What mattress do I use? Keeping it cool
Just as all of our other senses such as sight, hearing, and smelling affect our sleep, so does touch. Believe it or not, our external environment and even the kind of sheets, mattress and socks we use can also hinder or assist our sleep patterns. See my page on sheets and socks! Based on the time of day, our bodies go through temperature regulating cycles to maintain homeostasis. The Mid 60s is said to be the best sleep temperature. Generally speaking, the time of day when our bodies are coolest and consistent with the best sleep quality is around 4 am for most people, give or take a few hours. Unfortunately for night shifters, we are at work at this time.
Sleeping in the daytime is not only a difficult task, but physically it is taxing on the body. For many reasons, our bodies are meant to sleep at night. We have regulated sleep cycles that are governed by light and dark and hormones that tell us when to sleep. Even our digestive systems slow down at night and our core body temperatures become lower so we can get ideal sleep and our cells can regenerate. During the day we can block out the light and sound, we can even take pills or supplements to get better rest, but nothing compares to a quality sleep environment to catch some much-needed zzzzzz’s. High quality mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets and temperature regulation are all crucial factors in sleeping during the day. Fighting against the natural circadian rhythms of our bodies is hard enough, but add a squeaky mattress and flat pillows and you are headed for disaster.
A Quality Mattress
Sleeping on a well-made mattress is pretty important for any day shift “normal” person, but for a night shifter it is a necessity. A mattress can make or break your sleep cycles, your bank, and your back, if you know what I mean! There are so many options out there that it’s hard to choose. Cheap or expensive, it is important to know that you are getting a bed that will help you sleep the best. There are even “smart” beds out there now that you can buy that regulate the temperature of the mattress based on how restless you are. They help give you the best sleep and can be set to wake you by gently increasing the temperature of the bed slowly. It can also track your sleep cycles and quality of sleep. If you can afford it, this is by far the best way to go. The sleep eight bed is the best high-tech bed in this category. for most people, though, a medium- priced mattress that is not too cheap can do the job.
There are many materials that mattresses are made of. Sometimes you might have to try it out to find out which one fits you best. Most mattress stores will give you a free trial for 30 days or more to determine if their mattress is right for you.
This is the most popular foam option selling today. The reason is that it is a nice soft and contouring mattress that helps relieve pressure in problem areas and sore spots on many people. (the back, hips and other joints). It is low density and easily compressed which is why it is SO comfy. It does tend to trap heat which is very bad for night shifters. Our bodies need to be cool and comfortable to sleep, and having an external environment that is cooler during the day is even more important than when we sleep at night because our bodies are naturally warmer during daylight hours. Luckily, many memory foam companies are now making mattresses with open cell technology, such as Amerisleep AS3 which lets more airflow through. Sometimes they add cooling materials such as gel, charcoal or copper. The Puffy Lux mattress is a gel infused memory foam and is my personal favorite choice. It’s like sleeping on a cooling cloud. Their gel technology gives just the right amount of support and comfort with the bonus of cooling you down while you sleep. The price is about the same as other mattress companies, but there are usually coupons or a sale. I mean when is there ever not a mattress sale, right?
The feel of latex foam is similar to memory foam although it is a bit “bouncier”. It is made from the sap of a rubber tree and that may be why. It is a pricier option than memory foam, but is more Eco friendly and will last longer. Again, everyone has a different priority and if an environmentally friendly mattress is your choice, this will work for you. Dunlop and Talalay are the two types of latex foam. They are mostly similar in feeling. The way they are processed is minimally different though, as Talalay uses more energy to produce the mattress. There isn’t much information on these mattresses for cooling though, and since I haven’t used one, I cannot comment further on the quality or comfort of them. Basically, a latex mattress doesn’t easily change its temperature so it doesn’t sleep hot or cold, and we are looking for a more “cooling” mattress for day sleep.
Innerspring mattresses are the oldest and most common mattress you can find. Built with coils, this mattress is also ideal for cooling since only the top layer or two is made of foam. Unfortunately, this is also the mattress that breaks down the fastest with an average of five years until sagging can occur. Also, if the mattress isn’t super high quality, you will feel the coils after a small amount of wear and tear. Not much more to say about this sad little mattress.
Hybrid beds are a combo of innerspring and foam, although there is more foam than the innerspring. I’m not personally sold on this being any more comfortable than a regular old-fashioned innerspring mattress, although the name does sound good. It does have coils like an innerspring, but usually they are individually wrapped in fabric instead of just a layer of foam on top. Hybrids tend to be on the cheaper side and some do have either gel beads or additional cooling features with foam with holes or cells that let the air circulate, but I wouldn’t recommend it as it is not the coolest choice and does tend to wear out faster than a memory foam or latex foam mattress.
There are always the waterbeds, which are by far the worst choice for someone who needs any support or cool sleeping, but is also a bed, so I wanted to mention it. There are couch beds and futons and airbeds. All different sizes and shapes for all different sizes and shapes of people. Some people are lighter and some are heavier. Some need more support, some need less. Of course, you can do more research on your own. I just wanted to give the basic information on mattresses that pertains specifically to night shift and how a cooling bed is probably the best choice for someone that is already behind the power curve when it comes to quality sleep. Basically, you want a bed that wicks away the perspiration since your temperature will already be warmer than someone who sleeps at night, and you want a bed that is comfortable for your own needs.