When you consider that the average person will sleep eight hours a day (or one-third of each day), then that means you spend one third of your life in bed, which translates to about 25 years, then it’s easy to understand why picking the right mattress is so important.
Add in the fact that at any given time in our lives, more than 80% of Americans will experience back pain, and that mattress not only becomes important, but downright vital! When you don’t get a good night’s rest, nothing will go right. You will feel bad, your work will suffer, your social life goes to heck and we haven’t even discussed how important sleep is to your immune system!
Mattresses are such a personal choice that it is difficult to point to one brand or type and say that this would work for everyone. There are guidelines, however, that can help you narrow down your choices.
It’s good to know, however, that a new mattress is one of the best ways to help lower back pain.
Chiropractic Mattress Reviews
The problem with reviews is that you really don’t know who wrote them or if the person who is writing the review was paid to say that Brand X is the best. So, while we would all hope that when a chiropractor writes a review, they actually slept on the mattress in question or at least know something about it that didn’t come from a brochure.
In this article, I won’t pretend that I’ve slept on every mattress here, rather, I will explain the differences between mattresses and which mattress works best for whom. Let’s face it, a 25-year-old with a text neck will want a different mattress than a 75-year-old with sciatica.
I do want to stress that simply buying a new pillowtop mattress will not be the solution if you have back pain. Back pain from an old mattress, probably, but if you have chronic back issues or other health problems that cause back pain, such as arthritis, don’t waste your money with the old spring style pillowtop mattresses.
The Mattress Recommended by the Chiropractic Association
In 2018, the American Chiropractic Association endorsed the Casper Wave mattress. Casper is a fairly new company that was founded in 2014 but has been named one of the most innovative companies in the world. Casper not only designs and manufactures mattresses, but they have their own research laboratory in San Francisco, California, that does research and testing on a variety of ergonomic designs and materials. [Source]
The Caper Wave mattress is made from 5 layers of premium foam that encourages proper spinal alignment. This recommendation from the ACA does not mean that this mattress is good for everyone, such as those with certain health issues, but is a general recommendation for a good quality mattress that supports spine health.
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Is a Firm Mattress Better for Your Back?
Personal comfort notwithstanding, the main factor you should consider when choosing a mattress is spine health. Your spine has three slight curves and all need support, even when you are in a horizontal position.
The perfect mattress holds your body in a neutral position, meaning that the spine is able to hold its natural slight curve, while the head, buttocks, shoulders, and heels are all aligned. You know you have found the perfect mattress when you feel no pressure points at all- almost as if you were floating on water or air.
For those who do not have back pain, a firm mattress is usually the best choice. However, if you have arthritis or other types of back pain, a firm mattress is going to make your back an even bigger misery to you than it is now.
The Best Mattress for Low Back Pain Sufferers
Chronic low back pain can make sleeping a nightmare, so you want to get just the right mattress, but how do you know which one that is?
This question is especially important for those with pinched nerves. One of the most common questions I am asked is “How can I sleep with a pinched nerve?” The answer is the proper mattress.
Traditional spring-type mattresses are flat and similar to a plank of wood. Springs that are stiff can cause the body to lie unevenly on the surface, leaving your lower back with little or no support.
For those with low back pain, the best mattress will be memory foam or high-quality latex foam. Of course, the perfect bed will be based on your preferences, with some people enjoying the feel of latex foam and other memory foam, and preferences as to layer thickness and firmness will be a personal choice that will depend on your weight, sleep style, and other choices.
Some have stated that memory foam beds are too hot since they are made from materials that trap body heat. Others dislike the idea of sleeping on beds manufactured with chemicals. There are memory foam beds that are made from natural materials, such as soybeans or bamboo, that will eliminate those concerns.
Remember that the best mattress in the world is no replacement for comprehensive chiropractic care. There are different chiropractic treatments depending on the root cause of your pain.
Best Mattress for Side Sleepers According to Chiropractors
Side sleepers are among the most common in the world. Even people who start out sleeping on their stomach or back often wind up on their side during the night. Unfortunately, with the wrong type of mattress, side sleeping could be slowly pulling your spine out of alignment. Eventually, this can cause back, hip, and even neck pain.
Luckily, getting the right type of mattress isn’t hard. Generally, side sleepers will benefit from a mattress that falls in the soft to medium range. The idea is to get a mattress soft enough to keep your spine in a natural position while you sleep on your side, but firm enough so that it provides enough healthy support for the rest of your body.
Memory foam mattresses seem to provide the best of both worlds for side sleepers. But what kind of mattress you need also depends on your body weight. If you’re above-average in weight, you’ll probably need a mattress closer to the medium side of the spectrum. If you’re below average in weight, a softer mattress is probably best.
But, it’s also about your own comfort. After all, what good is a mattress if you can’t seem to get comfortable on it? So, search for a combination of comfort and optimal firmness for your body weight and sleeping position.
Which is the Best Mattress for Back and Neck Pain?
For those who suffer from general back and neck pain, whether it is due to a highly active job or health issues, it can be difficult to find exactly what you are looking for.
First off, if your mattress is more than 10 years old, it probably cannot offer you the support you need to stop neck and back pain. The same is true of your pillow. Most pillows have a life expectance of 3-5 years, so while you are shopping for a new mattress, it might be time to check out the pillows as well.
You might think that buying one of those memory foam mattress toppers would be cheaper (and easier) than a new bed, but truth be told, these rarely work for people. In fact, a full 20% of people who buy a memory foam topper return the mattress within a few days.
If you do try one, be sure that it has a generous return policy, in case it doesn’t work for you. Buy the best product you can afford that is at least 3 inches tall, but 5 inches is better.
Like mattresses for those with chronic low back pain, most people will find that a high-quality latex foam or memory foam mattress will offer more support and less pain than the traditional spring-type mattresses.
What is the Best Mattress for Sciatica?
While there is no perfect mattress for everyone, many people who suffer from sciatica state that a medium-firm mattress. Mattresses that are too hard or too soft both cause sciatic pain.
Most people with sciatica find that a memory foam mattress that is 10-12 inches in height is the perfect answer. If you sleep with your spouse and their movement causes pain, a 12-inch memory foam mattress will reduce almost all transfer of motion. Look for a memory foam mattress that is either made from natural materials, such as bamboo or one that states it uses open cell technology to prevent the buildup of heat or that incorporates gel in the mattress to keep you cooler.
You can also try a hybrid mattress that uses both springs and latex foam. Springs provide much-needed support but can be too stiff for sciatica sufferers. Combined with the softness of latex, however, you might find that this type of mattress is both responsive and very adaptable.
If you have sciatica, you might need more help than just a new mattress, you should see a chiropractor as well. Can a chiropractor help with lower back pain and sciatica? Yes, they can.
What is Your Sleeping Position?
There is something else to consider when looking for a mattress and that is your preferred sleeping position.
Stomach sleepers should try to avoid this position as it puts a lot of extra strain on the neck and lower back, but if you can’t sleep any other way, choose a very soft pillow but a firm mattress.
For back sleepers, you should first try a medium to a firm mattress and a firm pillow. You should also keep extra pillows to put under or between your knees if you have back pain but like to sleep on your back.
Side sleepers are the most popular group and for better spine health, you should try to sleep on your side as much as possible. If you have hip pain or low back pain, try sleeping on your side with a flat pillow between your knees. If you have shoulder pain, try a firm pillow but soft to medium mattress. Side sleepers will probably prefer a medium-firm mattress, but some might even like a soft to medium mattress.
If You Need More Help
The right mattress can make you feel like a million bucks the next morning. If you don’t seem to be able to find a mattress that suits you or you don’t want to go through the hassle of trying and returning a half dozen mattresses, you might want to consider talking to your chiropractor before you go mattress shopping.
Pain at night is one of the most common back misalignment symptoms.
Your local chiropractor can help you determine what type of mattress might work best for your condition and needs.
If you found this article helpful, please feel free to pass it on to others via email or social media.
As your trusted chiropractor in Juneau, I would like to remind you that you don’t have to live with back pain. We offer same-day appointments, a 10-minute wait promise, and our helpful staff will gladly look into your insurance for you. If you don’t have insurance, please read this article here.
Call one of our offices for a no-obligation consultation or make an appointment online below.
About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.