Many people prefer to sleep on the floor. In some cultures, it is actually more common Trusted Source Sleep Medicine Research Sleep Medicine Research (Sleep Med Res) is an official journal of the Korean Society of Sleep Medicine (KSSM), Asian Society of Sleep Medicine (ASSM), Korean Society of Sleep Research, and Korean Society of Sleep and Breathing. See Full Reference to sleep on the floor instead of a bed. Some people sleep on the floor for more personal reasons. Sleeping on the floor allows a person to live a more minimalist lifestyle, which many prefer. Some people may sleep on the floor because they do not have the space or budget for a full-sized bed at the moment.

Regardless of what initially sparked your interest in sleeping on the floor, it is normal to wonder if it is good for you. While there are potential benefits and drawbacks of sleeping on the floor, there is still very little scientific research on the subject. If you are considering sleeping on the floor, it may be helpful to understand the pros and cons before making a decision.

Benefits of Sleeping on the Floor

Potential benefits of sleeping on the floor include a cooler sleep temperature, relief from back pain, and better posture.

The Cooler Temperature May Be More Comfortable

Heat rises, so it follows that sleeping on the floor would allow for a cooler sleep experience. When the floor itself is cold, it reduces your body heat quickly. For those who sleep hot, this can make sleep more comfortable, especially during the hot summer months. In general, people tend to sleep better Trusted Source National Center for Biotechnology Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference in a cooler bedroom environment.

It May Offer Relief From Back Pain

Many people believe a firmer mattress is better for back pain Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference , including 75% of orthopedic surgeons Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference . The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Trusted Source National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) NINDS aims to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. See Full Reference also recommends those with back pain sleep on a firm surface.

The causes for back pain are numerous and diverse. Depending on what’s causing your back pain and what your preferred sleep position is, it’s possible a firmer sleep surface could provide some relief. For example, it’s common to experience back pain during pregnancy Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference . Although most pregnant women likely prefer beds, some may find sleeping on a firm surface like the floor to be more comfortable.

Some people sleep on mattresses that are too soft for their body weight. When a mattress is too soft, you are more likely to sink deeply into the mattress. This can lead to poor sleep posture Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference that causes your spine to curve out of alignment. This misalignment can increase pressure on your spine and contribute to back pain.

In one meta-analysis of 24 studies, researchers found that of all mattress types, medium firm mattresses Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference were consistently shown to provide the most relief from back pain, along with improved spinal alignment and sleep quality. However, medium firm mattresses are still significantly softer than the floor.

It May Improve Your Posture

Poor posture can be another contributor to back pain and lead to other problems like reduced flexibility, spinal misalignment, and increased risk of injury Trusted Source Medline Plus MedlinePlus is an online health information resource for patients and their families and friends. See Full Reference . Good posture supports the natural curvature of your spine. Sleeping on the floor can make it easier for you to keep your spine straight during sleep, since you don’t have to worry about sinking too deeply into a mattress. However, you may need to use pillows to decrease pressure on your spine, such as placing a thin pillow beneath your lower back.

 

Downsides of Sleeping on the Floor

Potential drawbacks of sleeping on the floor may include increased back pain, allergies, and discomfort.

It May Increase Back Pain

While some people with back pain find it beneficial to sleep on the floor, others may find it increases their back pain. Without adequate cushioning around pressure points like your hips and shoulders, sleeping on the floor can cause stiffness and discomfort Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference .

Studies of adults with lower back pain have found that among various mattress types, medium firm mattresses provided more relief over a 90-day period — both during the day and while lying in bed — than firm mattresses did.

It May Be Too Cold to Be Comfortable

When it comes to floor sleeping, what may be a benefit during the summer —a cooler sleep surface — may be a drawback during the winter. Because heat rises, some people find sleeping on the floor to be too cold.

It May Increase Your Allergen Exposure

Your bedroom is home to several potential allergens, from dust mites and dust to mold, any of which can disrupt your sleep quality Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference . By sleeping on the floor, you may expose yourself to more allergens and experience reduced sleep quality as a result.

Is Sleeping on the Floor Safe?

Some people should avoid sleeping on the floor, including older adults and people with certain health conditions, mobility issues, or allergies. If you are in one of these risk groups, consult your doctor before sleeping on the floor.

As we age, we become cold easier Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference and our bones become weaker Trusted Source Medline Plus MedlinePlus is an online health information resource for patients and their families and friends. See Full Reference . Older adults may also have arthritis or mobility issues, which can increase their fall risk. Sleeping on the floor may intensify their feelings of being cold or put them at greater risk of injury.

Some people have health conditions that make them more sensitive to cold temperatures, like anemia, hypothyroidism Trusted Source Medline Plus MedlinePlus is an online health information resource for patients and their families and friends. See Full Reference , or diabetes. Sleeping on the floor may intensify this sensation.

If you struggle with sitting down and standing up, especially from the floor, it’s better to sleep on a bed or a modified bed Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference . It’s easier for people with mobility issues to get into and out of a higher bed than a mattress that’s placed on the floor. Getting up from the floor to a standing position can increase risk for back pain.

How to Sleep on the Floor

If you’ve decided to try sleeping on the floor, you may want to try these tips to make your sleep more comfortable.

Keep the Floor Clean and Clear

Keeping your bedroom clean and free of clutter makes it easier to get into a headspace that’s conducive for sleep. If you’ll be sleeping on the floor, clear the area around your sleeping area of anything that you could injure yourself with or roll over onto. Regularly vacuum, sweep, or mop the floor to pick up debris and allergens. Frequently wash your floor bedding as well.

Create Your Bed

Just as with a regular bed, you have plenty of options for designing an ideal floor sleeping space. Some people choose a minimal route, and sleep simply on a blanket or mat. Others prefer a bit more cushion like that provided by a sleeping bag, futon, or memory foam topper. There are also foldable or roll-up mattresses made for floor sleeping. Finally, you can place a traditional mattress on the floor, and just forego the bed frame. Add additional sheets and layers to make yourself comfortable.

Support Your Sleep Position

Your preferred sleep position may feel different when you transition to the floor. You may find you enjoy another sleep position entirely. Whichever position you choose, you can use pillows to support the natural curvature of your spine and sleep comfortably.

Back sleepers may place a thin pillow beneath the lower back, and another pillow beneath the knees, to relieve pressure in the lower back. To support spinal alignment, head pillows should fill the space between the neck and the floor. A pillow with a medium loft, or thickness, often works best for back sleepers.

Side sleepers may place a pillow between the knees Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference to relieve tension. An additional, thin pillow between the waist and the floor can also be comfortable. To prevent aches and pains, head pillows should have a higher loft Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference , enough to fill the space between the edge of the shoulder and the nape of the neck.

Stomach sleepers are at the greatest risk of neck and back strain. To avoid this, try sleeping without a head pillow (or with a very thin one). A small pillow beneath the hips can also alleviate discomfort.

Test It Out With a Nap

Sleeping on the floor can feel radically different than sleeping on a bed. It can take some time getting used to, several days Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. See Full Reference or more. Try sleeping on the floor in different positions, and test it out with a nap first.

Sleeping on the floor feels great for some people and not so great for others. If it doesn’t feel good to you, you can always switch back to a traditional bed.

Thanks for the feedback - we're glad you found our work instructive!

Thanks for the feedback - we're glad you found our work instructive!

Submitting your Answer...

References

+18 Sources
  1. Chung, S., & An, H. (2014). Cultural issues of co-sleeping in Korea. Sleep Medicine Research, 5(2), 37-42.

    https://www.sleepmedres.org/journal/view.php?doi=10.17241/smr.2014.5.2.37
  2. Okamoto-Mizuno, K., & Mizuno, K. (2012). Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 31(1), 14.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22738673/
  3. Kovacs, F. M., Abraira, V., Peña, A., Martín-Rodríguez, J. G., Sánchez-Vera, M., Ferrer, E., Ruano, D., Guillén, P., Gestoso, M., Muriel, A., Zamora, J., Gil del Real, M. T., & Mufraggi, N. (2003). Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain: randomised, double-blind, controlled, multicentre trial. Lancet (London, England), 362(9396), 1599–1604.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14630439/
  4. Jacobson, B. H., Boolani, A., & Smith, D. B. (2009). Changes in back pain, sleep quality, and perceived stress after introduction of new bedding systems. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 8(1), 1–8.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19646380/
  5. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2020, April 27). Low back pain fact sheet. NINDS.

    https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet
  6. Sabino, J., & Grauer, J. N. (2008). Pregnancy and low back pain. Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, 1(2), 137–141.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19468887/
  7. Cary, D., Briffa, K., & McKenna, L. (2019). Identifying relationships between sleep posture and non-specific spinal symptoms in adults: A scoping review. BMJ Open, 9(6), e027633.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31256029/
  8. Radwan, A., Fess, P., James, D., Murphy, J., Myers, J., Rooney, M., Taylor, J., & Torii, A. (2015). Effect of different mattress designs on promoting sleep quality, pain reduction, and spinal alignment in adults with or without back pain; Systematic review of controlled trials. Sleep Health, 1(4), 257–267.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073401/
  9. MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine (US). (2017, October 25). Guide to good posture., Retrieved May 17, 2021, from

    https://medlineplus.gov/guidetogoodposture.html
  10. Mizuno, K., Okamoto-Mizuno, K., Tanabe, M., & Niwano, K. (2016). Sleep in a gymnasium: A study to examine the psychophysiological and environmental conditions in shelter-analogue settings. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(12), 1186.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27916912/
  11. Koinis-Mitchell, D., Craig, T., Esteban, C. A., & Klein, R. B. (2012). Sleep and allergic disease: a summary of the literature and future directions for research. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 130(6), 1275–1281.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22867694/
  12. Kenny, G. P., Sigal, R. J., & McGinn, R. (2016). Body temperature regulation in diabetes. Temperature (Austin, Tex.), 3(1), 119–145.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27227101/
  13. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. (2020, July 7). Aging changes in the bones – muscles – joints. MedlinePlus., Retrieved May 17, 2021, from

    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004015.htm
  14. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. (2020, January 13). Cold intolerance. MedlinePlus., Retrieved May 17, 2021, from

    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003095.htm
  15. Alexander, N. B., Grunawalt, J. C., Carlos, S., & Augustine, J. (2000). Bed mobility task performance in older adults. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 37(5), 633–638.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11322161/
  16. Desouzart, G., Matos, R., Melo, F., & Filgueiras, E. (2015). Effects of sleeping position on back pain in physically active seniors: A controlled pilot study. Work, 53(2), 235–240.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26835867/
  17. Lee, W. H., & Ko, M. S. (2017). Effect of sleep posture on neck muscle activity. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(6), 1021–1024.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28626314/
  18. Bader, G. G., & Engdal, S. (2000). The influence of bed firmness on sleep quality. Applied Ergonomics, 31(5), 487–497.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11059462/