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Why do a lot of Koreans sleep on the floor?


Korea is known for its rich cultural heritage and traditions. One of the most unique aspects of Korean culture is the way people sleep. Many Koreans still prefer to sleep on the floor, even though they have access to modern beds and mattresses. This article will explore the reasons behind this tradition, the benefits it offers, and how it has evolved over time.

Historical Background

The practice of sleeping on the floor dates back thousands of years in Korea. In ancient times, Koreans slept on heated floors made of stone, called Ondol. The heat was created by a system of underground pipes that circulated hot water from a stove. This allowed people to stay warm during harsh winters when temperatures often dropped below freezing.

Health Benefits

There are several health benefits associated with sleeping on the floor. It helps to align the spine and improve posture, which can alleviate back pain. Sleeping on a firm surface can also help to reduce joint pain and stiffness. Additionally, sleeping on the floor can improve circulation, promote better digestion, and reduce snoring.

Cultural Significance

Sleeping on the floor has deep cultural significance in Korea. It is seen as a way to stay connected to traditional values and customs. Many Koreans feel that sleeping on the floor is more natural and in line with their cultural identity than sleeping in a bed.


Sleeping on the floor is also practical for many Koreans who live in small apartments or homes with limited space. Traditional Korean houses, known as Hanok, are designed with low platforms for sleeping. This allows for more efficient use of space during the day when the bedding can be folded away.

Modern Innovations

While many Koreans still prefer to sleep on the floor, modern innovations have made it more comfortable and convenient. Traditional Korean bedding, called Yo, is made of cotton or silk and provides cushioning for the body. Modern versions of Yo are now available with memory foam and other materials for added comfort.

Environmental Impact

Sleeping on the floor has a smaller environmental impact than traditional beds. It requires less material to make and produces less waste when it eventually needs to be replaced. Additionally, sleeping on the floor can reduce energy consumption by eliminating the need for heating or air conditioning in the bedroom.

Family Bonding

Sleeping on the floor can also promote family bonding in Korean culture. In traditional Korean households, family members often sleep together on the floor, which can create a stronger sense of intimacy and closeness.

Generational Divide

Despite the many benefits of sleeping on the floor, younger generations in Korea are increasingly opting for modern beds and mattresses. This has created a generational divide between those who value tradition and those who prioritize comfort and convenience.

Global Influence

The practice of sleeping on the floor has also gained popularity outside of Korea in recent years. Many people around the world have adopted Korean-style bedding and furniture as a way to incorporate minimalist and eco-friendly elements into their homes.


Despite its cultural significance and health benefits, some people criticize sleeping on the floor as being uncomfortable and outdated. Some also argue that it perpetuates negative stereotypes about Asian culture being primitive or unsophisticated.


In conclusion, sleeping on the floor is a unique aspect of Korean culture that has evolved over thousands of years. It offers many health benefits, promotes family bonding, and has a smaller environmental impact than traditional beds. While younger generations are moving away from this tradition, it continues to hold deep cultural significance for many Koreans around the world.

Why do Asians sleep on the floor?

In Japan, it is customary for most people to sleep on the floor rather than in beds like those in Western cultures. This tradition dates back to the 10th century when people would sleep on hemp mats, and today many Japanese people sleep on tatami mats made from rice straw.

How do Koreans sleep on the ground?

In Korea, it is common for people to sleep on a mat or futon-like bedding called an “ondol” which is placed on the floor. This is made more comfortable by the ondol heating system that keeps the floor warm. Although this practice is still preferred by many Koreans, it is not as widespread as it once was.

Why sleeping on the floor is better?

Sleeping on the floor may improve your posture by allowing you to maintain a straight spine during sleep without sinking into a mattress. However, to reduce pressure on your spine, you may need to use pillows, such as placing a thin pillow under your lower back.

What culture sleeps on the floor?

One major difference in the way that Japanese people traditionally sleep is that they sleep on the floor using carefully arranged cushions and mats. The sleeping arrangement typically consists of a tatami mat at the base, followed by a Shikifuton mattress and a kakebuton duvet, topped off with a buckwheat hull pillow.

Do all Koreans sleep on the floor?

Although individual bedrooms and raised beds have been adopted from foreign cultures in Korea for some time, it is still common for multiple generations to sleep on the floor together, especially when a new baby is welcomed into the family. This tradition remains prevalent.

Why do Asians sleep on hard beds?

In China, the majority of people choose to sleep on a firm mattress due to their belief that it provides better support for their back. They think that a firm mattress keeps their spine aligned and prevents any sinking during the night.

Some Koreans who still prefer to sleep on the floor might also do so for religious reasons. In Buddhism, sleeping on a high bed is discouraged as it is seen as a display of wealth and luxury. On the other hand, sleeping on the floor is considered more humble and in line with Buddhist teachings of simplicity and detachment.

Another reason why some Koreans choose to sleep on the floor is for its perceived benefits for skin health. Sleeping on the floor is believed to improve blood circulation, which can result in a healthier-looking complexion. Some also believe that sleeping on a hard surface can stimulate collagen production, leading to firmer and more youthful-looking skin.

However, it is important to note that sleeping on the floor may not be suitable for everyone. It can be uncomfortable or even painful for those with certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or osteoporosis. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your sleeping arrangements.

Despite criticisms and changing trends, the practice of sleeping on the floor remains an important part of Korean culture and identity. Whether it’s for practical, health, or cultural reasons, many Koreans continue to embrace this tradition and pass it down to future generations.

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