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Why Your Mattress May Be Making You Sick

Posted 2/15/2016 by UHBlog

Your mattress could be making you sick. Ask us how you can improve your sleep hygiene.

Why Your Mattress May Be Making You Sick

You may be going to bed with millions of uninvited guests every night. In fact, your mattress is a breeding ground for dust mites and germs. So how can you prevent yourself from getting sick and enjoy a good night’s sleep?

According to family medicine specialist John Wolf, DO, it starts with your sheets.

“You should change your bed linens at least twice a week,” he says. “Wash everything in hot water and make sure it’s thoroughly dry before you put it back on your bed.”

Clean sheets will cut down on dust mite allergies, which can cause:

  • Stuffy nose and post-nasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Itching
  • Headaches

According to Dr. Wolf, allergies from dust mites may also disrupt your sleep, resulting in fatigue and a higher risk of medical problems, such as stroke and elevated blood pressure.

“The best thing you can do to protect yourself from a dust mite allergy is to buy a mattress cover that zips over the entire mattress and prevents dust mites from contacting you,” he says.

Dust mites may not be the only reason you’re having trouble getting the seven to eight hours of sleep you need each night. Others causes could include hormonal changes, pain or even your spouse.

For women, hormonal changes and imbalances – such as hot flashes and anxiety – can lead to sleeping trouble. More than likely, however, your lack of sleep is caused by pain.

“The No. 1 reason for poor sleep is pain,” Dr. Wolf says. “That's followed by a spouse’s snoring that keeps you awake.”

It’s best to diagnose and treat pain, but medication can be used to lessen the severity of it so you can sleep better. In addition, Dr. Wolf suggests these tips to improve your sleep:

  • Stay regular – Stick to a consistent sleep schedule to allow your body time to rest and recover.
    “Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning,” he says.
  • Unplug – The light from a TV or phone can interfere with your brain’s ability to recognize that it’s time to sleep.
    “Never watch TV from bed because your bed should be a place you go to sleep,” Dr. Wolf says. “It’s OK to watch TV to relax, but if you’re falling asleep in front of it, it’s time to call it a night.”
  • Unwind – A warm shower or reading a book can help you calm down and take your mind off the day.
  • Beware of exercise – Being active during the day will make it easier to fall asleep at night, but don’t do strenuous exercise too close to bedtime.
    “Some exercise programs, like yoga and tai chi, have a calming effect and can help you relax before bedtime,” Dr. Wolf says.
  • Check your meds – Your medications may make it harder to fall asleep.
    “Some medications make you sleepy, while others make you more alert,” he says. “Check with your doctor to see if your medications have the potential to cause sleep disturbances.”

John Wolf, DO, is a family medicine specialist at University Hospitals Family Medicine Specialists. You can request an appointment with Dr. Wolf or any other University Hospitals doctor online.

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