Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleeping Surfaces

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Apr 26, 2019 7:00:00 PM

Depending on your background and culture, bedrooms are equipped with differing items for a healthy night sleep. In modern society, the use of a mattress, box springs, and traditional bed frame are commonplace.

In some societies, floor sleeping is still a cultural choice. How do you know what is the right surface for you? Today we are going to explore the different options you can use in the bedroom for sleep.



Starting with the traditional choice is a mattress and box spring. A firm mattress can prove beneficial to those with ailing back problems. With a firmer surface the bones absorb more of the pressure than a soft mattress which puts less stress on muscles and improving circulation.

The lower back support within a firm mattress helps support the sagging weight of your body meaning your weight is more equally distributed.

If you prefer side-sleeping, the cushion on the shoulders and hips better aligns on a soft mattress. It also helps better align the spine for those with chronic back pain. For heavier sleepers, a soft mattress can actually cause back issues for some sleepers.

Pillow-tops contain an additional upholstery layer sewn onto the top of the mattress for a plusher sleep. Innerspring mattresses use a steel coil support system. Though many inner springs are designed differently, a padding covers individually wrapped pocketed coils designed to contour to the bed support.

Latex mattresses are good for allergies as they are made from plant or petroleum based materials. Memory foam use a high-density polyurethane foam as the support system in the upper layer. Gel mattresses can offer comfort and heat dissipation features different from a traditional mattress.



For more than 1,200 years, the Japanese have used the tatamis as a sleeping surface. Starting at just a few inches thick, these traditional Japanese mattresses are used on the floor versus a bed frame.

Traditionally made from rice straw and soft rush straw, the pressure of one's body provides a little give on the straw construction. Wood chip boards or polystyrene foam is a more modern tatami mattress styling. These are a good option for those who would like to maximize a small space in the bedroom or try floor sleeping.



Another traditional Japanese sleeping apparatus, the futon is normally thicker than a traditional tatami to support harder surfaces. A base can be added either metal or wood to create a layered and elevated option. This is another easy way to transition from a soft mattress to a floor mattress.


Massage Mats

Created with natural plant materials, the massage mat is a thin sleeping pad that is more traditionally of Asian culture. With the idea of floor pillows or cushions, the matt is a space to move easily from space to space in smaller homes.



Great for traveling or single individuals, a hammock can easily be set up and is low cost. Hammocks do not harbor traditional dust mites like a mattress and makes clean up a breeze. Many are padded so a fitted sheet is not needed. Look for a cover that is machine washable.hammock

For many the hammock is a choice when leaving near the water with the soothing sounds from the water creating the ambiance for sleep. Some equate sleeping in a hammock as relaxing as it sways with the wind or rocks from movement.


Camping Mats

Differing from the massage mat, camping mats are normally self-inflating and easy for transport. At only a few inches thick and lightweight, this is a nice option for those who frequent camping and hiking. Back at home, some may want to continue using the camping mat as they transition from bed to floor.


Air Mattress

Depending on the size and model, some air mattresses are more of a hassle than user-friendly. However, an air mattress is helpful when moving or transitioning to a new place.

Without the need of a headboard or footboard, the air mattress takes up less space and sets up quickly. A con to any inflatable device are leeks or wholes in the fabric. Take care when storing.


Options for Children

Kids may enjoy a number of these options as the mattress is less important to younger children. Once transitioning a child out of a crib to a larger bed, these are less expensive options that can be easily stored for more floor playing space. It also can provide extra time in purchasing an expensive option if the child still has accidents while potty training or sleeping.


How to Reach Out for Help

Though a surface change can help with a lack of sleep it could be another issue. To discover if there are underlying causes to your lack of sleep, contact the Alaska Sleep Education Center for a free 10 minute phone consultation. And if you live in the state of Alaska, our board-certified sleep specialists can even make a Home Sleep Test work for you by calling 1-855-AKSLEEP.



Topics: sleep habits, bedroom, mattresses

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