In this time poor world, our time is the greatest commodity! It is greater than money because money without time is seemingly shallow and pointless, well at least in my opinion. Anything I spend a significant time doing, I take pretty seriously.
Already this month we have discussed some key factors that impact your sleep. We have talked about effects of; technology, stress, nutrition, exercise, air quality and along with a lot more. Now it is time to talk about one of the most important investments you can make towards your sleep.
Do you know you spend a ⅓ of your life asleep?
Well now you know that you will spend the majority of your life laying on it, I would suggest you make sure you select the right mattress for yourself and possibly your partner as well.
This is never an easy decision and at times can be quite painful as you jump from one bed to the next within a big show room, in the hope that you find one that feels good. From coil springs to intellisprings the shop assistant bombards you with confusing branding lingo. At the end of the day a lot of it means the exact same thing, just brands calling it different names. You often leave the store more confused than when you first went in. If you are anything like me I find it near impossible to really identify the best bed without having a few good nights sleeping on it.
So where to start? What is important?
Before we can talk about mattress and pillows we must first discuss sleep positions. As with anything there are ideal positions to sleep in but everybody is different and what might work for one person will not be the same for the next person. I am not one to preach that everyone should sleep in a similar fashion and only recommend a change of sleep position when required. With each sleep position there are ways in which to improve the quality of the position to enhance your sleep. When it comes to positions there are endless variations but for purpose of this article I want to focus on the 3 main variations and give you a quick overview:
Positives: Provides optimal spinal alignment
Negatives: If you are a snorer this will exacerbate it and is the worst position for this.
Sleep Hack for Back Sleepers: Place pillow under the back of knees to decrease lower back load
Positives: Often the most comfortable as it mimics being in the womb. It is the next best for spinal alignment. Better position if you snore when you are on your back. Recently been highlighted as optimal position for clearing cellular waste while sleeping through glymphatic pathway.
Negatives: Can aggravate shoulder instability, neck and lower back if you don’t have a supportive mattress and pillow
Sleep Hack for Side Sleepers: Place a pillow between knees to neutralise pelvis and again reduce lower back load.
Positives: Great for reducing snoring
Negatives: Worst for spinal alignment with the arch in the lower back and the head twisted to the side especially if you use a pillow.
Sleep Hack for Front Sleepers: Ditch the pillow that is lifting your head up. Instead place the pillow under your hips to support your lower back and where possible bend one knee up towards chest to deload the spine.
Mattress and Pillow Considerations
You need to sleep on it, literally.
When investing in a new bed, mattress or pillow, you really want the ability to sleep on it for at least a couple of weeks and have the ability to return it if needed. Most places will offer a service similar to this with varying time frames. However, a lot of these periods will only be possible if you also buy a mattress protector from them at same time.
Firmness is the next most important thing to get right.
Soft, Medium, Firm??
Truth is it depends on the individual and sleeping style, which for most people greatly varies depending on lifestyles factors e.g. injury, sickness etc. For optimal spinal alignment you will be a back sleeper and ideally should choose a firm mattress to support this position. A firm mattress won’t support your spinal health if you are a side or front sleeper, as the firmness of the mattress will force your body into misalignment. So if you are a side or front sleeper then a less firm mattress will be best to maintain spine alignment.
Why is alignment important?
Do you wake up feeling fresh from a good night’s sleep, with no aches and pains?
Well you should! Anything that is misaligned is more prone to injury and is placing unneeded stress on your body. Especially with the time we spend in our beds this is especially important! Poor mattress and sleep position often lead to postural imbalances which greatly increases your potential of developing chronic injuries. If your issue is stemming from your mattress or sleep position, it really doesn’t matter how much physio or rehabilitation you do the imbalance will remain an issue. Even if you are good and see your physio 1-2 x per week (20 min) and are really good and do the exercise homework (~10 min daily) that equates to less than 2 hrs per week, compared with 50 hrs+ per week sleeping in a bad mattress or position. You stand no chance of getting on top of your issue until you address the chronic load you place on your body (mattress, pillow and or sleep position).
There is nothing worse than a restless partner, keeping you awake all night. This is one thing you should not share!
Last thing you want is your partner’s bad sleep to affect your sleep. It is a recipe for disaster with short tempers eventually boling upto fighting. At least if one partner is well rested they can diffuse the situation…well hopefully.
Even if you don’t have a partner now, this is something you may want to consider for the future. You want to select a bed that absorbs movements so that your sleep is not affected. On average a person changes sleeping positions 12 times per night, unless you want to wake up 12 times per night this is absolutely something to consider. However, not something that I really need to highlight as I am sure most have dealt with this first hand at one point or another.
A commonly overlooked factor is the mattress breathability.
When it comes to breathability the first thing most people consider is body temperature regulation, something that can greatly dictate your sleep quality. A mattress that does not breath will play havoc with your body temperature as you just get warmer and warmer throughout the night making it difficult for your body to regulate your temperature.
Beyond temperature control mattresses and pillows can become a petri dish of bacteria if they do not breath. As we discussed in our previous post, the bedrooms air quality has been estimated to be 16 times worse that the rest of the house, this is something you need to consider.
Breathability as you can imagine is even more important when it comes to your pillow, as your face is in direct contact with it. Plus with the moisture created during a deep sleep drool you better make sure your pillow doesn’t absorb that moisture. If your mattress or pillow doesn’t have technology to breathe you will restrict your body’s temperature. If it doesn’t breath it will collect and grow bacteria and mould, leading to endless the health and performance concerns
Once you got the mattress the pillow is the next key consideration. Most of the points highlighted above for the mattress will also apply to your pillow selection
The pillow is extremely important when it comes to a good night’s sleep. I am sure many of us at one point or another have faced the effect of a bad nights sleep on a pillow that doesn’t match your needs.
Support: Cervical spine alignments
Pillow height is everything! The last thing you want is a pillow / pillows that crank your head up too high and out of alignment. You probably also want to avoid the opposite with your head dropping to low. You want a pillow that supports and promotes alignment in the neck.
If you place your arm under your pillow is a sign that your pillow is not high enough to support your neck, this is not a good sign as you move around in the night.
Mattress & Pillow Recommendation
Time for a change in set up?
Look no further than ECOSA!
After doing my research and doing the painful store to store testing. I choose to go with ECOSA and I have now been on my new mattress and pillows for just over a month. I could not recommend anything better that ticks all the boxes I look for in a good mattress and pillow set up. For years I have struggled to find a mattress I could recommend but the ECOSA is a mattress and pillow that is designed for the masses that offers so much adjustability to suit all sleeping styles and body types.
Let’s discuss some of my favorite features:
Mattress Firmness: No longer the need to stress over what firmness works for you. It has 3 levels of firmness to shift between. This offers great interchangeability as your body evolves. Plus a great chance to identify your prefered firmness to match your sleeping style, keeping your spine aligned.
Adjustable Pillow: Just like adjustability in mattress so does the pillow as comes with 3 height adjustable levels to suit every sleep position and body type.
Partner Disturbance: None! it is amazing if you go online you will see videos of people jumping on it with full wine glasses stacked on top not even falling with the impact. Plus even if it did spill it is waterproof!
Breathability: The ECOSA mattress and pillows have extra cool layers and built-in air circulation system that allow free flowing air, keeping you from getting too hot. Not only is it breathable but has activated charcoal to absorb moisture, that is a feature highlight of mine!
Waterproof lining: German micro-filament technology keeping the mattress waterproof and dust mite-free. Not only is it breathable but it is waterproof so that it protects against any build up of sweat, oils or moisture that can cause mold.
No Base, No Problem: Built to work with any base even floor so what you put the mattress on is up to you.
Cost: With all these features you are most likely preparing yourself for a big price point. Well that is one of the best features of all. Due to no storefront overheads etc they are able to bring a mattress to your door significantly cheaper than any store. Plus if your prefer interest free payment/finance option, they offer them as well!
Free Delivery: Yup it comes in a box and they deliver it to your door for FREE! As it is in a box no difficulty getting it up stairs or through doorways just roll it in and around on its wheels.
If you don’t believe me the reviews on their website say it all with close to 8000, 5 Star Reviews and if that is not enough try it for 100 nights yourself and you will be convinced and stoked as I am.