Is Sleeping on the Floor Good for Your Back?

Last Updated on 6 Jul. 2020

When it is time to head to bed, many times, we head to our bedroom and hop right onto our cozy and soft mattress. To make it even better, we add on an egg crate or other soft features, so we feel like we sleep on a pillow. The next morning we wake up sore and with lots of back pain. Could our mattress be to blame?

Sleeping on the floor is good for your back. It allows you to realign the back and reduce the pressure that may be present from your mattress. Even the best mattress can be too soft and will cause an unnatural curve in the spine.

Learning how to sleep on the floor properly is the key to helping protect your back while being comfortable. This article will discuss who can benefit from sleeping on the floor, the best ways to sleep comfortably on the floor, and all the amazing benefits for your aches and pains.

Woman sleeping under weighted blanket

Is Sleeping on the Floor Good for You?

Sleeping on the floor may be good for alleviating any back pain you experience.

Kathy Bowman, a specialist in biomechanics and movement, and author of Move Your DNA and Movement Matters believes that sleeping on the floor is one of the best ways to align the back and body properly. Bowman is a big advocate of encouraging everyone to sleep on the floor to reduce back pain, achieve a deeper quality of sleep, and wake up feeling better.

One reason that sleeping on a mattress is that they may restrict your movements. Once you get into bed, you are locked into the same position all night, which inhibits the natural turning your body tries to do through the night. The pains that you feel in the morning are not normal; they are the effect of not moving around for 8 hours each night.

When you sleep on the floor without a mattress, you can strengthen the tiny muscles that help build up over time. You put pressure on the body parts that need it most, like a massage on the body all night long. This is something known as dynamic rest. When we combine this with a daily foam rolling, it leads to stronger back muscles for all your movements each day.

Laying on the floor for the long-term or when you don’t have back problems may not be as healthy, though, according to Jennifer L. Solomon, M.D. Dr. Solomon is a physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery. She agrees that in the short term, those who have acute pain may find that certain positions on a harder surface, like the floor, may experience some relief from their back pain.

Dr. Solomon also believes this is why some may enjoy a hard mattress to help alleviate their pain. Others may like a softer mattress. Her main idea is that each person is different. Each person needs to experiment and find the sleeping position and the sleeping location that works best for them.

Benefits to Sleeping on the Floor

There are many benefits to sleeping on the floor. A few of the most important benefits include:

  • Realign your back. When you sleep on any soft surface, the back will curve slightly. This is an unnatural alignment for the back and can cause more stress on the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and back. While on the floor, you prevent curvature. The back will relax, straighten, and realign naturally and will reduce pain.
  • May help prevent scoliosis. Sleeping on the floor can prevent and sometimes cure scoliosis. This is a condition where the back is curved sideways, making an S in the wrong direction. Without proper treatment, this condition will cause pain in the back. Sleeping on the floor allows the back to relax and can lessen the pain while slowing down the progression of the disease.
  • Can reduce sciatic nerve pain. The sciatic nerve is one of the largest in the whole body. It begins in the lower back and will extend down, sending nerve endings to your limbs. There are many reasons that this can cause pain, but sleeping on the floor provides the necessary support to limit sciatic nerve pain.
  • Prevents pinched nerves. Sleeping on your floor can help prevent pinched nerves in the back. It also frees up the arteries from pressure, which helps to improve the flow of blood. This helps the back feel less tense, reducing pain each day.
  • Prevents bone density loss. Japanese writer Katsuzo Nishi, known as the author of the book Nishi Health System, is a big proponent of sleeping on the floor. He states that it is necessary to help with many conditions, but also believes that it helps prevent loss of bone density as we age.

How to Properly Sleep on the Floor

There are a few steps you may use to make sleeping on the floor for back pain more effectively.

First, switch sides. This one allows you to stay on your mattress for now. If you usually sleep on your left side, switch to your back or your right side. The mattress often adapts to your shape, so this can help provide more support.

Then it is time to switch rooms. If you have a guest room, go over there and sleep for a few nights. This gets your body used to sleeping somewhere new. After a few nights of those, get rid of any padding on the bed. If there is an egg crate foam topper or something similar on your mattress, then it is time to take those off and try sleeping a few nights.

After a few more nights of this, it is time to ditch the bed altogether. Try to do this with as little padding as possible. A blanket and a little pillow are all you need here. If necessary, add a little blanket under you. The less padding you have, the better.

Other Ways to Relieve Back Pain

Each person is different and what may work for some will not be effective for others. Your back pain may feel better on a hard mattress or the floor, and others may feel more comfortable on a soft mattress. You may find sleeping on your side is more comfortable.

There are steps you can take to alleviate back pain without having to sleep on the floor. As a back or a side sleeper, put a pillow between or behind the knees to help encourage spinal alignment.

Avoid sleeping with a pile of pillows on your bed. You can have as many decorative ones as you want, but one or two are plenty to keep you comfortable. Having too many can promote forward flexion, which causes neck pain.

Tips to Make Sleeping on the Floor More Comfortable

If you do choose to sleep on the floor, it is important to find a way that is comfortable and won’t cause unnecessary pain. A few tips you can follow include:

  • Consider using a mat. A yoga mat is plenty, though you can choose something with slightly more cushion if you choose. This Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat is a great option. This mat provides enough support for the back from the ground, with a little added comfort.
  • Sleep on your back. This position gives the spine the exact amount of support it needs. This benefit is diminished if you sleep on your side or your stomach.
  • Avoid sleeping in the fetal position. This may be more comfortable, but it can tighten the hip flexors and hamstrings, causing more pain. It may even cause tightening in the pectoral muscles, causing pain to the upper back.


Sleeping on the floor is not the traditional method we use when heading to bed. We assume it is uncomfortable because it doesn’t feel as good as our comfortable mattress. However, sleeping on the floor can do wonders for helping prevent and eliminate your back pain, and may make it easier for you to wake up feeling refreshed and amazing!

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