Why Do Japanese Sleep on the Floor?


You might begin to wonder why do Japanese sleep on the floor. For most of us, we were accustomed to having a traditional mattress and a bed frame. However, you must understand that those who have experienced sleeping on the floor-the Japanese way, can claim that it’s one of the best sleeps they had. Quite frankly, we couldn’t agree more.

This tradition has been embedded into Japanese culture for many generations, and we believe it’s not going to change anytime soon. Let’s deep dive further into this culture, and maybe you would want to experience it as well.

History of Japanese Sleeping Habits

The way Japanese sleep on the floor can be traced back to the 10th century. During those times, hemp mats were laid down on hard floors, specifically for sleeping. Over time, the richer people would add textured cushions over their hemp mats, and then comforters on top of the body was introduced. This was to retain warmth during colder nights.

What is Tatami Mat?

Why Do Japanese Sleep on the Floor

For most people, it seems uncomfortable to sleep on the floor. But if you are using a tatami mat, the story will steer in a different direction. When we say tatami mat, this is made from rice straw. Think of it as an extremely thin yoga mat. Some people have a portable mat so they could fold and keep it during the day. But some have installed tatami flooring, specifically in their bedrooms. Take note, however, that traditional Japanese houses are made of tatami floors across all rooms.

Japanese Futon

While most Western people would like to get thick mattresses, those accustomed to the Japanese style of sleeping would rather have thinner futons. They also refer to it as a Japanese bedroll and could be folded easily. These are usually 3- 4 inches thick.

Traditional Pillows

You will see many Japanese already using Western-style pillows. But, there are still a few who are more comfortable using the traditional soba gara makura. These are stuffed with buckwheat husks where it could be a bit noisy as you move around. If you are interested in getting one, here’s what we highly recommend.

Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow 

Why Do Japanese Sleep on the Floor? - Tip Top Sleep

Click the latest price on Amazon. 

Its filling is made of 100% US Grown Organic Buckwheat Hulls, while its casing is from natural unbleached cotton. This is ideal if you wish to relieve tension, neck pain, and muscle pain, among many others. What’s great about this product is that it will easily conform to your head, plus it’s highly breathable.

At first, you might find it weird. But most of its users enjoyed its benefits right after using it. It could certainly make your mornings better and even brighter.

Japanese Duvet

Many people are going crazy to find their own Japanese duvet or what they call kakebuton. These are usually made up of silk fibers. It is thin; however, the silk helps in retaining heat. So it’s still ideal during the colder seasons.

Now here’s a treat.

Because we also want to experience the Japanese-style of sleeping, we researched if there are available products online. And our quest is finally over. Here’s what you can get too.

EMOOR Compact-Sized Japanese Futon Set

Why Do Japanese Sleep on the Floor? - Tip Top Sleep

Click the latest price on Amazon. 

This comes with the futon mattress, comforter, and even a pillow. What’s amazing is that it’s lightweight, and you can keep it in your closet. It’s ideal if you have visitors or if you just want to use it for yourself. If you are a first-time buyer of a Japanese futon, this is highly recommended. We bet that it will never disappoint you. It’s even encouraged for people who experience backaches.

The Benefits of Sleeping on the Floor

There are several advantages of sleeping on the floor. Let’s enumerate these below.

It’s a Space-Saver

First of all, sleeping on the floor with portable mattresses can save space. For example, if you live in a small apartment, you can just fold your mat, mattress, and duvet, keep it in your cabinet and use the space for other things. You can even use that as a living or a study area.

You Can Transport it Easily

Just in case you do not have a permanent home just yet, a Japanese futon and duvet should work to your advantage. You can easily transport it, and you might not even need help. So if you are talking about practicality, this is what you need to get.

Best if You Have Kids

You would be surprised how many kids fall from their beds. And while most of these accidents aren’t fatal, there could be some that are life-threatening. You shouldn’t risk that. It’s more logical to have a bed on the floor as you won’t have to worry about such scenarios.

Ideal for Countries Prone to Earthquake

Japan is known to experience several earthquakes. Having bulky equipment such as a bedframe seems to be dangerous for the most part. Since they embody the ‘minimalist’ lifestyle, they do not have many things that can potentially block doorways and exit points for high-intensity earthquakes.

It’s Cool

In Japan, summer can be extremely hot. Using a tatami mat instead of a thick and raised mattress, means your nights are cooler, and you’d wake up feeling refreshed. Who doesn’t want that every night?

Good for the Spine

If you must know, sleeping on the floor can be beneficial for the spine. This is according to experts. It is because the tatami mat will encourage you to sleep in a neutral position. However, if you have serious back issues, consult your doctor first before switching to a different sleeping habit. Here’s a video that could back up the claim.



It’s always good to try out new things and be experimental. We’re so glad that you asked the question, Why do Japanese sleep on the floor? If not, you won’t be able to learn more and to appreciate its culture. Perhaps, you might be thinking at first that it’s too primitive. But with all the benefits we’ve mentioned, we hoped it changed your perspective. Try it out. We’re sure you won’t have regrets.

By Michelle D.

Meet Michelle, founder of Tip Top Sleep, a website dedicated to helping you achieve the best sleep possible. With over 50 years of combined experience in the realm of sleep, Michelle and her team provide easy-to-follow tips and strategies to help you feel better, function better, and live better through optimal sleep. Let us help you prioritize your sleep and discover the power of a good night's rest.