Are Tatami Mats Comfortable To Sleep On?

Have you ever walked into a Japanese house and seen them sleep on a special mat called Tatami on the floor? Are tatami mats comfortable to sleep on? You may see a lot of Japanese looks very relaxed while laying on that special mat, but does everyone feel the same?

Below, we answer this question for you. Moreover, we also weighed the pros and cons of this sleeping style for you to consider if you are planning to get one for your home.


Are Tatami Mats Comfortable?

Actually no, it is not easy to sleep on a hard surface. If you are used to sleeping on a soft mattress, it can be a little bit uncomfortable at first. But sleeping on this mat has a lot of advantages. That is the reason why the Japanese use it for many years until now.

Tatami is a lovely and fine item that most Japanese uses to design their home. Its material gives your living area a natural and fresh feel. Besides, it is especially good for your mattress or flooring. These mats are naturally easy to use. So you can make them as the main flooring in your home (tatami room) or even as a mattress topper.

can you sleep on tatami mats

A single Japanese mat (Source: Linacon)

1 – Saving space

A tatami mat is light and compact, which means it may be folded and stored away during the day. This allows the room to be used for other purposes. Rather than putting a bed in a tiny room permanently, you can use a tatami mat to gain more floor space.

Alternatively, if you do not plan on sleeping on it, you can get a fold-up bed to free up space during the day.

2 – Help you to keep good posture

Sleeping on a medium to a firm surface, such as a Japanese mat on the floor, may help some people keep better posture. It also leads to a more comfortable night’s sleep.

However, different body types, body weights, and sleeping positions will also have an impact in different ways. Thus, this results in many outcomes. For example, side sleepers can feel pain due to the increased pressure points on the body. 

Furthermore, to people who often have back pain, sleeping on the floor may help. Because the flat surface can ensure an even weight distribution, which helps you to keep the right spinal alignment. 

3 – Improve breathing and blood circulation

Because it assists in maintaining good posture, it also helps for clear breathing, right diaphragm expansion, and improve blood flow. This means enhancing your circulation and breathing quality.

Sleeping in poor posture, on the other hand, can raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Thus, it makes you hard to breathe, especially if your neck is at a bad angle. 

4 – Help to control your body’s temperature 

Because you lay to near the floor, it means you are near the cooling airflow. So you can sleep cool in hot weather. In case you need additional warmth, you can still get it from the cushioned materials around. 

It helps you to manage your body’s temperature at night efficiently. 


Although there are many benefits, it is obvious that not all tatami mats comfortable to sleep on for everyone. We do not recommend it for pregnant women, old people, or those who are dealing with poor mobility since a soft bed will be better for them. 

1 – Risk of allergic reactions

When you lay on the floor, you are closer to the potential factors such as dust mites, dust particles, mold, and other things. Thus, you are likely to have an allergic reaction. A natural flooring may also have a unique smell that is uncomfortable to some people, especially those who are sensitive to scent.

Therefore, it is a must to keeping to the floor and your rest place clean. It will help you avoid breathing problems, skin impacts, and sneezing.

how to clean mold off tatami mats

Molds grow below the sheet if not cleaned frequently (Source: Saga JET)

2 – Can be uncomfortable for side sleepers

If you usually sleep on one side, it may feel very uncomfortable because of the thinner layer and hard surface. These factors cause more pain in your hips and shoulders. So, if you are a side sleeper, it is suggested to use a softer surface to ease pain and maintain a good spinal posture. 

On the other hand, you can make a softer mattress layer on top of the tatami as well.

3 – Affect mobility

Because it lays directly on the ground, it is not suitable for people who need a high bed to get in and out. These people include pregnant women, the ones are dealing with hip problems, the elderly, or have poor mobility.

How To Use Japanese Flooring

are tatami mats comfortable

To sleep comfortably, buy a good mat, add cushioned layers for the first night. After that, gently working your way down to the bare mat during the first week. And remember to keep the mat clean.

1 – Choose a high-quality product

Picking the right product for your needs is the first and most important step to sleep well on it at night. Tightly woven rush grass has a strong wooden base to create a comfortable, high-quality one.

You should look for reliable and traditional products that are made with high safety standards. They are available in both folding and bigger sizes. On many online sites, you may find a range of sizes at various prices.

To have the best comfort and padding, choose one with a soft, flexible, and durable made from natural materials. You can use plain black cloth or gold and black plum pattern to the border, so it will not teared easily.

Bamboo floor mats are also a good choice and becoming popular today. 


2 – Add cushion layers and remove gradually

We know that if you are used to a normal mattress, changing to a tatami may be hard due to the tough feel. Because you have to sleep in a different posture, it can increase pressure points and discomfort. However, it will soon pass after the first week.

You can use a mattress topper, futon, or even some folded blankets to help you. Then gradually remove the larger layers until you can be able to sleep on the bare mat.

3 – Clean frequently

Cleaning your tatami mat, the floor, and your sleeping area at least once a week will help you sleep easily on your mat. Because it reduces the possibility of you being exposed to bad factors that might build up if they are not cleaned on a daily basis.

To clean the mat and avoid mold growth, simply use a vacuum and a dry floor mop.

Don not walk on in your shoes or slippers, and do not also place heavy things on it, as this can harm the tatami’s fibers. Regularly air out your tatami mat to allow the material to breathe again.

is sleeping on tatami comfortable

Are Tatami Mats Comfortable To Sleep On?: Frequently Asked Questions

1 – Why Do Japanese People Sleep On Tatami Mats?

Sleeping on a very thin mattress over a sheet made of rice straw and woven with soft rush grass is popular in Japan. The Japanese believe that this will help your muscles relax, allowing your hips, shoulders, and spine to align naturally.

Some tips to get a good rest: (108) How to Get Better Sleep & Support All Night | Tatami Futon Mattress | 

2 – How Can I Get Rid Of The Smell Of Japanese Flooring?

You can wipe clean it with a cloth and a small bit of normal vinegar to avoid the bad smell from spreading. There are many commercial cleaning products are available on the market.

3 – How Much Does A Tatami Cost?

Tatami may range in price based on size. But they can become very expensive when you want to cover an entire room with them. Depending on the size, a single one can cost anywhere from $100 to $300.

4 – How Thick Is A Tatami?

In Japan, we can know the size of a room by the number of tatamis. A normal sheet measures about 180 x 90 cm (6 x 3 feet) and is about 5 cm thick. It also differs between the regions, such as Nagoya, Kyoto, or Tokyo.

Generally, there are 3 Nagoya room sizes:

  • 4 12 mats ≈ 2.73 m × 2.73 m
  • 6 mats ≈ 2.73 m × 3.64 m
  • 8 mats ≈ 3.64 m × 3.64 m

5 – Is It Better To Sleep Close To The Ground?

Sleeping closer to the ground, rather than floating far above it, is a more natural way to sleep. When you lay closer to the floor, and thus the earth, you will feel more grounded and peaceful. 


In summary, are tatami mats comfortable to sleep on? The answer depends on your body and your relaxing style as well. Some people are totally fine sleeping on the floor with simple bedding sheets. However, if you are a newbie and want to try this Japanese style, it is better to add some pillows or a soft topper to get used to it first. 

Further Reading:

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