When you are sleeping, your body uses the opportunity to recover, but experiencing lower and upper back pain derails your goal of getting top-notch sleep quality. If you use a mattress that does not have enough support, the issue can easily become worse and result in pain when you wake up, because it strains the muscles, fails to keep the spine in neutral alignment, and encourages poor sleeping posture.
That makes it essential to choose a mattress that fits your individual sleeping preferences – and that means opting for one that gives back support and comfort. Selecting one can be difficult, however, owing to the numerous options and mattress types on the market, but the guidelines we will discuss should help you make a worthwhile decision.
Your medical record
Not all back pain issues have the same root cause, so you should not just look at the softness or firmness of the mattress when you want to buy an option that is best for your spinal condition. Before choosing a mattress, you should therefore think about your medical history and make sure your purchase fits those needs – if you are unsure, you can also consult your medical provider.
To help you narrow down your options, ask yourself questions like the medical conditions you have, what you have received treatment for in the past, and what your current diagnosis is. These have major impacts on what is comfortable for different people – for instance, a person suffering from spinal stenosis struggle when lying down, but not when walking or standing. Degenerative spinal conditions are a different story, as well as people with herniated discs, spinal arthritis, and other conditions.
If you have experienced a back surgery, you may require softer mattresses to promote healing of the tissues, while some back pain issues need firmer support. Different mattress manufacturers make different options to suit your needs.
Age of your mattress
Mattress inner layers or springs will break down over time and make the bed soft, which can result in more back pain. Therefore, you need to know whether making Helix mattress considerations or any other mattress type makes sense, or whether you can use the old one but alter the levels of support using other methods.
You need to get a suitable mattress for your sleeping position to offer you maximum support. Most are side sleepers, which is the best position but places pressure on your shoulders and hips, so choose a softer mattress that conforms to the body.
Stomach and back sleepers will be irritated by softer mattresses, so choose firmer mattresses for support. Back sleepers in particular will benefit from adding thin pillows or thin, rolled towels under the lower back and knees for support and comfort.
The type of mattress
Different mattresses will offer varying support levels depending on their constituent materials. They are five major types:
- Innerspring – These are almost entirely comprised of metal coils, alongside a thin layer of foam, polyester, or cotton covering the coils. They are the cheapest mattress type as well.
- Hybrid – These have an innerspring core with layers of fiber, wool, cotton, micro-coils, latex, or foam. These are stronger than pure innerspring mattresses, so they offer pressure point relief and temperature regulation.
- Latex – They have a latex interior, with different latex forms acting as comfort layers. They can cushion and contour around the body without sinking, so they are very comfortable.
- Airbeds – These have support chambers in their core, and you use a smartphone app or remote to control a pump that adds or removes air from these chambers. They will also have wool, polyester, cotton, latex, or foam as comfort layers. These are great for back pain as you can adjust their firmness in real-time.
- Foam – These use foam to create the comfort system and core, with memory foam being the most popular. They offer the highest contouring levels and cushion your body where it needs the most support.
In terms of selecting mattresses for back pain, there is no conclusive agreement on whether soft or firm mattresses are best. The tips we have outlined will all influence your personal choice though, so choose a mattress that is comfortable for you and works for your needs.