Health & Testimonials

Why I Sleep on a Hard Surface

11 Comments 09 December 2010

Dear friends,  

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.

Love, Victoria

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11 Comments so far

  1. Melinda says:

    Hi Victoria,

    After reading ’12 Steps’ I’ve been wanting to try sleeping on the floor for a while now. I’ve been hesitant though, because I know I wont be used to it and there will be some time to adjust. I’ve finally begun because I’m currently between jobs, so waking up achy isn’t too much of an issue right now!

    However, not only did I wake up achy, but I didn’t get a good sleep either (although saying that it hasn’t been the best all this week, even in the bed!). I remember you mentioning somewhere that it takes some time to adjust, but I just can’t find it now! I assume it’s a week or two. Where can I find this?

    I had a look in 12 Steps, but it doesn’t say anything about an adjustment period, unless u mention sleeping on a hard surface twice.

    Aldo, did you mean ?? If so, he sounds pretty cool :)

    All the best,

  2. Melinda says:

    Whoops, if only searched a little longer before asking. I found where you said it! page 44 under Your Body Never Makes Mistakes (which I found on this blog).

    If you could answer the question about the philosopher though that would be great. I do have another question though. Could you point me in the right direction for scientific information on the health benefits of sleeping on a hard surface, especially spinal?

    Thanks again Victoria,

  3. Colleen says:

    Hi Victoria … this article is perfect … and I didn’t know you slept ‘outside’, but that part sounds the most fun (like camping in your own backyard), so I’m going to give it a whirl … its summer here now (well sort of – some days at least) … i used to sleep on my back veranda on big lounge chairs, but they were bloody uncomfortable … so the floor it is … cheers … Col

  4. Svetlana Vis says:

    I started sleeping on the floor last summer because I did not want to turn AC on (hate it!) So I did not expect much, just to cope with heat better.
    It was surprisingly nice and cozy.
    Unfortunately, my cat started bringing me mice from outside and several nights in a row I had to chase a mouse around my family room to save it from Masia.
    Once I even decided to pretend that I did not care. The poor little creature (the mouse that is) ran to hide in my sheets. That was the end of it!
    Regretfully, until I solve the “mouse problem” I have to stay in my bedroom upstairs.

  5. Kim says:

    I had cancer when I was 17-18 and because of the chemo, I got shingles, which are very painful. My lower back got really bad at times to the point I couldn’t move. For the longest time I had problems moving, and sometimes laying down in bed made it worse. One day, when I was on the floor sitting at an awkward angle, I tried getting up, but to no avail. It hurt so bad that I just layed down on the carpeted floor of the living room. After about 5 minutes, my back felt great, almost back to normal. Now any time I have any kind of backache or just need to realign my body, I rest on the floor.

    Thank you so much Victoria for confirming this tid-bit. I’m very grateful for you and your family!

  6. Dream Mom says:

    I used to sleep on the floor on occasion due to my back issues. I had back/spine issues ever since I was a child and when I was in severe pain, I always slept on the floor on my back since it was firm. I had back surgery three years ago and it helped immensely.

    As for sleeping on the floor now, I can’t imagine doing that and probably never will. I have a really wonderful firm bed/mattress with a wonderful featherbed on top, so perhaps it’s just me, lol.

    I can thank the green smoothies though to my ability to wake up pain free now. I started them in June. I used to wake up and have severe arthritis in my feet-it felt as if both feet were broken each night and I had such pain in the morning when I would first step on them when I got out of bed. I also had a lot of pain and stiffness in my knees and joints. After trying green smoothies, I no longer have any pain. The swelling in my right ankle (arthritis) has gone away. I wake up feeling like I did when I was a teenager; I feel like a million bucks. So who knows, maybe now I can sleep on the floor and feel great.

  7. Nicole says:

    My husband often sleeps on the floor. It helps his back. For 3 months a few years ago we regularly slept on the floor. I slept soundly but my hips hurt (I am a side sleeper). Some may thrive on the floor while others just have a hard time feeling comfortable.

  8. Frankie says:

    Interesting perspective!

    Yoga advocates for hard surfaces and no pillow as well, for many reasons such as the corrective influence of a flat surface on the alignment of the physical body, and the influence of body position/alignment on mental processes esp. the relaxation response and quality sleep.

    Namaste :)

  9. Hi Victoria … this article is perfect … and I didn’t know you slept ‘outside’, but that part sounds the most fun (like camping in your own backyard), so I’m going to give it a whirl … its summer here now (well sort of – some days at least) … i used to sleep on my back veranda on big lounge chairs, but they were bloody uncomfortable … so the floor it is … cheers … Col

  10. Doris Dejwakh says:

    Victoria, how interesting that you prefer a hard bed! When I came to China I discovered that the Chinese, who are very health conscious, prefer hard beds. The mattresses that are sold here are just a wooden box covered with cloth. I slept all right on mine until the weather got cold and I discovered the cold was coming up through the board underneath me. I had to buy a pad to put under the bottom sheet. The houses aren’t heated here, but in bed I’m snuggly warm under two quilts! Doris

  11. Hi Victoria!

    It’s great that you found the cause for your arrhythmia. I’ve had it too, but the cause of mine was the wrong diet. When I eliminated foods and drinks that were known to cause arrhythmia it just disappeared.

    I’d like others to read my story, too, because if others can be treated the same way then there’s no need for expensive medications or operations.

    Here’s the link:

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