By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
Choosing the right mattress can go a long way in determining the quality of your sleep. Using a mattress that does not provide adequate support and comfort can also be a significant source of muscle and joint pain, especially in the shoulder, back, and hip regions.
The right mattress is usually defined as any mattress that helps a person sleep well, so that they wake up feeling rested and without pain and stiffness. However, there is no single best mattress for everyone as there are a variety of factors that go into choosing the right mattress.
Below are some useful tips that can help you find the mattress that's right for you:
· Consider how your mattress is made. Mattress support is determined by the internal architecture of the mattress. This can include innerspring coil mattresses (most common), memory foam, latex, and air mattresses. Each offer different degrees of support and comfort. Some manufacturers also include additional padding on top of the mattress for extra comfort, but this may not be necessary for all individuals.
· Sleep experts recommend replacing your mattress on average every 8-10 years or sooner. Look for visible sagging and/or material breakdown as a sign to replace your mattress. Over time, mattresses collect dust mites and other germs that can exacerbate allergies and impact sleep. In addition, our bodies change over time and an old mattress that had originally been comfortable may no longer be providing the comfort and support it once did.
· Your physical health and your mattress. Sleeping with painful conditions such as osteoarthritis, hip bursitis, and degenerative disc disease can be minimized by choosing the right mattress. You can also incorporate additional sleep positioning tips to get the most comfort out of your mattress.
· Try before you buy. Lay on a variety of mattresses (i.e. firm, medium, pillow top) for at least 10-15 minutes in several simulated sleep positions to get a sense of how the mattress feels.
· Shop at stores that specialize in mattresses. These stores will offer a diverse range of choices and other important factors such as manufacturer and comfort warranties.
· The right mattress achieves a balance between comfort and support. A mattress that is too firm may cause pain in pressure points such as the hips. A mattress that is too soft may not offer enough support and cause pain and stiffness. Most people do well with a medium-firm mattress. However, at the end of the day, a person's overall comfort level will determine which mattress is right for them.
If you experience muscle and joint pain that is causing difficulty with your sleep, you should contact a licensed health professional who deals in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. For more information, visit www.nhwc.ca.
This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only. It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.