Is Sleeping on the Floor Actually Better for You?
The relationship between back pain and floor sleeps, explained
Over 80% of American adults will experience back pain at some point their lives, ranging from day-to-day soreness to a crippling, stabbing sensation. So it’s understandable that at least some people will consider seemingly crazy things in order to quell that pain, like sleep on a hard wooden floor.
It’s a measure long practiced by servicemen and women, which holds some light cachet in the medical community. Basically, the idea is that beds are too soft for the spine. They allow it to curve into a C-shape, which puts strain on vertebrae and the neck, which exacerbates back pain. A stretch of floor, the thinking goes, would force a sleeper to lie flat against a solid, supportive surface.
But that’s an overcorrection, according to reporting from Men’s Health. There is zero scientific proof that sleeping on the floor relieves back pain, or, for that matter, treats sciatica or improves posture. The move likely has its diehards because some people have seen anecdotal success, especially in the short-term. An initial shift from a way-too-soft mattress could decrease spinal pain.
That’s a sign, though, that you could just use a firmer mattress. Bed brands like Casper now label their offerings by their firmness or plushness, so you can make an educated purchase, but there are DIY solutions available, too — Harvard Health recommends putting a sheet of plywood under your mattress.
Keep in mind, too, there are so many non-sleep-related things you can do throughout a given week to give your back the relief it deserves, like warmup before exercise (and stretch after), avoid peering down at your phone while walking, and set up a WFH space where your eyes are aligned with the top third of your computer screen. Back pain’s brutal — we get it — but you’re not going to solve it on the cold, dusty floor.
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