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Best Mattresses for a Bad Back

Do you ever find yourself waking in the morning, sitting up, stretching out, and all of a sudden; up shoots an unexpected jolt of pain? People will often start wondering what they were doing the day before, but in reality they might not have the best mattress for a bad back.

Whilst your posture and your daily tasks can have a big impact on your overall back health, there are particular sleeping positions which contribute to back pain, and having the right type of mattress can certainly help.

If you suffer with back stiffness in the morning, it might be time to start looking at both your type of bed and what makes a good mattress.

Why is your mattress type so significant when it comes to dealing with back pain?

There are a myriad of different reasons for back pain, but one that is often overlooked is that people don’t have the right posture when they’re sleeping. Our independent Occupational Therapist Julie Jennings Dip COT HCPC, has said:

How we sleep is important for our posture – you should sleep on a mattress that is flat or very slightly angled at the head end, and has the degree of firmness that allows the natural slightly S-shaped curve of the spine to be maintained. You want it to that the spine is kept too straight, and not so soft that it sags like a hammock. This is key to aiding in supportive rest.

We sleep for on average 6-8 hours per night – poor sleeping posture can significantly contribute to poor bone development and muscle growth and lead to the adoption of maladaptive postures.”

Does your mattress help maintain good posture? Could it be contributing to your back pain?

The best types of mattress for back pain

There are a number of factors that ensure the type of mattress you have is ideal for encouraging good posture; as such, dealing with and helping to remedy back pain. Here are just a few to take into consideration:

A good spring count

Whilst a high spring count isn’t the be-all and end-all of whether a mattress is comfortable, high pocket spring mattresses have a number of advantages over other types of sprung mattresses.

The way they are designed allows you to move around with minimal movement in the mattress itself, and importantly, the higher the spring count, the more it is able to contour to your body whilst you rest.

If your body is comfortable, and not forced into unnatural positions then your posture is more likely to be in the correct position – thereby helping relieve any back pain you might be experiencing.

Softness and buoyancy

You should always find a mattress that is soft enough that your body can relax in the correct position.

Julie Jennings says:

If the mattress is too soft the spine will not be aligned, and you will notice an arching downwards, creating increased pressure around the lower back and hips. The mattress should offer support and even weight distribution to keep the spine naturally aligned in a fully relaxed position”

Equally you want to be comfortable, and feel like you are sleeping in luxury. A firm mattress doesn’t always mean that it is better. In fact, Julie continues:

“If the mattress is too firm you will notice the spine curving upwards creating increased pressure around the knees, lower back and shoulders.”

Always visit a showroom to discover which one supports your body best.

Your body type

The level of softness/firmness you choose isn’t the only thing that will dictate whether it will be good or bad for your posture – your body type is also key.

If you are naturally a fairly light person, then a softer mattress would be likely to suit you better because you are less likely to sink into it as much. On the other hand, a heavier person puts more pressure on the mattress, so needs a slightly firmer mattress.

Our 5000 spring count mattress has been awarded a Good Housekeeping Award, and would suit someone who is looking for a softer mattress. A review from the Good Housekeeping panel of experts said:

‘All 5 layers work in harmony providing comfort and support for those that prefer a slightly softer mattress. It enabled a good night’s sleep, night after night.’

Make sure you try a few different types – it’s an important investment, and certainly shouldn’t be rushed.

What it’s made from

You want to be sure that the mattress you are sleeping on is made from the best material possible. For example, synthetic fibres may not be completely breathable and they could cause you to overheat during the night – meaning you’ll wake up intermittently.

This will certainly decrease the quality of your sleep and Julie Jennings has said that sleep is very important for your body’s restorative processes:

“Having good sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle and will benefit both the mind and body. Researchers have identified that sleep plays a critical role in the body’s immune system, metabolism, memory, learning, heart rate and other vital functions.”

Along with having less sleep, it will also mean that the good posture you have started the night in might change as you toss and turn trying to get comfortable.

Try to find a mattress that is made using cotton: this helps to wick away moisture from you when you are sleeping – ensuring you keep cool, and creating a soft and delicate feel. Another excellent material for mattresses is wool. This natural fibre is the perfect regulator of body temperature. Wool is incredibly soft and buoyant, enhancing the comfort levels of the mattress.

It’s suitable for an adjustable bed

Adjustable beds can benefit anyone who suffers from a stiff or a painful back. These electric powered beds give you the ability to: sit up, lay flat, raise your legs or flex the knees. Through doing this, you can improve your circulation, in turn reducing joint pain the next day.

With less pressure on your head, neck and spine, these fantastic adjustable beds encourage a healthy spine alignment too; meaning your posture is given a helping hand. And if we’ve not mentioned it enough… good posture is a great remedy for developing back pain.

Don’t just take our word for it, there are countless reviews on our Trustpilot page expressing the benefits they’ve found with an adjustable bed, here’s just one of the many:

“What a wonderful company offering life-changing quality… I have had poor health with my back, hips and knees. Initially the chair was the only place I could get a half decent night’s sleep.  I have now bought a bed and OMG what a difference.

Thank you for living up to your reputation. Thank you for building products which do what they say. Looking forward to more restful nights letting nature take care of my aches and pains. I love the fact that I haven’t had to rely on codeine to give me some sort of sleep!”

For more information about which bed might be right for you, check out our adjustable beds buying guide.

The best sleeping position for a back pain

We all sleep in different positions – often we favour one most nights. It’s important to note that the position we choose can have a real effect on our back health.

Someone who sleeps on their back typically needs a medium-firm mattress, to follow the contours of your spine. If, however, you favour your side you would probably need more cushioning – especially for the shoulders and hips. Front sleeping is not a particularly good idea, and in general we wouldn’t recommend it.

If you tend to mix up the position during your sleeping, try to find a mattress which is firm enough to provide support for your spine, but soft enough to contour to your body – whatever the position.

For more detailed information about the effect our position can have on our sleep quality, as well as the health and wellbeing ramifications, please read our article on good and bad sleeping positions.

When it comes to the best mattress for a bad back, there’s no magic wand, and no single answer. Always “try before you buy” – a showroom should have a number of different styles you can try. Pop into a store and ask to try all of them.

Our Comfort Specialists are trained to give you a personalised 3 point seating assessment to check on your posture and ensure it maintains your natural spinal alignment. They’ll look at:

  • Point 1 – the spine should be in line and neutral
  • Point 2 – knees and hips should be supported without any gaps
  • Point 3 – head, shoulders and hips should be aligned and supported

For more information on our luxurious mattresses, please see our dedicated mattress webpage. Finally, if you would like more information about how maintaining good posture can help your back pain, then please read our complete back pain guide.