Having recently written an article on the importance of a good night’s sleep, it got me thinking about how important it is to have the right tools to do so. Although we live in a sleep-deprived world, we spend about a third of our lives in bed yet when it comes to what we sleep on, we often do not consider how our mattress can affect our overall health. I know it can be expensive to purchase a good mattress but can you really put a price tag on a good night’s sleep especially as it can help you lose weight, improve your memory and live longer? After all, it is the most used piece of furniture in your house!
Although there is no standard life span for a mattress, The Sleep Better Council recommends replacing your mattress every five to seven years. When we think about the quality of our sleep, most of us fail to realise the consequences of sleeping on a mattress that fails to provide a combination of support and comfort that our body needs. The wrong type of mattress or a mattress that is simply old and has broken down over time can actually hinder our health in a number of ways and when we consider the benefits that a good night’s sleep has on our overall health and well-being, it is so important for us to get it right. We need to aid our bodies in their quest to repair and heal themselves whilst we sleep, so by investing in a good quality mattress suited to your individual needs and taste, we are doing just that.
Here’s how the wrong type or an old mattress can hinder our health.
- Pain– Muscular aches and pains are a common symptom for those who sleep on old or cheap mattresses as they lack proper body support, do not relieve pressure points and have uneven, lumpy surfaces. This allows your spine to bend which in turn puts a strain on your muscles, joints and ligaments.
- Poor sleep – You may not realise but sleeping on an unsuitable mattress may be keeping you from falling asleep and sleeping soundly. Many of us find that we may toss and turn for the best part of the night as we try to find a comfortable position. This in turn leads to feeling fatigued throughout the day.
- Triggers allergies – If you’ve had your mattress for many years it could be the culprit of triggering asthma symptoms and allergic reactions for those with these conditions. Old mattresses often contain dust mites and materials that can trigger allergic reactions and this is particularly true of older mattresses as they are less likely to be made from hypoallergenic material.So if you’re reading this thinking that you really should buy a new mattress, here are a few tips from the Sleep Council to help you along the way.
• Try, try and try again! There is no substitute for lying on mattresses when selecting the right one for you. You wouldn’t buy a new car without taking it for a test drive first – and you’ll be spending even more time in your bed! So wear comfortable clothes, remove your coat and shoes and lie on the bed for quite a long time – at least 10 minutes (preferably more). Adopt your normal sleeping position and lie on your side as well as your back.
• Always shop together if the bed’s for two, to ensure you are both happy with your choice.
• Set aside enough time to do the job properly. Don’t shop when you’re tired or rushed – you run the risk that the beds will all feel wonderful.
• Correct support depends on your weight, height, build and even preferred sleeping position. Ideally the mattress should mould to the shape of your body while remaining supportive. When you lie on your side your spine should be horizontal. You should be able to turn fairly easily. As a general rule, the heavier you are, the firmer the tension you will need. You don’t necessarily need a hard bed if you have a bad back.
• Comfort is very subjective. Some people like the sensation of being cocooned in a bed; others prefer to lie on top of them. Back sleepers may like a firmer feel than people who sleep on their sides. There are lots of different ‘feels’ around – you can choose what works best for you.
• Most manufacturers will offer mattresses in firm, medium and soft options. Try different options to be sure which is best for you. Remember there is no industry wide standard to compare firmness ratings from one manufacturer to the other.
• For partners of widely differing size and weight (3 stones/ 18kgs or more), different mattresses may be required. Some manufacturers make double beds from two single mattresses zipped together, which can be of differing tension. Others can combine different degrees of firmness in one mattress.
A good way to check if the bed you are lying on is too soft, too hard, or just right is to lie on your back, and slide your hand in the hollow of your back. If it slides in too easily, the bed may be too hard for you (leading to pressure on your hips and shoulders); if it’s a struggle to slide your hand in, then the bed is probably too soft. If you can move your hand with just a little resistance, the bed may be just right for you. Another useful test is to pop a set of keys behind your back. You shouldn’t be able to feel them!
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