"The Sufis have a proverb: If you sleep on the floor, you won’t fall out of bed. True enough. But are there any other reasons to do such a thing? Surprisingly, sleeping without a mattress can provide numerous benefits. If you have read “Quantum Eating“, you know that I speak from experience. Sleeping on the floor can become a part of the raw food lifestyle.
The first time I tried sleeping on the floor was after witnessing the Boutenko family (www.rawfamily.com) doing so while visiting our home. My first night was very uncomfortable! The second was better. By the third night, I never wanted to sleep on a bed again.
Mattresses actually play havoc with the body’s natural alignment, causing the hips to sink in and the lower back to collapse, much like sitting in a chair, where the body becomes tight and hunched. This is sometimes referred to as ‘front loading’. This, in turn, also interferes with the capacity of the lungs and you cannot breath deeply.
When the body is deprived of proper deep breathing during sleep, this stresses the body at a time when it should be most relaxed. A soft mattress only feels comfortable because it allows the body to stay in the tight, hunched or ‘front loaded’ position whereas it should actually be straightening and lengthening the skeletal system during sleep. (Where did the expression ’sleep tight’ ever come from, anyway?)
Correct posture is very important because during sleep growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and distributed throughout the body. One of its functions is to thicken and lengthen the bones. So sleeping on a hard surface will align the spine and help the growth hormone travel through the body unimpeded. Sleeping on a hard surface provides just the right amount of resistance we need for proper alignment, optimal breathing and healthy circulation.
Incidentally, mattresses are required to contain toxic chemicals to make them flame retardant, only adding to the body’s burden. On the raw food diet, we are striving to decrease the body’s toxicity, not add to it!
When I speak of sleeping on a hard surface, I am not referring to a ‘firm’ mattress or suggest you put a board under a sagging one. I mean sleeping directly on the floor on your back. Sleeping on a hard surface can give you hip bursitis if you sleep on your side so you should only sleep on your back. I have succeeded in training myself to do this, and so can you!
Whether or not you sleep on a hard surface, you should still sleep on your back to avoid wrinkles. Nothing will leave deeper trenches or pronounced sagging of the face like sleeping in the wrong position. Your first few nights will be hard, but if you persevere, your body will accommodate you. There is not exactly one ‘right way’ to do it, and you might need to experiment to find what works best for you.
Placing a flat pillow under the knees may be beneficial for some people, especially at first, and this has the added benefit of increasing circulation and oxygen to the brain. Some people opt for a small flat support behind the neck until they get used to sleeping on a hard surface. You may feel the need to put several folded blankets or a mattress pad underneath you. You will want to cover up with whatever you need to be comfortably warm while you sleep.
However you decide to try it, I would encourage you to do just that! Give it some time. You can always go back if you don’t like it. But chances are, like most aspects of the raw food lifestyle, you will be unabashedly won over when you experience the results."