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Your Essential Guide To Buying The Right Mattress

Your Essential Guide To Buying The Right Mattress

Isn’t it surprising how little we know about the one essential piece of equipment we lie on for one third of our lives? Yes, mattresses are way down the list of our priorities and that should not be the case.

Investing in the right mattress is money well spent because it is crucial if we are to get restful sleep. The quality of our sleep is going to affect everything we do from productivity to relationships and our overall health. The average US worker misses about 11 days work a year because of lack of sleep. This adds up to a total annual cost of $63 billion in lost productivity!

Let’s face it. A bad mattress is going to steal your precious hours of sleep, while a good one will make sleep the luxurious and re-energizing force it is supposed to be.

You might think buying a really good mattress would be easy. It is not! For example, a high price tag does not always mean this might be the best one for you. Price tags can range from $300 to $30,000! You need to keep a few things in mind such as the materials used, the warranty, the chance of an in-home sleep trial, and shipping. Look at how much research you do before buying a new smartphone, car, or cooker which will marginally affect your lifestyle. A mattress will have a major impact on our lives, yet we rarely do enough research.

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Here are 5 tips to help you through the mattress buying process.

1. Look at your sleep patterns and positions

How well you sleep and also your position will help you to decide which type of mattress may be best for you. If you are tossing and turning all night, your mattress and you may need to part company. Some people sleep on their stomachs. Actually, most people seem to sleep on their side and back. If you are in this category, then you are more likely to need a softer mattress. Keep in mind that a good mattress must come up to support the curves and arches in your body as you lie down. It also keeps your spine with its natural curve which is vital to prevent you from waking up with a back ache! You will need this extra support to relieve the hip and shoulder pressure points which are more likely to be painful.

2. Get familiar with the different mattress types

The most famous one going the rounds now is the memory foam mattress which was developed by NASA in the 1970s to protect astronauts from the effects of impact. It is softer and can really help you sleep better. This is due to the fact that it gets softer at all the crucial pressure points.

However, there are a few disadvantages. There is an odd chemical smell from the mattress which may mean you have to give it a good airing before putting the sheets on. Some users complain that the memory lasts too long, so that rolling over takes quite an effort as you have to press up and out of the previous contour. Another problem is that as it functions by using body heat, it may become a little too warm during summer. Some companies have solved this problem by using an aerated latex foam containing gel which helps to keep things cooler by dissipating the heat.

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Another option is the pillow type mattress which has an extra layer of padding on top which will make for a much softer surface.

When couples have changing or individual needs, the air bed type of mattress allows for adjustable firmness and softness, which also prevents a lot of arguing and may be a good choice for you.

The Better Sleep Council has a very good description of the different mattress types which will help you to understand the salesman’s jargon.

3. You need to try the mattress out with a sleep trial

You know when you fake a sleep on a mattress in the showroom? This is not ideal! First, you have no pyjamas or bedclothes on, so it really is useless. You also have to ask for a test pillow, so the whole operation becomes rather embarrassing. Not to mention if you have to lie with your partner. You would also need at least 15 minutes to get an idea of whether the mattress is soft or firm enough.

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This is when you have to ask about details of a sleep trial. Companies will have various offers which go from one month to three months. This is extremely important if you are shopping online. It may take up to 30 nights to actually get accustomed to a new mattress, so the longer the trial, the better. You should also inquire about transportation costs in the event of a return.

4. Don’t let price be your top priority

Price is not always a good indicator. You should be looking at comfort, convenience, shipping costs, and materials. You might think that haggling is only for your trip to the Casablanca bazaar, but you may be surprised to know that you can often negotiate a better deal for a mattress in the American or European showroom. Mattresses tend to be on sale with huge markups.

You can try indicating what your ceiling is and whether there is room for flexibility. That could mean getting a better deal. You might also get some accessories thrown in, such as a box-spring foundation. If you have done your homework, you can also take advantage of holiday deals and special offers. If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for a discount.

5. Ask about the warranty

This is probably the most important thing to consider, since it regards protecting the mattress itself. Make sure you invest in a waterproof mattress cover, as sometimes stains will void the warranty. The warranty is usually dependent on whether a proper support base has been used. Normally, the outer cover is guaranteed for one year.

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Generally a mattress has a life expectancy of about 10 years, if you look after it. You may find a company such as Ghost Bed, who are offering a 20 year warranty. This is an indication that they are using top quality materials. You also need to ask about delivery, especially if they are offering this free.

Conclusion

As you can see, doing some research before you buy your mattress will pay handsome dividends. You will sleep better and look forward to one third of your life with pleasure. That’s one of the best investments you can make!

Featured photo credit: Opening mattress/Emily May via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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