Sleeping on the Floor: Is It Time to Ditch Your Mattress?


The only thing that keeps one going after a long, tiresome journey in the office is the mattress that they’re going to hit afterward.

Beds are a real blessing, and while no one can deny the
comfort they provide, keeping you happy at night, there is a new trend that has
been rising in the recent years, where people trade their beds for their floors
while praising the numerous benefits that this practice has brought to their

In a nutshell, floor-sleeping supporters claim that falling
into a deep slumber on a hard floor is the best practice for your spinal health
and back pain, considering that our ancestors didn’t have beds and used their
levels as a sleeping surface.

So, how legit are those claims? And should you stop hitting
the sack at night and scrap your mattress in favor of a carpet? Let’s find out!

Is Sleeping on the Bed Your Only Option?

“Why do we sleep on beds?”

This question has probably never crossed your mind. In our
modern societies, beds are an integral part of the house from childhood, which
makes sleeping on the floor seem like a punishment rather than an alternative
to your soft (or hard), sweet mattress.

Just think of sleeping on the floor, and ideas of
discomfort, back pain, restlessness, tiredness will cross your mind, all
without proper arguments to support them.

We just ASSUME that the hard floor is nothing but a shortcut
towards a tiresome, painful night.

Sleeping on the floor is not as uncommon as most people
believe though, as many cultures still adopt this practice. The prime example
of these cultures is Japan, where many people sleep on the floor or on a thin
roll-out or fold-up mat.

Sleeping on the bed isn’t as superior as you thought, huh?

Not only that, but many doctors in western cultures
prescribe sleeping on the floor as a treatment for back pain, which makes the
idea worth considering.

Advantages of Sleeping on the Floor

Take a moment to think about your days, and you’ll realize
that we live an over-cushioned life. Apart from sleeping on thick mattresses at
night, most of us spend several hours every day sitting in chairs at work and
on sofas watching TV or browsing the internet in our off-time. Feeling soft

Sleeping on the floor, without a mattress, can give you
numerous benefits. Floor-sleeping enthusiasts swear by their decision that
doing so will help you sleep better, achieve a better quality of sleep, and
wake up full of energy and lust for life.

Is Sleeping on the Floor Good for Your Back?

Back pain has been a major health problem since the dawn of creation. The moment you start suffering from this issue, sleep positions, how hard your mattress is, and how long you should stay in bed become real dilemmas in your life.

Now, does sleeping in the floor help with back problems? Are
the claims of mattresses companies mere
lies and marketing ploys when it comes to back pain and posture?

Well, there are two sides of the story, and it’s our responsibility to show you both.

Opinion One: It Depends

The first opinion is that of Jennifer L. Solomon[1],
M.D., a psychiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery, who says that whether
or not sleeping on the floor can be beneficial for you depends on the individual and how long you intend to do it.

Solomon elaborates that if you’re just crashing there for a short
period, then yes, trying different positions on a hard floor can indeed be
beneficial for your back, especially when
you lie down with your knees up, which takes the pressure off of your back.
This is basically the reason why hard mattresses were invented.

However, she says that sleeping on the floor can wreak havoc on your body in the long run and that you’re better off taking other courses of action to treat your back pain. These other solutions include using just a few pillows instead of a pile of them and putting a cushion between your knees to achieve proper spinal alignment.

Side Two: Hell Yeah!

On the other side of the spectrum are those who tried
sleeping on the floor. Most of those who made the switch reported that the
first thing they noticed was the vanishing of their back pain.

Big claim much? Maybe, but that claim does not come out of
thin air, there is actually science behind it.

Here’s the gist of it: when you sleep in the floor, the hard
surface forces your body to keep in line, thus giving you perfect spinal
alignment, as opposed to mattresses, on which you may end up out of whack. Yes,
the sinking-in sensation may feel good, but the adjustment that the hard floor
offers can relieve some unnecessary back pain.

Not only can sleeping on the floor relieve back pain, but it
can also help with posture, as your back gets straightened up thanks to the
proper support that the hard surface offer. Considering the bad sleeping habits that we’ve been developing
over the years, this aspect can be beneficial for those of us who start
experiencing back pain the moment they stand up straight.

Will You Feel Tired Afterward?

We all know that feeling when you wake up, snooze the alarm,
and feel that the bed is too comfortable to let go. Drake spoke for all of us
when he said that he only loves his bed and his mom. They both can make you
comfortable no matter how bad your day was.

The thing is, that
very comfort that you get every morning can be an obstacle for productivity.
How many hours are you wasting each year just doing nothing, in a state of woke
sleepiness, just because you decided to “rest your eyes” before getting up? I
bet your answer is “ a lot.”

Sleeping on the floor can give you the same quality of sleep
without providing too much comfort for you to hit the snooze button several
times before starting out your day.

Floor-sleeping enthusiasts report that not only do they feel
rested after a night of sleeping on a hard surface, but they also feel more
refreshed and willing to leave the bed and get their day going.

Bear in mind that the initial getting to sleep process may
feel uncomfortable at first, but once you fall into a slumber, you won’t feel
anything till it’s finally time to rise and shine.

Also, keep in mind that everybody is different. As similar
as our anatomies are, they bear several differences and varieties that make
each person’s experience unique. In other words, the only way for you to
determine whether a hard floor is better than a mattress is by trying both then
comparing the result.

Are There Any Other Benefits for Sleeping on the Floor?

Glad you asked! Besides health benefits related to back and
posture, sleeping on the floor can bring other perks to your life.

You’d Get More Space

The bed is the piece of furniture that takes up the most
space in one’s bedroom. Should you switch to sleeping on the floor and get rid
of that massive mattress, you’ll get much more space.

Why would you need more space, you may ask?

Picture a room where you have exercise equipment in the
corner, with a bunch of chairs in the middle, and plants all over the place.

Seems appealing, huh?

All of that can be achieved using that extra space!

You Can Sleep Anywhere

Once you get used to sleeping on the floor, you’ll become
the ultimate survivor, as you’ll develop the ability to fall into slumber
anywhere you want.

Feeling tired at the office? Roll
out your yoga mat and take a nap.

Is the flight taking too long? Plop
down on the floor and fall into slumber.

No extra beds while you’re visiting
a friend or a family member? No problem, you just need a carpet to pass the

The possibilities are endless, and developing the ability to
sleep without a mattress can be a real handful skill.

How to Sleep on the Floor?

Here is a fair warning before you start; it won’t be easy at

If you’re like most people, and you spent years of sleeping
on a mattress before stumbling upon this article, the switch won’t be easy at

Trading the softness of the bed for the hardness of floor
may not hit you like the brightest of ideas, but if done correctly, your
sleeping habits and patterns will get a helluva better in no time.

Start by Preparing for the

As with all significant changes in our lives, switching to
sleeping on the floor requires mental preparation. You need to understand that you’re
probably going to forget about comfort for a couple of nights before getting
used to the new situation. If you are the type of person to call off a trip
because there is a chance of rain, sleeping on the floor may not be your thing.

Choose the Right Surface

Sleeping on the floor doesn’t mean that you’re going to lay
on the ground directly. Instead, you need to choose an item that can soften up
the experience a little bit, all while keeping the benefits. There are several
options that meet that criteria, including, but not limited to:


The tatami is a mat that the Japanese have been using for
centuries as a barrier between their bodies and the floor.

It comes in different sizes, and it’s made of rice straw
core covered with soft rush straw, making it comfortable for both sleeping and
walking barefoot.

Tatami mats have a sleek design that allows them to be more
comfortable than the bare ground, all while keeping the benefits of sleeping on
the floor. It’s that brilliant design that led to the creation of Tatami
mattresses for those who can not leave the comfort of their beds.


Futons are also excellent alternatives to mattresses for
sleeping on the floor. Not only are they thick enough to be comfortable, but
they’re also thin enough to keep the
benefits of the hard surface.

If you found switching to the floor to be a hard transition,
you can start by spending some nights on a futon then move to a harder surface.

Massage and Yoga Mats

Yoga and massage mats are yet another alternative to
sleeping on the ground. They come in different sizes, and they can pack some
unique features such as the heating ability that some massage mats boast.

Besides, these mats are quite affordable, making them an
excellent solution for those who haven’t decided whether to adopt the new
sleeping style or not.

Get a Suitable Pillow

Some may think that using a pillow would defy the whole
purpose of sleeping on the floor, but it’s actually quite the opposite, as our
ancestors used to their arms or anything that resembles a cushion to support
their heads.

What you need to do is to get a pillow that’s thick enough
to support your head and neck.

No matter what you to choose, avoid stacking up pillows like
the plague, as that’s a shortcut to bad
spinal alignment and neck aches, regardless of how nice they feel under your head.

How to Transition from Bed to Sleeping on the Floor?

If you decide to pull the plug and start sleeping on the
floor, avoid doing it immediately, as you’re most likely to burn out and return
to your bed quite fast that way.

Instead, you should do it gradually, following one of two
methods; either the Half-Half or the Layers method.

The Half-Half Method

Weird name, huh?

The half-half concept is quite simple, all you have to do is
follow these steps:

  1. Prepare your floor mat or
    futon, then go back to sleep on your bed as you would normally do.
  2. If you’re used to waking up
    at 8 a.m., set your alarm at 6 a.m.
  3. Once the alarm goes off,
    get up and start your day. Now, the trick here is that you’re going to feel too
    tired to get into the day. Instead of falling back to sleep on your bed, do so
    on the floor. You’ll probably feel tired enough to fall asleep immediately.
  4. Repeat the same process
    gradually while setting your alarm even earlier every night, until you start
    spending the same time on both your bed and the floor.
  5. Once you’re there, halfway
    through, leave some time for your body to adapt, then start practicing sleeping
    on the floor without passing by your bed.
  6. Voila! You’re now sleeping
    comfortably on the floor!

The Layers Method

The layers method is quite simple as well, and it’s for
people who’d rather keep their sleeping cycle intact.

What you should do is take every blanket you have and place
them on the floor. The resulting sub-mattress may not be as comfortable as your
bed, but it’s surely not as hard as the ground.

Start sleeping on your pile of blankets. Every time you get
used to a specific number of layers, remove one. Few days in, and you’ll find
yourself sleeping on the ground without breaking a sweat!

What about Sleeping Positions?

One may think that the only comfortable position when sleeping on the floor is on the back, but that’s actually not the case. Michael Tetley, a physiotherapist, studied the effects of sleep positions on lower back and joint pain. His study[2] proved that people who sleep on the floor are less likely to develop musculoskeletal lesions, and explored how different sleeping positions have various benefits, indicating that some of them actually help with the correction of different joints.

Sleeping on the Side

Michael Tetley reports that many primates sleep on their
side, using one of their arms as a pillow. He concluded that when sleeping on
your side, no cushion is needed as long as your shoulder is fully hunched in a
way that ensures proper neck support.

Sleeping on the Stomach

After observing how four-legged animals, such as dogs and
cats, rested, Michael discovered that sleeping on your stomach while pushing
out your elbows and using your forearms as a pillow can correct your spinal
alignment, thus giving you a plethora of health benefits.

Sleeping on the Back

While Tetley encourages people to sleep on their side or
stomach while resting on the floor, a slew of other researchers are singing a different song, claiming that sleeping
on your back is the way to go, as it’s the only position that ensures a proper
spinal alignment.

These contradictions and debates in the scientific community
prove that the only way of finding what works for you is by experimenting
yourself. Try different sleeping position, give your body some time to adapt,
then decide which one relieves pain and which doesn’t.

Any Downsides To Sleeping on the Floor?

A wise man once said, “if something seems too good to be
true, it probably is.”

You shouldn’t throw your mattress away the moment you lay
your eyes on the benefits of sleeping on the floor, as this practice does come
with a couple of pitfalls.

Do not panic though, as these downsides aren’t that big. As
a matter of fact, they’re more of inconveniences rather than disadvantages.

First, the floor is cold, especially during long winter
nights (duh!). If you’ve ever tried walking around barefoot, you must have
noticed that. It all depends on the surface though, as sleeping on concrete is
way colder than sleeping on wood. So, if you’re sleeping on the floor tonight,
maybe consider getting extra blankets.

Next, if you decide to sleep on the floor with your partner,
you may find it awkward and uncomfortable to have sex. That doesn’t last for
long though, as you’ll get the gist of it in no time with some practice.
Besides, nothing’s wrong with exploring new positions, right?

Well, that’s about it. As you can see, these downsides can
be combated quite simply through discussion and cushioning.


Having read all the benefits of sleeping on the floor, you
must be thrilled to try out this sleeping style.

Before you start, set a minimum experimenting timeline, as
your body will need some time to adapt.

You may find it hard at first (pun intended) but keep going
for a month or so to make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to make an
honest assessment.

Have you tried sleeping on the floor before? If so, how was
your experience? We’re thrilled to hear your story!



About the author

The Medical Extern

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