Sleeping on the Floor paleo diet natural health no bed hammock back mattress-min

Sleeping on the Floor?

The more I learn and think about evolutionary health, the more links I find with every aspect of my life.

Since I went from more of a Primal diet, to a strict Paleo diet, my previous sleep problems appear to have completely vanished.  I'm now tired in the evenings, fall asleep quickly without even noticing, sleep soundly all night – and wake up before my alarm.  This change in sleep has made it very clear what an essential role sleep plays to overall health and well-being.  I'm quite convinced that even with a perfect Paleo diet and a great fitness regime, without good sleep it would be impossible to attain optimal health.

This has got me thinking about where and how I sleep.  I suspect like you, I sleep on a bed with a big mattress and pillows.  This must be very far removed from how our ancestors slept for millions of years!

I've found some great resources on sleeping that suggest the body is under strain being upright all day, and therefore needs the resistance of a hard service to enable gravity to help realign and reshape the body.  This makes a lot of sense.  Even a relatively hard mattress won’t have enough resistance to enable your bones to realign – where as the ground clearly would.  It makes sense that when sunk into a mattress the lungs are not in the same position and have a reduced area – resulting in less oxygen, which is crucial, especially in enabling the body to relax and repair overnight.

I also wonder about the effect on the body’s temperature regulation, of sleeping on a mattress and under covers.  Is this another detrimental effect of sleeping on a mattress?

Sleeping on the Floor paleo diet natural health no bed hammock back mattress-min

Every time I've been camping and have slept with just a thin foam layer between myself and the ground, I have had a fantastic sleep – but I’ve also woken up very stiff and sore the next morning.  Perhaps the discomfort is due to being used to a soft mattress and will reduce after a few days?  Perhaps a bit of discomfort is not a bad thing?  As with camping, I also slept very well when I travelled to Japan sleeping on hard futons on the floor; again this was not comfortable, but resulted in very rejuvenating sleeps.

Sleep posture also appears to be an important factor to consider, something I've not given much thought to in the past.

I'm therefore planning to conduct a sleep experiment, of at least a week, where I will sleep on the floor each night.  I can then compare how I feel each morning, how well rested I am and how my fitness is affected (for example, if it would promote better posture and alignment, I’d expect this to show in my gym sessions).

Have you ever slept on the floor in the interests of your health, or is this a step too far?  I’d love to hear your comments on all things sleep related!

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9 replies
  1. Cassiel
    Cassiel says:

    When I moved to Japan, I inherited a bed frame and a futon from my company (I lived in company housing). The bed frame was a single bed, but instead of slats which would hold a mattress, it had a flat hard wooden base, on which you directly put the bottom layer futon. So in effect, it was like sleeping on a futon on a hard wooden floor. I actually found this very comfortable! I eventually (after about two years or so) added a second bottom layer futon when my original one got too flat. (I had a spare in the apartment but no cash to replace the first, so I just used two together.) I ultimately found this a lot more comfortable than any sort of thick squishy mattress! That said, for years before I moved there I’d always used the futon mattresses they make here in Australia, so I was used to a harder surface. Australian futon mattresses aren’t anywhere near as thin or as hard as Japanese ones (as I’m sure you know!) but they do sort of emulate the effect. I’m on a temporary air mattress here now while I get sorted and I keep having to pump it up because as soon as it loses even a little air it feels too soft for me! I’m getting a new futon mattress from a friend soon and I can’t wait. I just prefer a harder sleeping surface. That said, I have trouble sleeping directly on the floor because I wake up feeling stiff and sore afterwards. It could be what you said about not being used to it, but I’ve had periods where I’ve done it for a week at a time and it didn’t seem to improve at all. But maybe I’d just need a bit longer to adjust, who knows! Also, that usually wasn’t out of choice but rather lack of other sleeping space. *laugh* Ultimately, I admit that I prefer at least some give (hard futon) to direct floor!

    Good luck with your experiment, do let us know how it goes!

    • Sam
      Sam says:

      SImilarly, when my husband and I were living in Japan, we started out sleeping on a futon as this was provided to us. We then moved house and bought ourselves a bed, but the mattress was very firm, not like mattresses you can buy in Australia. We slept on it for a good 3 years and were comfortable.

  2. Clint
    Clint says:

    Hows the floor sleeping going? Have you ever heard of grounding sheets and grounding mats? They might help you have a better sleep.


  3. Shane
    Shane says:

    I’ve been sleeping on the floor for the past fortnight, and can’t believe how rejuvenated I feel in the morning. Even the firmest mattress hasn’t provided the same quality of sleep a hard floor has.

  4. Caryo
    Caryo says:

    I do structural bodywork therapy known commonly as Rolfing or Structural Integration. If the body is properly organized, you can sleep on the floor with the most minimal pad and sleep well. A disorganized body needs cushioning. I have even slept on a concrete floor while on a Paraguay remote expedition and slept relatively well.

  5. Frank
    Frank says:


    I was brought up sleeping on ex RAF bunk beds with firm horse hair mattresses. Didn’t have any problems until I ‘grew up’ and left home and went to normal ‘modern’ beds.
    I could never find one firm and supportive enough.
    I slept on a futon for approx 2 years until a partner came along and suggested a real bed. We have ended up with a memory foam bed, which is pretty good especially compared to a lot of the other modern beds I have slept in. I also have a real feather pillow (that I fluff up each time I use it) so that my head is not elevated (neck bent forward) whilst sleeping. but is there for supporting the neck level whilst on my side.
    Whilst single 🙂 and running a martial arts dojo, I slept for about a year on a flat wooden door propped off the floor with a piece of 2×2 (wood) each end. I laid my sleeping back on top of this and slept, eventually quite soundly.
    To help re-aline the body, relaxing supine on a yoga mat, head unsupported works wonders and feels fantastic.

  6. Susan
    Susan says:

    Just to note, my son went to Afghanistan (21yr)s) for deployment and during his visit home he slept on his usual bed, or so I thought. I found him on the floor every morning sleeping soundly. He can no longer sleep on a bed! he finds all of them uncomfortable compared to the floor and he feels that a floor with carpet is just fine compared to the rough rocky terrain he was used to on deployment. He still sleeps on the floor some years later, he sleeps soundly and is very fit, works 12+ hours most working days. Now in his 30’s.


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