When purchasing a mattress or bedding, your first instinct may be to seek out something extremely soft, with an eye toward comfort. The idea that a soft and yielding surface will facilitate a comfortable night's rest can be misleading however, and research conducted in recent years is now showing that there are demonstrable benefits to sleeping on a harder, more firm mattress. This seemingly simple change can impact your life in dramatic ways, paying dividends in the way you feel during your waking hours for years to come.
Most of us would immediately fall in love with a soft, cushony mattress the first time we tried it out, yet somewhat counter-intuitively, this kind of bedding can sometimes have a negative impact on your health. The reasons why can be fairly straightforward, though we may not at first consider them. As the Sit n' Sleep Blog points out, firmer mattresses can often be more comfortable simply because they offer more support. This can have a dramatic impact on your ability to rest and rejuvenate fully over the course of an eight-hour-long sleep session, particularly for older individuals.
A maxim exists which states that "you can never have too much support, but you can always have too little," and there is often a great deal of truth behind this seemingly simple statement. Firmer surfaces offer the body more rigid support, allowing you to achieve a better rest. Softer surfaces, while they may initially feel more comfortable, fail to provide this, and in turn force the human body to continuously compensate for unusual positions. Over the course of an eight hour night, this constant search for support can negatively impact your sleep cycle, stealing away your ability to properly regenerate.
Support for the lower back and spine, along with proper weight distribution, is key when choosing a mattress. A sagging mattress which doesn't properly distribute an individual's weight will eventually cause the body to turn in awkward directions while sleeping, effectively making it impossible to achieve a proper posture when resting. This lack of posture can leave the back and spine in an improper alignment, which will inevitably have a direct impact on your ability to function during daylight hours.
We've extensively covered the need to achieve a proper night's rest here on the Green Blog. Whether it's off-gassing from a chemically treated mattress or a negative micro-climate caused by ineffective bedding, anything that interferes with your body's ability to adequately rest for a set period of time will eventually wear down your overall health and well-being. Our bodies require a great deal of rest and rejuvenation, which is often hard to come by in modern society. Skimping on sleep or resting on bedding that directly impedes our ability to regenerate can have dramatic impacts both on our appearance and health, leading to measurable changes in happiness, attitude, and general outlook. How much we sleep, and exactly how we rest, is directly tied to our ability to function.
Proper posture matters when it comes to overall health, and this fact is true not only during waking hours, but also during our sleep cycle. Firm mattresses help promote this by keeping the spine in a positive alignment. Your body can never truly be at rest if it is constantly fighting for support, and an eight hour period where your backbone is out of alignment can leave you both tired and sore for the next day. Stiffer mattresses help to prevent lower back strain problems, and they also alleviate certain pressure points through adequate alignment. This leaves you less apt to suffer from scoliosis and even bedsores. These problems regularly afflict individuals with low mobility or who are confined to beds, and can at times largely be combated through changes in bedding.
Changing over to a harder mattress will likely be difficult if you've slept on a softer surface for years. You can expect some initial discomfort while getting used to your new paradigm, but the long term benefits will eventually assert themselves. In addition, people with already extant issues like rheumatism, scoliosis, arthritis or weak capillaries may want to shy away from excessively hard mattresses, and instead opt for spot-specific support, as BeWellBuzz points out. This kind of reinforcement can be achieved with specially designed pillows, like those made from flax seed and other organic materials.
Proper support is absolutely essential when seeking a full night's rest. Through choosing a firm mattress at the outset, consumers can often tilt the balance in their favor, reaping the health benefits of their decision for years to come.
[Images: Aweisenfels - Own Work via Wikimedia Commons | Resized | CC BY-SA 4.0
Mikael Häggström via Wikimedia Commons | CCO 1.0 ]
Hi! I'm Karen Totino, owner of Green Conscience Home. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of our posts, so comment away! One of my goals is to get the community discussing some of these eco topics, and hopefully help each other out!