The average person spends a significant part of his life on a mattress. Therefore, we usually approach the choice of a mattress thoughtfully, taking into account the already existing physiological characteristics and health status. Having bought a mattress, most people sigh with relief and begin to live on it — for years, without even thinking about the fact that other living beings settle in with them. Yes, and the mattress itself may not be such a safe thing.
What we generally know about mattresses and life with them, on them and inside them, MedAboutMe understood.
How to determine the life of a mattress?
Striped Soviet-era mattresses with a mountain system of cotton balls under the spreading fabric can still be found in villages, dachas, and even in urban apartments for the elderly. True, in the latter case, they are more often found in the depths of the mezzanines — after all, it is in the 21st century, when a comfortable beautiful mattress costs quite reasonable money. One thing is for sure: the time of wadded mattresses is gone.
And how long do more modern versions live?
The average life of a mattress is 8 years. The better the materials, the longer the mattress retains its qualities, but the more expensive it is.
- Spring mattresses today have a support system of spirals inside, helping to evenly distribute the load throughout the mattress. This prolongs his life. Such mattresses can last 10 years or more, and if they are double-sided, they can be turned over for even wear.
- Polyurethane memory foam mattresses come in many varieties, but the average life span is 10 to 15 years. They are also recommended to be turned over regularly.
- The lifespan of latex mattresses depends on whether synthetic latex or organic latex is used. But in principle, these are generally “long-playing” mattresses, the period of their use reaches 20–25 years. Also, they are hypoallergenic.
- Hybrid mattresses are a combination of different models: spring, latex, polyurethane, etc. They will not be as durable as most other types of mattresses. Their life span is determined by the quality of springs and polyurethane and averages 6 years.
During this time, the mattress has time to “populate” a wide variety of living organisms. We share our mattresses with bacteria, fungus, dust mites and, in the worst case, bed bugs.
Who lives in a mattress?
- dust mites
These microscopic insects live in the dust of human apartments. A mattress for them is an ideal place to live. During the day, we naturally lose up to half a billion skin cells, which become food for dust mites. If pets also live in the apartment, then their dandruff brings a pleasant variety to the diet of ticks.
The main danger of these creatures invisible to the eye is that their waste products are common allergens. Therefore, it is very important for allergy sufferers and asthmatics to treat their mattresses in a timely manner in order to reduce the number of dust mites.
This can be done with the help of cold (in winter it is enough to take the mattress to the balcony for several hours) or ultraviolet (in summer its source is the sun’s rays). However, you can also regularly quartz a room with an open mattress with a germicidal UV lamp. It is impossible to completely get rid of dust mites, but it is quite possible to significantly reduce the number.
- Bed bugs
These unpleasant blood-sucking insects usually enter a person’s home from neighboring apartments or from basements, climbing the walls. And you can also drag them with old furniture, bought on occasion from hand. Bedbugs live in the wooden frames of old mattresses, but they cannot penetrate the fabric cover (if there are no holes in it). And if the mattress is intact, and there are no eggs or other traces of insects in the seams, but the bugs still bite you at night, look for them in the surroundings: the frame of the bed or sofa itself, baseboards, cracks in the walls, other furniture and even parquet.
- fungi and bacteria
A person per year during a night’s sleep allocates something about 100 liters of sweat. This provides a stable cozy humidity, which is so loved by bacteria and fungi, which also necessarily live in the depths and on the surface of the mattress. And the older he is, the more solid their colonies.
In 2016, Amerisleep published the results of their study on bed bacterial contamination. For 7 years since the purchase of brand new mattresses, experts have watched how bacteria settle in them. According to the data obtained, 3 million bacteria can be found in a mattress during the first year of its use. By the end of the second year, their number grows to 9 million, after 5 years from the date of purchase there are already 13.5 million, and after 7 years — 16 million bacteria.
The list of microorganisms that live in mattresses includes such dangerous bacteria as Escherichia coli (Escherihia coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (Staphylococcus aureus), as well as yeasts from the genus Candida and molds.
What does a mattress smell like?
The environmental friendliness of the materials from which the mattress is made is one of the main concerns of well-known manufacturers today.
However, in 2019, Israeli scientists from the Israel Institute of Technology published a study measuring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in polyurethane mattresses. In large quantities, VOCs can pose a health hazard — cause eye irritation, respiratory irritation, headaches, and even provoke the development of cancer.
The study found that the amount of VOCs emitted by mattresses increases with increasing temperature (that is, when a person lies on them). And although the concentration of VOCs released at the same time was lower than harmful values, but some compounds (acetaldehyde, benzene, formaldehyde) can still be dangerous for young children, for whom lower concentrations of harmful compounds are dangerous.
Researchers recommend ventilating rooms where people sleep on polyurethane mattresses as often as possible. Scientists point out that in the air of apartments the content of VOCs can be 10 times higher than their concentration on the street. And it is better not to use polyurethane mattresses for small children, but to replace them with mattresses containing cotton, wool and natural latex.
When is it time to change your mattress?
Time passes, the mattress wears out, acquires a special musty aroma with hints of chemistry, and even dry cleaning is unlikely to cope with all uninvited tenants. By what signs does it become clear: it’s time to change the mattress?
- The materials inside the mattress lose their shape, stains and scuffs appear on the fabric, sagging, some areas become denser, others vice versa.
- The mattress began to “sound” — in the case of spring mattresses, this is manifested in a constant creaking.
- It became difficult to fall asleep. If you can’t fall asleep within 20–30 minutes, despite being tired, it may be that the uncomfortable mattress is the reason.
- At the same time, in the morning there is stiffness “in all members”, pain and a feeling of numbness in the muscles. The mattress has ceased to be a place of good rest.
- If you use a mattress with a partner, a characteristic sign that the mattress has served its purpose is the motion transfer effect — when the mattress partner changes position, you feel it in the movements of the mattress. And this should not be.
- As soon as you sleep on a mattress, your allergies become aggravated or asthma attacks become more frequent, although it seems to be insignificant so far.
- The mattress was infested with bed bugs.
Changes in back pain, sleep quality, and perceived stress after introduction of new bedding systems. / Acobson BH, Boolani A, Smith DB. // J Chiropr Med. - 2009