Does what you sleep on affect how well you sleep? Experts analyse the importance of a mattress in getting a good night’s rest
It’s been more than a year since the pandemic swept across the globe and changed the world as we have witnessed. It has unsettled everything from work, travel and healthcare to how we shop and stay connected with others. It doesn’t some as a surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic has also gravely disrupted our sleep cycle, leading to a rise in cases of insomnia or coronasomnia.
“Coronasomnia became an epidemic within a pandemic,” says Dr Goran Salih, Pulmonologist and Sleep Medicine Specialist, American Hospital Dubai. “Insomnia was an issue before Covid-19, but more people reported the disorder since the virus first struck us. This gave birth to a whole new epidemic dubbed coronasomnia. The rise in cases has been noticeably rapid since the start of the pandemic.”
Insomnia was an issue before Covid-19, but more people reported the disorder since the virus first struck us. This gave birth to a whole new epidemic dubbed coronasomnia. The rise in cases has been noticeably rapid since the start of the pandemic.
Dr Salih informs that the surge in cases has also been observed in the UAE. “The lack of sleep can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress,” he says.
Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected all kinds of people, including children, adults and even the elderly in the UAE, explains Dr Sudheer Ramatt Yousuf, Specialist Neurologist, Aster Clinic, Al Qusais, Dubai. “Many people developed the inability to sleep as consequences of changes in life pattern/work pattern caused by the pandemic,” says Dr Yousuf.
There are multiple causes of insomnia during the pandemic era, such as social distancing, quarantine, and working from home. All these conditions bring profound changes to normal activities of people. “Excess screen time especially later in the evening can have detrimental effect on sleep,” says Dr Yousuf. “Most people have close friends or family with elderly people or high risk groups and they worry about their health and safety. Economic concerns are also affecting everyone.”
Excess screen time especially later in the evening can have detrimental effect on sleep. Most people have close friends or family with elderly people or high risk groups and they worry about their health and safety. Economic concerns are also affecting everyone.
To ease the situation, Dr Salih suggests small changes such as not napping excessively while working at home because the bedroom or couch might end up calling a little too frequently. “Don’t convert your bedroom to your office, work in another room,” he advises.
To establish a proper sleep pattern, experts suggest sleeping at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends. “Don’t lie in bed awake,” says Dr Salih. “If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, do something calming until you feel sleepy, such as reading or listening to soft music.”
Other small habits could go a long way to get some much-needed snooze. “Sleep can be improved with non-pharmacological methods and pharmacological treatments,” says Dr Yousuf. “This includes standardising the wake time, restricting the amount of time spent in bed, avoiding sleep in the day time and limiting coffee or stimulant intake in evening. Pharmacological methods should be sought with the help of a health consultant.”
How it influences sleep
While stress, unhealthy lifestyles, illnesses and bad sleeping habits are major factors that impact one’s sleep quality, an often overlooked aspect that could be keeping you from getting proper shuteye is your mattress.
“The type of mattress does influence our sleep quality,” says Dr Salih. “As we spend one third of our time in the bed, choosing the right mattress is very important. If the mattress is uncomfortable, it will disrupt our sleep, while we are changing our positions.”
While the best way to choose a mattress is to visit a mattress store and try it yourself by lying on it for 10-15 minutes and changing positions, it’s also important to consider the type of mattress (foam, innerspring, hybrid, latex, airbed).
It is important to understand that a mattress is a long-term investment so look out for one with a warranty of five to ten years. We need to understand that a good mattress does not cost more than Dh1 per day, for example the average cost of a mattress is Dh2,000 with warranty of five years and it works out to Dh1.09 per day.
“Our body shape and weight also influences how we choose the right mattress,” says Dr Salih. “Last but not least, the sleeping position is a very important factor to consider when we buy our new mattress. For example combination sleepers find themselves in more than one position during the night, and should look for a responsive mattress that facilitates easy movement on the bed.”
The degree of firmness is also important, especially for those with back pain. “Sleeping on a medium firm mattress may improve sleep,” says Dr Yousuf. “It keeps the spine alignment proper and pain-related spine issues at bay. It also reduces the pressure points on our body that helps improves sleep, yet the ideal mattress is different for each person.”
As experts give their verdict on how a mattress can make or break a good night’s sleep, we need to start focusing on buying the right one for our body. “One needs to know the budget to purchase a mattress because it varies from person to person,” says Ashok Sharma, CEO, Towell Mattress.
“It is important to understand that a mattress is a long-term investment so look out for one with a warranty of five to ten years. We need to understand that a good mattress does not cost more than Dh1 per day, for example the average cost of a mattress is Dh2,000 with warranty of five years and it works out to Dh1.09 per day.”
There’s no one “right” material to choose, but in general, side sleepers need a softer mattress, stomach sleepers need a firm one, and back sleepers fall somewhere in between.
Once the above three points are clear you can select the mattress as per your budget from categories such as luxury, premium, mid-range and value. “A complete range of mattresses are available in the market, such as Bonnell Spring, Pocketed Spring, Latex Mattress, Memory Foam Mattress, Gel Mattress, Combination Mattress, and the latest in market — the Hybrid Mattress. They also come in various comfort levels such as plush, soft, medium soft, medium firm and firm. And finally, if one is brand conscious you could select from the top mattress brands available in the world.”
Pay attention to detail
While choosing the right mattress can be exhausting and time consuming, it should be a task you need to give proper attention to. It also helps to be be aware of your sleep style as this will primarily help you make the right choice in terms of material. “There are three common types of mattresses: innerspring, foam, and adjustable,” says Sayed Habib, Director — Business Development, Franchise and E-Commerce, Danube Home. “There’s no one “right” material to choose, but in general, side sleepers need a softer mattress, stomach sleepers need a firm one, and back sleepers fall somewhere in between. Our stores and online platforms are fully equipped with helping you understand your preferences and finding the perfect mattress.”
As doctors/sleep experts always advise people to test a mattress before buying, do mattress companies offer sleep trials or anything else? “It is very important to test the mattress before buying, as a mattress is a personal product and people have different preferences and requirements,” says Sharma. “In developed countries people take seven to ten days to choose the right mattress by testing various mattresses at different stores.
“Even after checking, they may still not be satisfied or convinced about the right mattress. Hence to ensure complete customer satisfaction, most companies across the globe offer trials for 30 to 90 days.”
Many stores across the UAE offer trials for mattresses before they are bought. “I always suggest customers head to our stores and lie down on our mattresses,” says Habib. “Also, the sales advisors are in tune with customer preferences and will be able to guide you to your best buy. If buying online, always do a bit of research and go through customer reviews before your purchase. We at Danube take great strides in customer satisfaction and if you seem dissatisfied with your purchase we provide you a 100-nights risk-free trial, where we provide you a full refund on your purchase.”
Today, hybrid mattresses are considered as the best options available in the market across the world, explains Sharma. Hybrid mattresses are a combination of various layers of HR foam, latex, memory foam or memory gel, with support of inner spring or foam for extra support.
“These mattresses are best suited for those looking for a luxury feel and pain relieving sleeping surfaces,” says Sharma. “Hybrid mattresses have an excellent pain relieving surface as memory foam reduces the pressure points and also contours to the body allowing any type of sleeper (side, stomach or back) to lie comfortably without any discomfort.”
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to finding the perfect mattress, characteristics to look out for in a mattress good for back pain include firmness, material and sleeping position, agrees Habib. “The firmness in the mattress will help in contouring the back and will provide support. The best material I suggest is memory foam and in terms of a sleeping position, back and stomach sleepers need moderately firm mattresses, while side sleepers should ideally go for slightly softer mattresses.”