80% of adults in the United States experience back pain at some point in their life. There are many reasons for this kind of pain, but did you know that a poor mattress is one of the most common? It’s true. In fact, studies show that replacing a poor mattress with a higher quality mattress can reduce back pain and spinal stiffness up to 60% on average. When you consider that we spend about a third of our lives sleeping, it’s not surprising that our mattresses can have a significant impact on our spinal structure.
Four Tips to Choose the Right Mattress for Your Back’s Health
So how do you choose the right mattress to reduce back pain? There are four key tips to keep in mind.
1. Choose a medium-firm mattress.
Many people think that a really firm mattress is the best way to support your spine, but studies show that a supportive medium-firm mattress is actually best. Medium-firm mattresses are supportive of the spine, but have enough give to allow your spine to stay in a more natural alignment without causing uncomfortable pressure–something that ultimately causes more pain.
2. Consider a mattress an investment in your health and make quality a more important factor than price alone.
With all the mattress deals available, it’s tempting to choose the cheapest one available, but a quality mattress is an investment that pays itself off in reduced health costs. A 2008 study in Applied Ergonomics even showed that the quality of a mattress and bedding could significantly reduce pain and improve sleep quality both in the short and long term. Not only will a good mattress help you feel better, but it will also last longer. Consumer Reports has shown that higher-end mattress models from established brands can easily last a full ten years without causing back pain.
3. Make sure your mattress supports proper sleep posture while relieving pressure points.
sleep posture, back painAny mattress that supports your body in a neutral position without much additional pressure works. Whether this is a spring, memory foam, air column mattress, or even a waterbed isn’t important, so long as the quality is sufficient. In general, however, you will need to balance the need for a soft enough mattress that doesn’t push on pressure points and take you out of alignment and a firm enough mattress that your body doesn’t just sink down or flop back into an unhealthy position. Many people find that firmer mattresses with pillowtops strike this balance well, as do newer memory foam technologies that adjust to pressure accordingly.
To test your posture and its resulting pressure on a mattress, lay down in the position in which you usually sleep. Ensure that your spine has a nice curvature and your buttocks, heels, shoulders, and head are supported in proper alignment. If you feel comfortable yet firm, you probably will be able to keep that nice posture during the night, which will ultimately reduce your back pain.
4. Replace your mattress regularly.
No matter how well-chosen your mattress, it won’t last forever. You need to change mattresses every 5-10 years depending on the quality of the mattress and the wear it receives. In fact, adults over the age of 40 need more support and should not sleep on mattresses over 7 years old. Generally speaking, as soon as you see any sagging in your mattress, it’s time for a new model.
You spend more time in bed than anywhere else. For the sake of your health, make sure that time is spent fighting back pain, not making it worse. A proper mattress is your first line of defense.