Are There Benefits to Sleeping on the Floor?

Some people believe that the potential benefits are worth saying goodbye to a comfortable mattress for good.

By Nicole Gleichmann

Apr 14th, 2022

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When it comes to human evolution, we did not evolve to sleep on luxurious mattresses. Our stone-age ancestors were not spending their nights on fluffy pillow tops or contouring memory foam.

Yet, most of us look forward to that moment at the end of the day when we get to slip into a bed made up just how we like it. This might entail a medium-firm mattress with down pillows and silky sheets or an extra-firm mattress with a minimalistic design.

But some people postulate that sleeping on mattresses may be doing us more harm than good. They claim that sleeping on the floor is more natural, and as such, is better for our bodies.

There is no shortage of personal stories posted online about giving this new fad a try. With many of these accounts ending with people switching to floor-sleeping long-term, it is only natural to wonder if it is better to sleep on the floor than on a mattress.

Should You Ditch Your Mattress?

In spite of the gusto with which some people describe the benefits of sleeping on the floor, there have been no studies elucidating the pros, or cons, of sleeping on the floor. But this has not stopped people from trying it out and proposing a variety of different benefits for sleeping on an extra-firm surface like the floor.

The Potential Health Benefits of Sleeping on the Floor

1. It Could Relieve Back Pain

Many people these days struggle with back pain caused by things like a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, or injuries. You may have heard that the floor is a proper substitute for the best mattress for back pain, and it’s possible that this old wive’s tale is in fact true.

Even some specialists purport that sleeping on the floor may be beneficial for back pain. According to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration in Santa Monica, California, sleeping on the floor may help with back pain by:

  • Maintaining a neutral spine position
  • Placing pressure evenly along your spine
  • Reducing cushion that can impede natural movement during sleep
  • Promoting a better night’s sleep, allowing for expedited healing

2. It May Improve Posture

Lie down on your back on the floor and relax your body. One of the first things that you might notice is how your body seems to naturally fall into a correct posture.

Many of us have exceptionally poor posture thanks to spending much of our time bent over in front of the computer or slouched on the couch as we watch television at night. This can lead to rounded shoulders, a weak core, and chronic neck and back pain.

Because the floor provides a firm, supportive surface, some people believe that sleeping there may be able to improve posture over time.

3. It Could Reduce Aches and Pains

When you sleep on a comfortable mattress, there is the potential to be placed in an unnatural position for the full night. This poor body positioning can lead to muscle strain. Over time, nighttime muscle strain can lead to aches, pains, and stiffness come morning. In contrast, floor sleeping results in much more moving around. This may reduce muscle strain and the related aches and pains.

4. It Offers a Minimalist Aesthetic

Minimalism has become a hot topic over recent years. People are embracing the motto of fewer, finer things. Saying goodbye to a bulky mattress and frame can enhance a minimalist aesthetic. This is particularly impactful for those who live in small spaces like studio apartments.

A Mattress May Be Better

Not everyone agrees that sleeping on the floor is the best thing for our health. The following arguments support using a mattress over the floor.

1. A Medium-Firm Mattress May Help Back Pain

Even though there have not been any studies directly comparing sleeping on the floor to sleeping on a mattress when it comes to back pain, there have been studies comparing sleeping on mattresses of varying firmness levels.

Sleep scientists have found that people with back pain tend to do best on medium-firm mattresses. Softer and firmer mattresses were not as beneficial when it comes to pain relief. It is possible that an even firmer surface, such as the floor, could exacerbate this pain.

2. Sleeping on a Mattress is Better for People with Allergies

Dust, dander, and other allergens congregate on the floor. For people who struggle with allergies or asthma, sleeping on a bed can help to limit allergen exposure.

Related: Best Hypoallergenic Mattresses

3. Mattresses Are Warmer Than the Floor

The floor is much colder than a mattress. When you sleep on a mattress, your body heat is absorbed into the soft material with some of it returning to you as you sleep. The floor is much colder and much larger, allowing it to slowly drain the heat from your body.

4. A Soft Surface Relieves Discomfort at Pressure Points

Sleeping on mattresses, especially memory foam mattresses, can help to relieve pain in areas that come into contact with the mattress first. The importance of this benefit varies based on sleep position. Side sleepers are likely to benefit the most because sleeping on your side results in lots of pressure on your hips and shoulders.

How to Transition from a Mattress to the Floor

Switching quickly from a mattress to the floor can make it hard to fall asleep or sleep well through the night. It is recommended to transition from a mattress to the floor slowly to allow your body to adjust.

Start by using a mattress pad or very thin mattress on the floor. Rather than getting rid of your mattress straight away, begin by taking naps on the padded floor. From there, increase the time spent on the floor and potentially decrease the padding.

You may find that it works best if you keep padding such as a mattress pad or sleeping bag, but this will vary from one person to another.

Read More: Best Floor Mattresses

Final Thoughts: Are There Benefits to Sleeping on the Floor?

There are benefits and drawbacks to sleeping on the floor, as well as sleeping on a mattress. What works for one person may not work for another. If you feel like your quality of life might benefit from sleeping on the floor, understand that it can take some time for your body to become accustomed to the harder sleep surface. Over time, you may find the floor more appealing than your mattress ever was…or, you may go back to your mattress.