Thursday, May 01, 2008

Americans Get Physical After a Good Night in Bed

New research shows better sleep results in better performance ...

"While weary, overextended Americans are turning to "quick fixes" like caffeine and performance-enhancing supplements, which claim to improve everything from their daily workout to their sex lives, they are losing sight of what experts say is essential to improved performance: a good night's sleep.

According to the 2008 Better Sleep Month (BSM) national survey, sponsored by the Better Sleep Council (BSC), those respondents getting nine hours of sleep or more are more likely to engage in higher-intensity workouts, including biking, running and/or weight lifting. Yet an alarming seven in 10 (70 percent) report that they are not getting the recommended amount of sleep needed each night (7 1/2 hours or more) to perform at their best each day.

"Sleep deprivation impacts us physically, which can negatively affect our coordination, agility, mood and energy," says Dr. Bert Jacobson, professor and head of the School of Educational Studies at Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the lead author of the new study Grouped Comparisons of Sleep Quality for New and Personal Bedding Systems. "Research shows that sleeping better and longer leads to improvements in athletic performance, including faster sprint time, better endurance, lower heart rate, and even improved mood and higher levels of energy during a workout."

One out of three survey respondents agrees, stating that the best thing about getting a good night's sleep is improved physical performance. However, the BSC explains that better sleep and/or improved physical performance is not just a result of getting one extra hour of sleep a night. "Getting a better night's sleep is about making a larger investment in sleep overall, including taking a closer look at your sleep surface and surroundings. Improving sleep quality is just as important as quantity," adds Dr. Jacobson.

A New Mattress Does a Body Good

The survey also reveals that respondents who report getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night (7.5 hours is optimal) are more likely to be sleeping on a newer mattress (one to four years old). Additionally, findings reveal that those sleeping on a newer mattress are significantly more likely to engage in physical activities than those who sleep on older mattresses:

Type of Physical Newer Mattress Older Mattress
Activity (one - four years old) (eight -10 years old)
Running 59% 6%
Weights 54% 8%
Aerobics 57% 9%

The same survey found that 81 percent of Americans report waking up with back, neck or shoulder pain in the past year, with nearly half (46 percent) of respondents reporting that they frequently (at least a few times a month) wake up with these types of pain that limit their physical performance.

There's good news, however, for the majority of people suffering with limited mobility due to back and neck pain. According to Dr. Jacobson's study, published in the Journal of Applied Ergonomics, sleeping on a new mattress can significantly improve sleep quality during the night and reduce physical pain during the day. In fact, when sleeping on new bedding systems, study respondents on average reported significant improvements in:

* lower back pain (62.8 percent),
* shoulder pain (62.4 percent),
* back stiffness (58.4 percent),
* sleep quality (64.4 percent), and
* sleep comfort (69.6 percent).

"Like your favorite pair of athletic shoes, your mattress can still feel comfortable long after it has lost its ability to provide your body with the comfort and support it needs," said Karin Dillner, BSC spokesperson. "And just as we need the proper equipment to get the best workout, we also need the proper equipment to get the best night's sleep -- most importantly, a quality mattress."

The BSC recommends that consumers evaluate their current mattress by asking themselves four basic questions to determine if it's time for a mattress upgrade:

* Is your mattress five - seven years old or older?
* Do you wake up with stiffness, numbness, aches and pains?
* Do you get a better night's sleep somewhere other than your own bed(such as a hotel)?
* Does your mattress show visible signs of overuse (sags, stains, etc.)?

The BSC's E.A.S.E. Method provides consumers with easy steps for finding and purchasing the mattress of their dreams. For more information, visit http://www.bettersleep.org/ease."    (Continued via PRNewswire)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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