Sleep is incredibly important for us all. It doesn’t just make you feel more refreshed, but also proves advantageous to both your physical and mental wellbeing. However, as the average person spends more than a third of their lives in bed, could our precious sleep be put at risk without knowing it, simply by what we’re sleeping on?
Here, Michal Szlas, CEO of bed-in-a-box mattress retailer OTTY Sleep, takes a look at the life of a mattress and explores whether it’s actually doing us more harm than good.
According to reports by industry experts, a mattress should be replaced every seven to ten years. Anything longer, and you’re likely to suffer from a number of issues that will negatively affect your health and wellbeing.
But, despite the warning, we often encounter people who have become personally attached to their mattresses, and despite its longevity, they just haven’t got around to changing it, or in some cases simply aren’t ready to replace it.
As old mattresses begin to wear out, they can start to sag in places or develop bumps and lumps, which reduces the support the mattress provides, often leaving you to sleep in an awkward, uncomfortable position. This will ultimately result in pressure being applied to incorrect areas of the body, and time goes on, it leaves you suffering from a host of pains and niggles – especially in your back and neck. Quite a few people put these aches down to their own age; not many correlate the pain to the inadequate support given by the mattress.
And even if your mattress looks ok from the outside and still gives you a relatively decent night’s sleep, the chances are it’s not all right on the inside.
Without trying to put you off your mattress for life, the average person sheds a pound of skin per year, with the average adult losing almost 300ml of moisture per night. As you’ve probably guessed, your mattress attains most of this, with the moisture making your mattress the perfect breeding ground for all kinds of nasties, including forms of bacteria and allergy-triggering dust mites.
While these are unlikely to cause you life-threatening harm, they can often lead to a number of illnesses ranging from skin infections to an exacerbation of asthma conditions, which would prove hugely problematic for the 21m asthma and allergy sufferers currently residing in the UK.
Away from pains and ailments, an old mattress might just simply give you a bad night’s sleep. Most mattresses are specially designed to give you a restful night, and often regulate your body’s temperature to keep you cool and comfortable, even in the hot, stuffy months.
Over time, older mattresses become compressed due to wear and tear and prevent air circulating throughout. Ultimately, once compacted, you become prone to a sweaty sleep, which disrupts your sleeping pattern and often results in a struggle to get the required eight hours. While you think a lack of sleep might just make you feel a little grouchy the next day, recent studies have linked a lack of sleep to an increase in stress and mental health illnesses.
Research conducted by the University of Glasgow looked at data collected from more than 90,000 UK-based people, and concluded that a disruption to your circadian rhythm can lead to an increased possibility of developing mood disorders and lower levels of happiness. If this occurs on a regular basis, it can put your mental health at risk.
A lack of sleep is also linked to a rise in stress levels. Sleep and stress may be a chain reaction-like bond with the latter causing a lack of rest, but a good night of sleep halts the production of stress hormones – consequently, if we don’t get enough sleep, our body will continue to reproduce these hormones.
Again, a small study in 2009 saw 59 people tested after spending 28 nights on a new mattress. Results proved that stress levels significantly decreased following the four-weeklong test, as the participants felt less worried, less nervous and less restless as a result of a better kip.
The rise of the internet and the increase of online retailers, such as OTTY Sleep, has made purchasing a mattress easier, and more cost effective, than ever before. Mattresses bought online often come with a ten-year guarantee, and a 100-night trial, allowing the sleeper to test the mattress before making the final decision.
But, despite the mattress purchasing process being easier and simpler than ever, there’s still a few out there who don’t fully understand the importance of a new mattress, and are unaware that making the switch could prove crucial in helping you in getting a good night sleep, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.