Choosing a mattress is ultimately left to personal preference, although it has been shown that certain mattresses can increase comfort and restful sleep in certain situations. For instance, different sleep disorders affect people in different ways, making finding an ideal bed a difficult process. Mattresses can have a significant impact on quality of sleep, especially if coping with a sleep disorder or back pain.
- Fibromyalgia: These patients have extremely sensitive joints and experience fatigue and sleep deprivation because comfort is hard to come by in a mattress. Latex and memory foam mattresses are good for these patients because they reduce the amount of stress on the pressure points. 1
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea or chronic snoring is common in overweight individuals and those who regularly sleep on their backs. Because of these factors, a thicker mattress may be necessary to ensure it holds to the test of time.
- Restless Legs Syndrome: These individuals require a bed that is not too soft as it takes more energy to move in an overly-soft bed. 1
- Insomnia: Insomnia can be attributed to many different factors, both psychological and environmental. A common cause is heat, a reoccurring problem with memory foam mattresses. Cooling Gel memory foam mattress toppers or mattresses may help with inability to sleep. Additionally, the Outlast Bedding line will assist with heat regulation.
- Back Problems/Spine Injury: A firmer mattress may help keep spine aligned. Soft mattresses can cause the spine to dip. Most memory foam mattresses teamed with the correct pillow for your sleep position will keep the spine aligned helping to relieve injury.
- Elderly: Some elderly individuals may prefer a firmer mattress in order to make it easier to get in and out of bed.
- Osteoarthritis: Adjustable beds may help these individuals open up the back when used with both the upper body and knees elevated. It is also said that mattresses that are too firm can increase pain and injury in the back. 2
- Overweight: Heavier individuals should use a firmer mattress, as they are more likely to sink down into a mattress lacking adequate support. 1
Overall, mattress firmness will be a matter of preference, although choosing a mattress that is too firm or too soft can have very negative effects on spine alignment and increase back and neck pain. The ideal mattress to benefit will be a medium firm, but not so firm it is uncomfortable. Choosing a mattress that does not personally offer you a great deal of comfort will not help with restful sleep, not matter its positive impact on back and spine health.
1. Haex, Bart. Back and Bed: Ergonomic Aspects of Sleeping. Boca Raton: CRC, 2005.
2. Spine-Health—Mattresses and Sleep Positions for Each Back Pain Diagnosis; http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/mattresses-and-sleep-positions-each-back-pain-diagnosis