Is It You Or Your Mattress?

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • "How'd you sleep last night?"


    This phrase has become the morning mantra for people across the country. We know that sleep is as essential as food and water, and even air, but why this recurring question?

    In an article in the New York Times, Jon Mooallem talks about the sleep industry and Pete Bils, who works for Select Comfort. According to the article, sleep has become a big industry, from sleep clinics to drugs - both over-the-counter and prescription - to beds and mattresses.

    It's strange that, years ago, people slept, and slept well, in much less ideal conditions. They shared their sleeping space with animals, with dirty chamber pots, and, what's more, they didn't even have beds. They slept on the ground, or whatever surface presented itself.

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    Nowadays, with luxurious beds and all the comforts modern bedrooms provide, people are having trouble falling and staying asleep. The sale of sleeping pills has sky-rocketed, but sleeping pills can have undesirable side effects. They can, if they aren't outright addictive, cause a dependency and one can't fall asleep without that pill. And in fact, research has shown that sleeping pills actually don't improve sleep all that much.

    In the article, Mooallem tells us that: " Fewer than half of Americans say they get a good night's sleep every night or almost every night, according to a 2005 poll by the National Sleep Foundation." One problem is the habit of falling asleep easily, but awakening in the middle of the night. Could this be a throwback to our ancestors?


    Years ago, a night's sleep was broken into two blocks, with a space in-between where people performed various tasks, from cleaning to sex to dancing. It's only modern man who insists on a solid eight-hour block for sleeping.

    So - what can we do to get a better night's sleep? The article suggests practicing good sleep hygiene. Go to bed and get up at a regular time, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening, and keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Your mattress may be part of the problem. Make sure it's comfortable and suited to your sleeping style.

    There are two sides to this story. First, with the advent of electricity and the twenty-four hour society, many people think sleep is no longer a priority, or, rather, that sleep is something a person does when there's nothing else to do. On the other hand, there are those who obsess over sleep, lying in bed trying far too hard to fall asleep. They watch the clock and count the hours they have left before they get up and go to work. And the harder they try, the more wide awake they become.

    Maybe it's time you took a close look at your sleep. Are you having problems? Try some of the things suggested in the New York Times article. "How'd you sleep last night?"


Published On: November 20, 2007