Many people love low-profile sleeping solutions such as platform beds or thinner box springs, and many cultures have even normalized sleeping on a mat on the floor and consider thin styles the best mattress for sleeping comfortably.
There are many benefits discussed in association with sleeping on the floor, but it still isn’t all that common in North America.
However, there are still people out there that advocate for putting a standard mattress directly on the floor with no frame or box spring.
Let’s explore some common questions asked about this practice and the true pros and cons of putting a mattress directly on the floor without a bed base or frame with slats.
Does The Type Of Mattress Matter?
Some mattress types, like inflatable air mattresses and roll up (Tatami) mattresses, are designed to be placed directly on the floor with no supporting structure underneath.
However, standard mattress types like innerspring mattresses and foam mattresses are not designed to function with a frame and potentially also a box spring.
Firm mattresses such as an innerspring or latex mattress will hold up better than hybrid mattresses and other foam types, but none of them are designed for floor sleeping.
Memory foam mattresses will be the worst for floor sleeping as they are meant to have supporting structures underneath and are a very soft mattress type.
If you put a memory foam mattress directly on the floor, you can expect it to break down quite quickly, even if it was a new mattress.
Does My Climate Matter?
If you live in a humid environment, your mattress will be exposed to a greater level of moisture.
This will elevate the rate at which mold and mildew accumulate and make your bed more appealing to infestations of bed bugs.
Plus, with restricted air flow, your mattress will create a very hot sleeping environment even though you are closer to the cooler floor than you would be in a standard bed.
The excess heat and moisture will also cause the mattress to soften more quickly and you’ll end up needing a replacement sooner.
Overall, a more humid climate means a more difficult experience sleeping with a mattress directly on the floor.
Will A Mattress Topper or Mattress Protector Change Anything?
Mattress toppers and protectors can indeed make a difference when placing your mattress directly on the floor.
A mattress topper can help side sleepers find a more comfortable rest and pain relief for their joints.
A thick mattress topper can also elevate the sleeping surface to help people with mobility issues get in and out of bed easier.
A mattress protector can help protect your mattress from contaminants and pest infestations.
However, the general pros and cons of sleeping on the floor cannot be entirely changed as a result of including a mattress topper or mattress protector.
What Floor Type Is Best For Floor Sleeping?
While you may think that any flat surface will work for floor sleeping, the flooring type does actually affect how restful your sleep will be.
Whether you are using a small folding mattress or full size mattress, you should be putting your mattress on a finished surface such as tile or hardwood floors.
Carpets will hold onto moisture, dirt, and pathogens, and they will cause your mattress to wear down faster.
If your only option is a carpet surface, use cardboard or a sheet of plywood as a thin barrier to keep you close to the ground but prevent the risks of mold and other contaminants from entering the mattress as easily.
Problems With Putting A Mattress On The Floor
The reason that most mattress reviews are dedicated to mattresses placed on frames and even outfitted with a headboard and foot board is because there are a lot of problems that arise when you exclude these supportive structures from your bed assembly.
There are more downsides than advantages to putting a mattress on the floor, so let’s explore those first.
Allergens, Dust Mites, and Pathogens
One of the main problems with sleeping so close to the ground on a mattress is your proximity to allergens, dust mites, and pathogens that collect on the floor.
Even if you keep your house quite clean, unless you are performing daily chores around the bed, you’re going to experience an increased risk of illness and allergic reactions.
Putting your mattress on the floor will make it easier for bed bugs and other tiny critters like mites and spiders to make it into your mattress.
Not only is this just plain icky, but it can damage your mattress and affect your health.
Placing a mattress directly on the floor will contribute to moisture build up.
Sweat and other body oils will accumulate in your mattress, and the lack of air flow will also encourage the mattress to hold onto moisture.
This moisture will lead to mold and mildew growth eventually; just another byproduct of sleeping on the floor that can affect your health and the quality of your mattress in a negative way.
Air Flow Problems
When you place a mattress directly on the floor, you cut off a major portion of the air flow going through a mattress.
The air can’t escape into the floor, after all. Limiting the air circulation in a mattress this way will contribute to the accumulation of odours, exacerbated damage from moisture, and it will also cause the mattress to trap more heat than usual.
Mattress Warranty Nullification
Most mattress companies recommend the use of a bed frame and sometimes also a box spring as the appropriate setup for a mattress.
This is because these components are essential for proper functioning and longevity of the mattress.
Placing your mattress directly on the floor will cause it to wear out more quickly, and you may end up voiding your mattress warranty as a result.
Difficult For Those With Mobility Issues
In the absence of a box spring or bed frame, your sleeping surface will be very low to the floor.
While this is what you want while you’re actually sleeping, a low bed will make it more difficult to maneuver onto and off of the mattress.
If you are elderly or have mobility problems, you’ll likely find that getting in and out of bed becomes a significant challenge.
Can Contribute to Joint Pain
All mattresses on the softer end of the spectrum contribute to joint pain relief due to their ability to contour around your joints and offer cushioning and support all in one.
When you put a mattress like that on the floor, you reduce its ability to support you.
As a result, side sleepers will likely find themselves waking up with new or worsening joint pain when sleeping so close to the floor.
Advantages of Floor Sleeping
Despite the challenges you’ll face with creepy crawlies, circulation problems, and other issues that come with putting the bottom of the mattress directly on a floor, there are some advantages to this sleeping method that you should be aware of.
Whether you’re a minimalist, a budgeted shopper, or a hot sleeper, you’ll be able to appreciate something about sleeping on the floor.
Improved Blood Circulation
One of the most noticeable benefits of sleeping closer to the floor is improved blood circulation.
Sleeping on the floor very evenly distributes your weight across the sleeping surface.
While this is most noticeable when you sleep on the floor without a mattress, doing it with only a mattress and no frame or foundation will still help your circulation to an extent.
Hot sleepers will reap an extra benefit of sleeping on the floor with a mattress.
Since hot air rises, you’ll be surrounded by cooler air while sleeping closer to the ground.
While this may not be as ideal in winter, the cold air during the summer will help you get a more restful sleep and reduce the amount of sweat that ends up accumulating in the mattress.
Save Money On Box Spring and Bed Frame
When buying a new bed, there are a lot of expenses that you need to consider.
Each component increases the cost, but we usually consider them to be necessary.
If you’ve decided that sleeping on the floor is right for you, you’ll appreciate the lighter load on your wallet that skipping the box spring and bed frame will bring.
Prevention/Alleviation of Back Pain
It is widely reported that sleeping on the floor can help prevent and alleviate back pain.
The risk of scoliosis is also significantly reduced. If you are worried about your spinal alignment or wish to improve chronic back pain, putting your mattress directly on the floor may be the change your body needs.
If you enjoy a minimalist lifestyle, the idea of a bed with a smaller footprint in a room will likely appeal to you.
Putting the mattress on the floor will make the room feel larger and cleaner. If you have low ceilings, this effect will be even more magnified.