The Importance of Sleep and Your Mattress

We receive questions on a daily basis inquiring on what makes a good mattress.  There is no easy answer to this question as what may be good for one person may not be good for another.  Here are a few tips that can help determine whether or not you need a new mattress and what type to buy. 

First, do you need a new mattress?

 The life span of a mattress varies depending on the type, quality and usage but it usually is between 5 and 10 years.  If a mattress sits in a guest room, used every few months, it will last much longer than one that an NFL lineman and his partner share every night. 

The mattress should keep your spine in a neutral position, essentially the same orientation it is in when you are standing (assuming you aren’t slouching).  You should check for indentations on the mattress. If your mattress isn’t providing support uniformly, it will not be able to keep your spine aligned.  You can use a yardstick to measure it in different areas to see if it is sagging. 


A few tips to get the most out of your mattress

  • You should make sure you flip or rotate the mattress every three months 
  • If you see it has begun to sink in certain areas make sure to rotate or flip it. 
  • If you find your mattress is too soft you can try putting a piece of plywood underneath it. 
  • If the mattress is too firm for you try and add a 1 to 2 inch foam pad on top of it (not a feather bed, that is too thick).

Next question, what kind of mattress should I get?

This one, again, does not have a simple answer.  Different mattresses suit different people.  If you are a restless sleeper your partner will certainly appreciate the foam type since this will absorb the pressure of your movements and not disturb them.  Some people find the foam mattress uncomfortable and prefer the standard coil type.  The number of coils isn’t always most important as the gauge (thickness) and type of coils can make up for a lower quantity of coils.  The lower the gauge number the thicker the coil (like in electrical wire).  That being said, usually the more coils the more support you will have.  It is important that you lie on the mattress for at least 5-10 minutes prior to making a decision.   

Tips to help you sleep beyond the mattress

The American Chiropractic Association makes the following recommendations when it comes to sleep: 


  • Exercise regularly. Exercising in the morning is best, but if you must exercise in the evening, do so at least two or three hours before bedtime. Any later, and your increased heart rate can interfere with your sleep. 
  • Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, colas and tea—try to avoid them altogether late in the day and near bedtime. In addition, for each cup of caffeinated beverages you drink each day, drink an equal amount of water. 
  • If you have trouble sleeping and then get thirsty, drink tap water at room temperature (cold water may disturb the digestive system). 
  • Try and eat an early dinner. Eating after 6 p.m. may interfere with sleep as your body works to digest the food you’ve eaten.  While eating that early is rarely possible, the earlier the better.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. The routine will help your body know when it is time to rest. 
  • Keep your bedroom at a cool, comfortable temperature and try to make it as dark as possible when you’re ready for bed. 
  • TURN OFF THE DEVICES!!!  The light from your phone, tablet and yes, even the TV will stimulate your brain and keep you awake.  Reading under a soft dim light is best if you don't fall directly to sleep.
  • There are several natural supplements that can aide in falling asleep.  Consult with your health care provider for what might work best for you.    

Other resources

Tuck.com and bettersleep.org are both good resources on sleep and for mattress advice.