Mattress Matters — How Your Bedding may be Affecting your Health

There is a lot more to a good night’s sleep than just lying in a horizontal position, closing your eyes, and then waking up the next morning wondering where the past eight hours had just gone. Believe it or not, but going to bed is much like any other task you put yourself to in your day to day life. Without the proper equipment, such as mattresses, bedding and pillow, you won’t do too well at it. In fact, not having the right equipment could even have a negative impact upon your physical and mental health.

It’s not just from any lack of sleep or too much sleep either. One of the most overlooked qualities in looking for a new mattress or bedding is the question of how the items in question will impact the sleeper’s health. We all recognise the importance of having a mattress that’s comfortable, of course – it’s probably one of the most obvious qualities people encounter with a mattress, and one they revisit every night. You don’t need to be an expert in sleeping to know that one of the keys to a good night’s sleep is a comfy mattress. But there are other things too that can, in their own way, either improve or damage your health and well-being each night when you go to sleep.

The Right Stuff

As well as mattresses that are too hard, too soft, and just right, there are various other things that you need to keep an eye on if you want a healthy night’s sleep. Things such as parasites living within the bedding, the materials used, the types of padding within the mattress, and how the bedding all breathes and regulates temperature. All of these will, quite naturally, impact your sleep and your health in equal measure.

For a healthy night’s sleep, you should have:

• Clean sheets and bedding

• A mattress that’s sorted to your sleeping position and body type

• Adequate ventilation

• A comfortable temperature

Uninvited Bedroom Guests

You spend a good amount of time in bed each day, so making sure that your sheets are clean is an important task. Parasites and uncleanliness in particular can be a major problem if you’re not vigilant with cleaning your mattress and bedding. Your body sheds a rather staggering 450g (about 16oz) of dead skin cells each day, which forms the majority of dust in your home. A lot of this will also get trapped in the mattress, quickly luring mites and other bugs to infest it. Bed bugs are also a classic problem, especially in second hand or particularly old mattresses. While not especially dangerous, they can be a nuisance and may spread diseases if their numbers are allowed to grow as well.

Your mattress may also become a breeding ground for bacteria and mould if it’s especially warm and humid where you sleep, which will only add to the rather fetid mix already present above. The bacteria and mould in particular can be very hazardous to your health on their own, so try not to let them team up together.

To avoid these pests, clean your bedding as frequently as possible, ideally once a week if you’re able to destroy any bacteria and parasites, but certainly at least once to twice a week. Each morning, try stripping your bed to kill mites as well – they thrive in warm, humid conditions that your bedding can maintain. When looking for a mattress, try to avoid buying second hand as well. Always go for a new one where your budget allows, as you can never really know the full state of your mattress until you’ve bought it and slept on it. At least if it’s store bought and new, you know it’s going to be clean and bug-free.

The Perfect Mattress

Well, admittedly the perfect mattress does not exist, however you can pick up the mattress best suited for you. If you sleep on a mattress that isn’t really suited for your preferred sleeping position, you may find it doesn’t adequately support your spine and body when resting on it. If you’ve ever gotten up feeling stiff and sore, it’s because you’re using an inadequate mattress and this has placed strain on your pressure points and joints. Over time, this can lead to further discomfort, and eventually may even cause back problems.

Carefully consider the position you favour while sleeping. If you sleep on your back, favour a firmer mattress that better supports your spine. If you prefer your sides, something softer will give the pressure points more give and prevent too much strain being forced on them. Memory foam can be very comforting. Try a premium foam mattress if a spring mattress is not doing the job.

Air and Temperature

Finally, consider how much air you’re getting at night, and how warm you are. Getting inadequate amounts of fresh air into your room each night can lead to serious health problems, so whenever possible try to keep the room ventilated. This will allow more oxygen into the room, making you feel better upon waking, and can also carry dust and other particles out of the room, allowing for easier breathing.

Temperature is as much to do with a good night’s sleep as anything. If you’re too hot or too cold, your sleep will be disturbed or restless. Make sure the windows are firmly closed during the winter and that you have plenty of warm bedding to keep warmth trapped in during the winter, while investing in an AC or electric fan to help keep you cool during the winter. Your choice of bedding will greatly factor into this as well – for example, some mattresses will retain heat better than others.

Photo by Lotus Head from FreeImages

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