“O sleep! O gentle sleep! Nature’s soft nurse”, or so the bard (Shakespeare) tells us in Henry IV. Yes, sleep is soft and restorative as implied by that quote and even in Shakespeare’s time it was known to be beneficial but there is more, oh so much more, that we know now about just how beneficial a good night’s rest is. The list of advantages is long and some of them may actually surprise you.
- Weight control – Many people are not aware of it, but poor sleep is one of the largest associated risk factors with obesity. Good sleep for some reason helps you keep control of those pounds.
- Eating better – Maybe tied to the weight control? People who enjoy a full, long nights sleep on a regular basis tend to eat better as well. It could be that the rest helps control the body’s cravings. Apparently sleep deprivation has a negative effect on hormones that control appetite.
- Mental focus – we all know that we are sharper after a good night’s sleep. This increased mental acuity can help you in a whole range of activities from study to solving complex problems at work.
- Enhanced mood – it is not just the problem-solving performance of your brain that is aided by a good night’s rest. Emotionally you are in a much better, more balanced state when well rested. This helps you with your relationships, keeps you on a even keel throughout the troubles of the day and generally lets you cope better with everything you need to overcome to move towards your target.
- Better heart health – your pulmonary health is also associated with good sleep. You are much less prone to heart disease or suffering a stroke if you take care of your body’s need for a good rest on a regular basis.
- A stronger immune system – Solid sleep has been shown to have an enhancing effect on your immune system as well making you less susceptible to disease.
- Better blood sugar levels – These can help stave off or delay the results of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Yet another health benefit of sleep that is often overlooked.
- Less stress – The perennial modern problem is stress. Regular, quality sleep helps reduce the levels of this.
- Higher libido – True. Getting your rest is also good for your sex drive allowing you and your partner to enjoy a healthy love life with all the benefits that brings for your health and mental wellbeing.
Please note that this list is not fully comprehensive. There are additional benefits that could be mentioned. Even looking at the subset of positive effects above it is indisputable that getting a good night’s rest provides so much positive value to you as an individual and those you interact with around you that sleep, and the quality thereof must be a priority concern if you want a long, healthy and happy life.
Having established the importance of improving the quality of your nocturnal rest the question is what should you consider first when looking to tap into the multitude of advantages it brings?
What has the greatest impact on your ability to enjoy your rest is what you lie down on. That is, for most of us at least, the mattress that is the intermediary between us and the box or frame of whatever type of bed we own.
We have progressed far beyond the days of straw or cotton filled lumpy and unresponsive sacks. These days we also do better than the unbalanced, almost random springs of early versions of the modern mattress.
There are many factors to consider when buying a mattress that is going to promote healthy repose. Two key ones to look for are below:
- Strategic support – You want a mattress that is going to be similar to the one in the tale about Goldilocks. Something that is not too hard and not too soft, something just right. It should not be so soft that you sink into it almost uncontrollably, putting unnecessary strains on your spine and back muscles. A good mattress should actually help prevent back pain (one of the additional benefits we did not mention) rather than promote it. It should also not be so rock solid that your spine cannot adopt a natural, supportive position.
- Keep its shape – Once you have found one that works just right for you, you will want it to keep the same shape and provide the same support for as long as possible. Any changes will detract from the support you get and thereby be detrimental to the quality, and possibly quantity, of your sleep.
The second point is worth exploring in a little more detail as it does tie in with the main premise of the article. According to the Wikipedia article on the mattress, the average lifespan is 7-10 years. When thinking about the cost you need to consider whether you want to go for something relatively inexpensive that will require replacement at the lower end of that range or even below or whether you want to go for something more expensive but with greater longevity.
Consider, if you buy what looks like a cheap deal and you need to replace it after five years then you could have spent double the money and after a ten-year lifespan still wind up having spent the same.
To be frank though there is no monetary value that should be placed on health, and it should be way down in the priority list. You will definitely want to go for the best mattress you can get and they generally come at a premium for very good reasons. As an example, those in the know will have heard of Tempur mattresses, these are a range that are at the leading edge of quality for sleep solutions. You may ask what makes Tempur mattresses so expensive? Well, there are several things.
As we mentioned above the average life span for good mattresses is 7-10 years. Tempur mattresses come with manufacturers guarantee of 10 years with no sagging. Remember we mentioned the issue of sagging above as a key consideration?
The other issue is the material. Many of us will have heard of Memory Foam, that wonder material originally developed for NASA to make aircraft seats better. We know it is used in hospitals for burn victims for example as it moulds itself perfectly around the body to provide equal support at every point. Really high-quality mattresses such as the Tempur range are made of a formulation of memory foam that provides the absolute top level in support and comfort.
In conclusion are good quality mattresses worth the money? That is a resounding yes from us! Spending less is a false economy in terms of impact on your health, potential monetary loss on health care and potential costs of having to regularly replace poorer mattresses with inferior lifetimes!