Getting a restful night’s slumber depends upon many different factors. One of the most important is choosing the right mattress that will allow you a good night’s sleep, free from back pain. The sheer number of different brands and types of mattresses in stores can make mattress shopping quite confusing. To make choosing a good mattress easier if you have sciatica or chronic back pain, focus on getting a well-made, quality mattress that’s relatively firm and, most importantly, comfortable for you.
Research has shown that a too-soft mattress can cause back pain or make it worse, while a very hard mattress makes sleeping difficult for many people. The ideal mattress supports the body and distributes body weight in a neutral manner, with your spine at a natural curvature and hips, shoulders and head supported in proper alignment.
Finding the best mattress for you
Personal choice is the deciding factor when selecting a mattress. Rather than looking for a particular brand or type of mattress, look for these practical characteristics to ensure you get the best new mattress for your needs:
- A medium-firm mattress: A medium-firm mattress may be most comfortable because, while supportive, it allows for natural body alignment–allowing shoulders and hips to sink in slightly. Each manufacturer has different standards for what’s considered “medium firm,” however. Try several types and styles to narrow down your selection to those you consider to be firm enough but not too firm.
- A quality mattress: Evaluate everything from the surface material and stitching to the overall thickness and inner design. A low-quality mattress may feel comfortable now, but in a year or so it may start to sag.
- A mattress with individually wrapped coils: Wrapped coils should help protect you from being poked by springs/coils several years down the road. Individually wrapped coils are generally a sign of quality, as is a larger number of coils. What feels best to you is your ultimate guideline.
- A foam mattress: If you have tried and don’t like the feel of coils, you might instead opt for a foam mattress. Or you might choose a mattress that combines the 2 styles, a foam-topped mattress. Foam has gotten a lot of good press for adjusting well to each individual’s body and sleep position. Keep in mind, however, that a quality coil mattress should achieve the same thing with a slightly different mechanism. Some people report feeling “too warm” on a foam mattress, but there’s no scientific proof. If foam doesn’t seem to affect you that way, this could be the best mattress for you.
- A latex mattress or mattress topper: Latex is a type of foam that manufacturers say provides firm, yet bouncy support. Once again, you should try the mattress many times, for as long as possible and decide for yourself.
- A returnable/exchangeable mattress: This is ideal, because even when doing your best to try mattresses when shopping in-store, it’s hard to get a real idea of the comfort level until you spend a few nights on one. Certain mattress stores/manufacturers offer trade-in periods, where you can sleep on your choice for several nights or even a month, and if dissatisfied, return it and choose a different mattress.
Bottom line: After trying several mattresses, select one that provides both comfort and back support. This mattress should help reduce lower back pain–allowing your body and spine to rest and rejuvenate each night.