Article: A Bed Time Boost – The Crew Report


THE EFFECTS OF a bad mattress or the wrong sleeping environment can be severe, including muscular problems and herniated disks, according to Riviera-based osteopath Rachael Dickens. One of the biggest obstacles that prevents crew having a good night’s rest is sleeping space that is too small. “Beds that you cannot sit up in and that are too narrow are the worst offenders. Not having space to stretch out is a real concern. The body needs to be able to get into all positions and that includes sitting up and slouching.” says Dickens.

Aran Swart of Triple S Consultancy agrees that some crew beds can be far smaller than is adequate and thinks the best possible sleeping environment is crucial for people doing strenuous work, such as crew. She says bed linen is also a consideration for getting good rest, with organic options becoming more popular: “No one wants to be breathing in toxic chemicals in small, enclosed spaces.”

As well as space constraints, the environment onboard also presents a less tangible problem; En Premiere’s Elodie Chretien points out that moisture can permeate mattresses, leaving you sleeping on damp bedding each night.

So what are the effects of the wrong sleeping environment? Fatigued muscles, stiff from working all night to support the spine, and torticollis (blocked) necks that cannot move due to the muscles contracting to support the weight of the head, are the two big nasties. Dickens says these can last up to five days without treatment and the crewmember’s movement will be restricted to lying or sitting down.

She points out that where you sleep within a room can have an effect on your health too. The culprit? Air-conditioning. “If you are on the bottom bunk you are usually OK but those on the top may have the air flow directed towards them. If this is on all night then the stream of cold air hitting your muscles leads to them cramping up and severe muscle shortening and torticollis follows.”

What can you do? Start by turning the mattress every month and flipping it at the same time. Dickens says almost no one does this and it is one of the most important things to do, to ensure the mattress wears evenly. A mattress topper can also help if the mattress you are using is too hard

Assess your mattress for wear and tear and, if needed, see if arranging a new one is an option. Diane Schrader, personal bedding consultant with E J Schrader Mattress Company, says to cheek for mattress edges that are breaking down, latex coming through the cover (in the case of latex mattresses), bunching of the mattress cover, diesel or saltwater odours or a body depression of more than one inch; all signs your mattress could be ready to retire.

New developments in mattress technology can make all the difference to a sound night’s sleep and options like organic and chemical-free mattresses are growing in popularity. Schrader says she personally has tested, and liked, a new latex foam on the market that regulates body temperature, bringing it up if you are too cold or down if you are too hot, within 45 minutes. “We are seeing some owners allowing their crew to come into the factory and make their own comfort selections.” says Schrader. “We consult with the crew when we are making their mattresses. By doing this we can make the mattress to [meet] their special needs, like back issues and pressure points.”

Not able to have a new mattress installed? En Premiere’s Spacerflex mattress support system has been designed in response to crew feedback and can be installed in under a minute. It slips under your existing mattress, comes in soft, medium or firm variations, and is made of insulating fabric, isotex. With 100 individual elastomer springs per square metre, body weight is spread evenly and it opens a ventilated space of 40 millimetres between cushion and support to lessen the effects of damp. Like a mattress topper, Spacerflex is also easily removable, so you can take it with you to use on other beds, ensuring a sound sleep, wherever you find yourself.

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