Mattresses are most often used with a bed frame or box spring to lift them high off the ground, though it’s not required. Using your mattress on the floor may sound a bit strange to some people, however, others prefer it, whether for economic reasons or to use less space.
The floor is flat and firm, making it a good support system for your mattress. Some individuals with back pain may prefer their mattress on the floor because the flat, even surface prevents the spine from sinking down or bowing too far.
Our article explains the advantages and disadvantages of sleeping on the floor and, if you do choose to sleep sans bed frame, the steps you should take to protect yourself and your mattress.
Pros of Sleeping On The Floor
Using a mattress on the ground can be useful for multiple reasons, it can be economical and sometimes even promote neutral spinal alignment.
Reduces Back Pain
One of the large selling points for putting your mattress on the floor is the potential back pain relief. Sleeping on the floor can help your spine and neck stay neutral and keep your posture healthy. People who sleep on the ground may also see improvements to their sciatica and a reduced chance of developing scoliosis.
Due to how firm your sleeping surface is on the floor, it’s best to sleep on your back for the most comfort and back pain relief.
Improves Blood Circulation
Your mattress is firmer when on the floor and sleeping on a firm mattress helps distribute your body weight evenly. This way, there is less pressure on any specific body part, thus allowing your muscles and tissues to receive better circulation during the night. Having good blood circulation helps the body’s major organs function properly, fights off disease, and improves muscle recovery.
When you sleep on the floor, there’s no need to purchase a bed frame or mattress foundation. Bed frames and foundations can be quite costly and, if you’re on a budget, saving several hundred dollars is huge. Instead, you can prioritize your budget for a supportive mattress and cut down other costs.
Uses Less Space
Oftentimes, bed frames are larger than the actual mattress size and take up lots of space. If you’re living in a smaller area, having the extra space can be helpful. Also, keeping your mattress on the ground gives the illusion of higher ceilings and a larger room.
Without a bed frame, you can easily move your mattress from place to place since it’s light.
Cons of Sleeping On The Floor
Although sleeping on the ground can be very useful for some, there are potential drawbacks. One significant one worth mentioning is that keeping your mattress on the floor can void your warranty. It also puts your mattress much closer to bed bugs, making it easier for them to infiltrate your mattress.
Vulnerable to Dust and Dust Mites
Dust primarily collects on the ground, and if your floor is not vacuumed and dusted regularly, inhaling these particles can trigger allergic reactions and cause respiratory issues. Not only does this interrupt sleep, but it can be dangerous for your health as well.
Bed bugs and dust mites are attracted to moisture and heat, and since your mattress is on the floor, they now have easy access to your bed and bedding. Other creatures such as spiders, ants, and even snakes—depending on where you live—may find their way into your home and into your bed.
Potential Mold and Mildew Buildup
Box springs and slatted platforms help your mattress get sufficient airflow and stay dry. On the floor, your mattress’s ventilation is limited and leads to hot sleeping and sweating during the night. The moisture buildup from oils and sweat trapped in your mattress without proper airflow can cause mold and mildew to grow.
Not only is mold dangerous for living spaces, but it also has a foul odor and triggers allergic reactions such as trouble breathing or itchy skin. Even if you take steps to curtail mold with a dehumidifier, sweat and absorbed dampness can leave you with a water damaged mattress that’s lost support and comfort.
Difficulty Getting Out Of Bed
If you have mobility issues, such as arthritis or chronic pain, or are elderly, using a bed so low to the floor can be difficult. You would need to squat down to get into bed and hoist yourself out, a task too painful for some. Instead, consider using a kind of bed foundation under your mattress for added height or opting out of floor-sleeping entirely.
Uncomfortable for Side Sleepers
When on the floor, mattresses naturally feel firmer and more supportive, and this is great for individuals who need added support. However, for people who sleep on their sides, the mattress won’t contour to their body well enough and puts pressure on the hips and shoulders, making it difficult to sleep comfortably.
May Void Your Manufacturer Warranty
The setup of your bed can potentially void your mattress’s warranty. Most mattress types are built to sit on a slatted platform or box spring, not the ground. Mattress companies warn against sleeping on the floor as the ground is home to dust, bugs, and mold, all of which void warranties.
Tips For Keeping Your Mattress On The Floor
If you want to use your mattress on the ground regularly without a bed frame, we suggest regular maintenance to protect it from damage. After all, mattresses are meant to sit on a base such as a box or slatted platform, and without them, they become more vulnerable to wear. Taking extra precautions like rotating the mattress and using a mattress protector can help extend its lifespan.
Regularly Air Out Your Mattress
Once a week or so, perhaps before school or work, you should lift your mattress to air it out. If your mattress is flippable, flip it regularly instead, preventing mold growth. Also, if you live in a humid area, try to air out your mattress every few days. Make sure when you set the mattress back down, you have the right side of the mattress facing up.
Keep the Floor Beneath Your Mattress Clean
To prevent dirt buildup, always vacuum, dust, and disinfect the area beneath and around your mattress. By keeping the floor clean, you prevent bugs and dust from infecting your sleep space.
Always be sure the floor is completely dry before replacing your mattress. A wet or even mildly damp surface puts your mattress at risk for growing mold and mildew.
Avoid Foam Mattresses
When sleeping on the ground, the material of your mattress affects your comfort and sleep quality. Foam mattresses, in particular, should not be used on the floor. Memory foam and polyurethane foam trap moisture and heat, leaving you hot and encouraging mold and mildew growth. In addition, foam mattresses do not last well on the ground and will wear quicker than they would on a proper foundation.
Check Your Mattress Warranty
In some cases, using your mattress on the floor will void the warranty. Companies often have specific bed setup guidelines you must follow to preserve the warranty. Be sure to read through your mattress’s warranty before making the decision to sleep on the ground.
Place Your Mattress On Finished Surfaces
It’s best to set your mattress on surfaces such as hardwood floors, tatami flooring, tile, or synthetic rugs and carpet. Avoid unfinished flooring, natural fiber carpets, and rugs made of wool, cotton, or jute.
Unfinished and natural flooring retains moisture and will lead to mattress mold buildup, possibly triggering allergic reactions. Also, older flooring may contain mold spores or dust, soiling your mattress and making it unsuitable for sleeping.
Place a Barrier Between Your Mattress and the Floor
In addition to leaving your mattress on a finished surface, use a barrier, such as a piece of cardboard, a blanket, or a foam mat, between your mattress and the ground. This helps preserve the quality of your mattress and protects it from premature wear and tear. A barrier also keeps your mattress clean, making it easier to maintain, and can improve its insulating properties.
However, do not put a new mattress on top of an older one. Old mattresses will not provide stable support and stacking mattresses can provide a breeding ground for mold, dust mites, and bacteria.
Use a Mattress Protector
Always use a mattress protector with your mattress regardless of whether it is on a bed frame or not. Your mattress is particularly vulnerable to germs and dust on the ground, making it even more vital to use a protector. It shields your mattress from sweat buildup, dirt, stains, and any potentially harmful bacteria.
Just make sure you choose the right mattress protector size, with dimensions that provide adequate coverage.
Types of Mattresses to be Used Directly on the Floor
Besides using a traditional mattress on the floor, there are mattresses designed specifically for the ground. They are generally cheaper than regular mattresses, though they function best as a temporary sleeping solution rather than a long-term bed. Also, floor mattresses are usually quite thin, being between 3 to 6 inches, while a traditional mattress is between 10 to 14 inches.
A folding mattress can be a dual-fold, tri-fold, or even quad-fold mattress meant to save storage space and fit into your car easily when traveling. Folding mattresses have a wide range of uses, like a good play mat for children or a lounge chair during the day.
While they are not as thick as a traditional mattress, folding mattresses are still fairly comfortable and useful when camping or having guests over. However, because they don’t have the mattress thickness of a traditional mattress, and therefore have less comfort and support material, most sleepers wouldn’t want to sleep on one night after night.
Also known as a Japanese bed or a tatami floor mat, a rolling mattress is lightweight and designed for convenience. When not in use, you simply roll the mattress up and vacuum-pack it into a bag. It’s great when traveling or hosting overnight guests, as you just need to unroll it and it’s ready to use.
However, a rolling mattress does not provide the same support as a regular mattress, and can put pressure on your joints.
Is it okay to put a box spring on the floor?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to place a box spring on the floor. In fact, it may even provide better ventilation as opposed to leaving your mattress directly on the ground. It also raises the bed higher, making it easier for less mobile individuals to use safely.
Is a thick mattress better on the floor?
The thickness of your mattress makes little difference in your comfort when sleeping on the ground. Rather, your mattress’s thickness should vary based on how you sleep, your body type, and whether or not you share a bed. Thicker mattresses (12 to 14 inches) typically have extra cushioning and best support side sleepers and plus-sized individuals. A standard mattress (10 to 12 inches) best suits back, stomach, and combination sleepers as well as couples.
How do I keep my mattress from sliding on the floor?
Without a foundation, your mattress may not stay in place, particularly on smooth surfaces such as wood or tile. Your mattress constantly sliding around can be irritating to readjust and an unnecessary hassle. To combat this, place a non-slip or rubber pad between your mattress and the floor.
Does the height of your bed matter?
The height of your bed has no effect on the quality of your sleep. However, if you have mobility issues and struggle to get in and out of bed, you’ll want a bed you can access without squatting or jumping. A bed between 16 to 24 inches tall is generally easiest for adults to access.
Furthermore, the height of your bed impacts the appearance of your sleeping space. A low bed gives the appearance of taller ceilings and more space, while a tall bed works best in a large room with high ceilings as it can make a small room seem overcrowded.
Can you use a mattress topper instead of a mattress on the floor?
While technically, yes, you can use a mattress topper on the floor, it’s not a good idea. Keep in mind, a mattress topper and a mattress are not the same and serve different purposes. Toppers are meant to add a comfort layer to an overly firm mattress, meaning they lack the supportive base layers a traditional mattress has.
In a pinch, you may use a mattress topper for a temporary sleeping solution, though it’s not recommended long-term.
Sleeping on the floor is not for everyone, though it’s a great option for some people, especially those struggling with back pain.
If you are going to use your mattress on the floor, take the necessary precautions to ensure you are protecting yourself and your mattress. You should always check the mattress warranty before placing your bed on the floor, as this could void the warranty.