Those who suffer back pain are eager to find relief. Better yet, they are eager to prevent back pain, and that can often be achieved by changing the way you sleep.
Importance of a Back Pain Mattress
Changing your sleeping position may involve purchase of a new mattress. A specially designed back pain mattress can give you the support your back needs, which in turn can improve your sleeping position.
Characteristics of a Back Pain Mattress
A good back pain mattress will have different characteristics, depending on you – the sleeper. Although many people have heard that a hard (firm) back pain mattress is best, a Spanish study suggests that a medium-firm back pain mattress may provide better back support and relief from back pain. Published in The Lancet, the 2005 study evaluated 313 adults with chronic low-back pain that unassociated with other medical conditions. It found that people who slept on the medium-firm mattress for 90 days had less pain in bed, less pain when they got out of bed, and less disability than those sleeping on the firm mattresses.
Personal preferences should ultimately determine which back pain mattress to choose, and you will want to consider its characteristics.
- Coils and Innersprings – The degree of firmness in your back pain mattress depends on the number of coils or innersprings. A mattress that is too firm exerts additional pressure on the back.
- Padding – Padding provides comfort in a back pain mattress. It can range from 7 to 18 inches deep. A well-padded mattress can add comfort to medium-firm support.
- Foam Overlay – Therapeutic memory foam (slow-recovery foam) is sometimes layered over firmer foam. Made for NASA by Tempur-Pedic, therapeutic memory foam relieves the take-off pressure on astronauts’ backs by molding to the body, supporting the back. The right back pain mattress for you may have this therapeutic foam on top.
- Latex Foam – Unlike innerspring mattresses, latex foam never loses its ability to bounce back and give correct support. As a back pain mattress, it seems to last longer than all but the therapeutic foam.
In addition to a good back pain mattress, you may need a different pillow. Many people with back pain find it difficult to sleep flat on their backs. Although there is no one sleep position that fits all, you may want to lie on your side, with your legs bent. A therapeutic memory foam pillow, contoured to the neck, should be placed under the head, not the shoulders. Avoid over-stuffed or very soft pillows that place the head in a forced position.
Time for a New Mattress?
Some experts say back pain can be a simple matter of a worn-out mattress. Your body will likely tell you when it’s time for a new back pain mattress, but here are some clues. You regularly wake up feeling stiff and sore. You aren’t sleeping as well as you did a year ago, and there is no apparent physical cause. You haven’t checked your mattress in 6 months for visible signs of wear and tear. You suspect a new mattress would improve your sleep.
Choosing a Back Pain Mattress
According to the Better Sleep Council, the best way to try a mattress is to take the “SLEEP Test”:
- Select a possible back pain mattress
- Lie on it in your favorite sleep position
- Evaluate how much support and comfort it gives you
- Educate yourself and compare options
- Partners who sleep together should try mattresses together
Test drive mattresses as freely as you test drive cars. Lie down on them for several minutes. It’s the only way to tell if a given back pain mattress is right for you.