I was skeptical.
Actually, that’s an understatement. I was suspicious, wary, and immensely critical. Sleeping on the floor just always seemed so strange to me. If anything, it was a cliché promoted by minimalist influencers to propagate their lifestyle — never a worthwhile custom, though.
But then, something changed.
I moved to Munich. And as this is an insanely expensive city, the only affordable option I could find was a 10m² (108ft²) room. A normal bed, I realized, would swallow that space like a black hole. And so, after spending way too much time researching the best alternative, sleeping on the floor got back on my radar. Sure, it seemed bizarre. But also affordable. Space-saving. Versatile.
I now sleep on a rollable futon — a Japanese-style mattress — directly on the floor. During the day, I can transform the futon into a couch or store it away entirely. But that isn’t even the strange part. What’s strange is how unexpectedly and immensely this practice simplified my life.
Here’s what I mean.
There’s Something Wrong With Most Beds
The first shift was counter-intuitive yet noticeably powerful. See, after sleeping on soft, lofty Western beds for my entire life, I discovered a severe flaw in them:
They’re too comfortable.
How can something be too comfortable? Well, it’s like fast food — every once in a while, it’s nice, but doing it every day is a toxic habit. I still remember staying in my old beds for hours after waking up. Heck, I could easily spend an entire day in bed if I was feeling lazy or hungover. I constantly felt like a sack of potatoes.
Now that I sleep on the floor, I rarely stay in bed longer than necessary. And no, that isn’t because my futon feels uncomfortable or painful. It actually feels nice. Neutral. But not in an overly pleasant way that sucks me into a void of comfort. It’s perfectly balanced.
And so, starting my day has much more appeal than getting distracted on my phone while descending into a sea of cushions.
I just get up. Simple as that.
A Better Way to Sleep
Western societies often believe we should “sink” into the mattress. And while that can feel satisfying at first, it’s a fallacy. An overly soft bed promotes poor sleep posture. That, in turn, can cause a spinal misalignment — aka back pain.
In fact, studies suggest that most people would benefit from sleeping on a harder surface. Less pain. Better sleep quality. And therefore, less stress.
Will there be exceptions?
Sure. And I’m not here to preach that sleeping on the floor is the ultimate solution. But from my experience, my sleep has noticeably improved. I fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up more refreshed.
And besides, going to bed just feels incredible when you sleep on the floor. The whole process of sleeping on something so basic is literally grounding. Your bed stops being this bouncy cushion castle and becomes a constant reminder to be humble and grateful.
The End of a Destructive Habit
For the past few years, a sneaky habit has entered my life that I’m not very proud of. It goes something like this:
I feel bored, unmotivated, or low-energy → look at my bed → think to myself, “huh, a little break would be nice” → jump on the bed → pull out my phone → drown in funny cat videos or a YouTube rabbit hole.
Don’t get me wrong — breaks and naps are more than welcome. Rest is key to doing great work. But this habit of sinking into my bed and mindlessly consuming entertainment turned into a destructive default that stopped me from doing the things that matter most to me.
Sleeping on the floor changed this for the better.
During the day, my futon and blanket are neatly rolled up, so making my bed always takes a few minutes. And that’s a good thing! Because every decision to lie down becomes intentional. When I want to take a nap, I deliberately take a nap (rather than slouching on my bed with distractions). And when I go to sleep, I do so with the clear purpose of ending the day.
For the first time in my life, I feel in control over the way I rest.
A Simple Nighttime Ritual (Finally)
I throw up a little whenever I see content on nighttime routines. According to popular advice, we’re supposed to make herbal tea, light a scented candle, read ten pages, meditate, do yoga, journal for gratitude, and recite what a fucking wonderful day we had.
This might work for productivity robots, but it has never worked for me.
Sleeping on the floor, however, enabled a simple yet enchanting ritual. Every night, when it’s time to sleep, I change into my pajamas, dim the lights, and open the window for fresh air. Then, I unroll my futon. Making the bed is not an overly complex task since I never remove the sheets (unless I have to wash them). Next, I take the pillow from the shelf and gently place it on top. And finally, I grab the blanket, give it a little shake, and let it hover on the futon.
This ritual is so straightforward.
I don’t have to think about anything. It’s deeply calming. Resetting. And it immediately gives my brain the cue that it’s time to sleep. I usually drift off within 15 minutes.
In the morning, I do this ritual in reverse chronological order. It’s a nice blend of physical and mental housekeeping without making me hate the day before it even started.
So, why work out an intricate routine when your bed is the routine?
When you sleep on the floor, you spot some things that you’d easily miss on a tower of cushions. The clothes you carelessly slammed on the floor. That coffee stain you forgot to wipe clean. And even tiny dust particles don’t escape your gaze.
Now, these things aren’t pesky reminders. They’re valuable incentives for cleanliness. You take bedroom hygiene way more seriously than with a lofty bed because you’re closer to the action. Sleeping on the floor makes you want to want a clean space.
But it goes deeper.
Futons require specific maintenance tasks — like regular air circulation, sunlight exposure, and turning. When I first read about this, I thought it’d be too much work. And yes, it’s a little extra task. But instead of being disturbing, it’s enriching.
Because you feel much cleaner when you sleep. The air inside your bedroom is less dusty, so you literally breathe better. Deeper. And think about it — you use your mattress for roughly one-third of your lifetime. Don’t you think that deserves a little extra attention?
Besides, the lifetime of a mattress skyrockets when you take proper care of it. And that means fewer expenses, fewer worries, and more sustainability. It’s minimalism in a nutshell.
An Abundance of Space
I mentioned it earlier — my room is about 10m²/108ft² big. (Or should I say small?) A normal bed would swallow about one-third of the entire room, and make it feel stuffed. Bulky. Overwhelming. Not just in terms of physical space but also mental space.
Plus, when you can’t help but spot your bed every time you look around the room, that’s a serious distraction. Your brain can get deeply confused about that visual cue. Oh, a place to sleep! But it’s still daytime. What to do?!
Sleeping on the floor solves these problems.
When I roll up my futon like a burrito, it takes up merely one-third of the area it usually would. This simple shift sculpts an abundance of space — mentally and physically.
See, instead of feeling intimidated by my bed size, I can do yoga in my room, walk around freely, and even dance. I can sit on my rolled-up futon to read a book, meditate, or look out the window.
The bottom line is that I’ve never felt this comfortable in any other space I’ve lived in. I rarely get distracted, wake up full of energy (on most days), and generally feel calm and centered.
Ironically, the smallest room I ever lived in feels like the biggest.
The Deeper Lesson
I’m not suggesting that you have to sleep on the floor. It’s just something that has worked well for me — and it might for you, too. If you want to try it, I recommend doing extensive research to find the proper setup for you. I think futons are a great place to start. They’re reasonably affordable, rollable, and comfortable.
But even if you hate sleeping on the floor, there’s a deeper lesson here: the ability to rethink what’s normal.
Most people give me a wide-eyed look when they find out that I sleep on the floor. (No judgment here, I used to be one of them.) But just because a practice isn’t very approved or popular doesn’t mean it can’t be useful. In fact, many people don’t know that sleeping on the floor is a widespread custom in Eastern cultures.
The thing is that sometimes, we choose to go through life with blinkers. We can be so convinced that our lifestyle is the best that we become oblivious to new opportunities. It’s tragic.
Ever since I started sleeping on the floor, I can’t help but wonder: What other beautiful customs am I missing out on because I’m too narrow-minded?
Minimalism, I realized, isn’t just about tangible benefits like less stress, better sleep, or better decisions. It’s also, to a large degree, about living with an open heart.