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Did you know these facts about mattresses?

Mattresses don't have to be hard as a board to be good for you. According to a landmark study conducted in Spain and published in Britain's prestigious medical journal The Lancet, back pain was less with medium firm mattresses than with firmer ones. The study also suggested that sleeping on a new mattress was beneficial to back-pain sufferers.

According to the Better Sleep Council, it's time for a new mattress and foundation when: 1) you wake up with pain, stiffness or soreness; 2) you aren't sleeping as well as you were a year ago; 3) you had your best night's sleep somewhere other than your own bed; and 4) your mattress shows visible signs of wear and tear.

The ideal mattress yields to your body contours, while still retaining firmness. People who sleep on their sides and stomachs tend to need more "give" than those who sleep on their backs. A woman's hips will need to sink deeper than a man's. When you shop for a new mattress, lie on your back for at least five minutes. The mattress should stay in contact with your body, so that your hand fits snugly into the small of your back. Switch to your side and make sure you don't notice pressure on your hips or shoulders.

Know which size is the right size for your needs. Factors to consider include the height and weight of the sleepers, the space in the home the bed will occupy, and the average usage of the bed. Buy a full size bed for single occupancy, usually only if the sleeper is under 5 foot 5 inches tall, or if you have a very small space. Buy a Queen size bed for single sleepers over 5 foot 5 inches, guest rooms, smaller master bedrooms, and for couples who like to snuggle closely. A King size bed is the best choice for couples that want maximum personal sleeping space. However, be aware than King size beds can be difficult to navigate through some hallways, doors and stairways.

How long your mattress continues to give you the comfort and support you need to get a good night's sleep, depends on its quality, how it's used and how well you take care of it, as well as changes in your body, lifestyle and comfort preferences. A good idea is to compare your mattress and foundation to newer models every few years. Mattress technology is constantly advancing, so it's worth your time to see what's new in sleeping comfort.

When you need a new mattress, you need a new foundation (also known as a boxspring) too. The foundation acts as a shock absorber, cushioning the wear and tear of nightly use. A matching foundation contributes to the support, comfort and durability of a new mattress. The two are engineered to work best together.

If you buy a used mattress, even if it's been recovered, you are getting more than what you bargained for. Research conducted for the International Sleep Products Association revealed the presence of bacteria, mold, fungi, blood and other body fluids, hair, skin and pollen in renovated mattresses. These mattresses can also contain significant populations of dust mites, those microscopic members of the spider family who feed off skin flakes and cause allergies in millions of people. Check out the content labels on the mattress you buy to make sure it's new.

Did you know these facts about sleep?

People who get too little sleep tend to gain more weight, according to the Tri-State Sleep Disorders Center of Cincinnati. Sleep deprivation lowers levels of the appetite-regulating hormone leptin, causing us to crave carbohydrates and store fat. So to get rid of that extra weight, eat right, exercise, and get a good night's sleep.

A good night's sleep is not defined by how much you sleep, but how uninterrupted your sleep is. Sleep researchers say the biggest sleep disrupters include caffeine, too much alcohol, shift-work, sleep disorders such as apnea and snoring, and a poor sleep environment. For a good night's sleep, the Better Sleep Council recommends: 1) minimize light darkness is nature's cue for sleep; 2) keep noise down even if you think you can "sleep through anything", research shows that you may be in a lighter stage of sleep if it is noisy; 3) make sure the temperature is not too hot or too cold low to mid 60's is the best; and 4) sleep on a comfortable mattress and foundation that offer support for you and your partner.

If you nod off during the office meeting don't blame the boss for his or her boring presentation! Boredom doesn't put you to sleep unless you're sleepy. And if you're sleepy it's because you didn't get enough sleep.

The 2002 National Sleep Foundation's poll showed a direct relationship between sleep and mood. People sleeping less than 6 hours are more likely to describe themselves as stressed, sad and angry. Those who are often sleepy during the day are angrier and more dissatisfied with their lives. "Some of the problems we face as a society from road rage to obesity may be linked to lack of sleep or poor sleep," said Richard Gelula, NSF director. "In sum," he says, "You are how you sleep."

 
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