Sleeping on the floor, as strange as it may sound from today’s perspective, actually has numerous benefits for your health. In fact, it’s a tradition in many countries like Japan and India that dates back centuries. If you’re curious to try it for yourself, there are some things to bear in mind, so keep reading as I guide you through this old practice.
Doing It the Right Way
As with virtually everything in this world, there is a right and wrong way to proceed. You mustn’t jump head-first into it and go from your soft mattress straight to your hardwood floor. Otherwise, you risk not sleeping too well, and hence, not liking it.
Sleeping on the Floor — Setting Up the “Bed”
1. Choose the Right Spot
Where you decide to sleep does make a difference. Is it going to be on a carpet, a hardwood floor, or even tiles?
If it’s your first time attempting to sleep on the floor, I suggest choosing a carpeted area. Thus, the change won’t be as drastic, and your body will have some time to adapt.
If you’ve only ever slept on a bed, you are most likely used to the way a mattress feels, and your sleeping positions are adjusted to that. But by transitioning to sleeping on the floor, you’ll have to find new ways to make yourself comfortable. The additional cushioning from your carpet will help by providing an extra layer of material between you and the floor.
That doesn’t mean you can’t sleep on your hardwood floor, though. You’ll just need some extra padding to support your body so that it doesn’t get sore throughout the night.
2. Lying Down the Base
After you’ve chosen where you want to sleep, it’s time to set up your “bed.” For starters, lay a thick sheet, quilt, or comforter down. If you don’t have anything thick enough, stack a few larger blankets together.
Test the base out. If it’s uncomfortable, just add another layer. Don’t hesitate to adjust it to your liking — you’re not doing it “wrong” if you need to add something for additional support. Naturally, your body will require some time to adjust (usually a week or two).
3. Pillow vs. No Pillow
For people who are just starting, I’d suggest using a pillow. Again, you don’t want to shock your body by introducing too extreme of a change in your sleeping setup. Everything needs to happen gradually.
So if your goal is to get rid of your pillow eventually, start with a medium-thick one and sleep on it for a week. Then, switch it for a thinner version for another week. Repeat until you’re comfortable even without it.
As a matter of fact, you can do that with a simple blanket too. Just fold it a few times, and as the weeks go by, unfold it layer by layer until you don’t need it anymore.
If you do, however, want to stick with your pillow, that’s perfectly fine as well. Just make sure you use a thin one because you don’t want your neck to be at an uncomfortable angle.
4. Add Extra Support
It is not uncommon to see people new to the whole sleeping-on-the-floor situation go back to their soft beds. That’s because they can’t find a comfortable position, which makes them feel pressure in certain parts of their body.
Here’s one solution to the problem: more pillows! Isn’t that cheating — you may ask. Of course not! Your goal is to be comfortable; plus, since there are no actual rules to sleeping on the floor, you can do whatever you please. If you need extra pillows to achieve optimal comfort, by all means, use some.
But first, let’s discuss what type of pillow would work best. Needless to say, everybody has preferences, but as a rule of thumb, you want something lean and soft. The reason it’s not recommended to use a thick pillow is that it forces your head to lean forward. That typically leads to neck pain and muscle tension. Therefore, a thin pillow is your best friend.
When it comes to the additional pillows you might want to use, I’d suggest getting longer and thicker ones. You’d use them for extra support, so it would be smarter to get something that is bigger and puffier.
5. The Positioning of the Pillows
Now that you know what types of pillows work best, let’s learn how to position them.
There are tips for every sleeping position. However, as there are too many of them, I divided them into three main categories:
- back sleeping
- side sleeping
- stomach sleeping
If you’re a back sleeper, it is common to feel some pressure on your shoulder blades, hips, and lower tailbone.
A way to handle that is to take a thin sheet or a towel, fold it once or twice, and position it underneath the parts where you feel discomfort. You don’t need anything fancy — just enough to provide some cushion to the joints.
Eventually, your joints will get a little denser and tougher, so they won’t ache anymore. But in the beginning, it does take some getting used to.
Generally, there are three ways to sleep on your side (unless you’re super creative): sleeping entirely on one of your sides, half on your side/half on your back, and more on your back. Let’s have a look at all of them.
#1 Sleeping on Your Side
This position is immensely popular among so many people. Yet, when sleeping on the floor, turning on one side and feeling comfortable without any added support can prove challenging. Therefore, get your additional pillow and place it between your legs. Thus, you won’t feel discomfort there.
Additionally, you might want to add a folded sheet or blanket underneath your hip for extra support. That’s an area some people find problematic because of the number of pressure points there. However, if adding extra padding doesn’t work and you still feel uncomfortable, you might want to add more layers to your base. That should solve the problem.
#2 Sleeping Half on Your Side/Half on Your Back
When you want to turn half on your side and half on your back, you can tuck your main pillow in-between your shoulder and the crook of your neck. Now, you can tuck one end of your second pillow underneath your stomach and chest and put the other in-between your legs. Then, lean all your weight into the pillow. It’s super comfortable, and it feels like you’re hugging a cloud.
If you don’t have a long pillow, you can achieve the same effect with two additional pillows. Just place one underneath your torso and the other in-between your legs.
#3 Sleeping More on Your Back
If you want to be more on your back, you can follow the same steps as with the previous position. Put your main pillow in the crook of your neck; then, tuck the bottom part of your second pillow underneath the tailbone and place the top corner right in-between the two shoulder blades. You’re basically propping up one of your sides, but your weight is mostly on your opposite hip.
Sometimes, if you’re sore because you had a workout or just didn’t sleep well, you can even get a third pillow. You’d use it the same way as the second one, but you’d line both sides of your body instead of one.
Stomach sleeping is kind of tricky when on the floor, no doubt. But once you have slept in that position for a few nights, you will be able to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
If you’re a stomach sleeper, you’ll need an extra pillow. Again, feel free to adjust it to your liking. You can have it kind of off-center and lean your weight into it, or you can prop one knee and one arm up and let the other leg lay on the ground.
If you experience discomfort in specific parts of your body when in this position, add some extra padding to mitigate the pain.
In fact, here is a link to a YouTube video that illustrates the gist.
You Do the Work
The most notable thing to understand here is that when sleeping on the floor, just like on a chair or a recliner, you have to make it work. It doesn’t feel like being pampered or cradled if you don’t put some effort into it.
That is good, though, because when you sleep on a big, soft, plush mattress, it’s much easier to hold tension in your body as nothing forces you to lay flat. When you’re on the floor, however, if you were to stay still, you’d just increase the pressure on particular parts of your body, making it extremely uncomfortable to remain in that position for long. Consequently, you’d be forced to shift and lie flat.
Therefore, if you find it challenging to maintain a proper sleeping posture, trying to sleep on the floor might be all you ever needed. It doesn’t cost anything, and you don’t have to throw your bed away. Just try it for a few days to see whether it helps — and trust me; it most probably will.
What’s more, the possibilities are endless, and you can modify your sleeping arrangement any way you like until you find what works for you. After several days, you’ll likely have discovered the sleeping positions that bring maximum comfort, which will result in a good night’s sleep.
Products to Help You Sleep on the Floor
Up until now, I talked about a more budget-friendly way to sleep on the floor. You are bound to already own everything you need — sheets, pillows, comforters, etc. Yet, if you’re interested in making sleeping on the floor part of your lifestyle, there are specific products you can buy that will make your life that much easier.
- Lightweight mattress instantly provides a comfortable...
- Features 3" thick plush memory foam, which consists of...
- When not in use, it conveniently rolls up to just 12"...
- Includes a removable ultra-plush, machine-washable...
Instead of stacking up sheets and blankets, you can purchase a mattress topper, for example. Thus, you won’t have to worry about pressure points and back pain ever again. You can also get an ergonomic pillow if your old one doesn’t do the job. There is an array of products designed specifically for floor sleepers. So here are some worth checking out:
- memory foam mattress (Amazon)
- foam folding mattress/sofa (Amazon)
- foam gel mattress topper (Amazon)
- ergonomic pillow (Amazon)
- Japanese futon products (this entry is a shop that offers many different products, such as futon mattresses, futon sets, pillows, etc.)
There are many other products you can choose from too. And the best part is — you don’t need to break the bank to get high comfort levels. As I already mentioned, you can start sleeping on the floor for absolutely free if you’re unsure about it. Then, when you see the positive effects on your physical health and even mood, you can purchase some additional products that will make the experience even more enjoyable.
Sleeping on the floor has been a widely-spread practice with millions of followers for hundreds of years. It is a tried-and-true method that has helped a vast number of people alleviate their back problems and get better sleep.
If you use the tips I provided, you’ll be able to get the most of this popular practice. Although it might be uncomfortable at first, once you get used to it, you’ll see why so many people are into it.
People who regularly practice sleeping on the floor report that they sleep better overall, are more comfortable, have higher energy levels, feel less stressed out, and more.
All of this is possible when you do it the right way, though. It’s evident that if you just lie flat on your hardwood floor, you’ll probably not get much sleep at all! To avoid negative effects, make sure that you introduce these and any other changes to your sleeping habits gradually so that your body has time to adjust.