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January 29, 2020

Pros & Cons: Sleeping on a Firm Surface

firm surface sleeping pros and cons

People are beginning to shy away from the traditional plush bed. It turns out while laying on a super soft plush surface for a short period of time can seem comfortable. After sleeping on it all night long for years it can actually cause some serious back pain.

But can sleeping on a firm surface really help you sleep better and more comfortably? And at what point is firm… too firm? From traditional Japanese Futons, minimalists throwing out their mattress and choosing to on the floor, to regular folks choosing a firm mattress over a pillow top and everything in between. There are lots of of different ways to go about sleeping on a firmer surface and they all of their own pros and cons. We will go through the all and hopefully help you determine whether going firm is the right choice for you.

Different Types of Firm Surface Sleeping

pros and cons to sleeping on a firm mattressA popular new trend has come up lately, sleeping on the floor. This is not an uncommon practice outside of the US. For example Japan’s traditional sleeping style is on a futon on the floor. The futons provide some pressure relief. However, it is still far more firm than the average American mattress.

Make sure no matter which firm option you choose that you provide proper support under your knees, neck, and lower back. These are the areas which need the most support in order to keep your spine in proper alignment. We find the best option for this is to find a firm, supportive mattress that also has a contouring comfort layer.

  • Firm Hybrid Mattress
  • Firm All-Foam Mattress
  • Futon Sleeping
  • Cushioned Floor Sleeping
  • Hard Floor Sleeping

Pros to Firm Surface Sleeping

Better Spinal Alignment 

spinal alignment firm mattress good forThe biggest bonus most talked about when it comes to sleeping on a firm surface is how it can help to keep the spine in healthy neutral alignment. Keep in mind that this is only true under certain circumstances. The first being that you have a healthy spinal spine to begin with that can comfortably lay straight on a flat surface. While the second is that you sleep on your back.

Sleeping on your back is the healthiest position for your back in general. Sleeping on your side needs plenty of pressure relief that is not conducive to most firm surface sleeping. While most stomach sleepers need a firm surface to sleep on as well, it can cause a lot of neck issues to sleep on your stomach.

However, if you can sleep on your back consistently, then sleeping on a firm surface can help you to maintain healthy neutral spine alignment.

 Decrease Back Pain

back pain relief through sleeping on firm surfacesOften back pain can be caused when your spine is held in unhealthy positions for extended periods of time. Soft mattresses can create what is called a “hammock effect” where your body is cradled and causes your spine to bow. Extra soft mattress can potentially break down overtime as well. Which could cause uneven breakdown of a mattress with awkward lumps and bumps, again causing back pain.

Those who suffer with sciatic pain could potentially benefit from sleeping on a firmer surface. Again the hammock effect of a too soft mattress curves the spine which can potentially cause or irritate bulging or herniated discs. Sleeping on a firm surface could potentially help correct or decrease symptoms from sciatica.

Encourages Back Sleeping

sleep on your back with a firm mattressSince sleeping or your back is the prime sleeping position for a healthy happy spine, it is convenient that sleeping on your side is far less comfortable when attempting to do so on a firm surface. While you can sleep on your side in a firm mattress or while floor sleeping, it can be truly uncomfortable and cause some seriously pain in your neck, shoulders, hips and lower back.

If you want to sleep on your back more often in order to get better alignment and less back pain, sleeping on a firm surface can really encourage that behavior. Learning to sleep on a firm surface can help train your body to only sleep on your back.

Potential Money Savings

firm mattresses could save you moneyLarge extra plush euro style pillow top mattresses are bulky and expensive. Buying plush pillow topper for your mattress are also expensive. While firm style mattresses tend to cost less overall.

They tend to be thin as well which means you won’t have to spend extra on those extra deep pocket sheets either. Better yet, if you are one of the brave souls who ventures into the realm of floor sleeping, you won’t need to spend money on a mattress ever again.

Helps Correct Posture

sleeping on firm surfaces can improve your postureWant to sit up straight? Tired of slumping over at your desk all day? Sleeping on a firm surface could help remind your spine to lay straight and can make it easier to sit or stand up straight throughout the day.

If you are curled or balled up all night then it is what your spine is used to, and straightening out while you have gravity weighing down on you will be much harder to do.

However, if you have been laying straight all night long, it will be easier to remain in that position after you start your day.

If you struggle with back pain it can be hard to know how to sleep. Go to our page Best Sleep Positions for Back Pain to learn different ways to sleep on order to get better sleep and ease your pain.

Cons to Firm Surface Sleeping

Takes A While To Adjust

sleeping on the floor can be painfulIf your body is used to sleeping on an extra plush surface, it might take a while for you and your body to adjust to sleeping on a firm surface. We suggest taking steps toward sleeping on a firmer surface when you can.

Instead of dumping your mattress immediately try to take steps toward a firm surface slowly. If you have an extra mattress topper, try taking it off and sleeping on your plain mattress underneath for a while. Or if you get a firm mattress put a topper on it first, them maybe a thinner mattress topper.

Taking things slowly is especially important for anyone who wants to try out floor sleeping or sleeping on a futon. It truly isn’t for everyone and we highly suggest test driving before throwing on your mattress.

If you want to test drive floor sleeping, try putting a cushioned mat (like a yoga mat) or mattress topper on the floor for a nap. See how your body reacts and try to determine whether or not it is comfortable for you.

Only For Back Sleepers

firm mattress causes back painOkay, when you don’t have to be a back sleeper in order to sleep on a firm surface, it is definitely the most comfortable position.

If we are wanting to limit the amount of pressure on joints from your hips and shoulder or even neck pain, then you’re not going to want to sleep on your side or stomach.

Most of the time chiropractors will recommend their clients to sleep on their backs for the most comfortable and healthy sleep. If you really prefer not to sleep on your back, then you may find sleeping on a firm surface to be less than ideal.

Not For Everyone

hunched backs need conforming comfortSleeping on a firm surface can be great for young fit bodies that have plenty of flexibility and strong spines. However, if you are overweight, have a spine that is already in a hunched position, or lacks flexibility. Then a firm surface may be very painful to sleep on.

Keep in mind that a heavier body that covers more surface area of a mattress is going to have a more firmer mattress experience than a smaller person who weighs less. You can compare it to how soft a mattress could feel for a toddler, but if an adult lays on the same mattress it will feel firmer.

If you are heavier, something to look for in a mattress is support above all. You’re going to want a mattress that is going to give you the extra support your body needs in order to get the comfort you crave. Head over to our page Best Mattresses for Heavy People for more information on the best mattresses available for our bigger sleepers out there.

Couple Problems

painful side sleeping with firm surfacesSince firm sleeping surfaces are not for everyone, you may find you are met with resistance from your spouse. You may love sleeping on your back and find comfort in a firm sleeping surface, however your significant other might prefer to sleep on their side with a softer, more contouring mattress.

We also found that cuddling is not as easy when you’re laying on a firm surface. Whether it is just a firm style mattress or you are laying on the floor, the added pressure applied to joints can cause a lot of lack of blood flow to arms and legs. Causing your arms and legs to fall asleep and all the tingly pain along with it. Two potential solutions we have is to either cuddle before bed, or get a split mattress.

Not sure what a split mattress is? Go read out Best Mattresses for Couples page to learn more.

Give Firm Surface Sleeping A Try

Not sure whether or not you can give up your plush mattress just yet? Well here are a few different ways you could try out sleeping on a firm surface before you full buy in.

Ditch The Mattress Topper

say goodbye to your mattress topperIf you happen to be sleeping on a mattress with an extra removable mattress topper, take it off! It is a great first step into laying on a firmer surface and beginning the process to adjusting your body to sleeping on a different type of surface.

If you are hoping to try floor sleeping, we highly suggest holding onto your mattress topper in order to have pressure relief on the firm floor.

Adjust Your Pillows

new pillows for back sleepingYou may find when you’re sleeping on a different surface that you need to adapt your pillow to work with that new sleeping position or surface as well. We suggest a few different items.

First, a pillow that will provide neck support while also cradling the back of your head.

We also suggest getting supportive pillows for under your knees and potentially under your mid back for extra support.

Talk To a Healthcare Professional

chiropractors pros cons firm surface sleepingNot sure if sleeping on a firm surface is the right move for you? Talk to your chiropractor or a health professional to seek guidance. Ask them whether or not they would advice you to sleep on a firm surface. They may have different advice for you, or have other tips or tricks that may help your individual situation in order to get you the best personalized comfort possible.

Remember that everyone’s needs are different and unique. Therefore talking to a doctor can help you determine whether or not it is something you should try.

Nap On The Floor

taking naps on the floorFirst, we want to mention that if it is physically difficult for you to lay down or get up off of the ground, then this is probably not a good thing for you to do. However, if you are young, healthy, and curious about sleeping on firm surfaces, then taking a nap on the floor may be a great test drive.

We do suggest sleeping on a carpeted floor with a pillow of your choice. If you want a little extra padding, then try laying on top of a plush blanket or comforter at first. This will get you a good sense of what a super firm sleeping experience will be like without sleeping there for an entire night.

Go to a Mattress Store or Showroom

try out firm mattresses in storeNot sure what a firm mattress even feels like? Head out to your local mattress store or showroom (Shout out to the Our Sleep Guide Austin Showroom – go check it out. We have loads of the top online mattress brands on the floor for your to try before you buy).

A good way to know what you like and what you don’t like is by trying it out in person first. Which we why we have our showroom, we want to be able to share the experience of trying online mattresses before you buy them. Just like you would in a traditional mattress store.

Firm Mattress With Trial Period

Still not 100% sure it is the right fit for you? That is understandable, it is difficult to know whether a mattress is the right choice for you or not.

Which is why so many companies now have long trial periods for their customers. This allows you to fully try out your mattress for weeks or months before having to commit to the mattress.

So you can rest easy knowing you made the right choice for you.

Not all warranties and trial periods are made equally. Head to our page Mattress Warranty & Trial Period Guide to make sure you know what to look for before you buy.

Sleeping on Firm Surfaces – Final Thoughts

If you are young, healthy, and looking to turn away from traditional plush mattresses. Then we believe choosing to sleep on a firmer surface may be a great option for you. While sleeping on a futon or the floor is a bit extreme, there are a lot of great firm mattresses out there. These firm mattresses can provide that firm support while still sleeping in a bed off of the floor. Here are out top ten from our page Best Firm Mattress.

  1. Plank by Brooklyn Bedding | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
  2. Saatva | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
  3. Helix | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
  4. Spindle | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
  5. Allswell Hybrid | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
  6. Loom and Leaf | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
  7. Winkbed Plus | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
  8. Luft Hybrid | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
  9. Cocoon Classic by Sealy | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
  10. Brooklyn Bedding Signature | Mattress Review | BUY HERE
firm mattress benefits and downfalls

Looking for a personal recommendation or have specific questions? We would love to help you out in anyway we can. Send us any questions you may have through our Contact Us page and we would be happy to help.