a minimum of ten years, sometimes sooner.
And what if you find that the mattress you loved when you first purchased it is suddenly the culprit for your sleepless nights? Having to replace a relatively new mattress can be an even more frustrating expense. Not to mention unpredictable damage, such as stains or holes, there is also the added expense of bedding for your mattress. Cleaning and replacing sheets can be costly and is unavoidable.
Without the need for a mattress, you can eliminate an expense that you might not have considered to be discretionary in the past. The upkeep for materials such as floor mats or blankets is not only more straightforward but comes with the ability to change your options more frequently.
In addition to not having to clean your bed and bedding, you will also have an easier time keeping your floors from having the telling wear patterns from walking around your bed over the years!
8. You’ll Have More Space
When you really stop and think about it, our beds are an incredibly large piece of furniture that usually only gets used when we are fast asleep and can’t fully appreciate it anyway. Once you have ditched your bed, you will be able to see just how much space your sleeping arrangement has taken up all these years. And who wouldn’t appreciate having more space?
If you live in a small apartment or need extra room for your home office, this can be a priceless update to your living space. Unlike traditional beds, sleeping on the floor with even just a thin foam mattress will give you the opportunity to pack your bed away each night. No more making the bed and painstakingly tucking in sheets – simply store it in the closet.
9. Your Pets Will Love You
Do you love the idea of cuddling up with your furry best friend, but hate the idea of having them on the bed? Imagine how happy your pets will be if they are able to sleep next to you each night. You don’t have to worry about them taking up extra space or getting their hair everywhere. Pet owners can rejoice for this added, little known, benefit!
How to Make the Switch
With just a few extra steps, you can soon be on your way to getting rid of your bed as well. Here is how you, too, can throw yours away:
The most crucial part of transitioning to sleeping on the floor is getting (and staying) in the right mindset. You have probably spent your whole life sleeping in beds, apart from the occasional camping trip, and the majority of your peers are likely the same.
You see it on TV, read about it in books, and it takes up a considerable amount of space in a room. Your mind is conditioned for this type of arrangement, so it is understandable that you would have reservations about suddenly going from the bed to the floor. For most of us, sleeping on the floor indicates something negative or wrong has happened, and this is the result.
During your switch, you must remember that, despite social norms, sleeping on the floor is perfectly acceptable, and the benefits can be worth it. The best part is that once you are fast asleep, all of your worries and cares about where you are sleeping will fade away anyway.
Find Your Base
Just because you are sleeping on the floor doesn’t mean you have to sleep directly on the ground! Since floor sleeping is reasonably common in Japan, it would be worth taking a page from their book when it comes to figuring out what you will sleep on.
Four popular materials that people use are:
- Tatami Mat – These mats are traditional to Japanese flooring made up of compressed wood chips or polystyrene foam. You may have seen these in Japanese homes or restaurants, and they can be purchased online. Tatami mats are simple to clean and don’t need to be picked up each day.
- Yoga Mat – As yoga has become increasingly popular, you can find yoga mats in many sports stores in a variety of materials and thicknesses. While yoga mats are generally a standard size, you can use multiple to create the size of sleep area that you would like. They are easy to roll up for storage.
- Thai Massage Mat – These can be found online and come in various colors, designs, and sizes. They are easy to roll or fold up to be stored when not in use.
- A Futon – Unlike the American version, which is thick and is usually placed on a couch-like frame, a Shiki futon is a Japanese style mattress that is thinner and often used along with a tatami mat.
Another common option for floor sleeping is to use a standard comforter, which can be folded to provide a slight barrier between you and the ground. This option is also easy to clean and switch out as needed.
Take Baby Steps
When it comes to transitioning from a bed to the floor, unless you’re doing so out of necessity, it would be a good idea to work your way into it in gradual steps.
Instead of going cold turkey, try starting out in your bed for the beginning of the night as you usually would. Set your alarm clock for about two hours before you need to wake up. When your alarm goes off, move yourself to your pre-made floor setup.
As long as you don’t allow your brain to start processing what is happening and why you should be able to go right back to sleep. Continue this process each day, setting your alarm earlier and earlier by two-hour increments, until you are ready to spend the whole night sleeping on the floor.
In addition to timing, the amount of padding you may want to use can also help with a smooth transition. A foam mattress topper for the first few nights will give your body some of the cushion that it is used to while also preparing for the extra firmness of the floor. As your body (and brain) gets used to sleeping on the floor, you can begin to remove layers as needed.
It Can Take Time
Like with all new habits, you should remember that drastic changes can take time. Your body may not see the full benefits after the first night, and that’s just fine. People have reported that when using the slow transition techniques, it took up to a week for them to feel completely comfortable on the floor.
Don’t hesitate to go back a step if you find that you are struggling to get to sleep. For example, if you have removed one layer of padding after a few days, and you don’t seem to be as comfortable as you were before – add the layer back into your floor bed. There are no right or wrong ways to sleep on the floor, and your body will tell you what is right for your experience.
Reconsider Your Pillow
The first instinct, for the sake of comfort, might be to throw every pillow you have onto the floor and sleep among them. Don’t do this. Remember that you are adjusting to keep your neck and back in alignment and loads of fluffy pillows are better suited for a well-cushioned mattress.
Many people look for thinner pillows that help keep your neck in line with the rest of the spine, rather than elevated. Depending on the position you feel most comfortable in, your arms will also work as a suitable level of elevation. When choosing the right size pillow, aim for one that will give you a similar amount of support as your arm.
The futons mentioned above sometimes come with a small pillow attached, as do some sleeping bags. When you are just getting started, these may help to give you an idea of how much support is right for you.
How to Sleep
You’re nearly ready to begin your new experience of sleeping on the floor. After you have mentally prepared for the journey and its benefits, you now need to consider the how. Which position do you currently sleep in and which position will be best once you’ve set up your new sleeping arrangement?
Many people are not aware of how they sleep once they have fallen asleep; however, sleeping on the floor has the ability to make you more aware of your sleeping habits. This can be helpful for those who suffer from back pain. For example, sleeping on your stomach isn’t advised for those with back pain as it disrupts the natural curvature of the spine.
A Few Ideas On Positions For Sleeping On the Floor:
Back – This position is often recommended for and by people who have back pain. By placing something, like a pillow, below your knees, you will be able to keep your spine comfortable in its natural alignment. When sleeping this way, you can use one or both arms under your head, remembering to alternate so as not to cut off circulation. A thin pillow will also be enough to keep your head comfortable.
Side – It has been noted that this isn’t the most comfortable way to sleep long-term when sleeping on the floor. When sleeping on either side, use your arm as a pillow and your legs curled in slightly.
Stomach – As mentioned above, stomach sleeping is not always recommended; however, if you are most comfortable this way, try placing a small pillow below your hips. This will help realign your spine.
People all around the world are throwing away their pain-inducing beds in favor of maximizing the benefits of sleeping on the floor. If you have been considering making this change, this could be the answer you’ve been looking for!