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A world first discovery at Marjon could change the way we sleep

Released: 15.10.20

Scientists at Plymouth Marjon University have made a world first discovery that sleeping on a specially designed mattress can improve health.

The three year study concluded that sleeping on a Squirrel VeSTIM® mattress improves blood flow. These beds cause subtle movement during sleep, increasing blood flow around the body.

Heart diseases are the biggest cause of death worldwide. Until now, the methods to prevent these diseases have been focused on exercise and diet. After an eight week programme of sleeping on a VeSTIM mattress, every participant who took part in the study had an increase in their blood flow.

The research monitors cardiovascular health by measuring blood flow, blood pressure and the repair of damaged blood vessels. It focuses on measuring the the function of the Endothelium, which lines all blood vessels. Problems here can lead to multiple disorders including diabetes, deep vein thrombosis, heart failure and skin damage. Partcipants experienced an average improvement in endothelial function of 197% during the eight week programme.

The average person will sleep on a mattress for 20 years by the age of 60 and sleeping on a normal mattress reduces blood flow around the body. Lead researcher, Gary Baker commented: “Humans are not designed to sleep on soft style mattresses, but we do because they’re comfortable and we’re accustomed to using them.

“We’ve demonstrated that they impede blood flow and can affect our long term health. We’ve also shown that those same mattresses, when coupled with the Squirrel VeSTIM® system, can significantly improve blood flow and health.”

A common circulatory disorder is cold feet.  After the Squirrel VeSTIM® programme, participants reported having warmer feet whilst in bed. The measurements confirmed an increase of 3.5°C, at the big toe, in the laboratory, just hours later. This was another important discovery, as it showed that more blood was flowing to the edges of the body.

An increase in blood flow during sleep is also a major discovery for the sports industry. The majority of athletes focus on improving their fitness, which coincides with an increase in cardiovascular health.  Participants, who were all healthy, showed an average blood flow increase of 336%.

Marjon Director of the School of Sport, Health and Wellbeing, Professor Saul Bloxham explained: “These findings have potential for far reaching applications into sport, health and wellbeing. Further research should be conducted into the use of Squirrel VeSTIM® mattress to explore its exciting potential to improve sport performance by enhancing speed, strength and other aspects of exercising the body.

“The dramatic increases in blood flow and endothelial function could also help treat and prevent diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, leg ulcers and cardiovascular disease. We’re very excited about the impact the Squirrel VeSTIM® mattress could have on transforming peoples lives.”

The research is the latest work from the Marjon Health and Wellbeing team who seek to transform lives through supporting healthy lifestyle and run a range of public health clinics at Marjon and across the city.

For more information on the Squirrel VeSTIM® mattress, click here.

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