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10 Best Alternatives to Mattresses

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“For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” – Steve Jobs.
Listen to Mr. Jobs, he knows what he’s saying. Like all things in life, even sleeping should be exciting or should at least have a unique touch.

Moreover, most conventional mattresses are super toxic and a health hazard due to the chemicals they are doused in. And neither are they eco-friendly. If you too are tired of the same old mattress (*blows raspberry*) you are in the right place. I’m here to revamp your bedroom and make your sleeping 10x better. Ready? Let’s get started on…

The Best Mattress Alternatives

1. Futons:

futon

You’re making coffee at home and suddenly, the doorbell rings. You open the door wondering who’s there and to your absolute terror, it is your cousin and his wife, finally taking you up on your invitation (which you did not mean). Now you have 2 extra people and zero extra space. What will you do?

You come home after a long day at work where your boss yelled at you. Sitting down on the sofa, you fall asleep instantly but wake up with your whole body aching. And you still have work. A grumpy boss. And now you have body pain. What will you do?

Your new apartment is so tiny, Oompa Loompas couldn’t fit in. You can get a bed or a couch. A bed would mean sleeping 24/7 and a couch would be sitting and uncomfortable sleeping. Quite a choice. What will you do?

I am a huge fan of furniture which solves multiple problems at once so you can imagine just how much I love futons. They are convertible and serve both, seating and sleeping. A futon would easily solve the three unpleasant scenarios given above and do much more.

A spare bed, a comfortable bed, and a transformer! There is a price range for futons, going from lux to super cheap. They are low maintenance and available in a variety of styles. Their only drawback is that they may lack the comfort of a custom bed. Space effective, cost-effective, easy-to-clean, and appealing, they are an excellent mattress substitute.

2. Hammocks

Hammocks

Now, don’t you dare think of Hawaii or Bora Bora when I say hammocks! I’m tired of the stereotypes associated with hammocks. They’re not just meant for vacations and are great for sleeping. It might take you a while to get used to sleeping a few feet off the ground but don’t stress, you won’t fall.

A hammock cocoons you and you will learn the art of sleeping suspended. Here’s a life hack- getting in and out of a hammock can be difficult at first so record your initial attempts and upload them online. You will definitely become an internet sensation.

Studies have shown that people sleep better in hammocks and that they show signs of relief from back pain. The comfort is also ultimate. Additionally, mattresses are lumpy and tough to clean whereas hammocks are lightweight and minimal in design.

You can simply put them away when you’re cleaning up or when you want the room for different purposes. Hammocks themselves are also free of dust mites. But you will need to keep certain things in mind for hammocks.

Firstly, you need a place to hang them. Most hammocks these days come with hanging kits and require basic installation (you can do it yourself if you wish).

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Secondly, a hammock is suitable for a single-person household because generally, hammocks accommodate one individual. And that individual must learn the art of sleeping in a hammock or it may lead to body pain.

You will also feel like a baby because hammocks rock when you sleep (obviously) so you should know that sleep won’t be completely stationary.

Also, note that during winter you’ll find it a bit tough to keep warm. All those living in cold climates, consider this. And although I love funny videos, I don’t want you getting injured. Check the weight capacity of the product before purchasing or it might give way under a heavier person. So are you in the mood for some motion? If yes, get swinging!

3. Sleeping Bags

Sleeping Bags

Time to become a caterpillar.

Sleeping bags are your cocoon and give you sleep which makes you wake up feeling like a butterfly. You know during winters when you’re feeling chilly and no matter how many blankets you pile on, you just can’t get warm? Or that when the blanket is on you but some tiny gap somewhere is letting in cold air? It’s the WORST. And this is not a problem with sleeping bags because they’re a blanket wrapped all around you!

Since they were designed for camping purposes, they are excellent for all temperatures. Make sure you don’t wear jackets or heavy sweaters inside sleeping bags because they work by trapping body heat. If your sweaters will do that instead, there is no point in a sleeping bag.

In the summer you can unzip a sleeping bag and lie down without feeling stuffy. They are also very portable -zip and roll! Stashing them in your closet or in a bag is easy peasy.

However, sleeping bags need to be aired. You will have to unzip them and dry them out in the open frequently. If you have a problem with night sweats, then do this daily because…mold. Yes, mold (*gagging sounds*). I would also advise you to not eat in your sleeping bag.

Midnight snack crumbs are a no-no. But here’s a hack-If you find the sleeping bag uncomfortable on the floor, put it on an airbed.

And if you’re thinking ‘But how can my partner and I both fit in one sleeping bag?’, chill. You can zip two sleeping bags together and make a bigger cocoon! If you kick, toss and turn or need more room, get a bigger-sized sleeping bag (yes there are sizes) or just stop kicking.

You should be able to get sleeping bags that are within your budget but there are supreme quality bags that are expensive.

4. Shikibuton

Shikibuton

A free trip to Japan. Daily.

So what is a Shikibuton? It is a Japanese floor bedding that you can roll up and store easily. It’s available in different materials like wool, cotton, synthetics, etc, and different sizes like double or single. And there are two other parts to this compact cutie- the kakebuton (blanket) and the makura (pillow).

This triple combo ensures a good night’s rest. Shikibutons are a little firmer than usual mattresses but this just improves your posture. Like all futons, they require drying and airing since cotton absorbs perspiration.

They are excellent spare bedding for guests and are also suitable for children (no rolling off the bed and falling). The fact that they are so easy to store gives you the option of using your room for other purposes during the day.

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But this Japanese bedding can be a little difficult to find in person, buying online would be a smarter choice. They might be a bit expensive but considering their function and quality, I’d suggest you make the investment.

5. Air Mattresses

Air Mattresses

This is my childhood fantasy come true- a balloon (almost) for a bed! And we all know the advantage of balloons- we can inflate or deflate them as we like. An air mattress is also the same and this gives it the golden quality of being easy to store.

You can simply keep them in your bag and plan an impromptu road trip (you should take a trip regardless of the mattress). The level of air will determine the firmness of your mattress. This is a huge advantage because you get to customize the air level.

Due to its adjustable feature, it is an ideal choice for people suffering from arthritis. Moreover, it is convenient because it is odorless, doesn’t sag, and doesn’t harbor dust mites. This is a very safe choice for your kids and you because it is non-toxic. Air mattresses are also quite affordable.

But we also know that balloons are delicate.

One poke of your key, a pin left spare or a puncture caused by any sharp object will make the air mattress go ppppffffftttttttt. If you have a habit of leaving sharp objects around then it might not be a good idea to get a big balloon for a bed. It’ll pop. Although the recent models are stronger, the risk is ever-present.

The assembly part of this might be a bit of a hassle. And if your air mattress is low quality then you’ll have to replace it soon. Weigh the pros and cons and ask yourself if this is the right choice for you.

6. Camping Mats

Camping Mats

You’re probably wondering why I said camping mats and not regular mats. Camping mats are thicker and more cushioned and hence, pretty comfy to sleep on. They’re a cross between a mattress and a mat. Nobody wants to wake up with a sore body, right? Camping mats will give you a restful sleep and you can say bye-bye to body pain.

Now there are mainly two kinds of camping mats- foam and inflatable. Foam camping mats are stuffed with foam (surprise) and are spongy yet portable. You can get them in varying thicknesses and roll them up when they are not in use.

Convenient, right? But inflatable mattresses are just as good. The regular blow-up inflatable mats are a bit of a hassle because of the effort it takes to inflate them (by mouth or by pump). But I would recommend self-inflating mats- they require no work on your part.

Any of these are a great idea because you can put them away or take them anywhere as they’re that lightweight. They are also pretty affordable. It’s all good as long as you live alone because camping mats almost always come in single sizes.

What you could do is place two side by side though. The way I look at it, camping mats are LOVE (Lightweight, Offbeat, Versatile, and Economical).

7. Floor Sleeping

sleeping on floor

SUPPORT! That’s what we need- in life, and while sleeping.

While soft mattresses are comfy to sleep on, they provide us no support. Sleeping on the floor might seem absurd at first but it is good for your body. Studies have reported that sleeping on the floor improves posture and is good for back pain. Your body alignment will be 10/10 once you embrace the ground.

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But this, like all things, comes with its own drawbacks. Sleeping on the floor might not work for all people (especially those who suffer from spinal problems), and elders might find getting up from the floor tough. And our ground is the part of our home which gets dirty frequently and it will require cleaning before it is hygienic enough to sleep on.  Furthermore, the floor gets cold during winter and it is difficult to stay warm.

But minimal sleeping is an experience you must try. If the floor seems too hard, lay on some blankets till you gradually get used to it. If you liked this option, get ready to straighten your back!

8. Sofa Bed

Sofa Bed

I am not trying to trick you by giving another name to a futon. A futon and a sofa bed are two completely different things, each wonderful in its own way. A futon uses the same pad for sitting and sleeping. A sofa bed is a proper sofa by day and when you remove its cushions, the bed pops out from underneath. Hence, it is multi-purpose.

Since the bed is stowed away, this is a real space saver. If you live in a small apartment and there are enough things crowding your room, get a sofa bed. It can also serve unexpected guests as a spare sleeping space. It is available in a variety of different styles and you will certainly find one which goes with your decor and is also very comfortable to sleep on.

But there is a  catch. Sofa beds are bulky and difficult to move around. So if you’re someone who moves a lot, transferring a sofa bed will be a bit of a task. In addition to this, if the convertible mechanism breaks, you will have to get it repaired.

A sofa bed is available in a single and double size, although the latter costs more. They are quite durable and spending on a quality sofa bed is not something you will regret.

9. DIY

Hello artsy readers, listen up! If you want to go safe in the mattress area in the health department, you can always make your own mattress. You will, of course, need a sewing machine, fabric, and stuffing. Watch any simple tutorial online and make yourself a sleeping pad or bedding which is customized as per your tastes.

Choose the fabrics you want, thickness, stuffing material, colors, and whatnot. This will be non-toxic and clean since you’ll make it with your very own hands. Although this will be a bit time-consuming, the effort will be worth it!

10. Reed Mats

reed mat

Any eco-friendly mats are a great choice, not just for the environment, but also for sleeping. First and foremost, they are non-toxic- no yucky harmful chemicals that harm your body. And they are a great intermediary between the floor and your body.

Sleeping on thin mats is the equivalent of floor sleeping, just without the germs on the floor (yay). You get the benefits of sleeping on the ground, it’s just more hygienic. They are also comfortable and you can always add a thin blanket or sheet to make them softer. You might take some time getting used to these, but they are a very good step towards bettering your lifestyle.

I hope that you find one good option amongst these and switch over. But remember to consider aspects like room requirement (space availability), budget, climate, number of people, children’s safety, comfort and so on. Now shoo, go buy a mattress alternative and make Mr. Jobs proud.

Written by Pulkit D

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