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Why do Japanese people sleep close to the floor?


Japanese culture has always been a source of fascination worldwide, especially when it comes to their unique way of living. One of the most intriguing aspects of Japanese culture is their sleeping habits. Unlike the Western world, where beds and mattresses are a norm, Japanese people sleep close to the floor. This practice may seem unusual to outsiders, but it has deep-rooted cultural and health benefits.

Historical Context

The tradition of sleeping on the floor in Japan dates back to ancient times when Japanese houses were made of wood and paper. The Tatami mat, which is a traditional Japanese flooring material made of rice straw and covered with woven rush grass, was used as bedding. Sleeping on the floor was a practical solution to keep warm during cold winters and also helped them to conserve space in their small homes.

Japanese Snack Box

Health Benefits

Sleeping close to the floor has several health benefits. It aligns the spine and helps in maintaining good posture. It also reduces the risk of developing back pain or stiffness. Sleeping on a firm surface can also help in improving blood circulation and reducing stress levels, leading to better sleep quality.

Cultural Significance

Sleeping on the floor is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture and is considered a symbol of simplicity and humility. It is a way of life that promotes mindfulness and respect for nature. The practice is also associated with traditional martial arts training, which emphasizes discipline, self-control, and physical fitness.

Tatami Mats

The Tatami mat is an essential component of traditional Japanese homes, and it plays a crucial role in their sleeping habits. These mats are made from natural materials such as rice straw and woven rush grass, making them eco-friendly and sustainable. They are also designed to absorb moisture, keeping the room dry and comfortable.


Futons are another essential component of Japanese sleeping habits. These are traditional Japanese mattresses made from cotton or wool and are placed on top of the Tatami mat. Futons are lightweight and easy to roll up, making them ideal for small spaces.


Japanese people value minimalism and simplicity in all aspects of their lives, including their sleeping habits. Sleeping close to the floor allows them to conserve space in their homes while also promoting a sense of calmness and tranquility.

Western Influence

Despite their long-standing tradition of sleeping on the floor, Western influence has led many Japanese people to adopt beds and mattresses. However, many still prefer the traditional way of sleeping as it offers comfort, health benefits, and cultural significance.

Modern Innovations

Modern innovations have brought significant changes to traditional Japanese homes, including advancements in heating systems and flooring material. However, these innovations have not completely replaced the tradition of sleeping on the floor.


While sleeping on the floor has several benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone. Older adults or people with mobility issues may find it difficult to get up from a low surface. Additionally, people with allergies may find Tatami mats challenging to maintain.


Sleeping close to the floor is an integral part of Japanese culture that promotes simplicity, mindfulness, and good health. While modernization has brought changes to traditional Japanese homes, many still prefer the comfort and cultural significance that comes with sleeping on Tatami mats with Futons. It may take some getting used to for outsiders but understanding the cultural significance behind this practice can lead to greater appreciation for Japanese culture.

Do Japanese people sleep on the floor?

In Japan, it is customary for most people to sleep on the floor rather than on western-style beds. This tradition dates back to the 10th century when hemp mats were placed on the floor for sleeping. Nowadays, many Japanese people sleep on a rice straw tatami mat.

Why do Koreans and Japanese sleep on floor?

Sleeping on the floor became common when ondol floor heating was introduced to the Koreans. When HVAC systems were not a thing, households had to find ways to keep warm and remain cool. Ondol floor heating was a process that used the smoke from fireplaces to warm up the whole house from under the floor.Oct 15, 2022

Why do some people sleep on the floor?

There are individuals who choose to sleep on the floor for personal reasons, such as embracing a minimalist lifestyle. Others may opt for this sleeping arrangement due to limited space or financial constraints preventing them from purchasing a regular bed. This is sometimes a conscious choice made by such people.

Is it better to sleep closer to the ground?

Sleeping closer to the floor can provide health advantages. For instance, using a low platform bed or futon can aid in reducing back and joint discomfort by supporting correct spinal alignment. This can be especially valuable for individuals who suffer from chronic pain or have limited mobility.

Why do Japanese couples sleep separately?

For some couples, choosing to sleep separately is a way to find peace. Although some may worry that this decision is a sign of marital trouble, in Japan, couples prioritize their individual sleep and value an undisturbed night’s rest.

What are Japanese sleeping habits?

On average, Japanese men and women get around six hours and 35 minutes of sleep each night, which is approximately 45 minutes less than the average found in the study. This suggests that Japanese individuals may not be getting as much rest as others in the study population.

In recent years, the concept of sleeping on the floor has gained popularity in the Western world. It has been adopted by people who value minimalism, sustainability, and a healthier lifestyle. This trend has led to the creation of new products such as foldable Tatami mats and portable Futons that can be easily transported and used in small apartments or while camping.

Sleeping on the floor is not just limited to Japan; it is also a common practice in other cultures. In Korea, people sleep on Ondol, a traditional Korean heating system built into the floor. In India, people use thin mattresses called Dari to sleep on the floor, which are believed to promote good health and improve posture.

The benefits of sleeping close to the floor have also been recognized by scientists and health experts. A study published in the Journal of Pain Research found that sleeping on a firm surface can reduce back pain and improve sleep quality. Another study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that sleeping on a Futon can help alleviate shoulder pain.

In conclusion, sleeping on the floor may seem unusual to some but it is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and has several health benefits. It promotes good posture, improves blood circulation, and reduces stress levels. While modernization has brought changes to traditional Japanese homes, many still prefer the comfort and cultural significance that comes with sleeping on Tatami mats with Futons. As this practice gains more recognition worldwide, we may see more innovations in this area that cater to different needs and lifestyles.

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