Mattresses are usually put on bed frames or foundations. But some people might fancy directly sleeping on the floor.
It is not completely out of the question, it does have merits and cons for you to be aware of before doing so. We will cover them in the following content.
The highlight is that using a mattress on the ground can be useful, it can be economical and sometimes even promote neutral spinal alignment.
Since the floor is flat and stable, it makes a good support ground for your mattress, especially if the mattress is innerspring, aka the type suitable to be put on the floor, it can help prevent or improve back pain for certain individuals.
Can sleep on the floor help with back pain?
In some ways, the floor offers optimal support for your mattress or pads while being even and firm. But in fact, putting it on the floor won’t greatly impact the support from your mattress.
Our spines are naturally curvy, and some people believe that sleeping on the floor keeps our spines neutral. While lying on the floor with knees bent can indeed provide temporary relief by taking pressure off the back, there is little evidence supporting the statement that sleeping on the floor helps with back pain.
Floor sleeping may cause long-term issues without your realizing it. Sleeping on the floor doesn’t provide any cushioning for the knees and joints, often leading to soreness and discomfort. Over time, this might cause long-term illness in the back or knees.
Also if you have serious issues with these pains, do discuss with your doctor in terms of your sleeping positions.
Pros of sleeping on the floor
If we go into detail on the benefits of putting the mattress on the floor as the following:
It often helps cold air circulate across the surface of the bed, allowing for a dry and cool evening throughout.
Easily get on and off
As you can imagine, it’s much easier to get on and off the bed this time, releasing much strain over time.
Save the spend on the bed base
You won’t need a bed base which costs around $150 to $200. Floors such as hardwood and tile, for example, can enhance firmness and provide added overall support.
Medium-firm mattresses tend to promote sleep comfort, quality, and spinal alignment more than soft or firm mattresses. People with a bed that is too soft and would not consider a hard bed base could consider switching to the floor.
Improved lower back pain
Sleeping on the floor can help your spine and neck stay neutral and keep your posture healthy.
Sleeping on a firm surface helps distribute your body weight evenly. This way, there is less pressure on any specific body part, thus allowing your muscles and tissues to receive better circulation during the night, which helps the body’s major organs function properly, fight off disease, and improve muscle recovery.
Uses less space
Usually, keeping your mattress on the ground gives the illusion of higher ceilings and a larger room.
Plus you could easily move the mattress around as you prefer.
Cons of sleeping on the floor
Mattresses that lay on the floor are at great risk of accumulation of dust particles and dust mites, particularly if the floor is not cleaned regularly.
In addition, insects or bed bugs can easily get on the mattress and cause an infestation in the long term. Without regular thorough cleaning, infestations can ruin the mattress.
As concluded, dust, mold, and infestations are the top three disadvantages of sleeping directly on the floor — and all three of these issues can void the warranty.
Higher chance of mold
When we sleep, our bodies give off moisture and body heat, which is drawn through our mattress and can become trapped. Bed frames of box springs and slatted frames help to prevent heat retention since they improve airflow through the bottom of the mattress.
When we place our mattress on the floor, airflow is decreased so the moisture and heat from our bodies become trapped within the mattress. Over time, the accumulated moisture creates a dark, warm, and damp environment—the ideal conditions for mold growth.
To help prevent mold and maintain a healthy living space, regular cleaning is imperative.
Before placing your mattress down for the first time, sanitize the floor and surrounding area. With carpeting and rugs, make sure to vacuum and steam clean to remove any buildup or embedded dirt. Ensure the area is completely dry before placing your mattress on the floor.
To continue to keep the space clean, prop the mattress up against the wall once a week for a couple of hours to let the area breathe. Use this time to clean the floor and surrounding area to make sure there is no mold or mildew. In humid conditions, you’ll want to do this more often or at least twice more often.
You can also help prevent mold growth by placing a barrier between your mattress and the floor. A breathable buffer like thin poly foam or light blankets can help elevate the bed slightly and encourage added airflow.
Take even extra care if you have a latex or memory foam mattress. These mattresses are especially susceptible to mold growth due to their dense materials, and they can break down to surprise you if you don’t allow them to properly breathe.
Flipping the mattress every two days can further support airflow and alleviate any moisture build-up.
Exposed to more dust and other allergens
There are more dust, dirt, and allergens on the floor than in the air. Sleeping on the floor means you’re sleeping closer to these allergens, so you’re more likely to breathe in dirt and dust throughout the night.
Overexposure to allergens can cause sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
Dust mites, a common allergen, especially love to live in bedding and carpet, among other common areas around the house. Dust mites love warm and humid environments, so adding a dehumidifier to your room can help with this.
Aside from exposure to dirt and allergens, sleeping on the floor also makes it much easier for pests and other unwelcome critters to get access to your mattress.
Increased discomfort for side-sleepers
For side sleepers, the floor may prove uncomfortable. The firmer support increases the amount of pressure placed on the hips and shoulders, and this can lead to pain and discomfort in joints.
Harder to get out of
Anyone with muscle or joint pain, or balance and stability issues should avoid sleeping on the floor. Getting in and out of bed can become physically harder and can result in strained knees and elbows. For those not able to properly support themselves, using a mattress on the floor can be a danger and cause further pain or injury. Generally, those older who are overall weaker are discouraged from keeping their mattress on the floor for this reason.
Mattress warranties usually contain guidelines for properly supporting your mattress, and those may prohibit keeping it on the floor. Pay extra attention to the fine print on your mattress warranty to make sure using it on the floor won’t void your coverage.
Even if you don’t see anything in the warranty specifically about using the mattress on the floor, there could be other side effects of placing your mattress on the ground (i.e., dust or mold damage) that lead to voided warranties. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to check with the mattress manufacturer.
Tips for keeping your mattress on the floor
If you want to use your mattress on the ground regularly, we suggest regular maintenance to protect it from damage. After all, mattresses are meant to sit on a base such as a box or slatted platform and without them, they become more vulnerable to wear. Taking extra precautions may extend your mattress’s lifespan.
Regularly air out your mattress
Once a week or so, perhaps before school or work, you should lift your mattress to air it out. If your mattress is flippable, flip it regularly instead, preventing mold growth. Also, if you live in a humid area, try to air out your mattress every few days.
Keep the floor beneath your mattress clean
To prevent dirt buildup, always vacuum, dust, and disinfect the area beneath and around your mattress. By keeping the floor clean, you prevent bugs and dust from infecting your sleep space.
Always be sure the floor is completely dry before replacing your mattress. A wet or even mildly damp surface puts your mattress at risk for growing mold.
Avoid foam mattresses
When sleeping on the ground, foam mattresses, in particular, should not be used on the floor. Memory foam and polyurethane foam trap moisture and heat, leaving you hot and encouraging mold and mildew growth. In addition, foam mattresses do not last well on the ground and will wear quicker than they would on a proper foundation.
Place your mattress on finished surfaces
It’s best to set your mattress on surfaces such as hardwood floors, tatami flooring, tile, or synthetic rugs and carpet. Avoid unfinished flooring, natural fiber carpets, and rugs made of wool, cotton, or jute.
Unfinished and natural flooring retains moisture and will lead to mold buildup, possibly triggering allergic reactions. Also, older flooring may contain mold spores or dust, soiling your mattress and making it unsuitable for sleeping.
In addition to leaving your mattress on a finished surface, use a barrier, such as a piece of cardboard, a blanket, or a foam mat, between your mattress and the ground. This helps preserve the quality of your mattress and protects it from premature wear and tear.
A barrier keeps your mattress clean, making it easier to maintain, and can improve its insulating properties.
Use a mattress protector
Always use a mattress protector with your mattress regardless of whether it is on a bed frame or not. Your mattress is particularly vulnerable to germs and dust on the ground, making it even more vital to use a protector. It shields your mattress from sweat buildup, dirt, stains, and any potentially harmful bacteria.
Just make sure you choose the right mattress protector size, with dimensions that provide adequate coverage.
Types of mattresses to be used directly on the floor
Besides using a traditional mattress on the floor, there are mattresses designed specifically for the ground. They are generally cheaper than regular mattresses, though they function best as a temporary sleeping solution rather than a long-term bed. Also, floor mattresses are usually quite thin, being between 3 to 6 inches, while a traditional mattress is between 10 to 14 inches.
A folding mattress can be a dual-fold, tri-fold, or even quad-fold mattress meant to save storage space and fit into your car easily when traveling. Folding mattresses have a wide range of uses, like a good play mat for children or a lounge chair during the day.
While they are not as thick as a traditional mattress, folding mattresses are still fairly comfortable and useful when camping or having guests over.
Also known as a Japanese bed or a tatami floor mat, a rolling mattress is lightweight and designed for convenience. When not in use, you simply roll the mattress up and vacuum-pack it into a bag. It’s great when traveling or hosting overnight guests, as you just need to unroll it and it’s ready to use.
However, a rolling mattress does not provide the same support as a regular mattress and can put pressure on your joints.
Is it okay to put a box spring on the floor?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to place a box spring on the floor. It may even provide better ventilation as opposed to leaving your mattress directly on the ground. It also raises the bed higher, making it easier for less mobile individuals to use safely.
Is a thick mattress better on the floor?
The thickness of your mattress makes little difference in your comfort when sleeping on the ground. Rather, your mattress’s thickness should vary based on how you sleep, your body type, and whether or not you share a bed.
Thicker mattresses (12 to 14 inches) typically have extra cushioning and best support side sleepers and plus-sized individuals. A standard mattress (10 to 12 inches) best suits back, stomach, and combination sleepers as well as couples.
How do I keep my mattress from sliding on the floor?
Without a foundation, your mattress may not stay in place, particularly on smooth surfaces such as wood or tile. Your mattress constantly sliding around can be irritating to readjust and an unnecessary hassle. To combat this, place a non-slip or rubber pad between your mattress and the floor.
Does the height of your bed matter?
The height of your bed does not affect the quality of your sleep. However, if you have mobility issues and struggle to get in and out of bed, you’ll want a bed you can access without squatting or jumping. A bed between 16 to 24 inches tall is generally easiest for adults to access.
Furthermore, the height of your bed impacts the appearance of your sleeping space. A low bed gives the appearance of taller ceilings and more space, while a tall bed works best in a large room with high ceilings as it can make a small room seem overcrowded.
Can you use a mattress topper instead of a mattress on the floor?
Technically, yes, you can use a mattress topper on the floor, it’s not a good idea. Keep in mind, a mattress topper and a mattress are not the same and serve different purposes.
Toppers are meant to add a comfort layer to an overly firm mattress, meaning they lack the supportive base layers a traditional mattress has.
In a pinch, you may use a mattress topper for a temporary sleeping solution, though it’s not recommended long-term. We recommend our topper of course.
Sleeping on the floor is not for everyone, though it’s a worth trying option for some people, especially those struggling with back pain.
If you are going to use your mattress on the floor, take the necessary precautions to ensure you are protecting yourself and your mattress. You should always check the mattress warranty before placing your bed on the floor, and other than that, we wish you pleasant sleep every day.