What Kind of Mattress is the Best to Buy?
“I must have slept wrong, I think it’s my mattress!” This is one 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 to $5000 on a queen-size mattress. There are several kinds on the market, including posturepedic, memory foam, gel-infused and plush. Given the many choices and their costs, it’s no wonder I get asked which mattress provides the best night’s rest when it comes to spinal support.
Most people spend six to eight hours per night sleeping in bed. The perfect mattress is one that supports the natural contours of the spine. It is vital to maintain the natural curves of the spine while sleeping and in this article you will learn why.
Early detection of common health problems can be traced to abnormal sleep patterns. For example, you wake up in the morning feeling stiff or walk like an old person when you first get out of bed; or maybe you have trouble turning your head from side to side when you first wake up. These symptoms indicate your mattress isn’t supporting your spine in which case I would recommend a semi-firm posturepedic style mattress.
Gel-infused mattresses contain material that greater compresses the spine and its nerves. People who use them may be able to fall asleep easily but find it hard to stay asleep through the night. This kind of mattress causes irritation to spinal nerves which leads to symptoms such as tense muscles in the lower back contributing to restless leg, painful leg cramps and frequent trips to the bathroom. The reason for this is because gel-infused mattresses compress the spinal nerves which travel down the leg—the same nerves that control bladder function; many patients pass it off as to having drunk too much water before bed when 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 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 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. Pillows are relatively inexpensive and they come in any shape and size to best suit your personal body shape.
Memory foam mattresses are foam-based and purported to support the spine better than any variety of mattress. Aside from the fact that these mattresses contain very harmful chemicals to make them fire-resistant, 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—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 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. Oftentimes, 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.
When it comes to mattresses, a key thing to remember is that if you go to bed feeling fine but wake up in the middle of the night with pins and needles or in the morning feeling worse than you did when you went to bed, one of two things is occurring: The first thing is your mattress isn’t good for your spine and needs to be changed. If you recently changed it and are still having trouble, then your mattress is not the problem—it’s actually a spinal issue.
These are basic guidelines when searching for a mattress, however, to determine which one will work optimally for you, it is advised to have your spine evaluated by a professional, much like you would when buying the perfect running shoe based on your specific foot type. Your spine controls your entire body; it’s worth the investment to get it right before you spend money on a mattress.
Dr. Colette Cseszko has been practicing in the Bay Area since 2001. As a board certified chiropractic physician and certified to practice medical acupuncture, she provides her patients with a unique treatment approach by combining chiropractic, acupuncture and physical therapy modalities. She is the owner of Gentle Touch Chiropractic and Wellness Center, 10575 68th Ave. North, Ste. D1, Seminole. For more information and to set an appointment, call 727-235-3265 or visit Gentle-chiro.com.