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?
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!