How Your Mattress Can Make You Fat
A significant amount of research points to the link between obesity and lack of sleep. Of course, the relationship is not all that direct – you do not usually wake up from a poor night’s sleep and rush to the refrigerator for food. However, once we begin to understand the indirect relationship, it starts to make a great deal of sense. We can start to see how our choice of mattress (or our inability to replace an old, poor-support mattress) contributes to our failure to keep our weight under control.
But first, it is worth noting that adequate sleep (about 8 hours for an adult, but more for children) produces the “right” amount of a hormone called Leptin. This appetite-stimulating hormone increases our appetite when sleep-deprived (less than 6.5 hours per night). Again, we may not realize it when we wake up after being sleep deprived, but here is the reality.
According to sleep experts and regular people alike, lack of sleep contributes to grumpiness, irritability, inability to focus, and often even secondary body pain and aches. When we find ourselves in such “moods,” we often turn to comfort foods, both to make it through the day (an “energy kick”) as well to feel better, at least in the short term. These impromptu, high calorie “feel-good” snacks or meals push our calorie intake way up high, but because of a lack of sleep (and therefore reduced physical energy), we cannot burn those calories in due course.
The result is weight gain.
Follow that with another poor night’s sleep, and another, and another, followed by several days of unhealthy eating to “make it through the day,” and it becomes obvious how a lack of sleep contributes to obesity.
So why does good, quality sleep evade us? After several nights of poor sleep, it would seem that one would crash and make up for those lost hours of sleep in a single night. This is often true, but a mattress that does not support your pressure points properly will cause you to toss and turn. This results in interrupted sleep, depriving the sleeper of the essential sleep stages that accomplish the most replenishing tasks – late-stage sleep, like REM sleep, has been cited as instrumental in helping sleepers wake up refreshed and energized.
Pressure points are those sensitive areas that, lacking appropriate support, will cause a sleeper to “adjust” the sleeping position to get through the night. Therefore, choosing a mattress type that achieves pressure point relief is essential. Unfortunately, this type of support is most often found only in higher-end, luxury mattresses. (But don’t be mistaken, not all high-end luxury bedroom furniture provides the support you need; just as not all cheap furniture is uncomfortable. Just read some reviews on a furniture site to see for yourself).
We can conclude that a poorly supportive mattress does result in a lack of sleep, something that much of the research fails to identify. More often, work-related stress is cited as the cause of poor sleep, even in participants who claim to experience little stress with their work or studies). And naturally, a lack of sleep will contribute to a self-perpetuation cycle of improper nutrition and lack of physical exercise.
The bottom line is to start with the obvious causes for why you are not sleeping well – is it stress, is it a potential sleep disorder, and, finally, is it just that I need to replace my mattress? The verdict might not only surprise you but relieve you as well.