This blog is at the request of one of my most dedicated readers…
You will spend about one third of your life sleeping and adequate sleep is crucial for good health. A lack of sleep results in higher stress levels, which has an effect on cortisol levels. Ultimately, with less than adequate sleep, you’re looking at the possibility of weight gain and increased blood pressure, among other issues. In fact, when counseling patients for weight loss, one of the points I make is to promote eight hours of sleep every night.
When considering the health issues mentioned above, ensuring a good night’s sleep sounds much more important. Furthermore, sleeping on a quality mattress that is comfortable and supportive is a key component of staying rested. But with so many mattress models out there, how can one even decide the correct fit? I have one major rule of thumb: Try to keep your spine as neutral as possible. In other words, I would like to see the spine to be in the roughly same position it would be if you were standing. In overly soft mattresses, the body tends to sink too far, resulting in a side bend in the spine. Though this softness may feel comfortable at first, sleeping an entire night in a bent position is going to feel very uncomfortable in the morning. At the other end of the spectrum, a very firm mattress isn’t going to have enough give, so you may feel some extra pressure at your shoulders and hips. I feel that with most people, a medium/firm mattress is usually best. However, every individual is different and it is important to test some mattresses out before deciding. I will mention that I am a fan of the memory foam mattresses. I like that they do have give at the heavier parts of the body and offer support throughout. Though they are generally more expensive, if the mattress is comfortable to you, then it is worth the investment.
On a side note, I will throw out the idea of an organic mattress for those really looking to change things up. Most mattresses straight out of the manufacturer also come with things like dust mites and other allergens. For individuals particularly sensitive to these things, a look into a naturally manufactured mattress may be an useful consideration.
Ultimately, the best way to choose a mattress is to pick one that is comfortable for you throughout the night. Being comfortable equals better sleep, which is your only goal for those eight hours. And don’t forget about your pillow. After all, if you’re trying to prevent back pain, you may as well prevent neck pain, too.