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Why do Koreans and Japanese sleep on floor?


Koreans and Japanese have a unique sleeping culture that is different from the rest of the world. They sleep on the floor, which is known as “yo” in Korea, and “futon” in Japan. This practice has fascinated many people, and it has become a topic of discussion in various forums. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Koreans and Japanese sleep on the floor.

Historical background

The practice of sleeping on the floor can be traced back to ancient times. In Korea, people used to sleep on heated floors called “ondol” during the winter season. It was a common practice among the upper class, and it eventually spread to other social classes. In Japan, people used to sleep on straw mats called “tatami,” which were laid directly on the floor. This practice was influenced by Chinese culture and was adopted by the Japanese.

Health benefits

Sleeping on the floor has several health benefits. It helps to improve posture and reduce back pain. It also helps to increase blood circulation and reduce stress levels. Sleeping on a soft mattress can cause some people to sink in too deeply, causing spinal misalignment, but sleeping on a firm surface like the floor ensures that your back remains straight.


Sleeping on the floor is more hygienic than sleeping on a bed. Beds collect dust, mites, and other allergens that can trigger allergies or asthma. On the other hand, floors can be easily cleaned with a broom or vacuum cleaner.


In Korea and Japan, living spaces are generally smaller than in Western countries. Sleeping on the floor allows for more space during the day when the bedding is put away. It also allows for more flexibility in room arrangement.

Cultural significance

Sleeping on the floor has cultural significance in Korea and Japan. It is seen as a way of promoting humility and simplicity. It is also associated with traditional values and customs.


Sleeping on the floor is practical for many reasons. It is easy to set up, requires no special equipment, and is cheaper than buying a bed. It is also useful in case of earthquakes, as it lowers the risk of injury from falling objects.


The climate in Korea and Japan can be humid and hot during the summer months. Sleeping on the floor allows for better air circulation and helps to keep the body cool.


In traditional Korean and Japanese homes, furniture was kept to a minimum, and the floor was often used for sitting or sleeping. Modern designers have also embraced this concept, creating minimalist furniture that can be easily stored away, leaving more space for other activities.


Sleeping on the floor allows for customization of bedding. In Korea, people use thick blankets called “yo” to provide cushioning and insulation from the cold floor. In Japan, people use “futon,” which can be easily rolled up and stored away during the day.


Sleeping on the floor has a calming effect on the body. It promotes relaxation and helps people to fall asleep faster. For some people, it can also be a way of connecting with nature and feeling grounded.


In conclusion, sleeping on the floor has several benefits that make it a popular practice in Korea and Japan. It has health benefits, is more hygienic, saves space, has cultural significance, is practical, is suitable for different climates, offers design flexibility, allows for customization of bedding, and promotes relaxation. While it may not be for everyone, it is a unique and fascinating aspect of Korean and Japanese culture.

Why do Japanese like sleeping on the floor?

Advocates of the Japanese sleep method argue that sleeping on the floor offers various advantages, including improved circulation, reduced back and muscle pain, and cooler sleeping temperatures due to the settling of cool air on the floor.

Do most Japanese still sleep on the floor?

In Japan, it is customary for people to sleep on the floor instead of using western-style beds. This practice dates back to the 10th century when people would use hemp mats to sleep on. Nowadays, many Japanese people utilize tatami mats made from rice straw for sleeping.

Why sleeping on the floor is better?

Sleeping on the floor can potentially improve your posture by allowing you to maintain a straight spine during sleep, without sinking too deeply into a mattress. However, it may be necessary to use pillows to reduce pressure on your back, such as placing a thin pillow under your lower back. This can be beneficial for your overall spinal health.

How do Koreans sleep on the ground?

Yes, many Koreans sleep on the floor on a mat or futon-like bedding called an “ondol.” The ondol heating system, which warms the floor, makes sleeping on the floor more comfortable. Today, while many Koreans still prefer sleeping on the floor, it is not as common as it used to be.Jan 18, 2023

How do Japanese sit on the floor without legs falling asleep?

Seiza-style sitting requires kneeling on the floor and folding one’s legs underneath one’s thighs, while resting the buttocks on the heels.

Why do Japanese people sleep so little?

There are several theories as to why people in the country are lacking in sleep, with possibilities such as lengthy work hours and commutes being among them. Additionally, the traditional working culture in Japan includes mandatory social gatherings where alcohol is often consumed, which may also contribute to the sleeplessness.

Despite the many advantages of sleeping on the floor, there are also some drawbacks to consider. One of the biggest concerns is the hardness of the floor, which can cause discomfort and pain for some people. It can also be difficult to adjust to sleeping on the floor if you are used to a soft bed. Additionally, sleeping on the floor may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or back problems.

Another consideration is the lack of privacy that comes with sleeping on the floor. In traditional Korean and Japanese homes, rooms were often shared by multiple family members, and sleeping quarters were separated by screens or sliding doors. However, in modern apartments or houses, it may be difficult to create enough privacy for everyone who is sleeping on the floor.

Lastly, it’s important to note that sleeping on the floor is not unique to Korea and Japan. In fact, many cultures around the world have practiced this sleeping method for centuries. For example, in India, people sleep on thin mats called “charpais,” which are similar to Japanese futons. In Africa, people sleep on woven mats or animal skins laid directly on the ground.

In conclusion, while sleeping on the floor may not be for everyone, it is a fascinating and practical cultural practice that has many benefits. The health benefits, space-saving design, and cultural significance make it a unique aspect of Korean and Japanese culture that has been passed down through generations. Whether you try it out for one night or adopt it as a long-term lifestyle choice, sleeping on the floor is definitely worth exploring.

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