So I’ve been sleeping on the floor for the last nine nights.

I started doing it because I had a couple days of inexplicable lower back pain, and I had been reading about more natural forms of sleeping.  And of course, humans haven’t been sleeping on big fluffy mattresses for very long, and many cultures, like the Japanese, still don’t.

My lower back pain could have been due to a variety of factors: a few days of inactivity, sitting more than I usually do in bad posture, stress, and an over-stuffed twin mattress that has been my bed at home since I was in college, or maybe other things.  (Thank you to everyone who gave me suggestions on Twitter.)

This was not a chronic condition, just something that developed over a few days, but it was intense enough that I appreciated how chronic back pain could upturn someone’s entire life.  Chronic pain creeps into your conscious more than any other illness or condition I’ve experienced: colds, flu, strep, even headaches (though I’ve never had a migraine).  I couldn’t easily sleep, do work, or even watch a movie.  I guess that’s why people take painkillers!

I figured it was time for an experiment.

Below is my setup.  It’s my roommate’s thin yoga mat under a thin-ish cotton blanket folded in half and my sleeping bag on top.  The first two nights (in Michigan) I used a pillow, but have gone pillowless since.

It was hard to get to sleep the first two nights, when I already had lower back pain.  I had to resort to a few Tylenol, which did the trick real fast both nights, and I fell asleep as soon as they kicked in.  I woke up refreshed both mornings, and by the third night, the back pain had receded to where I didn’t need any Tylenol to get to sleep.  By the fourth night it was gone entirely.  The lower back pain may have gone away on its own, even had I not started sleeping on the floor.

But I’ve continued the experiment, and here are my observations.

Cons

  • Dust – Floors get dirty.
  • Critters – Haven’t encountered any, but I can imagine that one run-in with a critter would cause people to flee to the tree tops.
  • Getting to Sleep – It’s was a bit harder to get to sleep, even after the back pain went away, but that effect has been fading as I adjust. I fall asleep fast now.
  • No Pillow – When I lie down, I realize that my head instinctively reaches down for a pillow…but it’s not there.  Not a big deal, just a weird feeling.
  • Sinuses – With no pillow, my head leans back slightly and sometimes I wake up with my sinuses all filled up.  (I had a lot of sinus problems in middle school and high school.)  Hasn’t happened the last few nights though.
  • Naps – Somehow the floor is less appealing for naps.
  • Women – Something tells me the ladies aren’t going to take to my current setup.  Hey baby, come try out this is king-sized floor.  On the other hand, suddenly the person sleeping next to you seems a whole lot softer relative to the floor.

Pros

  • No Back Pain – My back pain went away, though it very well could have been for other reasons, particularly since I didn’t have long-term chronic back pain.
  • No Stiffness – I’m not waking up with any stiffness.  (Though I didn’t wake up stiff on my normal bed either.)  Occasionally, I get into a position sleeping on my side where there is a bit too much pressure on my hip.  Last night I dreamed I was 8 miles into a marathon and my hip was hurting me, and I was wondering whether I could finish.  But I realized my dream was based on the actual pressure on my hip.
  • Little Tossing and Turning – I’m not tossing and turning much in the middle of the night, and sometimes it’s just about the sleeping bag constricting me.  I guess I change positions, but those changes don’t seem to be disruptive.
  • Deeper Sleep – It feels like a deeper sleep.  The first few nights I got fewer hours of sleep (~5 hours) than I normally do (7-8), but I actually felt pretty good most of the day.
  • Ground Sensation – This is one of the best parts.  Gravity seems stronger when you’re sleeping on the ground.  You feel the ground pushing back up at you, and you know exactly where your supports are.  It’s a very different sensation than a normal mattress, where each part of your body gets a little bit of support.  I like it.  It’s calming.  I think of it like Temple Grandin’s squeeze box.  It’s almost like being hugged.

I could get a more accurate read on my sleep quality with various devices, but I’m just not one of those people that measures every little thing.  

I’m going to continue sleeping this way for now, and will probably build myself a Japenese-style platform bed that allows me to sleep up off the ground, I’ll be able to make it a bit less ascetic, but still maintain a pretty firm sleeping surface.

I should note that in the wild, the surfaces we slept on wouldn’t have been perfectly flat or hard, but almost any natural surface would have been much firmer than what most people sleep on today.

Here are two links on natural sleeping that have been passed around in the paleosphereThe Ergonomics of Sleep and Slumber’s Unexplored Landscape.  I’m also reading At Day’s Close: Night in Time’s Past, research into what people used to do at night (before electricity) and how they used to sleep.

As for the scientific research, let’s take bets right now:

  • How many serious scientific papers have been performed on mattresses vs. hard surface and sleep quality?
  • And are there any that actually suggest that soft mattresses are net beneficial?

I don’t know the answers to those questions just yet, but if the past is any guide, ZERO would not be an unreasonable guess.

If you give this a shot, particularly if you have chronic back pain, definitely drop me a line and let me know how it goes.


64 Responses to “Sleepover: Experiments in sleeping on the floor”

  1. Devin says:

    My boyfriend and I moved to the floor from our crappy hand-me-down mattress several months ago.  After we’d slept there a month or so, I tried going back to the bed and it was a horrible experience.  We just recently bought a traditional, all cotton, Japanese style futon mattress, and we love it.  It provides all the benifits you mentioned about the floor sleeping but relieves that hip pressure you talked about.

  2. I am doing sleeping experiments, too. I just started sleeping with an earthing sheet and I love it. The idea is that it grounds you to the earth, like walking barefoot. I am wondering if you have heard about this, seeing how you are into being barefoot. I’m obsessed with earthing now and am looking into buying some leather-soled moccasins so I can conduct electricity (rubber and plastic soles don’t work).

    Also last night I covered my windows with black trash bags to achieve total darkness. It was AWESOME. Supposedly women naturally cycle with the moon. Due to electricity, we’re all screwed up and we don’t ovulate with the full moon anymore, which we should. Apparently you can simulate moonlight by turning on a night light on days 14-16 of the cycle. Many women find that when they do this, they naturally start cycling with the moon phases.

    Anyway, I just wrote a blog post about it.  I think it would have been cool to be a hunter-gatherer guy and just be able to look up at the moon and think, "Oh wow the wife is ovulating." Nature is pretty amazing.

    • Robin says:

       If you are in the US Soft star makes good moccasins and you can get vibram soling or leather, I have leather and I really do feel great wearing them! If you are in Canada I just discovered a company in Rockwood ON, Hides in Hand, that seems pretty good, and they make them with leather soles as well. I’m going to get a pair soon and see how they compare to Soft Star since I’ve worn a hole in my moccasins hiking all summer.

    • John says:

      Interesting on the lunaception, you’ll have to blog about the results of that. From what I had read, women have concealed ovulation for a reason…allows them to be more choosy about the men they sleep with when they’re actually fertile, which men aren’t good at detecting (even women don’t always know).

      Enjoy the leather moccasins, those will be great regardless. As for earthing, I have to say I was turned off by the sub-title of the Earthing book…which basically claimed it was the greatest discovery of all time…lacking in humility / discretion makes me suspicious. Great to experiment with, would still like to see more hard evidence. I love the feeling of barefoot on ground though, and I’m often barefoot whenever possible!

  3. This is interesting. Though I wanted to point out a couple of things:

    1. the tylenol might have gotten the back pain altogether, whether or not you were on the floor.

     

    2. While I recognize the effort to mimick the sleep posture that is more natural for humans (paleo-sleeping??), you are not exactly sleeping on "natural" ground. Dirt, grass, sand is all much softer than a hardwood floor, and would probably yield to your body heat, allowing your hips and other heavy, bony areas to sink in to the ground a bit more. Just sayin.

     

    I like my memory foam bed. I really like it.

    • John says:

      You’re absolutely right, Trisha — and see latest post on the earliest mattress found. i need to find an indoor alternative to dirt, grass, and sand. i’ll look into memory foam

      • Jen says:

        There’s also natural latex mattresses. While more expensive, they’re not the soft-squishy type of mattress, don’t contain all the chemicals that foam mattresses and every other modern mattress do, and they’re firm with just a bit of spring. ..So I’ve read, anyway. Haven’t got one!

  4. Ray K says:

    I’ve been sleeping on the floor for nearly a decade, for the same reason that you tried it just now.  There have been a few encounters with critters – once a centipede ran across my torso and woke me up.  While the floor is less attractive for naps, I do find that if I am tired of standing, sitting, or moving around, the pressure of laying down on a solid surface feels much better to all my muscles than laying on something soft.  The women I’ve dated over this period were accustomed to mattresses and did not sleep well on the floor.  It has not detered them from sleeping over though.

    The deep sleep and lack of pain and stiffness has kept me sleeping on the floor all this time, and I haven’t yet found a mattress that works better.

  5. Chris says:

    The biggest drawback of the floor for me are walls.  I sleep next to a window and have gotten very used to having outside air and scenery when falling asleep and waking up.  If there are any Paleo architects or contractors out there, please build with windows no more than a few inches off the floor in bedrooms.  Thanks.

  6. Allan says:

    I’ve been sleeping sans mattress since June and I’ve never slept better. I, too, was having lower back pain (I could barely walk in the mornings) and remedied it with a few nights on the floor. Coincidentally, the ex wife moved "her" bed out a couple days after moving to the floor, so now the bedroom had plenty of room for no bed.

    I started out sleeping on several layers of blankets which was good enough, but currently I sleep on a memory foam mattress pad similar to: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=3732521 . It’s only a couple inches thick and provides just the right amount of cushion to prevent sore bones.

    Your pros and cons are spot on too. A slightly raised hard surface would take care of the critter problem (I plan on building one next spring). I use a pillow to raise my head up properly and am concerned how the future lady friends will appreciate the unconventional sleeping arrangement. 

    Stick with it – you’ll never want to sleep on a mattress again.

  7. Carl says:

    I’ve actually been contemplating  doing a similar experiment.  One of my biggest concerns was if I end up liking this, how would it affect my dating life.

    • Robin says:

      If a guy can’t handle that I sleep on the floor then he aint the guy for me!

    • Robin says:

      If a guy can’t handle that I sleep on the floor then he aint the guy for me!

    • Anna says:

      Then she isn’t the girl for you… I’ve been sleeping on the floor for years and I have never had a guy/bf say no because of my sleeping arrangements… Only problem now is i’m older and prospective partners think im a hippy or cant afford a bed.. LOL…
      So my question is are there are any single male floor sleepers in the UK age 35-45?

  8. Chris Frank says:

    Hey Johnn – maybe try a buckwheat pillow.  http://www.amazon.com/Organic-Buckwheat-Pillow-Japanese-Size/dp/B0006HVVFK

    They are neat.  Not soft like a normal pillow.  It keeps your head in one place so you don’t move when you sleep.  It’s really helped me.

     

    Also, if you’re interested in data for your sleep: wakemate.com/ .  It uses a wristband connected to your iPhone to track how much you move in your sleep and gives you sleep analytics, like how deeply you slept during which parts of the night.  It’s cool.

  9. David Csonka says:

     I’m assuming the fewer hours of sleep initially was because of discomfort?

    I wonder if the sleep felt deeper afterwards due to exhaustion from getting less sleep?

    • John says:

      Hey David — I felt better rested even when I didn’t get as much sleep I wanted. Even on those 5 hour nights. As for deeper sleep after that period, you could be right. I need to get one of those bracelets and measure it I guess.

  10. Penny says:

    Slept on the same Korean cotton mat for almost 30 years (regularly aired out in the sun) and found it the best way to live for a lot of reasons, but now I like the ease of just swinging my feet over the side of my bed and standing up.  As I get older, it gets harder to get up off the floor, although I lived with very elderly people in Korea who slept on mats and rolled them away everyday to make room for the day-time living.  I’m aging like an American.  Still use the brick-shaped husk-filled pillow, though.  It works. 

  11. Jai says:

    I used to have insomnia, and it was a problem all the way back to when I was a child. It took a long time to move away from that and I now get roughly 8 hours of sleep a night.

    In my experiments trying to figure out my own sleep, I tried a full-sized memory foam mattress. Not the thin kind that goes over a regular mattress, but the really thick version. I slept on it for almost three months and was growing more and more concerned by how much worse my back was getting–I didn’t think it could be the mattress for a long time, since I’d long had a bad back and a doctor had told me that I’d likely be experiencing some paralysis in time. In the middle of a long, sleepless night, I had the sudden inspiration that if I couldn’t find a comfortable position in bed, maybe I’d find a comfortable position on the floor. As soon as I lay on the floor, the pain relented. Luckily the mattress was still returnable. I bought a very firm mattress after that.

    So at that point, I believed the firmer the better for mattresses. Until my mom bought one for the guest room. Every time I stay over, the sensation matches my experience with the memory foam: my back pain gradually intensifies until I give up and try sleeping on the floor. I don’t understand why a mattress that is almost exactly like sleeping on a brick is different from sleeping on the floor, but it is.

    I do not currently sleep on a floor (I love my current mattress), but I’ve thought about making it my practice on and off for years. I may run my own experiment and then we can compare notes.

  12. Jai says:

    I used to have insomnia, and it was a problem all the way back to when I was a child. It took a long time to move away from that and I now get roughly 8 hours of sleep a night.

    In my experiments trying to figure out my own sleep, I tried a full-sized memory foam mattress. Not the thin kind that goes over a regular mattress, but the really thick version. I slept on it for almost three months and was growing more and more concerned by how much worse my back was getting–I didn’t think it could be the mattress for a long time, since I’d long had a bad back and a doctor had told me that I’d likely be experiencing some paralysis in time. In the middle of a long, sleepless night, I had the sudden inspiration that if I couldn’t find a comfortable position in bed, maybe I’d find a comfortable position on the floor. As soon as I lay on the floor, the pain relented. Luckily the mattress was still returnable. I bought a very firm mattress after that.

    So at that point, I believed the firmer the better for mattresses. Until my mom bought one for the guest room. Every time I stay over, the sensation matches my experience with the memory foam: my back pain gradually intensifies until I give up and try sleeping on the floor. I don’t understand why a mattress that is almost exactly like sleeping on a brick is different from sleeping on the floor, but it is.

    I do not currently sleep on a floor (I love my current mattress), but I’ve thought about making it my practice on and off for years. I may run my own experiment and then we can compare notes.

  13. Mr. Sunshine says:

    Why not use a pillow?  I don’t mind sleeping on the floor at all, but I’ve got to have a pillow, even if it’s my wadded-up jacket.

    • MaineMan says:

       I have been sleeping without a pillow for close to a year now and I love it! Naturally, I use my arm as a pillow if needed, or I lay on my back. No more stiff necks, sore back, etc.. Also sleeping on a Grounded Matress, which feels wonderful, especially living out in the country. Drives me into super deep sleeps..

  14. Dennis says:

    I slept on the floor all summer.  I used to have pretty regular back pain that I was only able to manage with 5-10 minutes of stretching every night.  That helped but didn’t ‘heal’ anything, if I stopped the pain came back within days.  Looked into it and decided to try the floor.  It worked great and I gave away my king sized bed and bought one of those hard-as-a-rock college dorm style "futons."  I had one years ago and the chicks were fine with it.  I still use a pillow though but it depends on whether I’m lying flat on my back or on my side.

    • John says:

      Nice. soft mattresses is seeming like one of those things where X% of the population just really suffers with it, for whatever reason

  15. JohnO says:

    I’ve had similar problems …  Then I became a full time hanger.  I’ve been sleeping in a hammock for the past year.  There’s even a subculture of hangers on the web! Tons of info for people who wanna try hanging for the first time.

     

    Cheers!

  16. Dan says:

    Has anyone considered the fact that nestbuilding occurs in chimps, orangutans, and gorillas (and humans), implying that our ancestors haven’t slept on "natural" ground for at least fourteen million years, and probably longer?  Sure mattresses don’t closely mimic the beds built of leaves, moss, and brush that hunter-gatherers probably slept on, but it’s not much further away than a yoga mat on a hardwood floor.

    news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/11/111208-oldest-mattress-africa-archaeology-science/

     
     
     
  17. pixel says:

    as a child i slept on the floor (next to my bed, just didnt like it) and had to adjust to sleeping on a mattress. maybe doing it young while were still growing makes it easier.

  18. Angela says:

    After reading this article, I didn’t move to the floor, but I did ditch my fancy feather pillow. I was in a (minor-ish) car accident a year ago and have had severe neck pain on and off ever since. The new down pillow was bought at the suggestion of my physio, but it didn’t help; if anything, it made things worse. I was getting desperate (I hate taking pain killers, but was back to taking 2 – 4 Robax Platinum per day for the neck and head aches), and decided to see if getting rid of my pillow would help.

     

    Last night I rolled up a bath towel, placed it where it would support my neck, and went to sleep easily. Today, my neck pain is 10% of what it has been over the past few days. Very cool! This makes me curious about going to whole nine yards and ditching the mattress as well.

     

    John, I had one question about sleeping on the floor. Are you a side sleeper? The few times I’ve slept on the floor or other hard surface (e.g. camping) as an adult, I’ve woken up mid-way through the night with the hip, shoulder, and arm of the side I’m sleeping on numb and painful. Has anyone else experienced this? Does your body get acclimated to the hard surface?

     

    I’m wondering if women might have a tougher time sleeping on a hard surface than men due to body shape.

  19. Jan Madsen says:

    I have been doing it for months now. I sleep on a huge lamb skin on top of a thin matress. I use a thin sheet for cover (planning on buying one made of silke). It has reduced my sleep from 7-9 hours to 5-7 hours. I wake up more relaxed and feeling more rested. My "bedroom" is a completely different room now, since there isn’t a huge piece of furtinure domininating the room. Looks way cooler now.

    The ladies? They find it pretty damn interesting.

    • Anna says:

      I sleep like this all the time time now… soft blanket and a sheepskin… and I can also say that the Guys never mind it.. ­čÖé

  20. Dan says:

    I shared your post:

    I wanted to share my experiences as well. I notice when camping, that I also sleep better on the ground, and wake up more abruptly and easier in the morning. I think it’s due to the fact that once you are fully rested, the ground becomes comparably less "comfortable" than it was when you were exhausted. Your body knows when enough rest has been attained, then registers the ground as now comparably less comfortable than it was when you were tired. You get just the right amount of sleep and don’t feel groggy from excess sleep. I think a super squishy bed "dampens" your body’s natural response to complete rest, in a way. There is nothing to "force" you to get up because there is no discomfort for your body to "measure". That’s the best I can manage to explain it.

  21. Anonymous says:

    i’ve been sleeping on the floor on and off for the better part of a year and a half, but it wasn’t until about a month ago that i made the full-time commitment to sleeping on the floor.  i, too, did it first because of back pain, which has subsided.  while i haven’t gone pillowless, and i don’t think i will, i like it more than my bed.  i’ve even considered the possibility of selling my bed and when i find a new apartment, getting a studio instead of a one bedroom to house my massive queen size bed.  although, the queen size is nice for the ladies.

  22. Jen says:

    This is interesting. I used to sleep on the floor with my fiance and found it took a while to get used to, but I woke up feeling much more refreshed. When we slept on a bed awhile later, we both woke up feeling groggy and with our backs in pain.

    ..That said, floor-sleeping stopped when I got halfway through my pregnancy because it hurt. I tried it again after giving birth, but I woke up with my back and chest in pain due to sleep-nursing our son(we bed….er…floor-share). So I started sleeping up on the sofa with him because I didn’t wake up in absolute pain.

    I’ve since started sleeping back on the floor with my fiance and our son because sleeping on the sofa was starting to make me feel groggy and crabby. Once again, even though I’m sleeping on top of a thin camping mattress and a couple of fluffy blankets, I’m waking up with pain between my shoulder blades due to the position I have to be in, along with the duration, so our son can sleep-nurse.

    But you mentioned something I hadn’t considered… you gave up the pillows. Perhaps I should try that, maybe the pillows are causing my spine to bend and push into the hard surface. I know sleeping on the ground outside is wonderfully comfortable and restful, without a pillow, I guess I never thought the same could be done with the floor.

    Why did you choose to give up the pillow? Instinct? Or was it just candid? This is worth a try. Thanks for the(incidental) suggestion!

    • Jen says:

      Then again..I suppose I had the answer staring me in the face the whole time. Looking at our son sleeping on the floor now, he has no pillow, and he’s never looked uncomfortable. In fact, since we moved back down to the floor, his naps are less frequent, but longer, and he hasn’t yet woken up as a grouchy-puss. And while it could be him just getting older and not needing as many frequent naps, I think it’s entirely possible he’s just sleeping better.

      Also, you haven’t had any run-ins with "critters", but I sure have. I got bit by a sow-bug hunting spider who apparently mistook the skin between my nose and upper lip as a sow bug. Hurt, but it wasn’t the driving force to move from the floor!

  23. Luka says:

     Slept on the floor with a similar setup for almost two years and it was great. Then I moved and had a bed. It took about 8 months to figure out why I was waking up with lower back pain and general restlessness.  Now I have a 36’x72′ plank (old heavy wooden door actually) up on cinder blocks (avoid nasty critters) and after fiddling with a base of blankets or yoga mats I finished my nest with those heavier work out floor pads that connect like puzzles.  Now it’s great!  I wake up feeling great and actually want to return to my nest because the sleep is enjoyable!

    Have used pillows but will give going pillowless a try. 

    Everyone thought I was crazy for giving up my mattress but as long as I can convince my fianc├ę it will be fine.  Thanks for the post. 8)

    • Anonymous says:

      i’ve been looking at buying a mattress lately.  not because i want one, but because my girl doesn’t like sleeping on the floor.  your post may help me in my quest for a mattress, since i’ll only use it periodically, and it’ll be mostly for her.  i also like the idea of raising it, but aside from spiders i haven’t seen too many nasty critters at my place.

    • Angeline says:

       I am a believer in sleeping on a hard surface.  I wake limber, my bad knee that hindered my day to day got better in only 3 days.  I tried a Futon but it was too thick.  I switched to a plywood covered box spring and put some blankets down and haven’t looked back.  I imagine there are many body functions being healed, not just my back/knee pain.  I’m about 16 inches off the floor, and I even find myself sleeping on my stomach, which I never did before.  Lately, I have been shunning my pillow, not by choice.  I plan to keep pillows as an option, but  enjoy my improved posture and agility upon awakening!  I recommend it to any adventurous soul who wants to avoid artificial pain reducers.  It works. 

       

  24. jcrew says:

    Remarkable things here. I am very glad to see your article.

    Thanks so much and I’m looking ahead to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

    • Dominique Laflamme says:

      Man, you’re funny!  I don’t know wether this was done on purpose or if it was a ‘missed act’, as the psychanalists would call it, but you really wrote ‘I’m looking foward to touch you’ in your reply to this blog.  It’s actually troubling, because the missing ‘be’, ‘in’ and ‘with’ would intrinsically express more proximity, or intimacy, if that’s really what you’re looking for on through the distance of the interwebs…

      I agre with you, the article is indeed remarkable, written with genuine interest and very complete given the scarcity of information available on the subject.  I’ve started sleeping on the floor myself, strangely enough after experimenting with martial arts roll and trying to find the most harmless way to naturally lay my body on a hard floor: I thought the best way would be to simply lie there for an extended period of time.

      I’m discovering more benefits to sleeping on hard surfaces every day, like needing fewer hours of sleep, waking up fast and fresh and feeling more ‘muscle-ready’, automatically correcting back position and of course saving money on furniture, while recycling sleeping space for other purposes and being a more adaptable individual.

      I find I’m getting more and more inspiration from the ‘paleo’ of ‘historical’ way of doing things in general with regards to diet, training and even when it comes to the understanding of human psychology.  A hundred thousand years of proven results can’t lie!

  25.  I say the harder the surface you sleep on, the better (once your body gets use to it). Sleeping directly on the floor may not be as comfortable as sleepping on the softest bed but it is better for your spine in the long run. Keeping your spine straight and relaxed is important. 

    When you sleep, your head should be lined up with the rest of your spine so well, that when you close your eyes, it is very easy to sleep. What will actually be going on is that the opening of the skull connecting to your neck is lined up with the rest of your spine and this puts the brain stem is under minimal tension. This allows for a better night sleep, but also corrects issues in your spine. 

    I actually had some major neck problems due to years of sleeping on my stomach and pillows that are too large. Since then I have started sleeping on my side and instead of pillows, I use soft towels (because they don’t compress). If you lay on your side and have someone adjust how many towels are under your head until your neck feels perfectly at ease with your eyes closed, you will find the perfect amount. 

    • Paul Lilley says:

      First laying on a flat surface does not in anyway help line up your spine. Spines curved and the outer layer of you, the hips and shoulders are a big part of the lower back having tension on it laying on a flat surface with nothing supporting it. You need something to follow the curves of your body to take the tension off those muscles having to keep your spine straight with no help in something holding your spine at that point. Lets think about adding towels every night and all night to get your neck straight to. The trick is when you find the bed you consider the best for your bad back you then fit the pillow. Picking the right pillow to finish having the correct neck support is hard, but having it be close to the right height filling the gap between the sleep surface and your neck needs to be close to right. If not you spend all night waking up and adjusting it to. Firm means pressure not support. Pressure is intrusive. Support is almost invisible.

  26. Ginger says:

     Wow interesting blog. I have been suffering with back pain for years and I’m only 21! So I was doing some research and considered my bed as the problem, thus came across your blog. Last night was the first that I tried sleeping on the floor and that was seriously a strange experience. I don’t think I really slept at all but I feel refreshed for some reason. Also my upper back pain is dramatically better. Did you ever experience a burning sensation in your lower back? That was what kept me up. Thank you for your blog! I am thrilled to try this for a few weeks myself :).

    • Paul Lilley says:

      When you get results like this its lightning in a bottle.  Night in and night out back support is not a one firmness setting. I call it a setting but whatever you sleep on either supports your back in the correct alighnment or it dos’nt. If you lay on a slat hard surface of any kind you will move more or go to a stomach position to spread out your weight trying to find comfort. If you are laying flat and shuffling your legs up and down alot your body is telling you no matter what you think…this is not what it wants.    The Bad Back Mattress Solution.

  27. Benjamin says:

    After years of not being able to sleep well on my overly soft (and expensive) bed, I have decided to try out the floor for a month to see how it works. I am only on day three but my body feels so much better already. The drawback for me right now is that I take a little while to fall asleep because I am no used to sleeping on such a hard surface. Once I am able to fall asleep quickly while on the floor, I don’t foresee myself returning to a bed. My wife is already a floor sleeper so I don’t have to worry about women coming over who are turned off by the floor sleeping experience.

  28. Ana Gabriella says:

    I love sleeping on the floor, tried it a few times in the past and could never get on with it, woke up with stiff cold neck, painful hip and sometimes could never really get confortable..

    However I just dont feel "safe" in a bed or a matress and on a personal quest to live with less; I recently went back to sleeping on the floor and have never felt better… Ive realised that room position and padding is important to me.. so here is my tuppence:

    – I have a large rug that stays down in the bedroom as the floors are hard. I fold a wool blanket down as my bed base. On top of that is my previous double bed duvet folded in half, then a single sheet on top and tucked under so it looks neat. I have a single duvet on top of me.

    – I have re-positioned my sleeping area so that it is away from the doorway and there can be quite a draught at floor level.

    I sleep like a baby, I love how grounded I feel, despite living in a 2nd floor flat and when I wake I can push and stretch against the floor before I get up which is amazing.

    Best part is I I can just fold it up and store in the cupboard during the daytime, I am in love with my extra space for yoga or just chilling out reading a book etc..

    If anyone is thinking about doing it, just give it a go, but hip protection and staying out of a draught would be the main things to bear in mind to make it work for you.

    Great Article

    Ana Gabriella- London

  29. Jenny Mac says:

    I got introduced to floor sleeping in Korea. The first time I did it, it was painful but it got easier over time. I recently moved into a small space in Canada and bought a folding bed and air mattress. It hurt my back a lot so I slept on the floor the second night and felt fine! I have now been sleeping on the floor for 5 months and I love it. The only problem I have is that everyone thinks I’m insane and are pressuring me to get a bed. I don’t feel like I need one right now. Some people want me off the floor which I would go for, but I still want to sleep on a hard surface. I don’t want a mattress. So, if anyone has suggestions for where I could get a platform to sleep on, that would be helpful.

  30. Daniel F says:

    Four or five months ago my air mattress was popped, me being the poor college student I didn’t think a new bed was that much of a priority, and plus my sister works and lives in the backcountry of Utah, sleeping on the ground for eight days at a time (if she doesnt need a mattress, neither do I haha. So i slept on the floor for a month and eventually got a small thing foam pad, i’ve had my best nights sleep on that floor.

  31. CJ says:

    Hi John, I am wondering if you have continued to sleep this way and what your outcome has been? I have chronic back issues ( born with them ) and recently have had some neck issues that I think have been causing some odd hand / finger sensations. I have a great bed – it is a wool / cotton natural matress, very firm actually, so I got rid of my pillow a few nights ago and the first two nights were tough but I think it is great! I do not have neck or hand / finger pain now and I am bruxing less. In fact last night I was drifting off and realized that my jaw was quite relaxed, something I do not usually feel at night – in fact it kind of startled me awake noticing this! I am going to keep up this experiement for myself, just curious about yours since it has been a while now. Also, if anyone has bruxism maybe give this a try too. C

  32. Itamar says:

    I myself spent 40 days sleeping on the floor of my newly moved into bedroom. I also suffer from infrequent but intermittent back pain and conveniently i am studying to be a chiropractor. We study a great deal of anatomy and biomechanical force distribution and a greater deal of research analysis, reading etc.

    The reason i spent this time on the floor was because i was awaiting my bed and decided it was worth the challenge. i picked up the habit shortly before in a festival where my tent was occupied and i was exhausted. By the end of the festival my back, hip, knees and neck all felt astoundingly ok.

    My pros were:
    shorter time to fall asleep
    not waking up in uncomfortable positions
    no shoulder pain from rolling over putting my glenohumeral into a compromised position.

    cons: without some sort of sweat wicking device material i had to change my sheets reasonably more frequently.
    3 nights of sleeplessness before i got used to it
    i rolled onto my shoulder once

    next up, hammock trials.

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