Five ways your mattress affects your sleep

You wouldn’t run a marathon or hike a mountain without the right gear. And yet, despite spending a third of our lives sleeping, many of us haven’t properly prepared in the bedroom — when it comes to mattresses, that is.
Not that we don’t recognise the importance of a comfy mattress. In a 2011 poll, the National Sleep Foundation found that 92 per cent of people say a comfortable mattress is important for a good night’s sleep. You may be tempted to blame your budget for continuing to doze on a less-than-ideal mattress but, considering just a little bit more shut-eye can help you lose weight, improve your memory and live longer, can you really put a price tag on good sleep?
But the wrong mattress – or one that’s simply too old – can cause more than that crick in your neck or your lower back pain. Here are five sneakier ways your mattress affects your sleep – and your health.
A new mattress might zap your stress
In a study in 2009, 59 healthy men and women slept on their regular mattresses for 28 consecutive nights, then another 28 nights on new, medium-firm mattresses. They were asked to evaluate their stress levels based on factors like worrying, racing thoughts, nervousness, irritability, headaches, trembling and more. The new beds resulted in ‘a significant decrease in stress’, according to the study, possibly because of the related increase in sleep quality and a decrease in pain associated with the firmer setup.
You may be allergic to your mattress
Well, to the dust mites calling it home, at least. The microscopic creatures feed on the dead skin cells you shed naturally, a whole host of which are found in and on your bed. As many as 20 million people are allergic to the bugs, according to WebMD, and they’re especially problematic for people with asthma.
Washing sheets and pillowcases frequently in hot water can help rid your linen of dust mites and an allergy-proof mattress protector can prevent them from reaching your sheets and pillows. If dust mites are a problem, the Better Sleep Council recommends cleaning the actual mattress with a vacuum cleaner.
‘Medium-firm’ is a subjective label
There’s no standardised definition of what makes a mattress soft or firm, according to Robert Oexman DC, director of the Sleep to Live Institute. Terms like ‘ultra-plush’ may sound appealing but you’ll really only know what that means if you spend some time horizontally. There’s also little evidence to prove a firm or a soft mattress is better for your sleep – it just about all comes down to comfort. So, make sure you spend at least 20 minutes ‘test-driving’ a mattress before making a purchase.
Tossing and turning could be a sign it’s time for a new one
Stuffing coming out of a hole or a spring sticking into the small of your back are obvious signs that it’s time to replace your mattress but there are other reasons to head to the store. If you’re simply not sleeping as well as you used to at home, it might be time to make an investment.
Using your mattress as your home office can keep you up
Experts agree that the bedroom should be reserved for sleep. Your brain can start to expect to answer work emails when you hit the hay, making it increasingly difficult to fall asleep. Electronics definitely don’t belong with you on your mattress; the blue light they emit is particularly disruptive to the brain’s natural bedtime mechanism and can keep you up longer.
Visit Platinum Bedding at James Moroka Street for expert help in choosing the best mattress for your needs.

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