Last Updated on September 21, 2023 by Louise Carter
Beds and sleeping arrangements have evolved over the centuries. Today, most people sleep in a traditional bed, usually elevated by up to 24 inches, in preference to laying a mattress on the ground.
Part of the appeal is aesthetic. An elevated bed was once perceived as a sign of wealth and prosperity, and interior designers still believe that a tall bed looks more luxurious and opulent.
A bed off the ground will be more comfortable, especially if you carry excess weight because it won’t exert pressure on your joints or spine. This is vitally important for homes with uneven floors.
It’s easier to climb into or out of an elevated bed than one close to the floor. This is an important consideration if you’re elderly or have limited mobility due to hip and knee problems.
A raised bed is more hygienic than sleeping on the floor because you’ll be farther away from the dirt, debris, and dust while sleeping. Also, it’ll be harder for mites, spiders, and other pests to reach you.
An elevated bed height means it’s less likely that a mattress will attract mold and mildew. As many raised beds offer storage solutions, a taller bed can generate additional home space.
Why Do We Sleep on Raised Beds?
The concept of a raised bed dates back to 3,000 BC, when Ancient Egyptians viewed a raised bed as a status symbol. Tutankhamun allegedly slept on a raised bed constructed from silver and gold while his impoverished subjects slept on the floor.
In addition to the unmistakable impression of towering over others, the Egyptians noted that raising a bed from the ground was far more comfortable and afforded a better night’s sleep.
The Roman Empire popularized adding a mattress to a raised bed frame. This became more common and affordable during the Renaissance era, which redefined Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries.
Moving into the 18th and 19th centuries, raised beds and mattresses were reserved for the wealthy. The poor would be forced to share floor space, while those with money would enjoy an elevated bed.
As we progressed, sleeping in raised beds became the norm. In addition to the health benefits of sleeping off the ground, there are many reasons why raised beds remain the choice for many cultures.
Do Beds Need to Be Off the Floor?
Beds don’t need to be off the floor. No law dictates that beds must be lifted from the ground, so you’ll be well within your rights to place a mattress on the floor if that’s your preference.
In some cultures, particularly in the East, this is considered preferable.
If you visit a domestic home in Japan, you’ll likely find that residents sleep on futons. These small, flat mattresses occupy limited floor space and promote a minimalist aesthetic.
Some people may prefer to sleep closer to the ground, especially those with back problems. However, no scientific proof has been produced that sleeping on the floor improves spinal posture.
Why Are Raised Beds Better?
The bed is often the centerpiece of a bedroom and the first thing the eye will be drawn to.
This means many people and high-end hotels opt for a raised bed for aesthetic purposes. The higher the bed, the more impressive it’ll appear.
There are practical reasons why raised beds are better than sleeping too close to the ground.
Many homes, especially those built decades or centuries ago, don’t have straight floors.
An uneven sleeping surface can lead to back issues because pressure will be exerted on the spine. Even the slightest incline can lead to spinal misalignment when lying close to a floor.
Contact a tradesman if your bed still feels tilted and you wake up with back pain. Problems with the foundations of your home, like subsidence, may be leading to this unevenness.
If you’re growing older or have a mobility issue with your back, hips, or knees, a bed too low to the ground will be difficult to access. You will be forced to bend more than is comfortable.
The same applies if you’re taller or heavier than the average person. Low beds can be hard to get in and out of, so discomfort caused by this issue will soon take its toll on your body.
If your bed sags under your weight and is placed on the ground, you’ll feel more pressure on your back.
The floors of a home soon get dirty, even if you insist on all residents and guests removing their shoes before entering. Dirt and allergens will surround you if you sleep near the floor.
Sleeping close to the ground makes accessing your bed easy for unwelcome visitors.
While it’s a myth that we frequently swallow spiders in our sleep, you’re likelier to share your bed with creepy crawlies or mice if it isn’t elevated.
Lifting your bed higher off the ground allows air to circulate your mattress. If your bed and mattress are too humid and damp, harmful mold and mildew can accumulate.
If you sleep with a bed that doesn’t allow air circulation, periodically stand your mattress on its side and allow it to breathe for a few hours. Inspect the mattress for wear and tear and mold patches.
Heat rises no matter where you live and the ambient temperature of your bedroom. This means you’re likelier to be warmer in an elevated bed, even if it’s just a few inches off the ground.
A thick carpet coating will apply fibers to the floor of your bedroom. These fibers are woven tightly and act as insulators, trapping hot air within and feeling warm to the touch.
Hardwood floor increases the temperature of a bedroom, as wood is a conductor. Wood feels cooler to the touch than carpet, so lifting your bed above ground level will increase your body temperature.
Staying cool and maintaining a lower temperature in the bedroom will enhance sleep.
An addition to modern beds is utilizing the area below a mattress for additional storage.
Ottoman beds offer the entire space, which is an extra 4’x6′ of storage on a double bed, but in-built drawers can be just as helpful.
Not everybody wants or needs this extra storage space, but it can be useful for storing bedding.
Even if you don’t have a storage space under your bed, regularly dust and vacuum because you risk attracting spiders and mites if you don’t keep this part of the bedroom floor clean
How High Should a Bed Be Off the Floor?
The perfect elevation for a bed depends on your circumstances, including height, weight, health, and mobility. Most bed heights, including the frame and mattress, break down as follows:
- Low – below 24″ from the floor.
- Standard – 25″ from the floor.
- High – up to 36″ from the floor.
The easiest way to tell if a bed is at an ideal height is to sit on the edge.
The bed could be too high if your feet don’t touch the ground, while it’s too low if you can’t bend your knees at a 90-degree angle and place your feet on the floor.
Can I Change My Bed Height?
Get some bed risers if you believe your bed is too low to the ground.
Bed risers are available in wood, plastic, or metal from DIY or furniture stores and can be applied to the head and foot of a bed. Choose risers that provide height and ensure they’re safely affixed.
A mattress topper can add as much as 4 inches to the height of a bed while lying down.
Tall beds are significantly harder to rectify. The only option is to switch to a smaller, thinner mattress, which could shave 1-2 inches from the height of the bed.
A too-tall bed is often preferable to one deemed too low to the ground.
Can a Bed Be Too High?
A bed that’s too high risks exposing your knees and lower back to regular jarring impacts.
Proximity to the ceiling is unlikely a concern unless you’re using bunk beds or a loft bed. If so, allow a minimum of 36 inches from the top of the mattress to the bedroom ceiling.
Consider the height of the mattress when choosing a new bed, ensuring you don’t raise your bedframe too high. If you have limited mobility, are prone to tossing and turning in your sleep, or are at risk of falling out of bed, consider getting a lower bed.
Raised beds began as a way to flaunt wealth and status but have since become the standard sleeping arrangement. Based on your health, decide if sleeping closer to the ground will be more beneficial.