Is It Good to Sleep on the Floor?

The reasons people sleep on the floor may vary. While some people do it for therapeutic reasons, others do so because of their culture. Still others claim they simply get a better night sleep and feel more refreshed in the mornings. Whether or not sleeping on the floor is good for you depends a lot on the reasons behind your choice, and the preparations that you make.

Is Sleeping on the Floor Good?

Depending on the health of a person, the answers can be both yes and no. While some people are comfortable enough sleeping on the floor, others with joint problems often find the experience downright painful. History has shown that many cultures practice sleeping on the floor, and many still do today, so the preferences may be cultural and personal.

It's Good for Back and Spine for Healthy Individuals

Amazingly, scientific information is very difficult to find on this subject. What is known is that soft mattresses do not provide the kind of support leading to proper posture during sleep and often increases the chances of misalignments of the spine. Sleeping on a hard surface can be very beneficial for your back and spine, because it helps keep your back strait while lying down for extended periods of time. Those that have tried this say they found it to be extremely beneficial and wake up with less pain in their backs than before. Ideally, the best way is to lie flat on your back without a pillow to keep your spine in the most neutral position possible.

It Tends to Be A Sort of Cultural Preference

Then there are those that choose sleeping on the floor for ergonomic and cultural reasons. They believe that health and sleep are intricately related and support each other. The Japanese are a good example of this. Many believe that through exercise and other practices, such as sleeping on a hard surface, helps with spinal alignment and circulation, thus leading them too healthier, more productive lives. In Japan it is still very common to sleep on a tatami or a futon spread out on the floor. They have been sleeping this way all their life and are accustomed to it, and Japanese houses are usually small, so sleeping rooms are often used for a dual purpose. The futon is put away during the day to make room for more living space.

Tips for Better Sleep

If you’re thinking about moving from a soft bed and mattress to the floor, whether it’s to help with back pain, or simply trying to lead a healthier, more productive lifestyle, there are some things you should remember to help with the transition.

  • Using a thin mat, like a Yoga mat on the floor, helps provide some cushion between you and the floor, while maintaining the beneficial aspects of a hard surface for your back and spine.
  • Sleep on your back to maximize the benefits. Sleeping on your stomach or side will not help with your spine.
  • Moreover you should also try to sleep with your knees bent, allowing the sacrum and lower back to decompress. In addition to the decompression, it allows your body weight to be distributed over more area so your shoulders and hips are not as sore in the morning.
  • For obvious reasons try to find carpeted areas of the floor, it’s more comfortable than a hardwood or tiled floor.
  • You’ll want to make sure you have lots of room to spread out. You don’t want to diminish your comfort level by being cramped with furniture.
  • Because the floor does not sink like a mattress, you will only need one pillow to achieve the same elevation needed to support your head and neck.
  • If you’re sleeping on carpet, try to move around so the carpet does not show the outline where rest over time.
  • Using a sleeping bag has the dual advantage of putting something underneath you while covering you up at the same time.
  • Consult with a physician before deciding that sleeping on the floor will alleviate the pain in your spine. There could be a serious underlining issue that needs medical attention.
  • Make sure that the floor that you sleep on is sanitary. A dirty floor, or one infested with fleas could be more harmful than helpful.

What Others Say About Sleeping on the Floor

“It depends a lot on the floor that you wish to lie on. A concrete, ceramic, or rough wooden floor will not be fit for a good night’s sleep. What you want is a well tiled, flat, and neat floor that will support your back and spine.” -- Allen

“In order to improve your back or spine, a wood board, hard mattress, or carpeted floor will do. However, sleeping directly on ceramic, wooden, or tiled floor is not good for you, and concrete floors are impracticable.

Chinese Medicine says that it is not wise to sleep on a cold floor for hours, because it invites the bad yin into our systems. We need to keep our body warm to help prevent other unhealthy issues with our body.” --Troy

"Hard to say whether it helps or not. Unless you are feeling back pain already you probably will not see any improvement. However it could help out with those that have posture problems. Give it a try to see if you like it and remember that it may be uncomfortable the first few nights. If you wake up to some soreness, this too should go away after a couple of nights when you begin to get accustomed to the hard surface." --Maria

"On the recommendation of a teammate, I started sleeping on the floor to help recover from hard workouts, and have been doing so ever since. While I haven't noticed any changes in my performance, I no longer have to have back pain in the mornings when I wake up. I’ve found that a nice comfy blanket between me and the floor is all I need for a good night’s rest." --Sara

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