AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep is a crucial part of a full, healthy day, helping to prepare our bodies to work, play, consume and metabolize – so why do most of us pay so little attention to the surface that we spend eight hours each night on? In the name of every sleepless night, every toss and every turn, give your mattress – and your spine – the attention it deserves by choosing the right mattress for you.

Care to know how and why your mattress has such a strong effect on the quality of your sleep? Read on.

Does Your Mattress Really Matter?

Historically, studies that have investigated the correlation between mattress type and quality of sleep have concluded that, generally speaking, a “medium-firm” mattress is the best choice for any one of us, but this conclusion presents a problem: given that we come in vastly different shapes and sizes, our individual judgement of just how firm or soft a mattress feels is completely relative.

The solution to this problem in results was overcome by two researchers, Krystal and Edinger, who simply went bigger than ever before in their sample sizes: 128 people, seven different mattress firmness variations, and a combined 16,000 hours of sleep time over a period of four weeks.

This super-sized study revealed that even the tiniest of changes in mattress firmness can provoke changes in comfort, sleep patterns and morning stiffness and pain, proving conclusively that, while the nuances involved are many, the mattress you lie down on at night has a real, measurable effect on how you feel when you rise from it in the morning.

Unfortunately, the study tells us nothing about how to choose the best mattress firmness for your particular body, a more important task that most of us think. Why are we so bad at choosing mattresses, you ask?

Blame your spine.

Spinal Support: As Different as Night and Day

After a long day of supporting your upright body, your spine needs to relax, and your body accommodates this need by relaxing muscles to the point of losing spinal support entirely during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. Given that the REM stage is also the time during which you experience your most vivid dreams, this nifty trick also prevents you from acting out your subconscious thoughts physically – a necessary safety feature, I’m sure you’ll agree!

While helpful in many ways, this change in spinal support has one negative side effect: given the difference between your natural position during waking and sleeping hours, testing a mattress while awake tells you nothing of how comfortable it will be while you sleep.

What is a would-be sound-sleeper to do?

How to Choose the Best Mattress For You

Choosing your ideal mattress now becomes a tricky matter. As mattress outlets are unlikely to allow you to take each model home for a few nights of experimental sleep, you’ll need to use common sense and resolve to be sure that you end up with the best mattress for you.

While impersonal by necessity, there is a process that will give you the upper hand in your search for the perfect mattress. Waking testing may not be perfect, but it’s all you’ve got! Visit your local mattress outlet with your personal pillow in hand and get ready to drop into your natural sleeping position in order to get a personal feel for each model.

You should retain your testing position for about 10 minutes, giving you ample time to consider the overall support and the comfort level of your most telling body parts: the heels, buttocks, shoulders, neck and head.

Once you get your new mattress home, the best measure of its comfort is how your body feels immediately upon waking; if you suffer aches and pains that you’re able to stretch out within 30 minutes of waking, the mattress is very likely at fault.

Overall, choosing the best mattress for you is a tricky, nuanced endeavor that may require the patience of a saint, but do remember that the quality of your sleep is a cause well worth fighting for!


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