Should we all just say bye-bye to beds?

If you’ve never lived in Japan before, then sleeping on the floor might seem pretty strange. Sleeping on the ground is for camping and cavemen, right? Surely beds are the apex of civilization!

Not necessarily. Having lived in several apartments in Japan where I slept on the floor, I can personally attest to it having a lot of advantages. So much so that when given the choice between the two, I often pick the floor over the bed. And I’m not alone; many households in Japan agree too!

That’s why today we’re counting down the top five reasons sleeping on the floor Japanese-style is awesome. Why would you ever want to sleep on the hard ground instead of a soft bed? Let’s find out.

So let’s get to it! Starting off with…

#5. All that extra space

wtf-sleeping-on-floor-3Flickr/Masaki Shiina

So one thing to note right off the bat is that in Japan, most of the time if you’re sleeping on the floor, you’re not sleeping on hard wooden floors – you’re sleeping on much softer tatami mats. Often there’s a whole room where the flooring is nothing but tatami that acts as the bedroom.

Now if you were sleeping in a bed, that thing would take up at least half of the room. And since you’re living in a Japanese apartment, that may be up to a quarter of your whole living space. Forget having friends or guests over… unless you want them sitting awkwardly on your bed.

But when you sleep on the tatami flooring, you only need to have your bed out when you want it out. The thin mattress you sleep on, as well as the blanket and pillows, can easily be folded and put away in a closet, instantly opening up a lot more space for guests, exercise, an eating area, animal photography studio, or whatever you want. The sky’s the limit, and it’s all thanks to sleeping on the floor!

#4. It’s cheaper


Beds are expensive. Not only do you have to get the blankets, pillows and sheets, but there’s the mattress, the box spring, the frame, the headboard… it goes on an on and can really add up.

When you sleep on the floor though, all you need are the blankets, pillows, sheets, and the thin mattress to sleep on. Depending on what size futon and accessories you want, you can easily get your sleeping area all set up for less than US$100. Sure, you could spend more, but it’d still be less than the what the same-size bed would cost you.

Another area where the costs come into play is at moving time. When I moved apartments in the U.S. (where I foolishly slept on beds), moving the mattresses and everything was a nightmare. I could’ve easily fit all my other stuff inside a car or two, but I had to rent an expensive truck instead just for the mattresses. But now when we move in Japan, all we do is stuff away our futons in a small box and call it a day.

▼ Plus with all that money you save you can splurge on Pokémon pillows
and sheets. We can’t sleep without our Rowlets and Starlys anymore.


#3. Sleepovers are a breeze


So you have some friends over (thanks to all that extra space in your apartment!), but now it’s getting late and it’s time to go home. Problem though – your friends are too drunk to drive and you can’t afford a taxi because you spent all your money on booze. What do you do?

Well if you lived in a primitive bed-sleeping house, things might get awkward. Unless you just happened to have an extra bedroom set up for guests, chances are your friends are sleeping on the couch or they’re gonna just curl up on the carpet.

But if you have futons to sleep on the floor with, it’s no problem! Since futons (especially used ones) are pretty cheap, it’s easy to have a spare one or two in the closet, just for occasions like this. You can break out your extra futons, treat your friends like royalty, and then keep the party going from under some warm blankets by, uh, I don’t know… talking about brands of dog food?

▼ “Hello fellow human! Did you buy the dog food with
real meat chunks in it? I’m asking for a friend.”

I’ve had many guests come to stay at my apartment in Japan for days at a time, whereas that would have been impossible for me back in the U.S. They would have had to get a hotel room, and for some of the guests, that extra expense would have been a deal breaker.

Sleeping on the floor is also better for when you start having daily sleepovers too, because it’s…

#2. More comfortable for couples


Congratulations! You’ve just moved in with your significant other. Now you get to share living space, bookshelves, dishwashing duty, and of course, a bed.

And that’s totally awesome… for a few days. Then they start to hog the blanket at night. Or they toss and turn and wake you up. Or you try to put your arm around them but it’s not as comfortable as you expected but you feel like you have to leave it there or else your love is just not good enough so you lay there wide awake for hours until your arm falls asleep and tingles painfully and you just wish you could somehow still sleep together but not necessarily in the same bed.

That’s where sleeping on the floor comes in! While it feels kind of emotionally distant to have separate beds, the same isn’t true for futons. You can push them together and get you the best of all worlds: you can be close when you want and separate when you want, you can share blankets or each have your own, and if they’re tossing and turning you can just scooch over to your own futon, all the while still retaining the feeling of having an awesome sleepover with your sweetie.

▼ She’s so cute when she sleeps….

And the #1 reason sleeping on the floor Japanese-style is awesome is…











1. It can be better for your body


It might seem that nothing could be better for your health than sleeping on a nice, thick, soft mattress, but that’s not necessarily true. Mattresses can put our bodies in strange positions when we sleep, and then we stay like that for hours while unconscious, potentially causing bone and muscle misalignment over time.

But sleeping on the floor can help keep your back, head, hips, and shoulders in a straight, neutral position while you’re asleep, which may help prevent small damages that build up.

Personally, before I moved back to Japan, I slept on a bed in the U.S. for a few years. The month before I moved, I started having sharp lower back pain that would spark up randomly throughout the day and was extremely painful. I couldn’t schedule a meeting with a doctor before I left, so I decided I’d just have it looked into when I got to Japan.

But once I got to Japan, after just a few weeks of sleeping on the floor, all the pain went away. I almost completely forgot I’d ever had it in the first place. It was like some sort of tatami mat miracle.

▼ Is there anything those soft,
wonderful mats can’t do?

Of course if you have serious back pain then definitely consult with a doctor before sleeping on the floor, so you don’t accidentally make it worse. But you may find out that it’s just the thing you need.

▼ Oh, and you can’t have monsters under the bed if
there’s no bed either. Check and mate, beds!

So there you have it, the top five reasons sleeping on the floor Japanese-style is awesome. Have you ever slept on the floor? What did you think? Let us know in the comments and be sure to just give it to us straight; we don’t need any more ridiculous Japanese euphemisms.

Top image: Flickr/Sébastien Bertrand (edited by RocketNews24)

W.T.F. Japan will be back next Thursday. In the meantime, give me a follow on Twitter and let me know if there’s any topics you’d like to see covered. See you next week!