What Are The Symptoms Of Bad Bed?
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Pop quiz: how old is your mattress?
Unless you bought it within the past year, you’d probably have to count backward, and do some tricky memory math to try to figure it out.
Most of us don’t think much about our mattresses, which is odd, considering how much of our lives we spend on them. Just because we’re unconscious for most of those hours doesn’t make our beds any less important. It’s the opposite, in fact.
A good night of rest is one of the best things you can do for your health, so having a supportive bed is key. And it’s not just for your comfort, although that is one of the reasons. Theeffects of sleeping on a bad mattressextend beyond your bedtime and can even affect your breathing and mental health.
In this article, we’ll give you some guidelines on how to know when it’s time to say adios to your old bed and replace it with something new.
Life Expectancy of a Mattress
How long you can reasonably expect to keep your bed varies depending on who you ask. Mattress manufacturers will tell you once every eight years, but Consumer Reports says a quality bed should last for ten years. Call it paranoia, but it seems like the manufacturers are trying to steer us into replacing our beds more quickly than needed.
That being said, there are a lot of factors that can affect the life expectancy of your sleeping surface:
Type of mattress:Natural latex and high-density memory foam last longer than innerspring and low-density memory foam.
Quality:Usually, you get what you pay for.
Your age and weight:Heavier people will naturally make a mattress compress or sag more quickly. And as you age, you become more sensitive to subtle indentations.
Lifestyle:If you use your bed only for sleeping and take good care of it, it’ll outlive something that has kids jumping on it or sustains other bouncy extracurricular activities.
When to Ditch Your Old Bed
10 million. That’s the average number of sleeping partners you have on any given night. These microscopic dust mites feed on your dead skin cells and use your bed as a toilet. Gross, isn’t it. It’s a good thing you can’t see these guys because they’re downright gross.
Many of us unknowingly sleep right on top of them without realizing it, but if you’ve got allergies, asthma, skin rashes, or experience tightening in your chest when you lie down for sleep, you may be allergic to dust mites and their fecal matter.
To prevent their population from raging out of control, make sure you wash your sheets weekly in hot water, vacuum the surface of your bed, and keep the temperature and humidity in your room as low as possible.
Over the course of several years, these critters multiply. If you haven’t taken precautions to control their multiplication, it might be time to consider a new bed sooner rather than later.
An aging mattress often bows or sags in the middle where we put the most weight on it. When this happens, we might wake up with low back pain, stiffness or sore muscles.
If you find that you feel this way after a night of what should have been restful sleep, it might be time to find something new. If you put it off too long, the pain can become chronic and could increase your chances of injury.
Deformation, or sagging, occurs when the surface of the bed gets indents in it from years of bearing your weight. Take out your measuring tape and take a look at whether or not there are any visible areas of sagging. Some companies cover this under warranty provided you’ve taken good overall care of the rest of the surface.
Dust mites aren’t the only thing you have to worry about. As humans, we’re pretty gross ourselves. As we sleep, in addition to skin cells, we also secrete about a cup of water per night. What doesn’t evaporate, soaks right through our sheets and into our mattress. It encourages the growth of mold and mildew.
Thankfully, a waterproof mattress cover can prevent this issue from happening, but if you didn’t put one on your bed from day one, you’ve most likely got some spores sprouting up.
It’s not the dust mites themselves that people are allergic to, it’s their fecal matter that causes the itchy eyes, rashes and breathing challenges. Other culprits include mold, mildew, pet dander, dust, and pollen.
All of these things build up over time, so the longer you have your bed, the higher the chance of having an allergic reaction.
If you wake up in the morning or the middle of the night feeling any aches and pains, your bed could be the culprit. It’s likely that it’s not providing ample support to keep your spine in alignment. It’s natural for a sleeping surface to become softer over time, but if it becomes too soft, you’re in for a night of tossing and turning.
When you lie down, your spine should maintain a natural, relatively straight line. When a bed ages, it can cause your body to dip. If you spend hours in this position, you’ll likely feel the effects.
Lack of Sleep
If you’ve slept eight hours but still wake up groggy, it could be your bed’s fault. A night or two won’t kill you, but chronic sleep deprivation can lead to more serious health conditions. Not only are you depriving your body of the time it needs to repair and restore itself, lack of proper bedtime also results in daytime drowsiness, poor judgment, and mood swings.
How to Fix a Bad Mattress
If you’re not quite ready to invest in a whole new bed, you can extend its life by about a year if you add a mattress topper. It can smooth out any dips and sags and provide extra cushion and support.
Look for one that doesn’t trap your body heat. That way you’ll sleep both comfortable and cool.
If you’re suffering from allergies, you can create a barrier between yourself and those icky dust mites by adding a mattress cover to your bed. Some even have a bit of padding to make your experience extra comfortable.
Make sure the one you get is waterproof to prevent even more moisture from sinking down into bed.
The right pillow can work wonders. If you feel yourself dipping down into the surface, relieve the pressure by placing a pillow between your knees for side sleeping. If you’re more of a back sleeper, put the pillow underneath your knees to give you a bit of lift and take the strain off of your lower back.
For those who sleep on their stomach, a pillow placed at the pelvic area helps prevent your body from bowing or arching.
Even if you have the best and newest mattress money can buy, you won’t rest well if your sleep environment is subpar. Here are a few tips to prepare your bedroom for a night of blissful shuteye:
- Room temperature: cooler rooms help you sleep better than warm ones. This is because our body’s temp naturally drops at night. By keeping your bedroom cool, you allow nature to take its course.
- Remove distractions: kick the television out of your room, or at least turn it off by a certain time. The same goes for electronic devices like smartphones and tablets. The last thing you need to do before your bedtime is stalking your high school ex on Facebook.
- Eat and drink appropriately: avoid drinking a gallon of water before bed. The same goes for caffeine and excessively spicy foods. All of these serve to keep you awake and could send you to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Tell if My Mattress is Bad?
There are some telltale signs that you’ve got a bad mattress. Some of them may surprise you. Here are our top five things to look for:
- It takes you a long time to fall asleep: if you’re not comfortable, it’s more difficult to fall asleep.
- You wake up tired: your old mattress could be causing things like sleep apnea or other breathing issues that compromise the quality of your sleep.
- Your sex drive is low: this is surefire sign that you’re not getting enough Zzz’s
- You wake up feeling congested or with a stuffy nose: Unless it’s allergy season and you’ve got hay fever, waking up congested or stuffy is a common symptom of a dust mite invasion.
- Your skin looks lackluster or even starts breaking out: lack of quality sleep increase stress hormones, which result in acne, a loss of skin elasticity, and even wrinkles.
Can It Possibly Cause Sciatica?
If you know anyone that has sciatica, you’ll probably hear them complain about it constantly. It’s quite painful. Sciatica is a painful, tingly or numbing sensation down the side or back of the legs that runs down the sciatic nerve (the nerve that starts at the low back and runs down to the feet).
It’s caused by degenerative disc disease and sleeping on a bad mattress can accelerate or exacerbate sciatica symptoms. Therefore, indirectly, you could say that it can cause sciatica. It certainly won’t help!
Sleep is an essential function for everyday health. And as you’ve read here, not getting adequate sleep can cause wrinkles. Nobody likes wrinkles.
Think back to when you purchased your bed. If it’s been more than five years or you’ve cut some corners on its care maintenance, it might be time for something new. Your health is your greatest asset, and a new bed is a simple and inexpensive way to protect it.
Sources and References:
- Changes in back pain, sleep quality, and perceived stress after introduction of new bedding systems – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- How to Find Bed Bugs – epa.gov
Author: Sleep Advisor
Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.
Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.
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There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to better health and better rest, but no one has time to sleep, let alone figure out how to upgrade the sleep they’re getting.
From figuring out how to buy a mattress, suggesting ones that are good for different needs and body types, or breaking down the newest science behind technology and wellness breakthroughs, Sleep Advisor has you covered.
How can a mattress affect your sleep
How can a Mattress Affect your Sleep and Health
How can a mattress affect your sleep and health? Let’s discuss the top scientific factors that affect sleep and solve this question by re-engineering the question by starting from the end result. How can we ultimately get the best sleep? I am going to break up the issues into two broad categories; mechanical and physical.
The three most important mechanical and physical factors that affect sleep are:
COMFORT AND SUPPORT:You can get a mattress that feels comfortable when you first lay down on it. but it may not have support. This is the case in so many cheap, soft, mattresses and the result can be very harmful to the spine and ultimatley to a person’s health. It is imperitive that the mattress provide proper support (especially with scoliosis) that maintains the basic spinal curves, to keep the four primary curves in alignment. Bad (and usually old) mattresses allow gravity to win and don’t support the spine in its neutral configuration, taking the spine out of it’s optimal anatomical position. This can cause increased stress and strain and cause injury and increase the chances of age related degenerative arthritis. The inverse is also true. There are mattresses that have a ton of support but may not be comfortable. If a mattress is too hard or very unforgiving, it may hold one’s spine up and not sag, but it may be so uncomfortable that one develops pressure points or it is simply so uncomfortable, you can’t get to sleep (insomnia) or it continually awakens the person (sleep disruptions), both which can lead to poor health.
My recommendation is to have atop layer of pressure relieving foamto reduce, absorb and distrubute pressure properly and choose a mattress that has majority of the underlying foam layers forsupport. JUSTSLEEPbeds.com has JUST the right amount ofpressure relief and supportbuilt into every mattress to optimize your health and sleep experience.
TEMPERATURE:The optimal mattress would be made from a material that self regulates and changes the temperature around the body to reduce the chance of over-heating or alternatively cooling to uncomfortable temperatures, both which can affect the soundness of one’s sleep. The worst case scenario is a mattress with a material that traps one’s body heat or alternatively, a mattress material that doesn’t create enough insulation under the body to keep the body warm. In the deep sleep (aka, beauty sleep or "delta sleep"), research has shown that our body temperature will be reduced by about one degree to allow our body to maintain this deep restful sleep stage. A mattress that traps heat can reduce this powerful stage of restful sleep during the night.
My recommendation is to get a mattress that has permeability, breathability and does not trap heat. The most important concept in heat regulation is creating a “temperature neutral” environment that does not generate nor does it reduce a person’s temperature. This is obtained through a mattress’ “breathability”. This is very important to deep sleep, a very important sleep cycle that helps regulate and promote our health through protein synthesis and cellular repair. I have a created two mattress lines, THE PREMIUM and the THE SELECT. The Premium has an upper layer of a plant based coconut foam imported from Italy that has certified breathability and a second layer, a Talalay latex that has air vent holes drilled that increases it’s breathability as well. The SELECT has a gel-infused memory foam that has air vent holes for improved breathablity and gel "swirls" that increase the elasticity and "push-back" to help keep you spine in alignment and also help in keeping the temperature JUST right.
Environment:An old or non-certified mattress can create off gassing, can harbor bacteria and dust-mites, can be allergenic and can create other adverse environment such as mold or mildew. Any or all of the above can affect one’s health as our bodies react to these foreign matters as toxins and can even effect the respiratory system. There are a variety of bedding materials on the market including feathers, foam and synthetic fiberfill. Research shows that both synthetic and down can be full of dust-mites and millions of fungal spores. It’s the dust mite’s feces that can play havoc with our respiratory systems and Aspergillus, the most common fungus (especially found in synthetic pillows) is also very problematic for adults and children with mold allergies, asthma, sinus problems, or compromised immune systems.
My recommendation is to purchase a mattress that is hypoallergenic, antimicrobial and dust mite resistant. Talalay latex, the primary foam in our PREMIUM line of mattresses at JUSTSLEEPbeds.com mattress is resistant to all of the above and both the coconut and latex foams used in the upper layers of the PREMIUM line are Oeko Tec certified to be devoid of any harmful substances that may negatively affect one’s health.
There are other very important factors such mental and physical that effect sleep and you can read more about these in my new book "Unlocking the Mysteries of Sleep". My new book is available free of charge on the JUSTSLEEPbeds.com website. Other factors such as anxiety, stress, depression, alcohol, eating habits, hydration, bed partner, ambient noise and light are very important to look at and will be discussed in an upcoming blog.
Wishing you the best of health through sleep!
Is Your Mattress Messing with You? The Health Effects of Old Mattresses
By Marygrace Taylor
Last Updated On March 12th, 2020
A mattress that’s old or worn out can do more than leave you tossing and turning throughout the night. Enjoy 30% OFF any Amerisleep Mattress Claim deal now Like light…
A mattress that’s old or worn out can do more than leave you tossing and turning throughout the night.
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Like light bulbs or batteries, mattresses tend to be the kind of thing that we don’t give much thought to as long as they’re doing their job. But when the light or a battery stops working, you know right away and replace it ASAP.
But unless a mattress pops a spring or breaks somehow, most of us will keep using it long after it probably should have been replaced. Which can spell bad news for your health—andyour ability to get a decent night’s rest.
Here’s what you need to know about how an old mattress could affect your health, and how you can cope.
The Life Expectancy of a Mattress.
A high-quality mattress can give you years of comfortable sleep—but there’s no magic number as to exactly how many.
Typically, manufacturers recommend replacing your mattress every eight years. But according to Consumer Reports, a mattress that’s well cared for could easily last a decade. (Unless you’re over 40. By that age, your body tolerates less pressure, which means you might need a new mattress after five to seven years.)
In fact, most mattress companies, even the newer mattress in a box companies, offer a 10-year warranty. Some brands will even go above and beyond and offer a 20-year warranty or more. However, the length of the warranty and the length of a mattress’s life are two different things.
To ensure that your mattress lives a long, happy life, experts recommend giving it a little TLC. Some tips:
- Don’t let kids jump on the bed.
- Rotate your mattress every two months. Rotate single-sided mattresses from end to end, and flip double-sided mattresses over.
- Use a bed frame with a center support to prevent sagging.
Still, even with the utmost care and attention, your mattress will eventually start to wear out. And when that happens, some not-so-great stuff is likely to follow.
Dead Skin, Body Oil, and Dust Mites, Oh My!
Since you spend about a third of your life in bed, you better believe that over time, your mattress starts to collect loads of dead skin and body oils. Who loves to snack onthatstuff? Dust mites.
In fact, the typical used mattress can house as many as10 millionof the microscopic bugs, according to Ohio State University experts. And since even dust mites poop, that stuff is in your bed, too.
Pretty disgusting, right? Mercifully, the little buggers are invisible—and most of us seem to get along with them just fine. But if you suffer from allergies, sleeping on a too-old mattress can pose a problem. Dust mite allergies can cause sneezing, runny noses, itchiness, watery eyes, coughing, and sinus pressure.
It gets worse if you have asthma, which can be exacerbated by dust mites. Then, you could be at risk for difficulty breathing, chest tightness, or even trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath.
Of course, even a mattress that’s a few months old can have dust mites, just not (nearly) as many as what would be in an older mattress or worse, a secondhand mattress. And since you can’t buy a new mattress every year (though wouldn’t it be great if you could?), it makes sense to take other steps to keep your sleeping space as dust mite-free as possible.
- First, use allergen-proof bed covers. Their fabric is more tightly woven than regular covers, which can keep dust mites from escaping your mattress. Avoid purchasing used bedding at all costs.
- Similarly, steer clear of bedding that’s difficult to wash, because it’s important to…
- …Wash bedding frequently and thoroughly. Once a week in very hot water is the golden rule.
- Vacuum frequently, too. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove dust from carpeting and upholstered furniture.
- Always use a mattress protector. We recommend a mattress encasement because it covers all sides of the mattress and protects it from spills, bed bugs, allergens, and dust mites.
Bad Back Pain
As a mattress ages and begins to wear out, it starts to sag in the middle. So rather than sleeping on a flat, comfortable surface, you end up sleeping on one that’s awkwardly curved in the middle. In fact, one prominent spine expert compared it to sleeping in a hole.
Which sounds pretty unpleasant, right? Chiropractors agree that sleeping on an old mattress is a recipe for chronic back pain. That can mean tossing and turning through the night to find a more comfortable sleeping position, or simply waking up the next morning feeling stiff and sore.
Over time, the pain itself can make it harder to nod off and stay asleep, which can create a vicious cycle of discomfortandexhaustion. In fact, two-thirds of Americans say that their pain causes sleep problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Doesn’t sound so fun.
Fortunately, strategically placed pillows can help you find short-term relief: Place them under your knees if you sleep on your back, or between your knees if you sleep on your side.
That can help release some of the pressure on your back for the time being. But the better, more permanent solution, experts say, is to look for the best mattress for back pain.
Finding The Best Mattress
The best way to get rid of the problems caused by an old, worn-out mattress is simple: Replace it with a new one. But with so many options to choose from, how are you supposed to know which sleep surface is the best one for you? Here’s a quick breakdown of the basics:
- Innerspring mattresses:This is your family of standard coil spring mattress, some of which come with comfortable topper materials like pillow or latex. They tend to range in firmness, though experts say that people who suffer from lower back pain might do better with a firmer surface. Note that innerspring mattresses must be used with box springs, which can trap bed bugs and dust mites.
- Memory foam mattresses:These mattresses, which are growing in popularity, are made from layers of plush foam that respond to body weight and temperature. Since they mold to the shape of your body, memory foam mattresses are known for reducing pressure points and relieving pain.
- Latex mattresses:Made from natural or synthetic rubber, these also offer firmness and support. That can make them a good choice for those with back pain, however, some people complain that latex mattresses aretoofirm.
What about mattress size? The most popular is the queen mattress, but if you’re in college, a twin or twin XL is probably best. If you’ve got kids sharing a room, try a full mattress or a twin mattress. And if you share your bed with a restless partner and you both need lots of room, go with a king size mattress. A California king is a great option for taller folks who need the extra leg room. Most mattress types are available in these wide range of sizes, so it’s easy to nab any size bed that fits your lifestyle and space restrictions.
The best way to tell which new mattress will work best for you? Test it out. If you’re a side sleeper, pick the best mattress for side sleepers. If you’re hitting the store, be sure to spend at least 10 minutes laying on the surface. And remember to bring your pillow, which will help to replicate your true sleeping environment as closely as possible.
Of course, you’ll get an even better idea of how comfortable a mattress really is if you can sleep on it for a full night—or forseveralfull nights. And not to toot our own horn or anything, but did you know that Amerisleep offers a 90-day sleep trial? Seriously—you can sleep on one of our top-rated mattresses for three months, and if for any reason it isn’t comfortable, you can return it.
Don’t forget about your budget! The average mattress price runs from about $800-$1200 for a high-quality queen size. Watch out for luxury beds that are marked up simply because of features that don’t actually help with sleep. And don’t fall for a cheap mattress eitehr
Saying Goodbye To Your Old Mattress
Once you’ve waved goodbye to dust mites and back pain with a new mattress, you still have to get rid of the old one. Which, thankfully, is pretty easy. There are over 50 mattress-recycling facilities in North America, and their numbers are growing all the time.
Did you sleep better after getting a new mattress? Is your current mattress impacting how you sleep right now?
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
About the author
Marygrace Taylor is a health and wellness writer based in Philadelphia. She’s covered healthy sleep and sleep hygiene for Amerisleep and other outlets since 2014. She also writes about diet and nutrition, women’s health, and fitness for outlets like Healthline, Men’s Health, and Prevention.
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5 Ways A Wrong Mattress Affects Your Sleep and Health
A wrong mattress can be a very uncomfortable thing and can really affect your sleep and health without you even knowing it. So are your using a wrong mattress?
Here are 5 ways how your mattress affects your sleep and health. Most of us spend about a third of out lives in bed. Yet many do not give enough attention to what they sleep on – their mattress.
Many people spend more time selecting a comfortable, adjustable car seat than they do choosing a mattress. In fact, many people use their mattress way long after its useful life.
If you want proper, refreshing sleep then you need the proper equipment to enable it. A comfortable mattress with the proper support can make an amazing difference to the quality of sleep.
What Does A Wrong Mattress To You
Here are some ways in which your wrong mattress affects your sleep and health.
1. Allergies And Allergic Reactions
Many people take special care when purchasing a mattress to make sure it does not contain substances they are allergic to.
Take latex for example. Latex foam is often used in mattresses, and if you know you have a latex allergy be careful to avoid these. You can avoid contact with latex and other chemicals by using an allergy-proof slip sheet over the mattress.
However, as you use the mattress, your skin cells flake off onto, and into, the mattress. We shed around 600,000 skin particles an hour.
If you sleep around 8 hours, that equates to roughly a half pound a year into your mattress. It doesn’t sound much but dry skin cells are very light, and a half-pound of skin is a heck of a lot.
You don’t get allergies from skin cells – but you do from the dust mites that feed off them! Washing your bedding regularly helps, but eventually you would have to change your mattress to remove the source of your allergy.
Not all people are affected by dust mites, but if you get a runny nose, sore throat or sneeze a lot while in bed, then that is the likely cause. They can also be an issue if you have asthma.
Use an impermeable mattress cover that don’t let skin cells into the mattress.
Then make sure you vacuum the mattress regularly, and wash your bedding. A professional shampoo of the mattress may also help if this is a genuine problem for you.
2. Hard, Medium Or Soft?
Many people think that a soft mattress will be more comfortable than a hard mattress. ‘Ultra-plush’ sounds wonderful, but not if it gives you a sore back!
Also, what is ‘medium’ – maybe that’s a good compromise between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’? Not true: too soft a mattress can fail to provide proper support for your neck and spine. This can lead to neck pain and lower back problems.
Even a so-called ‘medium’ mattress can be too soft for many people.
Test drive the mattress. Lie out flat on it, and also in your normal sleeping position, to see how it feels. If it is to sleep you and a partner, then both try it out. You may have to compromise if partners differ widely in weight.
It may also pay to purchase your new mattress from a website or manufacturer that allows you to test it for a period. Some offer a 100-day trial period if purchased from Amazon. If it’s a wrong mattress and you don’t like it, return it within 100 days for a full refund.
3. Old Mattresses Can Contribute To Stress Levels
Sleeping on an old mattress can generate stress in addition to back and neck pain.
A 2015 test by the U.S. National Sleep Foundation found that sleeping on a new mattress can significantly lower stress levels in healthy subjects. It was deduced that this was due to improved quality of sleep and reduced pain in the back and neck when sleeping.
Most people are unaware of the small changes taking place in their mattress as it ages. Your quality of sleep gradually reduces until you may begin to feel irritable.
You may also feel slight pains in your back and stiffness in your neck because of the wrong matterss. That may be the time to change your mattress, or perhaps your mattress was not the correct one for you from the start.
Your sleep can be disturbed unknown to you by movements of your partner lying beside you. That can lead to you feeling less rested when you wake up.
You may then want to consider a memory foam mattress or pocketed spring mattress that protect you from movement by your partner tossing and turning. Some latex mattresses can also isolate partner movement.
If your mattress is over 8 years old, you may want to consider getting a new one. Check out a few different types of mattress: Latex foam, memory foam, innerspring, pocketed spring, or a combination of two or more of these.
Get the correct mattress right from the start by trying it out in the store first. If there are two of you then try it together.
When you know the mattress you want either buy it form the store or go online to Amazon. You can often get a good period to try it out before deciding to keep it.
Use a good mattress comparison site such as Free Your Spine to give you some ideas. Don’t rush and pick the one marked as “BEST”. Try to form your own opinion based on the comparisons you’ve found online.
4. Do Not Work In Bed!
Some people take their computer bed to work. Others use their bedroom as a home office. Both are bad for you and can affect your sleep. The experts generally agree that the bedroom should be used only for love and sleeping.
If you use the same room for work, or use your laptop in bed, your brain will come to associate the room with that. Once you get into bed, you brain will be waiting for you to begin work and your quality of sleep will suffer.
5. Can’t Sleep Or Feel Tired When You Wake Up?
The best preparation for sleep is exercise. If you find it difficult getting to sleep, perhaps your body is not tired enough. Your brain may be, but perhaps you are not physically ready to sleep.
You may fall asleep, but you might also toss and turn and still feel tired come morning. A good walk or exercise routine before bed can make a huge difference to many, particularly if your mattress is getting old.
If you get into a night-time routine, your body and brain will begin to associate that with sleeping. Then, when you get snuggled up bed, it will be morning before you know it. Going to bed at the same time each night also help.
Many successful entrepreneurs, even those who sleep short hours, make it a habit to go to bed and rise at the same times every day. They say that such a habit keeps them fresh and ready for work even if they sleep short hours.
So, do you use a wrong mattress? As discussed above, your mattress affects your sleep and health in many different ways. For all of them, a new mattress is a solution – but not the sole solution.
Keeping your mattress clean will help resolve or reduce some issues. So will flipping and turning the mattress to help maintain its support.Among the most affective solutions are choosing the correct mattress to begin with. Try it out – with your partner if appropriate.
Read the reviews for the various mattresses. They all make great claims, but user comments give you the real story. Then buy a good mattress from a vendor that enables you to test it at home for a time then get a refund if it is not to your liking.
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How Stress Can Affect Your Sleep
Stress – that old, uninvited guest that likes to set up residence in our heads.
What is stress?
Everybody struggles with it from time to time. It may be down to a big exam, a presentation at work or being drafted into giving a speech at your cousin’s wedding. These are known as ‘stressors’ – things that are likely to trigger a stress response.
In small doses, stress can be helpful to us. During a stress response your body releases hormones which can:
- sharpen your senses
- improve focus
- increase your heart rate
- increase your breathing rate
- release glucose for a quick energy boost
Short-term stress, such as that experienced in exam settings or during sporting events is harmless and actually relatively positive! However long-term or chronic stress is a different beast altogether.
Chronic stress is the name given to ongoing stress.
When a person is constantly faced with stressors on a regular basis, their stress response is set off far more than usual. This takes a negative toll on both the body and mind.
Some examples of chronic stressors may include:
- a difficult pregnancy
- taking on too many responsibilities at work
- selling or buying a house
- working through long-term debt
- a divorce or the end of a relationship
How stress can affect your sleep
Chronic stress can have many side effects, including poor mood, irritability and has even been linked to higher incidences of heart attacks and stroke.
But one of the key things it can impact upon is your sleep. In a study by the American Psychological Association, three-quarters of adults suffering from stress-related sleep problems say that it caused an increase in stress and anxiety in their everyday lives. It is easy to see how it can become a self-perpetuating cycle.
How stress can keep you awake
There are several symptoms of stress that impact on our sleep. These can include but are not limited to:
1. Racing mind
Over-thinking is a huge contributing factor to lack of sleep. Many people report that they find it hard to stop worrying about things before going to sleep, leading to periods of wakefulness and heightened levels of anxiety. This state is known as hyperarousal, when your mind and sometimes body cannot seem to enter a resting state.
Stress can cause or exacerbate various types of headache, from tension headaches to full-blown migraines. Trying to get to sleep with one of these can be nearly impossible and is more than likely to disrupt sleep.
3. Muscle pain
Stress can cause a number of physical symptoms, including but not limited to back pain, shoulder and neck pain, jaw pain from clenched teeth and body-wide muscle tension. Therefore getting comfy and relaxed is difficult when every part of your body feels tense. And unluckily for sufferers of Restless Leg Syndrome, their symptoms can be amped up during times of stress – leaving them tossing and turning for hours!
Insomnia is a long-term condition in which a person has difficulty achieving or maintaining sleep. It can be characterised by night-waking, restlessness, deterioration of mood and in extreme cases can even result in visual and auditory hallucinations. Sleep deprivation is often not taken as seriously as it ought to be, and periods of stress can heighten symptoms of insomnia and really take a toll on a person’s life.
Unhelpful ways of coping with stress
We all have our own methods for coping with stress and relaxing, but many of these can have a poor effect on sleep.
In one study, thirty-eight percent of adults said they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the past month because of stress. However, a chocolate binge or late night meal can actually disrupt your sleep even more. Did you know that 100g of dark chocolate contains as much caffeine as half a cup of coffee?
Many people like to have a glass of wine after a tough week at work. In a recent NHS survey, 57% of survey respondents reported drinking alcohol in the past week. Alcohol has been shown to inhibit sleep, lead to night-waking and prevent your body from entering the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep.
Another thing that may help you relax is a good old Netflix binge-session – losing yourself in a story or a film can be a fantastic way of forgetting your worries. The blue light generated by phones, tablets and laptops, however, has been shown to delay the release of sleep hormones and increase alertness, making sleep much harder to come by.
Positive ways of coping with stress
If you engage in any of the habits above, try replacing them with some positive habits which are proven to reduce stress and the negative effects it can have on your sleep.
Many people have heard of the Guatemalan tradition of worry dolls – small handmade dolls which children would speak their troubles to before placing them under the pillow and going to bed. There may actually be something to it!
Taking a notebook and writing out your worries before bed can stop them swirling in your head and making you anxious. Writing down problems or thoughts means that you can be confident you won’t forget them. It’s better to come back to them in the morning after some much-needed rest rather than letting them keep you awake.
Blow off any excess steam and loosen up tense muscles by taking regular exercise during the day. Don’t try to do this too close to bedtime or your elevated heart rate and warm temperature are likely to keep you awake, but around 3 – 4 hours before sleep will be fine.
An important one for the chronic over-workers. Banish the sleep-stealing blue light and turn off your devices at least two hours before you want to go to sleep. Any emails or calls can more than likely wait till morning.
Resist the urge to binge on a boxset too. Try reading a book or listening to a soothing podcast to lower your heart rate and prepare you for sleep.
Meditation and breathing exercises
Another way to regulate the heart rate and clear the mind is meditation. Undertaken before bed, it’s an excellent opportunity to clear your mind and get your body ready for a sleep state. There are several mindfulness and meditation apps on the market if you’re not sure how to begin.
The NHS also has a recommended breathing exercise specifically for those dealing with stress, if you’d like to keep your phone out of it to minimise blue light exposure.
We hope that these techniques might help you, whatever short or long-term stressors you may be dealing with. Remember: everybody experiences stress at some point, so never feel as though you’re alone. Ask your friends and family – they may have some methods for coping with stress that we haven’t thought of!
If you’d like to learn more about techniques, check out our collection of natural home remedies for sleep. Or see our post about insomnia and how to combat it.