Are Japanese Futons Good For Your Back?

woman posing

Traditional Japanese futons are a minimalists dream.

For anyone eager to transition to a more clutter free, and practical living style, ditching your old mattress for a Japanese futon is an excellent first step. After you sleep and wake up in the morning you can simply roll up your Japanese futon and throw it in the closet for storage. From there, you have the entire bedroom space to yourself for the rest of the day.

However, in making the decision to transition from a mattress to a Japanese futon, it is appropriate to question how your body will be affected by the new sleeping situation. Naturally, you may ask, “Are Japanese futons good for your back?”

The short answer is “likely yes”, but of course, it depends on a host of different factors.

The case against traditional mattresses

person sleeping

It seems as though there is constantly a new mattress that is advertised as the “softest sleeping solution”. The manufacturers of these mattresses love to advertise the elaborate layers of cushioning embedded in every mattress that is designed to cradle your body for maximum comfort.

However, although these super soft mattresses may feel comfortable at first they can be particularly bad for your back.

Some studies show that because soft mattresses offer very little support for your back and spine, people develop pains and back problems as a result.

Another con of traditional mattresses is that they tend to sag in the middle over time. Since the bulk of your body weight is in your midsection, your body naturally makes the biggest impression in the middle of the bed. Sleeping in this spot with your body slumped in the middle is not a great position for your spine and can be quite damaging to your health. This is particularly true if you frequently sleep on your side.

Lastly, super soft traditional mattresses don’t allow your body to naturally shift and move in your sleep. When you are half sunk into your mattress, your body is practically stuck in this one position for the entirety of the night. Being stuck in one position without the freedom to twist and turn is actually one of the reasons why people wake up with aches and pains.

Why sleeping on a Japanese futon can be good for your back

The key reason why Japanese futons can be good for your back and your body, in general, is because Japanese futons give your body excellent support.

Japanese futons are certainly not as cushy as most traditional mattresses. However, they do provide excellent support for your body. Sleeping on firmer surfaces such as these keeps your spine well aligned and helps to keep good sleeping posture as well.

After all, humans weren’t designed to sleep on fluffy cloud-like mattresses anyway. Early man likely slept on the ground and still was able to get up in the morning and run miles to hunt. Our bodies can take a stiff sleeping surface better than you might think.

Given that Japan futons have the floor directly underneath for support, they are not known to sag like traditional mattresses. This ensures that you have an even sleeping surface and not an indented sleeping surface that puts your back in an awkward sleeping position.

In addition, because Japanse futons are much firmer than traditional mattresses, they allow your body to naturally twist and turn throughout the night.

According to professional runner Katy Bowman, being able to twist and turn is incredibly important for getting a good quality nights rest. Bowman, doesn’t sleep on anything but the floor believe it or not. She claims that in doing so, her body can move without being restricted in any way by a cushion or mattress. This way she can wake up in the morning without any aches and pains that come from sleeping 8 hours in one fixed position, ready to take on the day.

Sleeping on the floor may be a little extreme for some. However, with a firm surface like a Japanese futon, your body has the ability to move your sleep the way it would if you were sleeping straight on the floor.

“So a Japanese futon would be good for me and my back then?”

twin futons

Keep in mind that the Japanese didn’t design Japanese futons with the intent to help back pain or to improve posture. The Japanese simply traditionally sleep on Japanese futons and not beds.

Although many people can benefit from Japanese futons, they may not be the best for everyone.

For instance, Japanese futons may not be the best sleeping solution of choice for elderly individuals. People of old age may need something a little bit more soft and supple for weakening joints. It’s worth noting also that getting up from the floor after a full night’s rest can be difficult for people getting on in years.

Of course, if you have an injury or joint problem of some sort that requires a little more cushion, then obviously a mattress would be the better choice.

Other benefits of using Japanese futons

Aside from providing good support for your back and helping you get a good nights sleep, there are many other benefits of Japanese futons worth considering.

The most significant benefit is that these futons are incredibly easy to move around. If need to move homes or simply move your bed into another room, Japanese futons are incredibly easy to transition from one place to another. Unlike clunky mattresses and bed frames that weight a ton and take up tons of space, futons are compact and light enough to put in the closet along with other Japanese futon accessories

Another important benefit is that you won’t fall off your futon and hurt yourself… because it simply isn’t possible. Yes, you do have to drop down onto your futon to sleep on it, however, the upside is that you can sleep worry-free.

Lastly, futons really aren’t that expensive at all. You can get a great quality futon for less than 300 dollars. On the flip side, traditional mattresses can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. For the benefits that you get from Japanese futons, the relatively inexpensive investment may be worth it.

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