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Is Sleeping on the Floor Healthy? Benefits, Side Effects, and More

Is Sleeping on the Floor Healthy? Benefits, Side Effects, and More

by

Aoife O.
 | 
Jun 29, 2020

Many cultures around the world forgo mattresses and sleep on futons, bedrolls, hammocks, and netted beds. Some even go so far as to sleep on the floor! After all, in ancient times people did sleep on the cool earth or a pile of natural animal skins or materials.


Sleeping on the floor could have benefits for some people, but it may not be for everyone.


Is it Good to Sleep on the Floor?

It’s typical for Thai people to sleep on a thin bamboo mat, the Khoisan in South Africa make mattresses of soft grass and sleep on it, making a new nest every 2-3 weeks to avoid bug infestations and Ancient Egyptians slept on wooden blocks that were curved at the neck.


It is widely believed that sleeping on the floor for back pain is beneficial. However, a Harvard study found this to be untrue. Those suffering back pain who slept on a hard mattress had the least sleep quality of all. Those who slept on medium-firm mattresses reported no noticeable loss of sleep quality.


Sleeping on the floor is inadvisable to those with existing medical conditions such as back pain, respiratory illness, recovering from surgery, or recovering from illness.

Is Sleeping on the Floor Bad?

The disadvantages of sleeping on the floor are most likely felt by those who have preexisting health concerns. If you’re managing chronic pain, recovering from an operation, healing from muscle strain, are an older person, or have respiratory issues or allergies, sleeping on the floor could be more harmful than cozy.


Benefits to Sleeping on the Floor

Sleeping on the floor has negatives and positives. Some people find that it improves their posture, others claim to have less back pain. However, there are sensitive pressure points on the body that may feel uncomfortable on a hard surface like the floor. Your shoulder blades, shoulders, and hips may feel pushed into your body as there is zero pressure relief on the floor. Also, depending on your sleep position, there may be minimal benefits of sleeping on the floor.


Some people may find sleeping on the floor:

  • Improves their posture
  • Gives them more energy when they wake up
  • Improves their back pain


Disadvantages To Sleeping on Floor

The disadvantages of sleeping on the floor could be a lack of comfort for many people. Especially if you’ve grown up in the west where it's the norm to sleep on a cozy bed. The evidence that there are health benefits of sleeping on the floor is anecdotal at best.


If you’re in recovery from an operation, illness, or suffer from arthritis, or any chronic sleep disorder. Sleeping without mattress could exacerbate your current symptoms. If you’re currently healing from any ailment no matter how small, your sleep comfort is pivotal to your recovery so be careful when sleeping on the ground.


Allergies can flare up when sleeping on the floor because you’re so close to the ground where dust gathers. You could also feel cold as draughts of air come through the bottom of the door and your central heating air rises, leaving you on a dusty, cold, hard ground.

Allergies can flare up when sleeping on the floor because you’re so close to the ground where dust gathers.

Some people may find sleeping on the floor:

  • Exacerbates back pain or other ailments
  • Feeling cold as you will feel more draughts when sleeping on the floor
  • Inability to find a comfortable sleep position


Is Sleeping on the Floor Good for Your Back?

Sleeping on the ground may prove beneficial for some while others will find no relief from back pain when sleeping on the floor. A medium firm mattress that is made of modern materials and designed using the latest innovations in sleep technology could be the best option for a healthy, pain-free back, according to this study.

Does Sleeping on the Floor Help Lower Back Pain?

Some say that sleeping on the floor for back pain can have some benefits. While no large scale and peer-reviewed scientific study has been done. The only way to know if sleeping on the floor is for you is to try. If pain persists, a pressure relieving mattress may prove more comfortable.

Does Lying on the Floor Help Posture?

When it comes to sleeping on the floor vs bed for posture, it comes down to personal preference. Sleeping on the floor could help to align the spine and bring pain relief for some people. If not, a pressure relieving mattress could be a viable solution for you.


How to Sleep on the Floor Comfortably

If you’d like to try sleeping on the floor don’t immediately throw your body down, start gradually with these steps.


How to sleep on the floor:

  • Sleep on the less-used side of your mattress or switch sides with your partner, this helps your body to adjust to a new sleep surface as your side of the bed has molded to your body.
  • Sleep in the guest bed for a few nights to train your body to adapt to a new sleep surface.
  • Cushion the floor with a mattress topper, yoga mat, cushions, pillows, or sleeping bag.
  • Eliminate as many layers as you can, perhaps sleep on just the yoga mat with a blanket over you, whatever feels comfortable.
  • Listen to your body throughout this process, your bed and sleep hygiene ought to spark joy in you, if you find yourself in pain, not sleeping at all, and energy zapped from your body, it might be time to join the land of beds again.


Should I Sleep on the Floor?

If you’re a healthy person and you want to give sleeping on the floor a try, go for it. However, ease into it by following the above steps and always listen to your body. Pay attention to how you feel when you wake up and how you feel throughout the day. Does your workday suffer? Are you in pain? Can you concentrate on your tasks? What works for your sister/cousin/mother/or neighbor, may not work for you so you must pay attention to your body and feelings.


Sleeping on the floor may not be the best option if you:

  • Are an older individual
  • Are temperature-sensitive and prone to feeling cold
  • Have mobility issues
  • Have any existing medical issues


Sleeping on the Floor: Reminders 

Sleeping on the floor on your side may cause more harm than good for some people. Sleeping on the floor is not a decision to take lightly especially if you’re currently managing an illness or pain. If you want to improve your posture or manage back pain, a pressure relieving mattress could bring more comfort and recuperation than sleeping on the floor.


Sleeping on a bed that is raised off the floor is better for allergy sufferers too because dust gathers on the floor. Look at your bedroom floor after not vacuuming or brooming for three days and see what has accumulated in such a short time. Lots of dust bunnies and hair!


Sleeping on a pressure relieving mattress allows your sensitive pressure points to sink slightly into the material in a supportive hug without the feeling of being completely submerged. Your mattress out to breathe and move with you as it supports you.

FAQs

Why Do I Like Sleeping on the Floor?

Sleeping on the floor is a back to basics approach to sleep, paying homage to your ancestors who have gone before you. While sleeping on the natural earth or bedroom floor might be comfortable for some, or modern lifestyles have moved on and we require a more tailored sleep experience.

Benefits of Sleeping on a Bamboo Mat

If you want to sleep on the floor but you're worried about dust and other allergens, we recommend sleeping on a bamboo mat. Bamboo is ultra-durable and has natural antimicrobial properties, so sleeping on a bamboo mat can help keep dust mites, bacteria, and other allergens at bay.

Conclusion

While some cultures are used to sleeping on the floor or a thin mattress, there is a huge difference between throwing your mattress out the window and sleeping on the floor to growing up in an environment where sleeping on the floor is natural.


While it is possible to retrain and become accustomed to sleeping on the floor, most people shouldn't make such a drastic change in lifestyle. When it comes to sleep health, comfort, and quality of sleep must be high.


If you’re recovering from illness, suffer from arthritis or painful muscles, have respiratory problems, are an older person, or recovering from a medical procedure, sleeping on the floor might not be the best option for you. Opt for a pressure relieving mattress instead and always listen to your body, how you feel in the morning is a strong barometer to the quality of sleep you’ve had the night before.

Disclaimer: Nolah does not provide medical advice. All resources on the Nolah blog, including this article, are informational only and do not replace professional medical counsel. Talk to your doctor about any health, mental health, or sleep-related issues.

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