Bed rest, or prolonged periods of inactivity, has long been prescribed by medical practitioners to aid in the treatment and healing of a variety of disorders. However, recent research has shown that bed rest can also have negative effects on our health, leading to muscle atrophy and wastage (1). In fact, a study by Dirks et al (2016) found that just one week of bed rest can lead to substantial muscle atrophy (2).
In addition to the negative effects on muscle health, a lack of good sleep has been linked to various health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (3,4). This has led a team of scientists to raise the question as to whether one's choice of bed or mattress could significantly alter long-term health.
Active mattresses have been shown to be a potential solution to this problem. A study by Baker et al (2019) in the Journal of Wound Care found that within just eight weeks, participants experienced a 197% improvement in their cardiovascular health and a 336% improvement in general circulation, simply by sleeping on a special type of active mattress (5). This is important because cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of mortality worldwide and circulation impairments are linked to multiple disorders, which are sometimes painful and often disabling.
The researchers at the University of Saint Mark in St John Plymouth found that not only did one type of active mattress stimulate blood flow and improve long-term health outcomes, but that normal regular mattresses compared to this can actually significantly impede blood flow and long-term health outcomes (5).
The mattress in question is called vestims®. It works by applying and relieving pressures against skin and underlying tissue. This causes a perpetual vascular endothelial stimulation throughout the period of bed rest.
In conclusion, bed rest can have negative effects on our health, including muscle atrophy and wastage. A lack of good sleep has also been linked to various health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Vestims® mattresses have been shown to be a potential solution to this problem, with studies showing significant improvements in cardiovascular health and general circulation after just eight weeks of use. It is important for further research to be conducted in order to better understand the relationship between mattress choice and health outcomes.
1. Parry SM, Puthucheary ZA. The impact of extended bed rest on the musculoskeletal system in the critical care environment. Extrem Physiol Med. 2015 Oct 9;4:16. doi: 10.1186/s13728-015-0036-7. PMID: 26457181; PMCID: PMC4600281.
2. Dirks ML, Wall BT, van de Valk B, Holloway TM, Holloway GP, Chabowski A, Goossens GH, van Loon LJ. One Week of Bed Rest Leads to Substantial Muscle Atrophy and Induces Whole-Body Insulin Resistance in the Absence of Skeletal Muscle Lipid Accumulation. Diabetes. 2016 Oct;65(10):2862-75. doi: 10.2337/db15-1661. Epub 2016 Jun 29. PMID: 27358494.