Is Sleeping on the Floor: Good or Bad for Your Health?

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If you were raised up in western countries, especially the United States, sleeping involves lying on a King size or Queen size comfy bed with fluffy blankets and supportive pillows. But, as time goes, most people are abandoning this tradition in favor of sleeping on their hard floors. Countries, especially those in the Asian sphere, have completely adapted to this tradition of sleeping on the floor by lying on mattresses, yoga mats, massage mats,and tatami.

If we look back to our ancestral roots, humans used to sleep on the bare floor. Some advanced tribes would lie on animal skin when sleeping while others slept directly on the dirt. Some tribes would sleep on the back of their horses while others slept on slanted beds to make it easier for them to respond to attacks.

While there were many sleeping techniques, what exactly inspired the ancient civilization to sleep on the floor? Was it to prevent them from sleeping too soundly to not hear attacks from the wild animals or were there some orthopedic advantages they were benefiting from?

Well, in a bid to seek answers, this article has dug deep into this topic to try and answer the burning question of whether sleeping on the floor is good or bad for your health.

Some interesting benefits

  • Alleviates back pain

Before we begin, let me first mention that sleeping on the floor may not work for everyone. While some people may find the relief they are looking for, some may find it difficult to adapt or even develop other medical conditions in the process. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you first consult a health professional to know which sleeping posture is best for you.

The main advantage of ditching your bed to sleep on the floor is the relief you’ll get on your back. Although it’s not scientifically proven, most drivers and office workers that sit for long hours have confessed that sleeping on the floor indeed helps to alleviate back pain.

You see, when you’re sleeping on a soft mattress, your body tends to sink causing curves on your spine that are responsible for back pain. Although the sinking effect will create a soothing sensation when sleeping, the fact that such a mattress is not supportive is a great concern to your health.

Therefore, sleeping on the floor is a great way of alleviating back pains and joint pains fast and effectively.

  • Improved blood circulation

People with diabetes, heart problems, obesity, and arterial issues always experience difficulty falling asleep at night. Thankfully, sleeping on the ground has been discovered to promote improved blood circulation throughout the body relieving strain and discomforts associated with such conditions.

But, sleeping on the floor isn’t the only way to improve blood circulation. Other factors such as correct sleeping posture and using the best luxury pillows have proven to contribute tremendously.

For instance, sleeping on the side, especially on the left side, helps to reduce strain on the blood vessels allowing blood to circulate with the right pressure throughout the body. Also, resting your head on a properly aligned pillow will not only hold and support your head but will also help the blood to flow freely to the brain.

  • Improved posture

The high level of firmness that comes with sleeping on the floor seems to help out with posture. You see, your body needs to be aligned well for you to achieve that much-needed posture. With less cushioning, your body will be able to distribute pressure evenly throughout the surface relieving neck and lower back pain.

  • Lowers the risk of sciatica

The spine is the anchor that supports your entire nervous system. One of these nerves that are directly linked to your lower body such as the buttocks, hips, lower back, and each leg is the sciatic nerve.

Sleeping on your back on a soft mattress can cause the body to bulge creating a herniated disk. This condition is responsible for sciatica pain and can also lead to a spinal disorder such as scoliosis (a condition where the spine develops an unnatural curve).

To remedy these spinal issues, most people have reported significant improvements by sleeping on the floor. Actually, the firmness on the ground is what engineers spinal support when sleeping on your back. With this sleeping posture, your back and the ribcage position themselves properly reducing pressure on your spine.

Something else about sleeping on the floor is that it promotes proper movement of the body which helps you maintain proper sleeping posture. You see, when your body sinks into a mattress, movement of the body is significantly reduced putting pressure on your spine.

  • More rest more energy

If you’re a victim of insomnia or maybe you’re experiencing difficulty in sleeping due to increased body temperature, sleeping on the floor can really help. You see, by sleeping on the floor, you’ll get access to cooler air which prevents over sweating at night.

Since there’s less obstruction (meaning you won’t have to keep waking up at night), there’s improved blood circulation and respiratory functioning which makes you feel rested and relaxed to face a new day. Most people have approved this fact stating that they sleep comfortably and feel more energetic the next morning.

The downsides

  • Increased backaches

The topic of whether sleeping on the floor is good or bad for your health comes with so many conflicting theories. While some reports state that it helps to alleviate back pain, other conflicting ones claim that it hurts your joints over time.

You see, the floor doesn’t bulge or rather contour to your body shape. What happens next, especially if you’re a side sleeper, is that all the weight is placed on your joints straining them too much.

This fact has been backed by a rather outdated 2003 study where 313 adults with chronic lower back pain where grouped into two then randomly assigned to sleep on medium-firm and firm mattresses for two months.

The group sleeping on the softer mattresses confessed feeling less pain while the one sleeping on the firm mattresses reported feeling more pain on their backs both at night and during the day.

  • Possible allergic reaction

One apparent disadvantage of sleeping on the floor is increased exposure to dust and dirt that accumulates on the ground. This is a very serious issue that can cause severe respiratory problems to people suffering from asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

If your carpet is in a high traffic area, then it’s likely it will collect a lot of allergens in the form of dust, mold, and dust mites. If not cleaned regularly, then you’ll end up inhaling these allergens leading to serious respiratory issues even if you never had any.

Therefore, if you’re allergic to dust, then it’s advisable that you raise your mattress a few inches above the ground or avoid sleeping on the floor altogether.

  • Inadequate airflow

When a mattress is placed on the floor, there is inadequate airflow that leads to overheating hence sweating of the body when you’re asleep. If this continues for several months, the liquid sweat forms a layer of mold that is trapped on the inside of the mattress. This mold produces a very foul odor that can cause serious allergic reactions to people with breathing issues.

Apart from the mold, your mattress is at a high risk of contracting a bed bug infestation as it has already created a perfect hideout and breeding spot. If you detect such an issue during the initial stages, it’s recommended that you elevate your mattress, and if possible, use an encasement or a mattress protector to seal it tightly to make it resistant to spills, mold, allergens, and dust mites.

  • Exposure to cold

One fact about the floor is that it’s cooler as compared to sleeping on the bed. While some people confess that sleeping on the floor reduces the body’s heat (making you sleep soundly), various studies have concluded that extreme exposure to cold can make you ill and further cause an irreversible health risks.

Sleeping on the floor during summer is fine but doing the same during cold months can do you more harm than good. Some of these serious health risks you might expose yourself to include; harming your lungs, constricting your blood flow, and the possibility of hypothermia.

Who should not sleep on the floor?

Sleeping on the floor has its own merits and demerits. Now, there is no guarantee that sleeping on the floor is okay as most of the reports are based on people’s testimonies and educated guesses without any concrete scientific proof. To avoid jumping from the frying pan to the fire, these groups of people should not attempt sleeping on the floor whatsoever.

  • Elderly people

As you age, your body becomes weaker, the skin becomes thinner and you tend to lose your fatty tissues. With such a fragile body, sleeping on the floor will expose your joints to strains which can lead to serious injuries due to sustained pressure. You will also be exposed to extreme cold as your body is not able to generate enough insulation.

  • Cold sleepers

Cold sleepers, or people suffering from anemia and type 2 diabetes, will generally suffer a lot when sleeping on the floor. Since heat rises, your floor, especially hardwood and tile floors, will tend to get really cold thus exposing you to mild or severe health problems.

If you must sleep on the floor, then it’s advisable that you invest in the right sleeping gear such as  floor mattresses, wearing warm pajamas and building a warm environment to sleep on.

  • People with limited mobility

People with extreme back pain or those that experience difficulty sitting or standing up from the floor should avoid sleeping on the ground as much as possible. Although there have been conflicting reports that sleeping on the floor can help reduce back pain, its wise to first consult a doctor as this can be dangerous especially if you struggle to stand up then fall back accidentally.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if we look at sleeping on the floor with an eagle’s eye, the benefits are slightly more as compared to the drawbacks. Now, sleeping on the ground is a practice that has been around for decades. Most cultures around the globe, both ancient and modern, have made it customary stating that it has immense orthopedic benefits.

So, if you’re looking to try out this new culture, we would strictly advise you to research the best bedding equipment to combine before you commence. To answer the question of whether sleeping on the floor is good or bad for your health; I think this will depend on your personal preference as what works for you may not work for others.

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