My patients often ask me as to what type of mattress they should buy when they update their current ones. This is especially the case when they are sufferers of back pain. Should it be soft? Should it be hard? Should I buy one of those foam, contoured mattresses that shape to your body etc etc… Unfortunately there isn’t a vast amount of research out there that determines the best mattress for back pain sufferers. The simple fact is, there is no exact answer to these questions because there isn’t a sole mattress out there that will suit every single person who suffers back pain. Everyone is different, so choosing a mattress should suit your personal needs to allow you to get the best nights sleep possible.
So where should you start in the minefield that is mattress shopping? It has long been thought that if you suffer from back pain, then you should buy a firm mattress. A study was conducted to see if this is the case, but results told a different story. This particular study compared a firm mattress with a medium-firm mattress, and participants reported they felt less pain in bed while sleeping on a medium-firm mattress. So this is a good place to start. A good mattress should allow the natural curves in your spine to be supported. This is determined by the number of springs in the mattress, and by the type of padding on the top of the mattress and preference for type is completely up to you. Be sure to consult a staff member, they are there to help!
When you are shopping for your mattress, make sure you try before you buy! It takes most people around 10 to 15 minutes to completely relax when they are in bed ready to fall asleep. So when you are trying your mattress, first try it in the position you mostly sleep in. If that position is on you side, stay there for at least 10 minutes to see if it remains comfortable for you for the whole time. The same applies for back or tummy positions. This will give you a better indication of the comfort and support of the mattress you are trying than if you were to stay on it for a couple of minutes.
Remember, there’s no need to buy on the spot, keep looking around and try as many mattresses as you can, so that you can take comfort in knowing you have bought the best mattress for you!
- Sellers JT. Spine-health [internet]. Chicago; 19 Aug 2004 [updated 7 May 2008, cited 11 May 2015]. Avail from:http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/choosing-best-mattress-lower-back-pain
- Kovacs FM, Abraira V, Pena A et al. Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain: randomized, double-blind, controlled, multicenter trial. Lancet [internet]. 2003 Nov [cited 2015 May 11]; 362 (9396):1599-1604. Avail from: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(03)14792-7/abstract
This article is for information purposes only. Please consult your Osteopath or primary healthcare professional for further information.