02.21.11

Choosing The Right Mattress

Posted in Spinal Hygiene at 5:50 PM by Dr. Greathouse

Because we spend an average of one third of our lifetime lying down or on a mattress, that’s on average 24 years, choosing a good mattress probably is important.  If we are not comfortable when we sleep obviously we do not get adequate and necessary rest.  Poor mattress design does produce musculoskeletal aches and pains, therefore  proper support is important.  Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of study on this topic.  Most medical references with regard to bedding is directed at reducing bedsores.

It is estimated that about half the population has experienced sleep difficulties.  Ergonomic study indicates that maintaining a natural shape of the spine while sleeping is important.  One study indicated that a regular bed versus an orthopedic mattress made no difference in sleep quality.  Air mattresses do provide better sleep quality than futon mattresses.  Another study suggested that our bodies just needed time to adjust to different sleep surfaces, and thus the complaints by travelers sleeping in different beds.  How hard or soft the mattress was did make a difference as it related to low back pain, soft was better.

There are three basic factors to look for in choosing a mattress.  First, choose a quality mattress that’s going to hold up over time.  The second thing to look for is a soft overlay, which is the top support surface of the mattress.  This is important because it reduces the amount of pressure on uneven body surfaces, conforms better to your body contours, allows for maintaining the natural shape of your spine and reduces restriction of circulation on pressure points.  The bed should also be firm under the overlay, so as to restrict sagging.  Sagging mattresses do not support the natural shape of the spine, therefore, placing more stress or load on ligaments, tendons and muscles.  This of course is more likely to produce aches and pains.

Additionally, there are other factors to consider. It’s important to provide yourself with a large sleep surface area.  We all toss in turn throughout the night and if this is restricted, prolonged load and reduced circulation occurs resulting in poor sleep quality or aches and pains.  A mattress should be designed to minimize the transfer movement from one sleeping partner to another and it  should have a perimeter edge support.

There’s a multitude of brands and types of beds that meet these requirements. The rest is up to you in finding the best buy for your money.

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