Thinking of Replacing Your Mattress This Winter Season? Protect-A-Bed® Offers Tips for Buying and Protecting a New Place to Sleep

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Spending more time in bed this winter season affords the opportunity to reflect on the quality of the sleep experience, and consider if old mattresses are still pulling their weight. Mattress experts offer tips on the best way to decide if you need to replace your mattress. Protect-A-Bed offers tips for extending the life of the new mattress, a major investment, by preventing stains and sagging from moisture as well as preventing the accumulation of dust mites and other allergens.

A mattress is a major investment that should be protected

If you're having trouble staying out of bed this winter, don't beat yourself up. Blame it on science and the economy.

During the winter there is not as much sunlight, and the months of January and February are the worst offenders. Turns out when we are lacking in sunlight, we convert the neurotransmitter serotonin into melatonin. When this conversion happens we want to sleep more. Research conducted by the Better Sleep Council also confirmed that five times as many adults spend more time in bed during the winter than in the summer.

While most bosses won't buy calling off work due to melatonin conversion exhaustion, it at least offers a context for our lethargy. And then there's the recession, which has many Americans wanting to hide under the blanket.

Spending more time between the sheets affords more opportunity to reflect on the quality of their sleep experience, and consider if old mattresses are still pulling their weight. Apparently, many people have that same idea, as January and February tend to be pretty busy for mattress retailers.

Generally speaking, the useful life of a mattress is around 7 to10 years, during which it provides somewhere between 20,500 and 29,200 hours of service. But setting numbers aside, mattress experts say the best way to decide if you need to replace your mattress is asking yourself a few questions.

  • Are you sleeping better or worse than a year ago?
  • Do you wake up feeling stiff or sore?
  • Do you feel tired and groggy during the day?
  • Does your mattress show visible signs of wear and tear?
  • Would your sleep improve if you had a new mattress?
  • Is your sleep uncomfortable and interrupted?
  • Does your mattress sag, creak or is it lumpy?
  • Do vacations, including hotel stays, always provide you with a more restful night's sleep?

If the answers to these questions confirm your suspicions and say its time to get a new mattress despite the recession, keep in mind that they are hardly an indulgence. We spend about one-third of our lives in bed, during which mattresses are subjected to constant strain for hours at a time. Yet, typically we replace mattresses less frequently than we buy a new car.

According to the International Sleep Products Association, when shopping for a new mattress, there are some important facts to consider.

First, buy something age-appropriate. Little kids need enough space and support to move around comfortably as they grow. But our bodies keep changing as adults, so the level of comfort and support we need also changes.

Second, don't be in hurry when you test drive a mattress. The only way you can tell if a mattress offers you the right amount of comfort and support is by lying down in your typical sleeping position (with your partner if you have one) for at least 15 minutes. This will give you a good gauge on whether or not it is a good fit.

Third, find a mattress that matches your preferred sleep position. Generally speaking, if you sleep on your back, you will be most comfortable on a firmer mattress. If you are a stomach sleeper, you will like a softer mattress, and, if you sleep on your side, you will probably also find a softer mattress more comfortable as it allows for the "arc" of your body to be better supported.

Also, don't confuse a sales associate with a doctor. If you are suffering from back pain, don't rely on the salesperson to know the cure.

Finally, if you are an allergy sufferer, one of the best benefits that comes with jettisoning your old mattress is bidding farewell to the colony of dust mites that have taken up residence beneath you. Mites prefer warm, moist surroundings such as the inside of a mattress when someone is on it. A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. Their favorite food is dander (both human and animal skin flakes and hair).

According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, approximately 10 percent of Americans exhibit allergic sensitivity to dust mites, which are a major cause of asthma and allergies.

The symptoms of allergy to dust mites (watery eyes, runny nose, itching, sneezing, difficulty in breathing) are worst in winter months when the house is closed and the indoor humidity and temperatures are high.

The best way to prevent dust mites from accumulating in your new mattress is to protect it with a mattress encasement (http://www.protectabed.com/full-encasements/allergy-control-bedding.aspx). For instance, the Protect-A-Bed Allerzip® Mattress Encasement with Bug Lock®, increases sanitation protection by creating a barrier to allergens, dust mites and moisture. Yet, the encasements are air vapor porous, and they don't change the feel of the mattress.

"A mattress is a major investment that should be protected," said Protect-A-Bed CEO James Bell. "Not only do mattress encasements prevent the accumulation of dust mites and other allergens within a mattress, but they also help extend the life of the mattress by preventing stains and sagging from moisture."

Aside from acting as allergy relief bedding, an added benefit of new mattress encasements is that they help keep warranties in tact. Mattress manufacturers can warranty their products for up to 20 years. But virtually all manufacturer warranties are voided if the mattress becomes stained. Bedding encasement products, which are fluid proof, are an easy and economical way to protect the warranty for the life of the mattress and save money.

There is plenty of winter left in most of the United States. And no, we can't make the sun shine longer, turn our bloated level of melatonin back into serotonin or set the clock back to pre-recession boom times. But if we're going to pass the time in bed we can at least do it by sleeping soundly through the whole mess. For now it's a different way to live the dream but hey, given today's realities, it's definitively attractive.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For supplemental information on the topic of mattress replacement and to listen to a podcast featuring a full length interview with James Bell, CEO of Protect-A-Bed and Mike Boyle of Mattress Firm in Albuquerque, please visit the Protect-A-Bed Online News Room: http://www.protectabed.com/news.aspx.

Sidebar: Health Benefits of New Mattresses
A new mattress can benefit you in countless ways - according to the International Sleep Products Association --from emotional, physical and mental well-being, work productivity, even to how we interact with friends and loved ones. In fact, Oklahoma State University conducted a study that found a new mattress improves back pain, shoulder pain, spine stiffness and overall sleep efficiency.

About Protect-A-Bed®
Protect-A-Bed produces mattress protectors that provide consumers with a healthy and comfortable sleep environment. The product was developed in South Africa in 1980 and Protect-A-Bed was first established in the USA in 2000, and offers bedding protectors to help create a dry, bed bug free, anti-allergy sleep zone for people of all ages. The product is now sold in 27 countries and Protect-A-Bed is the leader in mattress protection innovation. The company developed the proprietary Miracle Membrane® and patent pending Bug Lock® and Secure Seal™ for bed bug protection. Protect-A-Bed products are listed as a Class 1 Medical Device with the Food and Drug Administration and have received the Good Housekeeping Seal. For more information, visit http://www.protectabed.com.

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Laura Deaton Morarity

Bridget Castellini
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