Regular, good quality sleep is essential but, sadly, millions of people struggle to sleep soundly. Around a third of the adult population in the UK report having insomnia, but it’s likely that the true number of people experiencing some form of sleep-related problems is much higher.
Whether you regularly struggle to get to sleep or you routinely wake during the night, poor quality sleep can wreak havoc on your health. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can experience memory problems, have difficulty concentrating, and experience mood changes. In addition to this, poor quality sleep has been linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and weight gain.
However, improving the quality of your sleep isn’t necessarily as simple as going to bed a little earlier. There are numerous reasons why people may experience sleep-related disorders, but a commonly overlooked cause of issues is your bed!
Many people don’t realise that their mattress could be causing or exacerbating sleep-related issues, which is why they continue to have on-going problems. In fact, your mattress has a major impact on your well-being in general. To understand why your bed is so important, take a look at these five ways a mattress can impact your health:
1. Respiratory Problems
If you suffer from allergies, sinus problems, or respiratory problems like asthma, you’ve probably noticed that your symptoms flare up at night and first thing in the morning. People often assume this is caused by lower temperatures or lying down but, in reality, your mattress could be to blame.
We shed skin and body oils when we sleep, which means a significant proportion of this debris ends up on and in our mattresses. As gross as it seems, dust mites thrive on this, which is why older mattresses tend to have more dust mites than newer ones. In fact, a used mattress can have anywhere from a stomach-churning 10,000 dust mites to 10 million.
For most people, dust mites don’t cause too many problems, but they can exacerbate allergy and respiratory symptoms. If you frequently wake up with a blocked nose, itchy eyes, or a sinus headache, an old mattress could be the cause. Similarly, if you have asthma and notice that your symptoms are worse at night, it’s possible that dust mites could be triggering your condition.
2. Back Pain
Your mattress should provide an appropriate level of support throughout the night, regardless of what position you sleep in. If it doesn’t, the pressure will be distributed unevenly throughout your body, which frequently leads to back pain. However, this pain doesn’t just occur at night. People who experience back discomfort due to poor sleeping support often have on-going pain throughout the day.
Fortunately, this can be relatively easy to resolve. Investing in a new, more supportive mattress can resolve your issues completely and enable you to get a great night’s sleep, without waking up in pain. If you’re unsure which type of mattress offers the best level of support, it can be helpful to get specialist advice, for example, from a website such as Big Brand Beds (with more than 135 years in the industry, they know everything there is to know about what makes a good mattress and whether you’re looking for the custom support of a memory foam mattress or the firm feel of an orthopaedic mattress they will be able to help).
3. Night Sweats
The temperature in your bedroom has a major impact on the quality of your sleep, so it’s important to ensure that your room isn’t too hot or cold. In general, keeping your bedroom to around 18.3°C is the key to a great night’s rest. However, it isn’t just the temperature in your bedroom that matters.
Your mattress, duvet, and bed linen can drastically change your body temperature. Keeping the temperature in the room to 18 or 19°C will have little impact if your mattress and bed linen means your body temperature rockets as soon as you get under the covers.
If you’ve ever experienced night sweats, you’ll know just how uncomfortable they can be. As well as waking you up, the intense heat can leave you feeling uncomfortable and even increase your anxiety levels. Furthermore, getting up to change the sheets because they’re soaked with sweat isn’t conducive to a peaceful night!
Choosing a mattress that doesn’t trap your body heat can help to reduce night sweats and may even prevent them from occurring at all.
Some people find that dense foam mattresses cause or exacerbate night sweats, so switching to something cooler could be a great option. In fact, many manufacturers now produce mattresses which are designed to keep your body temperature stable throughout the night and stop you from overheating.
4. Joint Discomfort
As well as causing back pain, your mattress could be responsible for that nagging joint discomfort you’ve been experiencing. When a mattress is too firm, it means that excess pressure is placed on your hips, knees, shoulders, and even your elbows. Throughout the night, this added pressure can cause pain and stiffness in the joints, which may not resolve upon waking.
If it takes a while for you to feel limber in the morning or you regularly wake up with pain and discomfort in your joints, it’s a sure sign that your mattress isn’t providing the right level of support. While mattresses that are too soft can cause a whole range of problems, a mattress that’s too firm can be just as problematic.
The solution? Find a mattress that offers enough flexibility to prevent joint pain, while still providing adequate support throughout the night.
5. Increased Snoring
Although snoring isn’t uncommon, it can have a major impact on your health (and your relationships!). Snoring is often a sign that your airway is blocked in some way, which can be dangerous in some cases. While common colds and allergies can cause snoring, the position you sleep in can be a contributing factor too.
If your mattress doesn’t provide enough support, you end up sleeping in less-than-optimal positions. As a result, this can affect your posture and your airway, which affects your breathing throughout the night and can lead to snoring.
People who snore often inadvertently wake themselves up during the night, which leads to disrupted sleep and daytime tiredness. Due to this, it’s vital to resolve the underlying cause of your snoring. If medical causes have been ruled out, it’s important to assess your sleeping environment to determine whether it could be causing you to snore. If so, a new mattress with better support could enable you to sleep soundly.
Finding the Right Mattress
With so many different options out there, it can be tricky to find the perfect mattress. However, it’s well worth putting in the effort as the right mattress can greatly improve the quality of your sleep and have a major impact on your health and well-being. By speaking to an experienced professional, learning about the new technology available, and understanding the type of support you need, you’ll find it easier to choose the best mattress for your needs.
Written by Ella Woodward