Most people will spend roughly a third of their lives lying in bed. Human beings in general spend more time sleeping than doing any other single activity over the course of a lifetime. With this in mind, it becomes increasingly clear that it is vital to choose the right mattress to manage mattress-associated low back pain.
As all backs and sleeping habits are different, there is no one kind of mattress that is best for back pain. It is, therefore, very important to find the right mattress for your spine. While this takes trial and error, it is the only way to make sure you can be well-rested and avoid mattress-associated low back pain throughout the day. We have a few suggestions as you make your choice.
A Pillar of Support
If you want to avoid mattress-associated low back pain, your back must be supported throughout the night. Doing so allows your muscles to rest. This means that in addition to supporting your back, your mattress should also keep your spine in a proper alignment, not too bent or twisted. If your spine is out of alignment as you sleep, your muscles must engage the entire night to support that misalignment, resulting in pain the next morning. Lack of proper support from a mattress actually reinforces poor sleeping posture, and remember that the pillow you use contributes to maintaining good alignment while you sleep.
Despite an old school of thought, quality of sleep is not directly related to the firmness of a mattress. Sleeping on a wooden plank or the ground will not guarantee a night of restful sleep, and it certainly won’t guard against pain the next morning. Since a mattress that is too soft will not support your spine, the trick is to find a mattress not too hard or too soft. It’s up to you to find which kind of mattress hits the Goldilocks sweet spot, which type is just right for you.
What is Your Mattress Made of?
Mattress technology is a frequently changing science, resulting in many different options on the market. Personal preference is key. There are many good choices, and there is no one-size-fits-all mattress, so consider these and other questions: do you prefer a mattress with springs or something made of memory foam? Has a boxspring improved your sleeping experience? Do you like a mattress with a built-in pad on top?
Each mattress component has its pros and cons. Memory foam, for example, molds to the shape of a body, providing support, but it does tend to trap body heat very close to the sleeper. Beds with the functionality to lift either end can relieve pressure on a painful neck or back, but they must be used correctly to support the correct alignment of the spine.
Do Your Homework
If you are on the lookout for the right mattress for you, pay attention to times you sleep well and wake up without mattress-associated low back pain when you sleep on beds other than your own. If you are well-rested after sleeping at a friend or relative’s home, or if a hotel mattress worked wonders, take note of that mattress’ model number.
You can also conduct your own research at mattress depots or department stores. Test out sample mattresses for their firmness and support. Learn what kind of features make you most comfortable. In doing so, however, it is important to remember that what feels comfortable for a few minutes in a store may not translate into a night of blissful slumber. Another option is to find out which mattress companies allow for extended trial periods. Some companies will let you return a mattress within 30 to 90 days after purchase if the mattress doesn’t prove satisfactory.
A Change Is as Good as a Rest
In a study conducted by Oklahoma State University, the data indicated that a new mattress improved the sleep and pain levels of all participants. Over a 28-day study period, participants reported minimized low-back pain irrespective of the mattresses with which they were provided. The bottom line seems to be that having a new mattress alone improves sleep variables, particularly mattress-associated low back pain.
After days spent walking around with back pain caused by an insufficiently supportive mattress, the drive to find the right mattress is at its peak. We wish you success in your hunt to find something that provides adequate comfort and support so you can get a good night’s sleep. In the meantime, if you need help managing your mattress-associated low back pain, come see us at Rock Creek Spine and Rehabilitation Center today.