The Best Mattress for a Better Night's Sleep
Buying a new mattress? Here are tips for finding the right mattress for you.
Which Mattress Is Right for You? continued...
If you have allergies or asthma, you might have considered buying a bed labeled "hypoallergenic."
"There are a lot of claims made by mattress manufacturers that their mattresses are hypoallergenic or don't support the growth of dust mites, but I don't know of scientific evidence to support these claims," says Paul V. Williams, MD, a pediatrics professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an allergist at Northwest Allergy and Asthma Center in Washington state. Williams says dust mites will live anywhere there's food -- and that food is your dead skin cells.
Instead of investing in an allergy-free mattress, slip on a washable mattress encasing. It will form a barrier that prevents dust mites from getting to you. A mattress encasing cuts allergen growth by robbing dust mites of their food supply, Williams says.
And what about those space-age memory foam mattresses, which can cost thousands of dollars? There is some evidence they can help with back problems and improve sleep, but their advantage over a regular coil mattress is only slight. Where memory foam mattresses can really help you sleep is if you have an active bed partner who is keeping you awake, Decker says. Foam mattresses reduce motion transfer, letting you lie still while your partner tosses and turns.
Test Drive a Mattress Before You Buy
"You wouldn't buy a car without test driving it," Decker says. So why would you invest hundreds -- or even thousands of dollars in a mattress without trying it out first? Take any new mattress you're considering for a test nap. "People should not be embarrassed to go into a store and lay on a mattress for 20 minutes," Decker says.
For a more realistic test, sleep in the beds at different hotel chains when you travel. If you get an especially good night's sleep on one of them, ask the desk clerk what brand it is.
When you test out a mattress, make sure it feels comfortable in every position, especially the side you favor for sleeping. The mattress should be supportive where you need it, without putting too much pressure on your body, Levy says.
Time for a New Mattress
If you've been having trouble sleeping, the problem might not be your mattress type, but its age. "It's really important for people to realize that mattresses have a certain lifespan," Decker says.
Keep your mattress too long, and the foam and other materials inside it will start to break down, compromising its ability to support your body.
Decker recommends keeping your mattress for no more than 10 years. After that, it's time to go mattress shopping again.