Imagine a night of sleeping on the floor – no mattress to cushion your body, no bed to climb onto. It would be like when cave people, our ancestors, retired at sundown. They just drifted off on the ground. Or as close as possible to it.
Our modern lifestyle has brought us a lot of comfort for sure. So, it’s a bit curious why some people would choose to sleep Paleo style. While a few cultures are used to this setup, those living in the West seem to be catching the trend.
Experts have a few things to say about this. Instead of jumping the bandwagon, prioritize weighing the pros and cons. Don’t fall for a habit that may end up harming you. As such, this practice can affect sleep quality, which has to be maintained at a high level. So, let’s see how sleeping on the floor can impact your sleep quality.
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Effects of Sleeping on the Floor
Science has not given us a definitive answer yet. But to have a deeper understanding of the matter, we can look into people’s experiences and experts’ opinions.
The pro-floor sleeping side says the practice has positive effects in three areas: back pain, posture, and energy.
Those who favor or have converted to sleeping on the floor report that their back pain is now gone. If you can tolerate it, floor sleeping can help your body align naturally with the flat surface. Your pressure points may find relief in this position. Thus, you wake up feeling less sore or even painless.
Advocates underscore the proper alignment of body parts when you sleep. According to them, this aids in correcting your posture. So instead of replacing an old and pain-inducing mattress, they get rid of the mattress altogether and snooze on the floor.
The hard surface can straighten the back. And the body can maintain that posture while standing because it no longer hurts.
Rest & Energy
Lying on the floor is said to regulate your sleep cycle. It’s not too comfortable that you’re tempted to hit the snooze button in the morning. Because you don’t oversleep, you can feel more rested. As a result, your sleep quality scores positive points, boosting your overall health and wellness.
Meanwhile, some experts weigh in on said benefits below:
- Sleep physicians may be against floor sleeping. For people with back pain, the practice can make the symptoms worse. While a firmer mattress is recommended for this condition, it is not the same as lying on a hard floor. The latter can even hit your pressure points instead of relieving them. And this can lead to waking up with aches.
- From an evolutionary perspective, it’s also not so logical to sleep on the ground. Humans have to be above the ground now. That’s because we no longer need to sleep less comfortably to be ready for fight or flight situations.
- One thing experts agree on is that a night spent on a hard surface, like the floor, can promote neutral posture. This can help in maintaining good posture. Meanwhile, sleeping on a mattress that’s too soft can be equivalent to slouching. So make sure to avoid a very plush bed.
Is Sleeping on the Floor Good or Bad?
There’s no easy way to be sure whether it’s good or bad. Experts say it’s a terrible idea for back pain sufferers, what about healthy sleepers then? Will they get back pain once they start sleeping on the floor?
Let’s see if looking at the advantages and disadvantages can shed light on this dilemma.
There may be some merit to the spine alignment belief that advocates hold. When we say natural alignment, the back should be straight with a slight curve. This is to allow the back to support itself. When it’s able to do so, it can function properly.
Since the spine is part of your back and nervous system, it can affect these positively when it is aligned naturally. To understand why it is so, let’s look at its effect on stomach sleepers. In this position, the chest can feel a kickback from the upper ribs. It can then trigger parts of your backbone to stay active, which could be what the experts mean by the spine functioning well.
Another advantage of sleeping on the floor has to do with its cooling effects. If thin sheets separate you from the floor, you may notice that it’s cold. This could be a good alternative if your old bed is not well-ventilated. But you may need to install a floor heating system if you will continue to do this during the colder months.
One downside of floor sleeping is that it can cause the compression of joints. If you doze off in the same position each night, you can even experience muscle degradation.
It also brings bad news to people who sleep on their side. While back and stomach sleepers seem to gain something from it, your shoulders and hips may not get any comfort at all. It may be impossible for you to reach the deep sleep stages, which help in repairing and rejuvenating your body.
Further, the cold hard floor may cause sickness for people with a compromised immune system. It isn’t ideal if you’re already suffering from an illness as it can get worse because of the dust and dirt on the ground.
Speaking of dust and dirt, you’ll be in close contact with these unwanted particles. There is a good reason humans built beds for themselves. And this is to stay away from these contaminants and irritants.
Bed bugs and dust mites will also have easy access to your sleeping surface if you go Paleo. Insects, including roaches and ants, may trespass your space while you’re deep in slumber. If any of these grosses you out, then you can forget about sleeping on the floor for now.
When to Not Sleep on the Floor
It seems the benefits of sleeping on the floor apply only to some sleepers. But these may be the exceptions, not the norm. Naturally, the following groups of people should not attempt floor sleeping:
- The elderly – The muscles and joints of older people are more vulnerable to degradation and compression. Sleeping on the floor can strain their pressure points, which can lead to soreness and bruising. At the same time, this practice can increase their risk of falling or injury.
- People with mobility issues – If you are on the floor and cannot stand up on your own, it’s hard to imagine how you can sustain sleeping on the floor each night. You’ll have to call for help whenever you need to get up, go to the bathroom, or drink some water.
- People with medical issues – If you have a severe medical or physical condition, consult with your doctor before sleeping on the floor. Some may allow it if it has apparent benefits. But if you’re bedridden, it is better to stay in bed.
- Cold sleepers – As we said above, the floor can get really cold at night. If you’re the type who catches a cold quickly, this may not be the ideal setup for you. If you sleep cold in general, you may need to wear protection. It will also become colder during the autumn and winter months. If you can install a floor heating system, you can do it like the Koreans or the Japanese.
If you’re somehow allowed to try floor sleeping, we see no harm in doing it. Take note of the effects on your sleep. Keep a sleep diary if you can. And learn to listen to your body. If you’re not feeling any aches or soreness in the morning, you are one fortunate sleeper.
If anything, make sure to clean the floor before you sleep. Instead of lying directly on a cold, hard surface, you can use a mattress or futon instead. Throw in a mattress protector for good measure. At least you won’t have to spend a few hundred bucks more on a bed frame.
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