Spring mattress more comfortable on floor than bed frame?

I own a 6-ish year spring mattress that strangely feels more comfortable on the floor than on our bed frame. A little backstory:
About 6 years ago I bought this mattress: Tandem Mattress | Matelas Dauphin
Along with this bed frame: MALM High bed frame/4 storage boxes, black-brown/Luröy, Queen - IKEA CA
Notice how the slats are angled. Then about a year ago my wife wanted to change the bed frame so we got this: https://www.potterybarn.com/products/astoria-turned-leg-platform-bed/
The slats are completely straight and there is no “flex”. We’ve had this setup for about a year but we wake up with lower back pain about every other day. We found that it is possible that the spacing between the slats might be too wide, causing support issues, so we got a 2" boxspring. It didn’t help.

Now the weird part: sometimes we put the mattress on the floor for unrelated reasons (makes for a cozy TV setup in the living room!) and sleep there for a night or two. We NEVER have back pain when doing this. How does this make any sense?

We thought the mattress was damaged but I don’t see or feel any signs of damage. Either way, we caved and bought this mattress (https://www.sleepcountry.ca/natura-stirling-lark-mattress/product/142062M) a few days ago but due to the “new mattress smell” that gives my wife headaches, we haven’t slept on it yet, it’s only been a couple of days. It’s quite hard but that’s another story.

Anyway, how does this make sense? That the bed feels more comfortable on the floor than on the perfectly fine bed frame and boxspring?

Thanks in advance.


The old Ikea platform bed you had used bowed slats, which would have imparted comfort to your mattress and made it feel a bit softer. Additionally, over time these slats can sink a bit and become slightly concave when someone is sleeping upon the mattress. So, your body may have preferred and become accustomed to the feel of this bowed slat system.

The Pottery Barn (PB) platform bed base has a completely flat network that should be flat and firm just like the floor, imparting no comfort to the mattress. The slat spacing should have been adequate for your mattress. Placing a bunkie board atop this base actually would have decreased the contact area with the mattress, as the slat spacing on bunkie boards tends to be wider than what your Pottery Barn bed base uses. But it would still be a flat and firm surface.

Your initial discomfort on the mattress going form the Ikea to the Pottery Barn bed was most likely you being used to the flexing allowed with the Ikea bed base, and not liking the “firmer” feel your mattress has using the Pottery Barn bed.

Placing the mattress on the floor should have very little difference in support versus using the Pottery Barn bed, but if you want to try to make the situation as similar as possible, place a plywood deck on top of the Pottery Barn slat network (ditch the bunkie board). Then you’ll have an equivalent base surface to the floor.

If after doing this you’re still experiencing back issues on the PB bed versus the floor, the variable that is changing would be your body. Perhaps sitting on the floor before bed time you’re doing so in such a manner that you’re stretching your low back or hip flexors and that can be providing some relief before you go to bed. And of course, all of this is assuming your PB base is assembled properly with no sags.

Other variables to take into account:

  • Your mattress is six years old and the padding materials may have lost resilience and no longer be appropriate for your particular needs.

  • You are 6 years older and your levels of strength and flexibility and sensitivities may be such that you need a different style/type of mattress.

Now that you’ve also changed mattresses you’re adding another entirely new variable into the equation. The information I provided would only be useful in helping potentially diagnose the reasons for your different experiences in comfort with you 6-year-old mattress.

Hopefully that’s helpful.

Thank you for the very detailed response! I will look into those floor stretches and see if that helps. It makes sense that my body would have changed over the past 6 years. Quarantine certainly didn’t help!


A little extra strength and flexibility will always be useful!