Whenever we hear from people who have recently bought a mattress from us, the first thing they say is “I can’t believe how much better I’m sleeping since I bought a new mattress!” Across the board, no matter what they bought, people feel this way after buying a new mattress. Most South Africans don’t buy new mattresses that often, not until the reason to do so becomes pressing, such as the mattress clearly causing back pain through visible sagging or something similar, which is a mistake. Sleep is a free gift that keeps you healthy, happy, and creative. It makes your reflexes, mental and otherwise, fully functioning and lays the ground work for all other aspects of life. Yet we abuse sleep it as much as we possibly can.
Waking up in the morning with a headache hovering on the edge of your temples, and dragging yourself from your bed only by the force and habit and the knowledge that you can’t be late for work is a pretty normal morning for most of us in the working world. However, it shouldn’t be like that: the nature of sleep is that you should wake up refreshed in the morning, not still desperately craving more sleep. And the reason you’re not sleeping well might be your mattress. But how do you know that’s true? Is what your mattress retailer tells you about mattresses true? It’s difficult to say, since research about sleep and mattresses has been very limited.
The research pool is very small:
A lot of the conventional wisdom about sleep and mattresses and back pain is scientifically unsupported. There are few studies who have documented to relationship between mattresses and back pain, and the ones that have been done used very small focus groups of a few people and a few different types of mattresses. The small sample sizes often led to the conclusion that “medium-firm” mattresses are the best for back pain. The problem with this conclusion is two-fold: Firstly, there is no recognized definition for what a “medium-firm” mattress actually means. A big, heavy guy might describe a mattress as soft while a lighter one would describe the same mattress as firm. Secondly, there were people in the study that slept well on other mattresses too. They might be recommended or persuaded to buy a medium firm mattress when in fact they would sleep better on a firm mattress or a soft one? Saying that one mattress type works for all people will always be a flawed statement.
The focus group used in studies is also very important. Studies that have come to the conclusion that mattresses have no impact on sleep have had a slightly biased focus group. Either the groups were very small, or they were comprised entirely of university students! Not only are the students young and able to sleep on a bad mattress without debilitating pain, they are often sleep deprived. Therefore, students are a poor choice, as given the opportunity, can sleep just about anywhere — passed on a classroom floor or sitting at their desks.
According to a study by Research Triangle International and Drs. Andy Krystal and Jack Edinger from Duke University, you may not have to be a princess to feel the pea under your mattress. Their four-year study looked at how different support levels of mattresses impacted sleep, pain and daytime functioning. More than 16,000 nights of sleep were evaluated on 128 subjects, making this one of the largest studies ever completed on normal pain-free sleepers and how mattresses impact their health.
Mattresses do matter. Otherwise, why did we invent them?
Another common argument for the case that the mattress matters is that mattresses are simply a commercial gimmick and that the cavemen slept on rock floors just fine. This ignores the fact that sleep patterns have changed significantly, and it’s only been recently that we have slept for such an extended period of time every day. Now we need a mattress that will support our prone bodies for hours at a time.
The study by Krystal and Edinger made sure not to have a small focus group (128 people) that was from all walks of life. They also seven different varieties of firmness of mattresses (yes there are that many), and ensured that there was a decent number of nights on each mattress (four weeks) for each of the participants. After evaluating more than 16,000 nights of sleep it was clear that even small differences in mattress support (soft, medium, firm) correlated with changes in sleep and pain for the sleepers, a definite indication that mattresses really do matter. However, the study had a second powerful conclusion: We might not be able to determine which mattresses are best for us when we are awake either.
Even you don’t know what mattress you want:
It makes mattress shopping a lot more complicated if you realise whatever you choose while you’re awake might not be compatible with your body once you’re asleep. The reason? The answer lies in what happens to our bodies while we’re sleeping. Humans pass through different stages of sleep each night. One of those stages, “rapid eye movement” (REM), is the stage of sleep when our most vivid dreams take place. To prevent us from acting out our dreams while in that state, we lose skeletal muscle tone and enter sleep paralysis. The skeletal muscles that support our back relax and we lose spinal support, effectively paralysed for a short time. Therefore, a mattress that felt supportive while you were awake with your skeletal muscles active may perform differently when you are in REM sleep and relaxing into the surface under you.
This explains why many people are so bad at shopping for mattresses, most simply just avoiding it entirely. However, you will feel such a difference if you can get a quality mattress that keeps your back supported during REM sleep. The reluctance to buy a new mattress doesn’t mean we don’t recognize the importance of a comfy mattress. In a 2011 poll, the National Sleep Foundation found that 92 percent of people say a comfortable mattress is important to a good night’s sleep, but if you’re still on the old mattress you had 10 years ago, you don’t fully believe that.
You might 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 while continuing to buy diet supplements? However, we at The Mattress do recognise that in the industrialised consumer era, many mattress retailers sell mattresses for very high prices, which is why we sell our beds at the best prices possible. We know that the wrong mattress – or the mattress that’s simply too old – can be the cause of more than that crick in your neck or your low back pain. Here are a few ways apart from how the bed affects your back that a mattress influences you:
Buying a new mattress can drop your stress levels:
In a small 2009 study, 59 healthy men and women slept for 28 consecutive nights on their regular mattresses, then another 28 nights on new, medium-firm mattresses (the generally considered “best” mattress). 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. This was probably due to the increased quality of sleep from a new mattress supporting their bodies during REM sleep, and might have resulted in an even larger decrease if each person had sleeping on a mattress more suited to their needs.
With a new mattress under you each night, you’ll sleep better with no added hours. In today’s stress driven world, that can’t be ignored.
You might be having allergic reactions due 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 Americans are allergic to the buggers, according to WebMD, and they’re especially problematic for people with asthma through the way that they clog the breathing channels.
Keeping your linen and pillow cases clean with frequent washes in hot water will keep dust mites at bay. Newer mattresses are often produced with fabric that repels dust mites and bedbugs, but having a mattress protector also keeps them from getting through to the mattress. Those dust mites that are already in your mattress will also be killed by the mattress protector without the hydration they draw from your sweat (ensure that the mattress protector is waterproof). A waterproof mattress protector doesn’t have make plastic sounds if you buy them from The Mattress Warehouse. We have soft toweled and quilted mattress protectors that are totally waterproof but have no uncomfortable plastic.
A mattress that doubles as an office space will keep you up:
Experts agree that the bedroom should be reserved for sleep — otherwise, your brain can start to expect to answer work emails when you hit the hay, making it increasingly difficult to fall asleep. In addition to getting your brain confused about what to do when you’re in the bedroom, electronic devices emit a light that tells your brain that it’s still daylight, and that you should be awake. When you eventually close the laptop or cell phone, you take much longer to fall asleep. Electronics definitely don’t belong with you on your mattress; the blue light they emit as well as the distracting information that’s constantly on offer keeps you from winding down for sleep. If you’re used to sitting in bed while working, you start to associate that space with work, even when you are planning to go to bed. Keep your bed and mattress as a sleep sanctuary to help your brain to know you’re heading for bed when you go that way. Working in your bed might go the other way too: Being used to sleeping in your bedroom, your work quality won’t be as high. All in all, keep your work separate from your room, for your work and your sleep’s sake.
At The Mattress Warehouse we want to be able to tell you which mattress to buy, and we want to be able to say so because we know it will work for you. Half-assed studies and simply saying that a certain firmness is best is not for us. We know that each person needs their own mattress to suit your personal needs, as well as budget. We sell everything needed for the best sleep possible, such as mattress protectors, pillows and the highest quality sheets. We have mattresses, of course, and we stock every brand available. We sell Simmons mattresses imported from America, Sealy, Serta, and Edblo, the old classics, foam mattresses like Cloud Nine, which are very firm, and Genessi, which are softer. On the greener side, we have the GreenCoil mattresses made with natural inners like latex and wool. Other latex mattresses are made by Rest Assured and for a softer memory foam feel we sell Silentnight mattresses. So whatever you need, come and get it from The Mattress Warehouse today! Call us on 0861 007 000 or request a free quote on our website.