Getting a good night’s sleep is something we yearn for everyday. Yet, you might be surprised at how much you need to consider for something as simple as sleeping.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, seven to eight hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health. And while sleeping may sound as simple as closing your eyes and dozing off, it’s not. Your mattress actually plays an important role in how well you sleep through the night.
Contrary to popular belief, opting for a ‘one for all’ mattress actually sets your body up for a myriad of problems in the future. Everybody is different, and as such, there are certain characteristics you should look out for when mattress shopping.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into different kinds of sleeping positions and the corresponding characteristics you should be looking for when mattress shopping.
Sleeping position 1: Sturdy Soldier
What this looks like: This is the most common sleeping position. Your back is lying in line against the mattress, arms on the side, with your legs stretched out. Just like a soldier.
Because your spine isn’t contorted into unusual positions, medical practitioners consider this position as the healthiest one to adopt. Fun side fact: it’s also great if wrinkles are an area of concern for you, as your face won’t be pressed up against a pillow which can accentuate ageing over time.
What to consider: This sleeping position certainly has its perks, but your spine is doing all the hard work. Therefore, a mattress that supports the natural curvature of your spine is first and foremost when it comes to mattress shopping.
Too soft will encourage your spine to bend away from the body, resulting in bad posture in the form of a physical slump, like a hunchback. On the other hand, a mattress that is too firm won’t mould well with the curve of your spine, emphasising tension in the upper shoulders and hips.
Ideally, find a mattress that’s medium firm to maintain support for your spine, but has some softness to alleviate pressure from your upper shoulders and lower back. The mattress should work in tandem with your spine, not against it. As it is naturally curved, it’s only right that a mattress should be able to conform and move along with it.
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Sleeping position 2: Cuddly Curlers
What this looks like: Another way to imagine this is the foetal position. It often involves curling up into a ball. Generally, you’ll be sleeping on your side with knees bent upwards into your chest.
While this position can alleviate snoring, the dramatic curl not only puts stress on your bent spine, but it also deregulates air circulation around your body. Because the body parts are in such close proximity to each other, there is very little breathability as opposed to say, the soldier stance previously mentioned.
What to consider: With all that in mind, the breathability quality of a mattress is the most important characteristic to think about when mattress shopping. Prioritise mattresses that have an open structure inside. The open space in this structures optimises airflow as your sleep through the night, circulating and distributing your natural body heat evenly across the bed.
This also prevents excessive night sweating, as your body won’t need to work as hard in order to cool down. The extra benefit is the prevention of odour build up, which can accumulate over time if heat isn’t being properly distributed. Another perk is simply not waking in a puddle of sweat.
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Sleeping position 3: The Logger
What this looks like: This is another position you might take when sleeping on your side. You can imagine this by picturing a log. Arms and legs are straight against your body. More often than not, sleeping like a log is often a precursor to other positions, for example curling up in a foetal position or sleeping on your stomach.
If you’re pregnant, this position is best recommended as it distributes the weight between you and the baby evenly. This is also a great position to take up to stop snoring.
What to consider: When sleeping in this position, there are more curves in your body to consider. Namely, your shoulders, hips and knees. These areas will be receiving the most pressure. If this is your go-to sleeping position, the mattress needs to be able to support these joints by supporting the uneven weight and extra pressure on one side of your body.
That said, the balance should be the biggest consideration to make when hunting for the right mattress. A mattress that is soft and sinks in only adds to the pressure on your joints. A mattress that is a little more on the firmer side will benefit you as it won’t encourage your hips to sink down further, disrupting the natural alignment of your spine you’d generally have when sleeping like a log on your side.
Try our medium-firm mattress: Super Supportive Mattress
Sleeping position 4: Yawning Yearners
What this looks like: Think of this as the middle point between the Cuddly Curler and The Logger. You’re sleeping on your side like a log, but your arms are outstretched in front of you. This is a common sleeping position for couples, as it often leads to cuddling together. Not to mention, it also prevents acid reflux disease and sleep apnea.
What to consider: The pressure points to be mindful of in this position are the elbows and shoulders – they will be receiving the most pressure. Meanwhile, the strain on your neck may increase depending on how you’ve positioned your outstretched arm on the bed. If you’re cuddling with someone while sleeping, you also have to consider airflow restriction between the two bodies, as you’d be in close proximity to your partner.
If there is more than one person in the bed, a soft mattress is the way to go. Ideally, the mattress will be memory foam for better support overall, as a coil spring mattress limits the airflow ratio. A memory foam mattress also has better motion resistance than coil spring mattresses, meaning you won’t feel your partner’s movements throughout the night.
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Sleeping position 5: Sleepy Stomachs
What this looks like: Unfortunately, this position is the most uncomfortable one to adopt. Your stomach is facing downwards towards the mattress, while your legs and arms are often splayed out in different directions on the bed.
This doesn’t get any better. You won’t only not get a good night’s sleep, the unusual promotes plenty of health problems you should steer away from. Namely, long-term back pain that worsens with age. The only good thing about this position is that it could minimise snoring.
What to consider: Although this position may alleviate any snoring, every part of your body is contorted in an uncomfortable manner. If you are using a pillow, you’re likely to sleep with your head facing the side, thus putting more strain on your neck. Your lower back may also be twisted weirdly due to the positioning of your legs.
While medical experts consider this as the unhealthiest sleeping position, at the end of the day this might be the only position that gets us to sleep. Everybody is different. That all said, a firm mattress is the way to go if this is the case.
Memory foam is an excellent place to start because they are already firmer than their counterparts, spring mattresses, which rely on coils to provide support. A thick and dense mattress minimises sagging, providing you with an even surface to sleep in. Sleeping on a mattress that is too soft will encourage major sinking in from your middle torso, further accentuated by your weight. The bending and significant arching of your back will create enormous strain throughout the night. This is what creates the long-term back pain, not to mention your lack of a good night’s rest.
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Shopping for the right mattress shouldn’t feel like rocket science. Despite that, it’s always the little details and characteristics that can make a world of difference to your sleep. After all, sleep is detrimental to your overall health, especially in concern to your productivity levels.
Use this guide to steer you in the right direction when you’re mattress hunting. Regardless of what you opt for, one idea remains for sure: never go for a ‘one fits all’ option, as everyone is different and most likely, these mattresses won’t cater to your specific needs.