Waking up too early? Always watching as the clock ticks over to 2:00am? You’re not alone. But if you’re tired of conforming to the same old sleep patterns, a great mattress could be just what you need.
Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as eating well and drinking enough water. Yet for many of us, the quality of our sleep isn’t as good as it could be. It’s incredibly easy to fall into poor habits – for one reason or another – and these bad sleeping patterns can quickly and easily become our ‘norm’.
The problem is that we can’t function to the best of our ability when we’re not getting enough quality sleep. Whether we wake up feeling tired or we’re struggling to concentrate, a lack of quality sleep can have a massive impact on our day-to-day lives. We need to challenge these norms, reset our sleep cycles, and start building healthier habits. A great mattress could be the key to doing it.
How does sleep work?
You may not realise it when you’re in the Land of Nod, but there are 4 stages of sleep we go through:
Stage 1: Transition from being awake to falling asleep
Stage 2: Light sleep
Stage 3: Deep sleep
Stage 4: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep
What tends to happen when we’re dozing off is that we spend between 1 and 7 minutes transitioning to a state of sleep, and then we have between 10 – 25 minutes of being in a light sleep, where it’s easy for us to wake up. The next 20-40 minutes are spent in a deep sleep, before we spend anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour in REM sleep, which is the stage where we experience vivid, life-like dreams.
This cycle continues while we sleep, and we usually go through the stages between 4 and 6 times every night. Each cycle usually lasts for around 90 minutes. But it’s slightly different for each of us.
Some of us spend longer in some of the stages of sleep than others. For example, research shows that people with depression may spend longer in REM sleep than others. It’s completely normal to have a bad night every now and then. But when we’re regularly spending longer in some stages of sleep than we should – or we’re experiencing shorter stages than we need – it easily becomes a habit.
Before we know it, we may be…
- Finding it difficult to fall asleep each night, so we’re regularly seeing the sunrise
- Lying awake in bed throughout the night, hoping we’ll start drifting off soon
- Waking up at various intervals throughout the night, struggling to stay asleep
- Getting up too early in the morning as we’re unable to get back to sleep
And this becomes normal for us. It becomes our standard sleeping habit, which can be hard to break. Perhaps we’re spending a long time in stage 2 and waking at the slightest noise. We might be spending too long in REM sleep where the brain is overactive and can’t properly rest. Whatever that habit is, we’re going to start waking up feeling tired and groggy every day.
Unfortunately, this is something too many of us are dealing with. The NHS reports that ‘sleep problems are common’, and it’s believed that they affect every single one of us at one point or another.
What we need to do is break the mould. We need to reset the sleep cycle.
Resetting the sleep cycle
All stages of the sleep cycle, right through from 1 to 4, are crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. But resetting the sleep cycle means finding ways to spend longer in those stages of sleep where we’re really able to rest and relax. Experts tend to agree that, from this ‘rest and relax’ perspective, stage 3 – deep sleep – is the most important. This is the stage where the body truly shuts down and really begins to recover and rejuvenate. While some people think REM sleep is most important, this is when the brain is the most active, so you may not wake up feeling fully rested and refreshed.
And it appears that sleeping on a great mattress can increase our deep sleep phase, while simultaneously reducing the amount of time we spend in Rapid Eye Movement sleep.
So… what exactly does the science say?
- More deep sleep
One study found that when people were sleeping on ‘comfortable mattresses’ – those that supported the body and didn’t put additional stress or pressure on the joints – they spent longer in deep sleep. So if you struggle to stay in a deep sleep, a more supportive mattress could help.
- Less REM sleep
Another study found that cooler mattresses can reduce the amount of time spent in active REM sleep, leaving more time for restful, deep sleep. Believe it or not, this could be seen with a difference of just 2 degrees Celsius! A mattress with a temperature-sensitive layer is something to look for.
- Better sleep efficiency
Finally, a separate study discovered that people generally experienced better overall sleep when resting on a mattress that evenly distributed pressure across the body. From this perspective, memory foam is a huge improvement on mattresses with pressure ‘over-concentrated’ on certain areas.
Developing a good sleep routine
By looking at the research studies above, it’s clear to see that a great mattress can play an important role in helping to break bad habits and build better sleeping routines. But upgrading your mattress is just the start. Once you have your new mattress in place, there are plenty of ways to ensure you’re getting the best night’s sleep possible, and working to retain your new, positive sleeping norms.
- Try to wake up at the same time every morning, even on your days off
- Head to bed at around the same time each night; roughly 8 hours before you need to be up
- Avoid heavy meals, alcohol, and caffeine close to bedtime; stick to water and light snacks
- Don’t use your phone or watch TV in bed; read a few pages of a book instead
When you’re following better sleeping habits, you should notice that you’re waking up feeling much more refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Your first step to creating new sleeping patterns is to take a look at our collection of mattresses, and get yourself something that’s truly great to sleep on.