Choose a Mattress

Choose a Mattress That’s Right for You

By Irene Wallace D.C.

Confused on purchasing the right mattress for your spine? You are not alone. This year one in seven Americans will purchase a new mattress and wonder if their selection is best suited to help their backs and necks.

According to the Better Sleep Council, shoppers are increasingly more confused with mattress purchasing to the point that they are even discouraged from completing the purchase. Ultimately, many end up sleeping in their old, worn out mattresses.

Even Consumer Reports has balked at rating mattresses, because it was too difficult to compare the vast number of different brands that incorporate coil spring, space age memory foam and padding.

Informed chiropractic physicians regard mattresses as essential healthcare products that must properly maintain a normal spinal position in order to prevent misalignment. An appropriately recommended bedding system has been scientifically shown to reduce back pain by 57 percent, decrease back stiffness by 59 percent and improve overall sleep quality by 61 percent.

Patients often approach their physicians for advice on selecting a mattress, but few doctors are trained in sleep systems. A chiropractor, however, is well positioned to provide knowledge of the spine and assist consumers in the selection of an appropriate sleep system.

The following must be addressed when considering a new mattress:

Side-Lying Sleepers: This is the most popular sleeping position. An estimated 73 percent of the population sleeps on its side. Plush bedding is required to cradle the body and help disperse the weight of the body across the maximum surface area, preventing pressure points from developing at the hips and shoulders. Orthopedic pillows are also recommended to provide neck support.

Neck and Upper Back Pain: A pillow-top mattress or one with a softer foam as well as padding and quilting may be required to provide extra comfort and support for the neck. This mattress type provides a comfortable cushioning that allows the head and upper back to sink into the mattress for better cervical spine support.

Lower Back Pain: Patients experiencing low back pain should select a firm mattress that prevents the lumbar spine from sinking deeply into the bed, therefore irritating the joints and nerves. However, that does not imply to choose a “rock hard” mattress.

Arthritis: These syndromes typically cause pain in multiple joints. It is generally advisable to select a mattress that disperses the weight across the greatest body surface, thus reducing pressure to the joints. Balancing correct cushioning with proper spinal support requires a higher-end mattress.

Stomach Sleepers:
This is generally a “no-no” sleeping position as tremendous stress is generated to the mid (thoraco-lumbar) spine. The weight of the abdomen and hips also compress the bedding. A firmer mattress selection may be necessary.

Finally, the last recommendation is to try out the mattress prior to purchasing it. Remember, you spend nearly a third of your life sleeping. Be sure that your sleep is comfortable by protecting your spine and choosing a mattress best suited for you.

Dr. Irene Wallace is a chiropractic physician who practices in Buffalo Grove, IL. She specializes in the treatment of neuromuscular disease and chronic illness utilizing chiropractic, physical therapy and customized nutritional programs