Does anyone else find something so incredibly nostalgic about sleeping on the floor? Thinking back to middle, even high school years, when I’d invite a girlfriend to stay the night, we’d cover the rug with blankets by the layer, and one single pillow for each of us. I never thought about whether or not sleeping on the floor could improve posture, let alone if it was even good for my body in general or, worst case scenario, if it would do some serious damage to my back. Fast-forward to my 26-year-old self, and I’m probably too concerned at times with how I sleep each night, but now, I’m wondering if sleeping on my hardwood could be even more beneficial to my body than my cushy mattress.
I know myself, and if I’m tired enough, I can pretty much sleep anywhere. If I’m not snoozing in bed, I’m dozing on the couch, and there was that one time I fell asleep on the floor in the middle of putting a puzzle together with my dad. Sure, you’re probably better off investing in a mattress that caters to your body’s specific sleep requirements, but there’s no harm in experimenting with other surfaces to see if they, too, can offer any kind of healthy benefits.
Plus, think of it this way: Your caveman ancestors essentially slept on the floor of their caves, right? Granted, most pictures you've seen probably showed them hunched back and grunting, but you get the idea. Sleeping on the floor isn't exactly a new initiative, so even though it seems so wrong because society's gone high-tech with fancy smart mattresses and body pillows, there has to be something right about it.
Some experts say sleeping on the floor is totally fine, and can even be better for your body than sleeping on a mattress.
Personally, I'm a mattress snob. I loathe a hard bed set, and I will definitively write off certain hotels if their beds aren't comfortable by my standards. Sure, my younger self may have enjoyed laying on the ground without a second thought, but now, the idea of choosing to sleep on the floor instead of my bed baffles me. Having said that, science doesn't lie, and there's some pretty compelling evidence that sleeping on the hard ground is awesome for your body.
How many times has your mother told you to stand or sit up straight? Bad posture is no joke, and it can come from how you sit, stand, and — you guessed it — sleep. MindBodyGreen reports that sleeping on a mattress that is worn, or dips in certain areas, "subjects your body to misaligned positions." In other words, your body molds to the mattress, developing "unhealthy curves and postures," just like when you slump in your chair.
According to certified sleep science coach and founder of SleepZoo, Chris Brantner, sleeping on the floor can do the exact opposite. "Sleeping on the floor forces your back, neck, and head into alignment," he tells Elite Daily, "assuming you aren't using a big, fluffy pillow." It can also ease back pain, he continues, which is one of the most common reasons why people suffer from poor posture in the first place.
On top of its physical benefits, according to a blog post by the mattress distributor The Sleep Judge, catching some Zs on the floor might offer you just the right amount of quality sleep that'll help feel super well-rested come morning. The problem with comfy mattresses, the blog argues, is they can sometimes be too comfy, making it harder for you to even want to get up and get the day started. When you sleep on the floor, however, your body comes into alignment, you knock out a few hours, and you're ready to go in the a.m.
It would seem, then, that sleeping on the floor offers a lot of physical benefits, but some experts still wouldn't recommend it over your trusted mattress.
Sleeping on the floor sounds great in theory, but it isn't necessarily for everyone. This is especially true if you, like me, are the type of person who only sleeps on their side or stomach.
Playing devil's advocate, Brantner points out that, if you aren't a designated back-sleeper, it's going to be very hard for you to get a good night's rest on the floor, because it's going to "put pressure on your body in places you aren't used to" — which might be why SleepScore Labs advisory board member Dr. Michael Breus tells Elite Daily he "wouldn't recommend [sleeping on the floor] to anyone."
You also have to consider the conditions of your floor: For instance, how clean is it? Getting rid of your mattress negates the bed bugs problem, sure, but sleeping on the floor means you're sharing your sleep space with the dust bunnies, and that could lead to respiratory problems, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.
The floor's temperature can be cause for concern, too. According to The Sleep Advisor, sleeping on cold surfaces and breathing in chilly air can "cause harm to your lungs" and "constrict your blood flow." I don't know about you, but I'd probably take bad posture over that any day.
Basically, the only way to really know if sleeping on the floor improves posture, or offers virtually any sort of health benefit, is to try it yourself.
There are pros and cons to sleeping on the floor, just as much as there are to sleeping on a mattress decorated with down comforters, sheets, and two or more pillows to boot. But the only way to determine whether or not sleeping on the floor is for you, is by giving it a try.
Brantner tells Elite Daily that the easiest way to make the transition from bed to floorboards is to do so gradually. The first step, he explains, would be to "ditch any additional padding on your mattress," and, eventually, switch to a firmer mattress to get a better feel for the stiffness.
Once you become more accustomed to harder surfaces, move your mattress to the floor before eliminating padding altogether. You can also try layering blankets on the surface, or snuggling into a sleeping bag. Either way, don't knock it 'til you've tried it!