Can Sleeping On the Floor Improve Your Health?

By Chelsea Arangcon

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Woman sleeping on the floor

Nothing’s more satisfying than sinking into your bed after a gruesome long day. It’s a common feeling amongst most Westerners, but not everyone is crawling into a comfy bed–some are sleeping on the floor. It’s normal to see this amongst Asian countries, such as Japan, where they often sleep on Tatami mats.

Believe it or not, sleeping on the floor definitely brings plenty of health benefits rather than mattresses. According to Katy Bowman, a biochemist, mattresses conform to the shape of our body and therefore trap us in one position during the night. And because we naturally move in our sleep, this is the reason why most of us often wake up feeling sore. She says by sleeping on the floor, “you’ll strengthen tiny muscles that build over time. You’re putting pressure on your body parts. It’s like a massage all night.”

The Sleep Advisor Organization also claims moving your mattress to the floor can improve blood circulation. Without additional cushioning, your body will be forced to accommodate and spread even pressure around the mattress surface. Muscles and tissue will get a good amount of circulation.

But like everything, there are always cons. Side sleepers will have a harder time sleeping on a mattress directly on the floor than those who sleep on their back/stomach. There is a higher chance of getting bed bugs in your mattress and cleaning will also have to become more frequent as dust gathers mostly on the floor and inhaling it can damage your health.

I never struggled with huge back pain, but my posture wasn’t the straightest, and since the beginning of the school year, I sometimes felt shooting pains on the back of my right shoulder. So after hearing this trend and its health benefits, I became immensely curious to try it for a week.

The first day, I slept on a yoga mat, five layers of blankets and one pillow. I folded up two pretty thick blankets but it didn’t feel like that at all, it still felt like I would be uncomfortable. At first, I was obviously uncomfortable; I tried putting a small pillow pet under the small of my back and a pillow under my knees, but it seemed to feel worse. I took it off and laid on my back with only a pillow under my head. Surprisingly, I slept sound through the night. I only woke up to find my right sock missing, and when my mom left the house by opening the garage door (my room is right above the garage so it felt like an earthquake for a second).

Other than that, I slept fine on all the other nights. My posture improved a little bit, and it seemed like the stinging pain behind my shoulder temporarily disappeared (sadly it returned on Monday but other factors, like stress, could have contributed to that).

The fourth night, I removed one layer of blanket and still slept fine till the last night. My quality of sleep didn’t improve nor decline,;however, I only had a taste of the floor for a week, rather than years of experience. There was no permanent effect of sitting straighter, but slumping would hurt a little more than usual. Either way, choosing a bed or the floor is totally personal but it doesn’t hurt to be open to both options.

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