Does A Bad Mattress Mean Bad Health?
By Alexandra Zatarain
Originally posted on The Huffington Post
A good mattress is heavenly. But a bad mattress is a nightmare—literally. Sleeping on an old mattress can take a serious toll on your body, in more ways than one.
Mattresses deteriorate over time, and after several years, they start to be less supportive as the pressure from our bodies compresses the foam inside. Our muscles clench to compensate for the lack, which creates telltale soreness and back pains, which, if left untreated, can become chronic. Old mattresses also sag in the center, which can cause people to toss and turn, trying to get comfortable—leading to a loss of a full night’s sleep. Combined, discomfort and interrupted sleep can lead to interrupted sleep cycles—which we know are crucial to getting the most rest possible—and even sleep deprivation. And lack of sleep can cause a host of other problems. Sleep-deprived people often overeat due to a rise in ghrelin, the hormone that tells us we’re hungry, and a loss of leptin, which suppresses appetite. It throws off other hormones, too; a frequent problem of not sleeping is a rise in cortisol, the stress hormone. Good sleep also boosts both our immune system and our memory—without it, neither are as strong.
Mattresses also collect things over time: Dead skin, oil, sweat, and the dust mites that feed on those. It’s unavoidable, and can be harmless. But for those with allergies to dust or dust mites, it can mean every night is a battle of sneezing, itching eyes, runny noses, and more. And for those with asthma, it could mean having trouble breathing at night, a severe danger. In severe cases, it could lead to skin conditions or eczema—which no one wants.
Because we sleep in patterns and cycles, it’s important that our bed is consistently comfortable. Getting in the habit of tossing and turning is detrimental to those. The best thing you can do for your body, and your mind, is make sure when you lay down, you’re ready to rest—meaning throwing out old mattresses after 7 years, like experts suggest, or when problems arise.