By now, you’ve probably heard that sleep is pivotal to our wellness, mentally and physically. At least a third of us are chronically sleep deprived (getting less than 7-9 hours a night) and researchers continue to link sleep deprivation and fragmented sleep to issues ranging from heart attack to depression.
Many of us have already made improvements to our nightly routines to get better sleep. But we might still be sleeping with the enemy.
Whether we flop down at the end of the night or slide under the covers after one last blurry page, that welcoming rectangle greatly affects the ensuing quality of sleep.
In preparation for National Sleep Awareness Week, let’s explore what makes a mattress perfect and why that’s different for each of us.
Signs Your Mattress Needs to Go
Whether your nights are miserable or luxurious, your mattress could be responsible. Before we talk about mattress differences though, what are signs that yours isn’t working for you or should be replaced?
- It sags or has body impressions
- It’s really noisy when you move
- You wake up hot or sweating often
- It aggravates your allergies or asthma
- You struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position
- You sleep fitfully, waking often throughout the night
- Your back, hips, neck, or shoulders hurt when you wake
- It’s eight years or more old (except latex, which lasts longer)
- You stay somewhere else and wish your bed was that comfy
Any of these signs indicates your mattress is worn or not a good fit for you. Mattresses range in firmness, bounciness, and pressure relief. The perfect mattress is subjective. Body type, sleeping position, and back health influence what works for you.
A night on a soft bed can be excruciating if you have a bad back. Likewise, if you’re a side sleeper who weighs under 130 pounds, a firm bed may feel like sleeping on the floor. A mattress needs to contour to your body, that’s why your size and sleeping style matter.
Your weight and sleeping position – back, side, stomach, or a combination – helps you narrow the plethora of mattress choices. The Sleep Foundation rates mattress firmness 1-10 and explains that the softest beds are typically best for lightweight side sleepers. Firm mattresses tend to be preferred by side sleepers who weigh over 230 and back sleepers.
Medium and medium-firm mattresses are often preferred by back and side sleepers weighing between 130-230 pounds. Hotel beds tend to be medium or medium-firm because most people can sleep comfortably on them.
Of course, these are generalities. If you have pain in your back, hips, or neck and shoulders, a mattress that’s too soft or too firm can be painful. The only true way to test a mattress is to lay on it, ideally for 10-15 minutes, shifting into your natural sleeping poses. If you’ve never done this before, it may take several visits to a mattress store to figure out what you really want.
5 Types of Mattresses to Consider
Before you plan your visit, let’s look at mattress basics so you have an idea of which may work best for you. Most mattresses fall into one of five categories: foam, innerspring, hybrid, latex, or airbed.
Foam mattresses have no coils. They’re good for contouring to the body, pressure relief, and motion isolation, ideal for couples and side sleepers. Foam mattresses have become very popular, but they’re not best for stomach sleepers who typically need firmer support.
Innerspring mattresses feature a coil-based support system and a bouncier surface with limited motion isolation. They offer support, but little pressure relief. Therefore, they tend to be good for back sleepers and stomach sleepers but won’t be ideal if you need pressure relief.
Hybrid mattresses have both an innerspring support core and a foam comfort system of typically foam or latex. They offer a blend of contouring and bounce usually good for sleepers in any position, especially back and combo sleepers. Side sleepers may prefer a hybrid with foam while back sleepers may like a firmer mix with latex.
Latex mattresses offer bounce and durability with moderate contouring. They’re long-lasting and eco-friendly. Natural latex mattresses are also hypoallergenic. While they’re good for a range of sleepers and people who change positions often, if you need more pressure relief for your hips or shoulders, latex won’t be your best option.
Airbeds have an air chamber for their support core. Air is added or removed via a pump on remote or smartphone, so firmness is easy to control. Firmness can also be adjusted in just half the bed, so they’re ideal for couples.
Great Sleep Brings Vast Health Benefits
Since a good mattress often costs $1,000 or more, it’s worth your time to research and spend time testing mattresses. Great sleep benefits us in so many ways that finding the perfect mattress for you is essential! Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep can:
- Improve your moods
- Increase productivity
- Improve your memory
- Strengthen your heart
- Decrease stress levels
- Help prevent weight gain
- Boost your immune system
- Enhance exercise performance
- Help your body regulate blood sugar levels
- Reduce your chances of automobile crashes