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Can You Put a Mattress on the Floor?

Malena Piper

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Pairing your mattress with a compatible bed frame or mattress foundation is the best way to support your bed, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing really stopping you from simply putting your mattress on the floor. You don’t really need a foundation anyway—or, do you?

To put it simply, if you want to place your mattress on the floor, you certainly can do so. That said, there are many things to know if you plan to use the mattress on the floor permanently, or for a long period.

In our post, we discuss the possible benefits and drawbacks of placing your mattress on the floor and sleeping without a foundation so you can decide if it’s the right choice.

Possible Benefits of Placing Your Mattress on the Floor

Enhanced Firmness

Different types of flooring can affect the firmness of your mattress. Hardwood and tile, for example, can enhance firmness and provide added overall support.

Results of a study from Utica College show that medium-firm mattresses tend to promote sleep comfort, quality, and spinal alignment more than soft or firm mattresses. If you feel that your mattress is too soft, you may find sleeping on the floor more comfortable.

Fewer Night Sweats

The air closest to the ground is always coolest because hot air rises. In warmer climates, sleeping on the floor could be a welcome relief—especially in the summertime. However, during the winter or in year-round cold climates, sleeping on the floor may not offer the warmth you need.

Improved Lower Back Pain

If you experience lower back pain, placing your mattress on the floor may help relieve discomfort. A report published by Harvard Medical School, recommends people with low back pain should put their mattress on the floor to reduce mattress movement and make it feel firmer, which they suggest can reduce discomfort for some.

Possible Drawbacks of Placing Your Mattress on the Floor

Higher Chance of Mold

When we sleep, our bodies give off moisture and body heat, which is drawn through our mattress and can become trapped. Box springs and slatted bed frames help to prevent heat retention since they improve airflow through the bottom of the mattress.

When we place our mattress on the floor, airflow is decreased because there’s nowhere for it to go, so the moisture and heat from our bodies become trapped within the mattress. Over time, moisture accumulates, creating a dark, warm, and damp environment—the ideal conditions for mold growth.

In 2004, the Institute of Medicine found that indoor exposure to mold has been linked with upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people. It can also worsen asthma symptoms in people known to have asthma.

To help prevent mold and maintain a healthy living space, regular cleaning is imperative. Before placing your mattress down for the first time, sanitize the floor and surrounding area. With carpeting and rugs, make sure to vacuum and steam clean to remove any buildup or embedded dirt. Ensure the area is completely dry before placing your mattress on the floor.

To continue to keep the space clean, prop the mattress up against the wall once a week for a couple of hours to let the area breathe. Use this time to clean the floor and surrounding area to make sure there is no mold or mildew. In humid conditions, you’ll want to do this more often as damp climates are more conducive for mold growth.

You can also help prevent mold growth by placing a barrier between your mattress and the floor. A breathable buffer like thin poly foam or light blankets can help elevate the bed slightly and encourage added airflow.

Take even extra care if you have a latex or memory foam mattress. These mattresses are especially susceptible to mold growth due to their dense materials, and they can break down if you don’t allow them to properly breathe. Flipping the mattress every two days can further support airflow and alleviate any moisture build-up.

Exposed to More Dust and Other Allergens

There is plenty of dust, dirt, and allergens in the air to cause us discomfort, and there’s even more on the floor, where particles settle. Sleeping on the floor means you’re sleeping closer to these allergens, so you’re more likely to breathe in dirt and dust throughout the night. Overexposure to allergens can cause sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

Dust mites, a common allergen, especially love to live in bedding and carpet, among other common areas around the house. According to Stanford Children’s Health, dust mites can worsen symptoms in people with asthma. Dust mites love warm and humid environments, so adding a dehumidifier to your room can help with this.

Aside from exposure to dirt and allergens, sleeping on the floor also makes it much easier for pests and other unwelcome critters to get access to your mattress.

Increased Discomfort for Side-Sleepers

For side sleepers, the floor may prove uncomfortable for catching some shut-eye. The firmer support increases the amount of pressure placed on the hips and shoulders, and this can lead to pain and discomfort in joints.

Harder to Get Out of

Anyone with muscle or joint pain, or balance and stability issues should avoid sleeping on the floor. Getting in and out of bed can become physically harder and can result in strained knees and elbows. For those not able to properly support themselves, using a mattress on the floor can be a danger and cause further pain or injury. Generally, those older in age who are overall weaker are discouraged from keeping their mattress on the floor for this reason.

Warranty Coverage

Mattress warranties usually contain guidelines for properly supporting your mattress, and those may prohibit keeping it on the floor. Pay extra attention to the fine print on your mattress warranty to make sure using it on the floor won’t void your coverage.

Even if you don’t see anything in the warranty specifically about using the mattress on the floor, there could be other side effects of placing your mattress on the ground (i.e., dust or mold damage) that lead to voided warranties. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to check with the mattress manufacturer.

Should You Put Your Mattress on the Floor?

There are many reasons you may want to use your mattress on the floor, whether out of preference or necessity. It’s an ideal solution if you’re in the midst of moving to a new home, or it can be a great option for young children transitioning from a crib. For adults that tend to roll out of bed often, using the mattress on the floor can even be a safety precaution. And, if you’re on a budget, foregoing a traditional bed frame or foundation can definitely save you some money.

If you’re considering using your mattress on the floor for a long period, you’ll need to determine for yourself if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. If you’re particularly susceptible to allergies, you may find your symptoms worsen when sleeping on the floor. Those experiencing joint pain may have a more difficult time getting in and out of bed.

It’s also important to take into consideration the type of climate you live in. For those in colder climates, or who are prone to being cold, sleeping on the floor might be uncomfortable and chilly due to hot air rising away from the ground. In extremely humid climates, mold has a much higher chance of growing, and it can be more challenging to keep your mattress and floor clean.

Best Flooring and Types of Mattresses for Sleeping on the Floor

The type of flooring and mattress are also things to consider when choosing to keep your mattress on the floor for a long period. Certain types of floors and mattresses retain moisture more than others and can increase the likelihood of mold growth. Knowing which types are more likely to lock in moisture is important for preventing any mold and helping you keep a cleaner, healthier space.

The Best Types of Flooring and Which to Avoid

Types of flooring favorable to keeping your mattress on the floor include hardwood, tile, tatami mats (a type of Japanese flooring), and synthetic carpeting like nylon or polyester. Bunky boards are also a great option. Functioning as a low-profile foundation, they offer the same support as box springs but are only a few inches thick.

Avoid unfinished or natural surfaces like plywood and natural carpet (i.e., wool, cotton, jute, sisal). These types of flooring are more likely to retain moisture and lead to mold growth. Older hardwood floors are also not ideal since they could have dormant mold spores in them.

The Best Types of Mattresses For Use on the Floor

Certain mattress materials are more likely to retain heat than others. This is often the biggest issue affecting airflow. And when there is less airflow, there is a higher chance of mold growing.

Air and innerspring mattresses are most ideal for use on the floor because they have more open spaces throughout, making them much more breathable and better at releasing heat.

For anyone planning to sleep on the floor for a short period, there are alternative options that provide added convenience. Folding, rolling, and inflatable air mattresses are all specifically designed to be used on the floor and are much easier to move and clean.

Conclusion

There are many things to consider when choosing to use your mattress on the floor permanently. The most important factor to consider, though, is warranty coverage. Warranties protect your mattress and, ultimately, your investment in better sleep, so you want to take every precaution to maintain warranty coverage.

Before spending too much time contemplating whether or not to place your mattress on the floor, check the mattress warranty for any specific requirements regarding mattress support. If the warranty does not clearly state that placing a mattress directly on the floor voids coverage, you should be safe. However, you can always reach out to the brand itself and ask.

And since we’re on the top of maintaining warranty guidelines, it’s also crucial to consider mold growth when deciding where to place your mattress—mold growth within the mattress will also void your warranty.

A decrease in airflow between the mattress and floor is the main contributing factor to potential mold growth. Knowing the type of mattress and flooring that is most breathable can help battle this. Mattresses with open spaces used on floors like hardwood, tile, and synthetic carpeting, will offer the best airflow. Weekly cleaning and letting the mattress breathe will also reduce the chances of mold or mildew growth. In areas with added moisture like warm, humid climates, keeping mold at bay may prove difficult and require extra cleaning.

There are both benefits and drawbacks to using your mattress on the floor, so if you’re trying to decide if placing your mattress directly on the floor is a viable option, consider your personal health, preferences, and living situation.

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