One of the last things most people think of changing to improve their sleep is their mattress. After all, it is usually the most expensive component about your sleeping experience. The idea of spending hundred to several thousand dollars for a furniture hidden beneath a cover is unappealing.
But if you’ve had that mattress over ten years, or experience sagging, or not providing the support you need, a new mattress could be the solution.
Writing for Psychology Today, Shelby Harris Psy.D. says, “Consider replacing your mattress if it is too hard, too soft, sags in the middle, has springs poking out, or causes you to have back or neck pain when you wake up.”
You do, after all, spend approximately 1/3 of every day in bed, and if you’re having body pain upon waking, your mattress is probably not taking care of you. A common problem is the bed is too soft. Howard Levy, MD explains, “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.”
If you’re sleeping on a bed that lacks support for your particular body, it can feel painful in particular areas. “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,” says Michael Decker, PhD, RN, associate professor at Georgia State University and spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
When your brain gets this pain signal, it causes you to roll over to eliminate the pain, which in turn causes you to wake a little each time it happens. If you’re sleeping on a bad mattress, this will happen multiple times per night resulting in a low quality sleep cycle that will leave you fatigued.
If you suffer from either heartburn and acid reflux disease, or breathing difficulties such as COPD or sleep apnea, an adjustable bed might be the best choice for you. These beds can also help some people with chronic back and leg pain because the bed can be put into a specific position that will alleviate pressure on your most susceptible areas.
With regards to adjustable beds, Jeffrey K. Bergin, DC, advises, “Patients I know who use them have conditions like hypertension, circulation problems, decubitus ulcers, or congestive heart failure, and they find it difficult to sleep on a flat bed.”
A popular option is beds that are made from memory foam. This foam was created by NASA. Dr. Bergin continues, “NASA put it in seats to absorb G-forces so it doesn’t hurt. We’re bombarded by G-forces when we sleep, and memory foam allows the heavier or denser parts of the body to sink into the foam.” These types of mattress are also a good idea if you have an active bed partner who tends to toss and turn. The memory foam will isolate that movement and not transfer the feeling of motion to you.
One thing that most sleep researchers, doctors and even mattress manufacturers recommend is that you not rush through your decision on a new mattress. If you are seriously considering a mattress, it is wise to get comfortable, and lie on it for no fewer than 20 minutes. If you will be sleeping on it with a partner, be sure to bring that person with you, because you should both lie down to give it an accurate test. Don’t be intimidated by other people in the store, or by the sales associates. Twenty minutes on the front end of the process can save you ten years of being unhappy with your purchase.