In Discussions, Discussions, Life, Lifestyle, Minimalism

10 reasons why sleeping on a minimalist futon is the best bed you will ever have

I’ve always had curious people emailing me and asking me why I sleep on a Japanese futon on the floor.

You can buy an all-cotton futon made here in the U.S.! The quality is a world away from what you can find elsewhere. Don’t cheap out.

For those folks, it’s very unconventional and strange because it makes them think of those cheap student futons they had to endure during college, or it is a sign of you not being able to afford a “real” bed, and therefore you are poor.

Well I am neither poor, a college student (those years have passed!) nor cheap (as evidenced by my monthly spending), and I daresay no one can really call me “frugal” except in certain categories such as the lack of furniture I own (should I be called out for not spending in acceptable categories?).

I have been sleeping on a Japanese futon for about 6 years now (AFTER my college days, I would like to add), and I have never looked back. It was definitely different for the first week or so, but once my body got used to it, I didn’t want to go back to sleeping on a regular bed.

IT IS NOT THE “FUTON” YOU ARE IMAGINING FROM COLLEGE STEREOTYPES

The one thing I want to point out before you read on is that those nasty college futons are lumpy and horrible. Yes they convert into a bed from being a sofa or whatever Transfomer-like properties it has, but it is uncomfortable.

I am talking about a well-made, true Japanese futon that adult people use. Speaking of the Japanese…

 




 

THE JAPANESE HAVE BEEN SLEEPING ON FUTONS FOR YEARS

Of course, modern Japanese now have Western-style beds, but why fix it if it ain’t broke?


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WHY SLEEPING ON A MINIMALIST FUTON IS THE BEST

1. I never have to worry about anyone falling off it

I do not know if you live with the fear of falling off your bed, but I never worry about rolling off my bed.

Furthermore, we bought a Japanese futon for our baby (and will buy ones for our future babies) and as a result, I don’t even need to buy those silly chair rails that parents put on their beds to stop their children from rolling off.

P.S.You can buy an all-cotton futon made here in the U.S.! Don’t cheap out on something you will be sleeping on more than 8 hours a night.

Tell me, is this bed rail that parents buy for their children not ridiculous and a waste of money?

safety-first-bed-rail

2. It is easy to roll up a futon and move with it

A little cotton string, some muscle power to roll it as tight as possible, wrap it in a futon carrying cover or even with 2 garbage bags, and you are good to go.

It takes up almost no space in the moving truck, and you can even throw it in the back of your car across the backseat, no worrying about breaking the bed.. it’s just essentially a super thick piece of cotton.

In contrast, a “normal” bed consists of any or all of the following:

  • A bed frame and possibly a headboard as well
  • A boxspring (with springs that poke into your back over the years as it ages)
  • A mattress cover or some sort of padding

All of this is not light. If you like sleeping on larger beds like Queen-sized or King-sized ones, this means you have to lift those heavy suckers out, get them down the stairs, out the door, onto the truck, not to mention spending time dismantling that bed frame and headboard.

I can guarantee you that it will all certainly not fit in the back of your car, and if you aren’t careful you might even chip the headboard or bed frame by dropping it because it’s so damn heavy.

3. It is easy to pull out a futon on the floor for a guest

The Japanese do this — you can convert any room with a clear space into a quick guest bedroom. You don’t need a proper bed or even a bulky sofa bed, just pull out your guest futon from the closet, unroll it, slap on some fitted sheet covers and linens and you are good to go.

All of our guests who have slept on the futon have found it quite comfortable, and even if they haven’t found it comfortable, it is all the more incentive for them to not to stay any longer than 1-2 weeks as a guest.

😉

 




 

4. Futons let you use a room for more than one purpose

In all seriousness, the Japanese tended to have very open, empty spaces in their homes. They would use each room for different purposes based on what they required, because they did not have a lot of space to begin with unlike Westerners.

An empty room can be converted into anything you wish — a play room, study area, yoga center, and so on, and at night, you can pull out that futon you rolled up this morning, lay it out (with the sheets still on it and everything), and use that empty room as a bedroom during the night.

You don’t need to make the bed, or close the door to hide the bed from guests coming over, nor do you have to worry about dust getting on the bed (you just roll it and put it in the closet).

stock_bed-pillows-sleeping-rest

Multi-functional, multi-purpose, no wasted space. What could be more minimalist?

Of course, being the lazy Western folk that we are, we have a bedroom so we just leave the futon unrolled and use it as our sofa as well as our bed (we watch videos while lying down on the futon), but that is mostly because we have the extra space to do so.

If we had to live in a studio or a one-room sort of deal like the Japanese, we’d certainly be rolling up that bed each morning to make space, and unrolling it at night.

5. It’s a natural, 100% cotton bed that could be sterilized in some way

It is all natural, 100% cotton.

You can put it over a railing and beat out the dust each Spring like those industrious Japanese folk do but we are too lazy for this.

We do it once in a while.

What’s nice is that we can actually lift the futon out, put it over a railing, let the sun beat down on it to sterilize the bed and bring it back in.

You can’t do that with a conventional, heavy, bulky mattress!!!

6. It is better for our backs

Ah, no we come to the main reason why we even found a Japanse futon being comfortable to sleep on in the first place.

It is better for our backs, period.

I know people think that very soft comfortable beds are better for bad backs, but from our research over the years, it has shown that a firm (but not hard) bed is better for your back. It keeps your spine aligned, and you do not wake up with back pain on a futon.

We literally have no back pain any longer, and I used to suffer from a pinched nerve once in a while, sleeping on a mattress that would sag in the middle.

What about getting up in the morning!? What about when you were pregnant!!?

My sister in law was commenting about how nearing the end of my pregnancy I would not be able to sleep on the floor and get up easily, but I found very minimal problems in doing so.

I just rolled over on one side, used a hand to prop up my torso and bump, and then moved into a sitting position and stood up.

Then again my bump was not enormous and I did not put on more than 25 pounds in total, so that has to be taken into account as well.

 

 




 

7. You can layer the futons if you want something more comfortable

We do not do this but you can layer the futons on top of each other if you want something more squishy and comfortable. The Japanese do this, and I am fairly sure it turns into a Princess and the Pea kind of situation with them.


I think they layer up to 3 cotton futons on top of each other, and by all accounts it sounds very comfortable for those who are accustomed to conventional beds.

You could layer 2 of these and have a very comfortable bed, trust me.

j-life-futon-cotton-bed-japanese

8. It’s cheap

A single Japanese futon is about $300.

A conventional bed costs about $1200 on average, and that may or may not come with a boxspring. It kind of depends what you want to buy, to be honest.

My parents paid $1200 for their bed and it came with a cheap looking gold bed frame, a mattress and a boxspring.

9. No one can bounce on a futon and hurt themselves

“3 little monkeys jumping on a bed.. one fell off and bumped his head…”

stock_monkey-mother-family-baby

Again back to the childcare aspect of this, but when I was a child I loved bouncing on my bed. This was very dangerous but I did not have enough developed brain cells to comprehend how dangerous it was.

I have heard of horror stories from parents about their kids jumping on the bed, actually managing to smash their head on the ceiling or just tumble off and break an arm.

It’s kind of a minor “WTF-are-you-spewing-on-about” point from me, but a valid one nonetheless.

No one can bounce on a futon and it removes that danger. Period.

 




 

10. People (especially children) love being on the floor

Not just adults.

For some reason, sitting on the floor appeals to children. I suspect it is because everyone no matter how tall is at their same height, they can see your face to interact with you instead of your unresponsive navel or legs.

Maybe it’s because they’re used to beds, and having something on the floor that is soft and comfortable to crawl on makes them excited about the novelty of being able to be ON THE FLOOR, but every kid I have come across has wanted to come and sleep or play on the floor on top of the futon with us when they have visited.

They think it’s great fun and there’s no worry about them falling off it while they’re playing either.

And that my friends is why a Japanese-style all cotton 100% well-made futon rocks.

RELATED MINIMALIST SLEEPING POSTS:

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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192 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Hi! Thanks for this super helpful article! My husband and I are going to switch to a futon soon. I’m curious about futons for babies. There are so many safety suggestions for newborns to make sure they don’t suffocate on their bedding or roll in between the mattress/crib (or futons, in this case). Do you know of any resources that address these concerns? I know people have been sleeping on futons for ages but I’m not sure that fact alone is enough to ease my mind, haha. Also, what do you use to protect the futon from diaper leaks/bed wetting? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      I read the same articles, and what we did was we didn’t put a lot of soft bedding on the futon itself, no extra blankets or pillows and so on. Just a sheet over the futon.

      There is no resource, we just used our own judgement. We just laid our baby on the futon in the middle, no extra blankets or bedding around, and dressed him warmly without needing blankets so he wouldn’t suffocate.

      We also put him in the bed on his back rather than on his belly to sleep.

      To protect the futon from diaper leaks, you can buy those twin-sized incontinence elastic-edged sheets for seniors like this one here.

      Reply
    2. Jarrod

      My wife and I just returned from a three week trip to Japan yesterday where we visited her family with our new firstborn. He’s a little over 5 months old and he slept on a Japanese futon for babies that his grandmother bought for him. HE LOVED IT! The best he ever slept. He’s a real mover when he sleeps (twisting, wiggling, and turning); he often ends up sideways in his cot bed here at home in England. So not having walls for him to bang his head and get jammed against, which happened often, was a plus. Like the first respondent said, we just used the futon itself without any extra bedding; we did occasionally use a thin waterproof sheet (not a fitted sheet) that grandma bought him in Japan, but we eventually scrapped it because it would get bunched up underneath him since he’s such a mover.

      Being American, it was hard for me to think of anything different from a standard crib or cot bed for baby, but after experiencing him sleep on it for three weeks, I’m convinced that for many of the reasons listed in this article (especially no risk of falling) confirmed by our experience that I’m definitely going futon for my boy.

      Reply
      1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

        Mine loves using the futon as a couch, hanging out spot, truck rally course… you name it.

        If you try a fitted waterproof sheet for seniors on the bed, it works great. Mine wiggles like mad, and ends up upside down most of the time, his face at our feet…

        I’m so happy to hear that your experience was the same as mine. Baby Bun really loves the futon and there’s space for us too.. which when he is sick or cranky or teething, is a godsend.

        Reply
  2. Dranio

    so I’ve been considering a Futon for a while. I was originally going to get one that doubles as a sofa (for when guests are over, will be getting rid of my current couches too). now, I can sleep on most anything (I’ve slept sitting up on the couch just fine numerous times). I sleep just as good on the couches (lying down and sitting) as I do on the bed. the floor itself, however, is a bit hard for me, though I’ve slept on it before (I have wood floors). my issue is the cleaning of the futon. I have no issues fluffing them every couple weeks or so, airing them out, ect. my issue is I can’t really air them out. my apartment is in the best area of town, and seeing as there’s only the floor level, no balcony. I could take it outside to air it out and such, but I’d have to stay outside with it the entire time. I saw while reading some of the comments that there was something that raised the futon slightly off the ground, but folded up and doubled as a rack you could put it on and place it in front of a window? what are these exactly? having a couch and bed is just too much for this apartment, A futon could fix that but it’s the cleaning, I mean, i could have the space and ability to air it out…….if I took it across town to my brothers everytime i was going to do it, though the couch/bed type would work best for what I need. basically I’m looking for some advice on it.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      What you are looking for then is a sofa bed if you aren’t going to buy a futon platform for it.

      Try Ikea!

      Reply
  3. Dan

    This post is great, thanks!!! After waking up for months with a sore back I realized the culprit was my sagging mattress (which was pretty expensive and is less than 5 years old!!!), so I put down a yoga mat and blanket on the carpeted floor and wake up feeling so much better than before.

    I’m considering investing in a futon, but I was curious if anyone has experience sleeping on something like a yoga mat or other similar surfaces and how it compares with a futon? Thanks!!!

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      When I travel, I sleep on the floor with just a cover and if I am lucky I have a mat along with me.

      It is OK for the first while but I sometimes flip on my side, so I’ve found my entire left and right sides go numb from the pressure of my body on the super hard ground after an hour or so.

      Keep in mind I’m also very bony, and even sleeping on my back, I find it is too numbing on my bottom & shoulders but it is better.

      Just something to keep in mind. A futon is softer and is not hard, but if you can sleep on a yoga mat, why not? Give it a shot and see.

      Reply
  4. Ero

    I’m glad I found your blog here! I am a college student and am struggling to pay tuition even at my community college. I am moving from the on campus dorms and need to start looking for some furniture and an apartment. I think I’m going to try some of your minimalist techniques here to save money and reduce stress 🙂
    I am looking at an Emoore Japanese futon on Amazon, anyone have a brand or specific futon they would recommend?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      I buy from J-Life as they are 100% cotton and the best I’ve found, but any futon will do, honestly.

      Reply
  5. tricia

    I also floor sleep. I use a truck size reflective window cover under my my thin floor pad. It reflects back your body heat. I was going to get one of those pads you can get for dogs but this worked.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      What a good idea!!!!

      Reply
  6. Armida Guerra

    Good post indeed. We implemented the idea of futons mainly because it’s good for our backs and it space savvy too. Our living room is not that spacious . So my husband bought a futon from ‘Surplus Furniture and Mattress Warehouse’, ( http://www.surplusfurniture.com/ ) Canada when I was pregnant.

    Reply
  7. bpgqui

    i breastfed for 2 1/2 yrs, sidelying on a futon from 3 mos on, for naptimes and bedtime. i didn’t hurt my shoulders or elbow.

    Reply
  8. Jessy LeClair

    Agreed! I LOVE my minimalistic Japanese futon. Switching to a simple cotton futon is just one of the many ways that living in Japan changed my sleeping habits. Actually I recently posted a blog post about the other lessons in sleeping that I learned from Japan! bit.ly/1MsCsdc

    My parents own the J-Life futons, but I bought mine on Amazon from EMOOR. (I wanted to bring back a futon from Japan but no airline would accept such a large item.) I think the EMOOR futon are relatively new to the American market. I did not see them offered even a year ago. The design is awesome – thick enough to be comfortable but super lightweight. Having slept on both the JLife and EMOOR futon, I would recommend EMOOR.

    Loved your post. Thanks for sharing the joy of futon sleeping, Jessy

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      You’re welcome! Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

      Reply
    2. Sara Barnson

      I have a J-life, bit I might try an emoor when it comes time to replace it based on your recommendation. I’ve found my queen size J-life futon is very bulky and heavy, even for my husband and I together. It makes it very difficult to take care of it.

      Reply
      1. Edgar

        Hi! I have both a j-life and emoor shikibuton and I would also recommend the emoor. The emoor is thinner than the j-life but I use it right on the hardwood floor with no problem!

        Reply
  9. Jenna

    Hi. Thank you for this very interesting post! I have researched futons quite a bit the last week and I read that I should not put a futon mattress on the floor because it will build up moisture and mold within the cotton. They say to use slats.Have you heard this or had any issues with this? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      No, I haven’t heard this, nor have I done this at all. I guess it makes sense if you live in a humid climate, but I don’t put my bed on any slats.

      Reply
    2. Tanya

      Yes this is correct! When I moved into my last apartment I tossed out my old creaky boxspring and just slept on my foam mattress on the floor; the support was great, it was kind of fun & no creaking! However one day I propped up my mattress against the wall in preparation to wash the floor and discovered to my horror the underneath of it was quite damp! Oddly enough the top where I slept felt dry to the touch. I don’t think it had gone moldy as I have asthma & I’m sure my lungs acting up would have warned me of an issue, but every day after that I made sure to prop the mattress up against the wall so it would dry out during the day.

      Reply
      1. Gordon

        Japan is a very humid country and nobody uses “slats” with their futons here. As far as any mold is concerned, perhaps that’s why the Japanese hang their futon outside in the sunshine from time to time. Also, the futon are usually folded up and put in a closet on a daily basis, rather than having them stay on the floor for any great length of time.

        Reply
        1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

          Yes, you are right. They usually hang it out each day for the sun to dry and disinfect it

          Reply
  10. linda

    Can a futon pad be put on a european slat frame?

    Reply
  11. Andrew

    I’ve recently been diagnosed with a herniated disc. Since then I’ve been sleeping on the floor on a 2″ exercise mat for some comfort (from our hardwood floors) for the past 3 weeks and love it!

    My wife and I are moving into a new home soon, and she has really been hoping to get a king sized bed. We currently have a queen, and she grew up sleeping alone in a queen sized bed (sprawled).

    Because of this, I’ve been looking around for a king sized Japanese futon, but have had no luck. Do you have any suggestions regarding this?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      You know that’s the rub that everyone is asking about. What we have done, is buy 2 Queen-sized futons and put them side by side. There’s that annoying little seam in the middle where you can end up sleeping on or falling through but at least we each get our own Queen-sized bed.

      That’s the best option we came up with. I think the factories are unable to make futons of that size, to be honest. Maybe their machines are not equipped to do so.

      Reply
    2. Sara

      Two twins make a king

      Reply
  12. Jeanette (Netherlands)

    I just wanted to say that these futons sound like absolute heaven! Not just cause of the easy storage and moving, and the spinal friendly properties (I suffer from chronic back pain, due to spinal stenosis, early degenerative disc disease and arthritis), but the fact that the futon is made of 100% natural material: cotton: How awesome is that for people who sweat easily, like me, who’s having an even tougher time as an older girl of 53, cause of “Ze Change”?! The perfect menopause mattress, it can be sanitized regularly, and you don’t have to take refuge to those horrid waterproof sheets (brr.. I mean, really?) to protect your sleeping arrangement, or by a new mattress every 6 months (I think not!). This should be posted on blogs or forums dealing with menopause and hyperhidrosis imo, it could proof life-saving, or at least keep you from losing your literal cool, and/or wasting money. Spread the word!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’d love to spread the word. I am hoping the post does that.

      At any rate, I really love the futon. My son does too, he loves playing with us on there and he naps easily without my fear of him falling off as he wiggles around.

      Reply
  13. $tack$

    Hi, late question but when you said to buy multiple layers for added cushioning/softness, do you mean buying extra whole futons? (example, a twin one from J Life is $200 so three layers would be $600). I figure I might save money by just buying a big soft mattress from Amazon or something then, since I sleep on my side and need something very soft. I’m used to sleeping on the floor though so thats not a problem.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Just buy one futon from J-Life. Depending on the type of cotton futon you get, or as it compresses as the years go on, you MIGHT need another layer.

      We had ours for years, we bought another layer recently because the other one was just getting too matted down & we didn’t want to fluff it out..

      Reply
      1. Alexis Petroff

        Hi,

        I’ve been sleeping on Japanese futons for 35 years.
        Every time I wash my sheets I also flip the Futon vertically or horizontally
        to keep the surface even. Thank you . ap

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          That is a good idea. My partner does that but we also need to spend time fluffing the futons which we are quite lazy in doing.

          Reply
  14. Orion Pond

    I intend to get a futon from j-life, but I’m not sure about getting the tatami mats. Most information says that they are necessary, but I live in Florida and I am concerned about the humidity. Is there a notable difference?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      No difference. Unnecessary unless you really like the smell of that stuff and want it to be “authentic”.

      Reply
  15. sms

    Hi,
    I am planning to buy mattress and came across your site. Please do help me deciding on buying futons for my kids who are 5 years and 2 years old. I live in Michigan state and winter is very bad here with heavy snowfall. Will these futons keep my kids warm?
    Also read about review of J-life futons and people have given comments such as these futons are very heavy, Could you please do let me know what will be the weight of these futons?
    Are these futons completely made with cotton?

    Thanks,
    sms

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hi there

      1. I live in Montreal Canada where it is super cold, and I daresay colder than Michigan at times w/ tons of snow! If your floors are not stone and do not retain the cold, then you will be fine to have futons on the floor.

      2. I let my toddler sleep on one and I cover it in a flannel cover so it stays warmer if that helps.

      3. Yes, futons are very heavy, but not any heavier than mattresses, I’d say. I can only guess at the weight of being pretty heavy depending on what size you take. We have a queen-sized futon it is is about 75 pounds. It is easier for us to move, we roll it up, secure it with very thick, heavy straps and we both carry it (one adult takes one end).

      4. Yes, mine are all 100% cotton.

      Please let me know if you have more questions!

      Reply
    2. 永努梨安

      Ooo! I would use the cold weather as an excuse to also get a Kotatsu!

      When I lived in Japan my apartment had a climate control device (heater/air conditioner) mounted 6 feet up on a wall. I froze my buns no matter what, because the cold air pooled on the floor and the warm air rose to the ceiling tripping the thermostat and shutting the unit off.

      I was fairly poor and my blankets were admittedly meager, so a Kotatsu was not in the cards (especially since another blanket would have done the trick) but as soon as I learned what one was I fantisized nightly.

      I was on a wood floor and imagine a tatami or carpet would have kept me warmer.

      Link of what a kotatsu is complete with pictures of kitties enjoying one.

      http://goinjapanesque.com/05940/

      Reply
      1. save. spend. splurge.

        I am such an anime/manga lover that I know exactly what you meant 🙂

        Reply
  16. Mikomi

    Hello, could you please explain to me the idea of stacking each futon on top of each other. From what I’ve seen, with the link you provided to J-life, their futons look like they would create a rather thick bed if you stacked 3 of them on top of each other (although I believe you have yours placed directly on the floor as opposed to the pictures shown on the site which have a platform to place the futon on).
    Or were you stating that futon have a comfort level (of varying firmness) and yours was a “level 3” of sorts?
    My confusion lies under the idea that each futon has the same firmness and feel, so stacking 3 wouldn’t, or not to a considerably degree, change the feel.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hi Mikomi! Sure.

      The J-Life futons are thick enough to not need any extra for stacking. I put mine on the floor, and my futons are from years ago from a local futon shop.

      I bought a new J-Life futon for Baby Bun only and he doesn’t need any stacking because the bed itself as you mentioned is thick enough by itself.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
      1. Mikomi

        @save. spend. splurge.: Thanks for the reply, that cleared it up.

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          You’re welcome!

          Reply
  17. Jocie M

    I am wondering how using a futon has worked for you, with nursing a new baby. Did you injure your elbows? I almost exclusively nurse lying on one side or the other, and in the past, even with a regular cushy American mattress have ended up with injured elbows (more having to do with – I constantly read or write, & prop myself up on elbow if writing).
    I am actually already sleeping ‘on the floor’, but am considering getting a regular cushy mattress just for comfort when nursing a new baby. But I am perfectly comfortable sleeping on the floor, and as it took 3 weeks to get used to, don’t really want to go back to a mattress!!! I think it is cool to sleep on the floor, I like the flexibility it gives me in floor space, etc., as you posted above. Plus I am worried about toxins from regular mattresses.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I actually couldn’t nurse my newborn at all. He refused to latch, so we gave him a bottle.

      That said, I think a futon would not work for you for now. It is harder than a spring American mattress… I would say wait until your child is weaned and THEN think about a futon on the floor.

      It is pretty firm but you can always add more futon layers (we have 3 because I am skinny & therefore bony, so I tend to bruise & be uncomfortable more easily.)

      I love sleeping on the floor. It is more fun to play on the floor with your kid too, you can jump around and tickle them without fear that they will fall off.

      Reply
  18. Joe

    I’m confused. So you just buy a futon mattress and sleep on it. Then stack the mattress’ for more comfort? I’m looking to eliminate my bed and gain more space in my room.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Exactly.

      Each futon mattress is one thick cotton layer; since I lay it on hardwood floors, I need 3 to have a comfortable softness.

      I suggest buying at least one futon mattress and seeing if it is soft enough for you. If it is, then don’t bother buying more futon layers to stack.

      You can eliminate the boxspring and the entire bedframe.. plus the futons roll up and can be secured with thick nylon straps (like the ones for cars) & easily carried/moved/packed.

      Reply
    2. kempo

      hello I am Korean and i sleep on a Yo (Korean floor bed)

      Koreans, Japanese and other Asians sleep on these type of beds.

      if you live near LA you can buy a Yo in Koreatown at a place called Kim’s home center or Koreatown plaza and go to the top floor there is a house goods store that has all sorts of home things.
      Costco even carry’s floor beds but they call it a “roll out lounger” they are 70$ hopfully they still have them. they are memeryfoam and super nice!

      do not settle for just any bed there are several differt types and softness floor beds.

      hope this helps you.

      P.S. it will take a while to get use to sleeping on my hubby is not Asian and it was hard at first now he loves them more then box bed :3

      Reply
      1. save. spend. splurge.

        Oh thank you! What a great comment. 🙂

        Reply
  19. Byron

    Hi there! I’m currently in Japan and will be for at least 2 years and need to buy a bed or futon really soon, but I have one big question about futons. I snore a lot so I sleep on the side to minimize my snoring. My question is, can I sleep on my side with a futon or will this just hurt my shoulders?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      It MAY hurt your shoulders. If you only have one futon layer, it WILL hurt. 2, is debatable.

      3 layers and it won’t be a problem.

      My partner sleeps on his side too and snores anyway (haha), and he says that sometimes he feels a crunching in his shoulder, but that has minimized since we “ugpraded” to 3 futon layers.

      Reply
      1. Byron

        Oh that’s good to know! Yeah, I guess it doesn’t solve the snoring problem, but at least it’s good to know that I can sleep on the side and send my noise to the oposite direction from my partner. I feel it’s more comfortable too! I’ll make it a futon, seems like the better choice. Thank you for your help!

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          You’re welcome! I hope it works out. The one benefit to a futon is if you toss and turn a lot like my partner, you don’t wake up the other one because there are no springs or any kind of mattress to transfer the movement.

          He shifts a lot and I just keep sleeping because I don’t feel a thing.

          Reply
      2. kim

        it doesn’t seem to make sense to me if you need to get multiple layers for added cushion/softness to avoid all these problems other commenters are referring to, when that is really not much different than having a mattress. Every time someone says something of a concern like “i breast feed, what if I want to sleep on my side will it hurt my elbows, what if I have a bad knee and its hard to get on the floor, what if it doesn’t feel soft enough, etc.” you always answer just get multiple futon mattresses. if that is the case the cost is then adding up to the same if not more than an actual bed with frame and boxspring, and two you are then making it the size and height of regular western bed. If they were that great for our backs, and more comfortable, and had no issues, than one should be enough, the fact that you keep suggesting to layer them really raises a red flag.

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          I only suggest to layer them if people feel like they need to.

          Frankly, I sleep with one thick layer and it has been enough for the past 10 years now.

          I can’t sleep on the floor without anything, but I can’t sleep on a soft mattress either which is the cause of a lot of back pain.

          Softer is not better & too hard is not good either.

          The thing with cotton futons is you need to fluff them out & rotate every 3 months to keep the softness, otherwise the cotton mats down & if you get lazy, you will need another pad on top (or a new one).

          If it doesn’t feel soft enough, they should just get more padding for it which means another cotton layer. Every futon is different.

          Reply
  20. Ben

    I am a tall guy my feet always over the edge trying to get comfortable. So i ditched the matress went to the floor. My sleep has never been better. Its long enough to fit me , no legs or arms dangling over the edge of a regular bed. I wake refreshed, i did have problems with my lower back until I started sleeping on floor

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      My partner said the same thing. He has never looked back since switching to the floor.

      Reply
  21. Em Strang

    Hi there, thanks for your blog and responses – really helpful. Do you think it would be a good idea to put a futon on top of a mattress as a kind of topper? Might this work? I have a herniated disc and think a futon on its own might be too hard, but the mattress isn’t quite firm enough. Any thoughts most welcome. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I don’t think it’d work to be honest. The futon would then act like an extra padding / mattress which wouldn’t make it firm enough.

      What I could suggest is layering futons on top of each other. The more you layer, the softer it gets, but it still stays firm as it is a solid futon chunk rather than a mattress with springs or as a sponge.

      Although, that said, what is the thickness / softness that you require for your herniated disc?

      Reply
      1. Em Strang

        Thanks for your reply. I think you’re probably right and that it’d be better to stack futons, rather than use one as a topper. What I’d love is to be able to trial futon-sleeping and stacked futon-sleeping, before purchasing, but this doesn’t seem possible…We’re on a low budget and in Scotland, so not sure where I might get one from. Will keep looking.

        In terms of thickness/firmness, I don’t honestly know until I find the one that works…

        All best to you!

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Hmm.. Why don’t you try seeing if you can nab some camping gear off some folks? If you can gather about 4-5 foam pads that they use when camping, it should give a decent proxy for what futon sleeping would be like.

          Reply
          1. Em Strang

            🙂

  22. Katie

    Hi. I love this article about futons, and I would love to try one. But I am quite large, with knee problems. Do you think it would be hard to get up from the floor? Sorry if my question doesn’t make sense.
    Katie

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Your question makes perfect sense Katie, and I would recommend you do not buy a futon then!

      It takes a little used to getting up from it, and if you did not have difficulty with your weight, I’d say you could just roll to your side, push your hand down and help yourself up to a side seated position which is what my partner does (he has a bad back and is a big guy).

      Please stick to a bed! It’ll be easier to swing your legs down to get out. 🙂

      Reply
  23. Kaz

    Hi, I’m REALLY REALLY considering buying a shiki futon from jlife, but I’ve heard bad things about them [i.e. Smell of the futon, manufacture location, not trustworthy, not getting the price you pay for,etc.]. Can you tell me in depth about your experience with your futon purchase as well as sleeping with it and maintaining it?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      So I have only had good experiences with futons. I am not sure where everyone else has been buying from, but the manufactured location of these futons from J-Life are in the U.S. The owner is also a Japanese gentlemen named Tak Matsumoto whom I have gotten to know over the years who is both honourable and a very kind man.

      There is no smell to the futons except for the smell of 100% cotton.

      There are of course, disreputable merchants out there and/or if you don’t ask the right questions like: WHere is it made?.. it could be made in China and be stuffed with substandard materials, or as we had found out, our Chinese tea branch pillows had been stuffed with candy wrappers and cigarette butts. We had no idea until we opened it and saw the garbage in there. Horrific.

      This is not the case with J-Life.

      Sleeping on it is fine, as I mentioned in the comments I bought 3 layers because I’m skinny & bony and I needed the extra padding around my body. If you like a harder bed, take 2 layers. If you want it even softer, take 4 layers (that’s really the maximum though).

      To maintain it, you need to fluff it out every 3 weeks or so (the fluff tends to migrate to the corners), and you can also air it out on the balcony or a deck where you can let the fresh air circulate through it.

      You can also buy a kind of woven paddle and beat the futon to knock out any kind of dust every spring or so.

      That’s about it. 🙂

      If you have any other questions let me know!

      Reply
  24. Floyd

    Hi,
    How do I find the right futon? My full size bed is going bye-bye. What’s right for me? I do know I want a floor model. How do I pick the right one? I am 5’7″ and 140lbs.
    Thanks.
    Floyd

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hi there!

      This is a preference thing. I suggest taking at least a full-sized bed. Personally, I take the biggest bed possible because I like to lounge on it and not just sleep. I use it like a floor couch, if that makes any sense.

      If you can afford it, take the biggest size possible.

      Reply
  25. ruth

    Hi where did you find your baby futon, my husband and i are living in japan but still haven’t found one

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      We bought a twin-sized adult one!

      Reply
  26. Nathan

    Also, real quick, sorry for all the questions! You mentioned below that your husband has a bad back and slept on these and it helps. I also have back problems. Does your husband only use 1 or does he stack 2?

    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      We stack 2 (as we sleep together) and fluff them regularly. I needed the second one because I’m too bony for just one layer. He was fine with the one.

      I’d also suggest trying to get yourself to sleep on your back, and not on your side or front.. it really helps align the spine. He has a problem falling asleep on his back, but it’s the best way to sleep. I sleep on my back and I’m fine. I noticed my shoulder crunches down when I turn on my side however.

      Hope that helps! Keep the questions coming.

      Reply
  27. Nathan

    Hello,

    Thank you so much for this post. Do you know how these feel with 2 people sleeping on one? My wife and I are having a very hard time sleeping lately. She twitches/rolls in her sleep and I wake up throughout the night because the bed moves. I was hoping to buy one of these and put it directly on the floor but was wondering if I would still feel her moving throughout the night? Please let me know what you think! Our sleep depends on it! Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh my goodness you will not feel her AT ALL.

      My partner moves like a wildebeest during the night and I don’t feel anything because there are no springs or any kind of mattress to transmit the movements.

      I sleep a lot easier. 🙂 This is not a problem.

      Reply
  28. Rumanshi

    Those are some… Fairly valid reasons. o.O

    Where can I buy a decent futon?
    18yo male living in straya.

    Cheers .

    Reply
  29. Michael Sammler

    Just got married in Japan, and my Japanese wife moved in last week. She picked out our futon. It is a double size hard version of the ones on this sight.

    http://item.rakuten.co.jp/futon-kingdom/kenatsu-d/#kenatsu-d

    Ours was about $1500. A bit more expensive cause it is a better version, and should last longer. About 10 years or more. I sleep great on it. The first night I snored all night, which I almost never do. But I was in a pretty deep sleep.

    In Japan, the summers are super hot and muggy, and I sweat a lot. So we have a bed frame that is about a foot off the floor with wooden slats, so the futon can breath more. We also put a matt under the futon that changes colors when it gets too moist meaning it is time to hang the futon outside and air out.

    If you can find somewhere that sells Kenatsu futons, they are a great company. The foam is softer on top and gets denser towards the bottom, so it supports your weight evenly. Hope this helps some of you looking at futons.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Thanks for all the insight! I love sleeping on the futon, I actually feel strange on a bed now.

      Reply
  30. Garry

    I’ve been wanting to go minimalist to save space in the small quarters that I have. I use my bedroom as a sort of all-around-apartment per se.

    In it I have everything (except a kitchen) that I need. The bed however takes up a great deal of space. I’ve been thinking about a futon but ….well …I’m not an average build man.

    I’m fat! There I said it.

    I’m 5’11” and weigh over 300lbs.

    Is there a futon that will support me and be comfortable?

    What would you suggest?
    Is there a particular brand and/or style(material,thickness, etc.) that I should be considering?
    Or am I just $#!% out of luck?

    I would appreciate responses and help from those who know or have a similar problem.

    Thanks

    Garry

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hi Garry

      Thanks for being so honest. I’d recommend trying one futon layer first, then buying another to layer on top if you find it too uncomfortable.

      To be honest, I used one layer and because I’m very bony, I found it very uncomfortable, one side of my body became numb actually. What works for me is 2 layers because of my lack of padding.

      You aren’t out of luck, you just need to figure out how many layers you need 🙂 It works for all body sizes, I’d even go as far as to say you may not need as many layers..

      Don’t forget to fluff them once every 2 months at least to get the padding back into the middle. It has a habit of migrating to the edges.

      The futon that would support you is one that goes directly on the floor, the futon mattress itself, without the structure.

      J-Life makes a great variety of futons. Good luck!

      Hope it helps!

      Reply
    2. Garry

      @Garry:

      Thanks for such a speedy reply. I appreciate it and your advice.

      I didn’t know they were so affordable. Also they have a 5 year warranty!?!

      Awesome!

      Thanks again.

      Reply
      1. save. spend. splurge.

        Yes they certainly do.

        Enjoy! 🙂

        Reply
  31. Deanna R. Jones

    Are there futons that are more comfortable than others? It seems like there would be futons that have more cushion than others. I like the idea of having a futon, because it’s a bed and a couch in one. If it really makes a good bed to sleep on every night, then I would like to have one.
    http://buy4lessfurniture.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1_61

    Reply
  32. michaelsammler

    I have lived in Japan for 8 years now. Instead of stacking futons, I see most people buying a mat for under the futon. They very in price, and the memory foam ones can be a few hundred bucks. I also use a wooden frame with slats, so my futon can breath more. Otherwise it gets pretty damp from sweat during the summer. The wooden frame folds in half and stands up, so I can hang the futon on it in front of a window to dry in the sunshine. But, I think I will get a bed frame for my futon so I can sleep farther from the floor. It is a luxury, but my floor gets pretty cold in the winter.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      What a good idea! We are going to buy tatami mats when we move and those will be under our futons..

      We do not have a cold floor problem so we do not need a futon frame but I can see how you might.

      Reply
  33. dean

    “8. It’s cheap

    A single Japanese futon is about $300.”

    I prefer a hammock. Almost all of the benefits listed above plus a few others. Cheaper than a futon, great for your back, promotes REM sleep, saves space because you can store it just like you can a roll-up futon.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I would be afraid of sleeping in something that is hanging.. plus I have terrible motion sickness, the swaying would not do me good.

      Reply
  34. Amber

    I love this idea! (and your blog in general) my only concern would be (because I’m a nut) what about insects? I occasionally get earwigs in my house, especially during the spring. I don’t know that a western bed totally protects me from creepy crawlies, but being so close to the floor makes me worry about that. Also, does it need special bedding, sheets, etc? or do you sleep right on the pad?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh I have no idea about insects… but it doesn’t need special bedding. I just bought regular King-size and Queen-sized sheets and use those. I sleep right on the futon.

      Reply
  35. Mz. Integrity

    I’m a practical shopper who purchased 2 awesome Japanese futons from Dan’s Futon’s on EBay. A Queen for $125 and Full size for $115 with free shipping and handling which made them an extra awesome buy! It makes sense to buy these for your home if you’re short on space.

    Reply
  36. Ryan

    Hey im thinking about an apartment and was considering those fold out couch futon for a bed until I came here. Im a little low on money but im willing to pay if the quality is good because I myself have a bad back. So I u have time could you direct me to a link that has a good futon for me? Queen size is preferred. Thank u.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      This one: J Life International

      I like their Shiki futons.

      Reply
  37. Garrett Nothern

    Here’s a question: my next place is going to be a studio, so obviously I’m looking for any way to maximize space. Just came across this page. Are Japanese futons better than normal futon cushions/pads (not quickly becoming lumpy, flattened things that are pressure point-hitting beasts after a month)?

    If so, could they be used as a cushion on an actual American futon frame?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’d consider them better because Japanese futons are thinner and you actually need to buy 2-3 of them to stack on top of each other to sleep on the floor. They don’t get lumpy and they flatten quite evenly but will become flat after some time which is why you need 2-3 of them. I would say you should buy at least one, the thickest possible and give it a try.

      I have never tried but would assume that if the dimensions are correct, there shouldn’t be any problem with putting one on an American futon frame.

      Let me know if I can help further in any way! 🙂

      Reply
  38. Todd

    I’m tall. I dislike sleeping on (1) any futon and/or (2) anything directly on the floor. My experience with floor beds, futons, etc, has been that if you wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink or use restroom, is that the movements involved in standing up to walk tend to wake a person much more than rolling out of bed and stumbling to the restroom/kitchen.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Really? I find that sleeping on the floor doesn’t jiggle / shake the bed when I get out and up so no one wakes up.

      Reply
  39. Alisha

    If the largest a Japanese bed comes is a Full size, how is that big enough for a couple to share? Asians tend to be rather petite, whereas Westerners often are not. Westerners typically share a Queen size bed.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      The largest is a Queen, not a Full Size.

      You could also buy two futons and put them together.

      Reply
  40. Empath

    I am trying to find a bed/futon/mattress for my son. He will be staying with me, in my one bedroom apartment. He’s working and going to college and he needs to sleep well. He is 6′ 4″ tall, with a slender build. Where can I find a futon mattress that’s comfortable, fits his build, well-made, roll or fold-up and reasonably priced (max $150)? Challenging enough? The most important requirements are that it accommodates his height comfortably and can be rolled up. My research so far only creates more questions (insert sigh). Any help/info will be much appreciated!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh goodness. The futon store I use is J-Life but the biggest one they have is the Queen…

      The problem is your son is very tall… it will be hard to find a futon that long. As for rolling it up, you will want an all cotton Japanese futon and then you get those straps to secure the futon in a roll.

      My only solution would be to buy two and put them end-to-end, except your budget of $150 is pretty low. Good futons start around $400 or so.. which is where the problem comes in.

      That is very challenging for the budget you have. I’m sorry I can’t help any more.. You could do a poor man’s futon and layer a whole bunch of sleeping bags ontop of each other 🙂

      Reply
      1. Empath

        Thank you, a year later! For some reason I didn’t get your reply till Aug. 2015 (!!!)
        My son rented a place for awhile but he will be moving in with me now. He has a mattress he likes – it’s full size and he sleeps head to feet in opposite corners to accommodate is height – but no frame. Now I’m looking for a full size mattress and frame. My budget is $500. Do you know of such?

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Haha, no problem.

          You can try J-Life online to see if anything pops.

          Reply
  41. Diana

    Where did you purchase your futon?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      J-Life International is where I got my latest one.

      Reply
  42. Michael Perry

    I just bought a full-size futon to replace the monstrosity of a king sized bed in the room I rent. It comes down to space for me. Being able to roll it up and claim more space for doing stuff is very attractive in my room. The room has to be all things so getting space back is important.

    I am curious about how you adapted to this when you first started and whether you use one of the tri-folds underneath. They add a significant expense overall and I’m not sure of the value there. I’mn going to wait though and try it without one.

    I’m also judging that a single full size will be more than enough of comfort for me given your review and how you use it. I think that this route is the best for folks that rent rooms in homes and have fairly limited space to call their own.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’d agree that being able to roll it up is really attractive especially if you are short on space.

      I do not use a tri-fold at all. I do believe that BF used to on the bed meant for guests because people find actual mattresses (futons) on the floor deplorable, but for himself he personally just laid the mattress on the floor and slept on that.

      There is no value in it, in my opinion. It feels no different than sleeping on a futon on the floor, except you are higher up, it might squeak as you shift your weight on the bed (or break, if you bought a low quality tri-fold).

      A single full size is definitely fine for one person, unless that person is myself. I like to sprawl out in the shape of a starfish when I sleep, which has prompted us to buy the biggest futon available because there would be no space left on the bed otherwise.

      For my baby however, I bought him a single full size and he is sleeping quite nicely on it. I figure he’ll grow into it. 🙂

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Reply
  43. Lila

    How did you find out about Japanese futons? Whom introduced you to them?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      BF slept on them in France 🙂 He was introduced to them by a friend who suggested it would be fabulous for his bad back, and he never looked back.

      Reply
      1. Lila

        @save. spend. splurge.: Oh ok I was wondering. Thanks. 😀

        Reply
  44. Michelle's Finance Journal

    I grew up sleeping on the floor. I had a bed, but I never slept there. Now, I’m used to sleeping on a regular bed, but if the Japanese futon is thick enough, I don’t have any reservation about being so close to the floor.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      For me, sleeping on a bed now makes me a bit apprehensive.. as if the old fears of monsters under the bed or falling off it, comes back.

      Reply
  45. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction

    I have a box-spring and mattress set, but we don’t have a frame. After our last move the frame ended up breaking. Since then, I’ve actually loved having the bed right on the floor. I think it probably looks a little college-student-ish, but I like the sturdiness of the floor underneath than a warped metal frame. So it stays as is for the time being. 🙂

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’ve seen some styles where they just have a plank slightly elevated and then the mattress on top. It looks rather chic… but I’m a clumsy person so I’d definitely be sporting some black and blue shins from time to time.

      Reply
  46. SarahN

    My concern with futons on floor (and likely a ‘box spring’ or a mattress as we call them) is that dust bunnies all end up around the sheets, where the mattress/linens meet the ground. Of course, some are meticulously tidy, but I am not!~ I would rather those skid under the bed. But it’s hardly a defining factor, just something I thought I’d throw out there!

    Reply
  47. Lila

    What if your child one day asks for a “real” bed?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      They won’t because what I have given them is a “real bed”.

      I’d be surprised if they grow up asking such questions, because they would have to have time to think about such a question, and I’d probably give them a look and ask them what a ‘bed’ means to them if what they have is not a “real” bed.

      Lastly, the only question they COULD ask would be: Why is our bed not like the beds in storybooks with a headboard, etc?

      To which I will answer: It’s because we’re reading North American stories, and in Japan as well as in the past, people sleep on these futons as “real beds”.

      Reply
      1. Lila

        @save. spend. splurge.:

        Oh that’s a good response. I’m curious now about if you are going to do this once they come out or are you going to use a crib first?

        We (bf and I) have a Western Queen bed & mattress. I believe we spent about $1200-1500 (around there) for the entire thing which also included a delivery charge. They tried to sell us a headboard but we said no.

        Now I’m really curious about this Japanese futon. I’m wondering how you got introduced to Japanese futons? What made you decide to try it?

        Reply
  48. Ryan @ Impersonal Finance

    I don’t know if I could sleep that close to the floor. I’ve got some very needy dogs who shed quite a bit. But I like the minimalist idea behind it!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Ryan @ Impersonal Finance: Oo yes. I did not think about pets. 🙂

      Reply
  49. Mark Ross

    Well, I haven’t seen one of those here in our place. I just hope I could find one the next time I look.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Mark Ross: That is, if you’re interested in sleeping on one. Not many people are 🙂

      Reply
  50. Freckles

    “Then again my bump was not enormous and I did not put on more than 25 pounds in total, so that has to be taken into account as well.”

    This sentence confuses me (not hard to do) as it’s written in past tense. I thought you were still pregnant, but did I miss something? Have you already delivered your baby?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I am in my third trimester (currently), and I have been waffling back and forth between 20 – 25 pounds so far.

      Haven’t given birth yet!

      Reply
      1. LouisRock

        I love all the pros of sleeping on a futon or any mattress on the floor. My problem is that no matter how thick or how many mattresses I use on the floor and no matter the season and the place, I always have hard time sleeping for long due to the coldness coming out of the floor suddenly waking me up.

        Do you have any lasting solution or solutions to deal with coldness stemming from the floor. I have tried layers upon layers, pads after pads, matts after matts but all these efforts were exercises in futility.

        Could you suggest a silver bullet that will slay this ongoing problem once and for all. I love sleeping on the floor and my back loves it too but the coldness outweighs the benefit as it wakes me up every now and then, leaving me drained in the morning when I finally wake up.

        Thanks for the help

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          I don’t have that issue only because we aren’t on cement or tiled floors, but my best suggestion would be to put maybe 2 or 3 layers of cotton flannel on top of the bed to keep it warm or at least to make it feel warm.

          Have you tried that??

          Good luck!

          Reply
        2. save. spend. splurge.

          Oh, my other suggestion would be a wood platform. I know it isn’t “on the floor” but maybe a wood platform above the floor would help. Ikea sells cheap platforms.

          Reply
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