How’s Your Mattress, Sleeping Beauty, Part Deux

the man lies on a new mattress for bed.In February’s first blog we discussed some reasons you should skip the new ski boat and maybe invest instead in a new mattress, one that could properly support your aching back. We mentioned a study that found the average mattress age of the participants’ mattresses was 9.5 years. That’s a lot of sagginess you’re sleeping on! The study found that replacing your old mattress with any option (well, short of a backpacking pad) would probably be better than what you currently have.

In this second February blog for DFW, let’s give you a few things to look for when looking for a new mattress.

Alignment is not just for your car wheels

You may not think about it, but posture is important when you sleep just as much as during your waking time. The muscles and ligaments (tissue that holds joints together) in your back need to relax and recover while you sleep. If a mattress is too firm — or too soft — it won’t support your spine at your neck or lower back the way it needs to.

What’s firm enough (but not too firm) is different for everyone. For instance, if you have wide hips or shoulders, a slightly softer surface may be better. You need some more give in order to keep your spine in alignment. Someone with narrower hips or shoulders, in contrast, could be better off with a firmer surface.

Think “medium-firm”

There is a surprising lack of information out there, but one study of 300+ people with lower back pain supplied the participants with either “medium-firm” or “firm” mattresses for 90 days. Those in the medium-firm group reported the least amount of discomfort.

You should look into memory foam or other foam options instead of the traditional innerspring variety. The foam molds to your body, and this can provide more even support for your entire spine. The downside to these mattresses can be that they keep in more heat.

Do a demo

OK, you visited a friend and slept like the dead in their guest bedroom, or you did the same in a hotel room. Write down the name of that mattress brand and model.

Also, don’t be shy about using the money-back guarantee. Many companies now allow you to use their mattress for anywhere from 30 to 100 nights, and within that time you can send it back for a refund if you don’t like it. That’s a great way to have a better test drive than simply laying on it for two minutes in the store showroom!

Pillows and positions count too

If you upgrade your mattress, also look to upgrade your pillows. You want your head to be parallel to the mattress, keeping your spine straight. A pillow that is too low or too high can tilt your head, and that causes pain. Also, most people shouldn’t sleep on their face, as this creates a bad spinal position, which leads to morning pain.

Now you have a few tips to employ when shopping for that new mattress. This could be a whole new morning without back pain!

Otherwise, if you’re dealing with chronic back pain, please give us a call at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, (817) 916-4685, to make an appointment with Dr. Tinley.

Posted in: Back Pain

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