This archived forum used to be called 'Peatarian' (in reference to Ray Peat).

Sleeping on the Floor

I've been sleeping on the floor now for 12 days.  It started out as an experiment because i was nervous about the new mattress i had just purchased and had been sleeping on for a few weeks.  I had also been researching the health benefits of barefooting - which is relative to grounding....which sleeping on the floor is *not* unless you're actually sleeping on the earth (or connected to it in some way).  Sleeping on the floor is a totally separate thing than grounding.

My floors are hardwood and for my transition i am using 3 very thin blankets folded in half and a very thin buckwheat hull pillow.  The first night of sleep was great - and every night since except maybe one night.  I thought before that my low quality of sleep (not feeling exactly rested in the mornings) was metabolism related....but sleeping on the floor is giving me that refreshed feeling in the morning.  Metabolism also probably plays a role and should only increase the quality.  I never thought that sleeping on a mattress would actually rob me of quality sleep.

Six years ago i spent a week in Mexico sleeping on a piece of plywood with no pillow.  It was the most miserable experience ever and after a few days, sleeping almost upright in the car felt like dream sleep.  Ever since then (well, till now) i've had a phobia of the idea of sleeping on the floor.

I'm sure there are others on here who can vouch for sleeping on the floor (including all the reported health benefits for the body structure and bone density) - and i also understand that it may not be for everyone.  But i will say that i don't think it has anything to do with needing firmness.  I think i would struggle to fall asleep on a firm mattress.  I think it's specifically something about a very hard surface that has a very light cushion that feels so cozy and comfortable.  There is also likely a psychological aspect to it with being so close to the floor providing a certain groundedness and stability.  Being elevated seems unnatural now - and somehow claustrophobic.

Sleeping on the floor, for me, provides a much deeper sleep....a much quicker falling asleep....a much quicker waking up....and less time needed actually sleeping.
asked Apr 19, 2015 by Nicholas
edited Apr 19, 2015 by Nicholas
I've always wanted to try sleeping on the floor. I think about how the mattress is unnatural (like wearing shoes) often, so I'm interested in trying it now.
Awesome post, thanks. My thoughts below...
This sounds batty to me. Every human society ever has made beds. Apes make beds. Wolves will arrange bedding if they can.

I would go so far as to say that modern synthetics like polyester and polystyrene probably make the best beds ever, because they don't harbor bugs and bacteria.
1.  i make my own bedding every night.  
2.  my bedding is made of mostly polyester
Sleeping on the floor is definitely where it is at. I can relate to all of the benefits you mentioned above. I've been sleeping on the floor myself for a while, and even got my mom to start when she had back pains (it fixed her pains btw).

I feel much more comfortable and connected when i'm on the floor now as you mentioned.

As far as sleeping positions I try to sleep on my back but find that I usually fall asleep on my right side.

If I sleep on my left side I notice I get nightmares probably from putting too much pressure on my heart.

I believe that the 'optimal' sleeping position is on the back, with pillow used to support the neck (and not so much the skull). But I have a hard time falling asleep like that most of the time.

Getting really technical is the idea that you will sleep better if you sleep on the north-south magnetic line. I read that on Dr Wilson's website. I do it but don't know if it matters.
i'm noticing also that i don't need a cigarette first thing in the morning anymore, either since sleeping on the floor.  there isn't as much that feeling of needing carbs right away.  from every indication it seems that stress hormones are lower in the morning, for what it's worth.
Awesome observations. There is definitely something to the floor sleeping thing. Most of my best nights of sleep have come on the floor, but having a great digestion and no inflammation is the key factor to sleeping well imo. Exercise helps too.

Anyways, I tried extending that feeling to all my furniture. I started sitting on the floor instead of using a desk. That experiment was a failure. You can try it if you like - my posture was definitely better, but my productivity went way down and my ability to read for long periods was compromised. I enjoy sitting with my legs up on something and slightly reclined though. I feel that is a good compromise.

4 Answers

I hear Peat describing two ends of the spectrum of sleep:

- One, restful and restorative, involving "slow wave" sleep that, on an EEG, shows up as delta waves, and with a minimum of cortisol even upon waking; and

- Two, what Peat calls a "torpor," which has very little slow wave sleep, and is marked by high cortisol and metabolic shutdown -- by analogy, a torpor might be like hibernating rather than sleeping.

While healthy people with little metabolic stress spend 20% of the night in "slow wave" sleep, people who are in the early stages of metabolic decline spend only 10% in that stage.  As metabolic death approaches, it is down to less than 5%, and sometimes maybe 2%.  

Other factors notwithstanding, you could look at a person’s EEG chart for a night and get an estimate of how old they are, in metabolic terms, from the amount of "slow wave" sleep.

So, an interesting question might be, does sleeping on the floor with a mat increase "slow wave" sleep? To find out, you could wear an EEG to bed, or try one of the wrist monitors (Basis, Fitbit, Onefit, etc.).

You could also measure your reaction times the next day, which correlate with how much slow wave sleep you are getting day to day.

But waking up and not feeling like you need more sleep is some indication, too. For example, after nights with lesser deep sleep, you are more likely to choose to self-administer sleeping pills. (See
answered Apr 19, 2015 by visionofstrength
I've slept on wood floors for a few weeks to months at a time on two occasions, and I really did not feel any better once I started sleeping on a mattress again.  I did notice it was easy to get to sleep the first time; I was 23 so that might have had something to do with it.  The last time I was on the bcp and at an altitude and also on the 2nd floor, and felt creaky on some days (I was 34) but generally had good energy.  Lately I've been sitting on the floor to use my phone and wondered the same thing; ie, if I would be better off if I slept there.  I'm thinking a magnetico pad would be a good investment but they're pretty expensive.  It has to do with magnetic forces and grounding yourself.  An Earthing sheet would be a good solution for the time being.

I also thought about putting a few kitchen magnets under my pillow.
answered Apr 20, 2015 by raintree
"Sleeping on the floor, for me, provides a much deeper sleep....a much quicker falling asleep....a much quicker waking up....and less time needed actually sleeping."

Are those good things though?

Sounds like your stress hormones are getting elevated a bit.
answered Apr 19, 2015 by Kiran
elevated from sleeping on the floor?  care to elaborate?  i don't wake with an adrenaline feeling.  could be, though.  7hrs. of sleep feels like enough on the floor.  compared to struggling to fall asleep or find a comfortable position and then waking with this tiredness behind my eyelids - along with a kind of tiredness the first half of the morning is so far worse than the current setup.
jumping out of bed seems like it might be connected with higher stress hormones.  tiredness in the morning usually means lethargy, and that might be due to running out of sugar during the night, or some other reason for disturbed sleep. you can compensate for it with a bit of stress in the short term.
i think you are imposing an image of my experience sleeping on the floor which i have not described.
I am reading quite alot about japanese culture/history and they seem rather peatish from the look of it, and what do the japanese sleep on? On the floor, with a mattress and blanket/pillow. They sit on the floor to eat, even though chairs have become more popular. They also focuse alot on gut health.

Is really sleeping 30+ cm off the ground on a big bed with alot of cushioning the best thing? I don't know. I'm curious to find out.
answered Apr 24, 2015 by fat cat
They don't sleep on the floor. They sleep on futon, on tatami. It's totally a mattress. I really don't get where you going.

Japs smoke a lot, work 75 hour weeks, and binge drink hard weekly. Is that all Peatish?
tatami is different from mattresses in that they are very rigid and also pretty thin.  not a mattress...and not sleeping "on the floor."
I used to sleep on the floor over a year ago with good results, but now I have a girlfriend lol. I think the issue with beds is having one that is too cushioned which can cause you to have a slumped posture while sleeping. Lately I've been really bothered by our bed which is more firm than some, but still too soft for my liking. When I wake up, I notice that my posture is worse for some time (specifically tightness in the pecs) until I start walking around which gets progressively better throughout the morning as I continue to stand. I'm interested in buying a traditional Japanese futon which seems to be the best of both worlds. Something very firm like buckwheat.