“I must have slept wrong, I think it’s my mattress!” These are some of the most common comments patients make when they come into my office complaining of stiffness or pain in their neck, lower back or hips.
In 2018 the average American spent anywhere from $250-$5000 on a Queen sized mattress. There are several brands on the market including posturepedic, memory foam, tranquility gel andplush mattresses. Given all these choices and the cost it’s no wonder I get asked which mattress provides the best nights rest when it comes to spinal support.
Most people spend 6-8 hours per night sleeping in bed. The perfect mattress is one that supports the natural contours of your spine. It is vital to maintain the natural curves of the spine while you are sleeping and in this article you will learn why this is the case.
Early detection of common health problems can be traced back to abnormal sleep patterns. For example, If you are waking up in the morning feeling stiff, or walking like an old person when you first get out of bed. It means that your mattress isn’t supporting your spine. Or maybe you have trouble turning your head from side to side, when you first wake up if these symptoms sound familiar to you I would recommend a semi-firm posturepedic brand of mattress.
Tranquility Gel brands have material in them that compress the spine and its nerves more. People who have these mattresses may be able to fall asleep easily but these brands make it harder to stay asleep through the night. This is because they cause irritation to spinal nerves during the night and this leads to symptoms such as tense muscles in the lower back. This type of mattress can contribute to restless legs, and can often create painful leg cramps, and frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate. The reason for this is because it compresses the spinal nerves which travel down the legs. These are the same nerves that control bladder function and although most patients will pass it off as though they drank too much water before bed, the actual problem is compression to the sciatic nerve.
Plush mattresses are designed to make you feel like you are sleeping on a cloud and these mattresses are commonly marketed to “side sleepers” because the extra padding makes it easier on the hips and shoulders when you lie on your side. My recommendation for side sleepers is to avoid the plush mattresses because you can create the same effect with pillows. Body pillows are excellent to use between your knees and smaller pillows for the area in between the side of the neck and shoulder area. Pillows are relatively inexpensive and they come in any shape and size to better fit your own personal body shape.
What about Memory Foam mattresses? These mattresses are foam based and are supposed to support the spine better than any variety of mattress. Aside from the fact that these mattresses contain very harmful chemicals to make them resistant to fire, I never recommend a memory foam mattress to anyone. The reason for this is that the foam design completely compresses the delicate nerves that exit the spine. These nerves control your vital organs, they are vital because you need these organs to live. Organs such as the lungs, heart and stomach are all controlled by the nerves that come out from the spine and it is important that the openings between the individual bones of the spine stay wide open during the night. Common indicators that your nerves are being squashed are numbness and tingling in your arms or hands which can wake you up in the middle of the night. It literally can feel like the circulation is being cut off or that your arm is dead. Often times patients who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea actually have compression to the nerves that control muscles of the throat and lung capacity. These are nerves which exit the spine in the lower neck area. Consider that if it was actually a problem with the lungs and breathing then you would have apnea during the day and problems with breathing all the time not just at night time.
When it comes to mattresses one of the key things to remember is that if you go to bed feeling fine, but you wake up in the middle of the night with pins and needles feeling or wake up in the morning feeling worse than you did when you went to bed one of two things is occurring. The first thing to consider is that your mattress isn’t good for your spine and needs to be changed for a mattress more suitable for your individual spine.
The other factor to consider especially if you recently changed your mattress and you are still having trouble sleeping through the night is that it isn’t your mattress that’s the problem, it’s actually a spinal issue.
If this is the case then any mattress you buy will not change your sleeping patterns. In this article I have given you basic guidelines to use when searching for a good mattress however to determine which one will work best for you specifically it is always advised to have your spine evaluated by a professional much like you would do when buying the perfect running shoe based on your specific foot type. Keep in mind your spine controls your entire body so it’s worth the investment to get it right before you spend money on a mattress.
Contact my office today for an appointment (727) 235-3265