Sleeping on the floor is considered somewhat a thing of the past.

With all types of comfortable beds, mattresses and pillows available nowadays, very few people, mostly minimalists, actually sleep on the floor now.

Today’s article is to find out if it is healthy for one to sleep on the floor, i.e., are there benefits and side-effects of doing so?

Does sleeping on the floor alleviate back pain?

Surprisingly, many people claim sleeping on the floor alleviates their back pain, although to-date there is no scientific proof to substantiate this.

There is a point to consider here though. A lot of mattresses do not provide proper back support, they normally let your body sink into them. This causes your spine to curve, and for those with weak backs, this form of sleeping will lead to back pain.

A study done by the Harvard Medical School actually recommends placing plywood under a soft mattress for more support. Harvard also suggests placing the mattress on the floor.

Firm mattresses may ease back pain, but other factors should also be looked into, e.g., the way a person sleeps and whether that is the cause of the pain.

In an article published in the Sleep Health journal in 2015, participating researchers looked for the link between mattress types and quality of sleep.

Their results showed “a mattress that is subjectively identified as a medium-firm mattress and is custom inflated (self-adjusted) is optimal for promoting sleep comfort, quality, and spinal alignment”. Hence, their studies showed a decrease in pain during sleep when using medium-firm mattresses.

Similar data from an article from a 2003 study published in The Lancet, showed the findings that although A firm mattress is commonly believed to be beneficial for low back pain, although evidence supporting this recommendation is lacking, they concluded “A mattress of medium firmness improves pain and disability among patients with chronic non-specific low- back pain”.

Both studies concluded that more research is needed to see if there is a connection between floor-sleeping and back pain.

Can sleeping on the floor treat sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the body’s longest nerve, starting from the spinal cord, running along the hips and buttocks where it then branches off down each leg.

This nerve has a direct effect on a person’s ability to control and feel leg movements. Sciatica happens when this long nerve is irritated, normally by an underlying injury or a vertebrae, e.g., slipped disc.

Similar to back pain, sciatica may be improved by sleeping on a firmer mattress or sleeping on the floor.

Again, there is no scientific evidence to verify that floor-sleeping does treat sciatica. If you have sciatica, it is best to discuss floor-sleeping with your doctor or physiotherapist before trying it out.

Sleeping on the floor improves posture

Another claim not backed by science is sleeping on the floor improves one’s posture.

There may be some logic to this claim, as hard surfaces provide more, though not necessarily better, support to the spine. Some floor-sleepers claim they hardly suffer back pain as their spines remain in a straight position when they sleep on the floor.

People who should not sleep on the floor

Floor-sleeping is not a good option for certain people, including:

The elderly – with age, the body loses fatty tissue and bones become weaker. Hence, floor-sleeping may increase the risk of fractures. The elderly may also feel too cold when sleeping on the floor.

Those with health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism or anemia (all of which lower body temperature), should refrain from floor-sleeping, as it reduces body temperature even further.

People with limited mobility, e.g., arthritis, should avoid floor-sleeping.

Hygiene Factor

Do also consider the fact that the floor is where there is more dust and dirt. Floor-sleeping can worsen allergies, a sinus problem or other common respiratory illnesses like sneezing, coughing, wheezing.

In conclusion: To floor-sleep it is important to consider that one must have the ability to get down to the floor and stand up independently. If you can’t do this easily or have limited mobility, avoid floor-sleeping.

We hope this article has provided some general insight into floor-sleeping and its relation to good health, and would like to remind our readers that this article should not be taken as medical advice.

As usual, we advise our readers to refer to a doctor or physiotherapist for proper advice if you want to try sleeping on the floor.

By Aaron
15th September 2020 13:36

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