If you are sleeping on the wrong mattress it can lead to all sorts of issues that go far beyond night-time discomfort. Having a good night’s sleep has been shown to lower the risk of a variety of medical conditions and even lengthen your lifespan. That is why it is essential to choose the right type of mattress.
Mattresses and Back Pain
One of the things that the right mattress can help with the most is back pain. It is a two-way relationship, a good mattress can help with back pain caused by an external factor, and a poor mattress can lead to back pain. While a high-quality mattress may be more expensive, it is an investment that can save you in the long term and prevent a large variety of issues.
The vast majority of people will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives, and for many, it can become a chronic lifelong condition. There can be a number of knock-on effects from back pain, some of them extremely serious. However, the right mattress can alleviate pressure on the back and help reduce pain in the most sensitive areas, such as the neck, shoulders, hips, and lower back.
Most people sleep in one of three positions, on their side, back or stomach. There are various pros and cons to all of these positions, but regardless of how you sleep the right mattress can still help to alleviate pain. When choosing one, you need to consider a variety of factors including your body weight and preferred sleep position. However, when it comes to the mattresses itself, this is what you need to consider:
- If you sleep on your back, is the mattress firm enough to support your lower back but also soft enough to contour to your body? A too-stiff mattress will push against the spine and a too-soft mattress does not provide enough support.
- If you are a side sleeper, is the mattress soft enough to cushion your shoulders and hips?
- If you are a stomach sleeper, is the mattress firm enough to keep you afloat.
Realistically, most people will sleep in a combination of these positions, so it will be necessary to find a balance when choosing a mattress.
Different Types of Mattresses
There are many different types of mattresses, but there are just a few to consider when looking for a mattress to help with back pain:
These mattresses are made using a steel coil support system. There are many different types of spring systems, including those in which the springs are connected into a single unit, and those with individually wrapped pocket coils. The innersprings are covered with padding that could be made from foams, fiber and even extra layers of smaller springs. Generally, the more coils there are, the great the support and the better the contouring.
Foam mattresses use one or more types of foam as the support system. The foam can be made from a large variety of materials and can come in a variety of shapes and densities depending on how it is made. Thanks to this, foam mattresses offer various levels of support, contouring, and heat dissipation. Some mattresses are made from memory foam, these use high-density polyurethane foam as the support system in at least one layer and it will contour closely to the shape of the sleeper. Other foam mattresses may have gel added to them; this gel can also affect the support and contouring.
Latex mattresses use latex foam for the support system in at least one of the layers. These are very similar to foam mattresses and in fact, many mattresses will offer a mixture of regular foams and latex foams.
As the name suggests, a hybrid mattress will use a mixture of the different support systems. They will contain a steel coil support system as well as various foam or gel layers. Hybrid mattresses often have the greatest number of layers and may also be the most customizable.
Mattress Types and Back Pain
All of the above mattress types are able to offer a great deal of support and contouring. Furthermore, within each category, you will find a large amount of variation in factors such as firmness, which makes it difficult to say that one is best for back pain. Ultimately, it will be a personal decision.
That said, an innerspring mattress is unlikely to offer the same levels of contouring as a foam, latex or hybrid mattress. This is because the springs often cause the sleeper to lay unevenly and this forces the spine to arch. That is why many people with back pain opt for hybrid mattresses, as they bring the full range of benefits.
A mattress that has foam or latex in its upper layers will not force the spine to curve or contort into unnatural positions. Rather, they will allow various parts of the body to sink and provide support to the areas that need it. That way pressure is reduced and pain is alleviated.
In the past, there were two problems with memory foam, one was that it was occasionally made with toxic chemicals and the other was that the foam tended to heat up and leave the sleeper uncomfortable. However, this is no longer a problem. You will see that many mattresses carry certification guaranteeing that they do not contain harmful materials. At the same time, a great deal of research has been carried out into cooling the mattresses and this has solved the problem of overheating.
How Firm Should a Mattress Be?
This question has caused a great deal of debate over the years but the latest research shows that a medium-firm mattress is best for reducing back and shoulder pain, and spine stiffness. This is why most of the mattress you will see will offer medium-firm support. It is, of course, a relatively subjective area, but luckily, many mattress producers now allow you to try their products for 100-nights or more before committing to them.
Choosing the Right Mattress
As you begin your hunt for a mattress you will see that there is a huge amount of choice on the market. However, if you take in to account the above points and look in detail at mattresses’ features, then you are sure to find the right one for your needs and you will be enjoying a better night’s sleep in no time at all.