I would've thought it strange if I see someone going out of his or her way to do something illogical. Something not quite in line with the prevailing norms of society.
That is until I started doing what most people would consider unusual...
A few days ago I decided to try sleeping on the floor...
I developed this strange pain in my lower back after lying on my mattress for a few hours. Typically your first thought, when you start having back pains, is to choose a new mattress that is comfortable, more modern or to have it massaged.
I didn't get that thought at all, I only saw the ground and decided that's where I'll sleep for the next few days!
After a few days of making the floor my bed, I started wondering... Is sleeping on the floor good or bad?
Its a crazy concept if you judge based on what we currently accept in society, but the truth is tonnes of people all around the world predominantly sleep on the ground.
Many Japanese prefer sleeping on a tatami mat on the floor. It has been a part of their culture for centuries. Studies also suggest that even Homo sapiens before modern times tended to either sleep on the floor or in trees.(1)
Astonishing, isn’t it?
Most people never considered whether there was a reason why prehistoric people slept on the floor. Moreover, why we started sleeping on beds?
At the beginning of my experiment, I had many discomforts, but over time things got better, and my back pain started reducing. However, it was never smooth sailing and took time to feel normal.
Over the time I spent on the floor I learned many fascinating things from my experience and research. The fact is there are both pros and cons that come with it. In the end, your preference is what will determine whether it is good or bad.
In this article, you'll see whether this practice is good or bad, how to do it properly and important points to note!
Table of Contents
What are the benefits of sleeping on the ground?
Here are the top benefits you'll gain:
It Strengthens Your Back
The first thing I noticed after I started slept on the floor was the reduction in back pain. It might seem counterintuitive, but by sleeping on the floor does miracles to the issues of your back. You'll see why as you read more of the benefits we list.
The most important thing to note is that while it may be uncomfortable at first. You will adapt to the most natural sleeping position after a few days. The best position for correcting your body and proper rest is sleeping on your back.
It reduces pain
Another impressive benefit of sleeping on the ground is that it helps to relieve joint and muscle pain immediately. When you sleep on a mattress, your body sometimes gets stuck in weird positions.
You sleep in these positions due to having an old mattress, or maybe because the bed is too soft. By sleeping on the ground, the solid surface will force your body to keep in line. It also helps your body to relax more so you can fall asleep.
It helps to Improve your Posture
From the points above you should've guessed this benefit. If you've tried sleeping on the floor before then, you know that certain positions you find comfy on a mattress are very uncomfortable on the floor.
Just think about it:
When your body ends up in twisted positions, you most likely wake up sore all over. Sleeping on the floor prevents these issues as it forces you to conform to the most natural sleep positions.
realigns Your Hips and Shoulders
You must have heard before that the body can heal itself. If you have had a cut, then you would notice that it quickly heals without you doing anything. The same principle applies when you sleep correctly on the floor.
Sleeping on the right surface and in the right positions prompts your body to realign itself. The hips and shoulders benefit from this realignment sometimes more than other body parts.
When we sleep on our sides on some beds, our shoulders arch and sometimes loses its natural positioning. These unnatural positioning sometimes lead to pinched nerves in these areas. Pinched nerves can force your body's posture to become deformed to prevent further damage to yourself.
It helps to maintain a Healthy Spine
Your spine is one of the most critical parts in your body. It supports your entire body and houses your spinal chord which is part of the central nervous system(CNS). The spine is your body's superhighway for relaying messages from the brain and body. Sleeping on mattresses that are uncomfortable and old increases the risk of damaging your spine, developing or worsening pinched nerves, sciatica, and scoliosis.(2)
By sleeping on the floor, this can be improved as the ground forces you to take the correct sleeping postures. It will also help to strengthen your spine and muscles.
It Improves your Breathing and Blood Circulation
By learning to sleep on the floor, you will also be training your body to maintain a good posture. An excellent posture has many benefits that most people choose to ignore.
The most significant benefit you'll gain from having a good posture is improved breathing and circulation.
Having a poor posture restricts the diaphragms ability to expand. Slouching positions, in particular, will result in difficulty breathing. Having a faulty posture especially in the neck muscles can increase heart rate and blood pressure.(3)
Therefore it is essential to find ways to correct your posture. Sleeping on a mat or the floor is an excellent start to remedying posture and improving circulation.
Your Rest and Energy
The act of sleeping on the ground helps improve your quality of sleep and boosts your energy.
While sleeping on a mattress, your body gets locked into a position that might be leaving your body sore without you realizing. When you are on the floor sleeping, you will notice these uncomfortable sleep positions and correct them.
By doing this, your body will feel more rested and less pained after sleeping for a while. It also helps to boost your energy levels since you will not be too comfortable to sleep past the amount of time you need.
It is cooler when you sleep on the floor
When you decide to give floor sleeping a chance, you'll immediately realize how simple it is. Sleeping on a mattress comes with quite a few things to consider such as bed firmness, size, and even bed frames. When you decide to sleep on the floor, you skip all that hassle entirely.
There's nothing to consider, all you need is a floor and a blanket.
It is More Simplistic to sleep on the ground
Buying a mattress is expensive.
Beds that are worth buying aren't cheap, and if you want the best sleep, you have no other options but to spend the more money.
You may also end up having to purchase the right pillows which are also an additional expense.
Sleeping on the floor cuts your costs down to nothing.
It can be More Hygienic
One of the most significant advantages of sleeping on the ground is that it can be more hygienic. Your mattress, if it's not new, likely contains different organisms living in the material. More commonly: bed bugs, allergens, pet hair, dirt and even urine stains.
Sounds bad? Well, it is as bad as it seems.
If you take proper care of your bed, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about, but when you sleep on the floor, you can skip all of this. Merely sweeping and wiping the spot you plan to sleep makes it a better alternative.
Are there any disadvantages of sleeping on the floor?
Let me be honest:
It depends on how you look at it!
If you plan to do things that might require a soft cushion beneath you such as having a private moment with your special someone, then maybe you should sleep on the bed. It might also be a poor choice if the place is already freezing or you have some medical condition that may require you sleeping on a particular mattress.
At the same time, simple tweaks such as putting a pad on the floor, sleeping on a carpet or blanket can quickly make it more comfortable.
What are the best Sleeping Positions to sleep on the floor?
The floor is not very forgiving when it comes to sleeping positions. However, trying different positions is said to be helpful in correcting different joints. Sleeping on the ground forces your body to alternate between different positions more than sleeping on a mattress. It also helps you in reducing musculoskeletal lesions.
Here are the best positions:
Sleeping on your back
Sleeping on your back has been touted as one of the best positions for correcting back and neck postures. It is also said to be the most natural way to sleep. Therefore, when resting on the floor, you will often find yourself reverting to sleeping on your back as other positions might be uncomfortable.
Sleeping on your side
A study published Back on December 23, 2000, that showed that early homo sapiens preferred or seemed to sleep more on their sides on the ground. This sleeping position is quite tricky as getting the perfect sleep posture is difficult to do. You need to elevate your head, so your neck muscles aren't tensed and end up causing more pain in the morning.
Switching sides often while on the floor can also help increase the comfort while maintaining the correct posture.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
The lookout position is possibly the most comfortable position to sleep when you are on a mattress. However, from my experience of a couple of nights on the floor, it was the most painful. Maybe because I went all out and didn't use a pillow and had a lousy sleeping form but my neck and upper back was uncomfortable sleeping like this.
However, if you follow the correct form of sleeping in the quadrupedal position you may be able to get many healing perks.
To achieve the perfect form you need to push your elbows out and rest your head in between your forearms. Doing this will help to relieve the pressure on your neck and spine, while also releasing the tensions in your back muscles.
How should I sleep on the floor with lower back pain?
Sleeping on the floor with lower back pain is easy to do, and there isn't anything to consider. You just lay on the ground and allow your body to take whichever positions feel most comfortable. The best part of sleeping on the ground is that it is the hardness of the floor.
Maybe you've noticed that the recommended mattresses for persons with lower back pain are the medium-firm mattresses.
Creating this firmness is more natural to achieve when you sleep on the ground compared to when you sleep on a bed. All you need to do is get a soft blanket or sponge that provides enough support to your body and reduces the hardness of the floor.
Is sleeping on the floor good for your back?
Yes, sleeping on the floor is excellent for your back. Studies have shown that medium-firm surfaces are perfect for relieving back pain. Firm surfaces ensure that your body remains in the correct posture. It also helps relieve muscle tension caused by muscles that remain tensed all night because of wrong sleep positions. Therefore it is good as it doesn't allow your body to go into postures that may cause more damage.
How can you start?
For starters, getting used to laying on the floor to sleep is no easy game. You have to expect that it will take at least a few days before you can pull it off. I found that following these steps will help you ease into sleeping on the floor.
1. The Preparation
Attempting to sleep on the ground can be a little tricky as it causes people to overthink the process.
You must understand that switching from a mattress to the floor will be harsh. Moreover, you probably won't get the best sleep in the world on the first night.
In this preparation phase, all you need to do is identify a spot on the floor that you plan to sleep. After you have identified the area, you need to see that it is clean and then add whatever cushions you plan to use.
2. Choosing the right surface to lay on
While the goal of some people may be to go, full caveman, you don't have to do it as well. Using padding on the floor can go a long way in helping your body adjust to sleeping on the floor. This step is entirely up to your preference and at any time throughout the night can be altered.
The only point to note when choosing the right surface to sleep on is not to pick something too soft since that would defeat the purpose.
Here are the best cushions:
A futon is a good option when just starting out. It is thick but not as thick as a mattress and won't allow your body to sink into completely. So you will still have a bit of the firmness of the floor with a little bit of padding. If you plan to go with a futon, we recommend this futon as a great option with the right thickness. Be sure to avoid futons that are as thick as a regular mattress.
A tatami mat is a mat used traditionally by Japanese culture as a floor covering. They are usually made from rice straw and have a peculiar scent of straws that may or may not be liked by some persons. The tatami mats, however, provide a little-added cushion from the hard floor and helps reduce the coldness of the ground. We would recommend this tatami mat for sleeping on the floor.
Another alternative solution that can help ease the learning period is a yoga mat. Yoga mats are relatively comfy and usually measure no more than an inch or two in thickness. Using a yoga mat will help maintain the benefits of sleeping on the floor as it does not do much in taking away from the firmness. Yoga mats are relatively cheap wherever you look. Our recommendation for a yoga mat is this BalanceFrom Goyoga mat.
Blankets or Carpets
Another simple alternative for cushioning your floor is using a blanket or sleeping on a carpet. While sleeping on a carpet might not be hygienic for some households you could also purchase a small carpet that you dedicate to sleeping with on the floor. Using a blanket also helps keep you warm and adds a little bit of padding to the floor. In essence, anything is better than hardwood or cold tiles.
Use A Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags are perfect to help give a bit more comfort. You don't need the most luxurious or fancy sleeping bag to get started. Any sleeping bag will work out just fine. If you are looking for a sleeping bag to for sleep on the floor, then this bag will work just fine.
Sleep on the floor with a Pillow
Most people will probably say to sleep without a pillow to be as natural as possible. However, from my experience, you will need it. At least at the start of your floor sleeping journey. The pillow will help you add a bit more comfort to your face and neck for side and stomach sleepers.
3. Getting it done
After you have everything in place, just do it! Clean up the area, add your cushion of choice, and a single pillow. Then just lay on the floor and fall asleep. There isn't much else to it. The only difference is the contrast between the mattress softness and the hardness of the floor. Everything else will remain the same.
Your first night will be the most difficult. However, your body will adapt shortly after and you will start feeling the benefits after a couple of days.
When sleeping on the floor, you will notice immediate changes in your sleep pattern from the first night. While you would typically oversleep using a mattress, you will quickly realize that it is nearly impossible to oversleep on the floor.
The hardness of the floor will also cause you to change positions frequently. These frequent changes in position will ensure that you only sleep for the exact amount of time your body requires. It will also be beneficial in helping to correct the many joints in your body and ease back pain.
When starting out, your best bet is to use layers of cushion to help you ease into it.
So on the first night, you could go with a thick cushion and work your way down to a thin layer throughout the week. I opted to use a futon on the first night then worked my way down to a yoga mat then to the raw hard floor.
Sleeping on the floor isn't the easiest thing to get accustomed to doing. The floor is hard, sometimes cold and uncomfortable. However, as with anything in life, we humans learn to evolve and adapt to changes in the environment. So sleeping on the ground isn't an impossibility.
There are many benefits to gain from practicing to sleep on the floor. You will end up with a tonne of additional space if you remove the mattress. You could also sleep anywhere you feel like sleeping.
The truth is...
I still prefer to sleep on a very good mattress, but the floor did help me ease my back pain. However, I don't think it is something that I would do for the rest of my life. However, if I wanted to correct my posture and help resolve some pains in my body its something I would readily do.