Beds/Mattresses & Sleep

Since most of us spend at least a third of our lives lying down, a good quality mattress goes a long way in avoiding a whole host of musculo-skeletal problems later in life. In addition, a quality mattress will help you to get a good night's sleep, which most health practitioners agree is essential to a healthy life.

A quality mattress allows you to maintain the same natural spinal alignment that you have while standing. It can be innerspring, foam, flotation (water bed) or air. The most important thing is choosing a mattress that offers you the most support and comfort.

Mattress criteria:

* Comfort - Before buying a mattress, "test drive" it by laying down on it in the store many times before buying it. You will want to lay down on it in all of the positions you normally sleep in. Mattresses that are labeled as "Orthopedic" are usually nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

* Durability - This applies to both the "guts" and to the covering of the mattress. Ensure that the manufacturer is a known, established brand and that they guarantee the mattress for at least 8 years.

*  Firmness - Softness and firmness are generally a matter of personal preference and have little to do with a specific mattress.  When laying on your mattress you want to feel supported but you also want the top of the mattress to feel as if is conforming a bit to your body.  Overly firm mattresses don't support the body evenly and may even produce "pressure points" and cause discomfort on certain areas of your body.  Overly soft mattresses tend to sag, preventing your spine from maintaining its proper alignment.

*  Foundation - The foundation, or box spring, absorbs the brunt of the stress and weight of your mattress.  In doing so, it helps to extend the useful life of your mattress.  It is advisable to buy a new box spring every time you replace your mattress and make sure the one you are buying is suited for the type of mattress you are buying.


Replace your bed if:

*  The mattress is worn, frayed or the box spring creaks.

*  The mattress sags or doesn't return to its shape after you get up from lying down on it.

*  You are constantly waking up with aches or pains.

*  Your mattress is more than 8 years old


Best sleep positions:

     Believe it or not, the position in which you sleep can make a big difference in your waking disposition and may be able to help you to avoid skeletal, muscular and even nerve problems down the road.  One of the best positions to sleep in is on your side, with knees slightly bent and a pillow between your legs (at the level of the knee).  If you are a back sleeper a pillow should be placed under your knees so that the curve in your low back is not strained.  If you are a stomach sleeper, it is recommended that you try to "train" yourself to sleep in one of the previously two mentioned positions.  Sleeping on your stomach causes great strain to the neck and low back and it places unnecessary pressure on your diaphragm and lungs.