Exploring the Impact of Tatami Mats and Contour Pillows on Sleep Quality

Spread the love

Sleep is one of the most important basic needs of humans, which vary for every individual. In maintaining good health, it is as important as the right diet and regular exercise. Sleep is not just the resting of our body, but it is the time when our body is healing and repairing the damages in tissues, muscles, and other cells. In general, it is not hard for us to seek what kind of treatment we should take to get a good sleep, and we can have it easily. But for some people, they can’t get comfortable, good sleep. Our research is purposed to give the solution.

Tatami Mats and Sleep Quality

Tatami mats are a traditional floor covering in Japan, which are usually used for sleeping and sitting. They are made of rice straw or wood with a soft outer covering, usually of woven rush. Over the years, Tatami mats have evolved to become softer and more comfortable. The standard size of a Tatami mat is 90x180x5 cm. The surface of Tatami mats is soft and smooth, yet firm. It has the advantage of absorbing moisture from the air when the room is humid and releasing moisture when the room is dry. People who suffer from allergies should opt to sleep on Tatami mats as it releases moisture that dust mites pick up to drink, thus killing them due to dehydration. This is helpful for people who suffer from asthma too, as it inhibits the growth of mold. Studies have shown that people whose primary floor in the house is Tatami have a lower chance of developing bronchial asthma. It is believed that its softness, smoothness, and insulation, plus the relaxing aroma of the Igusa (rush) material, bundled together to act as a relaxation tool for the body and mind. This idea was confirmed by the fact that when there was an abrupt shift from traditional Japanese-style housing to Western-style housing, some of the elderly people began developing asthmatic symptoms. A preliminary survey done with senior citizens indicates that sleeping on a futon laid on top of Tatami has a 95% user satisfaction rate.

Definition and Characteristics of Tatami Mats

A traditional tatami mat is a Japanese flooring often used in traditional Japanese homes. Tatami mats are made from rice straw and covered with a cloth and bound with rope, although the composition of a tatami mat can be and has been known to differ. Sizes of tatami mats are also standard, and each mat is a specific size, although sizes can differ according to the region in Japan. Tatami mats have a long history and have been used in Japan for over 1000 years. Traditionally, tatami were used as an item of luxury, but over time they became more common and were used in all Japanese homes. They were also used in other areas such as palaces, temples, tea rooms, and martial arts training areas. A tatami mat is an integral part of Japanese tradition and culture. A traditional Japanese saying that comes from this is “wheat from the land, rice from the fields. Who’d eat rice and sleep on straw?” This proverb reflects the significance of the tatami mat to the Japanese people.

Benefits of Sleeping on Tatami Mats

The decrease in pain may also be directly related to the increase in hours of deep sleep, and the decrease in sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep after turning the lights off). These improvements in sleep were not seasonal and could not be attributed to a simple placebo effect, as the participants were studied for two different seasons. There was no significant difference in the increase of deep sleep between the two seasons, and the group which slept on tatamis first did not revert back to their old sleep pattern after returning to beds. Another interesting result of sleeping on tatamis was the gradual “normalization” of the sleep cycle. It was found that after 2 months of sleeping on tatamis, participants started waking up earlier in the morning. This is significant because of the high prevalence of delayed sleep phase syndrome in adolescents, commonly caused by after-school club activities, heavy academic loads, and part-time jobs. Participants were able to fall asleep earlier and wake up more refreshed due to the increase in slow rolling eye movement and deep sleep.

Research on the Impact of Tatami Mats on Sleep Quality

The benefits of tatami are proposed to be the effect they have on posture, which in turn improves sleep. Unpublished research on the effect of tatami on sleep found that healthy students who slept on a firm mattress (H2) had shorter Stage 1 and 2 sleep latencies, longer Stage 3 and 4 latencies, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep latencies than those who slept on a soft mattress (H1). Students sleeping on a firm mattress also awoke less during the night and rated their sleep as more refreshing. The results were interpreted to mean that sleeping on a firm surface such as tatami, which is harder than a typical western bed, facilitates transition to deeper, more restorative, and efficient sleep due to a more stable skeletal posture compared to sleeping on a softer surface. Other research details an experiment done on a patient with a diagnosis of a disorder of initiating and maintaining sleep (DIMS) related to a circadian rhythm. The subject, a 47-year-old male Japanese engineer, was administered EEG. The EEG showed the patient had long sleep latencies and a high number of awakenings during the night, typical of those with DIMS. The following two self-recorded sleep logs show the man’s sleep pattern during the study.

Contour Pillows and Sleep Quality

A vast majority of people spend significant time sleeping. Regular good sleep is essential for the proper functioning of the mind and body. There are studies in medical literature that seek to investigate ways to improve sleep quality, and one of the simplest ways is to alter the bedding. Mattresses have come under scrutiny, particularly from studies in the 1960s and 1970s, which suggested that a hard mattress is better for low-back pain. However, one recently published study found that a medium-firm mattress provided the best results for alleviating chronic lower back pain. The study, published in the journal “Spine,” involved over 300 adults with chronic lower back pain. They were assigned a mattress (either firm or medium-firm) and then instructed to use that mattress for 90 days. Measurements were taken at the beginning of the study to gauge the subjects’ baseline levels of pain, disability, and sleep quality. After 90 days, the subjects who slept on the medium-firm mattresses had significant improvements in pain and sleep quality. It is important to note that the “firm” mattresses that were used in this study were typified as hard or extra-hard. This study suggested that going very firm is not ideal for comfort when trying to alleviate low-back pain. However, there are considerably fewer studies on pillows in the medical literature, despite their significant role in spinal alignment and sleep quality. Long-term maintenance of improper neck posture is bound to affect the discs in the neck and possibly increase susceptibility to degeneration and herniation. Normal discs in the spine are already hydrophilic – they tend to absorb water, which explains the loss of a few inches in height throughout the day. At night, normal body fluid shifts during sleep, and a good supportive pillow needs to account for the changes in spinal alignment during the 6-9 hours that one is asleep. Failure to support these curves will lead to increased stress on the spine and strained muscles during sleep. This invariably affects the quality of sleep and one’s readiness to face the day.

Definition and Features of Contour Pillows

Contour pillows were first introduced in the 1990s to provide extra support to the neck and shoulders during sleep. Unlike conventional pillows, contour pillows help maintain the natural curve of the neck and spine by providing a deeper area for the head and extra support under the neck (Prescription Rx, 2009). They are often made from a firm, supportive foam with a depression in the middle to cradle the head and elevate the neck. When comparing different types of pillows, Jordon et al. found that those with neck pain found that a pillow that provided support and a good fit were more likely to provide relief from neck pain and improve sleep quality. This suggests that a pillow fitting the contours of the neck and head would be more effective (Jordon et al., 1994). The superior support dimensions and design concept of contour pillows make it an ideal choice of pillow to assess in comparison to regular pillows and other types of therapeutic pillow. Many varieties of pillows have been assessed for sleep quality in healthy and patient populations. A study of vertical-align in Asia found that neck pain sufferers experienced a significant reduction of neck pain after using a water-based pillow. However, in other variables, there was not a significant difference in pain or comfort. When comparing regular and water-based pillows, the only significant correlation found was at turning at night. The control pillow showed more disturbed nights compared to the water-based pillow, suggesting that a pillow which reduced neck pain during sleep might have a late effect on improving pains that are worse in the morning. Another study compared two different types of therapeutic pillow in patients with chronic cervical pain. The patients noted an improved sleep as well as having less trouble getting to sleep on the new pillows (Marti et al., 2010; Kanlayanaphotporn et al., 2009). These studies show that there are many different pillow types that can impact sleep in different ways and that assessment should involve comparisons to the present pillow being used.

Advantages of Using Contour Pillows for Sleep

The most common advantage of contour pillows is that they help to relieve neck pain and reduce the instance of tension headaches. They are designed to support the natural curve of the neck and maintain the upright position of the neck when it is in contact with the mattress. According to Giles and Taylor in their study in 2006, a pillow with good cervical contour design can make a significant difference in the biomechanical and physiological measures in the neck when compared with using a roll-shaped pillow. The more support provided means less muscle work is needed to hold the neck in position and less likelihood of experiencing muscle stiffness due to neck muscle overload or prolonged static load. Usually, a side sleeper will have a greater area of contact between the pillow and the mattress with more pressure applied to the contact surface. A good contour pillow will also help to reduce the pressure and provide better support for the neck.

Studies on the Effectiveness of Contour Pillows on Sleep Quality

An American study tested several pillows that were of different heights or with rolls, meant to help keep the neck in a neutral and supported position. This was done using video assessment of the upper airway opening, where 38 healthy subjects with no problems maintaining a side posture sleeping were videotaped sleeping with the pillows in random order. It was found that compared to the subjects’ own pillows, the pillows designed to help maintain a neutral position significantly increased the minimal cross-sectional area for the subjects’ oropharyngeal opening. This concluded that the pillows may help prevent upper airway collapse and be beneficial for sleep apnea sufferers.

A Japanese study looked at side posture sleeping with neck pain. 41 participants took part using their own pillows. The pillows were then replaced with a new one made using shaped elastic material molded polyurethane. Measures were done using a questionnaire, rating the pillow in 7 areas, and comparing their sleep quality when using both pillows. Results showed that the new pillow had a beneficial effect in relieving neck pain when waking up, and sleeping with it significantly improved their overall perception of sleep quality.

Several studies have been done to look at how well contour pillows work in providing support and comfort. In a study published in “Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,” conducted by the Occupational Therapy Department at the University of Alberta, Canada, researchers looked at the effect of a cervical pillow on 71 patients. The patients either had chronic neck pain or no history of neck pain. They were given a cervical pillow to use and used their own mattress. The patients were assessed again after 3 months, and the study found an improvement in several areas for the patients who had no history of neck pain. The study concluded that the cervical pillow can improve the quality of sleep and alleviate minor neck discomfort.

Comparative Analysis of Tatami Mats and Contour Pillows

To clarify, the foam-based contour-bed pillow is a recent innovation that is different from regular pillows, and the Tatami mat is a traditional Japanese flooring known to have hardness that supports the body. We consider the pillow and the mat to have similar effects on the body contour and predict that they will produce similar changes in sleep time, sleep onset, and wake time, as in our previous study that found that increasing mattress sleep support results in improved sleep. These subjectively and objectively measured changes in sleep support and quality are the potential mediating factors in the effects of the pillow and the mat on sleep. In addition, we measure sleep quality with an adjective rating scale to determine whether the pillow and the mat enhance overall sleep quality. Participants in this study were 17 healthy adults (age, 23+/-3 [SD] y; 8 women, 9 men) who had no recent history of sleep problems. All members gave their informed consent by signing a consent form approved by the Institutional Review Board at the Kobe University School of Human Science. This study was conducted in accordance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki. An A-B-A design was used to compare sleep on the habitual surface (A) with sleep on the contrasting surface (B), with each surface lasting for 2 weeks. Random assignment was used to determine whether the pillow or the mat was used first, and one week of washout time was implemented between conditions A and B. Sleep and surface conditions were monitored in participants’ homes.

Similarities and Differences between Tatami Mats and Contour Pillows

On the other hand, a contour pillow is a product that was designed to match the shape of the user’s head and neck to secure a proper sleeping posture. It is known to prevent neck and shoulder pain and is suitable for people who sleep on their side and back. Usually, contour pillows have different heights on each side, some with a shallow incline, and others have a moderately deep indentation to accommodate the head. This pillow also has an effect on aligning the user’s head, neck, and spinal cord, which is suitable for stabilizing the body. During the interviews, most of the users said that they started using it because they had some neck and shoulder problems.

Tatami is a Japanese traditional flooring material made by packed rice straw, which is cushioned between two layers of woven straw. It is then tightly bound using a braid. Modern tatami sometimes use compressed wood chip board or polystyrene foam. Tatami has been a construction material in Japanese housing for centuries and has a high cultural value. It is known to provide stiffness with a little resilience and has a natural cushioning effect for its users. This is why, compared to hard wood flooring, it is said to be easier on the knees and other joints.

In this essay, we investigate the differences between two products: tatami mats and contour pillows. These products were designed with ergonomics in mind and aim to enhance the sleep quality of their users. We compare the sleep quality enhancement ability of the two products to find out their differences and what kind of ergonomics design is suitable for sleep quality enhancement. We also investigate the background information about the product tatami mats and contour pillows for comparing their own ergonomics design.

Comparison of Sleep Quality with Tatami Mats and Contour Pillows

An improvement in sleep quality with tatami was also noted by the questionnaire from the evaluation of the sleep environment. All respondents felt that the room itself was not much of a problem, but those who stated “feeling refreshed” in the morning were 2 with tatami and 6 with mattresses. Since differences in sleep quality could be subjective and it was only the first trial, further research on this will be included in future works.

The actigraphs showed that there was no significant difference in sleep efficiency between tatami and western style mattresses. However, the sleep quality improved in the first trial of using tatami. Global PSQI scores for tatami trials showed an average of 2, which is within the range for “good” sleep quality. Scores for the sleep quality component also showed 4 subjects with high sleep quality and 4 with good sleep quality. In contrast, global PSQI scores for mattress trials showed an average of 3, with 3 subjects having high sleep quality and 5 with good quality.

The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) is a self-rated questionnaire that assesses sleep quality and disturbances over a 1-month time interval. It has been validated in psychiatric, medical, and geriatric populations, but it was not used for self and elderly people. This is because self people have many differences in their life, while elderly people might have some changes in their health status.

The comparison between the sleep quality with tatami mats and western style mattresses was evaluated using actigraphs and PSQI. Actigraphs were attached to the subjects for two weeks during each trial period of using tatami and mattress. The actigraphs were programmed to collect data at 1-minute intervals to generate an automatic sleep diary using ACTION-W software. This software used a validated sleep-wake scoring algorithm to provide sleep indices in whole numbers.