A very common question I get form back pain patients is, "What is the best mattress to sleep on?" A really excellent question and a health item too often overlooked by many people. We spend 1/4 -1/3 of our lives on average sleeping, so what we sleep on for body support and proper rest is essential for good health.
There are alot of mattresses out in the market, and they all have a story. There are no shortage of choices in compostion ( spring, gel, air, water, foam, latex, etc), support (soft, meduium, firm, extra-firm), styles (platform, sleep number, futon, pillow-top, boxspring, etc.), and prices ($99 - $10,000).
So, what shoul you choose? Here are a few guidelines:
The are a few studies on choosing rthe best mattress. One study conducted on 313 patients suffering from lower back pain, those using medium-firm mattresses reported less pain when lying in bed as well as less pain-related disability compared with those using firm mattresses.
This makes sense and goes along with what I have found in treating back pain patients for over 30 years.
Your mattress should be firm enough to support your lower back if you are a back-sleeper, while being soft enough to contour to your body. A too-stiff mattresses tend to push against the spine while too-soft mattresses don’t offer enough support. A medium firm mattress is ideal for this type of sleeper.
For side sleepers, a mattress with slight softness is necessary to cushion the shoulders and hips.
For stomach sleepers, the best thing is to learn how to sleep on your back or side.
I recommend a firm matress of whatever material feels right, with a pillow-top to give you the softness you need. The pillow-top can vary in thickness (2 - 12 inches) and be made of egg-crate foam, gel, or anything that fits your comfort. Air mattresses such as the sleep number bed can be adjusted for firmness, but should also have a pillow-top for comfort.
Replace As Needed
Even the best mattresses wear down. A new mattress is always more firm. Spring mattresses should be replaced in about 10 years. Sooner if you don't monthly rotate it, and quarterly flip it. Avoid getting an attached pillow-top on the mattress, so flipping doesn't turn the soft side down.
Test-Drive It For At Least 1 Week
The only way to know if a mattress is right for you is to sleep on it. 2 minutes lying on it in the store isn't enough to know how you'll feel after 6-8 hours on it day to day. You'll need at least a week to see if it fits you.
Finally, pillow support and sleep position are also very important to getting a good night's sleep. We'll cover that in future blogs.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.