As a chiropractor, I am faced with questions regarding proper mattresses and pillows almost on a daily basis. The average adult gets anywhere from 6-8 hours of sleep per night, which is 42-56 hours weekly, or 2,184-2,912 hours each year. In other words, we spend a significant time of our life sleeping; therefore, it is important to have proper support when doing so. Recently, I was in the market for a new mattress and found myself asking the same questions patients ask me all the time: What is the best mattress for my back? Like most markets in America, there are countless options when shopping for a mattress. Do I need firm or soft support? Pillow top or memory foam? Stationary or adjustable foundations? Name brands from Sealy, Serta, Tempur-Pedic, to revolutionary brands such as Casper? The options are limitless and can in fact be overwhelming, at least from my point of view. When you consider the investment (money and time spent sleeping), the selection of a particular mattress is a firm decision, no pun intended.
Just as characteristics of mattress may vary, the variety of spinal support varies per individual. I hope my shopping experience can provide some insight on finding the best mattress for your back.
Steps to Finding the Best Mattress
First thing, you must get out there and test drive different mattress from brands, materials, and firmness. Although a five minute test in the store doesn’t provide the optimal sleep experience, you will get a feel for what type of mattress is comfortable for your needs. From a spinal support perspective, a firmer foundation provides ideal support and allows your spine to be in a neutral position when sleeping on your back or side. The ideal mattress will conform to the natural curvature of the spine and evenly distribute pressure. For simplicity purposes, any firm mattress that allows the spine to remain in neutral position is the most important characteristic when finding a mattress that is best for your back. Other qualities come down to personal preference.
After trying out different styles, research the mattresses online. Consumer reviews provide another perspective on product quality and overall experience. Some things to consider include coil count (the more the better) and the breathability and heat retaining properties. Also research the type of materials used for chemical and allergen exposure. Daily and close contact with such chemicals and allergens may have adverse health reactions for some individuals.
Lastly and most importantly, whichever mattress you decide to invest in, ensure there is a window of time or a trial period to test out the product. Many distributors like Mattress Firm, department stores such as Macy’s and Sears, and direct companies including Casper and Bear, allow consumers to test out the mattress for 30-100 days. The true testament of the mattress will be determined after multiple nights of sleep. Such trial periods allow for proper mattress assessment and provide the option to exchange and in some cases, even return the product. My personal experience supports this time period. My first few nights on my new mattress were far from dreamy. At one point I wanted to throw the mattress out the window; however, after a few nights to allow my body to adjust to the change, I now am satisfied with my decision. The point of it all, once you have made your purchase, be patient and allow your body time to adapt to your new mattress.
Best wishes on your ideal mattress hunt. Please comment below and share your favorite mattress type.