After I described in my book 12 Steps to Raw Foods how my family sleeps on a hard surface, I received many questions about the particulars. Do I sleep on my back or on my side, do I sleep on a hard floor or a carpet, do I put down a blanket, do I use a pillow? Also, my readers share that they tried sleeping on a hard surface and felt pain and discomfort in the morning. They ask what they did wrong. In this article I would like to address all these inquiries.
If I am visiting a country with a warm climate or if I am in Oregon in the summer, I can sleep on a bare floor but only if it is a wooden floor. Of course, if I am staying in a house with a carpeted floor in my room, I sleep on the carpet. It might be hard to believe, but sleeping on a warm wooden surface creates the sweetest, most restful feeling I regret that many people would never have dared to experience. One of my favorite Greek philosophers is Diogenes. Do you remember this famous anecdote about him? Alexander the Great wanted to reward the philosopher for his wisdom, and offered to fulfill any wish he may have. Diogenes replied, “Please step aside, you are blocking the sun.” I read a book of his quotes several times. More than once, Diogenes shares how sleeping on the bare ground is the healthiest and most pleasant.
In another book of memoirs of renowned Russian doctors of the 19th century, collected by Edward Radzinsky, with great interest I read that those doctors, when examining their patients, asked them on which side of the body they slept. For example, if they predominantly slept on the right side, the doctors concluded they had liver problems, and so on. This information resonated with me because I noticed that when I had arrhythmia, I could never sleep on my left side. I couldn’t even lie on my left side for more than one minute. Since my arrhythmia symptoms went away in 1994, I can sleep for hours on the left side without any discomfort. I suspect there are a lot of mysteries for us to understand about human sleep.
From all the information that I have gathered, I hypothesize that the human body knows which way of sleeping is the most therapeutic. For example, I think it is possible that a diabetic will sleep differently than an asthmatic. I do not claim that sleeping on a hard surface will cure any illnesses, but it could be somewhat helpful. You can also find that your sleeping position is different on a hard surface than on a soft mattress. I have also noticed that when I sleep on the floor, I first roll around for a few moments to find a particularly comfortable pose. This pose usually results in a very sweet and sound sleep. I enjoy watching animals getting ready to sleep, and I notice that both cats and dogs search for a comfortable position before they settle into sleep.
Some of my readers think that it is more uncomfortable for thinner people to sleep on a hard surface. From my observation this is not so. I know many people of a variety of different shapes that enjoy sleeping on a hard surface.
Most of the warm season I prefer to sleep outside on our wooden deck. In hot summer months I use two layers of a flannel sheet as my mattress. As seasons change and it becomes progressively colder, I begin to add layers of blankets to the floor every few weeks. By December when we have snow on our balcony, I move my bed inside, but lay the head of my bed right next to the open door. By this time I have four layers of thin blanket under me. It’s interesting that I always forget to remove the layers in the springtime when it warms up, and it happens every year, that I find myself tossing and turning, waking up not completely rested. Then I remove the blankets and regain my sound sleep.
I’m still attached to my pillow. Several of my friends do not use pillow, and claim that it’s even better, but I’m not there yet. However, my pillow is small and rather hard.
You might enjoy reading the hilarious account from Sergei and Valya about the time they tried to quit sleeping on a hard surface. Turn to our past newsletter here.
Sleep is the time that our body takes for healing. I wish for you to discover the happy benefits and pleasure of sleeping on the hard floor, and possibly kiss expensive soft mattresses goodbye.