Mattresses matter. Don’t they?
Whether you are an employee, or a housewife, or the CEO of a company, your mattress matters. Whether you are a student trying to get a degree, or a graduate trying to get a job, your mattress does matter. Why?
Because if your mattress isn’t right, it’s going to hurt your back. And back ache is one of the most terrible and annoying things one will have to go through in their life.
And if you are one of those people going through the menace of back pain, the problem could be with your mattress.
But hey, that’s where the solution is too!
Before I continue .. there is something you must know first, if you don’t already –
What Causes Back Pain?
Back pain has different causes. Most of the time it is because of the strain in your back muscles. This could be due to lifting objects that are too heavy, or because of sudden twists or movements. There are also other medical causes like sciatica, arthritis, or even osteoporosis.
And there is one more cause – a bad mattress. If your mattress doesn’t support certain parts of your body or doesn’t keep your spine straight, it can hurt your back.
Why Choosing The Right Mattress Is Important To Your Back (And Why Choosing The Wrong One Could Be Detrimental)
You spend about one third of your day (assuming you sleep for a good eight hours) on your mattress, and its quality will definitely play a role in the health of your back muscles.
Hence, choosing the right mattress is very important to your back. As is equally important to not choose the wrong one. For example, if you have had a bad back, it doesn’t necessarily mean you must go for a firm mattress. Your spine has a natural curvature, and your mattress must cater to this curvature to keep your spine healthy.
But the question is, how do you choose the right mattress? In fact, how will you know if the time has come for you to change your mattress?
Signs Your Mattress Needs Replacing
The number one reason most people don’t replace their mattresses on time is they don’t know when to. And it leads to complications.
Following are certain signs that help you decide if your mattress needs replacement –
- You are in constant pain. You must be wary of uneven sleep surfaces, because they are one of the culprits of back pain. As time passes, the flat surface of your mattress sags in between and creates a depression. This results in reduced support to your spine, thereby causing severe back ache.
- When you wake up, you are tired. And it happens quite frequently. But there’s a catch. You got to look at your diet, exercise and sleep patterns too. If you wake up tired in the morning despite eating on time, exercising regularly, and getting optimum sleep (7 – 8 hours) every night, then that’s a signal. It probably is time you replaced your mattress – as it would become uneven, causing you to adjust the entire night.
- Once you wake up, you can’t go back to sleep. Again, your mattress might have to be blamed. Remember when you suddenly wake in the very early hours and just cannot get back to sleep? This happens if mattress has sagged or when it can no more offer support. Even if you are dead-tired and are yearning for rest, you just can’t go back to your sleep – courtesy, your mattress.
- Allergy. Do you know that your mattress can hold up to 10 million dust mites? And did you know that your mattress also collects body oils and dead skin over time? All of this can cause you allergy – one major sign you must change your mattress. Allergic reactions include sneezing, itching, runny noses and coughing. If you experience any of these for no apparent reason, then it’s time to check your mattress out.
- You just can’t sleep. Because your mattress doesn’t allow you to. You keep tossing and turning and rolling over your bed, in an attempt to find the most comfortable area to sleep on. But the bad news is – there is no comfortable area. If you are tossing and twisting too much in your sleep, so much so that your sleep is disturbed, then it’s time you changed your mattress.
What Type Of Mattress Should You Go For To Get Relief From Back Pain?
First things first – before you go ahead and purchase a mattress that gives you relief from back pain, you must know what type of mattress treats back pain in the first place.
But you must be clear with certain concepts first. The very idea of mattresses and back pain is based on three interrelated concepts. These are – support, conforming ability, and firmness.
How well can your mattress keep your body on a level plane? That is what mattress support is all about.
According to research, mattress support is a key factor in relieving or even preventing back pain. And the supporting ability of a mattress deteriorates if it sags. How does sagging happen?
Well, when the middle portion of a mattress alone gets compressed and lowered, it sags. When this happens, your spine is put in an unnatural position while you sleep. As this recurs, your back starts to ache. The greater the sagging depth, the worse the pain.
But guess what? Mattress companies are clever. Most of them have warranties that cover sagging that has a depth over 1.5 inches. However, even a sag depth of 0.5 inches could cause back pain in some cases. Anyway, lets’ talk about the different mattress brands a little later.
This refers to how well your mattress can conform to or mold according to the contours of your body. If your entire body is well supported by the mattress, it means your mattress has a good conforming ability.
If your mattress doesn’t have a proper conforming ability, it simply means there are gaps in the support that it offers. Due to this, a few parts of your body (including your spine) may not get the support they need. This ultimately results in back pain.
The lack of conforming ability can also deny support to your shoulders and hips (especially for side sleepers), causing further discomfort.
The health of your back muscles also depends on how firm your mattress is. There are three levels of firmness.
- Firm: The mattress very good support but has little conforming ability. This mattress can be comfortable for large people as they tend to exert more pressure on the mattress, but small (less than 54 kilos in weight) to average sized (54 to 90 kilos in weight) people might face issues.
- Medium firm: The mattress is firm enough to provide support to the back and soft enough to conform to the contours of the body. Petite or average sized people can find this kind of mattress quite comfortable. But in the case of larger people (upwards of 90 kilos in weight), the support might not be enough.
- Soft: Large sized people might find this type of mattress lacks support. However, small to average sized people might find it quite comfortable.
Support, conforming ability, and firmness – these, as already stated, are the three main concepts one must look at for going for a mattress to get relief from back pain.
Coming back to where we began, what would be the best type of mattress you must go for if you want to get rid of back pain? Well, I am not going to tell you. Check the facts for yourself.
Depending upon your needs, you can choose the right kind of mattress for you that can relieve you from back ache. But then, there are certain things you need to remember before going for one such mattress. And this is why we are here – to help you pick the best!
A Guide To Choosing The Perfect Mattress For Your Back Pain
Following are the crucial points you need to keep in mind –
- Ideally, the mattress must be firm enough to support your lower back and soft enough to conform to the contours and curves of your body. This balance is important, as a mattress too firm can push against your spine and a mattress too soft may not offer adequate support – both being undesirable propositions.
- If you are a side sleeper, it is but important for your mattress to have a little softer layer as well. This can help cushion your shoulders and hips as you sleep on your side.
- If you usually sleep on your stomach, a firmer mattress might be good for you as it can keep you afloat.
Most sleepers sleep in all of these styles, leading to so much movement in bed. A memory foam mattress that can both be firm and variously soft (depending on the type) could be the ideal one for most sleepers.
The Science Behind Chronic Back Pain
We just saw what type of mattress would be ideal for you if you want to get relief from back pain. But what is the reason behind back pain? This –
Your spinal cord has three curves.
- the cervical spine, which supports the head
- the thoracic spine, which holds up the upper body
- the lumbar spine, which is the foundation for your back
These curves must be aligned in order to avoid chronic back pain. When that doesn’t happen (for about 8 hours a night, and night after night), you might suffer from chronic back pain.
What The Experts Say
Getting information is different from getting expert information, right? Here is what a few doctors and orthopedics from the sleep/mattress industry have to say about back pain and their relation to mattresses –
“The mattress must support your body in a neutral position. Your spine must have the ideal curvature, and your buttocks, heels, shoulders and head are properly aligned. If the mattress is too firm, it will take you out of alignment; and if it’s too soft, there won’t be proper support.”
– Arya Nick Shamie, Associate Professor
of orthopedic and neurosurgery,
Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center
“Though one can’t say if one type of brand is better than the other, a firm mattress can largely benefit people with lower back pain.”
– Michael Breus, PhD, WebMD Sleep Expert,
and author of “Beauty Sleep: Look Younger,
Lose Weight, And Feel Great Through
“The mattress on which we sleep needs to be firm, yet gentle. If it is too hard, then it gets uncomfortable and hinders the quality of sleep. A mattress, in order to be proportionate to our body and to offer 100 % of all its comfort and quality, it must be 20 cm longer than us and at least 160 cm wide if sleeping in two. If sleeping on a single mattress, the width must be at least 90 cm in order to allow natural movement during the night.”
Anand Nichani, MD,
Polyflex India (a leading company in the
Indian mattress foam industry)
“A mattress can impact a person’s sleep. And coming to memory foam mattresses, there is some evidence they can help with back problems and improve sleep. But their advantage over regular coil mattress is only slight.”
Michael Decker, PhD, RN, Associate Professor at
Georgia State University and spokesman for the
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
“A medium-firm mattress or even a mattress with a softer pillow top can give your spine just the right kind of balance of support and cushioning.”
Howard Levy, MD, Assistant Professor of
orthopedics, physical medicine,
and rehabilitation, Emory University
Common Questions, Answered
There still is a debate on mattresses and how far they can treat (or cause) back pain. Some say firm mattresses work. Others spell the opposite. So what is the right thing to? Who is the right person to listen to? This section should help you out –
How will I know if it is my mattress that is causing my back pain?
It’s pretty simple. If you wake up in the middle of the night with back pain, or the first thing that greets you in the morning is an aching back, your mattress could be the culprit. But there is one thing you must remember – there is no one single mattress that is specifically meant to treat back pain. What works for others may not necessarily work for you.
The mattress is great, but my back still aches. What could the reason be?
The way you sleep, probably. However good the mattress is, if the way you sleep is not proper, you end up hurting the muscles in your back that results in pain. Back pain often occurs when you position your body in a forward bend or backward bend too much. One remedy to this is performing exercise that counteracts the particular position that causes you back pain.
Also remember that your sleeping position must not put your spine in a direction that causes you discomfort during the day. For example, if bending backward is what causes pain, then ensure you sleep on your stomach so that you wouldn’t bend backward during sleep.
What is the ideal sleeping position to prevent back pain?
For most people, sleeping to the side with a pillow under their waist can keep the spine from sagging and prevents back pain. Also, sleeping on the stomach can also be a good option. It’s like this – if sitting aggravates your pain and standing relieves it, sleeping on your stomach can be a good option. On the other hand, if standing worsens your situation but sitting comforts you, then sleeping in the fetal position can do the trick.
Firm or Soft? Which is better for back pain?
It’s personal preference. Like I already said, what suits your friend may not suit you. Your friend might find real peace in a soft mattress, but a firm mattress might probably give you a good night’s sleep. So, it depends. Really.
But still, there is one ground rule you got to remember before you go ahead and pick your favourite mattress. Your mattress must support your body in a neutral position. In other words, your spine must have a slight curvature, and your buttocks, heels, shoulders and head must be in proper alignment.
Though there is no major evidence suggesting if a specific mattress can treat back pain, research has proved that people sleeping on a medium to firm mattress are less likely to suffer from back pain than those sleeping on a softer mattress.
Following are certain options you can look at –
|Duroflex||Topped with a layer of memory foam that keeps spine in its natural position.||Spine Ortho – Rs. 35, 113|
|Godrej||Best solution for the most common orthopedic disorders. Its bonded foam gives you a good night’s sleep without any discomfort.||Orthomatic regular|
|Sleepwell||Combination of PUF and rubberized coir for back support. 3-way anti-sag technology to reduce sagging.||Spinebond – Rs. 22,415|
|Kurl- On||Reduces blood pressure and enhances blood circulation, which ultimately relaxes the neck and the back||Spinekare – Rs. 34,122|
|Sealy||Has a smart support spring system that offers firm back support and enduring performance||Posturelife|
A Word Of Caution
There is no doubt the mattress world is pretty huge. The number of mattress brands can sometimes get overwhelming, and you might find yourself in a fix – as to which one to go for.
Just a word of caution –
- Don’t go for deals that appear too good to be true. Quality always comes with a price. At least, most of the times.
- Never buy a mattress online without reading the consumer reviews first. Especially look at the negative ones, if any – they give you the true picture of any mattress. Going through consumer reviews can also help you narrow down through the wide range of choices.
- Be wary of new brands. Also understand that brands have value. There is a reason specific mattress brands have been in business for so many years. Those are the brands you can always trust.
- Don’t forget to check the warranty and guarantee factors. Know more about them. If you ask the salesperson if a particular mattress would be good for you, he would simply ask you not to worry as it has a warranty (or a satisfaction guarantee). Don’t hold back – ask more questions about them, as this stuff can sometimes get tricky. Can you only exchange your mattress with a better one? Or will you get your cash back? Ask questions. Get clarity.