Many people are chronically sleep deprived, whether they realize it or not, and are constantly looking for ways to get better sleep. It’s recommended that normal adults get 7 to 9 hours of high-quality sleep every night, and kids and teenagers need even more.
If you know you’re getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night, or if your sleep is riddled with interruptions, you owe it to yourself to improve your sleep hygiene. Otherwise, you’ll make yourself vulnerable to the short-term and long-term effects of sleep deprivation, which include everything from lack of focus to increased susceptibility to various diseases.
One of your first thoughts might be purchasing a new memory foam mattress; after all, the quality of your mattress plays a major role in your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. But is a mattress enough to improve your sleep?
The Perks of a New Mattress
Investing in a new, high quality mattress can help you in several key ways:
- More support. A new mattress will provide you with more support. Mattresses tend to wear out over time, reducing their firmness and ability to evenly distribute your body’s weight. This can be uncomfortable, making it harder to fall asleep and putting undue strain on your body.
- Greater consistency. Mattresses tend to wear unevenly, with some sections wearing out before others. This sometimes leads to a lumpy feel, or else an unreliable distribution of weight and comfort. A new mattress will correct this.
- Less noise. If you’re currently using an old-fashioned mattress with box springs, you’re likely putting up with squeaks, creaks, and other noises. A new mattress made from better materials can eliminate it.
- Better hygiene. You may not notice it, but even with regular cleaning, your mattress can accumulate dirt, dust, and debris. Over time, it becomes less hygienic, and less capable of providing you with a good night’s sleep.
- A better personal fit. Different people have different sleeping preferences. Some prefer a softer mattress, while others prefer something firmer. Some sleep on their back while some sleep on their side. If your mattress isn’t a good fit for your sleeping preferences, buying a new mattress is a great chance to find a perfect fit.
These factors do, of course, assume that your current mattress is several years old, or else is not a good fit for your body.
Other Factors at Play
An old mattress may not be the only factor in your current sleep predicament, however. If you’re plagued by any of these factors, a new mattress may not be enough to revolutionize your sleeping habits:
- Other environmental factors. Your mattress may not be the only thing in your bedroom keeping you up. If the air is too dry or too moist, if the temperature is too high or too low, or if there’s too much light or sound, you won’t be able to sleep well. Ideally, you’ll give your entire sleeping environment a bit of an overhaul.
- Schedule consistency. People often underestimate the importance of keeping a consistent sleep schedule. Consistency in your sleep habits will make it easier for your body to develop a routine; if you’re currently struggling, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. It can make a massive difference in your sleep quality.
- Sleep prioritization. Sometimes, sleep deprivation is a byproduct of people failing to prioritize their own sleep. You stay up late at night to work on projects or catch up on your favorite TV show, making sleep a secondary priority. Instead, you should schedule your sleep the way you would any priority.
- Caffeine and alcohol. Excessive consumption or late consumption of caffeine and/or alcohol can make it much harder for you to get to sleep and stay asleep. Ideally, you’ll cut these substances out entirely. If you can’t, limit your intake.
- Diet and exercise. How you eat and exercise makes a massive difference in your sleep hygiene as well. Eat whole foods, like vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and avoid big meals before bed. Also make sure you get at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise a day.
- Screen time. Though minor compared to some of these other factors, pay attention to the amount of screen time you get before bed. Too much can interfere with your circadian rhythms.
So what’s the bottom line here? If your mattress is old or damaged, getting a new mattress is going to lead to a massive improvement in your sleep habits. However, it may not be the only thing currently interfering with your sleep. Make sure to take a full assessment of your current habits before you come up with a strategy for how to correct them.