Menu

Question: Is It Okay to Sleep on the Floor?

Updated January 28, 2020

There are plenty of people who believe that sleeping on a hard surface is the best choice for their backs. While that statement is partially true, the problem at hand is way more complex than that. As you know, sleepers are differentiated from one another thanks to their body configuration, favorite sleeping position, weight, height, and even certain health problems that require certain sleeping conditions. But, in the end, is it okay to sleep on the floor?

Facts about Floor Sleeping

As you probably already know, the subject of sleeping on the floor has drawn both pros and cons. However, there are plenty of experts that agree on the fact that sleeping on the floor is one of the best ways to promote a neutral posture that can help keep the spine aligned. But this is not without consequences, as sleeping on the floor can eventually lead to compression of the joints, especially in people that have a preferred sleeping position.

If you’ve ever been mattress shopping before, you’ve already heard about the infamous pressure points: the spots where heavy body parts push against the mattress and, if the mattress doesn’t have proper contouring properties and is too firm, will push back and create sore muscles and joints. Imagine what sleeping on the floor can do in this aspect, as a hard floor has no give, so the pressure points will be even further accentuated.

This could mean that sleeping on the floor for a short period of time can help with back pain, but this shouldn’t be considered a viable long-term solution.

The Benefits of Sleeping on the Floor

Instead of making up our minds based on the opinions we hear left and right, it’s always a safe bet to look at what studies have to say, even when it comes to something like sleeping on the floor. While there are many claims that stand by the idea that sleeping on the floor is the best choice for your spine and back pain, what does scientific evidence have to say about it? What are the true benefits of ditching your mattress in favor of a more “rugged” sleeping method?

But, before we move on, you should know that the benefits of sleeping on the floor are conditioned by a lot of different “ifs”:

  • Naturally, most people turn to sleeping on the floor because they want to alleviate back pain, but this claim isn’t entirely supported by scientific evidence. However, this idea was born from the knowledge that sleeping on a soft surface isn’t good for your back because it lacks support. When you sleep on a soft bed, your body basically sinks into the materials, causing your spine to rest in an unnatural position. Sleeping on a firmer surface, such as the floor, can help fight that, but it is only a short-term solution because even the firmest mattress will never be the equivalent of sleeping on a rough surface, such as the floor.
  • Sleeping on the floor may help treat sciatica, but the evidence is circumstantial, which makes it in no way applicable to each and every person having problems with their sciatic nerve. There is evidence which suggests that you can improve your sciatica by sleeping on a firmer mattress, while others swear that sleeping on the floor has helped them.
  • It is also believed that sleeping on the floor can help with spinal disorders, such as scoliosis or kyphosis. However, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor about the benefits of floor sleeping, because it might not be a good idea in your case.

The Drawbacks of Sleeping on the Floor

This is an idea with ups and downs, and it’s important to know both of them before you actually sleep “down there”:

  • There are chances that sleeping on the floor will bring a great deal of back pain.
  • The floor isn’t exactly the most hygienic place to sleep on, which means that you will be closer to dust and dust mites, dirt, lint, and other allergens that can be really dangerous to someone who has an allergy (don’t assume that people without allergies are much safer sleeping on the floor either). Sleeping on the floor can cause difficulties in breathing, coughing, red and itchy eyes, a runny nose, or sneezing.
  • Also, heat inside a room goes up instead of down, which makes the floor the coldest place in the room to sleep on. That’s bad news for everyone, but especially for those who know they have a rather weak immune system and are prone to catching colds.

The Right Way to Sleep on the Floor

Of course, there’s a right and a wrong way to do just about everything and sleeping on the floor isn’t an exception to the rule. If it’s something you’d like to try out, consider the following tips:

  • Make sure that you choose a cluster-free space. You don’t want to be surrounded by objects that you’ll accidentally hit while you’re sleeping.
  • Try to have at least some support between your body and the floor. Choose a sleeping bag or a mat, and don’t be afraid to use extra layers.

  • Choose the right pillow, one that doesn’t put too much strain on the neck. A thin pillow should do the trick.
  • Try switching between positions and see which one is the most comfortable for you. There are high chances that side sleepers will wake up with sore muscles due to pressure points.
  • You might want to take things gradually if you want to adapt easier. Instead of spending a full night on the floor, take a short one-hour nap. Then two hours. Increase your on-floor sleeping duration until you’ve given your body time to adjust.

Conclusion

Sleeping on the floor might be a good idea, but it’s certainly not ok for everyone to try it. Some of the advice given related to sleeping on the floor isn’t backed up by scientific evidence, but rather born from correlations and speculations that are made based on the bad results that really soft mattresses can deliver.