Your bed may be causing health problems that threaten more than your peaceful slumber. Take inventory of these hidden threats:
- Bed bugs are reddish–brown insects that nestle into mattresses, feeding on you (or pets) as you snooze. If signs like empty exoskeletons, blood stains, or dark specks suggest these pesky critters have invaded your home, hire a professional exterminator. Severe infestations may require you to replace your mattress.
- Microscopic dust mites (and their waste) can cause respiratory symptoms. Frequent vacuuming, washing all linens in hot water, and encasing your mattresses in allergen covers can help curb colonization.
- Variables such as weight, physical issues, sleeping position, and mattress construction all affect your comfort and support. To be safe, The Sleep Council recommends replacing your mattress every 5–7 years. One study found a medium–firm mattress best for lower back pain, but overall firmness and contour depend on personal preference.
- Any moisture damage can serve as breeding ground for mold and mildew, so use a moisture–resistant mattress pad. Absorbent cloths will immediately dry spills or accidents from pets and kids; clean the stain with a mild detergent, then air dry outside or with a high–powered fan for a day before putting sheets back on.