Did you know that according to the Better Sleep Council you’re supposed to replace your mattress every 7-10 years? My mattress is now 10-years-old, and I can really feel it! I wake up stiff and sore after tossing and turning all night. I also have a pillow-top mattress which means that it doesn’t get flipped over, it only gets rotated – so I end up sleeping in my husband’s bed gulley.


I decided to go to some of the Facebook groups I belong to and ask my fellow chronic pain sufferers: “What kind of mattress would you recommend for a bad back?”


Surprisingly, I didn’t get a lot of answers; but I did get several responses that asked the same question, “What kind of mattress is good for back pain?”


The answer: It depends! I think it would be good to provide a brief overview of the different mattress types.


The first type is an Innerspring mattress. These mattresses have a steel coil support system1.


There are too many types of coil systems to list here. But the coils are covered by padding or upholstery.


The second type of mattress is a Foam mattress. Foam mattresses use different types of foam for support1. Memory Foam mattresses actually conform to your body. Foam mattresses also come in different densities or thicknesses.


The third type of mattress is a Gel mattress. Gel mattresses use foam and gel for support. Gel foam mattresses can also help you sleep cooler because the heat from your body is spread through the mattress.


The fourth type of mattress is a Waterbed. Waterbeds and exactly that: a mattress that is filled with water. Waterbeds are either hard-sided (has a water chamber inside a wood frame) or a soft-side (has a water chamber inside a rectangular frame of rigid foam, zipped inside a fabric casing)1. The waterbed mattress then sits on top of a platform.

Finally, there are also pillow-top mattresses, air mattresses, latex mattresses, and hybrid mattresses.


So, which one is good for back pain? The Better Sleep Council offers some very simple steps to picking out a mattress. They call it the S.L.E.E.P. test and it means: Select a mattress; Lie down in your sleep position; Evaluate the level of comfort and support; Educate yourself about each mattress; and Partners should test beds together. Partners should test beds together.


Sounds like good advice to me! I’m off to go shopping for a mattress.


Until next time!

Dr. JB Kirby


1 http://bettersleep.org  (RESOURCE LINK)

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