Can You Put Your Mattress Directly On The Floor? The Pros and Cons

Putting your mattress directly on the floor is a viable option. There are however, pros and cons to be considered before making the decision.

By Sheryl Grassie

Placing a mattress on the floor without a foundation or box spring seems like a temporary arrangement until your mattress accessories get to you. But what about for longer? Maybe you don’t want to foot the extra cost of a bed frame and are asking yourself “Can I just put my mattress on the floor?”

interior new house, bedroom with a mattress

A Little History

Most early sleeping pallets were laid directly on the floor. The practice of elevating the bed started in ancient Egypt with both simple and ornate wooden platforms beneath a wool mattress.

The Romans continued the tradition and added raised beds of iron lattice, and beds strung with ropes across a wooden platform. The term “sleep tight” later became popular in relation to tightening the ropes that held the mattress.

People with wealth often had raised beds, while peasants slept in hay beds on the floor. These floor-level beds were more susceptible to bugs. Thus, the expression “hit the hay” was born as it was a common practice to literally beat the hay bed to scare off bugs before going to sleep.

In Medieval and Victorian times, the beds seemed to get even higher off the floor, although there were examples of high beds as far back as 3,000 B.C. Think of the ornate Renaissance 4 poster beds that needed steps to climb in. Raised beds became more commonplace at all economic levels.

Why Raise the Bed?

The most common answer is that it was cold on the floor and raising the bed warmed things up. Houses were drafty, cold air poured in from under doors, and without central heating, people sought ways to keep warm. Warm air rises, and the higher up in the room you are, the warmer it gets.

There were other reasons to raise the bed as well. In simple homes, floors were made of dirt and that dirt easily migrated into beds. In other words, it was cleaner to raise the bed off the floor. It kept the bed relatively dust and moisture free and removed it from being easily accessible by rodents and insects.

In Modern Times

We think of mattresses on the floor as a hallmark of college students or young married couples just starting out. Raised beds, with the mattress in a frame or a box spring, probably are the norm in Western culture, but they aren’t all over the world. In Asia, and especially in the more rural areas, people still sleep on pallets on the floor—and many prefer it. Mattresses on the floor have gained popularity in the United States and Europe, especially for small or tight spaces.

Let’s Look At Some Pros And Cons

Pros

  • It’s easy: Just lay the mattress on the floor, and as long as the floor is a solid surface, it is a perfectly fine support.
  • It’s inexpensive: The cost of putting your bed on the floor is essentially nothing compared to purchasing a bed frame that may cost hundreds of dollars.
  • It’s good for your back: Your back may benefit from sleeping on a hard surface. There are schools of thought that a very firm surface keeps the spine in a natural position and supports the back.
  • It can improve blood circulation: The improved posture that can come from a firm bed can also increase circulation to the limbs. This overall improved circulation equates to better health.
  • It’s cooler for sleeping: The same reason beds were raised off the floor can be a reason to keep them on the floor: it is cooler. Especially in summer or a hot climate, sleeping on the floor is a natural coolant, and sleeping cooler supports better sleep and feels good overall.
  • It lowers the risk of scoliosis: Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, may be caused by, or exacerbated by, sleeping on a soft mattress. Having your mattress on the floor guards against it.
  • It supports less neck and back pain: Again improved posture from a firm sleeping surface tends to keep the spine aligned and relieve both neck and back pain. Anecdotally, people report that moving to the floor decreases previous pain in their neck and back.
  • Mattresses on the floor tend to be quieter: With no metal or springs, the bed is quiet and still.

Cons

  • It can be hard on the joints: Without sufficient cushion, the joints tend to get stressed over time, and this results in pain.
  • It is more difficult to get in and out of bed: A bed on the floor requires you to bend further to get into it, and push up further to get out of it. This is one reason beds on the floor are more frequently associated with the young. Children sleep fine on the floor, as do young adults. Older adults can find it difficult to navigate the ups and downs.
  • There is no airflow for the mattress: This can cause moisture to get trapped under the mattress and cause mold and mildew to develop. Both of these can present a health hazard and ruin a mattress. If you do have a mattress directly on the floor, the recommendation is to lean it up against a wall at least once a week and let it air out. If you live in a humid climate, this is especially true.
  • Bugs live on the floor: Bugs, and especially bed bugs, have easy access to mattresses on the floor. This is a very real concern and requires extra vigilance if you want your bed at floor level. Keep things clean, most importantly, clean the floor before putting down the mattress. If you have older hardwood floors that may have some separation between the boards, work extra hard to get any dust, dirt, or critter homes out from between the cracks before laying down the mattress.
  • Dust and dirt: Gravity pushes everything to the floor: dust particles, dirt, hair, and crumbs all land on the floor and congregate around the bed. This can cause problems with allergies and create respiratory issues. If you have an existing condition, think about the wisdom of moving to the floor.
  • Voided warranty: A very important consideration is what your mattress manufacturer has to say about their product being on the floor. Some warranties are voided if you sleep with the mattress on the ground. Carefully check the warranty information for your individual mattress.
  • Some mattresses don’t do well on the floor: Others do. Some mattresses are actually made with the floor in mind. Mattresses that have a good air flow can do well on the floor, whereas mattresses that have a more solid structure can have challenges with moisture.

Summary

Can you put your mattress directly on the floor? The answer is a definite yes! Do you want to? The answer is a definite question. There are pros and cons to sleeping so close to certain elements like moisture, dirt, bugs, and cold. Assess your living environment before making a decision, and consider our list of pros and cons.


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