Few things are more frustrating than waking up with back pain every morning. It’s nearly impossible to start the day off on the right foot when you’re in pain. While there’s a myriad of different causes for back pain, have you ever considered there might be a link between mattresses and back pain?
We’re going to take a look at the science surrounding whether mattresses and back pain correlate with each other, and provide you with the info and tips you need to get to the root of your back pain problem today.
What does the science say?
While there is some scientific evidence on this topic, it’s very inconclusive. Much more research is necessary to definitively know exactly how mattresses can cause back pain.
What we do know is that your mattress and sleeping habits can certainly exasperate back pain and make it more difficult to sleep through the night and awake feeling refreshed.
Before you consider replacing your mattress, making changes to your sleeping habits and posture may be helpful. Plus, it’s something you can do right now at little or no cost.
The Rochester University Medical Center suggests that you focus on keeping your spine aligned while you sleep. The right mattress can go a long way in keeping your spine aligned, but you can also achieve this with some extra pillows as well.
New vs old mattresses
When it comes to mattresses and back pain, it does appear that a new bed can have a positive effect on sleep quality, at least compared to your old mattress. This isn’t to say that a new mattress is the answer to all your back pain problems, but research suggests that a brand new mattress may provide more comfort and support than a mattress that’s five years old or more.
It’s easy to see why. Over time, even a high quality mattress will degrade in many ways that can lead to back pain. Mattresses can sag or buckle and develop lumps over time, all of which can contribute to poor quality sleep.
What to look for in a new mattress
When it comes to mattress shopping, there are some major attributes you’ll want to consider before making a decision.
First and foremost, comfort is a significant factor. You need to ensure that the mattress you’re selecting meets your needs from a comfort perspective. But, spend an afternoon shopping for a bed, and you’re likely to find that many mattresses are very comfortable, but some don’t offer the level of support you need.
A supportive mattress will contour to your body and help to keep your spine properly aligned. Keep in mind that support and firmness are not the same things. If you prefer a soft mattress, you should also be able to find a bed that also provides adequate support.
You’ll also want to make sure that the mattress you’re selecting doesn’t create any pressure points, which are a major contributor to back pain. Pressure points occur when one point of the mattress pushes back against your body more than in other areas. These pressure points can push your spine out of alignment, which can lead to chronic back pain.
A final factor to consider is the temperature control and moisture management capabilities of the mattress. A mattress that stays cool and can keep you at an appropriate temperature through the night is a great way to improve your sleep quality. Considering that so many mattresses offer cooling gel tops and other temperature management systems, it’s worth considering them before making your decision.
What’s the best type of mattress for back pain?
Thanks to the popularity of trendy new mattress-in-a-box companies, there are more options than ever when you’re shopping for a new mattress. But, how can you be sure that you’re selecting the best mattress for back pain?
First, you’ll want to keep in mind that everyone’s personal comfort level is different. Some people are more comfortable sleeping on a softer mattress, while some people prefer a mattress that’s more firm.
When you’re shopping for a mattress, your level of comfort should be your biggest concern. A bed that’s comfortable to you will provide you with the best quality sleep, which is ultimately the most critical part of the equation.
As for the science, there’s a lot of static to wade through. Some research has suggested that extra firm mattresses have a negative effect on chronic back pain compared with a softer mattress. Meanwhile, other research suggests that a medium firm mattress is best for alleviating pain.
What we can conclude from this research is that the issue of mattresses and back pain is subjective, and the best way to select the ideal mattress for you is to try multiple mattresses, if possible.
Most manufacturers offer generous at-home trial periods that allow you to trial a mattress for a month or longer before deciding to keep it. While it may be a hassle to buy and try a mattress and end up returning it, it could mean the difference between years of unhappiness and quality, pain-free sleep.
If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, you may want to look closely at your mattress. At best, a poor quality mattress that doesn’t offer adequate support or comfort certainly isn’t making your back pain any better. At worst, your mattress itself may be one of the primary causes of your chronic back pain in the first place.
While the best mattress for you will differ depending on your personal comfort preference and the type of back pain you’re experiencing, one thing is for certain; examining your sleep habits and your mattress may be the best place to start if you’re looking to improve your sleep quality and reduce chronic pain.
About the author
Andrew Levacy runs Memory Foam Talk a site dedicated to unbiased Mattress reviews having slept on almost 75 mattresses since starting this site, and sharing real-life experience with each of them.