Observations and Musings

Why does the US love soft mattresses?

I grew up sleeping on fairly hard mattresses in India. They were thin, not more than a few inches thick. I might be remembering this incorrectly, but while living in a hostel in undergrad, I might have used a folded quilt that doubled as a mattress! 🙂

When I moved to the US, I was really really surprised at how soft mattresses over here are. Even mattresses that are sold as “Firm” and “Extra-firm” mattresses, are fairly soft in my opinion. A few years back we bought Casper mattress – it’s filled with memory foam, and supposed to be incredible for your back since it takes the shape of your spine. I think that if you like soft mattresses, it’s great, but I started waking up with a sore back after a point.

I therefore started sleeping on the floor. Really. I would fold a quilt at night to provide some cushion, cover it with a sheet, and it worked wonders for my sleep quality and my back. There’s a lot of research that’s been done on how sleeping on the floor can actually be great for your back! Here are some of the search results that you get, if you search for sleeping on the floor:

  1. Sleeping on the floor: Benefits and side effects – this seems to suggest that sleeping on the floor can be good for your back if you have some cushioning
  2. Is sleeping on the floor good or bad for your health – again, inconclusive, but it says that soft mattresses don’t provide support to your back
  3. Is sleeping on the floor actually good for you? – same
  4. I tried sleeping on a hard floor for a week – this guy has a good point. Sleeping on the floor is better for you but it’s not as much fun as sleeping on a bed 🙂

While the research is inconclusive, I think we can say that soft mattresses are not amazing for your back (unless you have a health condition that requires you to sleep on a soft mattress). Why are they then so popular in the US? Is it because of lack of options? Do people really prefer soft mattresses? Doesn’t it hurt their backs? Why can’t we find hard mattresses in the market? The only one I’ve found so far that is actually firm is a Tempur-Pedic mattress, but it’s too expensive 😦

If you’re suffering from back pain, I think sleeping on the floor (not directly, but with some cushioning atleast), is a great option to try. If you can keep the area clean and find a comfortable spot to sleep in), it’s worth it.

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