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Is Sleeping On Just a Mattress Bad for You? (Pros v Cons)

Dr. Mehrsa Jalalizadeh Profile Picture Bedroom Style Reviews.

If you don’t have a bed frame or you’re thinking of switching to a minimalist sleeping arrangement, then you might be wondering if sleeping on just a mattress on the floor is bad for you or not.

Sleeping on just a mattress on the floor can be bad for you long term because it may cause back pain, trigger allergies, make sleeping on your side more uncomfortable, reduce circulation, cause your mattress to become infested with insects, decrease mobility, make you cold, and void the warranty.

However, there are also a few potential benefits that may make sleeping on a mattress on the floor worth it in some situations.

The rest of this article considers the pros and cons so that you can arrive at the best solution for your needs.

Is it Bad to Sleep On Just a Mattress on the Floor?

Sleeping on just a mattress on the floor is generally a bad idea.

Because even though there are mattresses specifically designed for sleeping on the floor – such as folding mattresses, rolling mattresses, Japanese futon mattresses [1], and even some regular mattresses – the drawbacks generally outweigh the potential benefits.

See below for a full evaluation.

Benefits

The potential benefits of sleeping on just a mattress on the floor without a bed frame are typically limited to the short term – such as being able to sleep cooler or altering the firmness of the mattress to alleviate pain.

However, if you’re able to withstand the potential drawbacks listed in the next section, then one possible long term benefit could be that of saving money because you’ve avoided having to buy a separate base.

1: Temporary Pain Relief

If your mattress is too soft, sagging, or has deep body impressions that are leading to pain and discomfort then placing your mattress on the floor can in some cases increase the firmness, bolster the support, and potentially lead to a more comfortable sleeping surface.

However, despite claims that sleeping on the floor or a hard surface (without a mattress) can alleviate back pain, there’s no scientific evidence to substantiate this, and such reports are anecdotal [2] – with others claiming that sleeping on the floor actually caused more pain.

This variance in comfort extends to placing your mattress on the floor because there are several variables that combine to influence the final comfort level.

Such as: the firmness of the support surface (solid stone floor vs wooden floor + thick rug for example), the thickness of the mattress, the existing firmness of the mattress, the extent to which the mattress is already damaged, the bodyweight of the sleeper and their dominant sleeping style.

Long term, you should look to replace your sagging mattress with a new one (and a suitable frame) rather than trying to get by sleeping on the floor.

Choose from my list of the best mattresses that won’t sag for some high quality options.

2: Sleep Cooler

If you’re currently experiencing hot weather then you may find relief by placing your mattress on the floor because warm air rises [3] and being in closer proximity to the floor can put you in line of through-draughts.

3: Save Money

If you’re able to adjust to sleeping on just a mattress on the floor then you can save a few $100’s by not having to pay for an additional bed base.

However, I would argue that the extra cost is worth it because placing your mattress on a suitable frame can help you to avoid the potential drawbacks that I’ve listed below in the next section.

Considerations

The potential drawbacks to sleeping on just a mattress on the floor tend to outweigh the possible benefits, and they are as follows:

1: Back Pain

Whilst placing your mattress on the floor and sleeping in it may help to get rid of or reduce back pain in some sleepers, this same action could actually lead to back pain.

Because whilst many people think that sleeping on a harder surface is good for your back, this is not a universal truth.

Yes, placing your mattress on the floor can increase the firmness that may help to correct discomfort that stems from a mattress being too soft or sagging, but too much firmness can prevent your body from achieving good posture and/or increasing pressure points that can lead to back pain.

So in summary, placing your mattress on the floor may help your back pain or it might cause it/make it worse.

Proceed with caution.

2: Discomfort in the Side Sleeping Position

If you sleep on your side then unless your mattress is very thick and/or you are very light, you’ll probably find that sleeping in just a mattress on the floor on your side hurts your shoulders and hips.

Because the floor can impede material compression and prevent your mattress from allowing your hips and shoulders to sink far enough into the materials to alleviate the pressure in your joints.

I once slept on a cheap spring mattress on the floor that was fairly thin and the springs compressed so much that side sleeping was impossible.

3: Reduced Circulation

Whilst there are some claims that sleeping on the floor – or a mattress on the floor – can improve your circulation, it could also REDUCE your circulation too.

Because if the mattress becomes too firm and lacks compression, then the pressure points that it creates on your body can crush blood vessels and nerves – leading to numbing in your body.

4: Infestations

Putting your mattress on the floor without a frame makes it easier for creepy-crawlies like spiders, bed bugs, and even dust mites to get into bed with you.

If you live in a country where the local wildlife is particularly hostile, then the additional clearance that a bed frame provides might be very important to avoid unwanted bites.

5: Allergies

In addition to being closer to dust and debris that could cause you to start sneezing, you may find that your mattress starts to develop mold on the underside due to a build up of moisture and a lack of air.

Mold spores can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms [4].

6: Worsened Mobility

Without the additional height provided by a bed frame, you may find it harder to get in and out of bed if you have mobility problems.

7: Too Cold

Whilst sleeping closer to the floor may help to cool you down in warmer weather, you may find that you’re too cold in the winter.

This could be especially true if your mattress is placed on stone because stone has a high thermal conductivity – meaning that it allows heat to flow through it quickly [5].

8: Voids the Warranty

Unless you have bought a mattress that’s specifically designed for floor use or the manufacturer permits it, placing your mattress on the floor without a suitable frame can void the warranty.

This means that if the mattress begins to develop defects, then you won’t be able to get a replacement or have the faulty parts replaced at no extra cost.

This is important to note if you’ve gone to the trouble of buying a mattress with a lifetime warranty and you then end up voiding it.

Related Questions

Below are the answers to some questions related to sleeping on just a mattress on the floor.

Can You Sleep On Just a Mattress Topper?

Sleeping on just a mattress topper is likely to be even worse than sleeping on just a mattress because toppers are only a few inches thick – which could increase the firmness and decrease the potential depth of compression to the point where joint pain and pressure points become unbearable (depending on your sleeping position and body weight).

What’s the Best Way to Sleep on a Mattress on the Floor?

The best way to sleep on a mattress on the floor is to buy a mattress that’s designed for floor use and keep the floor clean, lift up the mattress every morning to allow for air circulation, and place a mattress topper or blanket on top of the mattress to increase or decrease the firmness if required.

Conclusion: Avoid Sleeping on Just a Mattress

Whilst sleeping on just a mattress on the floor may help to save you money, temporarily fix sagging issues, or cool you down in the short term, it’s not advisable to do this long term because:

  • You may end up with back pain.
  • Your muscles and joints could become uncomfortable.
  • You may experience reduced circulation.
  • Your bed may become infested with bed bugs and other insects.
  • You may experience a worsening of allergies or asthma.
  • You may find it harder to get in and out of bed.
  • You may be too cold.
  • You may void the warranty.

Do You Need a New Mattress?

If you’re slumming it on the floor and need a new mattress, then click the button below to choose from some of the best mattresses that won’t sag prematurely to avoid future issues.


Sources and References

[1] Wikipedia – Futon. Accessed 11/8/20.

[2] HealthLine – Is Sleeping on the Floor Good or Bad for Your Health? Accessed 11/8/20.

[3] Energy Vanguard – Heat Rises…and Falls — Stack Effect, Air Movement, & Heat Flow. Accessed 11/8/20.

[4] Asthma UK – Mould and Damp. Accessed 11/8/20.

[5] Stone Surface Specialists – Why Does Stone Feel Cold? Accessed 11/8/20.

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