Humans are designed to sleep on the ground, with a network of capillaries positioned between the skin in contact with the ground and the bone above it. If pressure goes unrelieved for around 20 minutes, cells within the skin and underlying tissue can experience oxygen starvation and a build-up of waste toxins, leading to poisoning and ultimately irreversible damage and death.
Ancient humans sleeping in the wild not only faced the effects of unrelieved pressure, but also danger from predators, fire, and other environmental factors. To counteract this, humans developed an inbuilt alarm clock that causes them to wake up and reposition approximately every 11 to 18 minutes. This repositioning prevented the negative effects of pressure on skin tissue and allowed humans to stay alert to potential dangers.
Modern studies on tribespeople equipped with sleep trackers have shown that they naturally wake up several times an hour, and it is theorised that one of the reasons is to check the danger. The cause of this waking is discomfort, as a result of staying in one position for too long. This discomfort is not a negative, but rather a natural part of human physiology.
However, in the modern world, people are waking up and repositioning less frequently, and this has significant impacts on long-term health and well-being. This decrease in repositioning is due to a variety of factors, including misconceptions about the importance of repositioning, the use of sleeping pills and recreational drugs, unnatural working patterns, and the stress of modern life.
The first step to improving sleep and health is to acknowledge that repositioning is a natural and critical part of human function.
Scientists at Plymouth Marjon University have discovered that repositioning during sleep provides a natural massage that has profound impacts on cardiovascular health. The act of repositioning relieves pressure on blood vessels, allowing blood to flow back into them. Additionally, the application of pressure simulates the release of nitric oxide gas, a powerful vasodilator, which relaxes and dilates blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and increasing blood flow capacity. Continual repositioning leads to blood vessels remodeling themselves, improving overall cardiovascular health.
The surface on which a person sleeps is not as important as the act of repositioning itself, although the scientists at Plymouth Marjon University found that by using a special type of mattress that mimics the natural repositioning regime of healthy humans, the benefits of repositioning can be further amplified.
The scientist also discovered following eight weeks use of the Vestims mattress, endothelial function, which is the bodies ability to distribute blood flow effectively improved by 197% and resting blood flow, the outcome of an improve cardiovascular system increased +336%. All measures were taken after eight weeks use and several hours after getting out of bed, demonstrating that these were long-term changes to physiology.
In conclusion, repositioning during sleep is a crucial part of human physiology and has significant impacts on overall health and well-being. It is important to acknowledge the natural importance of repositioning and to make efforts to reposition frequently during sleep, regardless of the surface on which one sleeps. The use of special types of the vascular endothelial stimulation systems can significantly optimise bedrest and improve multiple health outcomes.