Buyer Guide

Can a Mattress cause Back Pain?

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Many factors contribute to a bad back. As per the study conducted by the better sleep council, 73% of people quoted back pain from a mattress as a reason to buy a new mattress.

Industry Survey - Infographic-Triggers Mattress Replacement

Do you know even a new mattress can cause back pain?

In today’s article, we will try to find the correlation between back pain and mattress. How a mattress contributes to restful sleep? How it helps you wake up relaxed and free from any back issues. 

We also look at some common related questions that come up in our minds when we are not happy with our mattress.

Let us start with a very common question.

Can a mattress give you back pain?

Yes, a mattress can give you back pain if it lacks support for your spine. The common causes of back pain due to the mattress are choosing a too soft or firm mattress, sagging issues, and lack of spine alignment.

The mattress is the one that is making your spine health more problematic if you wake up with discomfort in your back or if it becomes worse after you wake up.

It is not a secret that a mattress that does not support your back will lead to pain eventually. But before you jump to a conclusion, you need to be sure if the mattress is the real reason for back pain.

Vital Warning Signs to Check for Bad Mattress causing Back Pain

Here are some factors that can lead to improper support and spinal alignment.

Waking up with Pain

Waking up with back pain every morning is not a good sign. You are sleeping on a bad mattress if you are in more pain in the morning as compared to the last night.

The ideal firmness level depends on your sleeping position and body weight/type. The kind of firmness is a personal preference but it should support your sleep position so that there is no strain on your spine.

Indentations or Signs of Sagging in the Mattress

Every day, the bed we sleep on will be subjected to wear and tear. Check if there are some mattress indentations or signs of sagging. It does not matter which sleep position you sleep in, any lumps in the mattress can lead to back pain.

Many sleep experts recommend the rotation of the mattress to avoid sagging. But when you see the signs of sagging, immediately change the mattress before it starts hurting your back.

Squeaking noises

Does your box spring or bed make some squeaking noises when you move on the bed? If you sleep on a spring mattress and lately you are hearing noises, probably springs have reached their age of retirement. The bed won’t be able to provide proper support to your body.

It is a sign of changing the mattress.

Tossing and Turning

How often do you toss and turn in the night? Frequent tossing and turning in the night is a sign that the mattress is making you uncomfortable. And you are trying to adjust your body to the mattress. 

On a new mattress, this can be an issue for a few people but it should not persist for more than a week or so. Once the break-in period has passed, your body should be able to adjust without any discomfort.

Sneezing/Coughing at the Night

Have you recently developed any new allergies or do you often sneeze/cough at the night? It can be a sign of allergens in the mattress. Dust builds up inside the mattress over time. It requires periodic vacuuming to keep the mattress clean. 

The allergic cough or sneezing can disrupt your sleep cycle and sleep quality. You will wake up tired and lethargic. If this happens frequently, you may develop body aches and back pain.

Is your mattress too old?

The average lifespan of a mattress is 7-10 years but many people continue to use them for years for various reasons. An old mattress may not be fit for providing ample support to your lumbar spine.

Is your mattress firmness changed?

A common cause of back pain is a lack of adequate firmness. Many people buy cheap mattresses that serve you well for a couple of years but eventually their firmness changes. You may notice that gradually you developed back pain over a while.

Too Soft or Hard Mattress

Choosing the wrong firmness of your mattress is one of the common mistakes among shoppers. Many couples choose plush or soft mattresses without giving them much thought if it is the ideal firmness for daily use. Similarly, people with chronic back-related issues believe that an extra firm mattress is a perfect mattress for back pain. 

Waking up with some Joint Pain, Stiffness, Numbness, or Tingling?

One of the most common complaints among sleepers is the stiffness in the back when they wake up. As the day progresses, the stiffness or the numbness fades away. In no time, it becomes a habit. This can be a mattress that is not adequate to support your back.

Feelings of Tiredness or Fatigue when you Wake Up

Frequent feelings of tiredness or fatigue when you wake up can be a sign of a wrong mattress if other medical ailments have been ruled out.

Why a friend recommending a mattress may be a recipe for disaster?

In our study, we found that most of us rely on mattress recommendations in our immediate circle of friends. Marrisa from our team bought a mattress based on the real-life review of her cousin. She was confused and felt cheated when the mattress did not live up to her expectations.

Honestly, her cousin did not mislead her. It makes sense to get feedback on buying experience or after-sales support. Marrisa made an emotionally biased decision instead of an informed decision. Marrisa’s body type and sleeping habits are very different from her cousin's. 

Picking up a mattress for your back pain is not complicated. All you need to do is understand your body type and sleeping habits.

A soft mattress may not be a supportive option for someone who sleeps on the back or stomach. Similarly, a side sleeper will wake aching shoulder and lower back if he regularly sleeps on a firm mattress.

Swap that firm mattress to a back sleeper and soft mattress to a side sleeper and chances are they both will wake up fresh without any pain.

A mattress will give you back pain if you don’t consider your body type and sleeping position. A heavy person or someone with more weight around the hip area requires a mattress designed to support the lumbar region.

Can a memory foam mattress hurt your back?

A memory foam mattress can hurt your back if your spine is not aligned properly while you are sleeping. Look for a medium-firm memory foam mattress rather than one where your body sinks in deep.

Let’s take a look at a few related common questions on buying a mattress.

What mattress do chiropractors recommend?

The chiropractors recommend buying an orthopedic mattress if you develop chronic back pain. Orthopedic mattresses are built and designed for extra support for your joints and back.

What mattress firmness is best for back pain?

A medium-firm mattress is best for most people suffering from back pain. But as stated earlier, don’t discard the importance of your body weight/type and sleeping position that varies from individual to individual.

What mattress is best for a bad back?

A hybrid mattress is best for a bad back as it provides better support, contouring, and pressure relief with the combination of coils and comfort layers.

Will a mattress pad help back pain?

A mattress pad can help in back pain if your existing mattress is good at providing support but the top comfort layer is not adequate. It can help in pressure relief by providing proper contouring. If the mattress base fails to provide support, adding a mattress pad will be futile to revive the mattress.

Is it better to sleep on a hard or soft mattress?

To alleviate the back pain, it is better if back and stomach sleepers sleep on firm or hard mattresses whereas a side sleeper should prefer a soft mattress for proper support around the shoulders and hips.

How should I lay in bed with lower back pain?

One should lay on the back in bed with lower pain as a neutral spine while sleeping is the key to getting relief. In some cases, keeping rolled towels below the knees to raise the legs help in spine alignment. However, for better comfort, we recommend using a wedge pillow under the knees.

How do you relieve back pain from a mattress?

Here are some proven tips that will help you get some relief from back pain from a mattress.

  • Use the right pillow under your head and knees to elevate your legs for proper positioning of the spine if you sleep on the back.
  • Stomach sleepers can use a thin pillow under the tummy whereas side sleepers can put a pillow between the knees.
  • Avoid sleeping on an extra firm or soft mattress.
  • Invest in a good mattress topper for back pain if the mattress is supportive but lags in comfort levels.
  • Don’t immediately get up from bed after sleep. Slowly get up on the side with some support so that there is less pressure on the back.
  • Add light stretching exercises once you are up so that the muscles loosen up, especially the hamstrings.
  • Make changes in your daily diet and add food that helps in reducing inflammation. For eg: fatty fish, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, use olive oil, etc.
  • Lastly, If you suffer from chronic back pain, we highly recommend switching to a good adjustable bed if possible.

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