The Many Effects of Sleeping on a Bad Mattress

by | Mattress Education, Sleep Health | 0 comments

Waking up with sore muscles? Feeling like you’re lacking some of your usual pep? Perhaps you’re thinking you might even be falling into a depression. While it’s entirely possible each of these could be coming from another source, there’s one you should consider before making any sort of drastic changes: Your mattress.

Contrary to what, in my experience, many people believe, mattresses aren’t made to be used forever. You may have really come to like the way you fit into the groove you’ve made in that 20-year-old mattress, but it’s likely not doing you any favors. From physical pain to mental health, your mattress can have a dramatic effect on how you feel.

Causes of Poor Sleep

There are multitude reasons you may not be getting a good night’s sleep. What you eat, how much you drink and what you do before bed can all have a detrimental effect on how well you rest. Caffeine is an obvious factor, but even water can cause problems, creating a potential situation in which you need to get up in the middle of the night to empty your bladder.

Even the way your room is set up can cause you problems with sleep. There are some things you just shouldn’t have in there if sleep is your goal. Televisions and mobile devices can stimulate your mind to be more awake, thus making it more difficult to fall asleep.

Then, there’s your bed, bedding, and pillows.

How Will I Know if I Have a Bad Bed and What are the Bad Mattress Symptoms?

First, there’s age. A mattress which has been taken care of can last around 10 years. This varies, depending on which source you use, but the general consensus seems to be between eight and 10 years. That is, however, assuming you treat your mattress well. It’s not a trampoline, for instance, so don’t allow anyone to jump on it, as much fun as it may be. Some mattresses need rotating, and larger mattresses can benefit from support in the center to help keep them from dipping.

Older mattresses also bring the potential for hygiene issues. For instance, we sweat a whole lot while we sleep, losing about a quarter of a liter of liquid each night, which goes straight to our mattress. Liquid leads to mold which leads to spores. There are mattress covers and such which can prevent this from happening, but not everybody has one.

Dust mites can also develop as our dead skin builds up on the mattress. Dust mites bring along their own issues, not the least of which are allergens which can cause real problems for those who suffer from symptoms of asthma and can even exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema.

Deformation is another thing to consider when trying to determine if you need a new bed. A good bed will be able to maintain its shape no matter how much weight is put on it, within reason. If you begin to see the center of the bed or the places where you and your partner sleep, starting to dip down, you should definitely consider replacing your mattress. If it’s still under warranty, most warranties will cover this sort of issue, so long as you’ve been making sure to keep the mattress on a proper support system.

Not for You

Apart from the issues associated with mattress age and malfunction, there is also a major factor to take into account: You. What may be a good mattress for one person can be a bad mattress for you. Simply looking at all the options which exist out there, should make it apparent there is no one size fits all solution to your sleeping surface.

Some people prefer a softer mattress, while others want something more firm, or anything going on between the two. You’ve also got to consider mattresses sizes, mattress materials, and the various kinds of technology used to create them. Choosing a mattress doesn’t need to be difficult, but it is a decision which should be made with care and given due consideration.

Sleep Gone Wrong

Between the back pain, specifically lower back pain, caused by a malformed mattress and the potential allergy issues, it should be apparent sleeping on a bad mattress is absolutely averse to getting a good night’s sleep. Not getting proper rest is a quick way to find yourself facing some potential health issues.

Sleep is made up of four different stages. Three of those exist in a segment called non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep. The fourth is the Rapid Eye Movement stage. Each of these has a different effect on your body as they take place, and skipping or reducing them in a way which isn’t meant to happen can be detrimental.

n-REM Stage One:

The first stage of sleep can barely be classified as such. You’re still awake, but you’re starting to fade off. It’s hard to keep your eyes open, and you might start to actually nod off, but catch yourself. At this point, your muscles are starting to relax a bit and your brain prepares for rest. Stage Two sets in fairly quickly, after about 10 minutes or so.

n-REM Stage Two:

You’re asleep when Stage Two hits, but it’s slight. If somebody were to try to wake you, they would have no issues doing so. Your brain has relaxed a bit more, as have your muscles, but your still not fully asleep to the point you couldn’t hop up quickly. If you take 20 to 30-minute naps, you’re hitting Stage Two. This is what allows you to so quickly be alert and energized following the short nap.

n-REM Stage Three:

This is where the good stuff happens. Well, the first parts of the good stuff. Stage three is deep, deep sleep. It was once broken into two stages, though they’ve since been lumped together by most experts accounts. Your muscles are completely relaxed, your brain is doing its things, and your body starts going to work on its nightly chores. Muscles and tissue are being repaired. Muscle grows and develops Your immune system starts to get a boost for what’s to come. This is the stage of sleep you don’t want to wake up during. You’ll feel groggy and perhaps not all that rested.

REM Stage:

You’ve probably heard about the REM stage of sleep, classified by its Rapid Eye Movement and not the 1990s rock group. This is an important part of the sleep cycle. While the first time it happens each night only lasts about 10 minutes, it gets progressively longer the longer you sleep, hence the need to have uninterrupted rest. At this point, your brain starts getting busy. While you can dream at any point during sleep, the most vivid dreams seem to happen during REM sleep. Your brain becomes very active, working to consolidate the information it has gathered during the day and store it so you can access it later. Since your brain is active, waking up at this point during a nap would be just fine, and you’ll have already reaped all the benefits of Stage Three.

Health Issues and Sleep

Using this information, it should start to become somewhat apparent how detrimental a bad bed can be to your health. To be more specific, let’s look at a couple different situations.

#1 Memory

We know sleep, specifically the REM stage, it helps solidify things into our memory. If you’re not able to get enough sleep, your ability to retain information will be diminished. This was shown in a study in which two groups of people were assigned the same task. All of them performed the task once, then half of them were allowed to sleep before performing the task again. The group who had slept were able to perform better when asked to do the deed a second time, showing they had retained the information better from the previous day.

#2 Awareness

Finding yourself feeling less aware of your surroundings on a day-to-day basis? You can probably blame this on a bad mattress. Not getting proper sleep can leave your mind feeling cloudy. You won’t be able to multitask as well as you might otherwise. You’ll be easily distracted. Studies show how much your cognitive abilities rely on getting a good night’s sleep, which requires having a bed in which you feel comfortable.

#3 Creativity

Thinking outside the box becomes difficult when you’re not getting enough sleep. Your problem-solving skills may begin to degrade, and anything which requires a bit of improvisation is going to have you at a disadvantage. One bit of research showed that, while a lack of sleep may not have a great impact on something like a multiple choice exam or something with set answers, it does make it more difficult for any sort of situation where an original thought or creative solution needs to be presented.

#4 Blood Pressure

Each of the REM stages of sleep has the effect of reducing your blood pressure, getting you back down to normal levels. Interrupting those sleep cycles can keep your blood pressure from reducing properly, leading to potential heart issues down the road. During sleep, the body also releases hormones which help regulate stress, and without those, the stress can build up and start causing further increases in blood pressure.

#5 Weight

Believe it or not, getting a poor night’s sleep can cause you to gain weight. As you sleep, you burn a few calories, but that’s not going to get the pounds off. What does happen, however, is you will feel an increase in your metabolism. By not sleeping well, your metabolism can begin to slow down, making it become harder and harder for your body to burn the fats and other things it has consumed throughout the day.

Additionally, your hunger levels are greatly affected by how you sleep. There are two hormones which regulate your appetite, called leptin and ghrelin. Leptin works to make you feel full, and sleeping keeps those levels up. On the other hand, ghrelin is the hormone responsible for making you feel hungry, and sleeping keeps it low. So, if you take those into consideration with sleep, not getting enough sleep makes your body truly feel as though it is starving, even when it likely isn’t. With those hormones fighting to make you want to gorge yourself, you better have some strong willpower.

#6 Depression

Perhaps one of the biggest things poor sleep can do is have an effect on your mental state. Insomnia due to sleeping on a poor mattress can cause much of what we discussed above, all of which can lead to feelings of depression. Depression itself can then turn around and lead to a further lack of sleep, causing more issues. It is a situation which is not easy to define or diagnose, but there is certainly a link between depression and sleep.

Mattress Issues

So, you’ve gone through all this, have seen way too many things you recognize in yourself and have decided you have a bad mattress. Fear not, as there are a great many options out there for you to get a great mattress at a great price which is good for you and your health. It’s not just about being comfortable, it’s about being comfortable through the night and supporting your body. Part of figuring out what works for you is going to take a little homework, but here are some of your myriad options, based on what could be wrong with your bed.

Heat

One of the biggest issues memory foam had when it was first introduced was heat. The stuff works by absorbing your body heat to make it pliable, and if it has no way to get that heat out, it just stays there and keeps you warm all night long. This can end up being very uncomfortable but has been remedied in most modern foam mattresses. If your mattress is one of those early types, it may feel great to lay on, but I’m willing to bet you’re heating up at night, which is not going to help you sleep.

If heat is an issue, be sure to take a good, hard look at the foams in the mattresses you buy, assuming you go with foam over a more traditional innerspring mattress. You can now find memory foam with various bits of technology thrown in, such as material designed to absorb and release heat away from the body, keeping you cool. At the very least, you can get what is often referred to as open-cell memory foam, which has more of an aerated design to allow air to better flow through and pull away from heat.

Soreness

If you find yourself waking up and feeling sore, your mattress is bad for you. If a mattress is doing its job, it should be forming to your body and providing you with a good amount of support. Your spine should be straight, and you’ll likely need a pillow to keep your head and neck in line. This, of course, depends on the sorts of materials you use.

Now, while mattresses do come in a variety of levels of firmness, and we may prefer the feel of one over another, firmness also serves as an indicator of how well it will work for your body. For instance, I am a huge fan of a firm bed. I don’t like them soft at all. Sleeping on a medium-firm bed leaves me feeling far better than if I slept on a softer one. I would much rather feel energized and good to go throughout the day than feel exceptionally comfortable in those first few minutes before I fall asleep.

That isn’t to say you should sacrifice all your comfort. You’ll just need to do some experimentation. Fortunately, most mattress companies these days offer trial periods of up to 100 nights, giving you a great opportunity to see what’s going to work for you before finally making the decision to sleep on something for the next decade.

Small Fixes

Fixing your issues doesn’t always mean buying a new mattress. You may have just purchased one in the last year or so and can’t afford a new one. Or maybe your mattress works for everything you want, save for some small issue. Fortunately, there are some things out there which can help out in the meantime.

Mattress Topper

A mattress topper can work wonders and cost far less than a new mattress. You can get a king size memory foam mattress topper, complete with technology designed to keep you cooler as you sleep, for less than $200, which is a steal of a deal for the difference it can make. Now, when looking at memory toppers, you need to keep in mind the same things you would with a memory foam mattress. Look for material designed to move or absorb heat.

The right mattress topper can help with heat issues. It can help with some of the support issues you may be feeling, and it can turn a mattress which is too firm into one that is absolutely perfect for you. Having experienced this myself, I can attest to it.

Mattress Cover

Sleepers who are suffering from issues with allergies stemming from their mattress are best off getting a new one. If there’s some sort of infestation, you just shouldn’t be sleeping on it. In a pinch, however, there are some new mattress covers which are waterproof and designed to not let anything get through them, but they’re still thin enough to not be felt while sleeping on the bed, something mattress covers of old cannot truthfully claim.

Pillows

For better support, pillows can be used. A pillow placed behind your back can help keep your position in a bed which is too soft. Placing one underneath you, should you sleep on your back, can help lift it in a situation in which a dip has formed in the mattress. Even holding one between your legs can help out with any posture issues you have developed. The pillow is a versatile and low-cost tool which can help out in multiple ways.

Sleep Environment

Changing the environment in which you sleep won’t necessarily combat a bad mattress, but the changes could lead to better sleep overall, which isn’t a bad thing. For instance, sleeping in a cooler room is going to allow you to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. It helps your body naturally reach the lower temperatures it does when it cools off during the night.

Additionally, removing distractions from your sleeping area can help you fall asleep faster. Avoid electronics with bright screens, such as televisions and mobile devices, as these can stimulate your mind. If you need some late-night entertainment to wind down, consider reading, instead.

Be sure to also avoid excess liquids, especially anything with caffeine, and spicy foods. These things can cause you to wake during the night, further exacerbating the issues you may already be encountering thanks to your bad bed. Making these small lifestyle changes can go a long way towards keeping you asleep for longer and not interrupting those ever-important sleep cycles.

A Better Mattress

Not sleeping well is not good for your health. Poor sleep doesn’t just leave you tired, it puts you in a situation where it can be detrimental to your mental and physical health and could put you on a path towards situations in which you may not want to think. One major thing that can lead to you not sleeping so well is a bad bed.

The cost investment for a new bed is not low, though it’s lower than it has been in years, thanks to retailers online who are able to sell directly to customers. Many of these products offer new technologies, thinking outside the box to give everyone a better night’s sleep.

If you ask me, I think the cost to get a new mattress which works perfectly for you is well worth the cost of living a happier, healthier life through a better night’s sleep. Was this article helpful in figuring out whether your problems stem from sleeping on a bad mattress? Let us know, comment and share below!

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