Sound Advice for Sound Sleep

By Guest

sleep, sleeping, nap, sleep deprivation

The average person spends a third of their lives sleeping--the equivalent to at least 200,000 hours!--so investing in a decent bed is important for sound sleep that will be more comfortable and fulfilling, in turn helping you to make the most of the time when you're awake.

Millions of working days are lost each year to back pain and the cost to the health services, business and the economy is in the billions. Make no mistake – your bed is important – in some cases even critical. Your overall health can depend very much on having a good night’s sleep.

The average person gets around 6.6 hours of sleep per night, rather than the recommended healthy eight for adults, and nine hours in the case of children and teenagers.

The Director of one leading Sleep Centre has calculated that if we all treated ourselves to a brand new bed then we’d get a minimum of at least another three quarters of an hour sleep per night. Bearing in mind that a bed can lose up to 70 percent of its support strength over a ten-year period, it’s pretty important to keep an eye on how it is doing its job. It is often recommended that you should change your bed for a new one every seven years at least – but few of us do that.

Read more about sleep deprivation

Choosing the correct mattress for both you and your partner is an important matter and can make a huge difference in getting sound sleep night after night, and there are numerous things to consider when looking at mattress options.

The one question that every physiotherapist is asked by patients with back pain is, "What kind of mattress is best for me?"  Until now we didn't really have an answer. However, for the first time there is new research that gives us good evidence on which to base advice.

The most important thing is to make sure your mattress feels comfortable and this research shows you don't have to buy a rock-hard mattress to get relief from, or prevent back pain. Overall, patients using medium-firm mattresses were twice as likely to report improvements in low back pain while lying in bed, and when getting out of bed. They were similarly less likely to need pain-killing drug treatment.

One of the major problems with beds that we’ve had for a long time is that we can get stuck in our own ‘moulded hollow’ that we’ve established over the many years of having that particular bed. In essence, lying in one position permanently can create stiffness. It is now widely believed that a mattress should be supportive enough to take the weight of your body without sagging, but firm enough for you to turn with ease.

As many as eighty per cent of people spend less than two minutes trying out the bed in which they're going to spend 3,000 hours every year. Mattresses should be tested for much longer, and ideally with your sleeping partner alongside you.

"If you're on too soft a mattress, you'll start to sink down to the bottom. But on too hard of a mattress you have too much pressure on the sacrum, and on the shoulders, and on the back of the head," says Howard Levy, MD, an Emory University assistant professor of orthopaedics, physical medicine, and rehabilitation. A medium-firm mattress, or a firm mattress with a softer pillow top, will give your spine that "just-right" balance of support and cushioning.

Read more about the relationship between diet and sleep

An adjustable bed can be a good buy if you need to sleep with your head raised. Doctors sometimes recommend elevating the head to help people with COPD breathe easier, or to prevent night-time heartburn. These beds can also allow you to adjust your knees and hips to a 90-degree angle, relieving some of the pressure on sore joints, Levy says.

"A mattress can seriously impact a person's sleep," says Michael Decker, PhD, RN, associate professor at Georgia State University and spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Selecting a mattress is very personal," Decker says. Some people prefer a firmer mattress; whilst others favour a softer style.

If you've been having trouble sleeping, the problem might not be your mattress type, but its age. "It's really important for people to realize that mattresses have a certain lifespan," Decker says.

Keep your mattress too long, and the foam and other materials inside it will start to break down, compromising its ability to support your body. Decker recommends keeping your mattress for no more than 10 years. After that, it's time to go mattress shopping again.

Sound advice – and particularly important as sound sleep will result from the right mattress choice.


John Redfern spent 15 years at leading International Advertising agencies in London working on many products and markets, before moving into a consultancy role. He has long experience of writing on important matters of personal health and has had in-depth involvement in a broad spectrum of subjects in this area, covering all possible age groups.

Through his work as a consultant to SleepPro, John has acquired an in-depth knowledge of sleep disorders, snoring and sleep apnoea, and the many serious health problems with which they are so closely associated.

In addition, he has spent time developing projects for the British National Health Service, some major educational groups and authorities, and various voluntary organizations and manufacturers whose aim is to focus on family health, fitness and well-being.


By Guest| July 08, 2013
Categories:  Care

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