Why do we need to buy a new mattress?
Though we tend to think of our bedroom as a place to sleep and change clothes, our mattress is actually very important for our sleep patterns. Over the past 30 plus years' studies have shown that lack of sleep, and restless sleep, affects our bodies much more than we previously thought. A good night’s sleep can affect our entire day, which is why the phrase “Slept on the wrong side of the bed” is most often used when someone is grumpy during the day. It’s also very important for people who have different physical ailments, especially when a mattress is part of the problem, rather than helping to alleviate the aches and pains. Choosing the right mattress is more than simply going into a store and sitting or lying down. Research into each mattress for different types can not only save money, but also provide a whole new outlook on life each day.
Being picky when choosing a mattress is a very common thought process, especially if the mattress will be in the bedroom for the next six to twelve years. A natural eight hours sleep is an essential part of any day, and sleeping on a mattress that is completely wrong for a person is the exact opposite of healthy. Our bodies rely on sleep, where there is an exact science that works within us daily. Unfortunately, modern lifestyles and work patterns try to push sleep to the back burner, causing an abundance of health problems that even doctors are not able to see until after the fact. Of course, all doctors, sports practitioners, and all around successful people will state that a good night’s rest is a large part of a healthy lifestyle.
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So how does a mattress fit into this healthy lifestyle we need so much?
First, let’s talk about what sleep really is. When darkness starts to circle around to our part of the world, our bodies start to push out a chemical called Melatonin, which makes us tired. When the sun starts to rise, we start to push out Serotonin, which wakes us up. These two things are what helps us to create a “stable and healthy” sleep period. When everything is on target and in balance, our bodies are in their best sleep “time zones”.
There are five different “sleep stages” that are important to us.
- When we lay down it usually takes us seven to 10 minutes to fall into the “light sleep” stage. We tend to stay here for about 10 to 15 minutes or so. Technically, this is also the stage we wake up in as well as our bodies realize the sun is coming up.
- This stage starts when our bodies go through a cooling down period and our heart rates slow.
- This stage, as well as stage 4, are where our bodies tend to start repairing itself from the day. We start to go into the slowest sleeping pattern called the “Delta Sleep”. Our memories are stored during this time, our bodies go through a healing process, and basically, this is the time when our bodies are “in the shop” so to speak.
- Same as step 3.
- REM patterns are pretty much the times when we dream. Dreaming is very healthy for us, physically and psychologically, even though our bodies are temporarily paralyzed so we do not hurt ourselves and others during sleep.
These stages are part of our lives each and every night.
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Mattresses And Sleep-Stages Scenario!
Our mattresses fit in this scenario quite well. Here are a few examples:
Jane has a standard, flat, kind of spongy mattress she bought at a local department store. She lays down at about 9 pm every night, and wakes up at around 6 am for work. It is often hard for her to wake up so she uses a loud alarm clock.
Jane tosses and turns all night because she is uncomfortable. She has even replaced her pillows with memory foam pillows, but it helps her only a little bit.
Jane most likely stays in the areas of stages 1 and 2 during the entire night, maybe staying in stages 3 and 4 for short periods all night.
This makes her more tired every morning, cranky from lack of sleep, and her body is not ready each day because it was not able to go through the natural process of healing each night. She may have even lost a few hours of actual sleep during the night, no matter how early she goes to bed.
Jack has chronic back pain problems from an old work accident. Jack has a similar bed as Jane does. He also goes to bed around 9 pm at night, and rises at 6 am to prepare for work.
Jack, on the other hand, spends most of his night trying to calm his back pain down, as well as uses painkillers and sleeping aids to rest as much as he can.
Not only does Jack experience more physical pain each morning than he should, he loses sleep, his body is constantly medicated during the night which affects the healing process, and so much more chemical imbalances.
Now Jane and Jack are both given great advice to invest in a new bed that is just right for them. Their friends convince them that if they change their mattress, their lives will be changed as well. This is actually a true fact, not just for Jack and Jane, but for millions of people all over the world.
Jack and Jane both purchased different mattresses, priced around $900, which fit their own specific needs. The brands may have been different, the style may have been different, but it wasn’t about either of those points. It was about what was right for them, and what could solve their problems each and every night.
Jack took a few nights to become used to the new mattress. His back pain started easing up every morning almost right away. Not only that, he didn’t roll around at night trying to find the right position, and his sleeping aids started going down the drain instead of into his body to cause chemically imbalanced sleep problems.
Jane, on the other hand, noticed the difference the next day. She woke up with actual energy, felt like her body was refreshed from the night before, and woke up before the alarm clock. She went to work earlier to beat the traffic, ditched her morning coffee routine, and enjoys her life much more.
Their mattresses changed their lives just by doing a little bit of research and finding the right mattress for them. Of course it was an investment, just like any other healthy diet investment, however, it was a one-time investment for multiple years.
Sleep disorders, or lack of sleep, has been found to be the cause of more than just cranky attitude, but also heart disease, obesity, hypertension, strokes, diabetes, and half of the other chronic diseases out there.
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How do we really buy a new mattress?
Finding the right mattress is more than just running down to the nearest shopping center and picking up any old mattress. There are a few things to pay attention to, and they all have to do with the person actually sleeping in the bed.
- What problems is the person having with the current mattress?
- Is the current mattress causing restless sleep from being too hot?
- Is tossing and turning a problem?
- Is the mattress too flat and hard?
- Is the mattress too soft?
The above type of questions revolves around the feel of the current mattress.
- What problems does the person have physically?
- Does the person have constant fatigue?
- Is there chronic back or joint pain?
- What position does the person usually lay down on?
- Is the person a back, stomach, or side sleeper?
- What is the weight range of the sleeper?
All of the questions above will create a good starting point for researching the best mattress for that individual person, or even couple that will be sleeping on the mattress. A type of firmness will be different for someone at 130 pounds versus someone at 220 pounds. The real deciding factor is the person who is going to be sleeping on the mattress.
Another thing to think about is the fact that buying a mattress is like buying a car. It is something that will make the sleeper either happy or disgruntled for multiple years, especially after a hefty investment. It would be easy to blame the manufacturing company for making a bad mattress, when in reality, it is the person who the mattress isn’t right for.
For example: Bob weighs 220, has high blood pressure, and has just purchased a very nice mattress with a lower firm rating. The mattress is very soft, but has no support for Bob. He continued to have sleepy arms and legs at night, and pressure on his body was just too intense.
Bob ends up collecting a refund on the mattress. In his mind, the brand just didn’t make a quality mattress, but in reality, it was just not right for him. He needed a more supportive mattress for his size and recommended for his personal needs.
He then purchases a firmer gel foam mattress a bit more expensive than the last mattress, however, it works for him really well. His mattress is just firm enough to provide him with the support he needs, and he doesn’t have any blood constrictive problems while sleeping at night.
Darlene weighs 130, has some joint problems, and has trouble sleeping on her mattress.
Darlene purchases the same exact mattress that Bob first purchased. Since she is of a different body type, she doesn’t have the same problems and the mattress is a perfect fit for her. Her sleeping patterns are also perfect for the mattress.
It is not possible to find the best mattress on the first try, but answering the right questions beforehand helps make an educated guesstimate that will make the first try that much more successful. Many times, taking that trial that companies offer is smarter than not. If the offer is 100 days, that should be more than enough time to find out if the mattress is the perfect one.
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Budgeting for anything is important, and a mattress is no different.
When we budget for a mattress, we are not only budgeting for the “cost” but for the life-changing effects that a great sleep has for us. For that reason, a local department store mattress should not be the first and only choice. When we walk in, we see these flat, or old technology foam mattresses and have the pressure of a salesman promising the best sleep in the world. Our choices are not limited anymore, where we can turn to online research, the social world of reviews and real testers. We know spending money on a mattress isn’t easy, but it is an important investment that has already saved thousands of dollars in doctor’s visits for many people.
What is the right price for that perfect mattress?
The question itself shouldn’t be how much is the mattress, but how much a person’s health is worth. A hundred dollar flat, and fluffy, the mattress could be the cause of more neck, back, and joint pain, than one can actually bear. It may be okay for a teen who has their whole life ahead of them, and can take a few licks and keep on kicking, but the rest of us have our bodies to take care of.
Luckily for us though, most of the mattresses that actually match our needs come with a trial. This means that the money we invest, unlike stocks, is actually safe within that period if the mattress isn’t right for us. Most come with at least a 100-night trial which is more than enough to see if we continue with our aches, pains, and tossing and turning at night. For us, no matter our jobs, size, or issues, we can take advantage of this opportunity and really find out if a mattress helps us.
Budgeting for the long run is what we should really think about. Like a car, the mattress should be able to pay for itself by the end of the first six or seven years we have our mattress. Not only that, we want to make sure that the place we lay our heads also has a great warranty. Lifetime warranties sound great, but like insurance, we want to make sure it is really covering what we need. A ten-year warranty sounds much more believable, something a company can actually stand behind. Lifetime warranties from the wrong company can end up being just a gimmick, a sales tactic to sell a lemon.
Our mattress warranty should cover things that actually happen to mattresses over time. Does it cover spilled milk? Probably not. And we do not really need it to cover spilled foods, but maybe it should be easy to wash though right? We do need it to cover the real things that can happen over time. We do not want to have a mattress that falls apart on its own, and then not be covered by the warranty because of something we forgot to read in the beginning. Like warranties for a phone or television, the company is really trying to make money, not replace products. There are great companies that stand behind their products, so they will be more transparent with a great warranty.
So we have to look at the benefits to our health, take advantage of a trial to help find the right mattress, and identify that the warranty actually covers the mattress for real-life situations.
That is the true cost of the right mattress for us.
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So what are the real differences between mattress types?
Every year something new comes out, the latest and greatest mattress has arrived. It's really not that true when you have a look at the mattresses themselves. Usually, the company simply improved upon an older technology, which is not to say that is a bad thing. Sometimes, these new trinkets are not exactly important though. Last year’s model may be just as effective, or just as bad in some cases. Like car companies, the next best thing is always what a company is trying to push out. Every industry is the same, but that doesn’t mean every new mattress is the right one.
The difference in mattresses is more about the differences in people.
Foam mattresses are one of the most known mattresses on the market. Marketing for memory foam has had millions upon millions of dollars dumped into it so that even children know what it is. But Memory foam comes in different shapes and sizes. What one can do for a single person may be fantastic, while it feels like sleeping on fire for another person.
But memory foam does have its disadvantages, which companies are trying their best to combat. Some are too firm, taking half an hour to mold around the person, and sleeps hot. Normally this happens when a company manufactures the memory foam for longevity. Memory foam also has a shorter lifespan, just like a sponge for washing dishes. After so many dishes, the sponge is flat and worthless.
There are companies who have created a better memory foam, one that is just firm enough, and lasts for at least seven to ten years. The quality itself is more costly of course, but memory foam, for people with specific back and joint problems, is indispensable, making this cost pale in comparison with the amount of money saved in doctor visits.
Time-honored metal coils are still improved upon these days to provide a great mattress. Hybrids are a lot more common. Hybrids are a mix of foam and coils and provide support from coils, but also a soft top that molds to a person when lying down. For those with back problems, these are not the first choice if they sleep with a spouse or partner. What coils provide in support, they lack in providing that protection in bouncing around when the other person moves or gets out of bed. People with physical problems say that this causes more pain from the movements.
The third most common mattress type, usually also in a hybrid type of situation is an adjustable air (or cloud) mattress. Many provide the ability to adjust for each person on the bed, helping both people to have just the right comfort level and support. This isn’t always the case though, and may not be right for either both, or one of the sleepers. Another downfall can be the noisy machines used in the mattress to increase or decrease the amount of air.
There are other technologies and great mattresses that aren’t fully covered in these three types, and many are variations of cloud, foam, and coil mattresses. But the main point here is that a mattress itself doesn’t make it perfect, but the person sleeping on it. Quality is important, but the most important part of any bed is the person sleeping on the bed.
What makes a great mattress a great mattress?
The moral behind the story is that a mattress is only a mattress. The person makes a choice after testing, seeing reviews from other people with common issues, physical sizes, and needs. Costs are not just monetary and benefits reach farther than just sleep. When we change our views about how sleep helps or hurts us, how a mattress is more than just a soft place to lay down, we find that we can improve our lives, all in one little bedroom (or big depending on the house).
We can minimize the risks of physical ailments, alleviate aches and pains, wake up with more energy, and put a smile on our faces every day, all from choosing the right mattress. Well, the right mattress for us personally. For some of us, that can mean sleeping with our spouse again, instead of two beds. For others that can mean being able to actually move around in the morning. And for others still, it could mean a better day in the workplace.
Take time to research, ask questions, test, and find that mattress that solves many problems, even ones that we cannot see, and do not know we have.