In our spine practice, one of the most common questions that we are asked from patients is “what is the best mattress”. If you think about it, we spend approximately 33% of our life in bed! We know that a lack of sleep can affect our general overall health and cause multiple problems. Sleeping on uncomfortable bed can lead to sleep deprivation (and back pain).
First, to answer the million dollar question about what is the best mattress for your spine, there are no quality, well controlled scientific studies showing that one brand or style is superior to all others. Many of the advertisements we see on TV, in the newspaper, and on billboards would lead us to believe otherwise. Some manufacturers go as far as having an orthopaedic surgeon endorse their brand to make it look more attractive.
In reality, the best mattress is one that is supportive to your spine. You have several curves in your spine. An ideal mattress should provide a balance between supporting the curves of the spine and being comfortable to you. This allows your back to “rest” at night after the day’s activities. Some may take the word “supportive” to mean firm. This is not necessarily the case. Too firm of a mattress can be equally as harmful as a soft mattress that you sink into. An extremely firm mattress can cause undue pressure on certain points of the body and cause muscle aches and pains. For those who suffer from hip bursitis, a firm mattress can cause pressure on the hips for those who are side sleepers possibly aggravating the bursitis further.
Finding the right mattress for you can be a challenging task. You have to lay on the mattress in the showroom to get some sense of comfort level. Some stores do allow you to take it home for a trial period. Just because it is the most expensive mattress in the showroom does not mean it is the best and most comfortable! We have seen patients spend upwards of $3000 for a mattress only to say they wake up with more back pain after buying it! Ask questions and educate yourself. Do not let fancy words like “orthopedic surgeon recommended” or “medically recommended for back pain sufferers” bias your decision to buy a particular mattress.
The bottom-line: If you old mattress is starting to creep up there in years, it may be time to consider buying a new one. It is all about personal comfort! It is something you will have to sleep on for an average of 8 hours per night for the next 5-10 years, so choose wisely. Do not let outside factors such as advertising sway your decision. You want to avoid waking up in the morning with persistent back stiffness and for those who already suffer from low back pain, avoid waking up feeling worse. A consistent good night’s sleep is tied largely to your overall health. The true answer to “what is the best mattress” is the mattress that provides you with the most level of comfort while providing adequate support and allows you to wake in the morning with your muscles and joints feeling refreshed.
- Baran Pouyan M, Ostadabbas S, Nourani M, Pompeo M. Classifying bed inclination using pressure images. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2014;2014:4663-6. PubMed PMID: 25571032