The benefits of sleeping a more primitive way
Like most people, I have been ever so slowly but surely realizing I'm getting older.
How do I realize this you may ask?
That pesky, never-ending tide of aches and pains that building up and slowly making my life hell.
I've adopted a keto diet to try and keep my inflammation in check. Like any good obsession though, once you start making one change it's impossible to not start changing everything.
In my new quest for body and mind mastery, I have been putting my sleeping habits under heavy scrutiny.
What does my actual nighttime routine look like, how do I sleep, where do I sleep?
As you can expect, my default routines and setup don't look pretty.
Below are some of the changes I have made based on my research. If you adopt some of these changes, you too can enjoy some of the benefits yourself.
* I do have to make a quick disclaimer. Although there is strong initial evidence to suggest that making these changes will positively affect you. There are still limited long-term studies available so make sure you consult a doctor before making any lifestyle changes.
Ditch that bed...
As my heading suggested, one of the biggest changes you can do is changing up where you sleep and what you sleep on.
I'm sure everyone who has ever gone camping can attest to how stiff and sore you wake up after the first night sleeping on the hard ground. But have you noticed how good you feel on the 3rd morning?
Changing up your soft fluffy mattress for something harder can completely transform your sleep.
Some of the benefits of swapping softer for firmer and harder are:
Promotes a good posture
A soft mattress locks your body position in place, almost like a cast. During normal sleep, you tend to move and turn over. Relieving unnecessary pressure on joints and maintaining a better posture.
Posture already a little off or you suffer joint and lower back pain? You will be surprised how quickly you will get relief sleeping on a firmer surface.
The first few nights might be a bit rough so maybe make the change over the weekend.
Aligning both your hips and shoulders
Most back pain comes from a misalignment of the spine and hips. Sleeping on the floor or firm surface ensures that your spine doesn't curve in a dip in the bed.
It is simpler and cheaper
If you progress to the more spartan route and start sleeping on the ground, going to sleep becomes as simple as putting a blanket on the ground.
This not only removes the need for buying a new mattress every few years. But not having a bed frees up a new space to use for your daily movement practice.
No wrong sleeping position
The worst feeling in the world is waking up and realizing you slept in an awkward position. Now have a kink in your neck or back. Great
Sleeping on the floor removes the likely hood of a misplaced body pressed up against the headboard.
Where to start
So the end goal is to get those weary old bones eventually resting on the ground.
I know, that sounds horrid.
The trick like any big change in life is to progress slowly with small changes.
Start with a firmer mattress
It may be tempting to ditch the mattress straight away. Most people have been spending a lifetime sleeping incorrectly and rapid change may be more than your body can handle.
Start by buying the firmest mattress you can afford and spend a few months getting used to that.
Once your body has adapted you can progress to a Japanese-style futon. It is a hell of a lot firmer than a bed but still not as hard as sleeping directly on the ground.
If you still feel you can do more, you can progress to sleeping on a thin mat or blankets directly on the ground. Make sure to air out the blankets every morning as mold can quickly develop with the lack of airflow
Upgrade your duvet
Most people don't realize just how much cooler it is sleeping closer to the ground. If you are someone who tends to feel a little chilly when sleeping normally, you will need to buy a thicker duvet or start sleeping in pajamas.
On the flip side, for those (like myself) who always get too hot at night? You will be pleasantly surprised how comfortable will be staying close to that nice cool ground.
Ditch the pillow
This one was hard to get my head around (no pun intended) but, you don't need a pillow to have a restful sleep.
Start by limiting yourself to one pillow and slowly start alternating nights without one. Over time you will naturally start to feel like the pillow is crushing your neck's alignment.
One of the first things I did was remove a pillow from my life and I was surprised to find headaches disappeared too
Most people will find it difficult to sleep a full night on the hard cold ground. Instead of aiming for 8 hours start with 30mins.
Start by laying out a couple of thick blankets on the ground and taking a nap every day on the ground. It is a great way to introduce your body to the benefits, without having to commit fully. After a few months, it should be clear if sleeping on the floor is for you or not.
Give the tips above a try and discover for yourself why more and more people are choosing spartan over comfort. I know it took me a bit of practice but I couldn't imagine turning back.