What is the Best Mattress for my Back?

What is the Best Mattress for my Back Pain?

One of the most commonly asked questions by patients at Resurgens Spine Center is what mattress is best for my back?  We spend one-third of our lives in bed, yet many people neglect to consider the effect this has on our spines.  Sleeping on a poor mattress can lead to an unbalanced sleep posture, causing increased back pain and sleep deprivation.  Sleep deprivation not only leads to a sore back, but can also significantly affect your overall health, safety, lifestyle, and social interactions.

Many patients ask if a certain advertised brand of mattress is superior for spine health.  Although advertisements may lead you to believe otherwise, there are currently no good medical studies to document what brand of mattress results in better sleep and less back problems.  There are, however, a few tips and guidelines you can follow to simplify your choice.

Mattress Choice is an Individual Preference

In some respects, mattress choice is an individual preference, but it is important to find a balance between comfort and proper back support.  A mattress should be firm enough to prevent you from sinking, yet soft enough to conform to the normal curves of the body.  The goal is to find a mattress that keeps the spine in a balanced position.  Too firm a mattress can cause stress on pressure points while too soft a mattress will cause stress on soft tissues, muscles and likely result in poor alignment.  A mattress that is supportive and comfortable will allow your back to rest and rejuvenate during the night.

Try to educate yourself on types of mattresses and their components.  Do not be afraid to ask questions.  Support or firmness in a mattress is typically supplied by the coils or springs inside. These are arranged in various patterns inside the mattress to create a different feel or level of support.  Padding in and on top will also affect the overall comfort.  Typically, more coils increase firmness as will the location and concentration of padding.

When to Buy a New Mattress

Keep an eye on your current mattress to see if a new one might be needed.  In general, mattresses are quite expensive, but it is also a relative investment in your spine health.  Observe the surface and contour of the mattress.  Visible or obvious sagging may be an indication to start thinking about a new purchase.  Treat your mattress with care.  Flip and rotate your mattress every 4-6 months to assure even wear on all surfaces.

Higher cost does not always equal better quality or results.  Although thicker mattresses with more coils and padding tend to have a higher quality rating and are more expensive, this does not guarantee better results.  If possible, think support and posture first, and price second.  Don’t get influenced by advertising.  As previously stated, there are no medical studies to support a specific type of mattress.  Labeling that states “orthopedic” and “medically proven to be helpful” are ways of influencing potential customers to purchase a product.

If possible, a trial run is always helpful.  If the mattress is meant for two people, make sure you both try it in a store setting at the same time.  Different stores and companies may have policies for returns and trials, so make sure you inquire and know you can potentially return the mattress if dissatisfied.

Choose a Good Pillow

Pay attention to your pillow as well.  The pillow should support your neck and allow it to rest in a balanced position, centered over your chest and shoulders.  Sleeping on more than one pillow often pushes the head out of a balanced position, leading to neck and shoulder pain.

Getting a good night’s sleep is important, not only for your spinal health, but for your overall well-being.  Although there are some factors that cannot easily be controlled during sleep to maintain posture and comfort, your mattress is something that can be modified to improve your quality of sleep and control back and neck problems.  Ultimately, this can be the difference in assuring a better quality of life.