Mason Cooley, an aphorist once said that getting out of bed every day is the first act of courage and hope. But what happens when your sleep is cut short because your comfort is disturbed by the matress you use? Although a number ofpeople do not pay attention to their mattresses (how long you have had it), one’s mattress can affect their health.
Dr Annet Nankwanga, a senior physiotherapist and senior lecturer at Makerere University, says depending on the type of mattress one uses, one will get back pain or face discomfort while sleeping.
“Our spine or backbone has its natural shape and when the mattress causes a depression, our spine also bends according to the depression, which removes the natural curve that we are supposed to have, eventually causing pain in the joints and muscles.
Dr Dan Kisitu, an orthopedic doctor with Princeton Children’s Clinic and Ruth Gaylord Hospital in Maganjo, says the quality of your mattress is vital.
“If the quality of your mattress is not good, it will sink in with continued use. When this happens, it affects the spine and backbone as one sleeps, which will in the long run lead to back pain,” Dr Kisitu says, adding that if your back is destabilised, you are likely to develop disc prolapse commonly known as the diseases of the disc. The disc may give way (or crack) due to bad posture and compress on the nerve, which may lead to discomfort in the legs and back.
Nankwanga says the different types of mattresses include soft, hard, high density and orthopedic mattresses. She says when one uses an orthopedic mattress, it is rare to get any pain or conditions that arise from using a bad mattress. However, she cautions against buying mattresses that are sold as orthopedic mattresses whereas not.
The ideal mattress, Dr Kisitu advises, should be one that does not sink in or leave a ditch when you sleep. He recommends using a smaller mattress on a firm bed with plywood below it or something flat.
Dr Kisitu also calls upon the Uganda National Bureau of Standards to be critical as they let mattresses onto the market because a lay person may not properly understand the kind or quality of mattress they are buying and how it can be a threat to their health in the long run.
When to change
The moment you notice that your mattress is becoming soft and beginning to sink in, then it is time to get a new one, Nankwanga advises. Hussein Kaddu, a mattress dealer in Kyanja, Kampala, says when buying a mattress, one should consider the covering it has.
“A mattress could be finished with fibre and cloth, among others. The thicker the finishing, the better,” Kaddu shares, adding that one should avoid sleeping on one side of the mattress since this will lead towear and tear on one side thereby causing the matress to sink in.
However, the cost of mattresses also forces a number of people to delay changing them. For instance, Margaret Namakula, a businesswoman, says: “I have had my mattress since 2000 but I just change sides. I would like to buy a new one but nowadays, mattresses are costly so I make do with what I have.”
According to health24, an online portal, bedding and mattresses can harbour several strains of mould and fungus, especially in a humid bedroom with inadequate ventilation. A study has shown that several fungal spores in your mattress can be released into the air as you sleep.
Mould and fungal spores can build up over a period of time and you will be breathing it in, triggering allergies and causing problems to your respiratory system. Further still, the
Allergy Society of South Africa states that there are about 10 000 dust mites in the average bed.
Symptoms of dust-mite allergies may include red, itchy eyes, a persistent cough, nasal drip, itchy skin, sneezing and nasal congestion.
Therefore, it is recommended to wash your mattress cover once every two months. Also, if you change your bed linen regularly, you can protect your mattress from getting too dirty.
• Avoid sleeping on one side all night because you stretch the muscles which puts other muscles on tension.
• If you start experiencing back pain or any form of discomfort, visit a physiotherapist or orthopedic doctor for treatment.
• If you can, get a spring mattress. These are good and can push you back without being a threat to your health.
• Always have a mattress that fits flat on the bed you have. Avoid buying a mattress that is larger than the bed as the folding is not good for your muscles and joints.
• Switch your mattress sides every two weeks to avoid using one side too often.