I used to sleep on an ultra plush and rather pricey memory-foam mattress until I realised how much it restricted my movements, locking me into one or two positions, preventing my body to turn naturally in my sleep. Could aches and pains I used to suffer upon waking up be due to not moving for hours? I believe they did, in combination with not moving well and not moving enough during the day!
I do want to give my body as many movement opportunities as I can, keeping my joints lubricated and articulating smoothly. Sleeping on the floor seemed like an easy option when I started my restorative exercise training and I haven't looked back. I have been sleeping on the floor for about five years now and can feel the benefits!
1) Floor sleeping encourages movement in different ways:
- getting up and down to the floor to sleep allows the use of different joint configurations, strengthening leg muscles in different ways
- getting up and down in this way, repeated over many days has a cumulative positive effect on joints and soft tissues
- changing positions throughout the night requires more strength as your body pushes against a firmer surface. Muscles will adapt to the movement required and get stronger over time. I have noticed that I use my arms and core more when changing positions.
- rolling the futon out at bedtime and away in the morning gets me moving some more
2) It makes me more aware of how my body feels and gives me an opportunity to give it the positions it needs to soothe any feeling of discomfort due to potential overuse during the day. Feeling a nice stretch in the right side of my waist is particularly good for me and I adjust my position accordingly. Varying where I put my shoulders and arms means my range of motion is naturally good with minimal effort required.
3) Sleeping on a mattress that can be rolled away creates space during the day to move more. Our previous bed was very bulky and took up most of the floor space, with little room left. Now the floor space is available for sitting on the floor, playing, rolling around, working, dancing, whatever takes our fancy.
The more cushioned your environment (seats, mattress, sofa, cushioned shoes, etc.), the more your body is "supported" and protected and therefore the less it is allowed to move. As your body has almost certainly adapted to soft, squishy mattresses over many years, it may well take some time to transition out of it. Perhaps start by ditching the base so you are nearer the floor, so more movement is required at the hip, knee and ankle joint every time you get out of bed and back in again. Sleeping on a thinner and thinner mattress helps make you aware of your leg alignment when sleeping on your front and strengthen your muscles over time, putting pressure on body parts and tissues change shape in response to various pressure-deforming movements- just like having a massage all night long! Bliss!