Paleolithic men and women did not have sprung bedframes, cushioned easy chairs, soft mattresses or pillows. Many people around the world still do not have them either. What damage are we doing to our bodies, structurally and otherwise when we sleep and sit on modern furniture and is it realistic to think that returning to hard surfaces could reverse some of the damage done?
I am thinking of possibly throwing out my bed or at the very least trying to sleep on the floor. I have scoliosis (and my husband has back problems) and I have read evidence which says the floor is the way to go, but sometimes I think I am being slightly crazy wanting to do this.
Has anyone else had any experience of sleeping/sitting on the floor, was it hard to get used to, did you literally sleep on the floorboards or use some kind of mat and did it make any difference?
From an evolutionary point of view, your question is really logical. I have been reading quite a lot of anthropological literature on hunter-gatherers (and semi-h-g), and their sleeping 'systems' are always very basic. I know of no literature about this in particular, so mostly it is descriptive. This is the only paper I could find, and it does not really include hardcore science, it is the mere observation (and opinion) of one physical therapist.
The literature on sleeping systems (bed/matras/pillow) seems to point to this: if you don't have back pain, it doesn't matter what kind of bed you have. if you do have back pain, it can make a difference, but it is hard to predict what bed will suit you best
The above leads to the conclusion that probably the influence of the bed as a cause of back pain is minimal. Other factors are needed to explain why people get back pain.
If you would change to sleeping on a mat or something similar, I think you would do best to take some adjustement period (very similar to going barefoot after years of being shod).
When travelling (backpack) and sleeping on a little mat I always had a terrible first night, the second was better, and after that, I slept like a beauty, although this could also be attributed to other aspects of camping (outdoors, living with the sun, physical activity, ...)
Please let us now the results of the experiment, if you are ready for it
I doubt there are any great benefits to sleeping on a hard surface compared to a bed.
Our relatives the Chimpanzees and Gorillas usually build a comfortable nest every night to sleep on.
hmm don't most hunter gather societies try and make something for bedding? hammocks/ piles of bush, etc... I think the only place I've seen people actually sleep on rocks regularly outside of some sort of training is the Flintstones.
From a practical point you usually want something elevated because of bugs/cold/environmental factors, and after that its individual comfort levels and available materials.
From a modern standpoint I believe they did a couple studies where they found for back pain, softer = better and there was no gain from a deliberately hard surface, and if you are on something too hard, putting undue stress on parts of your body or putting your spine/bones in weird alignments because of it doesn't' seem like it would feel all that nice.
in my experience, sitting on the floor does wonders for hip flexibility and stiffness. sitting on a hard surfaces puts pressure on the muscles that are in contact with the floor, causing them to eventually relax. similar to when massage therapists stimulate the golgi tendon organs through deep tissue massage, causing the muscles to relase tension.
sleeping on a hard surface probably has the same benefits as sitting, the link above points to another link that has more information on that.
I injured my upper back about 10 years ago and have had mixed results with both ways of sleeping. It does not seem to matter if I sleep on my Tempurpedic or on a hardwood floor. How I feel afterwards all seems to depend on what position I fall asleep in. After reading '8 Steps to a Pain Free Back,' which I highly recommend, I do think the Tempurpedic is only effective if you sleep in the correct position. Regardless regular mattresses kill my back. If I am not at home I almost always pile blankets on the floor and just sleep there. Plus, the dog loves it when I sleep on the floor with her!
Regardless, experiment and see what works right for you. That's really the only way to figure it out.
I have been sleeping on a 1 inch thick foam pad for about 7 years, and I sleep great. It started after the birth of twin boys. My wife and I would each be responsible for one baby so I would often spend the night on the floor in one of their rooms (sleeping on a foam camper mattress). After I started sleeping in my bed again, I realized that my sleep wasn't nearly as good, so I moved the mat into our bedroom. Definitely the firmer feel helps, but maybe the temp is a couple of degrees cooler at floor level.
When I was married with two young children, I was burgled when my wife went to get the kids from school. I expected them to come again so I started sleepinhe downstairs with a machette. They didn't come back but God help them if they had! I have always been fit and fairly muscular even though it is years since I played rugby (muscle memory). I was exactly the same weight as I was 20 years earlier (13 stone). I wasn't overweight. Anyway, I am too long to sleep all curled up on the settee so I slep on the floor with an open sleeping bag over me like a duvet. For the first week, I ached in the morning. Then over the course of successive weeks, I noticed something happen. I was beginning to look as if I'd been doing severe aerobics and weight sessions down the gym (circuits). I started to look as honed as a greyhound. It is fairly obvious, really. One's muscles must push against a hard surface and with the tossing and turning, the body gets a complete workout. It explains why we feel stiff when we first go camping sleeping on a field. It is exercise whilst sleeping! Make a fortune selling big sheets of chipboard for the bed! "Brand new from Greyhound Fitness! Only £199-99! Get fit whilst you sleep!"
I am surprised no-one has realised this previously and championed it somehow. A video £15-99! It happened a second time. After a divorce, I lost the plot for a while and had to sleep rough on concrete for a few months. The same thing happened. I lost about 3-4lb and looked muscular and honed again. The articles on the web only consider posture and bone alignment. But I guarantee....it had a profound effect on my musculature!
I slept on the floor all winter. It was carpeted, and I used a blanket for padding. I started doing this because my mattress was too soft and uncomfortable and I couldn't afford anything better. I found that I woke up with less achey muscles. Thinking about starting this up again.
I find that sleeping on a relatively hard surface (carpeted floor w/some blankets), my back feels wonderful, but only in the "supine" position (on your back). The problem comes when you try to sleep on your side, or on your front. SO, go ahead-try sleeping like that for a few nights, and see what you like most.
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