Everyone knows that humans, and all animals, need sleep. Now, after four years of investigation by seven researchers, we know why we need sleep.
Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, developed the idea that “Sleep is the price we pay for learning.” What Tononi and his team discovered is that the synapses between neurons in the brain are weakened during sleep. This allows our brains to consolidate things we have learned.
Everyone has a bad night’s sleep every now and then, but if it’s happening on a regular basis, you may have a problem that needs to be addressed. Not only can a poor night’s sleep leave you feeling tired, but it can also put you in a bad mood and lead to back pain – something that no-one wants to experience!
Tononi’s research could also explain why interrupted sleep makes us feel less refreshed the next day. A report in New Scientist suggests indirect evidence that deep, slow-wave sleep is best for pruning back synapses, and that it takes time for our brains to reach this level of unconsciousness.
If you’re experiencing regular poor sleeps, your bed could be to blame. Maybe your mattress sags in the middle, or maybe the springs have started poking through. No matter what the issue, if it’s causing you to lose sleep, you can be assured that it’s probably not supporting your body either. And this can lead to even more problems.
So what can you do?
Check Your Mattress
According to bedding experts, your mattress, pillow and bedding should all be giving you the right amount of support. The best way to test this is to get someone to help you. Lay down on your mattress without your pillow, and see whether your body feels supported. Your neck and head should be in line with your spine, and your head should rest no more than 5cm above. If you don’t feel adequately supported, it’s time for a new mattress.
What Mattress to Buy
If you’re experiencing regular back pain, it is worth spending the money on a top quality mattress. The general advice from bed experts is to spend as much as you can afford. This isn’t a regular purchase, and as it’s something that can affect your life, it’s a good idea to get the best quality within your budget.
If you have a back problem, it’s worth looking for a firm mattress with a thick mattress topper. This will provide your back with the support that it needs. If you suffer from arthritis, on the other hand, a medium mattress with a medium mattress topper will be a better choice. Remember, you can also speak to your GP and ask them what type of mattress they would recommend. And you can also get adjustable mattresses in case you and your partner both require different levels of support.
Remember the Pillows
Finally, don’t forget to think about the pillows. If you sleep predominantly on your back, a soft pillow is likely the wiser choice as it will ensure your neck stays in line with your spine. Likewise, people who sleep on their sides will be better off with firm pillows to fit in the space between your head and your shoulder. And if you are one of the few people who sleep on your front, you’ll want a very soft pillow to keep you comfortable.
If you follow the advice in this article, and take advice from your doctor, you should be able to invest in a mattress that is perfect for you. There is nothing worse than getting a poor night’s sleep and these tips should help to prevent that.