Going Full Caveman: Sleeping on the Floor

Many compare the paleo diet to cavemen, citing that food around less than 1,000 years gets us away from our caveman roots. While there is truth to this, especially as it relates to processed foods, another area we seem to forget about is sleep. To any of you paleo thumpers out there, how many of you sleep on the floor?

That Lovely Cave Floor

I seriously doubt many paleo dieters have considered it, but sleeping on the floor has many benefits that we do not get from lying in a bed. A short list I’ve compiled of health benefits include:

  • Improved circulation
  • Corrected posture
  • Pain prevention in back and neck
  • Reduction of scoliosis

Additionally, you sleep lighter and get out of bed easier in the morning. This leads to improved performance early morning and you can get a quick jump on your time management skills. There are other non-health benefits as well:

  • Significantly more space
  • Large amount of money saved – mattresses are $$$!
  • No more confusion about sleep numbers
  • Minimalist lifestyle

I have been sleeping on the floor now for two weeks. The reasons for this are not solely wellness driven, at least not at the outset. I am living as one of four people in a 1-bedroom apartment. Considering we are not allowed to have more than two people residing there, anything outside of our bunk bed is conspicuous. I had an air mattress that was easily inflated and deflated daily, although it quickly broke. Instead of purchasing some type of temporary bed I transitioned to the floor, which another roommate had been doing all semester.

Although I cannot feel things like improved circulation or scoliosis reduction, I can certainly attest to the light feeling I have each morning. There was no pain after a few days and the strangest thing is my mind seems to think of the floor as a bed now. Just as I used to like that “curling up” feeling of getting into my bed, so too do I get that “comfort feeling” when crawling into my space on the floor.

The only thing I use for padding is my yoga mat, which is essentially like putting a layer of toilet paper on the floor. It does very little except to make the floor a bit softer.

Not All Positive

Just as with my eating habits, this too gets some strange reactions out of people. I’m not going for any sort of “wow” factor, although that generally happens when a friend tells a new acquaintance about my wellness behaviors. It can be a bit polarizing, and although I don’t think anyone would avoid me on principle of wellness extremism alone, I don’t think it always comes off positively.

Additionally, sex is not really possible without some type of furniture. As I do not have a bed, will not be using my roommates’ (come on show some respect!), and we have no other furniture in the apartment, I’m not really sure how to solve this conundrum. I could always head to the girls’ place, but that would assume I currently have someone in my life right now. I do not. But should something pick up I will have to report back. I’m chuckling just thinking about how that conversation would go.

Back Problems

The medical community does not know why some people experience back problems. For many, this is a chronic issue that is not easily solvable. Although it’s perhaps a bit brash to blame it unilaterally on mattresses without any scientific evidence, I would not be surprised if that wasn’t the leading cause. Sure, everyone sits hunched over at a desk all day, but without the ability to reset your back at night, when will that occur?

From what I can garner online, posture and alignment when lying on a hard surface are fixed and put in their place. In such a sleeping arrangement, our body is supported by our bones. However, on a mattress we sink into the mattress and we are generally supported by soft tissue. This leads to lesser circulation and imperfect alignment of our spine.

Mattresses have been around for a long time and almost everyone has one, so you can’t say they cause back problems in everyone, because not everyone has back issues. However, just as some people do not get cancer despite many decades of smoking cigarettes, so too do some people get back problems from their mattress.

Intuitively it seems like it could be the opposite. Wouldn’t we want a soft place to lay down and sleep for the evening? Unfortunately this is not the case. I wrote about the body’s general antifragility in my last post and it seems to apply to most areas of our anatomy. I think this applies just as much to exercise as it does to the surface you sleep on.


Just as with all I’ve learned about eating well, I’m glad I found this too. Sleeping on the floor has many perks and I look forward to my posture improving over time.

Ultimately, I would encourage you to try it. Give it a week – no half assing it – and regardless of any discomfort you feel (so long as you can bear it), try to see how you feel by Day 7. I would be willing to bet this would improve your life, even if marginally.