I Can Sleep Anywhere!

Can You Really Sleep Anywhere?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they can sleep anywhere, I would be insanely wealthy. Yes, you probably could sleep on any mattress if you absolutely had too. When the body is tired, it will do whatever necessary to get some rest, even if that means sleeping on a concrete floor. However, the body will not get the deep recuperative sleep it needs if it is constantly adjusting, developing numbness in the arm, or simply just restless from pressure and alignment issues.

I used to travel extensively for business, often on long overnight trips to Europe. Air travel of any type is no longer in the exciting stage for me. The stress of getting packed and to the airport six hours before boarding, leaves you already sleep deprived. The foul air and cramped quarters of an overnight flight only exacerbates the situation. As much as I would love to simply close my eyes and dream, I have never successfully slept on a plane. Even with a whole row free, stretched out with a blanket in the dark, I could not sleep. At my destination, after a day of meetings, and a Happy Hour with coworkers, even that crappy full size, cold war era torture pod, felt REALLY good. But not so much the next day.

The human body needs about 8 hours a night of QUALITY SLEEP. That means that you are aligned correctly, minimal pressure, and no temperature issues. With those three in place, you will toss and turn so much less, and any heat issues will largely disappear. I’ll give you my own life as an example. I used to have an S-brand pillowtop. It was a top of the line model when I purchased it, and would be called a firm pillowtop by today’s standards. Not insanely soft, good support, and seemed to be just right. I am a side sleeper, so about an hour in one position, I had to adjust. The pressure from the innersprings would cause numbness in my arms, or pain in my shoulder or hip. I would wake up with soreness in my lower back, or even an inability to straighten my back until after a long hot shower. To make matters worse, I would wake up with a soggy pillow from nightly struggles.

Can You Sleep Anywhere?

Great Sleep Starts With Selecting The Right Mattress.

Let’s examine each issue individually.

Pain and Numbness – This is usually caused by lack of conformance or pressure relieving materials. Pain is the result of being too near the innersprings, which are constantly pushing up. Imagine how the buttocks feels after an hour sitting on a hard park bench. Numbness is usually the result of pressure that inhibits blood flow to the limb. This may actually come from an awkward position as you twist and turn in the night. As your body struggles to get some relief, you may roll over on top of an arm.

Back Pain or Stiffness – If the body is NOT aligned correctly, you are forcing those muscles to continue working while the rest of your body is attempting to rest. When you wake up, they are angry because they did not get any rest. Its just as simple as that. Lower back pain, or even upper back pain, are the result of bad alignment.

Since most folks are side sleepers, let’s discuss that position. When you are on your side, you should be able to draw a relatively straight line from the head, to the tailbone. Based on your shape (width of shoulders and hips), the mattress must allow enough conformance for your hip and shoulder to sink in to achieve perfect alignment. BUT, there cannot be any pressure either. Here is where it gets tricky. Either too much conformance, or too little, puts your body out of alignment. Even the slightest body impressions on the mattress can trigger the same thing, along with any sudden localized weight gain.

Any neck problems will be related to the depth of the pillow, relative to your body’s position on the mattress. That is why it is critical to purchase a pillow and mattress together. They must be a team. Any pain/stiffness in the neck, and top of the back, can usually be traced to bad pillow/mattress alignment. Pain across the shoulders, especially soreness, is most likely an alignment/pressure issue, where the shoulder is not aligned properly, and/or too close to the springs.

For back sleepers it is a little easier. The danger here is that you sink to a position that looks like you are in a hammock. On your back, the upper back should be flat against the surface, with the head aligned with the spine and relaxing on the mattress. The lower back which curves out from the mattress, should be filled in and supported. The buttocks should sink in just enough to align the spine. The knees should have a slight bend and be supported under the knee. The feet should be ever so slightly elevated. Essentially, the way you stand, on a healthy adult, should be your position on a mattress. Your shoulders should not be “rolling in” while you are on your back.

By the description above, it should be obvious why the super hard mattresses don’t work as well even if you are on your back. They do not allow the buttocks to sink in, nor do they support the lower back. The body is not straight. It has a natural curve, and your mattress should support that. Its also why you can’t sleep on the floor comfortably for long, even on your back.

On the right mattress, back sleepers should not even need a pillow. It may be hard to break the habit, but I recommend you try, because the head will be aligned correctly on your back when you select the correct mattress. If you introduce a pillow, most likely lifting your head even slightly will stretch your neck muscles, and that may cause problems after 8 hours. If you must get a pillow, think thin.

Sleeping Hot – I find it humorous how much manufacturers are spending to convince people that their mattress sleeps cooler than Brand X. And the number of miracle foams and cool claims have reached a ridiculous level. Its really simple. If you have a hot-nature, sweat easily and always feel warm, things may never change much no matter what mattress you choose. Changing the environment, lowering the AC at night, less covers/clothes, ceiling fan on at night, may be the only solution. But there is hope. As mentioned earlier, I commonly woke up in a pool of sweat on my old spring mattress. I bought a Tempur-Pedic, supposedly the hottest mattress on the market, and rarely if ever wake up wet. What changed?

If you are experiencing pressure, alignment issues, or general discomfort, you are restless, anxious, your blood pressure elevates, the muscles are more active. Simply put, you NEVER relax. Your core temperature spikes making you sleep much warmer than necessary. In my case, that is exactly what happened. I rarely move now, or readjust during the night, unless there is an environmental change, or a human/pet attack. My body relaxes, and my core temperature goes down. Guests that selected the right mattress have shared similar stories. Tempur-Pedic worked for me, but other mattresses may do the same for you. And by the way, in almost a decade of selling Tempur-Pedic, I never had one returned/exchanged, because someone slept hot. I know that does not fit the meme, but that is straight from the front lines.

What I am really talking about in this post is quality of sleep. The correct mattress will be one of the deciding factors determining how enjoyable your nights will be. Don’t dismiss the importance of good sleep, and don’t simply defer to your spouse. Go to the mattress store and test them out together. You will be glad you did.

Don’t just settle for any old mattress. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but invest enough to sleep comfortably for several years. 

Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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