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Sleep on it: Waking up with pain, stiffness can mean your mattress is old
[July 22, 2009]

Sleep on it: Waking up with pain, stiffness can mean your mattress is old

EL PASO, Jul 22, 2009 (El Paso Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Couples may spend hours selecting furniture for their new home.

And many women take their time choosing the perfect paint color and drapes for their bedrooms.

But how many people give the same amount of consideration in choosing a mattress? Considering how much time people spend on it daily -- at least six hours sleeping -- people owe it to themselves to select a mattress that will give them a good night's rest.

"Honestly, mattresses are one of the most overlooked pieces of furniture in the home. It's not like people are looking at them all day like their coffee table or couch. But it's one of the most important pieces of furniture, since you spend two-thirds of your life on it," said Karin Mahoney, director of communications for the Better Sleep Council, in Alexandria, Va.

People who are often tired may not realize that the solution is getting a new mattress.

"They are quick to blame things going on in life like stress and never think to look at the mattress, which could be what is keeping them from a good night's rest," Mahoney said.

Waking up with back pain, with stiffness or with numbness in the shoulders is a good indicator that the mattress is too old. Experts recommend buying a new mattress every five to seven years.

"And if you go to a hotel or a friend's house and feel like you get better sleep there, it's a pretty good sign that you need a new mattress," Mahoney said.

Shopping for a mattress is a bit like shopping for a new car. You need to be able to "test-drive" it by lying on the mattress for about 10 to 15 minutes.

"It comes down to personal choice, and what feels better," Mahoney said.

Keep in mind that mattress terms are not regulated, so companies may have different meanings for words such as "firm," "medium," and "plush." And don't be shy to tell a sales person you need a few minutes to try a mattress.

"You want to concentrate and make sure you're getting the right amount of comfort and support that you need," she said.

If you haven't shopped for a new bed in more than five years, you might be surprised by some of the improvements manufacturers have been making to provide consumers a good night's rest.

George Yapor, owner of Popular Mattress, said his mattresses are backed by 40 years of experience.

"It's important that mattresses shape to your body. If a mattress is too soft, it can put pressure on your lower back. If it's too firm, it can put pressure on your shoulders and hurt your lower back." Yapor said the advantage of his factory is that he can work with customers to design mattresses that are suited for them.

He added that he carries a variety of mattresses, including latex (a natural rubber), anti-microbial, memory foam (that is sensitive to heat), innersprings and air mattresses.

Popular Mattress also has joined a trend of manufacturers offering mattresses that are eco-friendly, made with either soy-based foams or organic cotton materials. Local stores carry organic cotton mattresses and bamboo covers.

Maria Cortes Gonzalez may be reached at mcortes@elpaso; 546-6150.

Buying a mattress --Find a sleep set you like; see what levels of comfort and support you can get for your money in another store, too.

--Shop for the best value, not the lowest price.

--Size matters: Bed partners should buy a mattress no smaller than a queen mattress. A full size bed may not provide enough space for two.

--Deciding between a queen or king size mattress is a personal choice. Kings are 76 inches wide by 80 inches long, for couples who want maximum personal sleeping space.

--"Test-drive" your new mattress at the store by removing your shoes and lying on several models in various positions, especially the one you usually sleep in.

--Pay special attention to its support of your lower back, postural alignment (as if you were standing) and make sure you feel plenty of comfort at the shoulders and hips.

Source: To see more of the El Paso Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2009, El Paso Times, Texas Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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