Tinka Davi, Chief of Snooze News
Can’t get comfortable when you go to bed at night? If you toss and turn, have sleepless nights and feel exhausted in the morning, your problem may be your mattress.
Choosing and sleeping on the right mattress may alleviate your nights of unrest and help you wake up refreshed and raring to go.
The right mattress does matter and there are studies to prove it.
Drs. Andy Krystal and Jack Edinger from Duke University conducted a four-year study on how different support levels of mattress affected sleep, pain and daytime functions, according to an article in the Huffinton Post by Dr. Robert Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute. The two doctors from Duke evaluated more than 16,000 nights of sleep on 128 normal pain-free participants and evaluated how mattresses affected their health.
Their study differed from others who had smaller numbers of people in their sample groups. One suggested that “medium-firm” mattresses were best for sleeping, but there are errors in that conclusion.
For one, there isn’t a definition of a “medium-firm” mattress and what it would feel like. A 250-pound man may describe it as soft; while a 125-woman might say it’s firm.
Secondly, people in that study slept well on other types of mattresses, so should they switch to a medium-firm for better sleep?
Other studies have concluded that mattresses have no impact on sleep, but they, too have used small numbers of people or they’ve sampled university students. The latter is a poor choice, said Dr. Oexman, because they are usually very sleep-deprived. Usually students can sleep just about anywhere, including the classroom.
In the study by Drs. Krystal and Edinger, sleepers spent four weeks each on seven different mattresses with various amounts of firmness. They found that even small differences in mattress support, whether it was soft, medium or firm, correlated with changes in sleep and pain.
They concluded that it was a clear indication that mattresses really do matter.
And there was a bonus. They also found a second conclusion and that was that people who shop when they’re awake may not be able to determine which mattresses are best.
The finding that people are poor at selecting mattresses that would allow them to sleep pain-free should interest consumers. The reason for the phenomenon, Dr. Oexman said, lies in what happens to our body when sleeping. People pass through different stages of sleep, including “rapid eye movement” or REM stage, when the most vivid dreams occur. To prevent people from acting out those dreams, they lose skeletal muscle tone and spinal support since the skeletal muscles support the back. Therefore, the mattress that felt supportive when awake and when the muscles were active may be different during REM sleep.
That means people can feel the differences in mattresses on those nights when they can sleep.