December 31, 2015
How can a Mattress Affect your Sleep and Health
How can a mattress affect your sleep and health? Let’s discuss the top scientific factors that affect sleep and solve this question by re-engineering the question by starting from the end result. How can we ultimately get the best sleep? I am going to break up the issues into two broad categories; mechanical and physical.
The three most important mechanical and physical factors that affect sleep are:
COMFORT AND SUPPORT: You can get a mattress that feels comfortable when you first lay down on it... but it may not have support. This is the case in so many cheap, soft, mattresses and the result can be very harmful to the spine and ultimatley to a person's health. It is imperitive that the mattress provide proper support (especially with scoliosis) that maintains the basic spinal curves, to keep the four primary curves in alignment. Bad (and usually old) mattresses allow gravity to win and don't support the spine in its neutral configuration, taking the spine out of it's optimal anatomical position. This can cause increased stress and strain and cause injury and increase the chances of age related degenerative arthritis. The inverse is also true. There are mattresses that have a ton of support but may not be comfortable. If a mattress is too hard or very unforgiving, it may hold one’s spine up and not sag, but it may be so uncomfortable that one develops pressure points or it is simply so uncomfortable, you can’t get to sleep (insomnia) or it continually awakens the person (sleep disruptions), both which can lead to poor health.
My recommendation is to have a top layer of pressure relieving foam to reduce, absorb and distrubute pressure properly and choose a mattress that has majority of the underlying foam layers for support. JUSTSLEEPbeds.com has JUST the right amount of pressure relief and support built into every mattress to optimize your health and sleep experience.
TEMPERATURE: The optimal mattress would be made from a material that self regulates and changes the temperature around the body to reduce the chance of over-heating or alternatively cooling to uncomfortable temperatures, both which can affect the soundness of one’s sleep. The worst case scenario is a mattress with a material that traps one’s body heat or alternatively, a mattress material that doesn’t create enough insulation under the body to keep the body warm. In the deep sleep (aka, beauty sleep or "delta sleep"), research has shown that our body temperature will be reduced by about one degree to allow our body to maintain this deep restful sleep stage. A mattress that traps heat can reduce this powerful stage of restful sleep during the night.
My recommendation is to get a mattress that has permeability, breathability and does not trap heat. The most important concept in heat regulation is creating a “temperature neutral” environment that does not generate nor does it reduce a person’s temperature. This is obtained through a mattress’ “breathability”. This is very important to deep sleep, a very important sleep cycle that helps regulate and promote our health through protein synthesis and cellular repair. I have a created two mattress lines, THE PREMIUM and the THE SELECT. The Premium has an upper layer of a plant based coconut foam imported from Italy that has certified breathability and a second layer, a Talalay latex that has air vent holes drilled that increases it’s breathability as well. The SELECT has a gel-infused memory foam that has air vent holes for improved breathablity and gel "swirls" that increase the elasticity and "push-back" to help keep you spine in alignment and also help in keeping the temperature JUST right.
Environment: An old or non-certified mattress can create off gassing, can harbor bacteria and dust-mites, can be allergenic and can create other adverse environment such as mold or mildew. Any or all of the above can affect one's health as our bodies react to these foreign matters as toxins and can even effect the respiratory system. There are a variety of bedding materials on the market including feathers, foam and synthetic fiberfill. Research shows that both synthetic and down can be full of dust-mites and millions of fungal spores. It's the dust mite’s feces that can play havoc with our respiratory systems and Aspergillus, the most common fungus (especially found in synthetic pillows) is also very problematic for adults and children with mold allergies, asthma, sinus problems, or compromised immune systems.
My recommendation is to purchase a mattress that is hypoallergenic, antimicrobial and dust mite resistant. Talalay latex, the primary foam in our PREMIUM line of mattresses at JUSTSLEEPbeds.com mattress is resistant to all of the above and both the coconut and latex foams used in the upper layers of the PREMIUM line are Oeko Tec certified to be devoid of any harmful substances that may negatively affect one’s health.
There are other very important factors such mental and physical that effect sleep and you can read more about these in my new book "Unlocking the Mysteries of Sleep". My new book is available free of charge on the JUSTSLEEPbeds.com website. Other factors such as anxiety, stress, depression, alcohol, eating habits, hydration, bed partner, ambient noise and light are very important to look at and will be discussed in an upcoming blog.
Wishing you the best of health through sleep!
Dr Raymond Hall, DC