Research shows that sleeping in an uncomfortable bed can deprive you of up to an hour’s sleep which you do not initially notice but over a period of time this can result in tiredness and fatigue. Lack of support from a mattress reinforces poor sleeping posture and can not only prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep but can also aggravate back pain.
A study by the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) showed that beds as little as six years old could offer significantly less support and comfort than a new one, due to wear and tear, not just from body weight and movement but also sweat and debris.
Four out of every five adults (80%) will experience back pain at some point in their lives. A US Study comparing sleep experience on a new mattress compared with mattresses five years and older found that participants with high back pain reported 63% improvement in back discomfort.
As a rough guide you should think about replacing your bed/mattress every seven years and ensure that you put value and quality over price. Your new mattress should be firm enough to support your spine in the correct alignment and conform to your body’s contours. Always try before you buy.
Whilst sleep requirements vary from person to person, most adults need at least 8 hours sleep each night and sleep difficulties can often be found in your daily routine. Apart from buying a new bed the following tips will help you sleep your way to better health:
- Keep a regular sleep cycle – by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will make you feel much more refreshed and energised than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times
- Bedroom Environment – where possible keep your room dark and at a slightly cool temperature. Avoid having a television, computer or mobile phone in your room.
- Diet – Your daytime eating habits will affect how well you sleep. It is particularly important to watch what you eat in the hours leading to bedtime:
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and cigarettes
- Avoid heavy rich foods within two hours of bedtime, fatty foods are difficult to digest and spicy foods may cause stomach troubles and heartburn.
- Avoid sedatives such as sleeping pills and alcohol as the effects are usually short-term and sustained use can lead to dependency
- Lifestyle – Our lifestyles are non-stop with ever present technology such as smart phones, laptops, TVs, games consoles etc and we often don’t make time to switch off and wind down. Avoid using technology in the hours before bedtime and make time to relax, such as taking a warm bath, warm drink, reading or listening to soft music.
- Stress & Worry – Anxiety directly affects the rhythm of sleep. Anxious thoughts make the heart rate ‘race’ which then causes the brain to become alert and stimulated. Various techniques can be used to stop anxiety and calm the heart rate, speaking overrides thinking and can stop negative thoughts – do this when you start worrying about something before trying to sleep. Further hints and tips on how to deal with stress can be found on the LiveWell website.
- Exercise – Regular daily exercise can not only make you sleep more deeply but it is also good for your health, the more you exercise the more likely you are to improve your sleeping patterns. Don’t overdo it – too much exercise especially in the evening can wear you out physically and lead to wakefulness and alertness when trying to sleep. Relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.