Unpacking The Great 'Mattress On The Floor' Debate

Mattress on the floor? We don't want to judge anyone's habits, but here are some things to consider.

Team LemonadeTeam Lemonade

Ah, the perils of being a mattress-on-the-floor kind of person! For every proponent of the lifestyle—those who praise it for how “grounded” it makes you feel—there’s another who thinks it’s juvenile or messy. So…is it okay to put a mattress on the floor?

Consider the Netflix horror series Brand New Cherry Flavor, in which we’re introduced to budding L.A. filmmaker Lisa Nova. She is, for lack of a better term, a hot mess. How do we know? Well for one thing, she sleeps with her mattress directly on the floor, sheets hopelessly tangled. It’s a heavy handed symbol for what utter disarray her life is in.

To be fair, most stereotypes of mattress-on-the-floor people tend to focus on the single, male bachelor. He’s the kind of dude whose fridge is stocked only with Coor’s Light and string cheese.

Recent years have seen a renewed interest in minimalist design and living. What could be more minimalist than a simple mattress tossed down directly on the floor? Somehow this hasn’t carried over into mattress habits. Eschewing a bed frame, platform, or box spring doesn’t read as chic; it’s more liable to make you seem lazy.

We’re not going to be able to settle this debate here. But we can share some pros and cons that are sure to keep the discussion rolling…

Pros of having your mattress right on the floor

Reduced back pain! 

Because the floor is much firmer than a box spring, bed frame, or platform bed, sleeping with your mattress on the floor helps your neck and spine stay neutral, which can help improve your posture and offer some back pain relief, especially in the lower back. People who sleep with their mattresses on the floor might even see improvements to their sciatica. 

Caveat: These benefits are mostly reserved for back sleepers. If you’re a side sleeper, the added firmness could end up putting uncomfortable pressure on your hips and shoulders while you sleep. 

Bohemian appeal!

Arguably, sleeping with a mattress on the floor (or at least without a platform or bed frame) lends a certain offbeat, artistic elegance to your living space. It creates a vibe that says you’re not beholden to societal expectations about what your bedroom should look like, or what “being an adult” means in terms of mattress choices.

For instance, let’s look at this passage from Jonathan Franzen’s novel Crossroads, in which we meet a character whose mattress set-up also represents her general laid-back, intellectual worldview: “Her bed was a double mattress on a box spring, her desk a hollow-core door on sawhorses, her bookshelves pine one-by-tens with cinder-block supports.” You can just feel the starving artist angst.

Improved circulation!

Even if you don’t suffer from back pain, the increased firmness of sleeping with your mattress on the floor can benefit your overall health. Because your weight is distributed evenly, allowing for better blood circulation to your muscles, tissues, and organs, which helps your body better recover from exercise and fend off disease. 

Think of placing a mattress on the floor like having a firm mattress, kicked up a notch. 

Sleep cooler!

Sleep cooler!
Chill, dude.

Do you live in a warm climate, or always find yourself waking up with sweaty sheets? Setting your mattress on the floor could offer some relief and help you get a better night’s sleep. Heat rises—trust us, we know science—so the coolest air in your bedroom is closest to the ground. Changing the height of your mattress could be a low-tech way to bask in those drafts.

Maximize your space!

If you have a tiny bedroom, a bed frame can eat into even more of your minimal living space. Also, placing your mattress on the floor can help give the illusion of higher ceilings, making the most of your, uh…”cozy” space. 

The flipside here, of course, is that investing in a bed platform could potentially give you some extra storage room underneath your mattress. 

Save some money! 

Depending on your type of mattress, a box spring, bed frame, or platform bed can cost you anywhere between $100 to upwards of $500 and beyond. If you are budget conscious at the moment, going the ol’ “floor mattress” route could be one way to save. 

Then again, is your sleeping situation really where you want to cut corners? Investing in a quality mattress can be life-changing. And investing in a high-quality bed frame or platform can elevate your entire bedroom. If you really want to indulge, check out some of the bed options available from DTC brands like Thuma and Floyd.

What about pets?

Do you have pets, and do they share your bed? For dogs especially, having a mattress low to the floor makes it easier for them to climb in and snuggle (especially as they age).

For dogs especially, having a mattress low to the floor makes it easier for them to climb in and snuggle (especially as they age).

That said, if you’re a cat parent, your felines might prefer a raised bed frame or platform—since it allows them to hide out under the mattress, doing whatever it is cats do when we’re not looking. 

Cons of sleeping on the floor 

Inhaling more allergens!

Sleeping on the floor might make you inhale more dust and allergens that collect on the floor while you sleep. (Seriously, you probably don’t want to know what kind of stuff congregates down there). If you choose to sleep on the floor, vacuum obsessively, especially around and below your mattress. You might also want to invest in an air purifier.  

Gross mold formation!

Most mattresses are designed to be placed on a box spring or slatted platform in order to properly ventilate the mattress and to easily draw out moisture. When a mattress is placed directly on the floor, your body heat and moisture has nowhere to go, making it a welcoming environment for mold growth. Mold is especially likely to form if you have a memory foam mattress, which is made out of dense and super absorbent foam. 

Placing some sort of barrier between your mattress and the floor can help keep the mold at bay. A synthetic fiber carpet, rug, floor mat, or even an inexpensive piece of foam under your mattress gives the moisture from your mattress an opportunity to escape (just be sure to replace the foam every few months). 

Unwelcome guests! 

Warning: we’re about to discuss creepy crawlies. 

Dust mites and bed bugs are attracted to heat and humidity, and a mattress placed on the floor is probably going to be a warmer and more moist environment than a mattress placed on a box spring or other platform.  

In addition, placing your mattress on the floor makes it more accessible to ants, spiders, and depending on where you live, snakes and other local critters. 

To avoid an unwanted encounter, clean around your mattress, place a barrier (like foam) between your mattress and the floor, to promote at least some airflow, and be sure to regularly lift your mattress to give it the opportunity to air out, cool down, and dry. 

Void your warranty!

On average, mattresses come with a 10 to 20 year manufacturer’s warranty. If your mattress is ruined by mildew, an infestation of bed bugs, or dust, your warranty probably won’t cover the costs of replacing your mattress. 

If you plan on placing your mattress on the floor, be sure to read the fine print of your mattress warranty, so you know what you can expect if the worst were to happen. 

One of our Claims Experience Advocates also cautions that a floor mattress is especially vulnerable to unexpected water damage. “Your toilet will overflow,” she says, “and your mattress will be ruined.” 

Harder to get out of bed!

If you are living with arthritis, chronic pain, or mobility issues, placing your mattress on the floor can make it more challenging and painful to get out of bed, especially first thing in the morning.

That said, if you’re simply hungover, a floor mattress might make it easier to groggily roll out of bed and start your day. But that mental image probably doesn’t help the whole ‘floor mattress guy’ stereotype.

Reasons to consider a proper bed frame

Still on the fence? Here are some considerations that might tilt you into the ‘pro-bed-platform’ camp.

Consider a proper bed frame
A grown-up sleeps here.
  • A raised bed platform gives you extra storage space if your closets are already packed. Buy some organizational crates and tuck away shoes, winter clothes, books, or anything else that’ll fit.
  • If you choose the right platform, you can still sleep fairly low to the ground without actually being on the ground. That might be the best of both worlds. 
  • On a superficial level, you avoid the negative baggage that can come with being a ‘floor mattress guy’ (or girl). It might not matter to you, personally, but it might matter to that Tinder date.
  • Bed frames don’t have to be incredibly expensive. In fact, Wirecutter’s rundown of the options under $300 includes several that should appease even the most design-savvy consumer.
  • A bed platform is another opportunity to make your home more aesthetically pleasing. These days, that’s not a bad thing—half of you reading this right now probably work from your bed, for all we know. High-end options can be sleek and elegant, instantly upgrading your bedroom to the realm of boutique hotels and drool-worthy Instagram feeds. Want a minimalist, floaty-looking vibe? Try Floyd. Craving rich wood tones, underbed storage space, a headboard, and super-simple assembly? Thuma has you covered.

Before you go…

If you’ve read this far, you clearly care about nice things. Shouldn’t those nice things be protected against accidents, thefts, and other unfortunate occurrences? Get your fast quote for Lemonade Renters insurance by clicking the pink button below. And until next time—sleep well.


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