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Is Tossing And Turning A Bad Thing?

Categories: tossing and turning

Tossing and turning. Those simple three words put together in that order brings to mind a universal image: Constantly changing positions in bed during the night, while you sleep. It is such a common occurrence that most of us just assume it is normal, and yet, it is neither normal nor a good thing. Here is why:

 Ever see a baby at rest? Perfectly still, its little chest rising and falling in its sleep. So peaceful. Heck, they don't call it "sleeping like a baby" for nothing! But when was the last time YOU slept like a baby? Most people toss and turn at night. Why does the baby sleep peacefully and you spin like a record? (That is a black vinyl disc used to listen to music pre-1990s)

There are a few issues that can lead to tossing and turning, such as emotional issues and health issues, but we are going to focus this on environmental issues, or more simply stated; mattress issues. 

The majority of the population sleeps on a traditional metal wire coil mattress. This type of mattress deflects energy because that is what springs do. Ever jump on a trampoline? See what is holding the trampoline fabric in place? Yep, springs. Springs take your energy and push it right back at you. Jump a little, go a little in the air. Jump higher, it causes more energy to push down, the springs push more energy right back at you.  

Your body has weight and mass. Gravity takes that weight and mass, turns it into energy, pulling you down. And like the little jump on the trampoline as compared to the higher jump, the heavier a person, the more pressure from the spring.  

That pressure from the springs, pushing back up at you, is the primary reason people toss and turn at night. There are generally four reasons this occurs on a spring mattress.

  1. The coils create pressure, and pressure restricts blood flow. Ever cut yourself and start bleeding? What's the first thing you do (besides saying "ouch!")? You apply pressure. Pressure collapses capillaries throughout the body where it is in contact with the mattress, slows down blood flow. Or, more commonly stated, it makes your body "fall asleep" or get that numb feeling. Whenever blood flow is slowed, the body senses this sub-consciously, and sends a message to the brain to move. It doesn't necessarily wake you out of sleep completely, however, it does bring you out of the deepest part of sleep, where your body is rebuilding. 
  2. The coils create pressure, and the pressure creates pain. There was a torture technique I think most people are acquainted with; drip torture. Seems innocent enough: the water would drip on the forehead. Nothing dangerous, just dripping water. But over time, it would drive someone mad with annoyance and eventually pain. A spring mattress is capable of doing the same thing. That constant pressure will create discomfort throughout the night, no matter what position you move. And throughout the night you will toss and turn, unwittingly, because you are asleep. But you are not getting rest.
  3. The coils transfer motion between partners, disturbing the other partner. It's not enough that the pain and reduced blood flow is preventing proper rest, but now, because the other partner in the bed is experiencing the same issues, the other partner will feel the motion and wake from a deep sleep. 
  4. The coils, tied together, or continuous, will force the spine to flatten out. Poor posture causes the muscles to fire throughout the night, leading to muscle fatigue, or more commonly experienced as soreness. The soreness grows during the course of the night, leading to tossing and turning.

So, what is the remedy to this tossing and turning? Is there one? Doesn't everyone toss and turn. No, they don't. Remember the baby, sleeping peacefully?  

A baby weighs very little, and thus, there is little pressure on its body from the sleep surface. But an adult body weighs more and that means more pressure from the coils. Of course, the simple solution is to switch to a memory foam mattress. The foam, if it is a good quality like the kind in Bed In A memory foam mattresses is a high density foam, which cradles the curve of the spine, and supports the sleeper without sinking too much and without creating pressure. 

A good quality memory foam mattress will not sleep hot, will not emit toxic off-gassing and will last 12-15 years if properly cared for. Check out the memory foam mattresses at Nest Bedding in the San Francisco Berkeley Albany area today.