5 Minimalist Alternatives To A Traditional Bed

teddy bear in bed

Anyone who has looked into the minimalist lifestyle has probably come across some peculiar lifestyle choices. Although many find it odd, many minimalists tend to do away with their beds entirely in replacement of other sleeping alternatives.

But why do some minimalists avoid sleeping on a traditional bed?

They take up a ton of space

One of the biggest minimalist critiques of traditional beds is that they take up a ton of space ESPECIALLY if you live in a tight living space, to begin with. If you happen to live in a small apartment or if your bedroom happens to just be on the small side, beds can take up the majority of the room. This, of course, leaves little to no space for other activities besides sleeping.

Without a traditional bed invading your space, your bedroom can be used as just another living space to do with as you please.

Traditional beds are difficult to transport

Traditional bed frames and mattresses are clunky and heavy to the point where they are extremely difficult to move from one place to another. Just moving your mattress and frame to the next room over requires two people at least, if not, professional movers. Moving to another house or apartment is an even bigger hassle.

With minimalist bed alternatives, however, you can move your sleeping space into a closet or another room in a matter of minutes.

Minimalist sleeping alternatives can be better on your back

The minimalist alternatives below, are acclaimed by many to feel much better on your back. Many people (most notably the Japanese) claim that sleeping without a mattress (with a minimalist futon or cushion) helps to really keep your spine straightened out and can actually feel more comfortable.

Keep in mind that although this may be true for some, sleeping without a mattress might not feel great for everyone. With an open mind, however, you might just warm up to the concept.

Minimalist alternatives to a traditional bed

Japanese futon


The Japanese futon is likely the most popular minimalist mattress alternative. After all, the Japanese have utilized this concept for decades!

Japanese futons are by far one of the most comfortable minimalist sleeping solutions. After all, there is plenty of padding in these futons to support people of any shape and size. At first, of course, these futons don’t feel like mattresses, however, they can feel just as comfortable once you adjust to the difference in the cushion. There is also an argument that the firmness that you get from a Japanese futon can be good for your back as well. 

Of course, the greatest advantage of Japanese futons for minimalists is that they can be easily folded up and stored in the closet so that you can utilize the space in your room any way you want. 


Cots are another great minimalist alternative to traditional beds. Sleeping on a cot alone can feel slightly awkward but with a supplementary roll out sleeping pad, a cot can feel quite cozy.

People in the army, who are widely known to be incredibly spartan and minimalist in nature have a long history of using cots to sleep. The ease of transportation makes cots the sleeping device of choice for these individuals.

However, cots, of course, are not limited to just the army. Minimalists have been known to take full advantage of cots for their lightweight transportability and ease of storage as well.


hammock for a bed

Hammocks are excellent devices for minimalists who want to quickly be able to pack up their sleeping space. All you need are two hooks opposite from each other drilled into the walls and you will be set to hang your hammock up. Once your hooks are set up you can take your hammock on and off your walls easily.

Not only are hammocks great for saving space but there may be other benefits of hammocks that you wouldn’t necessarily get from traditional mattresses. The free hanging rocking motion that you get from hammocks reportedly can make you fall asleep faster. Biologist Michel Muhlethaler claims that hammocks can even help you sleep deeper due to the rocking motion of the device.

Regardless of whether or not this is true, it is safe to say that a good quality hammock is extremely comfortable and given its transportable qualities, hammocks are great for minimalists trying to open up their living space.


sleeping on floor

You might be all for minimalistic sleeping habits but might think that sleeping without a futon, pad or hammock right on the floor might be taking things too far.

However, you might be surprised at the benefits. According to author and runner Katy Bowman, traditional mattresses “lock you into one position. This prohibits the natural turning your body undergoes overnight. The aches and pains most people suffer after waking up are due to not moving for hours”. In other words, because sleeping on the floor gives your body the freedom to naturally twist and turn you get a better nights sleep.

Furthermore, by sleeping on the floor, you don’t need to worry about packing away any sleeping materials. However, you should most likely sleep on at least a blanket for a little bit of added comfort.

Inflatable air pad

inflatable mattress

photo credit: Your Best Gigs 

Inflatable air pads are great to sleep on if you aren’t quite ready to sleep on the floor but want to experience a similar feeling.

The great part about air pads is that they do conform to your body ever so slightly which can make sleeping a bit more comfortable. Pressure points such as your upper back, head, and butt sink deeper into your air pad while your lower back and neck can be slightly cradled by the air pad. Of course, you can adjust how fully inflated your air pad is to your liking as well.

Every morning when you finish up with your air pad you can conveniently release the air and roll it up tightly for storage.

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