Is Sleeping on The Floor Bad For Your Back?

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So, is sleeping on the floor bad for your back? Or is sleeping on the floor good for your back? The answer to this question is more complicated than you would think. Some people claim that hard surface floors are the best way to treat back pain. These individuals believe that the firmness of the ground offers more comfort and better support to the back.

Other people have reinvigorated the debate on floor sleeping because of minimalism. Minimalists question if mattresses are even necessary. Still, sleeping on the floor is nothing new. In fact, many eastern countries don’t use mattresses at all. These cultures also claim that floor sleeping is preferable to sleeping on mattresses.

So does this mean you should abandon your mattress?  

It depends on your preference and health. As of now, their research does no back up the benefits associated with floor sleeping. This doesn’t mean that floor sleeping is bad for your back, but most of the praise is anecdotal.

To answer this question in more detail, we’ll get into some of the claimed benefits of floor sleeping. We’ll also talk about any side effects, and whether you could get hurt sleeping on the floor. Floor sleeping is not for everyone so don’t get rid of your mattress just yet.

Back Pain and Sleeping on The Floor

Again, science has not backed up the claim that floor sleeping is good for back pain. Still, many people have talked about this form of sleeping as a way to remedy pain. Why is that? A lot of this has to do with support. People who sleep on the floor say that mattresses don’t provide enough support. They think that harder surfaces will keep the back in better alignment.

Softer mattresses indeed lack proper support for the back. They make your body sink and curve the spine. This can result in back pain. Sleep experts have also said that your mattress should not be too soft. In fact, some researchers have found that putting plywood under your mattress can lessen back pain. Still, this doesn’t mean that we should throw out our mattresses.  

A firmer sleep surface can help, but it depends on the origin of your back pain and other relevant factors. There is no real evidence that floors will improve sleeping conditions. However, there is evidence that firm mattresses can improve back issues. Studies have shown that moderately firmer mattresses can help reduce back pain.

Treating Chronic Conditions

Another long-touted claim of floor sleeping is that is can heal medical conditions. Some floor sleepers will say that a floor can treat conditions like sciatica. Those with sciatica can definitely benefit from a firm and hard sleeping surfaces. Sciatica causes the spine to be round, you want to lay on something firm to correct back posture. But a floor isn’t the only way to keep sciatica in check. In fact, no doctors recommend sleeping on the floor for sciatica pain. You can try this method out if you have a medical condition that causes back pain, but make sure to consult your doctor.   

Floor sleeping can help keep your spine stay straight. And people with spinal conditions like scoliosis and kyphosis could potentially benefit from this form of sleep. But again, there is no scientific evidence that floor sleeping will completely reshape your spine and cure these conditions.

Can You Hurt Your Back Sleeping on the Floor

Many people maintain that sleeping on the floor is good for back pain. But what about people that don’t agree. The consensus on floor sleeping is not unanimous. Some say that floor sleeping is great for their back, others say that floor sleeping makes their pain worse.

Overly firm surfaces might not be the best sleeping surfaces for backs. As we mentioned before, most benefits are found in moderately firm / medium-firm mattresses. Something with enough firmness, but a little bit of cushioning might be better for backs in the long term. Hard floors could have the potential to harm your back, but it depends on the individual. Still, those with chronic or serious conditions should probably stay away from the floor.

Allergies and Other Issues With Floor Sleeping

Another thing to consider with floor sleeping is allergies. Your floor could be host to many allergens such as dust, mites, mold, and other substances. If you have allergies this might not be the method of sleep for you. In addition, you should also consider this. Sleeping on the floor can be cold. At some points in the year, this could be good, but during winter it might not be ideal to sleep on the cold floor.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t sleep on the floor. You just have to weigh out the pros and cons for yourself. Plenty of people sleep on the floor and are perfectly healthy, but again this isn’t for everyone.

Who Should Avoid Floor Sleeping

Older adults are at risk when sleeping on the floor. In advanced age, bones become more brittle and prone to breaking. When older adults sleep on the floor they risk incurring fractures and falls. It can be hard to get up from the floor. It can also be cold for older adults who have less mass on their body. So they should avoid sleeping this way to prevent pain and possible injury.

Another group that should not sleep on the floor is people with temperature dysregulation. People with certain medical conditions get colder than other individuals. Sleeping on the floor does not help. So anyone with diabetes, hypothyroidism and other similar conditions that lower body temperature should be mindful.

Lastly, anyone with limited mobility should avoid sleeping on the floor. Again, you don’t want to cause yourself more pain or injury. It’s hard to get off the floor and stand if you lack full mobility. If you have joint issues or other medical conditions you could cause yourself even more pain when sleeping on the floor.

No one wants more back issues. If you suffer from chronic pain or have other problems that prevent you from sleeping on the floor, try getting a quality mattress. We’ve reviewed a number of quality mattresses suitable for those with back pain, read our post and find the best mattresses for back pain: