How Mattresses Affect Sleep
If you were about to spend the next 8 hours of your life climbing mountains or hiking across the county, you would want to make sure that you have the right equipment with you.
Without it, you might strain your muscles or cause an injury.
Makes sense right?
Yet, when we spend 8 hours a night sleeping, we don’t think about the equipment we need for a solid night’s rest. This is absurd, considering that we spend a third of our lives sleeping.
That means on average, 4 months out of every year is spent asleep. If you live to be 90, you will have spent approximately 30 years of your life asleep.
30 whole years.
Can you imagine what would happen if you spent 30 years running without the correct shoes?
That is exactly what we do when we don’t think about the mattress we sleep on.
92% of people admit that a comfortable mattress is important to a good night’s sleep. But so few of us use the one we need at night, instead opting for cheaper or older alternatives that could do us more harm than good.
Ready to get a soundless night sleep? Let’s dive into why mattresses affect sleep and how to pick the right type for you.
The importance of a good night’s rest
Before we dive into how a mattress can affect sleep, it’s important to look at why sleep is so important in the first place.
It’s what keeps us at our best. It’s how we store memories, how we process our thoughts and emotions. It’s how we relax our muscles and recharge our batteries for the next day.
Without it, you:
- Won’t be able to concentrate on your every-day tasks.
- Feel tired, irritated and low.
- Are more at risk for anxiety and depression.
- Have an increased risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
- Are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
- Have a weakened immune system, making you more likely to suffer from illnesses.
- Are more at risk of cancer and developing heart disease.
The bottom line: without sleep, we wouldn’t be able to function.
This is why you make sure that you have the right equipment to ensure you get a restful night.
Does a mattress really affect sleep?
The short answer to this is yes.
Mattresses really do affect the sleep you get at night. They improve the amount and quality of the sleep you get, leaving you more refreshed, rested and ready to take on your day. Here are the top 4 ways that a mattress affects your sleep.
1) Bad mattresses can cause muscle or back pain
If you’ve ever been on your feet all day, you’ll know much much they ache and hurt.
The same happens when you lie down. Being in one position for a long amount of time means all your weight is concentrated into one area. This reduces the flow of blood, depriving the skin of oxygen and nutrients. This is what causes pain – and why the wrong mattress can give you a bad back.
During the night, the nerves in your body will tell your brain to roll over, relieving the pressure on your body. But constantly rolling over during the night interrupts your sleep, meaning you don’t get the rest that you deserve.
What you need is a mattress that eases these pressure points. This means you can lay in the same position, without putting extra stress and strain on your muscles. So you can wake up without aches and pains.
2) Mattresses reduce stress
We’ve all had those nights where a thousand thoughts are racing through our mind. Where, no matter how hard you try, you can’t help but worry and rethink the same situation over and over again.
It’s hard to get to sleep when you agonising over every little decision you’ve ever made.
But, having the right mattress can reduce your stress levels. This was shown in a 2009 study, where a group of men and women were evaluated on their stress after a month on their regular mattresses and a month on brand new ones. The new mattresses lowered stress while helping them to get to sleep quicker.
3) They reduce allergies
Old mattresses are the home to thousands of microscopic creates called dust mites, which feed on the dead skin cells that you naturally shed each night.
Dust mites are one of the biggest causes of allergies. If you suffer from asthma, dust mites make symptoms worse and can even trigger asthma attacks.
If you’ve ever woke up stretching or suffering from a runny nose, itchy eyes or a cough, you might have a dust mite problem in your mattress. Which means it’s time to upgrade to ease your allergies and sleep soundlessly.
To keep them dust mite free in the future, it’s recommended that you wash your sheets and pillowcases often. For extra protection, you can also add a hypoallergenic slipcover to prevent the dust mites from travelling to your mattress.
4) Mattresses increase the quality of your sleep
Having a long sleep doesn’t mean that you’ve had good quality sleep. If you’ve ever woken up after a full 8 hours and still felt tired and run down, it may be that the quality of sleep that you’re getting isn’t good enough.
Not all sleep is equal.
As you shut your eyes, your body undergoes 5 different stages of sleep. The first 1-4 stages range from a light rest to deep, soundless sleep. During these stages, your muscles relax, your heart rate and breathing slow down and your body has the time it needs to recover and rejuvenate itself for the next day.
The 5th stage is called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This is where you mind is more active during the night, creating images and dreams that let you process emotions and memories.
To get a proper night’s sleep, you need to cycle through these stages 4-5 times a night. If you’re using the wrong mattress for you, your body will struggle to comfortable cycle through these stages in the night. These leaves you with interrupted, fractured sleep that will leave you feeling tired and drained in the morning.
However, if you use the right mattress, you’ll feel more energetic and refreshed from having higher quality sleep at night.
How often should you change your mattress?
Mattresses have a limited lifetime. After a few years, they start to sag. The materials in them start to break down and become infested with dust mites.
It’s recommended to replace your mattress every 8 years. But really, you should replace them whenever they start to compromise your sleep.
One of the biggest indicators is if you’re experiencing any aches or pains when waking up in the morning, particularly in the lower back. This shows that your mattress isn’t supporting your body and eases the pressure points from being laid in one position all night.
Another sign that it’s time to change your mattress is if you can hear creaks or squeaks when you move. This sound comes from worn-out springs in the mattress, which show that the coils are unable to support your weight evenly.
Fundamentally, it might be time for a new mattress if you’re not comfortable.
If you don’t feel comfortable on your mattress, you’ll struggle to relax and sink off into a good night’s sleep. That’s enough of a reason to upgrade to something you can’t wait to jump into at night. It can be as simple as that.
If you have the budget, it’s also recommended to replace your bed frame at the same time as your mattress. This is because if your frame is sagging or starting to bend out of shape, your mattress will be misaligned. Therefore, it won’t be able to give you the proper support it should.
Not sure whether yours is ready to be replaced? Take this bed MOT to discover the condition of your mattress.
How to choose the right mattress for you
When getting a new mattress, you first need to consider what type of mattress you need. Which means asking, is it better to sleep on a hard bed or a soft one?
This is not an easy yes or no answer. It depends on every person and situation.
If you struggle with back or neck pain, having a mattress that’s too soft or hard might make your pain worse. That’s because if your mattress is too soft, you will start to sink to the bottom of it, which won’t provide the support you need.
However, if your mattress is too hard, you’ll put too much pressure on your head, shoulders and lower back, increasing the pain.
Get the right mattress for you
The only way to check if you need a soft or hard mattress is to test them. Lay down on different mattress types and see which ones you feel more comfortable in.
When finding a new mattress, you’ll also see options for allergy-free or memory foam mattresses for an extra cost. Generally speaking, these aren’t always the extra investment.
For the allergy-free mattress, you can save money by getting a washable hypoallergenic slip-on cover. This will prevent dust mites from getting in contact with the mattress. With regular washing, you also prevent dust mite growth by robbing them of their food supply.
Memory foam mattresses are most useful for those who share a bed with a partner that keeps them awake. That’s because the foam absorbs the sound and motion of them tossing and turning during the night, which makes it less likely to disturb your sleep.
If this isn’t a problem for you, you might not want to invest in memory foam unless you think this mattress is comfier than the others. In which case, you can’t put a price on your own comfort level.
Test before you buy
Our golden piece of advice for mattresses is to always test before you buy.
The only person that knows the right mattress you need is you. So, try different types until you find one that you can imagine yourself settling in for a soundless night on.
When you think you’ve found the one, lay on it for at least 20 minutes. This will give you an accurate idea of how it can support you during the night.
As we’ve covered, mattresses have a huge impact on your sleep. By picking the right one, you’ll be able to feel your best after enjoying the most refreshing sleep of your lifetime.