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Sleep well on board – valuable tips on mattresses for sailing yachts


Sailing and sleeping. How is that related?

Sailing is sometimes a demanding sport that demands a lot from the body. Especially when the weather doesn’t cooperate and the conditions get rough. Our body is then busy stabilizing, balancing and holding on. That costs energy and afterwards we want to relax. This recovery mainly takes place during sleep.

It should not be forgotten that people spend around a third of their lives in sleep. Interestingly, many yacht owners rarely act on it. You buy the best sails or the latest plotter, but sleeping on board is not considered important. Experience has shown that boat cushions are not a purchase criterion for a ship. Instead of buying a decent mattress, sagging boat cushions are accepted as a base. This is a fallacy that can take revenge in terms of health.

Even more: the night determines the day. Those who have slept badly are usually in a bad mood. On the other hand, those who have slept well are fit for the day. Sleep is a long phase with an immediate impact on your wellbeing. It is therefore important to sleep “properly”. As already indicated, the base plays an important role in this. To understand this, I would first like to show what happens when we sleep.

What happens when we sleep

Sleeping is a subconscious process or state. Everyone takes part, but nobody notices. That is the crux. Since we do not notice how we sleep, it is possible that we sleep “wrong”. The next morning we notice that we slept badly – but we can usually not really explain it.

Here is an example: If someone always sleeps on their back because the mattress is too hard, sleep is less restful. The body gets used to it and the actually better side position is taken less and less. This can lead to snoring. That in turn can annoy the partner. Sooner or later you will sleep separately because of this. An unfortunate chain reaction that can be avoided with “proper” sleep.

sleeping ship

How do I sleep properly?

The best sleeping position is on the side. It has something to do with our physique. Seen from the side, our spine forms an S – the hollow back. If I lie on my stomach, the hollow back is reinforced. If I lie on my back, it will be pushed away. Both have negative effects on breathing. In the lateral position, the hollow back remains unchanged. It is not without reason that accident victims are stabilized in the lateral position. Breathing is best then.

In order to be able to sleep comfortably on your side, you need a sensible base – the mattress. If it is too hard, I can only sleep uncomfortably on my side because my body cannot find enough points of support. This leads to frequent, unconscious turning during sleep. The result is restless sleep and the deep sleep phase, which is important for recovery, does not take place sufficiently.

What role does the mattress play?

The pad determines the sleeping position. As mentioned, the deep sleep phase is incredibly important for regeneration and the mattress should be created in such a way that it corresponds to the body. It has to adapt to it and support it over a large area – this avoids restless “bad” sleep, as described.

In order to do justice to a good night’s sleep, a few features have to be considered. About the shoulder zone. Manufacturers of high quality mattresses take into account that the body is wider at the shoulders than at the legs. The goal when sleeping is that the spine is straight. As a result, the body has to sink deeper into the mattress due to its uneven shape at the shoulder. This is achieved by making the mattress softer in the shoulder area. The same also applies to the pelvic area. A high-quality mattress therefore yields differently along the different areas of the body.

The height and weight of the person play a role. Which, by the way, also means that two different people need two different mattresses.

Buying a mattress is therefore also a personal matter. Just as the sailmaker comes on board to measure the new sail, it is helpful if the mattress manufacturer sees the person in a personal consultation and later adjusts the construction of the mattress accordingly. If that is not possible, an experienced manufacturer can also do a remote diagnosis.

sleeping ship 2

Other important properties of a mattress

The surface of the mattress

On most yachts, all boat cushions in the ship have the same surface regardless of their use. It is not logical. In the salon, for example, there are completely different requirements than in the owner’s cabin. In the salon, the surface should be easy to care for and ideally also washable. This means that the surface is little or no breathable. In the cabin, on the other hand, the surface should be easily separable and washable without having to take the entire mattress out of the cabin. I don’t mean the sheet, but the top layer of the mattress itself. If it is removable and washable, this is a great advantage from a hygienic point of view.

The ventilation of the mattress

While we sleep, the upper cover draws moisture from the body, which it gives off. This prevents us from lying in our own juice, as they say. This is good, but it also requires good ventilation of the mattress in order to wick away moisture. The foam core of the mattress must therefore be open-pored and ventilating. In addition, appropriate ventilation fabrics – so-called 3D spacer fabrics – are worked into the sides and underside of high-quality mattresses.

The division of the mattress

As a rule, there are compartments under the bunks that serve as storage space. Some owners therefore want the mattress to be divided in order to have good access to these compartments. That is not always feasible. After all, the main function of the mattress is to provide a good night’s sleep. Their structure should therefore follow the meaning of sleep. According to this, the head, shoulder, waist and pelvis belong on an undivided cushion. In this zone, the mattress has its main function. What happens below the spine – that is, in the leg area – is relatively irrelevant. A division should therefore only take place below the pelvis.

The shape of the mattress

The shape of the mattress is logically adapted to the ship. Boats have slopes, curves, bulkheads and fixtures. Any form of mattress is possible with a reputable manufacturer. For example, the bunks in the foredeck on most yachts are pointed.

I keep meeting owners whose ships have a paragraph in the document. For example by an inserted board that bridges a free space. This can be a lowered table, for example. From a boat building point of view, such places are sometimes higher and this must be taken into account when building the mattress. Especially when this paragraph falls into the shoulder zone.

sleeping ship 3

The thickness of the mattress

The mattress should be at least 17 centimeters thick. This is a good strength for technically realizing everything that is required for a sound sleep. It can also be thinner if necessary – the orthopedically sensible minimum is 13 centimeters. An ideal thickness is 21 centimeters. That gives a perfect, soft shoulder zone. But that must also be spatially possible on a yacht. The difference between the three levels is noticeable.

The higher the mattress, the less effect a slatted frame has. A slatted frame is no longer required from a thickness of 17 centimeters. All the necessary technology can then be accommodated in the mattress itself. The quality of the foam core plays a decisive role here. In technical terms, one speaks of volume weight in kilograms per cubic meter (kg / m³). A good mattress should have at least 45 kg / m³. Those who only spend the night on board at the weekend can cope with lower quality. Volume weights around 55 kg / m³ correspond to the premium quality from the domestic sector.

My favorite among mattresses

I’ve been using a specific mattress for years as I’ve heard a lot of good things about this mattress for ships. I also checked out a specialist shop and bought this mattress for my boat.
Now I have seen that this mattress is also available on amazon. Sure, the price is a bit higher… but it’s worth it to me 😉

Since we spend a third of our lives sleeping, it makes perfect sense to also deal with the mattress on board. This brings additional valuable quality of life into everyday life on board. When purchasing, however, the points above should be observed so that it is worthwhile.

A serious mattress maker knows about these aspects and can provide appropriate advice. He also knows that the art of making mattresses is to work in such a way that the foam core fits the body shape perfectly and it lies perfectly on the mattress.

In this sense, good night!

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