Guest Article by David Patrick from Mattress-Wiz.com
Kevin: There's a funny story I remember Dr. Dement telling our Sleep and Dreams class a couple of years back about a mattress company that once approached him with a "brand new, innovatively designed special type of mattress full of magically comfortable beads" of some sort (I paraphrase).
The company wanted Dr. Dement to do a study comparing the effectiveness of their new mattress with other mattresses out there. Dr. D did the study, comparing quality of sleep amongst people using the company's special mattress, some normal mattresses, and (for kicks) a concrete floor.
Being your normal university study, who do you think the participants of the study were? You guessed it, none other than a big group of college students (at Stanford)--one of the most sleep deprived cohorts of the population around. In fact, the students were so sleep deprived, that there ended up being *absolutely no difference* between even the special beaded mattress and the concrete floor! Not exactly what the company wanted to hear....
But despite these comical results, you and I still want a mattress that's comfier than a concrete floor! In fact, we want one that we can sleep soundly in, wake up refreshed in, will last a long time, and won't be giving us any back pain or muscle soreness.
When you're buying a new mattress that fits those qualities there are some important questions you want to take into consideration about preference. In light of those considerations we've invited David Patrick, the creator of the mattress review site Mattress-Wiz.com, to share his thoughts on the matter. The links in this article will take you to different parts of Mattress Wiz where you can get quality advice and even read user-submitted reviews on various mattress types.
Here are the top questions that often baffle most mattress buyers:
This is usually the first question people ask when buying mattresses: which is better, a soft mattress or a firm mattress? Now, most consumers will go straight to soft. After all, you immediately think of lying in pillowy cloud-like softness. But before you make a decision, it's good to remember that comfort is not just about softness.
Here are some things you need to know about soft and firm mattresses. First, soft mattresses may feel more luxurious, but they're not necessarily more comfortable, especially since you spend several hours sleeping. You probably won't notice the difference when you take a nap, but sleep overnight on an overly soft mattress and evaluate how you feel in the morning. Too soft mattresses tend to bounce a lot when you sleep and they do not offer any resistance against your body. The effect is that your body, especially your neck and back, will suffer from poor posture while you sleep. This is the main cause of headaches and back pain for a lot of people.
On the other hand, firm mattresses are generally preferred because they offer more support, which means they promote better posture and allow for good blood circulation. If you experience chronic back pain, firm is good. But make sure not to go too firm, unless you have special back problems that require extra firm mattresses. Too firm mattresses may also make you feel uncomfortable, like you're sleeping on a rock. The best mattress for back pain is the one that provides you with the right balance of softness for comfort and firmness for spine support.
The conclusion: look for a mattress with the right softness or firmness that you prefer for a full night's rest, not just a 2-minute sit down. This is a matter of personal taste, so testing out the mattress in person is a must.
Mattresses are available anywhere from 4 inches thin to 22 inches thick. The ideal thickness level depends on several factors, including weight or body build, comfort preference, and sleeping habits. Heavier folks should get thicker mattresses to give allowance for their weight. The average individual should choose the thickness he or she is most comfortable with; this requires an individual evaluation or one's preference. Take note that thicker mattresses tend to be softer than thinner ones. So if you get a firm but thick mattress and a firm but thin mattress, the thicker one may feel softer.
Your sleeping habits, such as how long you usually sleep and what position you sleep in, will also affect your ideal thickness. If you sleep for a long time or you sleep on your side, it is better to get a thicker mattress.
But if you have chronic back pain problems, a thinner mattress is ideal because it provides more support for the spine.
There are several standard mattress sizes, and standard widths are as follows:
The standard length is 75 inches, plus an additional "long" option for queen and king sized mattresses, which is 80 inches. The California king mattress size has a standard length of 84 inches.
The ideal size will depend on how many sleepers will share the bed, the personal preference of the user, and the space available in the room where the bed will be placed.
Most consumers are looking for the cheaper mattresses, while some feel more assured when they spend more on a mattress. So it's good to keep in mind that the price does not directly dictate the quality of a mattress. There are reasonably priced mattresses that are even better in quality than more expensive mattresses.
So when buying a mattress, it is best to set your personal budget, then compare the quality and other features of mattresses that fall within that budget range.
Article provided courtesy of Mattress-Wiz.com - the savvy consumer's guide to mattress shopping.
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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.
We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.
In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?
Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.
In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.
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The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.
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