How Mattresses Directly Affect Your Health
As you crawl into bed at the end of a long day, you may not give your mattress much thought. With no visible signs that your bed is outdated, such as broken coils, rips, or sagging, it can be difficult to tell when it is time for a replacement.
It may be tempting to follow the old adage "if it's not broke, don't fix it." However, this can be dangerous when it comes to your mattress. Sleeping on an unsupportive or broken down bed night after night can have a severe impact on your overall health.
Below, we breakdown your mattresses affect your overall health, and offer tips on what to look for when shopping for a new bed.
Allergies and Respiratory Health
Over time, your mattress naturally collects things like dead skin and body oil. Unfortunately, as this happens, it will also attract dust mites. In fact, recent evidence shows that a used mattress can house up to 10 million microscopic bugs.
The idea of bugs in your bed is probably unsettling, but these little creatures can also do a number on your health. For allergy sufferers or those with respiratory issues, such as asthma, dust mites can cause runny nose, whizzing, sneezing, itchiness, sinus pressure, coughing, and watery eyes.
To keep your mattress free of dust mites, consider using an allergen-proof mattress protector. These covers feature tightly woven fabrics that prevent dust mites and bacteria from breeding within your bed.
Materials and Construction
Some mattress brands use toxic adhesives and flame retardants during construction. Once indoors, these chemicals give off a strong chemical smell that is unpleasant and irritating to the lungs and sinuses. When exposed to these irritants, some people experience difficulty breathing, eye and throat irritation, and headaches.
To combat this, look for a mattress brand that uses eco-friendly practices that meet air safety standards. Also, be sure that your mattress is low in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). A CertiPUR-US certification guarantees that a bed has been tested for VOCs, and is free of harmful phthalates, formaldehyde, and heavy metals.
An unsupportive mattress will cause you to sleep in an unbalanced and awkward position. You may not notice this imbalance when first lying down, but as you sleep, your body weight becomes uneven, and painful pressure points can begin to form. When this happens, you may frequently wake feeling sore and stiff. If left untreated, a bad mattress can even cause chronic back issues.
When considering a replacement, shop for a mattress that provides support and proper alignment. You want to be sure that your spine can maintain a neutral position no matter how you sleep. A high-quality mattress will contour to joints and provide pressure-relieving comfort so you rest peacefully throughout the night.
Sleep and Health
It's clear that a better mattress can improve your sleep; however, sleep affects so many aspects of our overall health and wellbeing. Below we have outlined the most critical sleep-related health issues.
Stress And Anxiety
Poor sleep can cause you to feel higher levels of stress and anxiety. When we are sleep-deprived, we often become more irritable and impatient, which can make everyday issues harder to handle. Better sleep can give you more control over your blood pressure, breathing, and your ability to think clearly in stressful situations.
When we are overly exhausted, we are also more prone to overeating. This tendency is due to the hormonal changes that sleep deprivation can trigger. These irregularities can cause an increase in hunger and food cravings. Additionally, medical research shows that a lack of sleep can also slow metabolism.
Cognitive Health and Memory
Adequate REM sleep is vital to our mental health. During the REM stage, the brain processes impressions from the day. It stores data and moves information from short term to long term memory. Shorted sleep periods will naturally reduce the amount of time spent in REM, which can inhibit creativity and make it difficult for us to commit information to memory.
Additionally, research shows that reduced sleep can impair our cognitive abilities, often called "brain fog." This impairment causes slower response times, decreased attention, and an inability to focus.
According to the Mayo Clinic, adults who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night are more likely to develop heart issues, such as heart attack or stroke. The primary reason for this is the connection to sleep apnea. Those with sleep apnea often suffer from irregular heartbeats and arrhythmia, both of which can lead to serious cardiovascular issues.
Although your mattress may not be directly responsible for the above health concern, it is responsible for providing you with adequate sleep, which is something we all need to stay healthy.
How Long Do Mattresses Last?
Now that we have covered your mattress's health effects, here's a quick refresher on how long you can expect your bed to last.
Best mattress companies, especially newer bed in box brands, will offer a 10-year warranty; some may even go up to 20-years. However, this warranty does not necessarily reflect the lifespan of the bed. Most warranties will cover manufacturing issues, but not normal wear and tear.
Traditional innerspring mattresses will have a lifespan of about 5 to 7 years, but a high-quality hybrid or memory foam mattress can last up to 10 years. Latex foam beds may even last up to 15 years.
When Should I Buy a New Mattress?
Ultimately, your health should be your guide. If you are frequently tossing and turning or experiencing poor quality of sleep, it is likely time to replace your bed. Waking up with sore or stiff, muscles and joints is also an indication that your mattress is no longer supporting you.
Check your mattress frequently for cosmic deflect, such as rips, sagging, indents, broken coils, or bunching. Also, be sure to take stock of how you feel each morning. Your bed should help you wake refreshed, energized, and feeling your best.