Is Your Mattress Causing You Pain?
If you live with chronic or sporadic pain in certain areas of your body, the right mattress can alleviate some of your discomfort and help you sleep comfortably throughout the night. By the same token, the wrong mattress can make the pain much worse.
In fact, a mattress that isn't suited for your body type and sleep position can cause unwanted aches and pains on its own. The age of your mattress is another important factor. Keep reading to learn more about optimizing your sleep space and waking up pain-free each morning.
Can Your Mattress Alleviate Pain?
In the mattress world, there is no such thing as "universal comfort." Each mattress will feel more comfortable for some people and less so for others due to its feel, materials, and general construction.
The firmness level of your mattress is crucial. Many manufacturers use a 1-10 scale to describe firmness, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. The majority of beds made today are medium soft (4), medium (5), or medium firm (6). These mid-range feels appeal to people looking for that comfortable balance of cushioning and support.
If your mattress is too soft, then chances are it won't provide enough support. You may experience what's known as "the sink effect." Heavier areas of your body – such as the torso and hips – will sink more deeply than lighter parts. Sleeping in this manner for just one night can leave you feeling sore and achy the next day. For this reason, people who weigh more than 230 pounds tend to feel least comfortable on soft mattresses.
Mattresses that are too firm also pose potential problems for certain people. Side sleepers typically need more cushioning than those who sleep on their backs or stomachs, so a firm mattress can feel excessively stiff and trigger pressure points in the shoulders and hips. The same is true for people who weigh less than 130 pounds. A firm mattress can feel more rigid and less comfortable for these individuals and cause aches and pains to occur.
Essentially, the "best mattress" depends entirely on one factor: you, the sleeper. Testing out mattresses with different firmness levels is the best way to determine your ideal feel. You may not be satisfied with your first choice. As part of the comfort exchange we offer with our 100-night sleep trial, so you can test out a new Nest Bedding mattress for at least 30 nights, then exchange it for the same model with a different firmness level.
And because the mattress that best alleviates pain is subjective, being able to choose from a wider selection of beds with various firmnesses and constructions will help you find an ideal fit.
How Do You Fix a Mattress that's Causing Pain?
Like any other product, mattresses have a shelf life and even the sturdiest bed will eventually succumb to wear and tear. As the different layers of your mattress deteriorate, you may begin to notice soft spots that feel less supportive than other areas of the surface. This issue will worsen over time until the mattress is basically unfit for sleep.
The average mattress lasts seven to 10 years. If you've been sleeping on the same bed for the better part of a decade and you start waking up in pain, then you should probably replace it with a new model.
You may be able to squeeze another year or two out of your current mattress by investing in a high-quality mattress topper. A topper that is thick and sturdy enough can hide the soft spots in your bed's surface and provide extra support. That said, think of using a topper as a temporary fix.
Similarly to using a topper, you can extend the lifespan of your mattress by replacing the comfort layer if this option is available. This not only helps your mattress last longer, but also saves you a lot of money compared to buying an entire replacement mattress.
If most of your pain is isolated to the neck and shoulders, the issue might have more to do with your pillow. As with mattresses mattresses, every is better suited to certain sleepers based on its materials, design, thickness, and firmness. Over time, pillows lose shape and feel less supportive, which can lead to aches and pains. A new pillow can make a huge difference in how you feel when you wake up in the morning.
You may also find relief from pain if you change how you sleep. This is especially true if you primarily sleep on your stomach. This position is associated with more discomfort than back or side sleeping. Most people carry extra weight in the chest, stomach, and hips, so sleeping face-down can create a significant amount of sinkage around your midsection. If you're a stomach sleeper who wakes up with pain in the neck, shoulders, lower back, or hips, then you may want to try side or back sleeping instead.
If you're tired of waking up in pain and decide to buy a new mattress, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you prefer a "body-hug" from your mattress or would you rather lie on a flat, even surface? If you say yes to the latter, then a firm mattress will probably be your best bet. If you say yes to the former, then consider a soft mattress instead. If you're looking for a balance of the two, a medium soft to medium firm mattress should do the trick.
- Does your current mattress feel too soft, too firm, or just right? Research the model you currently use to determine its firmness level. This may require calling the manufacturer, but it will save you time and money in the long run.
- Where do you normally experience pain? The best mattress for back pain will cushion the spine and reduce pressure on the lumbar region. Those who experience shoulder or hip pain should choose a mattress that provides adequate reinforcement and cushioning to these areas. Bottom line: choose a new mattress that provides targeted support to your most affected areas.