What are the pros and cons of sleeping on the floor?
August 6, 2006 11:13 PM   Subscribe

What are the pros and cons of sleeping on the floor?

For the past two months, I've just slept on a comforter laid on my carpet. I also did this for six months a couple years ago.

I've heard it's good for the back. Is that true?
posted by philosophistry to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely not for me. Lying on my side or my back on a hard surface with my spine held in line, my shoulders and hips/ass are the only parts of my upper body that contact the surface. Allowing the rest of my upper body to bend down and rest on the surface ensures that I will wake up with a sore spine. I can't sleep on my stomach, so I dunno about that position...

I sleep best on futon matresses, which allow my protruding parts to sink far enough in that I am fully supported with a straight spine. I guess it might be tolerable for me if I was sleeping on shag carpet with an extremely thick comforter, which would hopefully approximate a futon.

I think the answer to your question depends significantly on one's body type.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 11:33 PM on August 6, 2006 [2 favorites]

In my experience, pro is "good for my back", con is "bad for my hips".

Having said that, every now and then I will get really crappy lower back aches. A couple of nights on the floor will tend to sort that out, at the expense of collecting bruises on my hips.
posted by pompomtom at 11:42 PM on August 6, 2006

Completely anecdotal because IANAD.

I've slept on the floor since I was around 11 (I am now 25). I think at the age of 10 I started sleeping exclusively in my Michael Jordan sleeping bag, and then by the age of 11 I ditched the bag and just slept on the floor. I have yet to develop any sort of pains due to this behavior. That said, I don't really toss and turn at night, so maybe I'm more suited to floor sleeping than others.

Pro: Floors are cooler in the summer.
Pro: When moving, no mattresses, box springs, bed frames, etc.
Pro: Your bed is wherever you want it to be. You can have a good night's sleep anywhere that's safe.
Pro: You can visit friends without inconveniencing them.
Con: Some gals/guys might only want to have sex in a traditional bed.
Con: Some folks might think you're strange.
posted by aiko at 12:00 AM on August 7, 2006 [2 favorites]

I spent a week on a floor once as a result of a bed shortage in a holiday house. My back felt great, and I got to like the hardness of the floor pretty quickly.

Mind you, that house also had the bed of evil, which nobody would sleep on. I lay down on it, and it instantly gave me enormous back pains and I had trouble getting off it!

I think the only cons of sleeping on the floor could be dust, but if you keep a tidy house it shouldn't be a worry. On the pro side, you're never going to fall out of bed.
posted by tomble at 12:05 AM on August 7, 2006

My grandfather seems to do it all the time, and he's a pretty old man. I think the pros are that you can sleep basically wherever you want to. I've sleep on the floor before and I have a pretty bad back. It helps my back out sometimes and sometimes it doesn't.

I think that for people with non messed up backs that it might be beneficial in that it tends to keep you from sleeping in one position too long, which keeps you from getting too stiff or sore from holding that position. It also potentially might lead to better spine work outs from position shifting. That's just speculation, though.
posted by Mister Cheese at 12:34 AM on August 7, 2006

I did this for a few months last year. Was great for my back, didn't bother my hips too much, and had some nice benefits - namely, I got to be the snarky asshole lying on the "NASA bed" at Sharper Image telling everyone that the floor was "way better than this bullshit" until I got kicked out by the guy doing the demo. Plus, it gives you a workspace you didn't have before - if you're not sleeping on it, floorspace tends to go to waste, so now you have the bed as a workspace. Plus, it's not too much work to put the comforter away and use the floor if you're one of those few people who does put their floorspace to use, especially if you're sleeping (as I did) in a sleeping bag (or liner).

I actually found it to be so great, I started usinging a sleeping bag liner even when I went back to a bed - never have to make the bed, it's easy to wash it, and it just gives this nice, cozy feeling.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 12:37 AM on August 7, 2006

I sleep on the floor at my mom's house. I have joint pain, and have to sleep with my arms perfectly straight, which is hard to do in a twin bed. Sleeping on the floor lets me stretch out as much as I need, so there's a pro for you. The cats like it too since they don't roll off the bed as they so frequently do with a twin. One con though is that I can't sleep on my sides on the floor without gouging my hips to death.

I'm currently sleeping on just a mattress with no box spring (it wouldnt fit up the stairs in my old house) and I can't tell the difference. I think it improves my sleep hygiene. I'm less likely to lay in bed doing homework or reading (don't actually know why, come to think of it) and since I only sleep in my bed, I fall asleep much easier.
posted by gilsonal at 12:44 AM on August 7, 2006

I once slept on the floor for several months after coming back from a 3 month camping expedition. At that point I had got used to sleeping on a hard surface and it felt more comfortable to me. A couple of disadvantages:

1. Design: beds, chest of drawers, lights and other bedroom furnature are all designed to have their active area a few feet above the floor - and usually storage below this. That is inconvenient if you are sleeping down there.
2. Persudaing a prospective sleeping partner to take up your habit can be an uphill struggle.

To get round the design problem you could try making a flat raised platform at bed height. If you find that you love the extra floor space not having a bed gives you you might also want to consider trying a hammock.
posted by rongorongo at 2:02 AM on August 7, 2006

The main reasons I like sleeping on the floor: less stuff to buy, own, maintain, and fuck about with.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:09 AM on August 7, 2006

I sleep on a hard futon, and can vouch that for intimate relations, you'll never go back:

-No bouncing up and down of the bed or creaky bedspring noises. Just blissfull stability.
-Have to scoot down to the middle of the bed for oral? On a typical bed, your feet will hang over the side, suspended in air. On a futon, feet and legs can be safely propped on the floor.

The futon's also great for my back, and it doesn't do the shimy-shimy when a partner turns over in the night. Love it.
posted by Gordion Knott at 6:06 AM on August 7, 2006

When you get older, getting up from the ground gets to feel like a hassle.
posted by mecran01 at 7:38 AM on August 7, 2006

My anecdotal evidence suggests that YES! it is good for your back.

I, for whatever reason, started sleeping on my hardwood floor when I lived in Japan (which had heated pipes beneath it) often with no blanket or pillow. Surprisingly it wasn't awkward, even at first, and I came to prefer it to my bed. Slept that way for more than a year.

The main disadvantage to sleeping on the floor is that, well, it's not a bed, and beds are good for two things: sleeping and sex. Hard wood floor, not so much for the latter.
posted by dead_ at 9:29 AM on August 7, 2006

I once stayed with some Thai friends who slept directly on the tile floor because it was cooler. They had no A/C, only a fan, but the floor was wonderfully cool despite the sweltering heat of Bangkok.

Unfortunately I had to transfer to the hot stuffy bed because I lack the personal padding to get comfy on a floor. My friends, while by no means fat, were pleasantly curvaceous whereas I am a stick.

I don't know about benefits to the back, but it's a great way to stay cool without A/C if you can deal with the hardness.
posted by Quietgal at 10:25 AM on August 7, 2006

When you get older, getting up from the ground gets to feel like a hassle.

I guess that means I'm old. For about a week I had just a mattress no frame, and it was suuuuch a pain to get in and out of bed.

At the beginning of "Treat Your Own Back" (which my parents' physical therapist recommended), the author talks about how she developed her techniques. She is a physical therapist and accidentally left a patient lying on a flat table for over an hour. When she went back to him, he felt amazingly better.
posted by radioamy at 11:23 AM on August 7, 2006

I sleep on a hard futon, and can vouch that for intimate relations, you'll never go back:

I sleep on a hard futon, and am looking forward to buying a mattress; I find that "intimate relations" on a hard futon are rather terrible compared to a nicely resonant mattress.
posted by dmd at 11:31 AM on August 7, 2006

A physical therapist friend of mine recommended sleeping on the floor to help with lower back problems.
posted by dmo at 10:32 AM on August 8, 2006

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