How Mattresses Affect Sleep

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How Bed Surfaces Affect Your Sleep

The feel of your mattress, pillows, sheets, and pajamas affects the quality of your sleep. Your mattress should be comfortable and supportive so that you wake up feeling rested, not achy or stiff.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessarily better to sleep on an extra firm mattress, so use your body as a guide for what feels best through the night. Many sleepers, especially side sleepers, prefer a softer mattress. The same applies to pillows: soft or firm is a matter of preference, but think about replacing pillows when they become lumpy or shapeless. The type and number of pillows you use depends in part on your sleeping position.

Temperature plays a big role in quality sleep. Mattress materials, as well as the fabrics on your bed and your body, deal with heat differently. For example, many people find memory foam comfortable, but some materials can trap heat and make it more difficult to sleep in warmer months. For pajamas and sheets, it may help to choose a breathable cotton fabric so that you don’t overheat. There are newer fabrics available that also have the ability to wick away moisture—especially helpful if you sweat when you sleep.

How mattresses affect 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/SUPPORT

TEMPERATURE

ENVIRONMENT/TOXINS

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!

Best Mattresses for Arthritis and Joint Pain

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States, affecting more than 54 million people. Although it’s more common in overweight people, women, and seniors, arthritis can strike anyone at any age.

Research suggests 4 in 5 people with arthritis suffer from poor sleep. This isn’t surprising–chronic pain and the conditions it might exacerbate, like anxiety and depression, can contribute to disordered sleep. Studies also show that poor sleep can increase the perception of pain in arthritis sufferers, creating a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.

Our guide to the best mattress for arthritis includes recommendations for our top picks, and ideas on how to choose a mattress according to your body type, sleeping position, and the type of joint pain. While we always recommend working with your healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan, we hope that finding the right mattress can help you get the sleep you need to improve your quality of life.

Our Top Picks

Layla – Best Flippable
  • Mattress Type:Foam
  • Firmness Level:Medium Soft (4), Firm (7-8)
  • Price:$999
The WinkBed – Best Hybrid
  • Mattress Type:Hybrid
  • Firmness Level:Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7-8)
  • Price:$1,599, $1,799 (Plus)
Zenhaven – Best Latex
  • Mattress Type:Latex
  • Firmness Level:Medium Soft (4), Firm (7-8)
  • Price:$1,899
Nectar – Best Value
  • Mattress Type:Foam
  • Firmness Level:Medium Firm (6)
  • Price:$898
Level Sleep – Chiropractor Endorsed
  • Mattress Type:Foam
  • Firmness Level:Medium (5)
  • Price:$1,199

Layla – Best Flippable

Price: $999

Height: 10"

Firmness: Medium Soft (4), Firm (7-8)

Pressure Point Relief:4/5 (Medium Soft), 3/5 (Firm)

Sleeps Cool:3/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Firm)

Motion Isolation:4/5 (Medium Soft), 3/5 (Firm)

Edge Support:2/5 (Medium Soft), 3/5 (Firm)

Durability:3/5

Ease of Movement:3/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Firm)

Sex:2/5 (Medium Soft), 3/5 (Firm)

Off-Gassing:3/5

Highlights:

  • Copper-infused memory foam relieves pressure points and isolates motion
  • Flippable mattress with two firmness levels
  • Various cooling features

Ideal For:

  • Those who sleep hot
  • People who share the bed
  • People with evolving firmness preferences

The Layla is an all-foam mattress with a unique twist: it’s flippable, so you can alter the firmness from time to time as your needs change. One side of the mattress is medium soft, while the other is firm. A high-density polyfoam layer forms the support core for both sides of the mattress. The cover is removable and infused with a ThermoGEL cooling agent designed to adapt to changes in body temperature.

Copper-infused memory foam on each side of the mattress provides targeted pressure relief for sore joints. Copper is said to have cooling properties, which help counteract the heat retention that is typical of memory foam. It’s also rumored that copper helps arthritis pain, although these claims are not backed by science.

The medium soft side of the mattress has 3 inches of memory foam, as well as a transitional layer of convoluted polyfoam that is zoned in 3 sections. This side forms a deep, pressure-relieving cradle, making it a good choice for side sleepers.

The firm side has just 1 inch of memory foam before the support core, giving it a firmer feel. The firm side of the Layla is well-suited to the needs of stomach sleepers over 130 pounds, as well as back sleepers over 200 pounds.

As with most foam mattresses, the Layla is silent when bearing weight and does a great job of isolating motion, especially on the plush side. This can help reduce disruptions from a sleep partner, so you don’t wake up as easily in the middle of the night.

Layla is priced attractively, and the company offers a 120-night sleep trial, free shipping, and lifetime warranty. The mattress is available in all 50 states as well as Canada.

The WinkBed – Best Hybrid

Price: $1,599, $1,799 (Plus)

Height: 13.5"

Firmness: Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7-8)

Pressure Point Relief:3/5

Sleeps Cool:4/5

Motion Isolation:4/5 (Medium Soft), 3/5 (Medium Firm, Firm, Plus)

Edge Support:4/5 (Medium Soft), 5/5 (Medium Firm, Firm, Plus)

Durability:4/5, 5/5 (Plus)

Ease of Movement:3/5 (Medium Soft, Plus), 4/5 (Medium Firm, Firm)

Sex:3/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm, Firm, Plus)

Off-Gassing:4/5 (Medium Soft, Medium Firm, Firm), 3/5 (Plus)

Highlights:

  • Four firmness levels, including one for individuals over 300 pounds
  • Exceptional edge support
  • Two layers of coils keep the bed cool

Ideal For:

  • People who struggle to get in and out of bed
  • Those who sleep hot
  • Sleepers of virtually any body type or preferred sleep position

The WinkBed hybrid mattress comes in four different firmness options, each of which has slight variations in construction. All four versions have reinforced edges, making it easier to get in and out of bed. A lumbar pad provides enhanced support to people who suffer from arthritis in the lower back.

In the first three models, a Euro pillow top quilted with gel memory foam provides some initial cushioning. This is followed by a layer of microcoils and a zoned pocketed coil support core to keep the spine aligned. The medium soft model features an additional layer of foam for more pressure relief.

The WinkBed Plus model replaces the microcoils with latex, offering better support for people who weigh more than 300 pounds. Between the four options, you should be able to find one that suits you no matter what your body type or preferred sleep position.

Thanks to the breathable Tencel cover and airflow through the coils, the WinkBeds succeeds in maintaining a neutral temperature overnight, which may help to mitigate fever symptoms in people who suffer from infectious arthritis. Despite the dual coil layers, the mattress also transfers relatively little motion. You should find it easy to switch sleeping positions in this bed, great for those nights when your joint pain keeps you tossing and turning.

You can expect a long lifespan from this mattress, as it’s made from quality materials. The mattress ships free and WinkBeds backs the bed with a 120-night sleep trial and forever warranty.

Zenhaven – Best Latex

Price: $1,899

Height:10”

Firmness:Medium Soft (4), Firm (7-8)

Pressure Point Relief:4/5 (Medium Soft), 3/5 (Firm)

Sleeps Cool:4/5

Motion Isolation:4/5 (Medium Soft), 3/5 (Soft)

Edge Support:3/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Firm)

Durability:5/5

Ease of Movement:4/5

Sex:4/5

Off-Gassing:4/5

Highlights:

  • Made with durable, sustainable materials including organic cotton, wool, and latex
  • Breathable Talalay latex is naturally buoyant and responsive
  • Above-average pressure relief and motion isolation

Ideal For:

  • Combination sleepers and people with changing firmness preferences
  • Those who sleep hot
  • Eco-conscious shoppers

The Zenhaven by Saatva is a flippable latex mattress with a medium soft feel on one side and firm on the other. These two options offer a feel to suit most sleeper types.

The mattress is made with breathable, eco-friendly materials, featuring an organic cotton cover and natural wool fire barrier. Each side has a 1.5-inch layer of zoned Talalay latex with firmer foams under the shoulders and torso, followed by a 3-inch layer of firmer Talalay latex.

While it won’t provide the close “hug” feeling of memory foam, Talalay latex is naturally breathable and has a buoyant feel that relieves pressure points, especially on the plush side. Latex isolates motion transfer but is also slightly bouncy, which helps when adjusting positions.

Saatva offers free White Glove delivery and old mattress removal in the continental U.S. The Zenhaven comes with a 20-year warranty and a 120-night sleep trial, subject to a $99 return fee.

Nectar – Best Value

Price:$898

Height:11 "

Firmness:Medium Firm (6)

Pressure Point Relief:4/5

Sleeps Cool:2/5

Motion Isolation:5/5

Edge Support:3/5

Durability:3/5

Ease of Movement:3/5

Sex:2/5

Off-Gassing:3/5

Highlights:

  • Memory foam conforms closely to body, relieving pressure points
  • Excellent motion isolation
  • Attractive price-point

Ideal For:

  • Couples who suffer from joint pain or arthritis
  • Almost all body types and sleep positions
  • Shoppers on a budget

Our budget pick is the Nectar mattress. This memory foam model has a quilted memory foam cover and memory foam comfort layers that offer conforming pressure relief that won’t exacerbate overnight arthritis or joint pain.

A proprietary memory foam transitional layer provides some responsiveness to keep you from feeling stuck in the bed, and the high-density polyfoam support core provides a stable surface. Due to its medium firm feel, the Nectar ranks well with all sleeper types except perhaps side sleepers under 130 pounds, who may experience pressure points.

The Nectar is quiet, and couples will love the way it isolates virtually all motion, preventing overnight disruptions when sharing the bed. The Nectar also has decent edge support for an all-foam mattress, which is good news if you struggle when getting out of bed.

Nectar backs the mattress with an outstanding 365-night sleep trial and forever warranty, the only caveat being that you must sleep on the mattress for 30 nights before requesting a return. The mattress ships free in the contiguous U.S.

Level Sleep – Chiropractor Endorsed

Price: $1,199

Height:11 "

Firmness:Medium (5)

Pressure Point Relief:4/5

Sleeps Cool:3/5

Motion Isolation:3/5

Edge Support:3/5

Durability:3/5

Ease of Movement:3/5

Sex:3/5

Off-Gassing:3/5

Highlights:

  • Three firmness zones provide targeted back support and pressure relief
  • Responsive Energex foam facilitates movement on top of the bed
  • Silent surface with little motion transfer reduces disruptions to your partner

Ideal For:

  • Those who suffer from back pain or hip pain
  • Side sleepers and people who weigh less than 130 pounds
  • Those who sleep hot on all-foam mattresses

Level Sleep has designed a plush all-foam mattress with three zones. Soft and medium foams cradle the shoulders and hips to reduce pressure points, while firmer foams support the lumbar area. This helps keep the spine on an even plane, reducing back and hip pain in arthritis sufferers. Level Sleep’s claim to fame is that the mattress is chiropractor-recommended.

The mattress has a medium firmness level which will appeal to side sleepers and those who weigh less than 130 pounds. Like most foam mattresses, this model by Level Sleep makes no noise, reduces motion transfer, and provides above-average pressure relief.

Unlike traditional memory foam mattresses, the layer of Energex foam facilitates movement on top of the bed. While this is still a foam mattress that will inevitably trap some heat, this layer also prevents you from sinking in too deeply, preventing excessive heat build-up around your body.

A 365-night sleep trial and forever warranty should give you peace of mind when purchasing the Level Sleep mattress.

What is the Best Type of Mattress for Arthritis Sufferers?

The best mattress for people who suffer from arthritis will support the spine while relieving pressure on the joints. Since every person will have unique needs, there is no one material or design that works best. Memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses have all been used successfully by people with joint pain or arthritis.

Usually, you’ll find the best pressure relief in a mattress made of a plush material like memory foam. Memory foam forms a cradle around your body to prevent any one body part from digging into the mattress. Although it doesn’t conform as closely, latex can also provide very good pressure relief. A side benefit of all-foam mattresses is that they are virtually silent and absorb most motion, cutting down on disturbances when you’re having trouble falling asleep.

While it’s tempting to go for the softest mattress out there, a mattress that is too plush will cause sagging under heavier body parts like the hips. This can put pressure on your back and neck, which can aggravate your arthritis or joint pain.

The perfect mattress will offer a balance of pressure relief and support. Many people find this balance in a hybrid mattress, which has conforming foams in the comfort layers and a supportive coil base. An airbed can also achieve this balance by providing a customized firmness level.

Your body type and preferred sleep position will play an important role in determining your mattress. People who weigh under 130 pounds are generally more comfortable on a plush mattress that relieves pressure points. Conversely, those who weigh more than 200 pounds should look for a firmer mattress that will provide more support.

How Does Arthritis Affect Your Sleep?

The pain from your arthritis can make it hard to sleep. Arthritis is characterized by swelling, pain, or stiffness in one or more joints, which can eventually lead to deformities or a limited range of motion. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, each of which affects your sleep in different ways.

In addition to joint pain, each type of arthritis has its own special triggers. Gout tends to flare up late at night and early in the morning, which is when most of us want to be sleeping. People with psoriatic arthritis are often sensitive to light, which can make it difficult to get to sleep in the first place. Infectious arthritis causes fever and chills, so if you have infectious arthritis, you’ll want to look for a mattress that maintains a neutral temperature.

People with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis often find their symptoms are worse after periods of inactivity, such as after sleeping. These people may find it beneficial to sleep on a mattress that enables them to move freely instead of maintaining one position all night.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body increases the production of stress hormones, and your immune system activates an inflammatory response. This can increase the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and other related conditions.

Ironically, the worse your arthritis, the more likely you may be to be stressed and have trouble sleeping. In addition to getting the proper mattress, practicing proper sleep hygiene can help fight insomnia to some extent.

How Can a Mattress Help With Arthritis and Joint Pain?

The right mattress can support your spine and ease pressure points, soothing your arthritis or joint pain instead of exacerbating the problem. Pressure points and stress on your back, neck, and joints cause flare-ups, making it difficult to sleep soundly and worsening the condition overall. With a mattress that distributes your weight evenly, you can minimize your chances of waking up stiff and sore.

For those days when you can’t seem to find a comfortable position no matter how good your mattress is, you’ll appreciate a mattress that allows you to switch positions easily. Latex mattresses and hybrid mattresses have responsive surfaces that facilitate motion.

How Much Does an Orthopedic Mattress Cost?

Orthopedic mattresses start at the $200 or $300 mark and can go into the thousands. An orthopedic mattress is a mattress designed to mimic your body’s natural curves, supporting your spine and relieving pressure on your joints. While some mattresses market themselves specifically as orthopedic, the truth is that any mattress worth its salt should be aiming to provide you the proper support and pressure relief you need while you sleep.

Finding a supportive, pressure-relieving mattress is extra important for people suffering from arthritis. When buying your mattress, be sure to check how long the sleep trial is. You’ll need time to let your body adjust to the mattress before deciding if it’s comfortable for you, so you should look for a sleep trial that’s at least 100 nights long.

Over time, virtually every mattress will start to break down, developing dips and sags that compromise your spinal alignment. Choose a mattress with a decent warranty to protect yourself against premature dips and sags. You can also extend the lifespan of a foam mattress by rotating it head-to-foot every few months.

How Does Sleeping Position Affect Arthritis and Joint Pain?

Different sleeping positions put pressure on different areas of the body, which can trigger your arthritis or joint pain.

Side sleepers are most likely to experience pressure points in the hips and shoulders, where they dig into the mattress. If you have pain in these joints, you’ll need to find a mattress that cushions those areas. Ideally, the mattress will conform to your hips and shoulders to the right degree, allowing your spine to maintain its natural curvature.

Arthritis in the lower back or hips can cause pain when lying on your stomach. If you’re a stomach sleeper, look for a mattress that’s firm enough to keep your hips in line with your body instead of letting them sink in. Stomach sleepers should also use a fairly thin pillow, to prevent strain on the neck.

Back sleepers are the luckiest bunch because this position is the one that comes closest to naturally aligning the spine. Still, back sleepers should be careful to choose a mattress that’s firm enough to keep from sagging at the hips.

Some mattresses are zoned, meaning they are designed to provide more pressure relief in sensitive areas and more support in heavier areas, such as the lower back. Many arthritis and joint pain sufferers find relief from these mattresses.

Joint pain in the fingers, wrists, knees, and other smaller joints doesn’t tend to depend as much on your mattress. If you suffer from arthritis in these areas, you’ll probably be focused on getting a mattress that’s comfortable overall, including with regards to temperature, motion, and ease of movement.

The Best Mattress for a Better Night’s Sleep

Buying a new mattress? Here are tips for finding the right mattress for you.

You spend about a third of every day in bed. Whether that time is spent blissfully slumbering — or tossing and turning — depends a lot on your mattress.

"A mattress can impact a person’s sleep," says Michael Decker, PhD, RN, associate professor at Georgia State University and spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

One way that your mattress affects your sleep has to do with the network of fine blood vessels, called capillaries, that runs underneath your skin.

"When you lie on any part of your body for an extended period of time, the weight of it reduces the flow of blood through those blood vessels, which deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients," Decker says. This causes nerve cells and pain sensors in your skin to send a message to your brain for you to roll over. Rolling over restores blood flow to the area, but it also briefly interrupts your sleep.

Ideally, a mattress that reduces the pressure points on your body should give you a better night’s sleep, Decker says. Yet the ideal mattress is different for each person.

Which Mattress Is Right for You?

Finding the right mattress isn’t about searching out the highest-tech brand or spending the most money. "A much more expensive mattress doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better," Decker says. A high price tag is a product of both the materials that go into the mattress, and the marketing that helps sell it.

Instead of focusing on price and brand name, think about what you want in a mattress. "Selecting a mattress is very personal," Decker says. Some people prefer a firmer mattress; others favor a softer style.

Although there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to prove that one type of mattress will help you sleep better than another, people with certain medical conditions do seem to rest easier on a particular mattress style.

Anyone with back or neck pain should take a Goldilocks approach to mattress buying: not too hard, and not too soft.

"If you’re on too soft [of] a mattress, you’ll start to sink down to the bottom. But on too hard of a mattress you have too much pressure on the sacrum, and on the shoulders, and on the back of the head," says Howard Levy, MD, an Emory University assistant professor of orthopaedics, physical medicine, and rehabilitation.

Continued

A medium-firm mattress, or a firm mattress with a softer pillow top, will give your spine that "just-right" balance of support and cushioning.

An adjustable bed can be a good buy if you need to sleep with your head raised. Doctors sometimes recommend elevating the head to help people with COPD breathe easier, or to prevent nighttime heartburn from GERD. These beds can also allow you to adjust your knees and hips to a 90-degree angle, relieving some of the pressure on sore joints, Levy says.

If you have allergies or asthma, you might have considered buying a bed labeled "hypoallergenic."

"There are a lot of claims made by mattress manufacturers that their mattresses are hypoallergenic or don’t support the growth of dust mites, but I don’t know of scientific evidence to support these claims," says Paul V. Williams, MD, a pediatrics professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an allergist at Northwest Allergy and Asthma Center in Washington state. Williams says dust mites will live anywhere there’s food — and that food is your dead skin cells.

Instead of investing in an allergy-free mattress, slip on a washable mattress encasing. It will form a barrier that prevents dust mites from getting to you. A mattress encasing cuts allergen growth by robbing dust mites of their food supply, Williams says.

And what about those space-age memory foam mattresses, which can cost thousands of dollars? There is some evidence they can help with back problems and improve sleep, but their advantage over a regular coil mattress is only slight. Where memory foam mattresses can really help you sleep is if you have an active bed partner who is keeping you awake, Decker says. Foam mattresses reduce motion transfer, letting you lie still while your partner tosses and turns.

Test Drive a Mattress Before You Buy

"You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it," Decker says. So why would you invest hundreds — or even thousands of dollars in a mattress without trying it out first? Take any new mattress you’re considering for a test nap. "People should not be embarrassed to go into a store and lay on a mattress for 20 minutes," Decker says.

Continued

For a more realistic test, sleep in the beds at different hotel chains when you travel. If you get an especially good night’s sleep on one of them, ask the desk clerk what brand it is.

When you test out a mattress, make sure it feels comfortable in every position, especially the side you favor for sleeping. The mattress should be supportive where you need it, without putting too much pressure on your body, Levy says.

Time for a New Mattress

If you’ve been having trouble sleeping, the problem might not be your mattress type, but its age. "It’s really important for people to realize that mattresses have a certain lifespan," Decker says.

Keep your mattress too long, and the foam and other materials inside it will start to break down, compromising its ability to support your body.

Decker recommends keeping your mattress for no more than 10 years. After that, it’s time to go mattress shopping again.

Sources

Michael Decker, PhD, RN, associate professor, Georgia State University; spokesman, American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Howard Levy, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, Emory University.

Berghold, K.Spine, April 2008.

Paul V. Williams, MD, FAAAAI, clinical professor of pediatrics,University of Washington School of Medicine; allergist, Northwest Allergy and Asthma Center.

Kovacs, F.Lancet, November 2003.

Halken, S.Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, January 2003.

Mattresses and Sleep

How Mattresses Affect Sleep

Many people make the link that lack of sleep affects how they feel the next day but many fail to recognise that their sleep could be improved by a new mattress. A bed with the correct support, comfort and space will ensure you wake less, move about less, are less disturbed by your partner and are less likely to wake up feeling tired or aching.

Quite often a mattress has worn out long before you realise. That’s why the NBF recommend replacing your mattress every seven years. After seven years a mattress has been subjected to over 20,000 hours of wear and tear we lose half a pint of fluid each night and shed a pound of dead skin cells a year – yuck!

If you’re in the market for a new mattress then take a look at the NBF who has a range of advice on its website. There are plenty of tips on what to look for as well as help on the different types of mattresses out there. You can even take our Bed MOT to find out if your mattress really is past its best.

How can I tell that a bed will be comfortable for me?

Spend more time making the right choice of bed – trying them out properly in store; assessing from previous experience the level of firmness/softness you like. It’s your decision – not the salesman’s!

Should I buy a hard bed to ease my aches and pains?

What you need is a new bed which offers the right support for your spine (not necessarily hard at all!) Remember that the term orthopaedic and other derivations of the word only mean that the bed is a firmer specification from that manufacturer. There are no universal standards of firmness in common usage in the UK. BUT if you have a back or skeletal problem you should consult your GP or Specialist before buying.

How can I get the most from my mattress?

Most mattresses need regularly turning to ensure even wear and tear and today’s mattresses can be pretty heavy, so be careful! However, there are now plenty of non-turn options, which only need swivelling around from time to time, while others need to be turned only.

Will a more expensive bed be better to sleep on?

Not necessarily as comfort is a matter of individual preference; a very firm expensive bed may be uncomfortable if you prefer a softer mattress but a better quality bed will be more expensive than a poor quality one because the thicker, more luxurious mattress fillings and covers are more costly.

What is the most important part of the bed to focus on – is it the frame, the mattress or the bedding?

All of it – they need to work together. When buying a new bed it can be false economy to change only the mattress and keep the original base, especially if you are buying a divan set. The old base could reduce the useful life of the new mattress as well as the comfort and support it can offer. It can also invalidate manufacturers’ warranties or guarantees.

Do you always need a base – could you just have a mattress on the floor?

A mattress on the floor is not something we would recommend. A mattress is designed to work with a base and needs ventilation.

What should we be looking out for in a mattress?

Look for a mattress that offers correct support and comfort levels. It is important you make time to try out a variety of mattresses to find the one that is most comfortable for you, and your partner. Size matters so opt for the biggest size you can – and spend as much as you can afford. For added reassurance that the mattress you’re buying is safe, clean and honest look for the NBF Approved ‘big tick’ label.

There are so many bed sizes – how big should I go?

People don’t buy large enough beds. 75% of all double beds are still the standard 4ft 6in/135cm wide double – yet this is plainly not room enough for two adults to sleep comfortably together without disturbing each other. Even upgrading to the next size, a 5ft/150cm king size, whilst it takes up very little extra bedroom space, makes a considerable difference!

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